Unlike most careers, freelance writers will never get a job just by submitting a resume. For the client to hire the writer, they must know that the writer can actually perform the work that they need. The easiest way to do this is to look at a portfolio. Any experienced writer will already have a portfolio, so newbies should take some time to compile their best work.
Beginning writers may already see a major problem with this plan. It is impossible to create a portfolio of past projects if the writer has never worked in the industry before. Although the writer cannot just use their old projects, they can still develop a portfolio. Instead of referencing older projects, the writer can just create examples. When creating examples, the writer should make sure that they create topics that are in the niche that they are actually interested in working in. Additionally, writers should make sure that all of the work in their portfolio has been thoroughly edited.
Having references is still a good thing to have in the freelance industry. New writers can begin by finding a friend who runs a business or a website. The writer can offer to do some work for free in exchange for linking to the website. This helps the friend save money while ensuring that the writer already has a client list developed.
In theory, free examples are a great idea and a wonderful way to bring in clients. Unfortunately, there are too many dishonest people in the real world for this technique to work. Some clients will ask 10 to 100 writers for a free example. If a portion of those writers turn in the example, the client does not actually have to hire anyone. Rather than give work away for free, writers should always charge for a custom sample. If the client wants writing about a specific topic, they need to pay for it. For a middle-ground approach, writers can always charge a lower rate for a short sample.
A number of people decide that they want to start working in the freelance industry on a whim. They whip together some college essays, churn out some copy and wait for the offers to roll in. This technique rarely works because most people are just not that great at copywriting. Instead of hoping to be naturally talented, writers should take a course in copywriting before they enter the industry.
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