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As to freelance writing, as much as I hate to say it, don’t quit your day job. At least not yet. Working as a freelance writer means running your own small business. You are responsible for everything — you must manage your time, market your skills, negotiate your contracts, maintain your finances, research the competition, set goals, improve your skills, build your client base and network. If you’re unsure of the amount of work necessary, you can pick up a book on the subject or for a better idea of what it’s like and the skills necessary, talk to a small business owner. Spend a day with him or her and gain an understanding of the number of hats worn at any one time. It can be overwhelming and without a strong support base, you can fail before you even start. When I was in college, I worked for help with essays for college in a small company (6 staff). I knew I wanted to be a freelance writer, but I saw how much work we had to do each day and I wasn’t sure I could manage it as a sole proprietor. So, I researched resources available to small business owners, took classes on marketing, business planning and finance, and determined my business needs and goals. I drafted a business plan and researched the market to determine competitive rates and avenues for work.
Before I finished my business plan, I happened to see an ad in the paper for freelance writers with my background. I sent them my resume and they sent me my first assignment with a due date. I had two weeks to complete an article on California Worker’s Compensation as it applies to small business owners. Eight weeks after I submitted my first article, I received a check in the mail for $32 (8 inches of column space at $4 per column inch). I was elated! But then I began calculating the number of column inches I would need to fill in order to quit my day job. I began looking for other avenues for publication.
I was a contributing writer to a series of reviews of local companies for a regional publication on San Diego County. Through my interaction with local business owners, I developed a strong relationship with a leadership training company that lead to a long-term contract revamping their training materials. My sister worked for a University and through her, I contracted with the University as a writer for hire developing leadership profiles of faculty and students as well as putting together a quarterly newsletter for both print and the web. Through my work with the University, I became friendly with a finance manager working with Options and Futures and drafted a variety of marketing materials for him over the course of two years. Is this starting to sound like Six Degrees of Separation? In “business speak,” I was NETWORKING!
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