To me this title is asking a basic question I’d imagine anyone would consider before just up and deciding that freelancing will become their primary source of income. From time to time I receive emails and inquiries from people in my “real life” asking me for more detailed advice about how to get started. I find that in most cases the inquirer is serious and ready to get in there – they just need to know what to expect or how to handle a specific situation. I’m more than happy to help. But sometimes people looking for an easy money solution approach me wanting to know how to become a freelance writer.
Two weeks ago I met a young lady who, after finding out what I do for a living, expressed an interest and asked if I could help her get started. I agreed and asked her to call me. When we finally spoke, she asked if I could meet with her in person a few times during the week to help her make this writing for a living thing happen.
Like most freelancers my time is very limited. I’m constantly balancing client projects, personal projects, my four kids and husband. I suggested instead that we set aside specified times during the week in the evening hours to talk instead. She agreed. The first night I called she was busy. The second night I called she was busy. After that I left it to her to make contact.
A week went by and suddenly during the weekend I get a frantic phone call from the inquirer. She needs help responding to a job board post that asks applicants to submit a resume. She doesn’t have a resume. What should she do?
You should know that I get really impatient with people who seemingly put forth no effort to handle simple tasks. I tell her to create a very simple resume highlighting her experience and send her to a couple of resume sample links via email (I mean there are tons of these available).
She starts questioning whether or not the resume is really all that important. I explain that a writer’s ability to follow a job poster’s application instructions is a tell-tell sign as to whether or not the writer will follow instructions when given an assignment. She continues to make excuses and finally decides to send the poster a note explaining why she doesn’t have a resume. By now, as you can imagine, I’m done advising.
I like helping people reach their freelancing goals. I feel committed because others helped me when I was just getting started. The difference is that serious freelancers will spend time searching for answers on their own. They’ll ask pertinent questions, take action instead of debating every issue and take sincere advice to heart. If they ask another writer for help, they respect their time by putting forth a sincere effort.
Being a freelance writer isn’t some simple financial solution for when you’re between jobs. You’ve got to be prepared and put in work. Lot’s of it in the beginning. Sometimes you make more than enough to pay the bills, and then there are times when you’re just scraping by. You figure out how to take vacations, holidays and save for retirement. You handle your own health insurance. Some people prefer not to deal with all this, and that’s okay. Freelancing isn't for everyone.