Every new phase of life usually brings excitement and anticipation with it. Most of us can still recall the emotions on our first day at school or the first time we were invited for a job interview.
You should expect the same in your first few days as a freelance writer as well. For most newbies, the aims are high and the energy levels are at their peak. There are lots of ideas in your mind and there’s a buzz about your personality.
However, it’s the way you utilize this energy that decides how successful you eventually turn out to be as a freelance writer.
This is why your first week as a freelance writer is extremely critical. A good start might give you momentum to leave more experienced writers behind, while a bad start might never let you settle down in this quickly evolving industry.
Here are 5 things you should get done in your first week as a freelance writer to give your career a solid start.
1. Identify Your Specialties
Selecting a niche for yourself as a freelance writer might sound very obvious – somewhat a case for common sense. However, a large number of freelance writers never actually take the time out to identify their areas of expertise.
If you want to give yourself any chance of success as a freelance writer, you need to develop focus in your approach and brand yourself as a solution for selected niches. This is not only important for you because clients are looking for specialists, but also because being a specialist writer in a few areas is now the only way you can get higher rates for your work.
Therefore, by the end of your first week as a freelance writer, identify 4-5 related areas where you believe you can brand yourself as an expert. You can always modify this list with time as you learn about new industries and areas of potential.
2. Start a Writing Blog
This should be a mandatory part of any freelance writer’s profile. A writing blog not only serves as your real time online portfolio, but also plays a key role in developing an effective marketing strategy for your freelance writing services.
For many freelance writers, their writing blog is the sole reason they’re making thousands of dollars every month. It just has so many benefits.
As a new freelance writer, it is critical for you to lay the foundations of a writing blog in your first week.
Here are a few points that you should keep in mind while developing the basic structure of your writing blog.
1. Select a professional domain name – when I say ‘professional’, I’m referring to 2 main factors
- Your domain name should not sound like an amateur website.
- It should be a paid, ideally a .com or .net, domain name.
2. Select your webhosting service carefully and look for one of the top 10 hosting service providers.
3. Start your blog with a professional theme, preferably a paid one.
4. Don’t forget to include the ‘Hire Me’, ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ pages.
Once you have the basic structure of your blog in place, you can start posting content in the later weeks. Focus on the type of content that your target market is looking for.
3. Draft Your Plan
I am not talking about detailed documents and hardcore business planning. Never fall for that so early in your career.
I’m specifically talking about a draft plan here, one that only outlines the key areas of your execution and marketing strategies.
For example, write down the first 10-15 post ideas (ideas not titles) that you’re going to roll out on your blog and finalize a posting frequency, just to give yourself a sense of direction.
Similarly, identify the channels that you’re going to use to market your services. They can be specific forums, social networking websites or online/offline groups.
Write all these things in simple bulleted points in a word document.
Again, this is not a hardcore plan document. You don’t need that at this stage. Just get the most obvious things in your mind on a piece of paper so that you can start working.
4. Start Following the Best Writers
As a new freelance writer, you should look for every opportunity to learn from the best writers in your niche. The easiest way of doing that is by subscribing to their blogs and following their social media profiles.
Start from the first few posts of the most successful writers in your niche. Doing this gives you a very good idea of their humble beginnings, eases your nerves and gives you the confidence to move forward.
As a freelance writer, you’ll have to do a lot of reading, so it’s always good to have a daily reading plan.
Some great writing blogs to follow:
- Make a Living Writing
- The Renegade Writer
- Goins, Writer
5. Get Your Online Profiles Ready
This is important primarily for three reasons
- Social networks are becoming an increasingly important lead generation source for freelance writers. You can find clients for almost every niche on social networking websites.
- Many organizations proactively search for freelance writers on social networks. Some of the best writing jobs are usually not advertised. They are either awarded through credible references or by approaching freelancers directly.
- Even when you do get connected with prospective clients through other channels, they usually conduct your background check on social networks and look for your skills and accomplishments.
Start by creating your detailed LinkedIn profile. Your profile headline should clearly indicate that you’re a freelance writer who is actively looking for projects. Also make sure that you add all the relevant skills valued in your niche to your profile.
Once you’re done with LinkedIn, create your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter profiles as well. You can start promoting your services in the later weeks.
Let Me Sum it Up for You!
Use your early excitement and energy to give your freelance writing career an aggressive start. The best way to do that is by placing a solid foundation in the first week of your career and build on that in the days ahead.
This is how I believe every freelancer should kick off his freelancing dream. But I would love to know if you would do it any differently.