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Note from Lisa: Are you trying to kickstart your freelance writing career? Elise from HireWriters.com has some great advice for busy moms who are trying to get started.
Take it away Elise…
If you’re a busy stay at home mom, you’ve probably thought about the best ways to make real money working from home more than once. And it’s easy to dismiss a good idea that feels too good to be true. Even though we’re living in a world that is going more and more freelance, running any kind of successful business takes time, energy, and sometimes money. For a busy mom on the go, the prospect can seem daunting.
Freelance writing is a great stay-at-home business that can earn you some great money while you’re at home with the kids. You can set your own hours, play to your strengths, and learn marketable skills from home. Starting a new business seems intimidating, but in the world of internet marketing, where Content is King, it’s surprisingly easy to get started and build a thriving business.
Even the most casual side gigs need a plan before going in. Your freelance career is no exception. When you’re wondering how to get started, the first step is so obvious, many people don’t give it the attention it deserves.
What will you write about? It may seem counterproductive and limiting to choose your specialty and subspecialties before you even start your career. But research points to specializing as the right way to start your freelance career.
Specializing has many benefits. It allows you to spend less time researching and learning your topics, and more time learning the ins and outs of running your new business. It makes it easier to streamline a portfolio. And it means you develop a reputation faster since you’re focused on a smaller client pool.
Your specialties can come from anywhere. Obviously, becoming a mommy blogger is a great option, but think about what you have to offer. Think about your hobbies, your community. Any education or skills. Choose the direction you want your freelance career to take, and you’ll save time when you’re networking, and improve your reputation faster and more effectively.
As part of your plan, remember to set reasonable goals to build your business.
2. Build Some Buzz
Speaking of networking, you’ll want to use your own network when it comes to growing your business. Make use of your social media to grow your business. Let your inner (and outer) circle know you’re starting a freelance business. Testimonials and word of mouth can be a great resource when you’re looking for new clients. And building a presence on social media makes it easier to market yourself, and introduce yourself to industry experts, and others in your field.
You can build a network on and offline. Let’s say you’re interested in becoming a Mommy blogger, with a focus on green living. Chances are, you already belong to some neighborhood Mommy groups, and follow parenting bloggers online. Maybe you’re also a fixture at your local community garden, and you’ve connected with urban garden groups online. Spend some time cultivating relationships. Comment on posts, and connect with other bloggers, and with the experts, you know in your day-to-day life.
Offering to guest blog for a popular blogger in your sphere is a great way to gain new readership and potential clients. Using connections that have a personal relationship with you in your own community is also a great way to gain your skills and build your portfolio.
3. Create A Portfolio
One of the tools of any good freelance writer is an eye-catching portfolio. There are many web servers that can create a great space for your online portfolio. Your best option is to set up a blog.
Use your blog to outline the perfect “samples” of your work. These should be showpieces. They should be great examples of your tone, and the subjects you cover. Include a variety of interesting topics, but stick to one or two specialties, to give potential clients clear samples of what you can offer them.
Don’t forget the About page! Your About page should give your clients a better sense of your background. Keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to get a bit personal, here.
Add your social media accounts to your page, so you can keep in touch with readers, clients, and others in your field. Social media also offers an opportunity to boost your writing profile and show off your unique voice.
4. Reach Out To Your Network
With everyone staying at home for the foreseeable future, it’s tougher to attend networking events or even spend time with neighbors. Use your networking skills to connect online. Spend time in Facebook groups that talk about your specializations. Set up a Facebook page. If you’re just starting out, groups are a great place to find a mentor or role model.
Keep track of past clients and collect referrals. There are plenty of opportunities to offer skills and expertise to your community. Make yourself available to your community and members of your network, to build a reputation.
Finally, do a quick Google search for freelance writing gigs and spend some time on job boards to grow your portfolio, and find clients even when you can’t reach out in the traditional ways.
5. Perfect Your Pitch
You can see that networking is an integral part of growing a freelance writing business. But while you’re commenting on blogs, staying active on social media, and reaching out to friends and family, you also need to be on an active search for new clients. Pitching is a skill, and you’ll need to perfect it, just like writing and researching. Follow these tips to improve your pitching skills and land clients.
- Keep it short. Traditionally, an “Elevator pitch” is three or four lines about who you are and what you offer.
- Build a connection. Check out the blog or company you pitch to before you pitch. Many blogs have guidelines on their website. If you’re a fan of the company, take time to point out something they’ve done that you love. Never frame your pitch as a fix for something you feel they’ve done wrong. Focus on the positive.
- Get a name. Pitching to “to whom it may concern.” Will get you nowhere.
- Stay in touch. Provide contact info and links to your socials and make it easier to connect with you.
Starting a new business from home can seem like a daunting prospect. Especially when you’re busy with kids. But a freelance writing career from home is a rewarding way to earn money from home, and work at your own pace. As you build a client list, you’ll gain experience, and learn how to tell the good clients from the bad. As you grow your reputation, you’ll up your earning power, and turn your at-home gig into a growing business.
Note from Lisa: Thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us Elise!
For even more help getting your freelance writing career off the ground, here are some additional resources:
Above anything else, Elise loves tinkering with words. She spends her working hours guiding writers to run a successful freelance business, while occasionally blogging over at HireWriters.