Welcome to Amy’s Monthly Minute, an overview of business activity and advice for freelance writers.
The majority of this month was spent on getting my freelance writing business established. Starting a career in freelance writing is probably one of the least-complex businesses to start. However, it still proved challenging at times.
Starting a business comes with many challenges and they’re different for each person. In addition to finding a company name (I decided to use my own name), some of the obstacles I faced this month were:
- Registering a domain and setting up a website
After researching several companies, I went with Bluehost. They offer domain registration, hosting space, and free site building tools. They also have amazing (FREE!) customer service. Being a beginner, I managed to royally mess up my website and, after calling them in a panic, they were able to restore a backed-up version quickly and got my site back on track.
- Determining legal structure
This requires a lot of legal knowledge. I do have a degree in legal studies but I’m not an attorney and there is a lot I don’t know. Ultimately, I went with a sole proprietorship. The quickest, simplest structure to set up and it seemed to fit my business needs.
- Researching what services to offer
This was more difficult than you might think. Since freelance writers tend to operate in a niche market – and I haven’t narrowed down my specialty yet – I had a hard time with this. I decided to go with what I know I’m good at, which is business articles and relationship advice in the form of copywriting, editing, and blogging.
- Getting a P.O. box and business bank account
Because I have mainly an online presence and am able to operate out of my home, I needed a P.O. box. I’m not comfortable with advertising my home address on the world-wide-web and a P.O. box solves this problem. It is also important to separate business and personal expenses, which is why I setup a business bank account.
- Gaining experience
Once I had a professional online presence, I was almost paralyzed when it came to pitching and writing an actual article. I kept thinking “what if I’m not as good as I think I am?” and “what if no one hires me?” I turned to Textbroker.com for some quick assignments. Though I don’t recommend this as an ongoing freelance writing strategy, it gave me great experience and a huge boost in confidence to go forward.
Most surprising this month was stumbling across this article by Ryan Robinson: How to Avoid Getting Fired (and Sued) When Starting a Side Business. This one article saved me from a ton of legal trouble down the road.
Even though I have a degree in business administration and work as an administrator, it never occurred to me that my employer might have a policy about starting a side business. I’m so thankful to Ryan for writing this article because the company I work for absolutely has a policy for this and it required getting written permission from my department head.
His advice for approaching the topic with your employer was also helpful. If you’re thinking of starting a side business of your own, Ryan’s story and advice are a must-read.
There are several free resources every freelance writer needs. The first is WordPress. Unless you’re a professional website developer, WordPress gives you the best tools to get your writer’s site up and running and makes it easy to implement a blog for your business.
Here are other, non-negotiable tools every freelancer must have:
- Pixabay: free, public domain photos to use for your website and blog
- PicMonkey: funny name, but a great online tool to edit, design, and personalize photos
- WordPress Editorial Calendar: I had no idea this type of tool existed and it’s going to make scheduling regular blog updates a breeze
- All In One SEO Pack and Google Keywords Planner: what good is having a website if no one can find you? These tools help solve that problem and get you found
- Make a Living Writing blog: hands-down the best resource for freelance writing, and Carol is my new role model
All in all, it was a good month. I even landed my very first client and an ongoing writing gig for social media marketing!
A friend hired me to write an online blurb about his work and experience for a professional networking website. And, with the help of LinkedIn, I connected with an ad agency that utilizes freelance writers for marketing content and am very excited to start that next week.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. I welcome any and all feedback, tips and tricks, corrections, suggested writing topics, or just plain helpful advice. Also, if you liked this post I encourage you to subscribe to my mailing list to get new and updated information (no spam, ever, pinky swear) – just enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page.