Leslie Truex has been writing online since 1998. She’s going to tell us how she got started and her tips for maintaining a successful freelance writing career.
Enjoy this interview.
How did you get into digital content writing?
I’m an accidental writer in that I didn’t set out be a writer. I wanted to work at home to be with my kids. I was comfortable around computers (I bought my first computer in 1989 and have been online since then as well). So as I went through the process of getting scammed, joining biz ops I really didn’t want to run and eventually finding legitimate work from home, I started Work-At-Home Success, on which I shared what I was learning. Had blogs existed then, it would have been a blog (it now runs on WordPress). As opportunities to make money online grew, I took advantage of them such as affiliate marketing and eventually I wrote a telecommuting book that I sold through the site. As the site began to make money, I worked harder at marketing it, which required writing.
Tell us about your book, The Work-at-Home Success Bible.
Originally I wanted to write a telecommuting book as there were none in print that included details I felt people needed. My publisher, Adams Media, requested the be-all book or Bible of working at home, so that’s what I wrote. My goal was to take readers step-by-step through the process of working at home in a job, home business or online. Although it came out in 2009, it’s already dated in terms of the Internet information, but the initial steps that involve figuring out the best work-at-home options for you, is still good info.
You have a double life (sort of!) – since you write nonfiction during the day and fiction at night. Is it difficult to divide your time this way? How do you keep up the motivation to do both?
Admittedly, the non-fiction gets more attention because it makes more and pays regularly. By the time the evening comes, I’m sick of sitting at my desk even if it is to write murder and romance. Some strategies I’ve used is to write fiction for an hour first thing in the morning. Recently I decided to blog a novella, so I’m forced to get it done. Finally, I hired a fiction author virtual assistant who is doing the work to promote the books I’ve completed.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get new clients as a freelancer?
The best way to find work is through your network. Who have you worked with before who can refer you? If you’re brand new and don’t have clients, your network is still a good place to start. You never know when one of your friends or old colleagues needs a writer or knows someone who needs a writer. I’ve done pretty well through writer websites that post jobs as well.
Do you have a favorite book about writing or small business that has helped you?
That’s hard. I’m an avid reader and at any one time will be reading several books. For freelance writing, I like Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer and for queries I like How to Write Irresistible Query Letters by Lisa Collier Cool. Both are old, but the info and steps are good. I use The Synonym Finder by JI Rodale a lot in both fiction and non-fiction. Most small business books that cover the basics (business name, structure etc) are fine. Right now, I spend my money on marketing information, which is the area I think small business owners and freelancers often fall short.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start freelancing today?
Write and have a website or blog. Getting that first job can be hard, but having a home base online where people can learn about you and you can post samples of your work (they don’t have to be published clips), gives you an advantage. I find that many people who hire writers may ask for clips, but they care more about quality of writing. Having a website allows you to show off your writing even if you’ve never been paid before.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’ve already mentioned this, but marketing is crucial. Whether you want to write articles for media or copy for businesses, you have to market yourself to get work. You have to be willing to face rejection or more often no answer at all, yet keep on sending out queries, responding to job announcements or however you plan to find work.
Where can we find you online?