Today’s “Freelancer In The Spotlight” is Corinne Kerston. You’re going to learn a lot from her, so get ready to dive in!
Take it away, Corinne!
How I Stumbled Into the Freelancing Field
For someone who grew up writing poems and reading all the time, I actually stumbled into freelance writing by chance.
I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English, and immediately began applying anywhere and everywhere. I landed a job as an accountant for a local Property Management company. Because that makes sense, right? I won’t be all dramatic and say I was miserable, because I wasn’t. I was earning a steady paycheck and I was satisfied.
And then I had kids and my outlook completely changed.
After I had my first child in 2007, I continued to work full-time. But I felt like I was missing everything. I missed her first steps, her first words. So when I became pregnant with my 2nd child, I decided I would stay home.
I still had no idea that I could write for a living. I know … I don’t have a clue how I didn’t figure this out yet. I began looking at work-at-home jobs. I knew a medical transcriptionist who worked from home, and I thought that was a viable option.
Then I met a freelance writer on a cloth-diapering forum of all places. I was intrigued! I had my “duh Corinne!” moment, wondered why I hadn’t thought of writing before and messaged her about her career. I wanted to know more! She had a webinar on breaking into ghostwriting and she offered it to me for free.
See, I told you I totally stumbled into this career by chance. And I’m so grateful I did.
Beginning My Freelancing and Writing Career
I started writing for a few clients in late 2010 shortly before my son was born. By the time he was born, I had a couple blogging clients and I was writing for some content mills. The money wasn’t great, but hey, I was earning money and staying home with my kids. I was ecstatic.
Since then, I’ve grown as an online writer, as a blogger, as a marketer and a business person. I have ditched the content mills for good. I even self-published a few eBooks, including Start Your Freelance Writing Career: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Working From Home.
Here are some of the gems I have learned along the way.
Top 5 Freelancing Tips from Corinne
1: Pick a Niche.
In the freelancing world, there are generalists and there are specialists. I find generalizing may open you up to a whole bunch of different types of clients, but specializing allows you to command higher rates. To pick a niche, look at what you are good at, things you enjoy and areas you have experience in.
2: Have a website.
I can’t stress this enough. Have a website! It’s essential. How else are you going to show potential clients how great your writing it? While you are at it, how about adding a blog? A blog can act as your samples, but also as helps with traffic and getting readers to your site.
3: Get samples up right away.
Even if you’re just starting out, you can find samples. Use old papers you wrote, write free reports, self-publish articles on article submission sites, or do pro bono work. Yes, you won’t be getting paid for your writing at this point, but you will build a great portfolio so that you will land those money-paying jobs.
4: Don’t be afraid to ask what you’re worth.
‘Cause you are worth it.
Don’t get in the mindset of comparing yourself to other writers or other bloggers, because you’re not them. If you know your writing is worth it, set your asking price fairly high. Of course, use some business common sense. If you’re just breaking into an industry and have no experience whatsoever, you can’t very well ask $200 a blog post. But, once you have established yourself as a writer, earned some street cred, you can most certainly raise your prices.
5: Get it in writing.
Contracts are gold when you freelance. I have learned this hard way. Contracts don’t only protect you, but they also protect your client. You can easily write up a simple contract yourself, just make sure that you include things like your agreed-upon price and payment terms, what you will be writing, how many words, when you are expected to turn it in, if any edits are included and any other expectations. Make it impossible for the client to spring extra work on your without renegotiating your contract. Include privacy and rights to content clauses to protect your clients and a contract is a win-win for everyone.
Now it’s your turn:
How did you break into freelance writing?
Did you always dream of writing as a career or did you just stumble into it, too?
Corinne’s freelancing “must haves” are samples, a website, and a contract. What are yours?
Share your thoughts, story, and/or answers in the comments, and please thank Corinne publicly for sharing her awesomeness with us!
Check out the other freelancers in this series:
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.
Corinne Kerston is a professional writer and blogger. She is also a mom, wife, chef, chauffeur, nurse and whatever else her family needs her to be at the moment. Check out her Kindle book about breaking into freelance writing, Start Your Freelance Writing Career: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Working From Home. Connect with her on her website or Twitter.