Freelance writing (Part-III)
Do you want to make a living as a writer? Perhaps it's a dream you've always dismissed as impossible, and you've got a "sensible" day job, or a busy family life. But you've never given up your love of words.
I'll let you into a secret. You can make your writing pay. I do, and so do lots of the people I know. Forget what you've heard about ridiculously low rates - it is still possible to make a professional rate from your freelancing.
Step 3: Setting Up In Business
The process for setting up as a self-employed writer differs from country to country. Check out what's required in your own country, and make sure you file any relevant paperwork. Don't put this off indefinitely because you think it's going to be a lot of hassle - in many cases, you can do it all online.
If you don't have a PayPal account, I'd strongly recommend setting one up. This is particularly crucial if you're going to be working for online clients (such as blog editors or website owners), most of whom will want to pay via PayPal. It's also extremely useful if you're going to be paid in foreign currency, as PayPal handles the converting.
Depending on your specialisation and the market you're targeting, you may also want:
v Business cards and letter headed paper
v Software packages (e.g. Microsoft Office, invoicing software)
v A fax machine and a business telephone line
Don't be tempted to go out and buy a ton of home office equipment right at the start of your freelancing journey - especially if you have yet to make any money. You may well want to upgrade your computer or your broadband connection, or you may want a new desk and chair once you start freelancing full-time, but if your writing is currently confined to a few hours at the weekend, you don't need to go out and spend lots of money yet.
One real essential is your website. It's so easy and cheap to set a website up nowadays that clients will be surprised if you don't have one. Plus, there's no easier way to showcase your writing clips and testimonials: your website can be accessed from anywhere in the world, at any time.
Absolute essentials for your website are:
v Have your own domain name. This could be your own name ("yourname.com") or your company name. I'd recommend going for the latter, especially if you might ever want to sell your business.
v Don't look amateur. Ideally, you'd want to pay for a custom website design - but if you're starting out on a shoestring, use WordPress and look for a template which you like. Many are free, some cost just a few dollars.
v Check and proof-read your site. Missing links and typos look sloppy. You're a writer, so make sure your website itself is a great example of your writing.
v Make it very easy to contact you. Some clients like to use a contact form, others prefer to email directly - offer both options. Unless you have strong reasons not to, give a phone number as well.