One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a business is to spend too much. You never want to start any business in debt. When it comes to being a writer, you certainly don’t have to.
When the internet boom plummeted as the 21st century came around I couldn’t believe anyone was surprised. I had watched so many sites start loaded with venture capitalists – and millions in debt. What were the odds that they were going to make it into the positive earnings column? You have a long way to go if you need to earn millions just to break even.
I would certainly think there isn’t anyone out there looking for venture capital to start a freelance writing business, but being self-employed does have similar principles. When it comes to making money as a freelance writer, you don’t need to spend money to make money.
You will find sites all over the internet asking you to pay to “join” so you can learn how to become a profitable writer. You’ll also find sites that will supply you with leads for a price. The truth is that you’ll find twice as many offering free advice and leads that are out there (like this one) – at no cost.
Newsletters offer freelance jobs for writers on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis for free. You can set up anywhere in your house (I’m currently writing from my recliner) or at a local coffee shop. The only equipment you need is a computer or tablet with a word processing program, nothing more than you need to check your email.
Email itself has revolutionized the world of freelance writing. I remember when I first started mailing pitches and manuscripts with an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope), then waiting sometimes months to get my pitch back before I could send it somewhere else. Now, it’s as simple as sending a free email out. You don’t even have to buy stamps.
There are only a few things that you should spend money on if you want to make money as a freelance writer. Here they are, along with approximate costs, totaling less than $100 a year.
A Domain Name
It’s important to get your name in a dot.com so that people can easily search you out and find out all about you and your writing.
A Web Hosting Account
To host your portfolio website and/or your blog.
Yes, you can do everything electronically and you should, but I always keep the important stuff in writing too. I have one notepad that lists all my assignments (by day) for the month and where I start writing down deadlines for the following month. The other is my “pitch book.”
I keep track of every pitch I send out and whether the pitch has generated an assignment. It also helps me keep track of publications I’ve queried. (If you’ve sent a dozen pitches to a publication and they’ve never gone for any, it’s time to start thinking that maybe they aren’t a fit for you.)
You want to have business cards printed with your name, skills (writer, photographer, etc.), your email and your website url. Give them out to everyone you meet. You never know when an acquaintance will turn out to be someone in the publishing field who gives you continual work.
Sign up at Vistaprint and you’ll receive coupons in your inbox for free business cards, or spend about $10 to get them customized.