Guest post by Sherry Zander of Writing4Effect
Thanks to Sherry Zander for providing this guest post. Sherry and I met through LinkedIn at The Blog Zone group and decided that exchanging guest posts was a great way to expand our horizons in the world of blogging and helps us connect with more readers! Find out more about Sherry in the bio at the end of her post. Thanks for reading.
Essential Tools of the Freelance Writer
Freelance writers just starting off and those who are seasoned can benefit from a checklist that ensures they stay on track and grow their business once it’s established. Not only does it provide a head-start for those just beginning their journey, it also serves as a reminder along the way of things that may seem simple, but are easy to forget.
Build a Blog
If you want to showcase your talents, create a blog and begin writing posts. Do an Internet search for “free blog” and you’ll find a plethora of sites that offer them. The most popular are WordPress (WP) and Blogger. WP does not allow bloggers to sell anything from a free WP blog, but Blogger does. Both are easy to set up and use.
Talent, Spelling, Semantics and AP Style
Although there are many writers out there who have talent, not all of them have great spelling skills or understand the semantics of sentence structure and AP style – required by most journalism jobs and content mills. Most writers have blogs with the benefit of showcasing their talents. The downside for some, however, is that they don’t edit their articles sufficiently. If you’re going to have a blog, create posts in MS Word first, spell check them and use the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for words on which you are unclear. Some words sound the same, but have different meanings – e.g., piece vs. peace.
If you don’t have a private room separate from the living area for your office, set it up in a corner of your bedroom or some other area of the home with the most private surroundings – as much as possible, free from noise, distraction and family activity. It’s always more difficult to accomplish tasks with outside interruptions.
Your home office tools are essential for the support of a successful freelance writing career. Purchase a laptop with wi-fi, so that you have access to write for your customers no matter where you are each day. Many restaurants, libraries and airports offer free wi-fi. A printer with fax, scanner and copier capabilities prepares you for anything a client may need. For example, I’ve had to scan my university degree for some clients and fax, or scan and attach to an email, freelance contracts to others.
Freelance Job Sites
Primary to getting freelance writing jobs and finding others along the way is registering for jobsites that post freelance writing jobs. I’m registered for a number of them. I set up auto-alerts on a daily or weekly basis, depending on whether I need work right away, and skim the list to see if anything catches my eye. I spend around 15 minutes a day checking my alerts. Be creative as to how you set up the alerts. Use the words remote writer, freelance writer or similar terms. I have to say that Problogger, AmericanJobs and Craigslist are my favorites, because writing jobs are quite prominent on these sites.
Problogger often has some of the best freelance writing jobs available, but I don’t believe you can register for auto job alerts. Instead, you’ll have to check the site daily or at your discretion. You don’t have to register for AmericanJobs to access writing jobs. If you do, however, it costs $29.95 and the site posts your resume on 48 other sites for greater exposure. I am not registered, but I do check it every other day or so for new writing job posts. A fellow writer friend of mine, Sam Bangayan, also advises how to set up auto alerts for Craigslist ads via iGoogle, so that you receive writing job ads from all cities in which you’re interested. It takes a little time, but the benefit is huge.
Another strategy that I’ve used effectively is simply to contact web development companies to see if they might be interested in hiring a “resident” content writer. Web developers create/maintain websites for clients that need content. It’s a perfect match and eliminates the need to constantly be looking for work. This approach might work well, but just be cognizant to keep other jobs on the burner since the work may be ebb and flow.
Register for websites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Join groups, gather a following and post regularly. Not only do you get the word out about your blog to gain subscribers, but you also advertise and showcase your writing expertise … if you have talent, can spell and understand sentence syntax.
Never Stop Learning
No matter how little or long you’ve been freelance writing, you must always be learning. Grow your understanding of SEO – search engine optimization. Google periodically adjusts its web crawler to capture or eliminate certain items when ranking sites – e.g., broken links, low ranking links, word stuffing, etc. Learn about SMO and SEM – social media optimization and search engine marketing, respectively. Use Google Ad Words to optimize your blog’s exposure when Internet users search the web, and learn the terms that gain the greatest exposure.
What experience or processes helped you establish and grow your freelance writing business?
Sherry Zander completed her BA in Business and HR in 2004 and has been freelance writing since 2006, after years of technical and non-technical writing in project manager positions. She currently writes online copy for Fox News and other websites, and produces articles for her local city newspaper the Gardner News. Sherry has a passion to help and see other writers succeed. For more information about Sherry, visit her blog here — http://writing4effect.wordpress.com/.