Working as a freelancer can be the best of all job worlds. However, you will need strong creative, writing and computer skills before you get started. One of the joys of freelancing is that you can get paid to learn (and write about) topics that interest you, but you’ll want solid skills in place to keep your hourly rate where you need it to be.
As a freelancer, you will want to determine your personal tone. Some writers are more casual, while others are a bit more formal. Being able to move back and forth is ideal. If you’re curious about anything in the world of science, enroll in online courses to become a technical writer. You may find yourself writing out MSDS sheets, or taking research notes from meeting recordings for an R&D team in the automotive industry. No matter your interests, a technical writer needs to be able to be clean, concise, and detailed. From detailed reports to experiment outcomes, be sure that you focus on clean writing as a technical writer.
Business writing is all about clarity and courtesy. You may need to write promotional flyers, informational promotions, or press releases. Know your formatting, or take a class that provides free templates and have them close at hand so you can quickly populate the press release and get it back to the client.
The art of proofreading is all about focus. A good proofing class will teach you how to review a document from 30,000 feet right down to the sidewalk. If you wrote it and have to proof your own writing, learn to take a step back and put a fresh set of eyes on the project. Be sure that you change your perspective on your own writing. Flip the document upside down and check the spacing without reading it, then flip it back and study it with a bit of distance.
To become a good proofer, especially of your own copy, make sure that you track your time and get in a real break before getting back to proofing. You need distance to get out of the narrative you created and see what’s really on the page.
Build Your Excel Skills
Data entry is a great way to build your freelancing career and income. However, if your Excel skills are limited, you may wind up doing a lot more keying than is strictly necessary.
If your skills are limited, you may find training that’s above your basic understanding. To improve your basic skills, create a self-study course.
- Build a calendar with as few keystrokes as possible
- Enter an old checkbook register on a spreadsheet
For your calendar, be ready to grab the corner of cells and drag. You can enter “Sunday”, then move to the right and enter “Monday”, then grab and drag to complete the week. Dates can also be entered and carried over. Play with cell size, simple calculations, inserting rows, changing colors, and many other actions until they become a habit. Your Excel class will be much more serviceable if you can easily function in Excel.
Bigger and Better
If you’re working with other freelancers, or if you have skills in formatting images and spreadsheets, consider using Milanote to help you manage more comprehensive projects. If the client has new numbers, you add a spot for an updated spreadsheet. If they’re happy with your press release but want a flyer as well, you can create that in the same project on the Milanote program.
Track your notes, responses, comments, and corrections all on one program. Once you have a final project, you can choose how to archive the old data, or simply to discard anything that isn’t useful moving forward.
When you learn to manage images, you can turn a basic word document into excellent
- promotional products
- labels, and
If you, as a sole practitioner, can become a one stop shop for small businesses, your freelance time could turn into more work than you can handle. If you can collect positive comments and testimonials, do your best to store them in Milanote for your own promotional literature.
If you find a free image management software, you will have some flexibility and time to play with the software. Learn how to create flyers, posters, and social media posts. Once you can create a logo, you can make a letterhead. If you can create a letterhead, you can create a great PowerPoint or similar presentation. Put in the time to set something up in the software, break it, fix it and keep building.
Once the software isn’t free anymore, you’ll get full value from any classes you take.
If you’ve been working remotely and finding you love it, a freelance career may suit you well. Start small with what you love and what you’re good at. If you write, come up with blog posts that would work on your favorite websites. Check out Craigslist for customers looking for spreadsheet help. Take control of your income and time; you can do what you love from anywhere with strong freelancing skills.