Since my Careershifters’ story was published a couple of weeks ago, I’ve received some lovely messages from people wishing me well. Some of them also asked questions about writing, the most popular of which were: how did I know if I was any good, how did I have the confidence to charge, how do I know what to write and what advice would I offer anyone else looking to start a writing career?
As these are also questions I’m often asked at networking meetings, and even by family and friends from time to time, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s blog post to answering them. So here’s some more about how I’ve created my ‘writer’s life’, for anyone who may be interested!
How did I know if I was any good at writing?
When I first started out as a freelance writer last year, I didn’t have a clue! All I could do was to throw myself into doing my best, and then people would probably tell me if they thought I was terrible. At that point I decided I’d have two choices: work on any feedback given until I got it right, or accept I wasn’t very good and find something else to work on instead.
Though if I’m being completely honest, I already knew I was sort-of OK at writing because not only have I been doing it ever since I could hold a pen, I love to write more than (almost) anything else. What this means is that I’ve been honing my skills for years, from reading everything I could get my hands on from an early age, to writing teenage diaries, blogging for fun, scribbling short stories, completing the first and second drafts of a novel (work continues on the third draft!) and offering up unpaid bits of web copy, articles and press releases to the companies I’ve worked for.
If you love writing enough that you want to start a career doing just that, you’ve probably got a chequered, largely unpaid history with words just like mine. This is your training, and together with comments from readers and clients, it’s what will tell you if you’re any good or not.
How did I have the confidence to charge?
The short answer to this is that I’d starve if I didn’t charge properly! It definitely helped that I’d given up my comfortable HR job to write, because it meant I had no choice but to think about how I was going to charge my clients. I did some research and set an hourly rate (a very reasonable one if I do say so myself!) from there.
How do I know what to write?
Most of the time, clients will tell me what they want me to write for them. When I’m writing my own pieces, such as this blog for example, I’ll usually pick an idea that’s occurred to me over the past week or so, write a title and a few notes down and a post is born! I don’t like wasting ideas, so whenever I think of something that would be a good topic for a post then I’ll open a Word document, write the title and then save it in a ‘Blogs’ folder to come back to later on.
What advice would I offer anyone else looking to start a writing career?
Just read and write as much as you can. You could start by setting up a personal blog and committing to posting at least once a week, even if it’s just a random collection of musings from your mind! That will help you build some confidence and commitment, especially if you invite friends and family to follow your blog every week (I did this as I was going through the Careershifters’ course and found it a great help, even though at that point I had no idea what I was going to end the course doing).
Then, get as much feedback as possible on your writing from friends, family and anyone else who might be interested, and be prepared to do a lot of listening and tweaking as you go!
I hope you’ve found all this excessive talking about myself vaguely helpful! I’m always happy to answer any questions, whether you’d like to ask me about writing for a living or if you want me to write something for you. Simply get in touch for a chat.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
...they were learning how to express their true feelings in words, and the results were honest, uplifting, and totally magnetic.Read more
This is a blog post unlike any other.Read more
As a freelance writer, taking a break is always a challenge. But I push on through the guilt, and here's why.Read more
Where's the value in empty business gurus?Read more
It's Universal Letter Writing Week - how will you celebrate?Read more
I’ve gathered together some of my most-read blog posts, tips and tools to help you get writing.Read more
Five easy resolutions to help your freelancing career thrive in 2019 - promise!Read more
"The right person will help you come across as yourself, but in a prouder, more polished, 'look what I’ve achieved' kind of way"Read more
Simple tips to help you breeze through any interview scenario.Read more
"If you like someone, you might be tempted to look for excuses to work with them, even if their particular skills aren’t what you need."Read more
Focus on telling interesting business stories that reflect your ideal customers’ lives back to them.Read more
Keep your summer content fresh and updated to be remembered all year long.Read more
How to become every freelancer's favourite client!Read more
Know what you're good at, and rejection won't seem so bad!Read more
How setting a speaking challenge forced me to talk confidently about the work I love.Read more
Finding the 'what's', 'whys' and 'hows' of your business will help people connect with you.Read more
It takes time to craft compelling
November means #NaNoWriMo - so whatever you're working on, it's time to get it done!Read more
Ironically, it's when you're writing about yourself that you will sound least like you. Hiring a writer to do it for you can bring a whole host of benefits.Read more
Writing books is big business - or at least it can be, if you get it right. For starters, this means not rushing the process!Read more
Headlines are always difficult to write, so here's an easy way to craft something original for your personal and professional profiles.Read more
There's a lot of vague career advice out there, so if you're looking for insight that goes beyond "be yourself and follow your passion" you may have to leap before you look!Read more
Creating a schedule can be a difficult task, especially when you're planning for work you're not being paid for - or that nobody is expecting! Here's how to get started on crafting a time plan that will work for you.Read more
You don't have to be a professional writer to discover a unique writing voice that speaks to its readers. Finding your own voice is often easier than you might think, and it all starts when you write from the heart.Read more
I'm a 'Success Story'! My career change journey was featured on Careershifters' website this week, and I'm incredibly proud of it. But I wouldn't want anybody to think changing my career has been easy. And so this is a reflection of sorts, on where I was when I began, and how I've ended up where I am now.Read more
Did you know that so-called 'job-hopping' can be an asset to your career search? Whether you prefer stability or excitement in your career, planning your next move is all about packaging your skills and making the right kind of approach.Read more
Going freelance doesn't mean you have to accept every piece of work that comes your way. Being discerning with your time and effort will help you reap the rewards of being your own boss...and you'll get to work with some great people too!Read more
There's a new trend sweeping Silicon Valley - giving honest and direct feedback to your colleagues. Before you go rushing in, focus your message by writing it down first...your colleagues and your career will thank you for it!Read more
All those celebrated business gurus had to start somewhere...and the most successful ones know how to tell their stories in a relatable way that inspires others to act on their dreams and ideas. By writing a business book, you can do just that yourself!Read more
Writing a recruitment ad is often a rushed activity, with the words used ones you've read many times before ("dynamic" anyone?) Here's how the Banks children managed to recruit their ideal candidate - Mary Poppins! - by using clear and creative words that stood out.Read more
'Greatest Hits' countdowns are rife at this time of year - so now, here's one featuring the best CV advice. This list will give you the ultimate steer if you're looking to get your CV on track for the new year job hunt. Wishing you a very happy 2017!Read more
If you're stuck in a job you don't particularly like, mindlessly searching job boards for something else, it can be hard to dredge up any enthusiasm to make a change. But that little bit of rest time between Christmas and a brand new year beginning is perfect for considering exactly what you want, and how to take the very first step towards making 2017 your happy work year!Read more
Are you often left with the feeling that you don't quite know enough about all the online tools you can use to promote your business? How about website analytics...shouldn't you be checking them every five minutes just like the experts say? Relax - here's how to take advantage of all the advice available online, by defining exactly what YOU want to know.Read more
Is time getting the better of you? With a growing business, several passion projects on the go, books to read and friends I'd quite like to see, I was starting to feel overwhelmed...until I decided to take a closer look at planning my time more effectively. Here's how you can do the same.Read more
Looking for ways to sound consistent and authentic in your written communications? Here are a few tried, tested and original ways to do just that.Read more
BOO! Like a ripe pumpkin Hallowe'en has rolled around yet again, so what better time to extol the benefits of ghostwriting, definitely not just the province of bargain-bin bound celebrities.Read more
Regular blog posts - especially if you run a business - can drastically increase your following, as well as helping you beat the competition by describing how you do things your way. Read on for a few more great reasons why you should join the blogging revolution!Read more