This question was posted as a comment on my “Writing Questions” page. I requested on that page that anyone with a question use the contact form on my website. I will answer this one here.
“I’m a college student majoring in English. I plan on becoming a freelance writer once I graduate. I would like to know how did you get started to become a successful freelance writer? Did you start while you were in school (if you went), or did someone inspire you, and you went from there?”
Let me answer the question this way.
1. Since you are working on a degree in English, find someone to work for first to build a reputation and clips. Write articles for magazines in your spare time. GET KNOWN.
2. Save as much money as you can from working. You will need this money to tide you over until your freelance writing takes off and you have clients and a steady income. You should have a minimum of 6 months to one-year’s worth of funds with no writing jobs.
3. Before striking out as a freelance writer, be sure to have a business and marketing plan for your freelance writing.
4. Where are you going to work? Are you planning on setting up a home office? You will need to consider many things that have to do with a home office. You can read about it in an article I wrote at Factoidz, Home based business 101: Do you need a home office?
5. If you do plan on striking out on your own. Be advised that it may take time to find clients and you must be proactive in finding them. You need to have testimonials from satisfied clients to help.
6. You will need a minimum of a blog and build followers. Using social media networking will also help. I created a social networking group for freelance writers of all levels at Freelance Writers on ning.com. If you would like to become a member of this site, go to the site and follow the instructions. I keep it invitation only to keep spammers out.
7. Read, read, read, practice, practice, and practice your writing always striving to improve. Submit, submit, and submit.
8. If you plan on writing for a specific magazine, read copies of it and learn the style of writing found in the magazine. Always follow the writer guidelines. This may sound strange, and a bit of common sense, but it is a major reason queries are turned down, submitting something that is not per the published guidelines.
9. If you want to write copy, read copy from all areas of advertising and online. Read website copy. Learn the craft, and NEVER take short cuts.
10. Do a search of forums that cater to freelance writing and join them. Participate in discussions, ask question, observe, be a part of the community of writers.
12. Remember that it takes time and there will be lean periods. Do not rush things, it will happen.