If you had told me five years ago that I would walk away from my day job to start my own writing business, I would have told you that you were crazy. Although my career in the insurance industry wasn't particularly fulfilling, I was successful, made a good living and enjoyed the perks of corporate life. It was stable, steady and comfortable. Little did I know that within a year of an ill-timed career change and a move across the country, I would find myself without a job. Due to the lack of his own success, my boss of nine months laid me off. It was time to start over. As a single mom, I was scared. What was I going to do? How would I take care of my daughter?
Initially, I panicked but after a few weeks of brainstorming and the semi-security of an unemployment check, I searched for work in my field. I found I was overqualified for many jobs and underqualified for others. My skills didn't seem to fit in this new market. Not giving up, I found a flexible part-time job and decided to expand my freelance writing which I had started the year before. Armed with a few clips, a website and some business cards, I added a few more publications to my résumé. Within a year and a half, my business offered me a viable, full-time income. That was four years ago, and I'm still going strong.
My point here is not to bore you with the details of my life, but to assure you that if someone as conservative (read: afraid of risk) as me can make it as a writer, then you can too. Interested? Intrigued? Then review the list below to see if you have what it takes to start your own freelance writing business.
Knowledge and skills. Being a freelance writer requires more than a passion for writing. It requires education and training; good communication skills; knowledge of proper spelling, grammar and punctuation rules; editing and proofreading skills; the ability and patience to research; published clips; and business training or know-how.
Resources. Every job requires tools of the trade. As a freelance writer, you'll need dedicated office space, a computer (laptop or desktop), relevant software (MS Office Suite, Adobe Acrobat, etc.), computer back-up system, office phone/cell phone, printer/fax/scanner, a high-speed Internet connection, access to reference materials (dictionary, thesaurus, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.), and a digital voice recorder. You may find that you require other resources as well, but this list is a "must have" to get started.
Personality. Making a full-time income as a freelancer requires more than writing talent. It also requires that you be organized, self-disciplined, self-motivated, resourceful, creative, patient, persistent and focused.
Plan B. Before you make the leap to owning a freelance writing business, consider how you are going to pay your bills and meet expenses when work is slow. Do you have other income sources to tap? Do you have a part-time job or does your spouse make enough to cover the bills during slow times? Perhaps you have unemployment income, savings or maybe even a trust fund? If not, consider this. If you had to, would you get a job (part or full-time) to make ends meet? The point is not to be discouraged. It is simply to have a Plan B in place, so your life doesn't fall apart while you pursue your dream.
If you have all of these items—appropriate knowledge and skills, resources, personality and a solid Plan B—then you are well on your way to starting your own freelance writing business!