I’m Francesca, and I’ve become a freelance writer and content marketing manager specializing in topics like retail, eCommerce, technology and small business. I’m also the founder of BeaFreelanceWriter.com, a website that helps aspiring freelance writers break into the business.
Simply put, BeaFreelanceWriter.com (BAFW) is all about helping people break into the business of freelance writing and become a freelance writer. My blog offers honest, easy-to-digest info on finding high-paying clients, building your portfolio, and writing kick-ass content.
I started to become a freelance writer in 2010, and it’s been incredibly rewarding. Freelance writing let me have more control over when, where, and how I work. It allowed me connect with some amazing people, and, more importantly, it gave me the satisfaction of earning money doing what I love. I want that for others. So many people out there are stuck in that “starving writer” mindset, taking writing jobs $5 or $10 an article. That’s BS. There are companies out there that would pay good money (at least hundreds of dollars per article). You just have to know how to land those gigs.
BAFW not only helps writers realize that they can get paid well for their work, it also teaches them how to do it.
So far, I’d like to think that the site has done a decent job at doing that. Thousands of people are subscribed to the BAFW newsletter and it continues to be a destination that aspiring writers head to when they want information and motivation around freelance writing.
How did you get started?
Like I said, I became a freelance writer in 2010. While I always had the passion for writing and worked at the school paper, I had zero “real world” writing experience. It was tough, but I managed to break in by writing for free.
Become a Freelance Writer
Here’s what I did:
- I took an unpaid internship that involved publishing blog posts on tech, lifestyle, etc.
- I wrote for the (now defunct) Examiner.com, covering social media stories in Los Angeles and beyond.
- I wrote for family and friends. Some of my best portfolio pieces were from the time when I helped my boyfriend (now husband) write press releases for a mobile app that he developed. Once I built up a portfolio, I started hunting for paid gigs. I initially charged $50 per article. Then $50 became $80, then $100, then $300 – $400 and now it’s $500 per post. It was incredibly satisfying work, and I wanted to share it with others, so I started BAFW in 2013. I bought the domain BeaFreelanceWriter.com, set up an account with an email marketing solution, and got to work. One of the things I did was I built an audience even before the BAFW was live. While the website was in its pre-launch stage, I set up a page to capture email addresses and published an ebook to entice people to sign up. I also wrote guest posts on other websites to get the word out and connect with the community. Once the website was ready, I launched it, and continued to publish blog posts and newsletters. The rest, as they say, is history.
What inspired you to become a freelance writer?
Individuals like Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield-Thomas, and Ramit Sethi were some of the people that inspired me to start BAFW. I’ve been following their work for quite some time and I admired the content they published and communities they built. I then thought to myself, “maybe I could do that, too.”
How do you stay motivated?
Having that natural passion for what I’m doing helps a lot when it comes to staying motivated. Some days though, passion just isn’t enough. When I’m feeling unmotivated, I try a number of things, including:
- Reading emails from happy clients and readers
- Asking myself “What would ‘future me’ thank me for?”
- Take a break. If I don’t have any looming deadlines, I allow myself to take a break so I can get back to work refreshed and motivated.
What makes you different from the rest?
I just be “me” and since no one else has the same personality and experiences, that makes what I bring to the table pretty unique.
To expand on this, I strive to be real (i.e. 100% me) when I put stuff out there. I write in my own voice and I don’t shy away from talking about my failures and rejection. (Like that time a client dumped me or when an editor rejected my article.)
3 things that someone who wants to become a freelance writer should keep at top of mind:
- When writing content (whether it’s a blog post or even an email), always be in the mindset of providing value. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for the reader?” and go from there. So many people out there are focused on what they want (or what they think other people want) and this results a failure to connect with the intended audience.
- Go out there and connect with others. You can’t produce great ideas in a vacuum, and you certainly can’t build a readership or community all on your own. So find other like-minded people and connect with them. Read their websites, comment on their posts, and help them out. All that effort will pay off.
- Taking action = magic. There comes a point when you have to stop the analysis paralysis. You need to quit thinking about what you should do and just take action. That’s really the only way to achieve progress in whatever it is you’re working on. So take action. Do something. Even if it doesn’t end up going as planned, you would’ve learned a valuable lesson. There’s this quote I read somewhere that goes something like “The more action I take, the luckier I get.” And I couldn’t agree more. On a practical level, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t take action. (i.e. You won’t land a client if you don’t send a pitch, or you won’t land a guest post on some big website if you don’t sit down and write.) That said, I’ve noticed that there’s something pretty magical about doing the work. For instance, when I recently started writing down ideas on how I could grow BAFW, an old friend contacted me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to write a guest for them.
It’s like when the Universe sees you doing things towards your goal, it opens up opportunities to help you out. And that’s what I mean by action = magic. (Sorry if this answer is a bit “woo-woo”.)
What are some struggles that made it difficult to get from what you were doing before to this?
Most of it came down to mindset. When I was starting out with freelance writing, I lacked the confidence to charge premium rates. When I was launching BAFW, a part of me was worried that no one would pay attention because there are already plenty of freelancer websites out there.
As for how to overcome these struggles, there really isn’t a hack or a quick way to do it. It all comes down to doing things in spite of fear. Once you’ve proven that your negative mindsets aren’t real, you’ll gain more confidence to go after the things you want.
If you could break down how you got to become a freelance writer in 5 major steps, what would those steps be?
Step 1 – Find something you love doing, strive to be good at it, then decide to share it with others.
Step 2 – Build an audience. In my case, this meant growing my newsletter subscriber list by publishing an ebook and using it to encourage people to sign up for my list.
Step 3 – Connect with others. Find like-minded people and build relationships with. Collaborate with them and help each other out.
Step 4 – Continue providing value. Once you have your audience and community, provide value by continuously publishing content that’s helpful and engaging.
Step 5 – Repeat steps 2-4. Find new audiences and communities. Find new ways to help people and provide value.
What was your turn-around point?
One thing that comes to mind was when I read this post by Ramit Sethi when he said something like “stop saving money on lattes.” That hit me like a ton of bricks, because skimping on stuff I wanted to buy was exactly what I was doing. I was struggling with my finances at that point, and my answer to stay afloat was to deprive myself of the things I wanted to save a bit of money.
That’s when I realized that instead of saving money, I should find ways to earn more. And when this dawned on me, that’s when I got the idea to freelance.
There’s nothing wrong with saving money. But if you’re sitting there feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t have enough money or resources, then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about how to GET MORE of what you need. Instead of depriving yourself of the things that you want, open your mind and find ways to earn more money so you can afford the finer things in life.
What are three personality traits or skills needed to become a freelance writer:
- Genuine willingness to help others.
- Writing skills.
- My experience as a freelance writer is of course invaluable when it comes to teaching others how to break into the freelance writing biz.
Where can we keep up with you?
You can visit BeaFreelanceWriter.com or find me on twitter.
Francesca has created a premium guide to help you if you want to become a freelance blogger. She’s answering questions on:
- Thoughts on positioning more traditional writing experience in the digital space
- How to send a compelling pitch
- Advice on cold/warm pitching vs. job boards vs. the dreaded content mill
- How to convince businesses/brands who *aren’t* blogging/creating content that they should be?
- How she finds clients and closes deals
- and more…..