12 Things You DON’T Need to Become a Freelance Writer

When you first told your friends, family or co-workers that you wanted to become a freelance writer, did they reel off a whole bunch of stuff you’d need before you could get started? Or are there things you think you need to sort out before you can do anything ‘properly’?

Well, a lot of that stuff you think you need, or that other people think you need, you totally don’t. Here are some specific examples of shit you don’t need:

1. A ‘Professional’ Phone Number

I work with most of my clients exclusively via email and Skype. I do occasionally throw phone calls into the mix, but I use my mobile. I don’t even have a landline.

So ignore all those douchewads who tell you you need a ‘professional-sounding phone number’ (what the fuck does that even mean?) to run a ‘proper business’. I once met an old-school business guy who was thrilled that I could run my business from anywhere in the world, but he couldn’t understand how I could do it without setting up some convoluted phone/voicemail service with a landline number from the UK. I’m just like, ‘Dude, Skype.’

Nobody is going to think any less of you if use only Skype or your mobile number for conversations with them. T’aint 1993 any more.

2. Suits

HA! Some days I don’t even wear trousers.

3. Set Working Hours

What is the point of running your own business if you have to start work at a certain hour? One of the great joys of being your own boss is doing what you think needs doing when you think it should be done.

I prefer to structure my days in a certain order, without ever worrying about what time I actually start work. After all, getting enough sleep is the number one most important thing ever, so if starting work at 9am sharp means you don’t get your full eight hours? Screw it. Stay in bed.

The only time I ever set an alarm now is if I need to catch a flight.

4. An Office

Think you need a fancy, official workplace to start your business? Incorrecto! You can almost definitely start your business from home.

5. Qualifications

To show to whom, exactly? Your boss? Oh wait, that’s YOU. No, you don’t need qualifications. What you need is knowledge, which is an entirely different thing, and one that is available for free from your local library and the good old interwebz.

6. To Be Formal

AKA serious. Not at all the same thing as being professional, which you most certainly do need to be.

7. A Website

Okay, so I actually think having a website is a really good idea. You should get one eventually. But, hey, you don’t technically need one when you start out. Email and word of mouth are your friends.

8. To Appeal to as Many People as Possible

I will keep beating you over the head with this until you believe it.

9. Business Cards

I have business cards. They are handy. But I can probably count the number of clients I’ve scored from them on my thumbs.

Sure, maybe treat yourself to some swanky business cards after you’ve been going for a while, or if you attend events regularly, but definitely do not worry about them to begin with. You’ll get by without ‘em.

10. A Business Plan

LAUGH. An idea of what you’re going for would be a good idea, sure. But fancy schmancy official documents? I think not.

11. To Keep an Eye on the Competition

No. Do what you think needs to be done, regardless of what everyone else is doing. That’s what winners do.

12. To Not Swear

Fuck that for a barrel of biscuits. Yeah, sue me: this is something you ‘don’t not need’ or whatever. Anyway, it goes hand-in-hand with the whole not-needing-to-be-formal thing.

Yes, a lot of freelance writers do have a lot these things. But you don’t need them, and you definitely don’t need them in the beginning. And not having them is a shitty excuse for not getting started.

Want to know what you DO need? Check out my course about how to become a well-paid freelance copywriter.