Have you ever talked to a recent college grad who was struggling to find that first job? What reason did she give for not being able to find work?
Build your portfolio
The only way to show potential employers or clients that you have the skill to write online is to provide examples of your work. But the question remains, how do you build up a portfolio without having paid writing work? The way to build up your portfolio before you have paid work is to write for free. There are a number of places and ways you can write for free online. You can start your own blog on a free platform like WordPress or offer to write content for a local business owner or organization you are involved with at no cost. I wrote for free on a website called Infobarrel and did guest posts for a friend who had an established blog. The writing samples I used to get my first paid writing jobs were those early pieces that I wrote for free.
Hone your writing skills
Writing for free will allow you to hone your skills as you prepare to look for paid work. You clearly need to have a firm command of the English language and a general understanding of grammar to get started. Beyond that, you need to learn what it feels like to sit down and write. I regularly write 4,000 plus words in one day for my clients. I’ll be honest and say that I had no idea what that felt like when I started as a writer. I liked to write and would journal or write for fun here and there but nothing like the intentional and disciplined type of writing I do now. Writing for free will give you the opportunity to develop a process that allows you to write a large amount of quality content quickly and effectively.
Deepen your technical knowledge
There are many would-be writers out there who give up on finding work online because they lack the necessary technical knowledge. This process can be overwhelming even if you consider yourself tech-savvy. The reality is that you are going to have some things to learn as you embark on this journey. There are technical elements of writing online that you simply will not encounter until you start writing online. Writing for free will allow you to encounter those elements without the pressure that comes along with learning them while you are working on a paid project. Before I started writing for free online, I did not know what a hyperlink was – much less how to put one into my content. It is a very simple thing to do (you can learn about hyperlinks in this quick video if you are in the same position), but I never needed to do it before I started writing online. As a side note, my third grader was working with hyperlinks the other day at school! Writing for free will give you experience dealing with the technical elements of online writing so you will be comfortable with the process when you find paid work.
Do not let the thought of writing for free discourage you from getting started on this journey. You do not have to spend a year building up a portfolio before you start applying for paid work. I am talking about writing a minimum of three to five pieces of content before you start approaching paying clients or apply for work on job boards. You can easily write three pieces of content in one day if you plan appropriately.
I understand that you may need to start getting paid for your writing as soon as possible. When I first started out, my husband was between jobs and we had a grand total of ZERO dollars coming in each month. But the only option I had for getting paid writing work was to start out writing for free. I jumped in and started writing free content on a friend’s blog and had my first paying client within a month.
When I started out writing online I learned a lot of things the hard way because I was not as intentional as I should have been about training. You are already doing better than I was at the beginning of my journey simply because you are reading about how to get started. Explore a few more of the resources on There’s a Place in the World and then take the next (and most important) step – start writing!
If you are ready to get serious about writing online, keep an eye out for my training program The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Writing Online and Getting Paid. In this guide, I go over everything you need to know to get started building a career writing online. To get the latest on this and other projects, sign up for the email list and I will keep in touch.