4 Reasons I Have Been Successful as a Freelance Writer
A couple years ago, I found myself at a crossroads in my life. The business I had spent the previous year building was quickly coming apart at the seams. I needed to find another way to make money but I hated the idea of having to go back a traditional job.
Then one afternoon, I met a girl in a Facebook group who told me how she had spent the previous three years working from home as a freelancer. She said she found all her clients through a website called Upwork.
Finding Success Through Upwork
I secretly wondered if I could get anyone to hire me as a freelance writer through Upwork. I had always enjoyed writing and had always been complimented on my writing. But I didn’t have a background in English or journalism and I had no writing samples to show anyone.
My initial goal as a freelancer was simply to earn $1,000 per month. That was all I wanted and honestly, I thought it would be a miracle if I was successful.
I dove into the freelancing world regardless, mostly out of desperation and a lack of other options. And now, over two years later, I can say it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I have made tons of mistakes over the past couple years (that is another post all in itself) but I have done a few things right, too. And most importantly, I have been able to support my family while working from home. Here are four reasons I have been successful as a freelance writer:
1. I kept it simple
There are two things you need to do to be successful as a freelancer: you need to look for work and you need to do the work. Seriously, that is the extent of it. And the only tools you really need are a decent Wi-Fi connection and some sort of computer you can use. For the first six months, I didn’t even have a website set up.
Since the day I first signed up for Upwork my plan has been simple: I send proposals daily and I do client work five to six days a week. Consistency will pay off over time, I promise you.
2. I continue to make adjustments along the way
Early on, I took on some very low-paying work. I was new to freelance writing and I still wasn’t sure if I was that great at it. Every time I sent a blog post I had written to a client, part of me waited with bated breath, hoping they wouldn’t say it was the worst thing they had ever read.
One week, I got hired to write a 2,000-word blog post for $20. I remember sitting on my bed still working at midnight, wondering what I had gotten myself into. I finally finished it and sent it to my client. They informed me that I now needed to upload it to Wordpress, format it using the Thrive content builder, and find stock photos.
Needless to say, that job took an eternity and I earned way below minimum wage when it was all said and done. And at that moment it hit me that I needed to raise my rates big time. I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to spend ten hours slaving over a $20 blog post.
That was a turning point in my freelancing business. I raised my rates substantially and the following month my income tripled.
3. I focused on giving great customer service
Great customer service really starts the minute you send a proposal. Is your profile picture a professional headshot or some cheesy selfie? Is your proposal friendly and personalized to that client or is it a copy/paste version that you send to everyone?
I realized pretty early on that I couldn’t really compete with other freelancers as far as experience. I am a strong writer and I produce quality work but let’s face it, there are tons of great writers out there. And I will fall short nearly every time in terms of experience.
But what I have learned is that my clients don’t continue to work with me because I am the best writer. They continue to work with me because they like me and I consistently provide great customer service.
4. I didn’t have the option to give up
I saved this point for last because I really think that this is the biggest reason I have had any success. I can promise you that five years ago I would not have persevered through that 2,000-word blog post.
I would have given up and probably just gone back to my Netflix marathon. This time, I didn’t have the option to quit.
I believe my freelancing business took off so quickly because I went all in. I didn’t use my lack of experience as an excuse but simply a hurdle to overcome. Everyone has to start somewhere so I acknowledged my limitations and found a way to move past them.
The reason why I share all of this is because, at the end of the day, I’m not really anyone special. I saw an opportunity and was persistent about pursuing it.