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Articles on Freelance Writing Success
- Bob Bly
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- Nick Usborne
- Ed Gandia
- Pete Savage
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by Ed Gandia
“Currently, I am a teacher, but want to make the gradual transition from the classroom to the freelance commercial writing arena,” a reader of my newsletter recently wrote me.
“However, because I lack a marketing background, I am concerned that clients may be hesitant to hire me. How can I transition from academia to this type of writing career?”
That’s a valid concern. And while neither an email response nor a newsletter article will do the topic justice (you can write an entire book on the subject), I can at least provide you with some general direction and advice.
Strategy #1: Leverage Your Background
Who says that “agency types” make the best copywriters? And who says you have to be a journalist to be a great commercial freelance writer? Some of the best writers I know do NOT have what you might call traditional agency or writing backgrounds. Instead, they have leveraged their diverse experiences and specialized knowledge to bring a fresh perspective to a field crowded with “me too” freelancers.
I told my reader that she, in fact, could have an advantage over other writers.
Especially if she decided to target companies that sell educational products or services to teachers, educational institutions and parents of homeschooled children.
Her background gives her tremendous credibility. She has “been there, done that.” She understands the emotional hot buttons of her potential clients’ audience (educators). And if she’s strategic about how she positions herself — and delivers value and results for her clients — she can easily become a very successful “go to” writer in her industry.
Strategy #2: Take the Courses and Certifications
But that brings up another point. Your background alone won’t save you. Neither will raw talent. You also need to learn your craft…and learn it well.
There’s no way around it, folks. You need formal training. Without it, you’ll have a very hard time getting invited to the dance. The market is already full of talented freelance writers struggling to make ends meet. If talent alone were the secret, most would be extremely busy, earning a great living.
Don’t get me wrong. Talent is a big plus. But these days you need much more. So take the courses. Get the certifications. Read the books. Don’t skimp here.
And don’t think the learning is over once you’ve established yourself. Make it a point to keep up your knowledge base. I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t continually invest in themselves and their business.
Strategy #3: Market Yourself Aggressively
Finally, you need to continually promote your services. This effort must be steady and aggressive — probably more aggressive and methodical than you think.
I’ve talked about this many times before, but it bears repeating. A focused and continual marketing effort is one of the most important factors in ensuring a successful transition from your current job to a freelance writing career.
I know that marketing may not sound appealing. But it doesn’t have to be a chore. Break it up into small chunks. Instead of trying to do monumental activities every 3 months, commit yourself to doing lighter activities every day.
For instance, promise yourself that you’ll mail 5 letters a day. Or that you’ll make 10 cold calls a day. Or that you’ll write and submit 1 article every other week to a targeted online publication.
No career transition is easy. But you can dramatically increase your chances of success if you leverage your strengths and work hard on the factors that you can control.
NOTE: Ed Gandia is the author the bestselling guide, Stop Wishing and Start Earning: A Low-Risk Plan to Escape 9–5 and Launch a Profitable Copywriting Business.
Related learning materials:
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