How One Writer Created a Freelance Career in Two Weeks

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Freelance writers on the fast track to successBy Laura Reagan-Porras

I was a newbie freelance writer with only regional parenting publications for clips.

Then, I had two big realizations that allowed me to move forward and find better pay — fast.

Realization #1: I dropped the notion that a legitimate freelance writing career only involved querying to national magazines.

Realization #2: I realized I had limited myself by not capitalizing on an area of expertise.

What did I do with these realizations? I changed the course of my career by taking action right away. I focused on LinkedIn to build my online presence and spotlight my expertise in writing about social issues.

Step 1: I revised my LinkedIn profile

I started by adding clips to my profile. LinkedIn allows you to do this in a few clicks.

Then I rewrote the summary section on my LinkedIn profile directly to potential clients.

And, I did this all in one evening.

Step 2: I researched and pitched

I started by using old-fashioned email to introduce myself to a national nonprofit blogger I found.

I sent her my resume so she could see my social sector experience and I invited her to review my new LinkedIn profile that had my description and services as a writer along with my newly posted clips. Then I simply asked if she would consider me for freelance work on non-profit topics.

She emailed me the next day and offered me a gig. I was ecstatic!

Step 3: I used LinkedIn to pitch locally

Next I pitched a local online newspaper. I found the editor on LinkedIn and asked him to be a connection. Then I sent him a message through Linked In and asked about his social sector section, which had not shown much new activity lately.

I told him that I was beginning to do freelance writing, in addition to consulting with my firm for nonprofits. I asked if he had anyone updating his social sector section. He said, “No.” I asked if I might do it. He said, “Sure!”

We met the next week to negotiate the details.

Step 4: I let LinkedIn bring a client to me

The vice president of our local university — a former colleague and LinkedIn connection already — saw my new profile replete with clips and asked if I would be interested in a regular monthly gig writing her donor newsletter and stewardship letters to existing donors.

Of course, I said, “Yes!”

Inside of two weeks, I had three “anchor clients” for my freelance writing business. Two came from my local network, one from a national blog.

It was amazing how the universe opened up when I hung my online shingle as a social issues and social sector freelance writer.

I have a long way to go. But I resisted my perfectionism and sent my first query to a national magazine.

In the meantime, I am breathing deeply, trying to allow the reality to sink in. My dream has come true — I am a full-time freelance writer.

What realizations changed the course of your career? Tell us in the comments below.

Laura Reagan-Porras is a social issues freelance writer. With previous experience as a clinical sociologist and nonprofit manager, Laura has written for regional magazines and nonprofit and private organizations.

Freelance writing success

34 Comments

  1. Vivienne Johnson

    I never understood the power of networking until I became a freelance writer 3 months ago and was encouraged to use Linkedin. I too have received quite a bit of work through Linkedin.
    I also want to say that local is fantastic. I freelance 2 days a week now for a magazine and website that only circulates to the South of England. The research and interviews that I do for the local magazine are sometimes suitable to have a new slant put on and sent to a larger circulation publication. This is now starting to pay off and I have had 3 and 4 articles out of 1 interview on a few occasions.
    Very inspiring article, thank you

  2. Sandra Harriette

    And all through LinkedIn? That’s powerful.

  3. Nicky LaMarco

    Laura,

    This is truly inspiring, and shows that when you specialize you win. I teach my students at Get Paid to Write: Become a Freelancer on WOW Women on Writing this. You must choose your niches and your specializations. It helps you narrow down your expertise and shows potential clients where you stand. Well done!

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