Welcome to part two of our three-part series on freelance writing! If you read my previous post on getting started as a freelancer, “So You Want to Work in Your Bunny Slippers?” you will remember we went into your mindset.

It’s vital to get your head in the game before you get started. You have to discover your “Why?” before you can get to the “How?” If your underlying motivation is clear, you can always find a way to learn the rest.

However, nuts-and-bolts knowledge is nice to have too! If you want to be a writer, there are a few things that will help you succeed.

Your Website

 

If you want to be taken seriously by clients, you need a website to showcase your work. While I have met some clients through face-to-face introductions, the majority of my work comes from people all over the world whom I’ve never met. Your website, stuffed full of compelling content, is your online store.

This step may require copious amounts of coffee to get through, but I promise it will be worth it once it’s all set up!

Choose Your Name

When I first got started, I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself to one type of writing. I really had trouble finding a name I liked, and finally just settled on my own. I rationalized that since this website was my writing resume, why not just use my own name? This website became a jack-of-all-trades landing place for all of my different writing work.

However, this was just my personal outcome; or maybe my lack of imagination at the time? Please feel free to get creative and find a name you love!

Since then, I’ve also created a few niche areas and started more websites on particular topics such as emotional health, fitness, and real estate. The names I chose for these topics were more targeted. I created more focused blogs when I wanted to become an authority in a certain niche. Consequently, when applying for work in those subjects, I get a lot more traction from clients when I already have a voice in that space.

Make Sure Your Name is Free

You’ve finally found that perfect website name! However, the internet is a big place! You need to make sure someone else hasn’t had the same inspiration and already started a website with your exact name.

You can use several search websites. I personally use GoDaddy’s domain search engine, since I have registered my domains there.

If you find your domain and it’s free, you can buy it. When buying a domain, “.com” sites are your top choice. You may find that your perfect name isn’t available in “.com,” but you can buy it in “.net” or “.org.” My personal strategy is to find names where I can own the “.com.” I often will buy the other domains as well, just to keep my virtual real estate space a bit more guarded. I don’t use these other domains, but I make sure others don’t use them either and confuse my audience.

Once you’ve decided on a name, found out it’s available on your domain search and bought it, you’re ready to set up your website.

Building Up Your Internet Real Estate

 

Now that you have your domain name, it’s time to choose a platform. Think of your website like your own virtual piece of real estate on the web. Many people build up websites from nothing to thousands of readers, and then sell them for top dollar, just like in the real estate world.

There are many platforms you can choose from, but my personal favorites are Wix and WordPress. These sites are free CMS (Content Management System) platforms where you can create beautiful websites.

Wix

For people who are just wanting to have an easy website for writing, Wix is a great choice. It’s very user friendly. The downside of Wix is that there are limitations to what you can do. It’s pretty much plug-and-play.

It’s also not given as much favor in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) algorithms like WordPress, so if you’re wanting to rank higher on Google (and you should), it’s not the best choice.

However, WordPress may take a bit longer to get up to speed. If you just want something simple to test out if writing is your cup of tea, than you can get your content out there much faster through Wix as your learning curve is gentle.

WordPress

If you’re serious about writing full time, you really need to bite the bullet and learn how to create websites on WordPress. While it’s a bit more challenging to pick up, this is by far the top CMS platform. WordPress powers one quarter of all internet websites. WordPress offers over 50,000 plugins (many free) where you can customize slideshows, SEO optimization, and contact forms.

Since WordPress is so popular, there are also plenty of training videos and articles to help you learn.

It’s important to know that the vast majority of your future clients will use WordPress. Having knowledge about this CMS will help you stand out when competing for projects. Many of my clients want me to log into their WordPress account and create the blog, complete with pictures, headings and links. If I didn’t know how to do this, I guarantee they would pass me up for someone who did.

Finally, Google SEO algorithms love WordPress websites. Chances are, you will rank higher and faster on Google if you go with this CMS platform.

Writing Your First Blog

 

You’ve finished setting up your website and have learned how to create your blogs on your CMS platform of choice. Now what?

It’s time to start writing!

Try to choose topics that will help your readers. The biggest thing I discovered was that my websites weren’t about me and what I wanted to write about, they were about my audience. You have to give the people what they want with your own unique twist. You can write about your own experiences, but find a way to apply it to your readers. You have certain knowledge that will help people. You just have to find your niche and bring in your audience.

It’s a good idea to write consistently on your blog. Now, I’m my own worst enemy when I give you this advice, because I haven’t always followed it. When I get busy with client work, I often neglect my own blog. I’m planning to do better at this going forward!

To help with your Google SEO ranking, try to pick a consistent writing schedule. It’s better to write one blog a month for 12 months than write 12 blogs in one month and neglect it for the rest of the year. Consistency is key!

Find Beautiful Pictures

Pictures sell and draw your audience in before they ever read your words. Take time to find some great visual eye candy for your readers. There are many places to find photos, but make sure you have permission to use them.

I like Pixabay for getting free pictures, most with Creative Commons license. This means they are free to use for commercial purposes. If you use someone’s picture without their permission, you could get an e-mail from the author calling you out on it. It’s also stealing, which is never a good way to start your business journey.

Utilize Headers and Snappy Content

 

Don’t give your readers a wall of text! Think about how many words are screaming eyeballs to look at them! Only the most easily-readable content rises to the top. Most people do a quick scan of an article to see if they want to invest the time reading it more throughly. If you offer them the Great Wall of China, they will turn around instead of grabbing their climbing gear.

You will notice with this article how I’ve used headers so you can quickly find the info you’re seeking. You have to make your blog easy to read or no one will slog through it. Short paragraphs and engaging content are vital to keeping your readers engaged.

Keep Writing and Sharing

Once you write that dynamite blog, share it with your friends through social media. Make sure your website has a place where people can follow you, comment and share your work with others. You’d be surprised how quickly something can go viral.

Once you have at least five blogs written on your website, you’re ready to start pitching to clients and get paid for your efforts. We will go into this in part three of our bunny slipper saga. Stay tuned!

 

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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