As a professional freelancer, I started my own business from the ground up. Along the way, I made some mistakes, wasting money on things I didn’t need while I did without those tools that I did need. So today I’d like to share with you the list of things you need to get started. Stick with these 7 essential tools for starting a successful freelance writing business, and you’ll be on your way to a steadily growing income.
Why Become A Freelance Writer?
Freelance writing is a wonderful career for the right person. It’s very flexible and you shape how your business looks. For example, you can work from home or rent office space. You can dress up or down depending on your mood. You can earn a great living by providing great content to your clients.
Start-up costs are minimal, and you can start billing clients once you complete your first article. You get clients by referral easily as the word of your good content spreads.
All in all, it’s a pretty great gig for the right person!
What Skills Does a Freelance Writer Need?
To get started in this job, you need the following skills:
- Fluent and grammatically-correct writing skills
- Error-free spelling and punctuation
- High competence in word processing, spreadsheets, and navigating the internet
- The ability to think creatively day after day
- The vision to re-shape content, as you’ll frequently need to re-work trending topic matters
- The drive to get your work in front of people, network, and ask for business
- A commitment to providing good customer service to your clients, including revisions and edits as necessary
- Great time management skills to ensure you meet deadlines
- The ability to delight your clients with your content
So…are you still with me? Does freelance writing sound like a business opportunity that’s a good match for you? Read on.
The Essential tools for starting a successful freelance writing business
Tool One: A Reliable Computer
First and foremost, you must have a reliable computer. I won’t tell you that you need any certain brand. In addition, I won’t tell you to use a laptop or desktop model; a mac, Windows, or Chrome OS; or any other specs.
In today’s digital world, you need to be able to write as well as format articles and send submissions to your clients digitally. You’ll regularly access apps like word processing, spreadsheets, and email.
An old computer that doesn’t function well just won’t cut it. You need a reliable computer that will get the job done on time, every time. This is a necessary investment.
Tool Two: Internet Access
It seems like it should go without saying, but I will say it anyway. I just want to be clear. You do need internet access.
You will gain clients from around the world. I have clients on 5 continents. Eventually, you will too! This means that you will receive emails, instant messages, and alerts at crazy hours. So, if you live in a rural area and therefore need to trek to the public library every time you need a connection, this might not be a good fit for you.
If there is no internet service in your area, all is not lost. Investigate satellite internet as an alternative.
Tool Three: Grammarly
Even the best of writers need a little help now and then. Grammarly is a wonderful, free online tool that provides a more thorough grammar check than the tools provided by MS Word or Chrome Docs.
I am an American, a native English speaker. I have a college degree in English. Yet, Grammarly still catches small mistakes in grammar and punctuation that my word processing app fails to correct. Remember, it’s your job to deliver correct content, not your client’s job to send it back for revision!
Tool Four: Social Media Accounts
Take advantage of the powerful tool that is social media. Set up free accounts with the social media giants Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram. Start liking, sharing, and posting to build your following. Create shareable content, infographics, and helpful advice.
Don’t make your posts all about selling yourself…it turns off readers!
Tool Five: Your Own WordPress Website
You need a website to drive your own business.
I will admit that I was remiss on this front myself. You see, I had clients right out of the gate. They referred other clients to me, and I never set up a website or social media for my business. These clients kept me quite busy.
Then my largest client retired.
This left a large hole in my schedule…and my wallet. I had spent so much time working for clients that I had forgotten to work for myself. I had no leads coming in because I had given no attention to a website or social media until that point.
Don’t do this to your business!
I recommend a WordPress website for three reasons. First, it’s free (or inexpensive if you choose private hosting, as I now do). Second, it’s easy enough for you to set up yourself. Third, WordPress is a highly marketable skill. My regular clients entrust me with writing my posts directly into WordPress for them; I charge a higher price for this service. Win-win!
Tool Six: Create A Calendar
Missing deadlines will get you fired from jobs quicker than any other transgression! Don’t let it happen to you. I can honestly say, I’ve never missed a deadline. I credit my calendar, not my memory. I meticulously enter every deadline the second it’s scheduled. This keeps my clients happy.
As your business grows, it becomes important to keep up with a lot of projects. My production calendar tracks my writing deadlines, my social media schedule, my posts for my personal blog, and other important dates.
This can be a calendar app or, heaven forbid, a paper calendar. Use whatever type of calendar works best for you.
Tool Seven: A Comfortable Workspace
With all the discussion of technology and planning tools, don’t overlook some basics. You’ll need, at the least, a desk or work table, a comfortable chair, and lighting. Writers sit in the same place for long stretches of time as we craft words and work out deals with clients.
If you don’t invest in a comfortable workspace, you could experience fatigue in your wrists, fingers, back, and neck. It looks like a cushy job to sit in a chair and write all day but sitting in one place all day does create a strain on your body.
Treat yourself to the space that you deserve!
In summary, starting a freelance business can be a wonderful opportunity for you. It enables you flexibility and a steady income. But equipped with these 7 essential tools, you can be on your way to owning your own business.
Guest Author Bio:
Deborah Tayloe is a freelance writer and the owner of Word Innovations. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and has been writing for more years than she will admit. A resident of North Carolina, USA, Deborah enjoys riding in her Jeep when she’s not writing.