Making the leap from hobby writer to part-time freelance writer is an exciting leap. You will always remember that first freelance job and the check you held in your hands. As you’re depositing that money in the bank, an idea flashes through your mind: “That job was fun. I should do it for a living.”
If the leap from hobby writer to part-time freelance writer is exciting, the leap from part-time freelance writer to full-time freelance writer is exhilarating… and scary! Here is a step-by-step process to help you make the transition painlessly and successfully:
12 weeks to go. Get buy-in. Make sure you have the support of your family and friends. And start saving! The first couple months could be rocky, alternating between dry spells and big checks.
11 weeks to go. Write for free. In your spare time, find free jobs that give you a byline and write for them. Give them your very best, since these writing clips will be part of your portfolio in the near future.
10 weeks to go. Contact city hall to find out any laws or regulations concerning a business name or business number requirements. Government bureaucracy is a long process so start early!
9 weeks to go. Count the cost. Create a business plan and budget, including financial goals for the first 12 months and how many jobs at what price will be needed to reach those goals. In the next few weeks, as you write your free articles, you’ll see what kind of workload is needed to sustain your goals.
8 weeks to go. Generalist or specialist? Decide if you are going to specialize or not. Some people find specialization very lucrative while other people prefer the wide range of opportunity of generalization. You may find the decision to specialize easier if your current career is highly specialized. If you choose to specialize, begin focusing your free writing in your area of specialty.
7 weeks to go. Get equipped. Make sure you have the tools necessary for the job: a computer, a fax machine, and a place to write. Doing this early makes sure the bugs are worked out of the system and that you are committed to spending money to succeed! You don’t want to send the computer back to the store to fix some problem while you are supposed to be earning an income off of it.
6 weeks to go. Enhance your portfolio. Get the contact information of your clients and vendors as well as copies of documents you created at your job. (First, though, make sure it is not illegal, as some jobs have a confidentiality factor that will bar you from doing this).
5 weeks to go. Start the hunt. Let your free writing gigs know that you are making the leap to fulltime and would like to give them the first opportunity to book your time. If they like your writing and are able to pay, keep them as clients. If not, graciously wish them the best of luck and move on, but keep up one or two jobs so your clips stay fresh.
4 weeks to go. Pull it all together. Decide on a slogan, logo, and a unifying theme or message you want to relate to the public. Get opinions on these ideas from people you trust to be honest.
3 weeks to go. Make yourself look good. Now that you have your logo, tagline, and theme, you need to design your web site, put together your portfolio of clips, and create a writer’s resume.
2 weeks to go. No turning back. Give your notice at work. Most places require two weeks.
1 week to go. Flip the switch. In television production, it is called “going live.” Sign up at job sites, guru.com, or elance.com to start getting the jobs and begin trolling the job boards for opportunities.
Day 1. Sit back and smile. You have gone farther than many people who simply dream of becoming full time writers.
Day 2. Get to work!