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9 Tips for Starting a Profitable Sustainable Freelance Writing Business

profitable sustainable freelance writing businessStarting a profitable sustainable freelance writing business is more common sense than rocket science.

That said many of us started our writing business in a slap dash, maybe no plans way. While some of us made it work, we recognize we could have had more success early on had we done a few simple things.

Here are eight tips that will help you immensely create and build the profitable sustainable freelance writing business you want. I’ve put them in an order that makes sense, but don’t get ridged about this. The most intimidating to many will be the website. It’s important and should be close to the top. But don’t let not having all these elements in place, including the website stop you from getting started.

In fact a strong case can be made for starting with marketing, perhaps even before you quit your day job or figure out exactly what you want.

The biggest secret to having a profitable sustainable freelance writing business

Your attitude is ultimately what will determine your success. Negative thinking makes it almost impossible. Visioning what your experience as a successful writer will be like every day will help. Take responsibility, discover gratitude. You’ll be glad you did both.

Best guess at what kind of writing you’re going to offer

Fortunately you don’t have to know much about what you’re doing to start a profitable sustainable freelance writing business. You’ll hear a lot about finding your niche. Don’t worry too much about it in the beginning. Chances are you’ll discover the one or two or three that are right for you almost by accident.

A website is a must for a profitable sustainable freelance writing business

Okay, I’m sure there are at least a few successful writers out there that don’t have websites. On the other hand, I’m amazed at how many clients find me by this or another website of mine. Their calls come completely out of the blue and feel like a gift from the universe. You really only need 4 pages and if you want I’ll build it for you and teach you how to use it.

A place to write

These days this can be a coffee shop as well as your kitchen table. I find I want an office in my home. That was true even when my kids were at home. But a home office, while convenient with a blushingly short commute, it isn’t an absolute requirement. Wherever you write it needs to let you connect to the internet and either offer quiet or you need a good set of headphones that will also block distracting noise. Creativity seems to require quiet for most of us.

A computer that will let you search the web and get the writing done

These days a profitable sustainable freelance writing business requires a decent computer, with either Word or  Open Office. Keep an eye on Google Docs. It’s getting better and better all the time.

Make sure you’re computer can join wireless networks – that’s what will allow you to connect in coffee shops. Pay close attention to the keyboard. If you’re using a lap top consider finding an auxiliary keyboard that will support you ergonomically so you can avoid repetitive stress injury. Pay attention to how you sit as well. Sitting really isn’t good for us.

A marketing plan that you’re actually willing to do

Marketing is simply the way you let potential clients know what you do so they can hire you. There are many ways to be successful at marketing – find one or two ways you will actually do and do them regularly – at least weekly, maybe more.

Although there are plenty of people out there who will sell you marketing webinars and books and seminars, they tend to be expensive. Usually all the info is valuable but see if you can’t determine enough to figure out if it’s the kind of information you’ll actually use. If not, save your money.

A reliable way to track your writing busine. ss income and expense

You’re starting what you expect will be a profitable sustainable freelance writing business. That means record keeping. Yes, it means tracking your income and expenses.  If you feel resistance, know you’re not alone. It is, however something that ultimately must be done. As one who resisted for ages I can tell you once I learned to do it it was if not fun at least satisfying. Cleaning up the mess I’d made was not.

There is a whole category here about money. It’s called Money Issues and it’s also on the main menu. It truly has a wealth (!) of information.

A reliable way to track your clients

As your profitable sustainable freelance writing business grows you’ll be working with a bunch of clients. Find a way to keep track of them so you can reach out every now and again. Past clients are a great way to generate new business.

I use a CRM or Customer Relationship Manager now. That’s software that lets you easily retain contact info, create a record everything you’ve done for them and let’s you schedule your next contact. I use Capsule CRM  which currently lets me have 250 contacts for free. That’s enough for me at the moment. There are others – just Google free crm and find one you like.

Even an old fashioned Rolodex will work.

Business cards

I think you need business cards. They don’t have to be fancy, but they do have to give your name, phone number and email address and they must state clearly  that you’re a writer. Why in this digital age to I suggest business cards? Because sometimes I meet people face-to-face. That’s when the card pays off.

There you go.

What did I leave out?

Write well and often,

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for sharing this post very helpful

  • Yes, Julia, there is a lot of overlap – glad you found it useful.

  • I was not thinking on starting a freelance writing business, but these tips I can use on my web marketing work that I am starting.
    So, thanks for sharing.

  • Do you mean copy written or copy edited?

  • Valerie Pounds

    Thank you Anne for these excellent tips. I have wanted to do this a long time. My delima is that I would like my work to be copy written before I share it. Do you think this is important?

  • Thanks Johnson. Love it when folks agree with me.

  • Thanks George.

  • True… really different than say 40 or even 30 years ago.

  • Freelance writing is a profitable business, and now there are all sorts of writers self-publishing their books, so if you are a storyteller, there is lots of scope… There is Kindle too

  • You know what I like about your blog you really do produce quality content that is thoughtful and is genuinely created to help persons make money online and do well, hey keep it up i really appreciate all that you do honestly

  • Hi Anne!

    I definitely agree that your attitude is what will make or break your journey to create a (freelance writing) business!

    Along with attitude, you also need perseverance and discipline! So that when the going gets tough and you feel distracted or burnt out, you can stay focused and put in the work required.

  • Hi Anne,

    Allow me to spell out the quote from your post that really got me thinking “Negative thinking makes it almost impossible”; Aside from all the points you highlighted in the post, I think that quote is the mother of it all. No matter the plan, websites etc you might have, without a crystal clear, positive thinking, I do not think your freelance writing business can flourish.

    Thanks for sharing.

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