Getting Started as a Freelance Writer

James McKenzie is a freelance writer with experience writing for a variety of industries. His favourite areas include alternative medicine, personal development and personal finance. You can find more of his articles on myjwriting.com
James McKenzie is a freelance writer with experience writing for a variety of industries.

Are you new to freelance writing?

Welcome to the club! I wanted to write this article because I’m a true newbie in that I’ve never worked in related fields such as communications, journalism or advertising.

I’ve always wanted to write, but instead I have had a mixed career in teaching, research, warehousing and environmental waste management. After some serious thought, I finally decided that writing was what best represented my personality, talents and career goals.

Writing is the best way for me to reach out to people with my thoughts and ideas; and it is one of the few professions that allows me to work at my own pace as I was never suited to the fast-paced environment that is becoming the norm.

I don’t have a track record in communications, nor do I have a big marketing budget. So if you’re like me, you feel like a newbie climber staring at the Himalayas asking: “How do I even begin climbing?” The answer is simple: don’t; at least not yet. Learn about the business. Talk to people, read books, and join associations.

Mentorship

To get started as a freelance writer, consider working with a mentor to benefit from their real-world experience. Make a point of learning as much from their successes as their mistakes. Fortunately, PWAC Toronto has a mentorship program that is worth looking into if you’re a new member. I’ve taken part in it and it has opened my eyes to the realities of our often solitary profession, for example, the need to network with people. It has also given me that extra motivation to push through with my daily tasks. For further details on PWAC Toronto’s mentorship program, check out their website.

Networking

To make connections and build relationships, you need to get out there and meet the people that you want to work with at networking events, job fairs and business conferences. While you likely won’t see immediate results, you will be exposed to a whole new group of people that you will never find by sitting at home alone. Put yourself out there and you will take a step toward landing better paying clients in the future.

To meet people like yourself, you should consider joining an association. If you are an aspiring freelance writer, it makes sense to join an organisation like PWAC or another writing association. Check out this list for further information.

Reading

Real-life experience is one of the best ways to learn, but you can also gain knowledge on how to grow and operate your freelance writing business by reading how-to books. I highly recommend Everything You Wanted To Know About Freelance Writing by Paul Lima. It’s very practical and designed for people who are completely new to the business.

A word of caution: reading is no substitute for taking action and gaining first-hand experience. You might feel like you need to read every book you can find on freelance writing because you feel you don’t know enough. Don’t fall into that trap! Read a handful of good books, then use what you’ve learned to pitch projects and market your services. You need to apply the lessons to determine what works and what doesn’t produce results for you in your market.

On that note, stay tuned for my next article on exactly how to gain this experience. Once you’ve met people, gained valuable advice and read some solid books, it’s time to put all of that knowledge to the test!

James McKenzie likes writing about alternative medicine, personal development and personal finance. You can find more of his articles at myjwriting.com