Your First Week as a Freelance Writer? Here’s What to Do

by Karol Krol

To be honest, this headline doesn’t make much sense, does it? I mean, it’s all because it’s kind of hard to tell which exact week is your first one.

Your First Week as a Freelance Writer? Here's What to Do

It’s not like you get a job, talk to your boss, show up on Monday and start your first week, right? Being a freelancer is a lot less tangible.

Anyway, the point of this article isn’t to focus on the initial seven days exactly, but to talk about some things you should take care of early in your career (no matter if it’s your first week or month).

First of all, who am I to give this sort of advice? I’m a freelance blogger and writer, which in plain English means that I make money writing stuff (articles, blog posts, press releases, etc.).

And to be frank, I didn’t actually notice when my first week happened. Basically, for one month, I had no freelance contracts at all, and the next I had more than I could shake a stick at (what does this even mean? … who shakes a stick at things? … anyway, I digress).

But I did notice some things that I should probably take care of as soon as possible if I’m to make this whole freelance writing a success.

The first step for me was:

1. The overall game plan

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? I’ve come up with this name to make this interesting enough for me to actually compile the plan. If it was named “business strategy” or something, it’d be too boring to be bothered with.

The game plan is basically about two simple (yet not easy) things:

  1. What do you want to sell?
  2. Who are you going to sell it to?

Be kind of detail-oriented when answering these questions. The first one seems easy because you already know that the product is your writing.

However, what is your area of expertise exactly? What’s your main niche of interest? What kind of writing are you most comfortable doing (blog posts, articles, magazine articles, reviews)?

This is about listing all the characteristics of the product you want to offer.

The second question is a bit more challenging. Well, you can go the easy way and define your target market as people “willing to throw money at you,” but I advise you to be more specific.

Try to connect your area of expertise to the prospective clients who might benefit from your work directly.

For instance, if you’re a WordPress specialist, you can offer your services to various premium theme stores, premium plugin retailers, or other resource distributors.

2. How do you plan to reach them?

Or in more boring terms: what’s your marketing method of choice?

Marketing for a freelance writer is just as important as for any other entrepreneur or business owner.

The things you can start with:

  • Create a “hire me” page on your website. List your services, credentials, and everything else you find suitable.
  • Tune up your social media profiles. Especially LinkedIn. Make sure that those profiles mention the fact that you’re a freelancer (easy to overlook).
  • Start with a guest posting campaign. Send free articles to a number of blogs and use your bio box to mention that you’re a freelance writer.

That’s a start. Once you get going you can introduce some more methods. But in all likelihood, just these three will be more than enough to score you some contracts. That’s because after a while, the word of mouth becomes your most powerful marketing method anyway.

3. Craft your strengths

Everyone is good at something. You’re probably good at writing, but we can take an even deeper look into your skills.

This is about your writing style and voice.

Some people are great at sounding official, smart, and educated. Others are way better at sounding natural and conversational (the case for me; probably because I’m not a native English writer).

No matter what your story is, you have to understand it and then embrace it. If you’re good at writing in a conversational tone then you probably shouldn’t take a lot of official writing jobs (like writing for your local university, government office, and such) because your results won’t be that great anyway.

Now, why did I use the word craft {your strengths} instead of, say, find? That’s because once you discover what your core strengths are, you should do everything you can to improve them further. Don’t just take them for granted and not do anything to make them grow.

Being kind-of-good in writing official articles and kind-of-good in writing conversational articles won’t make you as much money as being exceptional at only one of these things.

4. Set the perfect number of working hours

The great thing about freelancing is that you have much freedom as to how many hours you want to work at any given day.

But it’s really good to set this upfront or it can get out of control really quickly. If you don’t do it, before you know it, you’ll be sitting with a cup of coffee in the middle of the night trying to meet a deadline. Not good for your health.

Set a daily limit. It can be eight hours, six hours, heck, even two hours if you want to. Don’t make it more than 10, though.

5. How are you going to stay productive?

(One of the most significant challenges in the freelance writing world, and the freelancing world in general.)

The thing is that the more freedom you have, the easier it is to lose your grip on reality. Well, it’s not that brutal actually, but the truth is that not being able to do anything is a somewhat common situation. And the only way you can protect yourself from it, is to learn how to be productive.

The topic is too big to explain it here. Instead of trying, I’m just going to guide your attention towards a site like and the work and time management methodology called Getting Things Done. Check them out.

6. Set the free vs. paid writing balance

In case this hasn’t crossed your mind so far, let me introduce the concept of writing for free.

Yes, I really did say for free. And no, this is not a joke.

Sounds fancy, but what I actually mean is guest posting. The thing I mentioned at the beginning as part of your initial marketing plan.

As it turns out, guest posting is great at every stage of your business journey. It builds your brand, creates some recognition and brings in new clients. You can find a writing blog to post on, or a freelancing blog, or even an unrelated blog as long as it caters to your prospective client audience.

This step is about defining how many of those free guest posts you want to write within a month. I’m not here to judge you, so go with whatever number seems reasonable, but once you make the decision, stick with it.

7. Start acting today

There’s no point in waiting… The sooner you start taking action, the sooner you’ll see the first results.

The advice here is presented in a kind of step-by-step manner. So you can start by creating your overall game plan, then shift to your marketing plan, and so on.

What’s your take on this set of early actions for a freelance writer? Do you have any questions you’d like to ask about the process?

About the author: Karol K. is a freelance writer and blogger. If you’re interested in various online opportunities revolving around freelance writing then feel free to visit him at Writers in Charge and get a list of 45+ sites that will pay for your writing. You might also enjoy Karol’s previous post for GetPaidtoWriteOnline.

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  1. Karol, this is sound advice for the beginning writer. It’s important to make strong progress on all 7 of your steps; ignoring any one can make the difference between success and failure.

    • That’s 100% correct. But for me, the last point – taking action today – is likely the most important one.

  2. Oh I know plenty of people who shake sticks at things. Usually old curmudgeons on the edge of parks and other public recreation areas, disappointed by the youth of today. Generally if the things they’re shaking a stick at accumulate in a space roughly wider than the visible horizon, it becomes more difficult to shake the stick in their direction. You can imagine you’d need an awful lot of things to fill the visible horizon, so ‘more than you can shake a stick at’ is a vast amount.

    (Thanks for the article, though – I’ve been neglecting my guest blogging efforts for a long time now, this is a good reminder.)

  3. I think these tips can act as a guiding light or step by step blueprint of building up a successful freelance writing career. Thanks for sharing with us this informative post!!

    • Thanks, Lalita. It’s good to have a strong resource for reference but execution is still everything.

  4. Love the Hire Me page tip!! Had missed this one … shall implement it right away!