Breaking into any field is difficult, and writing is no exception. Writing is a muscle that requires consistency; the style or context matters less than the practice itself. There are lots of ways to get started while also growing your portfolio. You’ll need to put in the work doing some simple entry-level jobs before you reach the juicy content that lights your fire. Here are some great ways to get started in your freelance writing career.
Hone your skills and gain paid writing experience by working as a tutor. Working with middle or high school age students wouldn’t be too challenging and there are lots of kids looking for tutors. You’ll help students formulate their essay structure, fix grammatical errors, and support their arguments. These are key skills that will apply towards writing you do in your own time, and you’ll have demonstrable results of your progress (the student’s grades) in your portfolio.
Running parallel to a tutor is an editorial assistant. You’ll have someone you’re reporting to on your pieces who can help you grow. There will be more opportunities for networking and you’ll gain first-hand experience working in a professional environment. You’ll need to be good at catching grammar and punctuation errors, as well as more research-oriented activities like fact-checking. You’ll see more of the business side of writing and learn some best-practices.
Anyone can leave an online review and it’s a quick, easy writing practice. You have the opportunity for some in-person research, followed by describing your experience to entice or deter future consumers, much like you would if you were working for a business. You can generate reviews for all sorts of different services or products, meaning you can focus on ones that excite you. Stemming from this, you could write about business openings, or local events, which you can market to local periodicals.
Blogging, Content Development
Blogging can help you start writing regularly while building a portfolio. Using a platform like Wordpress is great, as that’s both a desirable skill for employers and it's user-friendly for writers. By starting a blog, you can talk about whatever you’re passionate about and gain concrete experience in a style and format that feels right for you. It’s also great for networking with people who care about the subject matter. Given the lack of structure, it gives you a lot of creative freedom. If you like this type of work and are hoping to apply it directly with businesses, you can look into content development. This often looks like creating blog posts for businesses, increasing their SEO and bringing in traffic to their website.
If you’re looking to work in less creative and more data-driven work, technical writing is a great option. A technical writer creates technical documents like manuals, contracts, or instructions. Software companies who have more technical products value this type of writing background. This type of work will require conducting research and interviews to better understand the topic so that you’re able to write from a place of knowledge and authority for your target audience.
Create Job Alerts
All businesses need writers, in some form or another. While I’ve provided some concrete examples of entry-level writing roles, there are countless opportunities to hone your craft that may not be immediately recognizable. Create job alerts on job-hunting websites for entry-level writing jobs. You’ll see legitimate examples of writing jobs that meet your level of expertise and get a variety of industry experiences. Opening yourself to different types of writing positions might cut a clearer path to the type of writing that excites you, and you’ll be able to refer back to a diverse portfolio with different types of references.
There are so many ways your take-off into writing might look. Some roles might develop more of a portfolio, while others are more an opportunity for practicing your technique - they're valuable opportunities to get involved in freelance writing. Experimenting with these different entry-level roles could open you up to new career spaces, and better prepare you for the flexibility of a freelance career.