Do you want a job that’s location-independent, fully flexible, and can grow with you? Writing is among the most long-standing freelance professions and the demand for self-employed writers isn’t going anywhere.

One of the best parts of being a freelance writer is that you can do it part- or full-time and flex your hours to accommodate other responsibilities. It’s a cushy side gig for a college student, a great job to float you after graduation, and a skill to fall back on during career and life transitions.

Strong writing skills are important, but you don’t need to be a published author to make a career in writing. Most freelance writers work in marketing, public relations, technical writing, and other professions where good grammar and the ability to write clearly go a long way.

What Do You Need to Become a Freelance Writer?

You don’t need special qualifications to start writing, but there are some things to know before becoming a freelancer:

  1. Freelance businesses are typically inexpensive, but you may need to buy office equipment and software, set up a website, pay incorporation fees, and cover other startup expenses.
  2. Look into business loans and grants if you need extra financing, but understand what’s required for a successful application. Search within your industry to find grants you’re eligible for and prepare a strong proposal to make your case. In addition to national grants, you can find grants specific to states.
  3. If you’re doing a lot of freelance work, you may want to incorporate. Incorporating protects you legally but you’ll have to file separate business and personal taxes.
  4. Every freelancer needs a system for recording income and expenses, tracking receipts, and invoicing clients. A software-as-a-service product like QuickBooks Online, Xero, or FreshBooks is an affordable alternative to enterprise-level software for freelancers.
  5. You can create customized invoices by using an online invoice generator. Choose from a variety of templates and then add your own terms, color scheme, and images.

How to Build Your Freelance Writing Resume

You’re confident in your writing skills, but how can you convince prospective clients? A freelance writer’s resume should emphasize skills, subject areas, and accomplishments. Think about what’s relevant to the client’s niche and show how your experience applies. Include links to your website and a portfolio with writing samples. You can use mock pieces if you don’t have professional writing experience.

Is your writing resume looking a bit bare? Beef up your skills with online courses in topics like:

  • Copywriting
  • Data analysis.
  • Editing and proofreading.
  • Interviewing
  • Project management.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media marketing.
  • Storytelling

Where to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

As you grow as a freelance writer, you’ll develop a network and brand that draws clients to you. In the meantime, how can you find work?

Some freelancers write on spec. This refers to writing a piece and pitching it to publications. It can be a good fit for small outlets and niche publications, but the downside is there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid. You can also try pitching ideas to gauge interest before starting work on a piece.

A lot of freelancers find work using online marketplaces. Some of the best websites to find freelance jobs online include:

  • Jobspresso
  • Flexjobs
  • Indeed
  • Writers Work
  • LinkedIn

Use a professional headshot in your freelancer profile and write a summary that hooks prospective clients. Don’t stop there. Networking and marketing are necessary to maximize visibility as a freelancer and attract more clients. Learn where your audience frequents online and get in front of their eyes with useful content, infographics, and how-tos designed to pique interest in your business.

Writing is one of those skills that’s always good to have in your pocket. Whether you want part-time work that fits your college schedule, a temporary gig while you search for the right career or a flexible full-time job, there are opportunities in freelance writing. Use this information to find your niche and start earning a living as a professional writer.

Visit the Authors Guild of Tennessee for unique stories that celebrate Tennessee’s rich literary tradition!


Hopeful Entrepreneurs Should Take These Steps to Start a Writing Career

Starting a writing business is a big step, but it can also be an empowering one, and people everywhere are branching out to set something up just for themselves. Whether you want to focus on writing books, blogs or magazine articles, or get into the editing side of things, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Which type of business makes the most sense for your needs right now? What kind of business structure will you need? How much funding will you require?

Before you start feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that there are many tools available that will help you through the process. The Authors Guild of Tennessee offers resources that are invaluable to new wordsmithing entrepreneurs, especially as you start thinking about your marketing strategy and how to navigate social media. Here are a few pointers on which decisions you’ll need to make and how to ensure they’re the right ones.

Research your options

Some business ideas are easier to get off the ground than others, so it’s important to do a little research and think about which ones make the most sen se for your skillset. Many wordsmiths find it easiest to start with what they know, so think about your hobbies and training. Will you still enjoy the activity if it becomes a business? How much competition will you be facing? Do you have the right certifications to become a knowledgeable business owner who makes customers feel they’re in the right hands?

Also, think about how much time you want to put into the business in the beginning; you might decide to work as a freelancer at first so you can dip your toes in the water and make sure it’s right for you.

Find the perfect name

Once you’ve figured out which business path meets your needs best, it’s time to think about the details. It can take some time to come up with the perfect name, but keep in mind that you can also have a DBA, or doing-business-as, name. This means you’ll have options if you decide to start selling different products or services down the line, or if you’re unable to secure your business name as a website domain.

Do your homework to make sure the name you want isn’t already taken, and consider how you’ll spell it as well as how it will look on a logo and within your branding. Don’t forget to think about possible acronyms; even if you don’t use one, it will be a nasty surprise to find out your business name can be shortened to something inappropriate! Usually, when it comes to business names, the simpler the better. This is especially true when coming up with your logo, which often includes the name of your enterprise. When creating your company logo design, get inspired by checking into some of the free online resources, many of which have templates you can use to generate an eye-catching and professional-looking logo.

Check out your competition, find some funding

Market research is about more than just your competition; LivePlan notes that it informs your business plan, which defines your ideas and provides a guidefor you to work from for the first year. Not only that, it gives lenders and potential investors a detailed map of your business so they can see exactly how much funding you need and what it will be spent on.

Once you have your ideas and name nailed down, be thorough as you conduct your research, focusing on your target customer and your goals for the first year of business. Don’t forget that private loans are just one option; Bench points out that you can also look for local and federal grant opportunities that are specific to your field.

Trust your instincts

Professional writers often doubtthemselves or suffer from a drop in confidence after a setback, but trusting your instincts will go a long way toward helping you get through the most challenging parts of starting a business, whether that’s finding funding or creating a marketing strategy. Look for a business mentor who can help you boost your self-confidence as you start making important decisions.

Starting a writing business takes a lot of dedication and patience, but starting with a good plan will help you get through it with ease. Utilize as many online resources and tools as possible, especially as you start building your daily operations.

Photo via Pixabay The Authors Guild of Tennessee is a group of about 50 published authors living in East Tennessee, where many of our stories are set, reflecting either its present-day culture or its history. Connect with us today for more info

A tax resource guide for freelancers and contract employees by: Charley Sunday

If you’re a writer or another professional working on a freelance or contract basis, you can't count on your employer to withhold the requisite taxes, social security contributions, and other deductions from your paycheck. It's up to you to keep track of your financial obligations.

This resource guide covers some more useful tips and tools you can use to manage taxes as a freelancer or contract worker.

Keep Your Paperwork Organized

You'll thank yourself for your organizational prowess when tax filing season rolls around.

  • Establish a set system for where and how you will store and label your tax-relevant documents, like invoices and expense notes.

  • Keep hard copies of your tax-relevant paperwork in fire-proof filing cabinets.

  • Make note of quarterly and annual tax filing deadlines and write them into your calendar. Set yourself digital reminders if needed.

Invest in Useful Tools to Stay On Top of Your Business FInances

 Cutting-edge tech can help streamline your tax burden.

  • Use an app to scan your expenses and invoices, digitizing them.

  • Try cloud storage solutions to back up your tax paperwork and related documents.

  • Consider getting accounting software for freelancers.

  • Use phone apps to help keep track of your expenses.

 Find Ways to Reduce Your Tax Bill

Different from tax evasion, so-called "tax avoidance" allows you to legally reduce your taxable income and taxes.

  • Register your business as a formal legal entity, like a Tennessee LLC, making it easier to claim tax write-offs.

  • Familiarize yourself with the deductions you may be able to claim as a freelancer or contract worker.

  • Recognize the common signs that you could use support with your tax work—such as getting audited.

  • Find a professional CPA who specializes in tax-reduction strategies to help you save.

Getting a handle on your taxes as a writer or another professional working as a freelancer or contract employee can be daunting at first. However, there are many handy resources available to help. If you're feeling overwhelmed, a professional CPA can be useful.

Visit Authors Guild of Tennessee for stories that reflect the present-day culture or history of East Tennessee.

A tax resource guide for freelancers and contract employees by Charley Sunday