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.

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