Today, I’m going to take a moment to answer a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. It’s a sort of back-end question, not related to marketing per se, but one that’s been coming to me quite often. This is possibly because it’s the time of year when all those newly minted English majors are hitting the streets with their resumes and finding out what the job market’s really like.
How did you get started as a freelance writer?
The backstory is this: I’ve been in technology marketing since the 1990s, when I realized that marketing for the arts, publishing, and entertainment industries—while cool and a lot of fun—was just not going to do it for me financially in the long term. I managed to get a contract gig at a computer magazine, which led me to a small software firm, which ultimately led me to. . .Microsoft.
When I left Microsoft in 2003, I had built up great contacts all over the area, but I opted out of the direct-hire path, and that is what got me where I am today.
Which isn’t an entirely bad place to be at all.
Getting started was like looking for a job
When I thought about it, I realized that although I am not adept at executing the perfect sales call, I am pretty good at interviewing for jobs. And based upon that, I approached my quest for clients as I would a job search—literally.
I started by submitting my resume for all the available jobs within my service niche. I went into the interviews as a direct-hire candidate, fielding the usual questions about my background, education, and experience.
The spin came in conjunction with the job offers. From my first round of interviews, I ended up with two really strong offers from great companies. Over the weeks of the interview cycles, I had been able to develop good relationships with both of the hiring managers, so when the time came to respond to the offers, I got down to business.
Essentially, I offered each company the alternative of starting out with a freelance relationship, and both accepted. It was a win-win situation, as I had the flexibility of freelancing, and my new clients reaped the benefits by avoiding added employee overhead (office space, taxes, insurance, etc.).
So those were my first two clients, and I worked with both companies for the better part of two years. Having those organizations on board from the outset made a huge difference, providing me with a safety net so that I could reach out and make connections with other companies to build my business.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Hope this helps anyone out there who is considering a freelance career path, and demystifies the whole “how to get started” thing. Of course it’s only one way of doing things, and YMMV. :) Back to business next week!