Becoming a WAH Freelance Writer – Part One: What do I need?

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Part 1

When it comes to being a writer, there are certain things you simply must have. Some are physical and some are intangible. Here I’ll discuss both and help you to decide if you have what it takes. If you don’t, I’ll tell you how to get there.

Creating your workspace

If you’re going to be a writer, you need to have a place to work. Personally, I like having two places to work in case one gets to be overwhelming. After all, one thing about working from home is that – eventually – you can get tired of the place.

For your primary workspace, I suggest something well-lit, with a solid desk and a comfortable chair. If you’ve got options, choose a place that is white or has bright colors. Windows aren’t bad, but if you live on a busy street or something, it may be best to stay away from the commotion. Distractions will kill you, so try to pick a place with as few as possible.

Picking your supplies

While I personally prefer to write in notebooks when outlining or doing research, you’re absolutely going to need access to a computer. It’s very likely that you’ll need to submit your work as digital files and you’ll be fresh out of luck if you don’t have a PC or laptop with steady internet.

It’s a good idea to have some notebooks around though, just in case you need to give your eyes a break. Otherwise, you just need to equip your computer with the latest version of Microsoft Office, get a mouse pad that makes you smile, and choose a browser that isn’t Internet Explorer.

That’s all you need. You’re all set.

Moving past materials

Clearly, it’s not enough to simply pick a good corner and upload the right software. You’re going to have to have some technical skill as a writer. Luckily, you won’t need much. You won’t need to define appositive phrases or explain the difference between a sentence’s subject and its object, but you will have to understand in a general way how sentences work.

If you’re uncertain of your skill level, then just learn the basics. Figure out where the commas belong. If you can’t explain why you’re putting a comma where you’re putting it, then delete it altogether, and – remember! – a misused comma can change the meaning of a sentence drastically. Consider these instructions:

Let’s eat, Grandpa!

Let’s eat Grandpa!

If you can’t tell the difference between those sentences, then you need some practice with your commas, but suffice it to say this: commas save lives.

Other important things to learn are your homonyms. Homonyms are words that sound alike, but have different meanings. Common examples are to, too, and two. You may think that it’s no big deal to mix up two similar words, but it really is. Most of your clients are hiring you for one simple reason – they don’t want to look like idiots.

Confusing basic words doesn’t reflect well on your clients, and it doesn’t reflect well on you either.

The final judge

In the end, your confidence is probably your greatest judge. If you’re wary of stepping out into the world of writers because you’re concerned you’re going to mess up, get some more practice. Sign up for a class at your local community college or start studying grammar rules on the internet. It won’t take you long – if you’re really trying – to feel your skills improving. If, on the other hand, you’re making the decision to write from home because you feel that you are skilled, then you’re probably good enough to make a living. That’s all there is to it.

But what about experience?

If I’m being totally honest, then I must admit that almost none of my clients requested to see samples of my work before they hired me. Now, my experience might be rare, but – as I said before – your clients (and potential clients) have only one real desire: they want to look competent.

You’re not going to get prolific jobs with big, famous blogs without samples, but those aren’t the clients we’re initially targeting anyway. This is the realistic guide to excellence, after all.

Most of your applications will be written. You may have to answer a few questions or tell them a bit about yourself. Generally, you should be able to make enough of an impression here to convince someone to at least give you one test assignment. The test assignment will prove whether or not you’re capable of the work.

When it comes to writing, employees have to show experience. Freelancers have to show will.

 

Like what you’ve seen? Share it with your friends! And don’t forget to come back next week, when I’ll explain how to find your niche.

 

[Image by deathtothestockphoto.com.]

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Daniel Taylor

Daniel Taylor

Daniel is a freelance writer working out of his home in Secane, Pennsylvania. He likes eating cheesesteaks, listening to the blues, and reading great non-fiction. You can email him with questions or moral dilemmas at daniel@danieltaylorwrites.com

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