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5 Essential Tips for Aspiring Freelance Writers

5 Essential Tips for Aspiring Freelance Writers

The world is awash with aspiring freelance writers. This is a great thing, but it is also the one that makes life hard for all of the said freelance writers. The world of freelance writing is not one that comes easy, and anybody who wants to make a success of it will need to put in many hours to pull it off.

The fact that it is a difficult world to get a foothold in should not make it any less appealing for those who truly want to write for a living. There are just a few things you need to be clear on before you take a real leap and become a fully paid up member of the freelance writers’ fraternity.

1. Leave Your Principles at The Door

This may sound like a horrible thing to say, but the truth hurts. If you want to become one of the very few successful freelance writers who make a decent living from their work, you will have to take on assignments that you really don’t want to do. Now i’m not saying that this needs to be anything too sketchy, but at the outset you will find yourself doing work that seems pretty bizarre.

All freelance writers have to take on unusual, or just downright soul destroying work when they are looking to get on their feet. I’ve done tens of thousands of words on things that have literally melted my brain, but I was getting paid. Every time you get paid, it is another job complete. Every time you complete a job, your profile gets that little bit more credibility.

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When you do end up doing this kind of dredge work at the beginning, try to take the positives out of it. Really do your research and take it as an opportunity to learn about a topic you previously didn’t even know existed.

2. Choose Your Freelance Platform Wisely

If you want to get good work, you are going to need to find the best freelance writers’ platform that best suits your skill set. You also need to focus on those platforms where there is so much work being offered that the little gems of jobs are still able to be seen amongst so much of the rubbish that is out there.

Personally I believe Upwork to be the platform that best works for me, but there are many high quality places where you can find fairly paid work. Everybody has to work for low-money at the beginning, but if you build your profile on a good site whilst doing that, eventually you will start getting interest when you go for the better paid jobs.

3. Know Your SEO Basics

In today’s market, it is not enough for freelance writers to simply be writers. In many ways you also become digital marketers for your clients. Whether this is through inserting so many keywords into a blog or website content, you will very quickly need to make yourself familiar with the basics.

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You won’t need to become an SEO expert, unless you want to be, but terminology like domain authority, anchor text, back-links, white-hat, and a whole host of others are all going to be things you will need to get a general grasp of.

The most important thing with SEO is that you should never let it compromise your writing. Even if you feel like you are forcing words into sentences, you will still be able to give it your own personal touch, and that’s why we want to write in the first place.

4. Don’t Give Up Your Day Job

Ideally you will not just turn your back on your old career and decide to join the ranks of freelance writers on a whim. I cannot emphasise enough how difficult it is to get by, especially at the beginning. If you want to make it last, you will need to be patient.

For this reason you should not give up your old job before you decide to go all in. Do whatever work you can on the side. Working like this will put less pressure on you to take the really bad jobs out of desperation. Taking your time will also let you slowly grow through the learning process you need to master in order to not waste your time chasing jobs you will never get.

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Having a secure pay packet to fall back on will also make it less frustrating when you realise that a person you thought was going to be a great client, turns out to be nothing more than a horrible time-waster or scam artist.

5. Believe That You Are A Writer

Most freelance writers come from a writing background. It is often our passion, yet paradoxically becoming a freelance writer can sometimes turn this passion into something we start to feel a lot of resentment towards. Everybody will go through this stage at some point, but you must continue to believe in yourself and your abilities as a writer.

In my own experience, I have found that it is often when i’ve almost got to the point of giving up that a brilliant new client will just fall into my lap. Maybe I’ve been lucky on these occasions, but I think these moments also coincided with me taking some of the pressure of myself and applying for jobs with a little bit more heart and sincerity.

Good clients really do want to work with good writers. Never let yourself fall into the trap of becoming some kind of factory hen who simply churns out proposal after proposal without having properly thought whether or not that job is a fit for them. It’s true that at the beginning you may have to make compromises, but you must also always know your own worth and never forget that you are truly a writer and that this is what you were born to do.

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It will not be easy, but you will get there.

Featured photo credit: Brook Johnston via thoughtcatalog.com

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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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