Home » Blog » freelance writing

Category: freelance writing

10 Lessons From My First Year as a Self-Employed Freelance Writer

First year freelance writing

 

Holy cow, you guys!

February 17 marked my one year anniversary as a self-employed freelance writer!

I can’t believe it!

Cue the poppers and celebratory sip of wine! (A little late, but better late than never.)

 

I remember my first day of self-employment when I woke up and didn’t have to get all ready for work and drive a half-hour to start my day.

I simply rolled out of bed and walked five feet to my office. Okay, I worked out first, showered, and had some coffee first, but….then I rolled into my office.

I sat down at my desk like, whoa! This is my life now.

It was weird and exhilarating and against everything I’ve ever been taught about “how careers are supposed to work.”

I followed a rough schedule I’d made for myself and got to work. Since I’d been freelancing on the side for awhile already at this point, I had plenty to work on.

But I was also able to hold my little girl for a few minutes in her adorable “I-just-woke-up” haze before sending her back out to grandma. I was able to have lunch with my family at my own table, grab a few more snuggles, and head back into the office.

A few days in, it snowed. Like, a lot. And I didn’t have to try and attempt the treacherous roads. I just looked outside, shrugged, put my slippers on over my cold feet, grabbed my warm coffee, and snuggled in to work.

It’s a weird experience after spending 12 years in the corporate working world with no more than 15 days off in a year, long morning commutes, early mornings, dress codes, and nearly every summer day spent inside with barely a hint of sun.

It’s still surreal now, writing about it right now!

I can’t believe this is my life now!

 

 

So, now that I’ve made it a year, I want to gift some of my insights from my first year of self-employment to any of you that may be jumping off the corporate wagon or simply toying with the idea. These insights will help you make it through the first year with a little more grace.

 

Find your bearings

When you jump the corporate ship, you feel a little…off. It’s kinda against everything you know or have been taught. But it only took me a week to say, “I don’t think I could ever go back.”

leave corporate to freelance quote

 

You may feel a little clumsy and out of place at first, but once you settle into a routine, you feel “at home” again. Like I said, I created somewhat of a schedule for myself before I ever left corporate, and it worked pretty seamlessly. I made sure I included time for journaling/Bible time/exercise and enough “working hours.”

Even with the schedule though, some things came up. Friends called, family chatted, Hubster requested a few errands. Which brings me to my next point…

 

Put boundaries around your time

I had a hard time finding a good work-life balance at first and to an extent, still do. However, I have much more strict rules around my time than I did when I started. Instead of answering friends’ phone calls, I text them that I’m still working, and they’ve gradually stopped calling during normal business hours.

I’ve also heard the ole “Since you work at home now…” line, and I shut that one down immediately. No, I can’t do your taxes for you or watch your kids because I work at home now. This career involves the same amount of commitment and responsibility, if not more, and I’m still not available from 7 to 4.

 

Expect bad days and bad experiences

When you learn to expect things to go wrong, you can handle them a whole lot easier. If you don’t expect things to go wrong, the wrongs will hit you a whole lot harder. And they may make you want to give up.

Things will go wrong. Most things will go right, but some things go wrong. This doesn’t mean you’re a horrible writer. This doesn’t mean you need to go beg for your job back. This just means you’ve hit an inevitable snafu. Deal with it. Move on.

Every client wants something different. Every personality is different. Here’s a perfectly good article I wrote for a client that got rejected. It happens. Turn tough situations into positive ones by posting articles like this on your own blog or pitching them elsewhere.

 

Try to make it right

One of the best ways to get past these bad experiences or dissatisfied customers is to do everything you can to make it right. In my experience, this approach changes everything.

After submitting one particular writing assignment, I got the dreaded reply: “This isn’t what I was expecting.”

Don’t ever just walk away at this point and say “I’m sorry.” Always ask what you can do to fix it. Always ask more questions about what they were expecting. Don’t get defensive, simply say you want to get it right for them.

Usually, after you discuss the expectations more clearly and make the requested revisions, your clients come out trusting you even more. That’s the type of relationship you want to come out of bad experiences. A better one!

 

Keep track of what you accomplish daily

Keep a “to-done list” of what you accomplish each day and keep a running tally of your weekly income. This tactic has been a huge motivator for me. It lets me know if my income is on track for the month and gives me a clear picture of where my time is going.

I just keep a simple Google Doc to track my “to-done list” like pictured below (with client names blocked for privacy) I write the date, what writing projects I worked on that day, and the total income earned from that project. I then tally up the income at the end of the week to come up with my weekly income. It’s really gratifying to me to see what I’ve accomplished each week.

 

I also use a separate Google Sheet to track all income and expenses as they come and go from my bank account. This document is necessary come tax time, but it also gives a clearer picture of cash received.

 

Perform regular audits

Speaking of taxes…hire an accountant right away. It’s not worth the time and pain and suffering to try and “figure it out” yourself. Trust me. While you’ve got your financials in front of you, perform a business audit on yourself (or with the help of your accountant).

You have to tally up your income and send out a tax check every quarter anyhow, so use that time as an opportunity to perform a quarterly review. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Just answer a few questions such as:

  • What’s going well in my business right now?
  • What’s not going so well?
  • Where is my best earning potential?
  • What can I do to make next quarter even better?
  • What are my big-picture goals?
  • What are my quarterly goals?

Get even more picky about who you work with

After a few months of freelancing, I started to get overwhelmed. Suddenly, I didn’t have enough time in the day to get all my writing projects done. When this happens to you, your first inclination might be to try to organize your time better, learn how to write faster, start delegating tasks to others…

However, this is actually an amazing opportunity to level up your business. This means you get to start to choose who you want to work with. You can choose the work that lights you up the most! You can choose the work that pays the best.

freelance writer quote

Don’t dread it. Celebrate it.

 

Be true to yourself

Once you start to find the work that lights you up? You feel like you’re being truer and truer to who you are as a person. You feel more and more like you’ve found your true calling. There’s no better feeling!

I have never felt more like myself to the core than I have in the past year. I get to write about subjects that I’m passionate about (Related: finding the freelance writing niche of your dreams). I get to work with other amazing passionate business owners doing good in this world. I feel more connected to my work. The work feels more meaningful. I get to work outside, where I feel most energized. I get to be a bonafide introvert. I don’t have to drive around as much.

I feel more at home inside what I spend my energy on every single day.

That being said, make sure you’re taking on work that feels aligned for you, that’s ethical. If it makes you feel icky, skip it. If it makes you feel passionate, run with it!

 

Journal

Yep, I attribute a ton of my success to my daily journaling habit. Though no actual money comes from my journaling, the power it has over my mind is instrumental in my earnings. I use journaling to refocus on my goals every morning (so I don’t go goal blind), to change damaging thought patterns, and to explore what lights me up and what holds me back so I can harness them.

 

I might ask myself questions like “Why have I been having such resistance toward finishing this project?” The answer might give me insight into my natural inclination to drag out the last 25% of every project, so I can overcome that next time.

If I’m feeling incompetent one day, I might handwrite some affirmations about confidence to change how I’m feeling. I sometimes write out lists to explore all the ways I could fix a problem. The self-imposed challenge to come up with 20 possible solutions may be the catalyst I need for a breakthrough.

(Related: Grab 26 free soul-searching journaling prompts at the bottom of this post)

 

power of journaling quote

Don’t burn bridges

I never felt like “take this job and shove it” with my last employer. I left on super good terms, with a cupcake and a cute poster to boot. I still teach barre class at my previous employer, meet friends there at lunch, and keep in touch with the content team.

First of all, that job was an important catalyst in my career and the people there still have a valued place in my heart. Secondly, every person I knew there is naturally a part of my network now. People there could potentially refer me to their friends, put in a good reference for me, or come back to me for content work.

Before I left, I even pitched my employer as a potential client. It may seem like a really out-there idea, but pitching your own employer before you leave may lead to lucrative work. I personally know several people who have done it and now do freelance work for their former employer.

 

What’s next?

I’ve said before that I plan for 2018 to be the year of “explosion.” Now that I have my bearings, I have compiled a ton of work experience, and I know where to find work, I can start building my business upward. I can leverage what I’ve already built this year to increase my prices, handpick my clients, and expand my network. I can start working more on projects I believe in and my own personal passions, like my forest bathing site.

I want to explode my business more by:

  • Going to a big business-related conference
  • Learning everything I can about online business and setting up more passive income streams
  • Building my connections with other freelance writers
  • Helping other freelance writers build their careers
  • Reading everything I can get my hands on about being better at freelance writing

 

These goals are all part of my quarterly review, by the way. I’d love to hear about your business goals…

How about you?

Where do you hope to be one year from today? What are your business goals for 2018? For quarter 2? 

The Complete Guide to Choosing a Freelance Writing Niche

choose a freelance writing niche

Why do I need to choose a freelance writing niche?

Choosing a freelance writing niche:

  • Makes you stand out from other candidates
  • Allows you to charge more for your services
  • Sets you apart as having specialized skills
  • Allows you to create a career around your passions

I’m about to go over, in careful detail, what the benefits of choosing a freelance writing niche are. If you’re not convinced by the end of this article, please let me know in the comment and we can chat;)

 

First, let’s take a look at my own freelance writing niche for a second.

So, I chose fitness copywriting as my writing niche.

What does that mean?

*clears voice all professional-like*

Fitness copywriting, in a nutshell, is the occupation of writing content for fitness businesses that persuades readers to take a particular action.

 

That’s great Jessica, but I don’t want to limit myself to a niche. I want to write on a broad range of topics.

Okay, I get that…

But let’s look at this from your prospect’s point of view for a moment, shall we?

 

Why choose a niche?

I’d heard over and over from other successful writers that to be a successful writer, you need to choose a niche. At the time, I just figured I’d follow in the footsteps of those who know best.  But now I intimately understand why everyone says to niche, niche, niche!

 

Consider this…

You work at a running shoe store and you want to hire a writer for your store’s blog. You put out the word that you’re looking for a writer and you get approached by two prospects.

The first is a three-time marathoner, running coach, and fitness writer with no college degree or special certifications.

The second is a writer with an English degree who sells you on all the platforms they write for and journals they’ve been published in and contests they’ve won. They’re not a runner or exerciser in any form, but they assure you they can write about any subject.

 

Who will you hire?

I’d be hiring me the runner. Wouldn’t you?

Our marathoner knows all the lingo, all the subtle nuances of running, all the struggles that runners face. He can probably explain it in a fresh way too. He obviously has a passion for fitness, and it shows in his writing.

Our writing generalist doesn’t know anything about running from experience but can “research” it. They’ll probably do a “fine” job on the project, but they have no personal interest in exercise, so they probably won’t be able to convey your message with the enthusiasm and underlying knowledge it deserves.

 

Consider…

Consider the energy your readers will find behind the words too. One candidate has enthusiasm about running, the other has the opposite.

Consider their personal understanding of the subject. One lives it, while the other has to learn about it through other runners.

Consider the time it will take for each candidate to master the subject. One already has. One has a long way to go.

Consider how the two candidates accumulate information. One from their own experience, the other from what they read online.

Consider the conversations you’ll have with each candidate. One is on the exact same page as you. You’ll have to do a lot of explaining for the other.

 

Maybe you even start to wonder what made the generalist apply for this project at this point, if they have no personal interest in running.

You’re starting to sense a hint of desperation, because now you assume they’re just applying for any and every job they see. Meanwhile, it totally makes sense why the runner expressed interest, because this project is perfectly aligned for both you and him.

 

why choose a freelance writing niche

 

Think about how doctors and surgeons specialize and how it affects their services and their income. A general practitioner usually gets paid less than, say, a podiatrist. Why? Because of the specialty, the specific expertise.

A doctor might choose which body part and which type of patient they’d like to work with. Pregnant women, kids, geriatrics. Feet, brain, gastrointestinal system.

You get to do the same thing. You get to choose which subjects you get to work on and who you get to work with. That’s empowering and exciting!

 

I know for a fact that I landed one of my first lucrative clients because they were looking for a specific niche writer with specific qualifications. Read more about that here.

 

You see how niching benefits you now, right?

 

It’s obvious that a writer with an established niche, as opposed to a generalist, has a huge advantage.

 

How do I know which freelance writing niche is right for me? 

I speak to why I chose health and fitness in depth in this post on Horkey Handbook.

Simply put: it’s in my DNA. I love health and fitness topics so I naturally love writing and researching about them.

I’m already personally immersed in and have a sense of what’s happening in that world.

I already have passion for that subject.

I WANT to write about it every day.

I have major background in it.

 

So, what subject do you feel this way about? Or what do you have intense interest in? Or at least, what you don’t hate? What do you already know a lot about?

Now, write down your potential job title as though you’re creating a business card or email signature, like so…

 

Jessica Collins,

Health and fitness copywriter

 

Did that make you tingle a little inside? Good, you’ve found the right niche.

Did it make you feel like you just got roped into signing a two-year contract to a dingy apartment you despise? Chuck it. Start over.

 

Mindset moment: Don’t think that choosing a niche is a huge life-defining decision that you’re married to till death do you part. If you choose one and don’t find it particularly fulfilling or profitable, you can simply change it.

 

Okay, so now that we have that set…

 

What do you need to call yourself a [insert niche here] writer?

Why, just you and your own coronation crown, actually.

You just say “I am a {fill in the blank} writer. And, by the power vested in you, you are one.

Alright, I happen to have several certifications that do me well in the industry. I’m a certified personal trainer, sports nutrition specialist, and barre instructor. I’ve also run a half marathon and a handful of 5ks.

But you certainly don’t have to have these extra credentials to write in the fitness niche. Or any niche.

You don’t need anything except an interest in the subject and a willingness to learn more about it. Even though I know a lot about fitness, I still learn new things every single day about the subject.

You see, one of the perks of being a freelance writer is the mental stimulation!

So anyhow, it really is as simple as this. You don’t need to make it any more complicated than simply claiming your niche as your own.

 

credentials you need to be a freelance writer

 

Mindset Moment: Now, even if you don’t have an expansive background in the subject you want to write about, don’t let that stop you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll figure it out as you go. Spend time perusing relevant industry websites and publications to start absorbing the lingo and culture.

 

Decide on a niche

So now, let’s consider what niche you might be interested in claiming.

 

First, you can niche by subject!

Perhaps you already know exactly what your niche should be. But in case you don’t, take a little minute here to do some self-examination.

  • What do you love to do already in your own daily life?
  • What are you really good at?
  • What sections magnetize you at Barnes and Noble?
  • What could you talk someone’s ear off about?
  • What are you obsessed with or have been obsessed with in the past?
  • What types of magazines do you subscribe to?

 

For me, I’m always drawn to the health and wellness, nature, and self-development sections at Barnes and Noble. I’ve always been really good at coming up with ideas, connecting ideas, listening to people’s deepest desires, and writing. I’ve always been obsessed with strong women leaders, poetry, and psychology.

Now, some of these subjects aren’t really suited for long-term career growth. For example, I don’t think I have it in me to make a full-time living writing poetry, and it’s pretty difficult to break into for most people. I still write and study poetry, but it’s not meant to be my career.

Other subjects stick out for me and have a really lucrative place in our current society. Health and fitness is one of them. I’ve already discussed how much background and passion I have for the subject, so it’s a no-brainer.

Some of my other strong subjects feed into my health and fitness niche. For example, psychology mixes really well with fitness when you’re writing an article about workout motivation or willpower. The fact that I can come up with ideas like water certainly helps when I need to come up with clever product names or blog post ideas for clients.

So, what stands out the most to you?

How can your other areas of interest feed your niche?

 

You can also niche by content type!

You can niche yourself as a blog writer, white paper writer, website copywriter, ebook ghostwriter, Etsy product copywriter, etc.

You can also combine subject and content type niches. For example, you can be a healthcare white paper writer or a manufacturing industry blog writer.

You don’t have to niche down this far, but you certainly can if blog posts or white papers are your jam. Or you can choose two types of content and put packages together. For example, you could sell a package that includes 5 B2B blog posts and 1 B2B white paper for $xxxxx.

Do you have a particular type of content that you’d prefer to write?

Narrow down your freelance writing niche

 

Third, you can niche yourself by your clientele

Consider the types of people or businesses you’d like to write for. Often, large corporations have a lot of marketing spend for content. However, startups tend to be a little more progressive and open-minded than corporations.

Consider some of the people/businesses you could write for:

  • B2B businesses
  • B2C companies
  • App developers
  • Startups
  • 6-figure+ entrepreneurs
  • Amazon sellers

Again, you don’t have to choose specific clientele, but if you’re sure you only want to work with a certain type of client, you can add it to your niche, i.e. “I’m a safety blog writer for insurance companies.”


Now, another point I should mention is this: you don’t have to exclude any of your interests or audiences once you choose a niche either. You’re a well-rounded, multifaceted person. You should never have to narrow yourself down to one single subject!

While you might market yourself as a health and fitness writer, you can also add a comma and say you’re a health, fitness, and family writer.

You can have multiple niches! Or you can combine them!

Don’t limit yourself to just one subject if you’re just as passionate about one as you are of another.

I myself have several strong passions, none of which I’m willing to sacrifice: Writing, Fitness, Family, and Nature.

I fuse these subjects all the time with articles about workouts in nature and physical activities to do as a family. I even run two sites so I can nurture both passions. Flashfit Trainer combines fitness, writing, and family while Forest Bathing Central allows me to explore nature with more depth and breadth.

I’ve seen other freelance writers create two separate “work with me” pages on their websites. They send prospects from one niche to one page and prospects from another niche to the second page. It works!

The point is, you need to niche down, but not so far that you feel restricted.

You get to make this venture look however you want it to!

 

Allow your mind to wander over all the possibilities before you back yourself into a self-imposed corner.


Mindset moment: Niching, by definition, means placing all your focus on one subject. However, you can also infuse your other interests into your niche or, by golly, choose two to three niches. Who says you can’t? You little Creative, you!

 

Figure out if your niche is lucrative

When people say you need to “qualify your niche,” they’re just using fancy marketing-speak that means “check to make sure your niche can make you money.”

As much as I value volunteer work, I don’t want to put in the hours I do for pennies. And I’m sure you don’t either.

I left corporate to remove the glass ceiling over my head, and I don’t intend to erect my own either.

So, you just need to take a few steps here to make sure your chosen niche is lucrative.

Part of your niche’s profitability lies in your dedication to not settling for anything less than lucrative. Any niche you choose can be high paying or low paying, depending on where you’re looking for projects.

Content mill? Not going to pay your bills. Referrals from current clients? Totally bomb!

Some subjects really aren’t profitable either, unless you happen to find a gem of a gig.

But anything to do with money, health, and technology, for example, tend to be pretty lucrative.

 

So, how do you qualify your freelance niche?

Well, here are a few ways to do it:

  • Look at what types of projects repeatedly come up on freelance sites like Problogger. Repetition signals a solid niche.
  • Click on a few of those projects and see if they have a payment value posted. Like what you see? (Just remember, if you don’t like what you see, it doesn’t necessarily mean the niche is unprofitable. Keep researching).
  • Join and hit up a few of your freelance writing Facebook groups. Scroll through to check out what people are saying about pricing. You could also put out a post asking what niches other people write for and how profitable they are.
  • Google “[your niche] + content marketing agency.” Scroll through to get a sense of the quality of the niche and what types of businesses the agencies work with. Pitch a few while you’re at it.
  • If you notice a freelance writer online or in a group that makes a good profit, research or ask what their niche is.
  • Check your prospective company’s website or LinkedIn stats to see if they have a lucrative marketing department. You should get a sense that the company values marketing, particularly content marketing, and that they have a marketing budget to accommodate it.

If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a medal of honor. It means you’re serious about your freelance writing venture.

It means you know the value of information-gathering.

 

With that said, I sincerely hope this guide has given you valuable insight into freelance writing niches. I’ve shared so much of what I know and everything I’ve been told about choosing a freelance writing niche from other people, so you know what to do. Hopefully this pulled away some of the smoke and mirrors so you can make out the clear view.

 

~To help you even further, I put together a list of over 200 up-to-the-minute profitable freelance writing niches and a workbook to help you discover your golden niche, so you don’t have to spend any more time researching. I also go more into depth about how to qualify your niche, how to market your niche, and how to change niches. Check out the Freelance Niche Mini Course and Workbook

 

How about you?

How did you choose your freelance writing niche? What other questions do you have about niching? 

Leave a comment or pick up the conversation in our Freelance Freedom Facebook group.

4 Ways to Achieve a Healthy Freelance Work-Life Balance

{Pin me!}

 

The freelance work-life balance is quite challenging.

You work at home.

And you play at home.

And you raise kids at home.

And eat all your meals at home.

There’s a whole lot of spending time at home involved, when you work at home.

 

While a homebody like me loves that about freelance writing, it’s difficult to make the transition from work hours to home time when you work in your home.

When you head straight from work to cooking dinner, you feel like you never left work. And when you wake up in the morning and get to work, it feels like you’re still in “home” mode.

It’s hard for your brain to make that switch when the physical switch isn’t there. In corporate, I had two separate physical home and work spaces and a half hour drive each way to transition.

So, today I want to share some of the ways I turn work life on and home life off and vice versa. That way, you can dedicate your full attention to each in a way they deserve and so work doesn’t infiltrate your time with your family.

 

4 Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Freelance Writer

  1. Plan your work schedule
  2. Create a dedicated workspace
  3. Come up with a transitional ritual
  4. Set boundaries on your work time

Plan your work schedule before you even quit your day job

In the weeks leading up to my last day at corporate, I sketched out a rough working schedule for freelance writing. I knew I had to be up by 6 to get my son off to school and my daughter doesn’t get up until 8, so I had some prime work time between 6am and 8am. Then, I work out, eat breakfast and shower from around 8-9:30 or so. Then, my sitter comes over and I work from 10 to 12:30 or so, come out and have lunch with everybody, and go back to work for another few hours. Then, I stop at 5:00 sharp.

On Wednesdays, I try to build some new scenery and social time into my life. We go into town and I drop my daughter off with my mom and sister at a little educational class she loves. I usually work from Starbucks or the library and schedule lunch dates with friends. Some Wednesdays I also teach barre class.

Fridays, I take my daughter to my father-in-law’s and work from the library for several hours. This way, I get to build a change of scenery and adult time into my workweek to counter the isolation while still maintaining a pretty tight work schedule.

This first tactic allows me to separate work and home life by putting strict “office hours” around my work time. Yes, some days I’m unable to follow it, but having the time carved out really helps. Everyone in my house knows my expectations.

 

separate work home life freelance

 

Create a dedicated workspace

Separating your physical work space from your home space is a great way to give yourself work-home boundaries. When you work in corporate, your physical spaces are automatically separate. When you work at home, you need to set intentional boundaries around work and home space.

I recommend having a separate workspace and trying not to allow your work and home spaces to overlap much. I have a dedicated workspace in my office/workout room. Everything I need is in that space. Office supplies, pens, agenda, planner, outlets, printer, etc.

Sure, I work from the dining room table and back deck sometimes, and that’s the beauty of working from home, but I still maintain that separate workspace. I still have to physically move from my workspace to my home space, which helps the transition.

If you make a regular habit of working from your bed, don’t be surprised if you start losing sleep. Your work brain will start to kick on in bed as soon as your bed goes from the place you sleep to the place you work. Your bedroom is a sacred space for love and sleep. Don’t ruin that sanctity with shiny screens and emails and rushes of cortisol.

 

freelance physical boundaries

Create a transitional ritual

If I jump up from my computer desk and immediately start making dinner, I’m still thinking about what I was just working on and not completely present in my home time. So, I like to perform a physical transitional ritual to change where I’m at in my headspace.

All I do is lie on my bed for a few minutes and breathe deeply into my belly for 10 full breaths or more. Inside my head, I actually tell myself “It’s okay to play now. It’s time to eat and play with the kids, and have a relaxing evening. It’s okay to put work behind me for the day.”

Maybe that sounds a little cheesy, but I dare you to try it. Because it works! The breathing practice plays a stress-relieving role while the self-talk helps me completely change gears, with intention. It really helps me differentiate home from work. Whenever I jump right in without this ritual, I never feel that transition.

 

work-life balance headspace

Set boundaries on your work time

For the first few weeks/months of freelance life, I had some trouble with my work boundaries. I allowed a few friends and family to call or hang around and chat during my office hours. A half hour here, an hour there, and I lost so many accumulated hours of valuable work time per week.

Once I noticed what was happening, I took measures to stop it. I stopped answering the phone during work hours. You don’t have to be rude about it either. I just texted them after the ringing stopped “hey, I’ll call when I’m finished with work” and they started to get the point.

This tactic was another necessary way to separate work from play. No, I can’t gab with friends during work hours, and no, I can’t keep working into my family time either. As a freelancer, you have that freedom to design your own schedule, but you can’t sacrifice all your work time to friends and family.

 

freelance freedom schedule

 

Aside from these strategies, I also get dressed every single day. I can count on one hand (twice) the number of times I worked all day in my pajamas. I usually even put on makeup and earrings, even if I don’t intend to leave the house. These are just psychological triggers that seem to work for me and put me in “work mode.” Sure, I wear leggings many days, but I still get dressed and showered.

 

Well, I hope this helps you get a sense of how the work-life balance works for freelance writers. I’d love to hear about yours!

 

How about you?

How do you separate work and home life if you work at home?

The Top 5 Lies That Keep You From Freelance Writing {And How to Destroy Them}

freelance writer mindset

 

 

You’ve thought about freelance writing before, but you quickly drop the notion because it seems silly or insensible. You have a ton of reasons in your mind why it wouldn’t work:

  • You don’t know anything about business.
  • You’re not even a quote-unquote “writer.”
  • You have no English degree or certifications.
  • Your job is fine, you don’t want to ruin that.
  • Etc

 

I had those too, my dear!

So did every other freelance writer at the start of their career!

 

But the more I looked into freelance writing, the more I saw that I actually could become a freelance writer, the more people I saw doing it “right,” the more times I noticed that it wasn’t actually a pipe dream, the more real the notion became in my mind!

That’s what I hope this article does for you: Change your entire mindset so you see how accessible freelance writing really is!

 

Let me see if I can hear what you’re thinking:

 

Lie #1: I don’t even know where to start!

Okay, this one isn’t so much a lie as an obstacle that’s easily solvable.

Just start!

Ready-fire-aim

That’s how you make it work.

Okay, I know some of you aren’t wired that way, but let me just say, you can start today. I have a few practical steps to help you get started.

What you need to do to start a freelance writing business:

  1. Set up a business website in 5 minutes
  2. Then, design it for free without any design skills
  3. Start creating some writing samples. Go big right away with the Huff Post
  4. Create a portfolio, on your website, Pinterest, or Contently
  5. Start marketing your freelance business, so people know it exists
  6. Start pitching! {More on this subject to come!}

Written out like that, it seems pretty simple now, doesn’t it?

Now, of course, there are many more details that go into these steps, but this big-picture strategy helps clear up the “where to start” bit for you.

You can also sign up for my free 7-day Freelance Getting Started series, which goes more into depth about starting your journey as a freelance writer, even if you’re still at your day job.

Now you can’t say you don’t know where to start anymore;)

 

Lie #2: I don’t have the credentials to be a freelance writer

*Looks around, covers her mouth, and whispers in your ear* “Guess what? You don’t need any credentials!”

Wait, what?!?

Hold the phones!

Ya, really. It’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves.

Your clients don’t really give a flying eagle whether or not you were summa cum laude of your graduating class. They probably won’t even ask a single question about your educational background.

They just want to see samples of your writing to know whether or not you can do the job.

If you have decent writing skills, you’re in the club. Welcome!

You just need some writing talent, but not special initials behind your name.

I know plenty of lucrative freelance writers that don’t even have a college degree, let alone an English one. I know IT writers that don’t have backgrounds in IT.

However, if you’re trying to be a fitness writer and you do have an English degree and a personal training certificate, market the heck out of that!

Please know that there’s no accrediting agency that’s going to tap a sword over your shoulders and assign you an official freelance writer.

You assign yourself one.

Repeat after me: “I’m a freelance writer.” Now, by my decree, you are one.

Now you can no longer use the “I don’t have the right credentials” as an excuse either;)

 

Lie #3: When I think of “freelance writer,” I think of a starving artist, not a lucrative career!

When I was in college, prematurely trying to decide on a career path, I desperately wanted to try freelance writing. At the time, that meant living paycheck to paycheck with little more than a few boring local newspaper assignments or something. That’s not the version of freelance writing I was hoping for.

So, I decided to go the traditional route and look for a lucrative career to support myself.

As an English major, you’re either supposed to be a teacher or a poet forever relegated to your parent’s basement. I wasn’t satisfied with either one.

So, I kept my eye out for a different option. And I found it!

And I want to open up a whole new world for you. There’s a world out there of successful six-figure freelance writers. A world of writers that are far from starving or living in their parent’s basements.

Freelance writing is lucrative, as long as maintain a certain level of standards.

You don’t work for low-baller Upwork clients. You work for clients with real marketing budgets.

You don’t work for $15 per hour. You work for a minimum of $50.

You don’t start at the bottom and work your way up. You start high and work your way higher.

Now you don’t have an excuse to hold onto this limiting belief!

 

Lie #4: I’m too much of a rule-follower to break the mold.

*Yawn!*

I’m sorry, was it rude of me to yawn while you were listing out the reasons why you can’t make the leap from corporate to self-employed?

Rule following is boring.

Rule following is what we’re conditioned to do.

But we don’t have to.

I’m your typical goody-two-shoes, do-gooder, straight-A girl. There is not a more straight-laced rule follower than me.

And I did it.

If I did it, there’s no reason why you can’t.

And let me tell you. Once you do? You’ll wonder why you were such a mold follower in the first place! And you’ll join me in synchronized yawning at anyone else who brings it up.

No, but to be completely serious…

Why not you? Why not now?

It’s really amazing on the other side when you get to make the rules for once.

You get to be a more authentic version of yourself than the appearance you keep up for your coworkers.

You get to work on meaningful projects.

You get to walk around in leggings and grab coffee from your own kitchen. Take a nap on your lunch break if you need one. Work from your back porch or the library.

This is so cliche, but cliche for a reason (because it’s so stinkin’ true): When you get to the end of your life, you’re more likely to regret NOT breaking the rules than breaking them.

And I’m not talking about breaking the law. I’m talking about breaking the “work 9-to-5 until you retire or die” rule.

You know deep down inside of you, in a place you don’t allow yourself to rifle around, that you were made for more than this paint-by-numbers life.

Plus, to be honest, it’s not even as rule-breaking as you think it is. As traditional full-time jobs are becoming less and less favorable to the incoming generations, jobs are becoming more agile, as in more location-flexible. It’s becoming more normal to be a “freelancer” than not to anymore.

Okay, I hear this excuse fading into the background with my yawn…

 

Lie #5: I’m not good enough for high-paying clients

You see a prestigious brand you’d love to work for, but immediately think, “ah, they’ll never want me. I’m not good enough for that brand.”

Oh but my dear, you are! You are!

As long as you’re professional and you know how to write, you’re good enough for high-paying clients.

You do not need to start at the bottom, making pennies. You do not need to shy away from the big-names.

In fact, I encourage you to start at the top! And work your way up!

My very first pitch went to a well-known business coach, and I nailed it!

My second went to a well-known fitness personality, and there was adamant interest!

I dare you to start higher than you think you’re capable.

I want you to turn this mindset completely around and think about three places you don’t think you’re qualified to pitch, and pitch them!

Deal?

Okay, so, now you’ve awakened to the idea that you’re good enough to pitch the top names!

 

And just like that…we’ve completely ambushed your top five concerns. Or to be perfectly blunt, the top 5 LIES you tell yourself.

 

Would you like to do more work around mindset?

I put together an in-depth mini-course all about mindset practice. It’s a much more in-depth look at mindset than this article along with a corresponding journaling guide to help you completely rewire your mindset. If you need more guidance with mindset, check it out!

 

Mindset work for freelance writers

 

Before you launch your freelance writing career, you have to cultivate the correct mindset. You need to start with your thoughts for everything else to fall into place. Otherwise you’re going to continue ending up where you started.

 

Cheers to you!

What other pesky thoughts roll through your mind that stop you from launching your freelance career?

50 Ways to Market Your Freelance Writing Business

marketing freelance business

 

I recently saw a quote from Gina Horkey that said “To be successful at freelancing, you should always be marketing.”

 

Yes, yes! So so true!

 

If things slow down, do some marketing.

If you’re feeling unsure about yourself and your business, do some marketing.

If you haven’t found your first client yet, do some marketing.

If you’re worried about losing a client, do some marketing.

Anything that makes you feel unsure, insecure, or slow with freelance writing, the answer is marketing.

 

But what’s the best way to market your freelance writing business?

Find where your ideal clients are hanging out and start making some connections.

 

And how do you do that?

Well, here are 50 ideas:

  1. Send a pitch to a company or brand you love
  2. Promote a niche-specific piece you wrote on LinkedIn
  3. Tweak your Twitter profile
  4. Keep business cards with you at all times
  5. Make a “Writing Tip of the Day” post in one of your Facebook groups
  6. Start a Facebook business page for your freelance business
  7. Contact 5 local web designers to see if they ever work with freelancers.
  8. Tweak your LinkedIn profile
  9. Make a helpful comment on another freelance writer’s blog
  10. Write a blog post with a pinnable poster in your niche (like this!)
  11. Link to the above post in a Blog Post thread in one of your Facebook groups
  12. Write an epic post for Medium
  13. Tweak your byline
  14. Put out a post on your personal Facebook page about your business
  15. Create a “list” on Twitter and add a bunch of business owners in your niche. Start interacting.
  16. Introduce yourself to a copywriting course creator
  17. Research directories for your niche and start pitching.
  18. Add your own business to the above directories.
  19. Create an opt-in for your niche.
  20. Purchase a Facebook ad promoting your opt-in, targeting people in your niche.
  21. Film a Facebook live about how your services benefit clients.
  22. Download the video from above and share on Youtube, adding relevant tags.
  23. Join a Google + community in your niche and start interacting.
  24. Ask a current customer for a testimonial. Add it to your website.
  25. Attend a local networking event.
  26. Write a press release about your own business and share on free press release services.
  27. Pitch a niche site for a guest post.
  28. Pitch to the Huffington Post.
  29. Collab with someone to create a webinar.
  30. Check HARO daily and contribute as a guest contributor.
  31. Search Pinterest for a hot topic in your niche and write a post about it.
  32. Be a guest on a podcast.
  33. Tweak your Instagram presence.
  34. Create a case study of a favorite brand and then share it with them.
  35. Find an article that ranks #1 on Google and write a better/updated post
  36. Offer a free service.
  37. Write a one-page business plan.
  38. Cross-post on an online friend’s blog.
  39. Become “known” in freelance circles.
  40. Hang out on Reddit and provide valuable posts to people in your niche.
  41. Answer a question on Quora.
  42. Make sure you’ve optimized your Quora bio.
  43. Make your email or contact info easy to find on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  44. Promote industry content on Twitter.
  45. Host a giveaway.
  46. Offer to swap services with someone. Web copy in exchange for a site redesign.
  47. Host a 10-day challenge.
  48. Research and use relevant hashtags on Insta and Twitter.
  49. Offer to do a course for a local writing group.
  50. Make sure everyone you know knows what you do.

 

freelance business marketing ideas

{Pin me, so you can find me again!}

 

Now, you obviously can’t focus on all of these or every platform at one time, and they’re not quite as simple as they seem, but they can be broken down in a straightforward way. You can make time to do something in each of these overarching categories every day:

 

  • Pitching: actively cold pitching prospects or sending submissions.
  • Networking: making connections in both your niche and the freelance writing industries.
  • Marketing your business: spreading word about your services on your website and social media.

 

I would suggest putting all your focus on one or two platforms and rocking them like crazy, such as your website and Facebook. Then, you can re-purpose any content you put out on those platforms to your other social media outlets (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) to stay active.

Just make sure you do a little marketing every day to grow your business.

There’s no way your business can’t grow if you promote it every day!

Alternately, your business can’t grow if you don’t promote it. If your business is stagnant right now, it’s probably because you’re not actively getting yourself out there.

 

freelance marketing quote

 

How about you?

Which marketing method has been most effective for your freelance business?

Simple and Free Freelance Writer Website Design 101

So, after showing you how to create a website from scratch in under 5 minutes, I promised a tutorial on how to design your freelance writer website.

I’ve been busy building a new website, so I was thinking it’s the perfect time to show you how to build a freelance website from scratch.

I’ve been using the Make Theme from Theme Foundry to build my web pages. It’s simple and easy to use, which is what I like. I don’t like fuss or too many options. This WordPress page builder is also free, so there’s that. However, you can upgrade to the paid theme to get more options.

Make Theme is a great alternative to Divi. It has drag-and-drop features that allow you to build web pages without having any coding skills.

 

To install the Make Theme to your WordPress site, go to Appearance–>Themes–>Add New

 

How to use Make Theme for WordPress

 

Then, search for “Make” in the Search box to find the theme.

Make Theme by Theme Foundry install

 

Hover over the picture and click “Install” and then “Activate.”

 

Let’s play around with it so you know what it does. Go to Appearance–>Themes and click on “Customize” under the Make Theme.

 

Make Theme Site Builder

You’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:

 

Make Theme Theme Foundry WordPress

Now, all you have to do is play around in that left sidebar. You can do all kinds of things with color and design there. It’s so much easier to learn all the features by playing around and testing different things out than by me trying to walk you through all of it.

You can test any of the features out, and it will give you website preview on the rest of the page. It won’t make any permanent changes to your site unless you

 

For example, we could spend all day just playing around with color, but let’s hit the color button:

Theme Foundry Make Theme Tutorial

 

Hit Header Bar:

 

Make Theme Header Bar

 

Now, I chose a color palette for my website here on Garden Stew.

 

Forest color palette

I entered the forest green color as my header color, using the html color number for the green color:

 

Make Theme Theme Foundry Tutorial

Just like that, you can play around with the theme colors and look.

 

Now, let’s look at how to build a new page using the Make Theme page builder.

So, click Pages–>Add New

 

Make Theme Page Builder

I’m going to create a “Suggested Resources” page for demonstration. Let’s say we want to add suggested reading on forest bathing. I am going to choose Columns from the Page Builder section. I use columns for almost everything.

Wordpress Make Theme Tutorial

 

So, now 3 columns will show up on your page. You can “click to edit” to add text or images here.

 

Make Theme Tutorial

 

I’m going to add a few Amazon books using my Amazon affiliate links here, so I’ll hit the “Text” tab here and add the html code that Amazon provides and click “update column.”

 

Make Theme Foundry Tutorial

 

I did this for all three columns, so now, on the backend, they look like this:

 

Wordpress Make Theme Columns

 

As a freelance writer, you could offer resources similar to this on your blog with freelance writing courses, books, or products that you love.

 

To add pages to your website, including a home, about and blog page, go to Pages–>Add New

add blog to wordpress site

Title your new post “Blog” and it will automatically assign the permalink yoursite.com/blog. Hit the Publish button. Now you’ve just set up a blog on your website.

Add a blog to your wordpress site

 

Now go to Settings–>Reading

We’re going to make sure your blog tab shows up in your website menu.

Add blog to wordpress website

Select Blog from the Posts page dropdown menu.

Import blog to wordpress

If you want to, you can select how many blog posts show per page and whether it will show the full blog posts or just a summary with a “read more” button.

Then, save your changes.

Next, go to Appearance–>Menus

adding blog to wordpress site

 

On this page, click to check “blog” and then click “add to menu.” It will add your blog to your menu like the big arrow shows.

Add blog to website on wordpress

 

You’re all set. Your blog is now ready to go! Just hit the “Posts” button on the right sidebar to start writing posts. If you preview your site, you’ll see that “Blog” now shows up on your menu bar. You can do the same with other pages, like our Suggested Resources page or a Work With Me page.

 

Okay, so hopefully this gives you a starting point to building some basic pages and a blog for your website. I don’t pretend to be a web design expert, but I do have some years’ experience running this here site to show you just how possible it is to make a decent website with some great resources at your disposal.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer;)

Happy site building!

What It Looks Like to be a Location-Free Freelance Writer

location free freelance writer

{Pin me to save!}

Being location-free has been a dream of mine ever since I heard of the concept.

And last week I got to experience that concept in full.

I mean, I have been a location-free freelance writer, in theory, since February. But I haven’t actually put it into real practice.

Sure, I can move from my office to the kitchen table to the deck to the library. (I am a true-blooded homebody).

But I haven’t actually done my work from a very “removed” location.

Until last week.

Now, before I start, let me just preface this by saying I didn’t go to Bali or the Bahamas or anywhere exotic–not that that isn’t in the plans for someday. But I did put in a full week’s worth of work while traveling.

In a semi.

So, Hubster drives a semi for a living and he’s been begging for me to come along for a week with him on the road. I was not quite as eager, but I knew it meant a lot to him, so I did it for him;)

And last week was the week we finally made it happen.

I spent a full week with Hubster, in his semi, out on the road.

And I worked the entire time.

 

Here’s what location-free work really looks like:

The scenery constantly changes

You get to see the world, the sun, the trees. Everything going past your window changes by the moment. You don’t have to see the same gray cubicle walls and pinned-up policies every day.

This definitely keeps a person’s brain stimulated.

Seeing the sun makes you more alive.

 

IMG_3640.JPG

IMG_3642.JPG

 

You get to stop and go as needed

I had so many work stretches of earbuds-in, nose-to-the-grind where I got shiz done. But, I was also able to look up and take pictures. Look up and have a quick snack. Look up and walk around a tree-lined lot. Look up and visit a thrift store.

 

 

place a location-free freelance writer can go

 

No one’s watching your back, making sure you only take a 30-minute-on-the-dot break or using the bathroom too much (Doesn’t that just sound ludicrous and dehumanizing? For someone to monitor your bathroom breaks? But it happens in corporate every day).

 

You get to have experiences on top of work

At the same time. I mean, where else can you work and experience changing scenery at the same time? The scenery out the window changes every second. The view and atmosphere are never stagnant.

Stagnancy is the death of creativity.

And I have never been so intellectually stimulated!

 

IMG_3663.JPG

 

The actual logistics of being a location-free freelance writer:

Freelance writing is one of those professions where you only need a few things to be able to work remotely.

 

Laptop

I mean, it goes without saying, you need a portable computer.

Location-free freelance writer looks like

Personal hotspot

Hubster and I have a plan with unlimited data, so I was able to hotspot my phone wherever I needed. I only lost my connection in a few remote areas, for 15 minutes at most.

 

Desk (optional)

Below was my desk. I will be putting this puppy in the camper now. I’ve been wanting portable lap tables for the camper. This locker shelf was perfect (because I couldn’t find a lap desk). It has a rubber non-slip top that kept my computer in place. I put a blanket underneath it on my lap and voila! Portable desk.

Really, that’s all you need.

IMG_3702.JPG

IMG_3703.JPG

Co-working space

Although a co-working space isn’t a necessity, it’s nice to have a few places that you can think of as dedicated work space. Those workspaces could be:

  • Passenger’s seat in a semi
  • Local library
  • Coffee shop
  • Friend’s dining room table
  • An actual rented co-working space

Know what I think they should have? (Listen up: here’s a free business idea for you enterprising types). There should be an AirBnb or couch-surfing type site for available co-working spaces. How cool would it be if homeowners, hotels, or businesses offered spare rooms or offices they weren’t using to entrepreneurs? Perhaps even for free.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could work in a waterfront porch one day and a renovated guest house another day? I think so! It’s a great alternative to co-working spaces for people like me who don’t want to work there every day, just once in awhile.

I think it would be so cool if people with WiFi offered location-free entrepreneurs a free place to work for the day. Anyone want to adopt me for a day?

Anywho…

I am so blessed and beyond grateful to be living this life, finally! Although the trucking life isn’t for me (at all!), working location-free definitely is.

 

A few bonus highlights from our trip:

Truck stop food (and tacky mallard wallpaper and fake plants;)

IMG_3650.JPG

 

A funny dispatcher. “I got you Boo!”

IMG_3646.JPG

 

A wildflower preserve between a highway and a railroad track.

IMG_3645.JPG

 

We were definitely in Amish country:

IMG_3659.JPG

 

Where’s Batman?

IMG_3649.JPG

 

The noise wasn’t what I was expecting from a trailer named Cold Train;)

IMG_3658.JPG

 

And last, but not least, my three favorite profound quotes from our trip:

  • “Dear. We’re being passed by a bridge!” (as a truck hauling a bridge passed him on the highway)
  • “Now my face smells like Rayna’s butt.” (After washing his face with a diaper wipe)
  • “You know, taking a shower makes the world make sense.” (me, after 1 of only 3 showers during the week.)

^^^^That’s sooo us right there. Hehe;)

 

So, tell me…

Is this the type of life you’ve always wished you could have? (C’mon, not the semi part, the location-free part!)

 


If you want to work location-free as a freelance writer, like I get to, check out my Freelance Freedom From Corporate series to join me!

3 Tricks To Skyrocket Your Freelance Pitch Conversion Rate

cold freelance pitch conversion

 

Hey #flashers,

If you’ve been sending out cold pitches to freelance prospects like crazy and getting crickets…

Today, I’m going to share the three things I’ve noticed help massively convert pitches I send out to clients.

You have two choices when you send out freelance writing pitches:

  1. Send them out, cross your fingers, and wait for people to get back to you.
  2. Be proactive about making your freelance pitches convert for you.

 

You’re going with Door #2, right?

Good, let’s see what’s behind that door than, shall we?

 

By the way, if you don’t want to read all of this, you can skip to the bottom and watch the video version;)

3 Ways to Skyrocket Your Freelance Pitch Conversion Rate

#1: The Follow-Up

So, I always write down the date I contact prospects on my pitch tracker (get it free here). Then, sometime between two weeks and a month later, I make sure I follow up with each and every one of them. I just send them a quick “Hey, I was wondering if you had a chance to consider my offer” email with the original email below it to jog their memory.

If I don’t hear from them on the second try, I follow up again. I follow up at least three times before moving on. And even then, I still leave the client “open” on my pitch tracker. Unless I hear a firm “no,” which never happens, I leave them open. You just never know.

You never know when a prospect might need you down the line, and they’re going to think “Hey, I remember a freelance writer approaching me awhile ago. Let me see if I can track them down.”

Remember, no reply doesn’t mean no. It could mean the prospect is busy, they’re considering your offer, your offer went to their spam box, or a million other scenarios. Following up doesn’t mean you’re bugging them either.

Following up increases the chances of hearing back.

It puts you back on your prospects’ radars.

It shows prospects you’re not a spammer. Spammers don’t follow up.

Following up is one of the ways I get major traction from my freelance pitches. If you want to learn from a successful freelance writer, it would serve you well to follow up;)

 

#2: Be Quicker

What the heck do I mean by being quicker? You already try to whip words together at the speed of light.

What I mean by being quicker is to respond to people’s requests or inquiries immediately.

If people inquire about your freelance services, make sure you get back to them within 24 hours. They have likely reached out to multiple people and will show favoritism toward those who get back to them first.

Now, I’ve had some major learning experiences with this. Learn from my mistakes!

One lady was referred to me through a big-name freelance writer. I got back to her right away and she said “let me know a good time to chat.” Well, I let it go for a few days and by the time I got back to her, she had already found someone else. I could kick myself!

Whenever you apply for a project on sites like Problogger [LINK] or Freelance Writing Gigs [LINK], you need to send your pitch immediately. These hunters get hundreds of replies. One of the ways to stand out is to be one of the first. After a day or two, you might as well not even apply.

Be responsive to your prospects and your pitches. This strategy should be a personal rule of yours.

 

#3: Add Personality to Your Pitches

People are so sick of salesy, boring, unpersonalized, or templated pitches.

They make your prospects’ eyes glaze over. They make your prospects wonder if you’re really even a good writer if you can’t even make your pitches a little bit interesting.

You’re a writer. Your pitches are one of the best places to showcase that writing talent, for crying out loud!

Give your pitches some personality!

What I mean by that is, put some energy and passion into your pitches. One recent example I can use is a pitch in which I admitted the “fire in my belly” for the clients’ subject matter and spoke to him like a human. He was impressed with the pitch and chose me over myriads of others because of the personality I allowed to shine through.

People can hear excitement in your pitches. Let them know you resonate with their subject matter. You don’t need to be unprofessional to exude that energy either.

 

 

Well, that’s it for today’s post on getting your freelance pitches to convert!

Let me tell you, if you use even ONE of these tactics for your next batch of freelance pitches, you’re going to notice way more replies. Use all three, and you’ll notice major changes in the way your pitches convert.

At least, that’s been my experience…

 

I just posted a video about this subject on my Youtube Channel. Make sure you subscribe to my channel to make sure you catch all my videos when they go live.

Want to learn more about pitching clients and building your freelance portfolio? Check out my free 7-day series, Freelance Freedom From Corporate.

How about you?

Are you going to give these strategies a shot? If you do, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
If you already use these strategies, what are some other ways you use to land more freelance writing clients? I’ll meet you in the comments!

How To Get Published On The Huffington Post

How to get published on the Huffington Post

 

Edited with an update: unfortunately, as of January 2018, Huffington Post has closed down their contributor platform. Although they still promise to incorporate contributor voices into their news site, they aren’t allowing any more contributor posts. I’ve decided not to unpublish this post because you can still use many of the tips from this article to help you pitch other high-profile sites.

 

Get published on the Huffington Post. That concept is a big intimidating beast that us freelancers shudder to think about. We’re unworthy. We’re not smart enough. We could never possibly think we’re good enough to get published on the Huffington Post!

Then, one day, you see a post like this and realize how approachable it actually is.

Wait a minute, what’s that? You can actually get published on the Huffington Post?

Yes, friends!

 

That’s exactly why I’m writing this. Getting published on the Huffington Post won’t be some big scary untouchable goal anymore! It will become possible.

Now, I will say, if you end up getting published on the Huffington Post, you’re going to have one of the most powerful writing samples for your portfolio. So make sure you’re strategic about this.

I ended up getting published at the very beginning of my freelance journey, so I had a superior writing sample for my portfolio straight from the starting line. It was genius!

 

Take a peek at my article: How Fitness Entrepreneurs Work Out When They Only Have 30 Minutes. (It’s a great read. Everyone learned something!)

 

Want the most kick-a$$ of writing samples for your portfolio too?

 

How to get published on the Huffington Post:

1. Come up with a killer pitch idea

Then refine it some more.

What I mean is, come up with a great pitch idea and then think about how you could make it even better, because that’s how you’ll come up with the best pitches.

When coming up with a pitch idea, make sure your post is niche-specific and of value to your ideal client to get the most out of this opportunity. Sure, you could write any old post that interests you. But if you can write a post that speaks to your ideal client, then you can maximize the platform to do some extra marketing work for you. It will become a great marketing piece for you and your business.

So, what do I mean by a niche-specific article for your ideal client?

It should be a niche-specific post directed at your ideal client.

Ok so, say you’re a healthcare blog writer for supplement companies. You are going to want to write a post that demonstrates your expertise to them.

But also remember, Huff Post is for the general public to find articles of interest. It’s not a platform for supplement sales or marketing.

So, write an article that interests the general public, that shows your ideal client your expertise. Something they could see sharing on their own blog or social media platforms that would benefit their own readers.

 

Instead of: 5 Major Marketing Opportunities Your Supplement Company Doesn’t Know About Yet

Try: 5 Questions You Have While Standing in The Supplement Aisle, Answered!

 

After that, I might even try to refine that headline even more or take an even better angle. That one sounds pretty good actually, but it will make your pitch shine if you refine it.

Cool, now that you have a topic, it’s time to work on the pitch.

 

2. Find out who to pitch

Next, you need to figure out who to send your pitch to. You need to find the right person, or your email will never be seen. Do NOT send your pitch to one of the Huff Post general email addresses. You can do better than that!

I sent my email straight to Arianna, but she has since stepped away from Huff Post. So, you need to sleuth out the proper editor and find their email address. Start with this page and find the name of the editor for the category your particular article will fall under. If I were pitching for the first time today, I would try to find the email addresses for Anna Almendrala or Erin Schumaker because they’re the Health Living editors.

Get Published on the Huffington Post: Find the right editor

Otherwise, you can use this Huffington Post blog pitch form. If you don’t hear back from one, try the other. After a few weeks, feel free to pitch again. If you get a rejection once, it doesn’t matter.

You can continue pitching until you get a “yes.”

 

3. Put together a killer pitch

Address your email to the name of the editor. “Hey Anna…” Then, create a compelling lead-in. A question or a very provocative statement is a great intro line.

The very first line the editor sees needs to make them read more. Make it good!

Try something like: “You’re doing your workout all wrong!” or “You won’t even believe what this mom did to put her special-needs daughter through college!”

Don’t gush and don’t lead in with a “why I should write for you” spiel. Lead right in with your pitch.

Next, tell the editor why this article would benefit them and how it would be different from the bajillions of other posts they see daily. “I think this would be a compelling read for your Healthy Living visitors.” Or “Everyone talks about how to save money for college, but this article has some ninja money-raising tips that your readers have probably never heard before!”

Be short and succinct. One lead-in line. One 2-3 sentence paragraph about why it’s an amazing post. Then, if you wish, you can include about two sentences at the end with your credentials. Even that is optional. The magic is in the pitch itself, not the bio. Your pitch will also speak for itself about your writing ability in how it’s written.

 

4. Hit “Send” baby

Take a deep breath and hit send. The cool thing is, like I said, you can always pitch again or you can try pitching someone else next time. The hardest part is doing it the first time.

 

Whew! You did it!

That was the easy part! Gathering all the interview guests and their quotes and pictures was much more difficult. I ended up getting over 100 responses for my post, which was a good problem to have.

If you want to know how I did it…

I’m putting together a super in-depth study of how I got published in the Huffington Post. It’s part of a bigger Freelance Freedom from Corporate course I’m putting together.

This course will go into major depth, giving you the exact pitch email that got accepted and the exact strategy for how I got over 100 submissions for my post, including a few major fitness celebrities! I’ll also spill about the residual goodies that came out of connecting with these businesses.

To make sure you’re the first to find out about it and get a tiny taste for it, sign up for my mini 7-day intro course to Freelance Freedom from Corporate. Once you see how much value is packed into that 7-day series, you’ll want to make sure you get on that list. (Click this link or sign up in the bar at the top of this post).

 

If you get published on the Huffington Post or another big name, put that piece in your portfolio and share the heck out of it. You also earned the right to put one of those “as seen in…” strips on your website, featuring the Huffington Post. Cool, huh?

And not quite as hard as you were thinking, right?

 

If you use this guide to get published on the Huff Post, I’d love to hear about it and read it, so come back and post it here;)

How to Create A Freelance Writer Website From Scratch

freelance writer website

 

So, in this post I’m going to teach you exactly how to build a freelance writer website from scratch.

But I want to explain why you need one in the first place. Because not all freelance writers are convinced they need one for some weird reason;)

 

Why you need a freelance writer website:

It’s simple: you own a business. If you can’t be found online today, you don’t exist. You must not be legit. You must not be very serious about your business. (I might even go out on a limb and say, you seem a bit like a fraud or scam? Ever thought it was fishy when you couldn’t find a business’s website online?)

A website is going to allow you to market yourself in ways that nothing else can. First of all, it provides bona fide evidence that you know how to write website copy and can help others with theirs because your own web copy will prove it.

Also, a large percentage of clients require you to have working WordPress knowledge to write blog posts for them. Building your own website on WordPress is going to give you that working knowledge that you need for them. You’re going to need to know how to use it anyway.

 

Another way to think about this is, why would you not create a website?

The cost to start a freelance writing business? Is the cost of your website. That is the lowest startup costs for a business EVER!

Plus, all your website hosting costs are tax deductible business expenses.

 

So, if you know you need a website and you haven’t built one yet, take a few minutes right now to put one together. Do it while your energy is high and you’re excited about it. You can bookmark this page for later, but if you keep avoiding it, you’ll never do it. Right now is a good time. Got 5 minutes?

 

How to create a freelance writer website in under 5 minutes:

  1. Go to Bluehost’s Home Page and click on the “Get Started Now” button. See that? You’re doing it! (And it’s not as hard as you were thinking).

How to Start a Freelance Writer Website

[Click Me to Follow Along]

 

2. On the next page, it says to Select Your Plan. Select Basic. You can always upgrade later.

Start a freelance website in minutes

 

 

3. Type in the domain name you want for your business. If you’re not sure about your domain name yet, a popup box will come up allowing you to go forward without a domain name. You get one free domain with your purchase, so you don’t have to use a separate site for that.

How to create a website with Bluehost

 

4. Create your account with Bluehost. All very straightforward.

Create a freelance website from scratch

Then scroll down a little and choose your plan. You save money if you buy several years’ worth of hosting up front. That $3.95/month? That’s the introductory rate, so go with as many months as you can. You can also add any extra features like SiteLock, which hides your address from everyone on the internet (I talk about protecting your identity in this post):

step by step guide create website with Bluehost

Scroll down a little more and enter your payment information. Read through and accept all the terms and conditions. Remember this is an investment, not an expense.

Walk through how to create a website

Then, click submit. You’ll be asked to verify your purchase and create your password. That’s IT!!!

Congratulations! You have a freelance writer website!

 

Now, you’ll want to install WordPress right away, since you’re on a roll here. Get ‘er done while you’re at it.

 

How to install WordPress to your Bluehost Site

This is too easy. It’s a one-click install.

Now that you’re logged into Bluehost, click on the “cpanel” tab at the top of the page.

how to install wordpress on bluehost

 

Then, click on Install WordPress and follow the directions from there!

 

Install WordPress on Bluehost

Bluehost 9

You’ll choose the domain you want to install WordPress on (probably the domain you just created). Or just call that number at the top of your screen and have someone at WordPress walk you through the process. I have faith in you though.

domain to install wordpress to bluehost

 

The next page should just confirm your admin information and give you the terms and conditions. After entering and reading through that, simply hit “Next” and it will start happening. The top bar will show you the progress.

 

install wordpress on freelance writer website

 

Then, you’ll be all set! You’ll be able to log into your WordPress site with the login and password provided at yoursite.com/wp-admin.

 

What brand new WordPress site looks like

 

That wasn’t so bad, was it? You have a freaking website now!

 

Now, it may take a little while to figure out how to navigate WordPress, but it comes with playing around and maybe watching a tutorial or seven. And almost any question you have can be answered with a simple Google or Youtube search.

 

I will come back soon with a post about the Make Theme and how I use it to build pages on my website. Many entrepreneurs use Divi, but I’ve found Make to be satisfactory for drop-and-drag capabilities. You can simply search your Plugins for the Make Theme by Theme Foundry to get it installed. A plugin is just a tool you add to your website backend that makes everything easier for non-developer people to do. In other words, instead of learning code to design your website, plugins can do most of it for you.

The other plugins I would suggest having for your freelance writer website (just install them and figure them out later):

  • Akismet: spam filter.
  • All in One WP Security: security for your website.
  • Google Analytics: see info about your site’s traffic, most popular posts, and audience behavior.
  • Magic action box/optin forms/SumoMe: choose one of these free plugins to add an opt-in form to your website. I have all three connected so I can have multiple opt-in boxes.
  • Photo Express for Google: this is a lifesaver plugin that gives me access to my smartphone pictures for blog posts.
  • Shareaholic: adds icons to your posts to encourage readers to share them on social media.
  • Updraft Plus-Backup/restore: backup your website. Just do it. Websites gets hacked every day.
  • WP Edit: This allows you to put extra features on your text editing toolbar.
  • WP Google Fonts: Gives you access to a ton of fonts, not just the four WordPress comes with.
  • Yoast SEO: This plugin helps you optimize your blog posts for search.

 

That’s about it for the basics of setting up a website! That’s all there really is to it. Feel free to play around to get a feel for WordPress.

 

If you used this post to build your own website, would you come back and share a link so I can see it? I love to see what others are creating! Any questions, drop a note in the comments!