It’s been a roller-coaster ride for me in the online freelance writing space since I left the corporate world 6 months back and made my foray into freelancing. I never once imagined being an online freelancer. In my little mind, the Corporate world was the best place one could be. What with the fixed salary, health insurance, fuel allowance …. Benefits were endless. Were it not for my dad’s constant nudging to put my writing skills to better use and earn some extra cash by the side, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. For me, writing was purely a hobby. I would write articles about my experiences in life and post them on my blog. And that was it. I never thought my writing would amount to much. The first month of freelancing was rocky – making endless proposals or bids that went unanswered. I almost gave up but one fine morning, a client came calling and one job led to another. Then without warning, my Company sank into insolvency and was forced to fold up its operations, rendering nearly 300 employees without an income. I must admit I was jolted out of my senses. Freelancing was just a side hustle, but time had come to take it to the next level. The party was over and it was time to embrace it tightly. 6 months on, I cannot be more than grateful. Sometimes it’s difficult wrapping my head around the fact that I make more than what I used to earn in my former Company. It’s the best decision I ever made and it has opened me up to the realization that money is no longer where we traditionally think it is. Sometimes it takes uncomfortable and dreadful life experiences to catapult us to greater heights.
So here I am. I cannot consider myself an expert in writing, I’m yet to get there. But allow me to share with you a few nuggets that have molded me into who I am. So, as an online writer, what will make you a good online writer and stand out from the rest?
Like any form of art or skill, writing is a skill that needs to be nourished and honed. You need the right vocabulary, ideas, and logical sentence structures to articulate your thoughts in a clear and coherent manner. Therefore, take time and immerse yourself in books, magazines, newspapers or whatever you can get your hands on. I take time to read novels, and blogs. For beginners, I would highly recommend medium The platform has tons upon tons of impressive articles by prolific writers. Occasionally I’ll read women magazines. It may sound weird. But I’ll be at ease when a client assigns me a topic touching on women. Whatever your niche, just keep reading. Create a habit of setting aside an hour a day to read an article or two and gradually, you’ll start getting the right vocabulary and ideas to use in your articles.
Write. Write. Write
When I was busy bidding in the first month, some clients would request for writing samples – they still do by the way. This is a technique they employ to assess your writing skills. I was then compelled to go back to the drawing board and pen down a few compelling articles in the specific genre. Something I discovered that the more I wrote, the better my writing turned out and the easier it was to land clients. Lesson? It’s not enough to just read articles. Reading goes hand in hand with writing. For starters, sample an article, and rewrite it in your own words. Start with a 200-word article. Write short sentences with simple vocabulary at first and build on your sentence structure as you learn new words. Proofread your work and ask for honest feedback. Graduate to 400 words then 500 words and so on. Open a blog and start publishing articles. If you cannot afford to buy a domain, open a free blog at WordPress.com and start exercising your writing skills. In addition, you can create your own Facebook fan page and pen down your thoughts and share them. Experiment with different styles and gradually, you’ll start sharpening your skills.
Choose a niche
It’s prudent to have a strategy as you progress. You cannot be a jack of all trades. Identify your best niches and what you’d like to write about. Are you into beauty and fashion? Technology? arts? lifestyle & relationships? Whatever the case, narrow down to a specific field and channel your passion and energy to it. When I started out I discovered that my strength lied in IT and technology-related fields. It won’t hurt to cast your net wider but you’ll go far when you align yourself with a certain area of expertise.
Keep the naysayers at bay
There was (and still is) a lot of negative vibe about online writing. Justifiably so because of the bucketful of online scams that have swindled many. Many think it’s a scam like the once infamous Public Likes PTC (Pay To Click) platform that came and vanished into thin air. I can attest to the fact that online writing is legit and people are earning from it. There are numerous freelancing sites which one can open an account. A simple Google search will do the trick – Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, People Per Hour …. The list is endless. Often people will try to discourage you and water down your efforts. And this is usually done from a standpoint of complete ignorance. Turn a deaf ear and get started. Hang around with people who’ve been there and done that. Derive a few lessons on how they made it. Open an account and start bidding. As you wait for clients to respond, do your research and learn new things by the day.
Don’t give up
From my experience, starting out was not easy, I would make countless bids that went unanswered for days. In fact, I got my first client after 3 weeks! It might not be the same for you. It might take a shorter time depending on how you market yourself and how aggressive you are. But trust me, clients will eventually come calling. Only if you position yourself well, send compelling proposals, tailor your profile according to your strengths and work on your writing skills.
Have a mentor
It will make the ride worthwhile if you have someone holding your hand. Someone to guide you and show you the ropes. Someone to guide you and give you valuable tips on the do’s and don’ts. As I started out, my mentor was and still is Walter Akolo who runs Freelancer Kenya. He’s been an immense blessing to me. He made me scale seemingly insurmountable hurdles and opened my eyes to endless possibilities. I cannot thank him enough.
To wrap up, I have outlined the major points you need to carefully take note of as you start your journey to becoming a prolific online writer. Your feedback is welcome. Thank you.