Updated: Apr 25, 2021
From what I've read, the best advice about getting into freelance writing surrounds gaining experience and skills as a writer. Go to college. Devote thousands of hours to your craft. Beat the Catch-22 of getting professional work by showing samples of professional work when you have no experience.
In other words, get good before you get started.
My own experience taught me that isn't necessarily the right first step towards getting into freelance writing.
Yes, really. Hear me out...
When I decided to get into professional freelance writing, I thought the first thing I needed to do was get better. Because I was new, I had no experience. I sucked.
I didn't actually suck at writing, I thought I sucked because I didn't have experience.
Thinking lack of experience = lack of value was a common mindset that held me back from getting started. It made me afraid of wasting someone's time. It made me feel like I didn't deserve to get paid for writing. It made me feel like there was a void that I needed to fill in order to become worthy of becoming a professional freelance writer.
And I'm sure there were a lot of gurus offering magical $1,000 classes and programs who were drooling over how insecure I was...
In reality, being a writer with a lack of experience can be a valuable asset, because believe it or not some people and companies are specifically looking for writers with no experience. In fact, I didn't even realize this at the time, but...
The first "real" writing gig I ever got was for someone looking for writers with no experience.
BUT I DIGRESS
Here's what happened:
Long story short, I practiced really hard and got better at writing.
Annnnnd the problem I ran into was that, while I knew I was improving my ability to write, I didn't know what it would take to be "good."
How does anyone? Can there really be a "best" writer?
I don't think so. But for all intents and purposes, I was striving to prove that I was "good enough" to be paid for my writing.
You're Already "Good Enough" To Get Paid To Write
In hindsight, I think I was capable of being paid for my writing much sooner than I realized, and my ability to write well wasn’t what got me into freelance writing so much as my ability to understand how to sell, which was a skill I developed later.
Don't get me wrong, once I started getting into freelance writing, my skills as a writer helped; honing my writing skills to the degree that I did helped me land solid freelance writing gigs, especially for someone with no experience. But my skill level wasn't the key that unlocked the metaphorical freelance writing door that everyone’s trying to get their foot in.
The problem was... I didn’t have any rates for freelance writing jobs, packages for monthly freelance writing services, or any real idea of how the freelance writing industry works.
I just expected someone would see the value in my work and offer to pay me for it.
Nobody did, so I thought either my writing sucks or maybe people just don't know about me.
So I started putting myself out there. I said
“Hey world, I’m a freelance writer, someone hire me!”
And… nobody did.
So I thought, “nobody is hiring me because I must not be good enough, so let me try to get better.”