Can you really write from home? (And not starve?)

start a writing business

Lately, I’ve received a couple of emails from aspiring writers who want to start a writing business.  So, rather than going into full detail in an email response, I’ve decided to write a response here, in hopes that it may benefit a few more people.

So, the question begs an answer.  Can you really write from home and make money doing it?  My answer is YES.  In fact, it’s a resounding YES!  And, naturally, the next question is HOW?  How can you make a living writing from home?  As a freelance copywriter for more than ten years, here are the three most important things I recommend for starting a writing business.

Make Time When There Isn’t Any

The first thing you have to decide when starting a freelance writing business is to decide when  you’re actually going to be writing, and working on your business in general.  Whether you’re an already overworked stay at home mom or a 9-5 warrior, it’s important to set aside time to dedicate to your business.  For me, that time is during the day while my kids are at school–and a few hours one evening a week if my work load requires it.  It’s very important to carve out this time before diving in deeper.  If you don’t, it’s like setting up for failure.

Samples, Samples, Samples 

Take a deep breath, because this is where most people who want to start a writing business absolutely freak out.  You’re going to need some samples of your work to get started.  Don’t panic–it is a lot easier than you think. The most important thing to remember here is to go for the best quality samples  you can come up with based on the work experience you have, or even if you have no writing experience. (I’ll explain this further in a minute.)

First, if you have a little writing experience, those samples are obviously the best.  Even samples from volunteer situations, such as non-profit organizations or your church will work.  Convert Word files to PDF using any of a number of free PDF programs out there, and you can easily attach it to an email for potential clients to see.

Now, let’s assume that you don’t have any writing experience or anything you feel comfortable using as a sample.  This was my problem when I started out 10 years ago.  Even if you don’t have any paid writing samples, you can still write pieces to serve as examples of your writing skills in general.  For example, do you have a hobby, or a specific interest?  Write a few 300 word articles about things that interest you.  Look over them carefully, make the necessary edits, and use them until you can replace them with something better–perhaps samples from your first paid projects.

Get the Word Out

No one is going to know that you’re available for paid writing jobs unless you tell them.  Work a little everyday on getting the word out about your new business.  Some ideas include sending a quick message to all your email contacts, announcing it on FaceBook, starting a blog, or even building a website complete with an online portfolio.  When I started, I also took advantage of free online advertising platforms, including Craigslist and Backpage.

Need More Help?  Two Options.

First, subscribe to this blog for future posts on topics of interest to aspiring writers, and the launch of our new eBook, coming on October 1:  “How I Started a Successful Writing Business with a Borrowed Laptop and a Craigslist Account”. 

Second, schedule a one-on-one phone conference with me!  Get 20 power minutes of evaluating where you are in the process of starting your business and what you need to do to take it to the next level.  $29 for the phone conference only,  or $59 for a 20-30 minute conference and a friendly, written critique of one writing piece up to 2 pages.

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