My freelance career started when I was working as a wage slave churning out low-quality link-building content for an SEO company in Idaho, in the US. It was a soul-crushing job, and like most of my co-workers, I grumbled over me coffee about it. What was the point of this? Are we even really helping clients? There had to be a better way.
Like many freelancers, I left corporate work behind because I became convinced that I could do more rewarding, more gainful, and higher quality work on my own. The decision to do that, and the practical reality of actually making it happen, however, turned out to be quite different. In the intervening years, I learned a lot about what it takes to survive and thrive as a freelance writer both where I started in the US, and now in Germany. Not only are there the technical aspects of registration, taxes, and contract negotiation to tackle, but, more importantly in the long term, the developmental issues of motivating yourself, developing your skillset, and managing your resources.
Finding Work as a Brand new Baby Freelancer
“Copy” is a deliberately vague term, because copywriters produce a wide spectrum of written content that requires a variety of competencies. My previous work prepared me mainly for writing fast and cheap blog content for businesses that were more focused on keyword density than readability. That gave me a lot of practice with expository writing, but that’s just no way to live. I needed to expand my skillset.
It’s tough to find work early on, and being flexible in terms of where you look for work, as well as the type of work you’ll do, can help drive your professional development by expanding your horizons. In large part, that just means you shouldn’t be shy about what you do, and who you offer to do it for.
You can (and should) use readily available platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or ConstantContent to find work on the internet, but clients exist everywhere. Your barber and your electrician probably don’t have the time or the skills needed to maintain their blog, or to coherently organize and describe their services and pricing on their website. They might need someone to write promotional emails, or just to update their Facebook page. If a writing task is new to you, it’s an opportunity to expand your skillset, and ultimately to find your specialized niche.