Talent = Natural aptitude or skill
Fact: Most successful online freelance writers do not have talent.
How can that be?
Well, the life of an online freelancer is a lot tougher than what many think. People believe that we just sit around the whole day and do a little bit of writing since we are paid a whole lot of money for just one page. While that is possible and the top writers do get paid really well, it takes a lot of time to climb the ladder and most people plan to fail because their expectations are too high.
The Beginning Of My Content Writing Experience
I talked to a friend once and he said that he wanted to become an online freelance writer like me. I asked why and he told me: “Well, you always have a lot of money on you. That means that you make a lot of money, right?”
The reason why I had a lot of money on me no matter how much I spent was that I mostly wrote for others as a way to relax. Most of the money I ever made came from my very own affiliate sites. At that particular point in time I only had around 2 years experience in freelance writing, mainly as a content writer.
My first job was writing for a travel site, which I enjoyed a lot and I made a lot of money in my first two months. After that, the company behind the site went bankrupt since the accountant stole most of the money.
I was out of a job for around 6 months.
That is when I realized that I was lucky with that first job. Most content writers are not lucky and those starting off right now should be prepared to get paid $1.5 to $2.0 for 500 words. This is definitely not a lot of money.
What’s The Deal With The Lack Of Talent?
Writing should be seen as a skill. You are not born with it. You need to practice and train rigorously, with the mindset of a professional athlete. Bodybuilders lift weights. Musicians go to art schools. Writers write!
Those top notch freelance writers that magazines are looking for have a lot of knowledge behind them. Those that are capable of pitching an article to a website and get it approved instantly have experience.
If you take a look at the top writers in the business today, you will notice that so many of them have a journalism background. Believe it or not, it helps a lot because during school journalists are taught to stay focused on details.
Most of the freelance writing work done is based on details, especially on the internet. Journalists learn to check their sources for authenticity and the information that they offer needs to be 100% legit or they lose their jobs. That is kind of how writing is in general.
If you cannot deliver, you will lose your job. The competition is tough and you need to be ready to crawl through the trenches until you manage to reach the ladder that you will eventually climb.
In this business, talent is something that is gained. As time passes and you write more, you become better. You learn from the mistakes that you make. You read what others say.
I can say that everything is similar to constantly being in school. You need to see why another writer was successful and see why you are not. If someone tells you that you are a talent writer, it is reality only because you were pretty bad once but you had the will to learn.
What About Making A Living As A Freelance Writer?
This is the main topic and I apologize for maybe overdoing it a little with the above paragraphs but I believe that they are all important. One thing that you need to understand as a freelance writer for both online and offline jobs is that you need some sort of stability. Sooner or later you will have to stick to working with a company and getting the majority of your money from it.
When you have a steady income, you can grow. You can start branding yourself, grow your portfolio and become better at writing, which is what will lead towards making more money. Most steady clients will not have a problem with you working for others and getting extra jobs if you just do what they need you to do. This is where evolution starts.
Most online freelance writers fail as they lack constant employment.
It is hard to keep writing, even if you LOVE it, if you do not have money to put food on the table or to buy socks. When you go from one job to the next, it is normal to be faced with periods of time in which there is no work available.
What do you do then?
I warmly recommend that you never spend all the money that you make at the start of your career. Make sure that you have a backup. You will end up without a job sooner or later. When you do, it is time to work on your resume and get better at your job. Writing is one profession in which you can do something even when you are not paid and still make money in the future.
This is surely a little confusing but I can explain with a simple possible scenario. Let’s say you are out of a job and while you are looking for your next project, you start writing on your blog. After some time, that blog will start to generate an income.
When you get your new project, the blog is still there. To make everything even better, as you work on your very own project, the blog, you also get better at writing and you will be able to negotiate better prices for you in the future.
5 Tips For The Aspiring Online Freelance Writer
I would like to finish this article by highlighting what I see as a necessity in the life of a professional or aspiring online freelance writer. You might disagree with some points and that is totally normal but try to also see my point of view! Who knows? Maybe you will learn something new.
1. Do work for free but do not overdo it!
Some say that you should never write for free. If you do not, how will anyone have something to check and see if you are any good? When you get free time, write for different sites, magazines and anything that would be published. If you cannot find something that would be published, write on your blog.
2. Learn everything about writing for the internet!
This is crucial. You need to know how to write for internet viewers. This is different than writing for a newspaper. People buy the newspaper and do not have the option to press the X button in the upper right corner. On the internet, if you do not use all the necessary tricks, you will not have the engagement you are looking for.
While it is the job of the SEO specialist to use the proper SEO tools, knowledge about search engine optimization can only make a better online writer. This is also something that you need to learn.
3. Specialize in something!
Too many writers out there say that they are good in any niche. This is rubbish! You cannot be good in every single niche because you will find writing about some as torture. For instance, I hate writing about anything related to medicine or technology. That is because I know that I cannot offer something of real value. However, I do know a lot about marketing, travel, SEO, music, content writing and fitness. Stick to a niche that you enjoy a lot and you will climb that often mentioned ladder faster. You will also get paid more when your experience is higher in a particular niche.
4. Ask for help!
If you fail or you simply cannot get jobs, talk to people that are better than you. Most of us are happy to help others. We were also helped when we first started writing for the internet. There are many forums available at the moment. Simply post some of your writing and ask for feedback. I will never forget the first feedback I got: “your sentences are too long”. As you surely already figured out, I still have this problem but at least I am aware of it. The phrases I used to write then were a lot longer and they were really hard to follow.
5. Don’t forget to have fun!
If you find yourself feeling down and you simply cannot find the will to write, it is usually because you do something that you do not enjoy. Remember that writing is not for everyone. Maybe it is not for you or maybe you need to change your approach. It is crucial that you remain honest with yourself. Everyone else might lie to you but you should always be honest.
Hopefully, I managed to scare some of the people that would fail as a freelance writer. While this was definitely not my goal, we all need to understand that writing is a lot tougher than it seems. Most people out there are not cut for this job and it is better to realize this at the beginning instead of when it is too late. Passion for writing is needed and most people do not have it. This is something that is usually visible during college.
On the whole, freelance writing should be seen with objectivity. I do believe that if you are an aspiring writer and you are honest with yourself, you can see what you do wrong and what your strong points are. That is what counts the most at the end of the day in this profession. If you are aware of these things, you can grow and you will eventually be paid as you want to be paid.