As many businesses switch to digital, especially amidst the current global pandemic, freelancing has become a very common arrangement for a lot of professionals. Most freelance positions do not require you to be in a physical office 9-5, and you can work from wherever you want as long as it is safe and more convenient.
Freelance writing, in particular, is an even more flexible career option – you only need a laptop, an internet connection, and obviously, the required skill set to carry out the job. So if you’re thinking about going into freelance writing, here are a few key steps you should take when establishing your business.
Figure out if freelancing is for you
Writing for fun may be something you’ve done all your life. Remember, though, that writing as your day job is a bit different. There are deadlines and expectations to meet, as well as rules and guidelines on what and how to write.
A special challenge for freelancers in the writing business is that you’ll probably have a vast array of clients who will all have their own unique style guides.
It takes a lot of getting used to not being able to write as freely as you want, all of the time. If you’re the type who thinks about writing as a form of self-expression and believes that it should not be bound by rules, then you need to consider whether you’ll be able to handle working within a framework as well as the added pressure that comes with freelancing in general.
Despite the challenges, however, freelance writing is a wonderful learning experience that can go a long way in shaping you to become a better writer.
Make your freelancing business a separate legal entity
Once you have your eyes set on freelancing, it’s time to make it official by registering your business. You might be inclined to register as a sole proprietorship, which technically renders you as a self-employed writer.
Though this is the most convenient option to set up, your business will not become a separate legal entity. This means that there’s nothing stopping your creditors from going after you and your personal assets if something goes wrong.
If you want to protect your assets, it’s a good idea to register your business as a separate legal entity through a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation.
If you’re just starting out, an LLC is probably the best option. It isn’t double-taxed like a corporation, and it also has fewer requirements to set up. In fact, setting up an LLC consists of five straightforward steps: naming it, choosing a registered agent, filing your Certificate of Formation or Articles of Organization, getting an Operating Agreement, and lastly, applying for an Employee Identification Number and reviewing tax requirements.
Once complete, you can start freelancing, safe in the knowledge that your personal assets are protected from any legal disputes.
Brush up on your skills
As a freelance writer, you will operate in a very competitive field. In fact, in the US there are over 50 million freelancers. The freelance community is as competitive as it gets and at times you may feel that you’re fighting tooth-and-nail to win new clients. This can be rather overwhelming, but just remember that good talent is hard to come by and your reputation is everything as a freelancer.
Build your credibility by constantly improving your skillset as a writer. Consistently work on your grammar and composition by practicing writing a few hours a day. It’s also helpful to have others critique your work instead of just trying to improve on your own. Your skills can differentiate yourself from your competition, and may be the deciding factor when trying to get new clients.
Build your network
Once you’re confident that you’ll be able to deliver on your clients’ needs, it’s time to build your network. Remember how competitive freelancing is? You can increase your chances by trying to make new connections. Even if you’re working on a small project, make sure to always put your best foot forward. Maintain good working relationships with every client you work with. Nothing beats good ‘word-of-mouth marketing’, and referrals will do wonders for your career.
Becoming a freelance writer is really all about stepping out of your comfort zone. While it can be overwhelming at first, constantly improving your skills and building connections with others will definitely help you move forward and soon, you’ll be making a name for yourself in the industry as a reliable freelancer.