Once you get the hang of writing for different audiences all the time, freelance writing becomes pretty straightforward. The hard thing to do is to keep up with the little things like stocking your stable with new clients, improving your craft, and securing your reputation.
Clearly, you want to be viewed as a professional. Professional writers are desirable for clients (and potential clients) because they are reliable, honest, have a strong command of the language, and will fulfill their responsibilities. Trust me, when it comes to your reputation, “professional” is where you want to be.
The small touches
Over the course of a career, professionalism is determined by the big-picture stuff. Is your work written well? Do you deal with clients in an appropriate manner? Are you fair to the people who hire you? You will be judged on the nature of your work and your working relationships.
But in the beginning, you won’t have established yourself in those ways. You’ll be looking for other ways to portray yourself as a writer with whom clients should want to work. You can do it, too! The secret lies in the little things.
Just like an employee at a “regular” job, who conveys professionalism with punctuality and a proper Windsor knot, WAH freelancers can look like pros by utilizing four simple tools:
- Business cards
- A basic website
- A professional email address
Using those four weapons, you will look like the work-at-home pro you were born to be.
You can get hundreds of basic business cards online for only a few dollars at VistaPrint and other sites like that. Carrying a few in your wallet ensures that you are always ready to share your contact information with potential clients and/or business contacts without fumbling around and doing the “I’ll call you and then you’ll have my number too” move that ought to be reserved for new friends only.
Business cards say three things about you:
- You’re prepared
- You’re ready to work
- You’re professional
Just remember to put correct contact information on your cards. I’d stick to email address and maybe a phone number, but most times don’t bother with your home address.
A basic website
There are a few really good things that a website can do for you. It can show off work samples, link to pages you’ve written for, share recommendations from past and current client, and put a personal touch on your sales pitch.
I’ve found that the strongest part of my own writing website is that shows people that I’m a good guy. They like my simple “About Me” page and the attitude that the website presents. For lots of clients – especially those with simple blogs – the fact that I have a website at all makes me seem professional.
Here are a few keys to making your website work for you:
- Pick an appropriate name. If you can squeeze in your name without things getting too long, do it.
- Don’t treat it like Facebook. Avoid selfies and pictures of you going bananas at the bar. You can use casual photography, but keep it classy.
- Include an “About Me” page. Potential clients visit your page for one reason only: they want to know more about you. Don’t disappoint them.
If you’re wondering how to start a website, the internet can show you everything you need to know. I recommend using WordPress to manage it. That’s what both Amanda and I use for our sites.
A professional email
This is getting a little jargony, but when you start a website, you’ll use a company to “host” it. That just means that they are responsible for keeping it online. They should also be able to help you set up an email address for your new site. For instance, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s clean and looks good because it is set up to my website, increasing my credibility among most potential clients.
If you don’t want to set up a website (or can’t figure it out), you should still have a relatively professional email address. I don’t want you trying to pitch clients from CatLuva4Eva@hotmail.com or some nonsense like that. In fact, while we’re on the subject, use Gmail for your email address. Right or wrong, Gmail is more respected than a lot of other email services. And for the love of God, don’t use anything at AOL. Clients will think you’re 104 years old.
If you followed my advice from earlier posts, you’ll have established a preferred pricing method. You’ll charge by the hour, by the word, or by the project. This is a totally legitimate practice.
You can up the ante even further, however, by bundling services and charging accordingly. For instance, if you normally set blog posts one at a time for $30 apiece, try offering 4/$100. You can do this other ways, too. Offer “Total Package Posts” where you write a piece, take a photograph to accompany it, and post it to your client’s website yourself and charge an extra 30% for it. In addition to earning you more money, these sort of bundled services make you appear competent and client-friendly. That’s how professional writers act.
Over the course of these ten posts, I’ve shared with you many of the methods I’ve used to turn writing from home into my primary source of income. If you follow them carefully, put in hard work, and don’t forget the little things, you’ll be earning money in no time!
But that doesn’t mean that the work stops at post number ten. Going forward, I plan on growing my business. I want more clients who pay me more money for my work. I want to continue to increase my reputation and open up new opportunities. And I want the same for you.
Just because this series is over, doesn’t mean I’m finished helping you with your work-at-home writing careers. I’ll be hanging around as long as Amanda lets me, offering up advice for anyone who wants to work from their home, especially writers.
Keep sticking around. It only gets better from here.