(*Disclaimer: no, I am not a paid affiliate for any of the sites I recommend in this blog. I don’t even know how people sign up for those kinds of things. It’s black magic, beyond my current knowledge base… and apparently beyond my will to Google it.*)
It has been a long, long time since my last post (in internet-dog years, something like a decade), and in that time, I am proud to say I have done a lot of… thinking. And researching. And drawing up a truly impressive number of lists, detailing places to start trying to build my writing portfolio, other places I could go to start taking courses on freelancing, and other places still I could go to read other freelancer’s stories about how they struggled for so long in the 9 to 5 grind, only to see the light and make their fortunes in the vast and ever-expanding Freelancing Universe!!
Rags to riches. I love those stories. They’re my brain junk food, tasting so friggin’ good, and afterwards leaving me feeling a bit bloated, vaguely ill, and kinda glum about my life, particularly when I look at my bi-weekly 9 to 5 grind’s pay stub.
So throughout the past three months, I have come to several very important conclusions:
- There are an unfathomable number of job boards, blogs, courses and gurus boasting the ability to jump-start your “freelancing freedom” (some of them seem capable of what they promise – most… not so much, and you have to be very careful in doing your research before working with any of them).
- There are an equally unfathomable number of routes one can take to do said jump-starting, from enrolling in every one of those gurus’ courses and every job board known to man, all the way to pounding the pavement on your own and typing articles, listicles, pitch-icles, story-icles, and blog-icles until you can’t type any more -icles to save your life (then typing just a few more) and submitting them to anyone currently on the internet who has an email address. There will not necessarily be a right or wrong way to start, with that many options being available – just slightly faster and slightly slower ways. And slightly higher doses of luck, within any of those ways.
- My boyfriend is an unearthly level of awesome at taking my muttering, cursing and frantic typing spells every night with good humour, and at keeping this freelancing hermit well fed in-between (he should probably get a medal for dealing with me during NaNoWriMo alone, and for being game for my tackling Camp NaNoWriMo in April), so a good partner (with bonus points for that good partner’s adorable, morale-boosting puppy) during freelancing escapades is invaluable for sanity, diet quality, and general well-being. And finally…
- I could plan how to start my writing life alongside my full-time day job “properly” until I’m old, grey, and dead, and still have more planning I could do. So, basically, I should put a fork in the research, call it done, and just start the hell up already.
So the “start the hell up already” part is where I’m at. I have acquired a few solid leads for starting points, and then some fantastic accessories to those starting points which I’m going to share here (as much for helpful suggestions to interested parties as for my own satisfaction, to reassure myself for future reference that my three months hermitting over my keyboard across the wilds of the internet produced something productive, if not just a lot of Cheetos crumbs in my keyboard):
Place to Post and Maintain a Public Freelance Portfolio:
Why I recommend it: It’s easy and free to set up (bold and italics because there are plenty of other platforms that are not free, and give off distinctly scammy vibes). It’s been around for a while, is well reviewed all over the place for its use and functionality, and its format is well-established and clean. You can link all of your other social media professional accounts (website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), as well as your internet-published work, all of which is viewable by recruiters who can use Contently to find freelancers for their projects. As a great bonus, they have resources available for freelancing information, tips and hacks. (Click here to see what a writer portfolio on that site looks like – finally got mine started today. No comments on how bare it still is, at this point. Grumble. I’m working on it.)
Place to go for articles about the freelancing life, & reliable reviews on a bunch of freelancing tools & sites:
Why I recommend it: This is an article site with plenty of ideas about working for yourself and tips for the aspiring and working freelancer, but so far the main part I’ve been using it for is the Reviews section, which is well researched and objective even for its affiliates, and which has spared me a bunch of heartache by alerting me to scams (and plain ol’ poor business setups) where I thought there were decent opportunities, or at the very least showing equal parts of the pros and cons for each site reviewed so that I can come to my own conclusions about it.
Place to go for a huge amount of courses to help you learn important freelancing-related topics (or just for whatever you’re curious about):
Why I recommend it: A huge spread of courses covering a huge range of topics, ranging from life hacks for day-to-day, through to arts, design, media, finances, business, and getting going as a freelancer/entrepreneur. Each course displays the teacher’s bio, and most notably student feedback (both positive and negative) as well as course previews so you can decide if they’re something worth your time. There’s even the option for you to post courses of your own (provided you have enough expertise to put together a course people would pay you to take, presumably), as a cool way to start up the “passive income” stream I’ve heard so many freelancing bloggers rave about (with good reason). While the regularly-priced courses can be as high as a couple hundred dollars, and you do have to account for a variance in quality based on who’s teaching it, there seems to be a good amount of course sales between promotions and course pairing, which is how I recently enrolled in this course and this course about freelance writing (both of which I just started and are going great so far) for a combined $29.99 CAD. Not a bad gamble, to start you off.
Place to go to start building up some writing creds with writing book reviews (without needing a writing portfolio to get your foot in the door):
Why I recommend it: Where do I begin? Well, plainly put, starting out as a freelance writer is hard (no kidding – Duh, with a capital ‘D’), and it’s even harder to figure out where to start in convincing perfect strangers that you can word pretty, not to mention pretty enough to get paid (or at least publicly recognized) for it. This lovely little site is a place that costs nothing for you, the reviewer, and gives you immediate access to books that are seeking reviewers (whose authors/publishers pay to have these books reviewed), without a screening process that will disqualify you for not having a dozen publications to your name already. When you start out, your payment is likely just going to be the free copy of the book, plus (YAY!) a review credit to your name that you can point to, to say, “See? I’m a writer – in public, even. I’m awesome.” From the looks of it, there isn’t a limit on how many books you can review (though it looks to limit you to one book assigned to you at a time), and the more you review and the more you participate in the site’s forums, the more reviewer points you wrack up, which eventually will gain you access to review jobs that have cash payments as well. Just make sure you have an app on your phone/tablet/computer that lets you read a wide range of digital book formats (like MOBI and Kindle, but especially MOBI for the indie/self-published authors) because otherwise you’re sunk and can’t download your book to read it. Plus, they have an option to sign up for being paid (just a little, but still paid) to retweet about their Book of the Day each day. Basically, a whole lot of awesome sauce, by the standards of the way-fairing start up writer.
Aside from those sites, I also have a big list of places I’m looking at pitching/submitting work to now that I’ve held a self-intervention on my planning obsession and am just going to go for it already, but I’ll save that one for later – I need to keep you coming back here for something, plus I’ll wait until I have feedback on their submission processes to share.
So stay tuned for the up-and-coming writing and submission tales, squeezed in-between full-time work, girlfriending, daughtering, friending, puppy play time-ing, and trying to get into doing Yoga three days per week, because my chiropractor is unhappy with how many knots and cricks my hunched-over computer time has put in my back. But for now, I leave you with words of wisdom that I think will make me feel wiser by extension, as all the best quotes do:
“Write a wise saying and your name will live on forever.” -Unknown Author
Live long and prosper (or at least don’t starve, for starters) fellow Writerlings.