Step-by-Step Guide to Writing as a Career

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Steps in the Woods










Article by Wendy McCance

I have written several articles about creating a freelance writing career.  You can check out many of the articles at the end of this post.  What I haven’t done is tried to explain step-by-step how I got my writing career off the ground.  Below, I will attempt to go over the steps I took to get moving when I began a career as a freelance writer.

1.  I created this blog.  It was the best thing I could have done.  The blog gave me the opportunity to showcase my writing, practice my craft, connect to other writers and it gave me a platform for potential clients to look over my writing style.

The blog has become a lifesaver.  I look at it as my own little storefront.  I can advertise my skills, promote my services and write product reviews.  Being able to say I wrote a review for a major company (for a product review) has helped me land some great assignments.

2.  I bought two books that have become my go to books.  I highly recommend the Writers Digest and Secrets of a Freelance Writer.  The Writers Digest has all of the information you need if you are intent on writing for a magazine or dream of writing a novel.  Secrets of a Freelance Writer goes over every aspect of the business side of having a writing career.  You learn about prospecting for clients, how to put together a contract and how to handle a sales call.  Seriously, every page of these books have the most valuable information I have ever read.  I can’t say enough amazing things about these books.

3.  I began writing to connections I had on LinkedIn.  This was how I began getting assignments.  I had no clips other than the articles on my own blog.  If someone asked for samples of my work, I would send them a few of the articles I had written on my blog.  No one ever asked who I had written for or where they could find the articles I submitted.

note:  for a template of the letter I sent connections, read this post:  it takes you step by step through the process I use to get work from LinkedIn connections.

4.  I made sure I flooded the web.  I joined every social media platform I could find where I could write a profile.  I also submitted my posts to mommy blogs and other specialty social platforms.  The reason was so that if someone Googled my name, I would appear in several searches.  I had pages of information where my name or articles would pop up.  I was able to create the illusion of being a successful writer before I had landed my first job.

5.  I joined numerous LinkedIn groups.  I was able to submit my posts when certain subjects were raised.  I was contacted a few times by different marketing companies who had seen my posts, liked my writing and wanted me to write for them.

By this point you should see a pattern forming.

  • I was brave and took giant leaps even though I had little to back me up.
  • I blew off all of that “good” advice that stated that you needed clips or a certain amount of proven experience before you should attempt to find jobs.
  • I never did and never will use sites like Elance or oDesk.  I don’t want to waste time competing for jobs that pay a small sum when I can use that same time going after connections that might not have anyone knocking on their door asking for work.
  • I created a business off of my blog and by advertising on social media platforms.

Even after my business was humming along there are still things I did and still do today to improve my rate of success.

  • I am constantly reading, researching and learning.  There will always be something new to learn and creative ways to expand my business.
  • I read all of the advice, but I don’t take it all to heart.  I never had clips when I started out.  I never picked an “area of expertise” to concentrate on and I didn’t have a degree in or a background in writing.  I just followed my passion, learned everything I could and took a leap of faith.
  • I’m not afraid to be a salesperson.  I truly feel this is what holds up most people from gaining traction.  You have to be bold enough to put yourself out there.  Contact companies, go to social networking events and mention what you do for a living to friends and family.  You have to be willing to make the first move by introducing yourself and your services.

Basically, that’s it in a nutshell.  The biggest component for me has been my blog.  I honestly feel I would have floundered without it.  Part of getting many of the jobs I have been assigned was in being able to prove I had the social media skills to write good website content.

By having a blog, clients can check out my work and instantly get a sense of how readers feel about what I have written.  Clients are more enthusiastic about using a writer who can write a thought-provoking article and really get a conversation going with the readers.  Seeing the articles being shared is the icing on the cake and what cinches the deal when clients check out my blog.


Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
Wendy McCance

15 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Guide to Writing as a Career

  1. I get so much use out of your blog, let me first say, Wendy! Thank you for that! And thanks for being responsive and getting this post up so quickly in your schedule, I really appreciate it! I found you through LinkedIn as well and have been following for a few months now, some of the most important months of my blogging career so far, for sure! I’ve learned SO much from everywhere and it can be overwhelming, but like you said, you learn to weed through the good stuff 😉

    This article WAS helpful! And if I’m lucky enough to be headed in the same direction as you are, then I THINK I’m on the right track! What I need to do better with though, is my concept of time and learning how much I’m REALLY “putting myself out there”. I’m going through a thing where I want it so bad that I feel like there is always SOMETHING that can be being done. Always more topics I could get a head start at writing since I’ve had them on my mind or in a notebook for a while, I can sign up for more social networks to build more relationships and to help me become more known, I can add my blog to this list, or that list, or I should be on Twitter, being active, or making a FB page, or updating LinkedIn. There’s just SO much and I love it, I’m grateful, but would never have guessed it would take THIS much, which almost makes me hungry for it MORE! 🙂 There’s not enough time in the day! I find myself actually WANTING to work through the night, because I see that my dream could be SO tangible! I guess it’s love 🙂

    Thanks again for your help and advice! The thing that drew me to your blog months ago, was the fact that you were a successful person, so unafraid or selfish or intimidated, to share what has been working for you and what has gotten you this far (sans the gimmicks and sugar coating, of course). You have no idea how grateful!

    🙂 El

    • What an awesome comment. Thanks so much. What you have described is passion!! You are on the right path when you can’t get enough of what you are doing, the ideas are endless and the days never feel long enough to accomplish it all. That’s exactly how I felt when I began and still feel today. You have been given a gift that many people never get which is you have found your true calling. Follow your heart and keep plugging away. I just know success is right around the corner for you!!

  2. Another great article with wonderful advice Wendy, thank you. I am so glad that I started my blog back in January. I never imagined where it would take me. I know I need to do a lot more to get my name ‘out there’ but for now I’m amazed at the community that has embraced me and that I’ve been able to become the person I know I’ve always been - that is to say, I can now hold my head up high and say that I am a writer when people ask! However, I really need to be braver and implement some of your excellent sales and marketing skills, although as you’ve said to me before, it really is about just doing it - like in the Nike ad 😉

  3. I am still fascinated by your success. How quickly it happened. I really think it’s your talent for sales and marketing that helped. It’s not a common skill…and I’m not even sure it can be learned! So, as always, good for you!

    • Thanks Pam I appreciate the comment. Honestly, I think it’s just being brave enough to ask for the work in a way that is comfortable. I can hide behind a computer and write emails and get business. I wouldn’t have had the same luck if I had gone to events where I had to ask face to face. I just found a way to proceed that felt best for me.

      Someone on LinkedIn had asked me if I would write up how I did it. I have written articles tearing apart and examining in detail what I was doing, but I never wrote it all out. Not sure if the end result was more helpful to the person asking or not.

  4. Career writing is not as easy as putting a pencil to paper or fingers to a keyboard.I must say blogging has been one of the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done. 🙂

  5. I’ve also been pondering starting a blog for many months … I hesitate to “jump in” before I feel completely prepared and ready, but your motivation is pushing me in the right direction ! Thanks.

    • The best piece of advice I can give you is to just do it. There will never be a perfect time when you feel completely prepared. It’s like anything else, if you wait for perfection, you are setting your standards to high and will never accomplish what you set out to do.

  6. Wendy You are absolutely fantastic. I sent someone in your direction today. I know or hope that you know that I have been spending allot of time in the writing group’s on LinkedIn. I would think you of all people & know that I am working rather hard to sharpen my skill’s as well as help other’s along the way. When I read how you got started Blogging it hit home. That is probably when you gave me my 1sr nudge that I really got it that I am really a writer & always have been. I really don’t understand the Blog block.

    • Thanks for mentioning my blog. It’s so appreciated. Any thing that is completely different (such as starting a blog) can feel overwhelming. The only way to gain success is to push through those things that overwhelm you. The more you do this the easier future roadblocks are to conquer.

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