I look back at my switch to full-time freelance writing as a two-step process.
Step one was when I first toyed with the idea this past spring. I already had my own blog, but had been writing as a hobby instead of a job. I researched tips and tricks of the trade and came away one clear idea: I had to write for myself first.
That counterintuitive idea of writing for no pay for myself turned out to be a huge factor in progressing toward step two, or making that official transition from hobby writing to writing as a career.
You provide writing samples for yourself
This is huge because you will always need writing samples when pitching a publication or applying for a writing job. Yes, you can provide an amazing piece you wrote a few years ago, but providing pieces from consistent writing is even more valuable. Not only does it show you write as a way of life, it shows you have the commitment to keep up with regular work.
You keep your flow going
Professional athletes that live life on the bubble may be cut from a team and then signed to another weeks — or even months — later. That athlete can’t afford to stop exercising and lifting weights or he would never get another job. The same is true of your writing. You want to stay in good writing shape with consistent pieces.
You build your audience
Building an audience is twofold: it gives you a reader base and it gives your clients an added bonus when they hire you. In fact, if you pursue niche writing, many publications will actually turn you away if you don’t have an established reader base.
You learn the ropes
Even though you’re working for yourself, getting into a rhythm and mindset of writing as a job helps you once the paid clients start rolling in. A huge challenge of freelance writing is getting on a schedule because distractions are always looming! Put writing on your daily calendar (try to make it the same time every day) and start banking those articles.
You give yourself a place for your pitches
When you pitch other publications, you will be turned down way more than you are given the green light. The silver lining is that you have turnkey stories for your own blog or publication that will keep your morale up despite rejections.
Developing confidence in yourself as a writer is just as important as getting “wins,” or paid work. Treating yourself as the No. 1 client will help you build both.