My First Paid Gig As a Freelance Writer: Lessons Learned
My first paid gig got published last month. It’s a case study I ghostwrote for a remote desktop software company. The piece is about a new (Saas) startup. It offers virtual studios as a service for filmmakers, animators, and other creatives.
To be perfectly honest, this was not the first paid gig. It was my first paid gig that was public. My very first gig was an executive bio that I wrote for this guy who owns/runs about 5 companies.
The first thing I learned was not to sell myself short. Before this gig, I had done zero case studies. I had never even looked at how to write one.
I found this prospect through a LinkedIn search. He was looking for writers with a technical background. After a couple of emails and him looking at samples of my writing, he set up a discovery call. I found out his company was recruiting freelance writers for case studies.
So I did a lot of reading on case studies. What’s the main objective of all case studies. Various approaches to writing case studies. And why companies put together case studies highlighting their clients.
Then I asked for a second call with my contact.
I am not sure, but I believe the questions I asked on our second call made all the difference. At the end of the call, my contact informed me he was in contact with several freelance writers. He also wanted to know how much I charge for a project like this. He needed to present that information to his manager.
A few weeks later, I got an email from my contact. He wanted to schedule a call together with his manager. When we got to the call, I could tell that they were already sold. We talked about what they needed and how we were going to go about sharing the information.
What they needed to be worked on was not one of the ‘original’ case studies. They had another case study. And it needed to be done as soon as possible.
The second thing I learned was to ask for payment first. Never start working on any project without getting paid. Even if it’s just a percentage.
On the private gig, I was dealing with one person. He told me what he needed; I told him what I would charge for it. He paid. I delivered. Simple.
When I was done writing the case study, I informed both my contact and his manager. Sent them a link for payment. Silence.
After a few days, I sent another email asking for status. This is the response I got from the manager. “Payment goes through our finance team. We can check on the status.” Not only was he not the one making the payment, but it was also coming from a whole different department!
In the end, all was well. The payment came through and I submitted the piece.
Thinking back, I could have avoided all this anxiety by getting paid first. What if they ghosted me? What if they said they weren’t interested in the piece anymore? All the time spent researching and writing and not getting paid for it. It will not happen again.
I don’t know if I’d call this gig ideal. Not quite sure if those exist. I am thrilled did it though. It got me to explore a new area and prepare me, hopefully, for what’s coming.
So go ahead, send that pitch. So what if it sounds like something you’ve never done before. It could be the excuse you need to explore something new. Who knows, you might end up liking it.
I would like to hear from established writers. How was your first paid gig like?