I decided to do something a little different with this edition of What’s Up Wednesdays. While this post still offers plenty of link love, I thought it might be good to reach out to the Beyond the Rhetoric community and see if they have any questions about freelance writing as a career. To gather up these questions, I sent out a couple of tweets on Twitter.

The same call for questions was posted on my Facebook account, because I have my Facebook status attached to my Twitter updates. Pretty handy. Only one of the questions came via Facebook and that’s only because that individual happens to hate Twitter with a deadly passion. Anyways, on with this freelance Q&A session!

James Thoenes asks:
“How do you advertise your freelance services?”

When I first started out, no one knew who I was, so there was a lot of pavement being pounded. I had to sift through the opportunities posted on sites like Craigslist to see what was worthwhile. These days, the bulk of my advertising, if you can call it that, comes in the form of networking. It is a result of working with John Chow, among others, that people have come to know who I am and what I offer. This blog also serves as a continually updated portfolio and billboard for my freelance writing services. Choosing a web hosting company, for example, would be easier if you had more of a personal connection with the people who run the place.

Jeff Kee asks:
“Let’s say a writing piece you’ve been requested to do is completely contrary to your beliefs. Let’s say, you believe in equal rights for gays and lesbians, while the client wants you to write on the topic and the thesis is that homosexuality is morally and scientifically incorrect as a choice for mankind and should not be accepted. And you feel strongly for this subject matter and have very strong beliefs that support equal rights – what do you do? Do you take the cash and write it, or do you refuse?”

I’d refuse the job. I’m not one to stand up on a moral pedestal or anything like that, but I would not be able to get myself to write on a topic that I find morally deplorable. If it means that I miss out on a potentially fat paycheque, so be it. I can always find more agreeable work elsewhere.

Michael Yurechko asks:
Where do you find jobs? What’s the best way to approach a future client?

As I mentioned in the first response, it seems that jobs are mostly finding me. It seems like they want to find me. That said, when I first started out, I found all of my gigs through Craigslist. This was before I was aware of services like Guru, GetAFreelancer, and Elance. Craigslist is filled with a lot of scams and “write for exposure” type positions, so it was a painstaking exercise to find anything legitimate. Ultimately, the single best source of freelance jobs is your existing client base; they can either offer you more work or refer you to their colleagues. Approaching a future client would depend on the circumstances, but I am always diplomatic and direct.

Gary Jones asks:
How do you get into white papers and what companies should use them?

For those of you who don’t know, a white paper is a document that addresses a specific problem and provides a specific solution. Some companies use them as a lead generation tool, because they are great for providing educational value to the industry in a low-pressure environment, while still being able to throw in a low-key sales pitch. I’m not as well-versed in the world of white papers, but you can find out more about their effectiveness through this video. Personally, I think that nearly any company can extract some value from distributing white papers, because they establish trust. They also further your reputation as a leader and expert in your industry. Having a valuable company blog, like the BlueFur blog, works in a very similar way.

Tyler Ingram asks:
How do I know I am good enough (skill wise) to freelance?

One of the questions to ask before you freelance is whether you will be comfortable with the different hats that you’ll need to wear, from customer service rep to accountant. A lot of people seem to think that all there is to freelance writing is, well, writing. Perhaps even more important than your writing ability are your time management skills. It certainly helps to be a fantastic writer, but you don’t need to be stellar to make a career out of freelance writing. The only way you’ll know if you can achieve your goals as a freelancer is to give it a try and see if you can wrangle up some clients. Let experience, feedback, and criticism be your guide.