Saturday, 26 October 2013

Freelance Writer: How to Start Making Money Online

How to start and what to do! A practical step-by-step guide for beginners based on my personal experience.

People, who love to write, are generally those who love to read. To be a good online writer, you have to be a good researcher. This potent combination of a good researcher, who loves to read, can make or break your writing career. Why am I saying this? This was the first hurdle I identified, when I took stock of my writer status. I wasted too much time researching, reading and getting sidetracked. I enjoyed what I did, lost track of time, tired myself out or used up my time slot for writing.

The first thing I did, when I decided to try my hand at online freelance writing, was to Google about freelance writing. Oh My God! It was like being buried under an avalanche of information.  Online freelance writers seem most busy writing about ‘article writing’ than anything else. Every article is loaded with extra links of temptation: tips, tricks, secrets, success and buckets of money. The result is often, too many open tabs of overwhelming data, which ends up in creating a brain fog.

At the end of the day or even the week, the wannabe writer is thoroughly confused about where to actually start. Well, if you are serious about wanting to be a successful online writer, then it’s time to stop the planning and the preparation. Start the action with just the basics in place. This is what worked for me.

1.       Understand that it takes time to start earning online. Even when you land a few writing gigs, expect lean periods, where you will have to fall back on your savings. You will need a part time job or the support of working spouse to pay your bills in the meantime.

2.       The basics: Have a working computer, with an internet connection and word processing software like MS word.

3.       Set up a PayPal account. It’s free and easy. A lot of your clients maybe paying through PayPal.

4.       Decide on your field of expertise. Do not diversify too much. You can probably research and write on any topic, but it is better to focus on a subject you are familiar with. I write about Food and Nutrition, Health and Fitness, Pregnancy and Parenting; they are related topics. To write about legal issues, finance or construction business, I will have to go out of my comfort zone, research much more, study and understand this new material, before I can write a quality article on that topic.

5.       Create a blog. It’s free and easy. Don’t think or plan too much. You can make plenty of changes and improvements in the blog, as you understand the playing field. Don’t try to be a perfectionist from the beginning.

6.       Now, it’s time to start writing. What I liked about using my blog to launch my writing career was that it took a lot of pressure off me.  I didn't have to worry about, whether it will get published or wait for someone’s approval. Once you start writing an article in your blog, you have actually become an online writer! Congratulations! Research and write on at least ten popular topics related to your blog subject.

7.       Prepare your resume. Create a professional freelance writer profile on LinkedIn.

8.       Decide on a pay rate. Asses your own worth based on your skill and quality. Your location and currency exchange rates make a real difference.  Since I am Indian writer, the dollar conversion rates made $15 for 500 words, a good starting point. Once I got enough projects to keep me afloat, I stopped accepting projects below $25. Now, my base rate is $50 for 500 words or rather $10 for 100 words.

9.       Search writer job sites for work opportunities related to your chosen topics. Prepare your job pitch correctly to market your skills. Apply to as many as you can and do it within a day or two of the job posting. By the law of averages, you will sooner or later land a job.

10.   Now that you have your first job, do your best to research, write well, proofread and edit it. Once they are published, see if they can be added to your portfolio. Continue applying for new projects on a regular basis to keep the work flow consistent.

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