“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Ali Luke

Last Updated on: June 20th, 2017

FITS Series Welcome Image

Ali Luke is the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today, as part of the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well.

She’s been freelancing for years, has created many wonderful things for writers and bloggers (including a membership site and some e-books), and is my special guest this week.

We’re lucky to have her here, and I would love it if you’d take a moment right now to show her some appreciation for being here by Tweeting the following message.

Now please welcome Ali Luke to center stage.

Ali_Luke_headshot

Take it away, Ali!

How Ali Got Involved in Freelance Writing

I started freelancing by accident. Six years in, I’m still going strong.

Back at the start of 2008, I’d launched a blog that – rather naïvely – I hoped would quickly gather hordes of readers and bring in loads of money.

Of course, the reality was a little different:  it took me eleven months to get my first Google AdSense cheque from that blog.

But early on, I tried guest posting to get more traffic. The very first blog I wrote for happened to be looking for paid writers. I still remember how I felt when I got an email from the editor asking if I’d like to write a couple of posts a week for them, at $20 a post. I hadn’t even realized freelance blogging existed and – even though I charge a lot more these days – I was delighted by the money I could earn.

Of course, I was lucky. Freelancing jobs don’t normally appear in your inbox just like that (as I found over the next few months and years), but gradually, I built up my freelancing work, and was able to quit my day job about six months after getting that first paying gig.

Since then, I’ve added extra income streams, too – ones that don’t just get me paid per hour. I sell a series of Blogger’s Guide e-books and run a teaching/community site for writers, Writers’ Huddle. In the past, I’ve also worked one-on-one with writers as a coach, and run stand-alone e-courses.

The e-books I sell include The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing, The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing, The Blogger’s Guide to Irresistible Ebooks, and The Blogger’s Guide to Loyal Readers. You can learn more about – and buy – these books by visiting Blogger’s Guides. Membership of Writers’ Huddle is just $19.99/month (paid via PayPal). There’s no minimum commitment: you can even join for a month, take advantage of all the existing content, and leave.

If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about some of the ways I’ve made money through writing, then head on over to my post How I Make My Living as an Online Writer (And How You Could Too).

Ali Luke’s Top 5 Freelancing Tips

Over the past six years of freelancing, I’ve definitely learned a few things – many of them the hard way!

Here are my top tips for freelancers:

1: Be Willing to Work for Free, Initially

This is perhaps a little controversial – some writers strongly believe you should never work for free – but my career would never have got off the ground without me doing some unpaid work.

When you’re just starting out, no-one knows who you are. They don’t know how good you are at writing (or editing, or proofreading).

By working for free, you can create two absolutely vital pieces of marketing material:

  • A portfolio of “clips” – examples of work you’ve done previously. (It’s really handy if at least some of your initial work is online, so you can link to the full pieces.)
  • A set of testimonials – even if you just have two or three from people you’ve done a bit of free work for, this is a great start.

So where do you find opportunities to write for free, for reputable companies or publications?

I began by working with small charities and with blogs – whatever your area of expertise, you’re sure to find some relevant blogs that would welcome guest contributions.

2: Look for Long-Term, Repeated Work

I’m personally not a fan of constantly pitching for new work and new clients, so in my freelancing, I’ve tried to focus on jobs that will last for months or even years.

Some freelancing gigs are one-off – like writing a single article for a magazine. Others are ones that you repeat week after week or month after month, and these might include having a magazine or newspaper column, writing for blogs (which require a steady stream of content), or working with clients who need consistent mentoring, editing or proofreading (e.g. they’re writing a book).

Of course, I’m not saying you should never take on individual, one-off jobs – but if you can make regular work your “bread and butter,” you’ll have a lot more security as a freelancer.

3: Have a Professional Web Presence

You don’t need a slick, expensive website – but you do need to come across as a competent professional. I’d say that a website is pretty much non-negotiable for freelancers these days: your clients will expect you to have some sort of web presence beyond a Facebook page or Twitter account.

Your website should:

  • Look professional. If (like me) you’re definitely no designer, keep things simple and straightforward. Stick to one or two colours and one or two fonts – don’t try to get fancy. I recommend using self-hosted WordPress and buying a premium theme (usually $20 – $100). If you can’t afford that, there are lots of free WordPress themes available.
  • Be complete. You should at least have a Home page, introducing yourself (or listing your latest blog posts, if you prefer), an About page giving more details, and a Contact page letting people know how to get in touch. You’ll almost certainly also want a Services page to let people know what you offer: you could include testimonials and clips here or on separate pages.

4: Have a Professional Email Address

I strongly recommend having an email address at your website domain (e.g. mine is [email protected] because my website is www.aliventures.com). Using your Hotmail or Yahoo address looks unprofessional, especially if you have a nickname rather than real name there.

5: Keep Costs Low and Keep Things Simple

When you start out as a freelancer, it’s easy to think that you need to buy all sorts of things to get your business up and running. Perhaps you’re thinking about a new computer, lots of business cards, leaflets to advertise your services, hiring an accountant, registering as a business…

Try to keep things as simple (and cheap!) as you can, to begin with. Chances are, you’ll find yourself refining and changing your services once you’ve had a few clients – and you don’t want to have to get all your business cards and leaflets reprinted.

Depending on where you live, you probably won’t need to spend a lot of time and money setting up your company as a full business. Here in the UK, for instance, I’m simply registered as a “sole trader” and this has been a really straightforward way to manage my freelancing.

Freelancing is a wonderful journey, and whatever stage you’re at, I hope it’s going well for you. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below, and if you have any questions about anything I’ve said, just ask!

Check out the other freelancers in this series:

Some Life Updates and Info about Freelancing from #freelancewriter Lorraine Reguly

An Interview With “F.I.T.S.” Series #freelancewriter Elna Cain

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Candace Simonson

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter DD, an Addicted-to-Heroin #Freelancer

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Alicia Rades

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Corinne Kerston

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Joe Warnimont

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Brian Morris

F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Janine Ripper

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Harleena Singh

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Crystal Nay

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Christy Birmingham

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Tom Bentley

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter William Ballard

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Deevra Norling

Freelancing Tips From Kirsty Stuart #freelancingtips for #freelancers

7 Reasons for the FITS Series on Wording Well (with results!)

If you want to raise your freelancing rates, read How to Ask for a Raise (and Get One!) from your #Freelancing Client.

If you want to know why you should be gathering testimonials you can use on your website, read about The Power of Client Testimonials.

Did you pick up your free gift yet? Get it when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

on-track-logoAli Luke blogs at Aliventures, has been seen on many places on the web (including some top blogs!), and offers a free seven week e-course, On Track, for writers who want to get moving again with a big project – find out more about that here.

32 thoughts on ““F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Ali Luke

  1. Hitesh Rathee says

    Well written article… I will use your strategy on my blogs also. If you can deliver some suggestion then I will be very thankful. Thanks in advance

  2. Great interview Lorraine. I’m very familiar with Ali’s work and have read many of her other interviews. She’s obviously very talented and serves as an inspirational example to those of us who write for a living. Thanks for a great read!

    • says

      Marquita, this was actually not an interview but a guest post from Ali herself! 🙂

      I agree; Ali’s awesome!

      Glad you enjoyed this post, Marquita, and welcome to Wording Well. 🙂 I hope to see you again soon!

      • says

        Thanks so much, Marquita — I’m blushing! This was a slightly different format for me, a guest post with an interview-style feel (Lorraine was kind enough to basically let me write whatever I wanted, with a little direction about what would be useful for her lovely readers :-)).

  3. Jacqueline Gum says

    Interesting journey and some great advice. I particularly like the idea of long term projects. And I completely agree about having a domain email address. I too, think it appears more professional. I enjoyed the article and thanks.

    • says

      Thanks Jacqueline, glad you enjoyed the piece! I think some writers feel that their email address is a small detail that doesn’t really matter — but it’s one of the first things that new clients / contacts are likely to see, and inevitably it’ll colour their perception of the writer.

  4. says

    Thanks for these wonderful freelancing tips. This information will be invaluable to many, including myself. As a matter of fact, I enjoy our local library and have written several posts about it. You have prompted me to contact them to see if they are interested in having me write a blog for them.

  5. Of these tips the one I hadn’t really considered to be that important is a Web site. I had thought that between social media pages and profiles and blogs, Web sites for freelancers were on the decline.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting, Ken! A blog is a type of website, and perfectly fine as your website so long as you have pages including details of your services, who you are, how to contact you, etc. Many freelancers have websites with blogs attached. I agree that “static” websites (ones which don’t have regular updates) are on the decline, though there’s nothing wrong with those if you don’t have the time or inclination to blog.

      The danger of only having social media pages is that not everyone is on social networks (meaning you might miss out on some customers) and you can’t guarantee that the social network will stay around forever — they might also change the rules about what you can and can’t do, or even take your pages and profiles down altogether.

  6. I’m still new on the freelancing track, yet so thankful for the blessings of regular income like you mentioned in your tips. It’s wonderful that you’ve confirmed that my current track is a great way to build and maintain income and presence online. Thank you for this post!

  7. says

    I used to have a burning passion for writing, and I thought the flame went out for awhile, but it’s been rekindled. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Ali. I’ve always been interested in freelance writing, even though I’m primarily a reader and not a writer for now.

    • says

      You’re very welcome, Monique! I personally believe that once a writer, always a writer. I think lot of writers find they have a fallow period at some point, and it may be that you’re just at a currently-not-writing stage of your journey. I hope you can fan that emerging flame, and enjoy writing as a creative outlet. 🙂

  8. Dr. Nicolas Rao says

    Excellent advice.
    It was brief but covered everything.
    More determined to finish my pending website now.
    Thanks.
    Nick

  9. Brian K. Morris says

    I have GOT to get back into blogging. I enjoyed it, but with attention span being what it is, I had to … ooh, that’s so shiny.

    Sorry, what were we talking about?

    • says

      I think we all have that problem, Brian (at least, I know I do!) It can be tough to keep up with a blog consistently over time — good luck getting back into it.

  10. Hi Ali, and welcome to Lorraine’s blog 🙂

    It is SO good to meet you after years! I wonder if you remember….been such a loooong time that I visited your blog, when you were into freelance writing only, and so was I, and you’d visited my blog for freelance writers way back then, and look at all that you have achieved today 🙂

    Yes, we lost touch as I turned more of a blogger and less of a writer, but always good to hear about good old friends. I would surely be checking out your sites and all that you are doing, and congratulations indeed for all that you are doing – wishing you every success and happiness.

    Thanks Lorraine for sharing more about Ali with all of us…I need to get back with all my freelance writing friend’s also now. Have a nice week ahead, both of you 🙂

  11. says

    Ali, I appreciate this post, and I’m sure some of the Wording Well readers will, too.

    Thanks so much for your contribution! What I’d like to know is how you set up your own membership site. Was it hard? What did you have to do? Did you have help doing it?

    Do you think membership sites are as popular as they were years ago, or more so nowadays?

    • says

      Thanks so much for inviting me to take part in this series, Lorraine!

      I actually wrote about the process of running a membership site a little while ago for Copyblogger:

      http://www.copyblogger.com/membership-site-basics/

      There was a bit of a learning curve, but I’d already used the membership site software to deliver ecourses. The main thing I had to do before starting was to get a reasonable amount of content in place (I wrote some new short ecourses, and used a couple of my full-length ecourses), and to line up guest posts to promote it. I didn’t have help beyond the tech support team of the software I used (Digital Access Pass), but I’m sure there are designers / developers who could help with this sort of thing.

      I think membership sites are still popular, and I see a lot of big blogs (ProBlogger, Copyblogger, Firepole Marketing) running some version of a membership site. Perhaps one challenge compared with a few years ago is that there are more options out there for customers, and I suspect most people won’t want to belong to several membership sites at once — so there’s perhaps more competition.

      • says

        Ali, thanks for the link and for the information. I suspect you’re correct in your assumption that competition nowadays is fierce, and that most people would only want to belong to one or two membership sites at once.

        I’m happy you’ve been a part of this series, too, Ali, and I want you to know that it’s okay if you want to add the Wording Well logo to your “As Seen On” collection.

        There might be more comments to come, too, so please keep an eye out for them before you go on maternity leave.

        Good luck with the baby and your other future endeavours! 🙂

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