At the start of my freelance writing career, I was a lurker. I spent hours reading blogs on how to be a freelance writer, finding out as much information as I could to help me take my hobby to a stage where I could start earning money.
I was a regular reader of this blog and spent most nights for several weeks going through the content produced since it started (thanks Sharon!).
I did the same on several other blogs, too. I learnt a lot and it was fantastic. It got to the point where I felt like I was developing some great relationships with the owners of the blogs.
The problem was, I wasn’t. I was spending hours every evening reading all of the content, but I wasn’t interacting in any way. No comments. No e-mails. No retweets. No Facebook likes. Absolutely nothing.
And the simple fact is, I honestly believe this hampered how quickly I developed as a freelance writer.
I’ve said it what seems like a billion times before, but the freelance writing community is one of the friendliest out there – but I didn’t truly realise this until I started commenting on blog posts. Always quite an independent person, I think I thought I would be able to read all of the information available, go away and become a successful freelance writer.
Although most probably a possibility, by doing this you miss, in my opinion, one of the most vital components of being a successful freelance writer – having a great network of colleagues.
My very first freelance writing gig was gained through an application, but almost every gig after that has been via recommendations and networking. It might sound a little far fetched to some, but it’s true – there aren’t many gigs that I’ve secured over the last few years that haven’t been as a result of my professional relationships.
And although I didn’t really think much of it at the time, these relationships all stem from commenting on blogs, e-mailing a few writers directly and generally engaging and interacting with them as much as I possibly could.
Getting connections and building relationships is not something you can do quickly or even easily, yet it’s something that I really do believe is a necessity. Particularly when you’re first starting out, but also when you’re becoming established. You don’t want to build relationships and then just let them suffer when you start earning. Apart from anything, it’s really poor manners.
When you’re first becoming established in the industry, don’t be backwards about coming forwards. Start commenting on blog posts regularly and get your name out there. E-mail writers directly, too – some of the most valued relationships I now have are a result of e-mailing writers and asking for advice, support or to simply introduce myself.
Becoming a successful freelance writer is not just about reading the information that’s available. It’s about understanding how the whole industry works – and the best way to find this out is to speak to the people who are already succeeding.