Today we're finishing up our interview series with our guests: Chris Bibey, Angela Booth, Jenna Glatzer, Kristen King, Allena Tapia, and Anne Wayman. I asked each guest to share some parting words of wisdom or advice for other freelance writers. I hope you'll find it a fitting close to our series. Here's what they had to say:
1. Be willing to speak with anybody and everybody. Too many freelance writers avoid phone calls and personal meetings. If a client wants to talk on the phone, go for it. This is how you build long lasting relationships. 2. Ask your current clients to pass your name along to others. This is something you do not want to forget. As long as you do not pressure your clients, there is nothing wrong with asking for their help. Tell them you are expanding your business, and that you are hoping to land a few new clients in the near future. You will be surprised at how many clients are willing to refer you to people in their network. Soon enough their network becomes your network. 3. Start a blog and service based website. An online presence is very important. In the past, this was not so much the case. But in today’s day and age, the majority of people searching for a freelance writer are going to start online.
For a new writer (and for any writer, for that matter) what counts is writing, and getting your writing in front of people who can buy it. If I were a new writer starting out today, I’d start with the outsourcing sites like Elance. I’d spend around six months there, until I’d completed 50 to 100 projects, and had testimonials. Then I’d branch out into writing my own blogs, and would use those blogs as writing samples to target any market I was interested in. I wish someone had told me way back when that I COULD write whatever I wanted to write. It would have saved me a lot of time and a lot of anguish. I’d have written more, with more confidence.
I know it's not glamourous-sounding, but I'm still a fan of the old-fashioned method-- sending out queries and letters of introduction (and even articles on spec, when necessary), getting those initial assignments, and kicking butt on them. To me, the right way to go about it is to have patience and work your way up while building experience and really earning better assignments. I have also heard of writers making great connections at a few prestigious writer's conferences in NYC... I can't vouch for that because I haven't attended any, but it certainly can't hurt.
Join and actively participate in professional organizations in the areas in which you would like to focus, and create a professional website for yourself.
Don’t hang out with other writers too much (at least not for platform purposes), go find the people who cut the paychecks! Truly, other writers teach us, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And, heck, sometimes I hire other writers—but not every writer does that, so widen your circle.
It's really hard for a beginner to start ghostwriting books I think. So I would suggest they begin by writing articles and maybe a blog with some ebooks in the area they think they'd like to ghostwrite. Some ghostwriting of articles might help too - even a couple of the really cheap ones. Developing the listening skills of interviewing will also help. Listening is key in ghostwriting.
I just want to offer a big THANK YOU to our guests for a fun and informative series, and to everyone who took part in the conversations here. Now that you've received an introduction with some of the approaches available to you as a freelance writer, we'll be getting back to to the business of query-free freelancing here with tips, tactics, and tools you can use to build your own writer platform (if you feel this method's right for you). I hope you'll be back for our next upcoming interview, which will be with Peter Bowerman. We'll be talking about self-publishing books, and how publishing a book can be a valuable addition to your platform!