Think about your first paid assignment as a writer, whether you’ve already completed it, or you’re still imagining it…
That career-defining first paycheck signals the start of your writing career. I got mine on the 24th of May 2016.
But before I could get to the point where I earned that first check, I had to go through three roadblocks.
Initially, I thought my challenges were unique. Later, I discovered they’re typical for most beginners. I’ve shared them here so you can fulfill your writing ambition faster and start your writing career off right.
Roadblock #1: Mental Hurdles
When you’re starting out, your main problem is not lurking out there.
It’s not editors and Chief Marketing Officers who ignore your pitches. It’s not the competition you imagine that’s coming from writers who charge basement prices.
It’s closer to home — in you.
The 300-pound gorilla that threatens to rip your writing dream to shreds before it has seen the light of day is…
I remember it well. “What if you fail?” quizzed a tiny sharp voice in my head. “Forget it,” the grilling went on, “A small-town boy won’t make it in the big league.”
I couldn’t shake off the “I’m-not-good-enough” feeling.
So I fought back. I shifted mental gears. I quit bashing myself. Instead, I told myself:
- “You can get the gig even if nobody knows you.”
- “You can get the gig even if you don’t have a website.”
- “You can get the gig even if you feel like a fraud.”
In short, I banished all negativity. That’s the biggest battle you’ll face. Win the inner game conflict and you’re halfway to starting your writing career.
Roadblock #2: Visibility Hurdles
When you’re a new writer on the web, you’re invisible.
Nobody knows you. You don’t have by-lines. Your website isn’t done.
Somehow, you’ve got to find a way to hang your shingle out there and holler, “Over here! I’m open for business.”
Since I wanted to position myself as a web writer, the first step I took was to create a basic web presence. I crafted my LinkedIn profile so when clients searched for my name, they’d find me.
By the way: When people google your name, LinkedIn results usually come up on top. So your profile needs to be stellar.
On top of that, I scoured the web for my ideal client. Once I had a list of 10 prospects, I began to knock on their doors — virtually.
I started by designing a letter of introduction. This can be a simple email that describes who you are, what you do, and the services you offer.
My fourth letter got me my first client.
Roadblock #3: Credibility Hurdles
Clients want proof you can deliver before they hire you.
But if you’re brand new, how do you get proof when you have no track record, no writing samples, and no testimonials?
Easy — you get creative.
Here’s how I did it:
First, I edited a project proposal for a friend’s orphanage overseas. Next, I polished up a landing page I’d written for a site I’d wanted to start. I had killed the project, but the landing page got a new life in my, ahem, glowing portfolio.
When my first prospect asked for samples, I was ready. And guess what? He was impressed. He didn’t ask me why my portfolio was scanty. He didn’t quiz me about how long I’d been writing.
The lesson here is that prospective clients don’t want a 49-page resume. They really just want proof you can write.
So find a way to create those samples. Here are some ideas:
- Write pro bono for your favorite charity
- Write an ad for your favorite product
- Write for a friend’s or relative’s company for free
- Write a guest post for a site your prospects love
Do You Truly Want to Get Paid for Writing?
Then don’t let anything stop you.
If this African boy from a small town did it, so can you. Say goodbye to the excuses that hold you back and start your writing career today.
I don’t have an internet connection at home. I didn’t have testimonials. I didn’t have a website. English is not even my first language.
Yet I succeeded.
So it’s time to get to work: Train. Write. Market. Hustle.
Your first check is waiting…