Now that you’ve decided that you have what it takes to be a freelance writer, it is time to get the ball rolling. Like an artist needs their brushes and paints in which to create great artwork, a writer has tools they need in which to help them be successful in their careers. Below is a list of ten tools that will help get you started in the business of writing for money.
1. A business plan
A business plan provides a road map for your writing career. The biggest benefit is that it makes you think about where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Sure you can go forth without one but just like taking a cross country trip without a map, you may get lost and it may take longer to reach your destination than if you new the exact route you needed to go.
Your business plan does not need to be anything fancy. Even just writing down your goals and planning on how you are going to achieve them is better than nothing at all. The Small Business Administration offers a great resource to help you with writing your business plan.
2. A place to work
Preferably this is a quiet place with a door you can close. However, since this is the real world, any available corner of your home will do even the kitchen table. The main point here is that you should have a place designated as a workspace that will hold all off your tools and files and that puts you into that frame of mind to work each time you go there.
3. A computer
Sure you can pull out your old manual typewriter, blow off the five inches of accumulated dust and type out a fantastic writing career on it but I guarantee your life will be so much better if you invest in a computer.
Not only does a computer make the act of writing a lot easier with the word processing software available today, it can also simplify the management end of your writing business. Accounting, project management and marketing can all be handled with popular software such as Quickbooks and Microsoft Excel.
4. Internet Access
Although there are tons of writing opportunities in the offline world, the internet only adds to that abundance. On top of that, being online gives you access to convenient services such as email, puts a bigger research resource at the tip of your fingers and makes networking with other writers much easier via online communities.
5. A bank account
You need a place to store all of that fabulous cash coming your way. Also a bank account will allow you to get paid easier from online payment services like Paypal.
6. Professional help such as an accountant and a lawyer
Unless you have working knowledge of the law or are a financial wizard, it would be in your best interest to hire people who do. An accountant can help you deal with and maybe even reduce your tax liabilities while a lawyer can help protect you and your rights.
7. A fax machine and business phone
Having a business phone goes a long way towards projecting a professional image. This is especially important if you have teenagers living in the house who think that the phone is a natural extension of their head. With modern technology, these days, the expense of having a second line installed in your home is no longer necessary. A cell phone will work just as well and has the added benefit of allowing you to be mobile.
A fax machine comes in handy for sending and receiving contracts from publishers. I highly recommend investing in a printer that can serve as a fax machine such as the Brother multifunction series. If you don’t want to replace your current printer there are also internet services such as eFax that allow you to send and receive faxes online.
8. A writing network
I think the best part about being in the industry of writing is being around other writers. Having a network of writing friends and colleagues offers such benefits as being able to talk about aliens without people looking at you strange, a bigger pool of job leads and a bottomless well of great advice.
If you are online, the best place to find writing friends are in places where writers hang out such as forums. If you are offline, look in your community for events where writers are likely to show up such as reading circles and critique groups.
9. A media kit
This is pretty much your biography in a box. It is information about you that you can pass along to people who request it. A media kit includes a recent photo (yeah, I know), your best writing clips, your writing resume, reference, a list of your publications, an author bio, credentials, testimonials and anything else that may helps you look good to clients and the press.
10. A dictionary and thesaurus
These should be staples in your writing office. If your writing office was on fire and you could only save a couple of things, these should be the first things you grab. Oh and maybe your laptop too.
Many word processing programs have dictionaries and thesauruses built into them. Still I’ve found that it is good to have both the book versions and a couple of online resources on hand.
So now that you have the tools you need to get started as a freelance writer, in the next article we will set about putting them to work by finding you a job.
Just in case you missed any, here’s a list: