Being a writer is no easy-feat. You have to deal with a lot of things, and the most common one is being stuck at your 9-5 while trying to make a career out of writing. It is hard to do especially since your day job will take up most of your time — leaving you little to no time to practice your craft.
Realizing that you want to write full-time and leave your day job is easy. However, there are a lot of things that you have to consider. The most important thing you have to ask yourself before leaving your day job is if you have enough money to survive while you are looking for writing jobs. In most cases, your answer will be no, but the perks of being a full-time writer will haunt you. Perhaps the most attractive ones are having complete control of your time and doing what you love to do. My biggest piece of advice: save up at least 3 months worth of financial backing prior to quitting your job.
Becoming a full-time writer will require patience on your end, but it can be achieved in 3 months if you are willing to work hard and invest time for it. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you be a full-time writer.
- Train to become a writer. This is a no-brainer. To become a writer you should at least know basic English and grammar. Your road to becoming a full-time writer will not progress if you have a poor grasp of spelling and grammar. If you are confident with your writing skills then you are already done with this step, if not consider reviewing basic language and grammar lessons. Some great places to start are the Cambridge English Test and the Exam English Test. The latter is a bit more comprehensive than the former, in my opinion.
- Own the status of being a full-time writer. Once you are confident with your skills, own it. Affirm your talents and believe in yourself. Only when you start believing in your talent will you be able to confidently churn out amazing content. Set realistic income goals for yourself to accomplish in the next two weeks, month, three months, six months, and year!
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. As a writer, you will have your set of strengths and weaknesses. Differentiate the subjects that you can write about, and the ones you can’t. You don’t have to write about every subject, but you do need to readily identify at least three subjects that you are most able to write accurately, intelligibly, and passionately about. This will become your field of expertise – something that you can use as your selling point. For example, because of my 15+ years as a writer and 10+ years as a publisher, I’m able to write about writing, poetry, English, literature, and publishing with no hesitation. 🙂
- Set-up your profile or portfolio. Before you start sending out proposals or applying for freelance work, ensure that you have a very presentable portfolio or profile. Remember that this will be the first thing that your prospective clients will see, so it has to reflect your talent in writing. If you don’t yet have a portfolio, start with a few blogging platforms such as Medium, Thought Catalog, and SB Nation. Since you are just a new writer, many companies will be hesitant to throw writing jobs at you unless you provide them sample work. This will show them your writing skills and if you have what they are looking for.
- E-mail possible clients or sign-up for websites catering to freelancers. Once you feel that you’ve built your portfolio to an impressive level, reach out to potential clients. Starting up your writing career means that you have to take time to email possible clients or even sign-up for websites that cater to freelancers. Don’t be shy in emailing as many clients as you can, remember you are not the only one reaching out to them. Some websites that are specifically for freelancers include Fiverr, Elance, iWriter, and Odesk, Writer Access, and Content Writers.
- Know how to deal with rejection. Getting rejected or not hearing back after you have sent out e-mail is normal. Don’t let this get you down, this is the norm. Instead, continue reaching out to more clients and continue doing guest posts or populating your own blog. Sooner or later you will receive writing jobs. If you don’t hear back from a potential client, follow up with them in a week. If there’s still no response, then move on. You don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t respond to emails anyway. 😉
- Network with other writers. Getting to know fellow writers will help you get around. They may even help you get writing jobs or inspire you to continue applying. Networking with other writers can be as easy as joining an online group on professional sites such as LinkedIn, or even joining a local writing group.
- Continue developing your craft. Even if you have started getting writing jobs, it is equally important to keep on developing your writing skills. Keep reading about subjects your write and attend seminars, conferences, and workshops to help further enhance your skills.