Interested in launching a freelance writing career? We asked Alyssa Ast, a freelance writer and journalist, to share her advice on getting started.
Q: What first steps would you recommend to someone trying to get started as a freelance writer?
A: When beginning a freelance writing career, I think all writers need three things: a website, a blog, and a professional email account. A website will boost your credibility level as a writer. Plus, it’s a great way for fans and readers to learn more about you, and an excellent way for new clients to find you. A blog is also a great way for clients to find you and to view samples of your work. It’s also a great way for readers to interact with you, as well as a great creative outlet.
A professional email address is a must because no one will take you seriously as a writer if they are emailing hot_momma or gone.fishing. It’s best to stick with your name or something writing related.
Q: Is there anything you wish you had known when you were starting your freelance writing career?
A: Yes! There are too many things to list! One thing would be to not limit yourself as a writer, both with genre and income potential. As a writer, it’s important to develop a diverse background of writing skills. The more expertise you have, the further your career will go. For example, do not simply limit yourself to content writing, but also explore the world of print and journalism as well.
Also, when many writers begin their writing career, they are satisfied with the fact they are even making money with their writing. For this reason, many writers often undersell their work and let clients and editors take advantage of their writing skills. Never sell yourself short and always search for higher paying gigs because your skills as a writer are worth it!
Q: What are some of the different ways that writers you know have been able to earn money for their writing?
A: Wow, that list is endless. EBooks are a hot thing right now, especially with the Kindle. If you choose to go the online route, there’s blogging, content mills, websites, SEO and SEM, copy writing, and reviews--just to name a few. If you go the print route, there’s newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and brochures. The list really is endless, but lately I see a lot of writers gearing towards marketing.
Q: Do you have any advice for writers about marketing their skills?
A: Get involved with social networking! Get a website. And get some business cards. You have to put effort into this area. Many people lapse at marketing themselves, not realizing just how important it really is. You can make some amazing contacts and land huge clients through marketing yourself.
Q: On your website, the WM Freelance Connection, you investigate scams that target writers. Any words of caution?
A: If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is a scam.
Do your research. Ask fellow writers about their experiences and check out writers forums to help protect yourself.
Q: What have been some of the milestones of your freelance writing career?
A: The greatest milestone of my career would have to be the success of the WM Network, especially the WM Freelance Connection. We never expected the site to grow as quickly as it has. One reason for our success is we have an excellent team of bloggers that have joined us-- each offering their unique expertise to the site.
As I writer, I consider the WM Freelance Connection to be one of the highlights of my career because it’s my way to give back to the writing industry. I would not be as far as I am today without the writers that have graciously mentored me though out my writing journey. I feel it’s important to share this information with other aspiring writers to help them further their careers.
Q: What aspects of the writing life do you find most satisfying?
A: The ability to express myself and do what I love everyday from the comfort of my own home. I was never blessed with ability to communicate very well verbally. Writing is my way to express myself to the absolute fullest. I can empty my brain through the flow of a pen and it leaves me with a sense of completeness. Plus, I enjoy sharing my thoughts with the world and hearing what they have to say in response.
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