When I graduated college, I went through a series of jobs before I landed in the non-profit world. I loved working in organizations that helped people, and that's what I did for the next 15 years.
I never would have imagined during that time that one day I would tell people, "I'm a professional writer." Building a successful writing business has been a journey, and it's taken hard work. But I love running my business and the flexibility it offers me so I can live life the way I want.
I started my freelance journey with dissertation editing. One client's simple question, "Do you do writing as well?" was the nudge that shifted my path towards writing.
In this article, I'll share a bit about my journey and offer some steps you can take as you start yours.
Laying the Foundation
My leap into freelance writing was less of a leap and more of a gradual transition. Initially, I juggled editing with a full-time job. When I finally decided to focus solely on freelance writing, I embraced the uncertainty and dove in headfirst.
Learning to navigate the freelance landscape took time. But I learned valuable lessons like how to identify the right niche and find the right clients.
When you're laying your foundation, you'll want to make sure you:
- Understand the freelance writing market: Research various niches and platforms to find where your skills fit best.
- Start small and scale up: Begin with manageable projects that align with your skills and gradually take on more challenging assignments.
- Stay flexible and adaptable: Be open to changing strategies and exploring new niches as you grow.
Building Your Brand
With the shift from editor to writer, I started to realize the importance of building a brand. I set up a website and dove into social media, focusing on Facebook and Instagram—where my potential clients were active.
Ghostwriting was my chosen specialty. This specialization not only set me apart, but also gave my brand a unique edge. As you build your brand, you might want to:
- Create a professional website: Showcase your portfolio and services; make it easy for clients to contact you.
- Be active on social media: Engage with potential clients and fellow writers on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- Choose a specialty: Like my focus on ghostwriting, find a niche that aligns with your skills and market demand.
Finding Your First Clients
My initial foray into freelance-based platforms was less than ideal. The impersonal nature of the platforms clashed with my relational approach to business. Instead, I turned to social media, fostering connections and offering value.
When questions about writing came up, I responded with helpful insights, followed by a soft pitch. This approach, prioritizing relationships over transactions, brought me more success and satisfaction and more business.
My advice as you look for clients is to:
- Build relationships, not transactions: Engage genuinely with potential clients on social media and networking events.
- Offer value first: Share your expertise and help solve problems before pitching your services.
- Soft pitch your services: Transition from providing advice or value to offering your writing services in a non-intrusive way.
Growing and Scaling
Referrals became the backbone of my business growth, a testament to the strength of building strong client relationships. But I never stopped prospecting, even when business was booming.
I gradually increased my rates and honed my services as my business grew and I gained experience. Eventually, I expanded into content strategy and coaching, further diversifying my portfolio and income streams.
As you find your feet and build your business:
- Ask for referrals: Encourage satisfied clients to refer you to others.
- Never stop prospecting: Even when busy, continue to seek out new clients and opportunities.
- Increase rates gradually: As your experience and portfolio grow, adjust your pricing to reflect your value.
- Diversify your services: Consider expanding into related areas like content strategy.
Reflection and Advice
Reflecting on my journey, the most vital piece of advice I can offer is this: focus on providing quality work and excellent client management.
The relationships you build with your clients are the pillars of your business. Keep them strong, and your path will lead to growth, satisfaction, and success.
- Focus on quality: Always deliver your best work to maintain a strong reputation.
- Manage client relationships effectively: Communicate clearly, meet deadlines, and exceed expectations.
Every writer's journey is unique, but the focusing on providing quality work and building strong client relationships will help you create a path to success. As you forge your own path, I hope my experiences will give you the motivation you need to build a successful writing business.