How to Start Living the Writer’s Life ASAP

At the beginning of the school year, my husband and I started meeting with our oldest son, Austin. A junior in high school, we knew he needed to start planning for his future.

Each week, we tackled a different piece of the puzzle …

One week, we had him think about what he wanted his life to look like. The next, we had him research 10 careers he thought were cool. Another week, we went to a college fair.

The idea is for him to make a plan for before, during, and after college.

When we first asked Austin to describe what he wanted his life to look like, he couldn’t do it. Not even a little bit. I think it was partly because, as a teenager, he thought it was a pointless exercise.

But now, as the weeks have passed, Austin is really making progress. He’s discovered the niche he wants to focus on, has identified 10 possible career paths within his niche, and knows what his top choice is.

As a result, he changed one of his classes to match his career path and he identified the top five colleges he'd like to attend. Plus, he's looking at getting some job experience. In short, he's starting to get excited about his future.

Like Austin was at first, many freelancers are reluctant to put together an overall master plan for their futures, even as they go through educational programs in anticipation of a freelance career.

The problem is, without a plan, once you are done with your programs, you suddenly panic because you’re not sure how or where to get customers. You are overwhelmed with possibilities because you haven’t narrowed the field down and picked a niche. With so many choices and no direction, often you end up paralyzed. Or, you end up being a generalist, earning less and trying several different avenues because you aren’t sure what you really want to do.

To avoid this from happening and ensure you have all the clients you want, you’ll want to take some time to make a plan for before, during, and after you complete your programs.

Taking a little time now will allow you to live the writer’s life you want. Here are some tips on how you can make sure you have clients lining up:

Before you start your programs: Take some time to dream about what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? How much do you want to work? When will you work? What does your ideal client look like? How much do you want to make? Make your picture really detailed so you can visualize what you want.

Research different niches. What appeals to you? What are you passionate about? Contact working writers and ask them the pros and cons of what they do.

This exercise will also help you know what else to focus on during your coursework. For example, let’s say you identify travel writing as a potential niche for you. Taking
The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program and frequenting travel blogs would help you prepare for your new writer’s life.

During your programs: Identify companies you’d like to work with. Find out who you need to talk to. Sign up for their email list. A great way to build up your portfolio (and potentially get your foot in the door with them) is to order one of their products and write an email or sales letter promoting it on spec or as a sample.

This way, when you are ready to approach them and need past work to show, you’ll not only have some, but it’ll feature their products and services.

(Another way to build up your portfolio and practice your newfound craft is to contact local organizations and offer to write some copy for them for free. In exchange, ask them for a testimonial and for permission to display the work you did for them on your freelance writing website.)

After your programs: Have a plan already in place when you finish so you can hit the ground running.

Create a plan for who you will approach, how you will approach them, and what type of work you want. Determine now what you will do each day to attract clients to your business. This way, you can start making money immediately as a paid, professional writer.

Make a plan for what you will do before, during, and after you complete your writing programs and there’s a good chance you’ll be living the writer’s life sooner than you ever may have imagined.

Are there things you’ve done before you’ve completed a program that helped you be successful? Share your successes below.

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Published: February 8, 2012

2 Responses to “How to Start Living the Writer’s Life ASAP”

  1. Hi Cindy!

    Great article!

    I've only been writing for about 6 months. But before I completed any kind of program I was already a member of several forums. So I placed my information in my forum signature.

    Within a couple of weeks I began getting clients.

    I hope to expand my business this year and learn a lot more about freelance writing. That's why I joined AWAI & PWA

    The information and opportunity to learn a lot more about freelance writing is priceless.

    ShirleyFebruary 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm

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