A discussion with a friend inspired me to start a series of posts on freelancing- Freelance Fridays. Follow along on my journey as I learn the ups and downs of the freelance writing business.
I’ve always loved writing. When I got out of school and moved to Minneapolis I began taking classes in writing for children and dreaming of publication. Recently I began to wonder if there was a way I could earn money from my writing while I waited for my fairy godagent or fairy godeditor, I’m not picky, to grant my wish of a publishing contract.
Over the years I’d been taken in by those “get paid to write” sites where you write articles and other readers rate your articles and you earn like a tenth of a penny every time someone clicks through an ad displayed with your article. It took me 5 years to make $50 on one of those sites.
Then one of the ladies in my writing group suggested copywriting and I thought this might be a way for me to make some extra money to support my writing career while I wait for my fairy godagent to sprinkle editing dust on my picture book manuscripts and turn them into books.
The more I read about copywriting the more it sounded like a legit way to earn money putting words together. There were actually copywriter jobs in my area. The going rate for copywriters also seemed decent. And the idea that I could do this as a freelancer was appealing.
(I’m writing this from the point of view of a copywriter but I think the advice applies to other fields of freelance as well)
Step 1. Brush up your skills
Ok before you go rushing off to go back to school, hold up. Chances are you’ve already gone to college, or maybe not. The point is you don’t need to rack up a bunch of debt and go back to school to brush up your skill set.
I had no idea where to start. Sure I’d done some writing but I hadn’t done any copywriting. So I researched copywriting classes.
The library Start at the library. They have books, for free. Find some copywriting books, read them. Chances are any classes you take will refer back to these books.
Copyblogger– This site has a number of free ebooks to get you started with web copywriting. Things like writing effective headlines, SEO optimization, and the basics of copywriting are all covered in their free ebooks.
It isn’t necessary to go back to school. There are a lot of online classes to get you started or help you take your already existing skills and translate them into another field.
For copywriting I found classes at mediabistro. They offer several classes both online, in person, and self paced. I am currently taking a copy editing course through them. They offer certificates in copywriting. I also found a copyediting course through UC San Diego and copywriting courses through NYU.
I took my copywriting class through Writer’s Digest. I chose them because the price of the class was right for me. Writer’s Digest is a name I trust. The class also promised the opportunity to work on a spec ad that could be used a portfolio piece in getting work. All this seemed like a low risk way to get started on a portfolio.
After my class I wanted to learn more about copywriting. A friend had recently finished an app development course on Udemy so I decided to check out a copywriting class through Udemy. I recommend this class. The instructor was great, he updates often, and encourages students to get in touch. The classes are affordable and it is a good way to learn new skills. Udemy offers classes in a broad range of subjects.
Part of being a freelancer means being willing to acquire new skills. As a freelancer you are going to need to wear a lot of hats when you get started. Having resources to expand your skills is a good place to start.