What I Learned From This Writing Challenge

challengeA challenge can either break you or make you. In my case, it has helped make me. I’ve gained confidence I didn’t have before I started this freelance challenge.

Back in June, Bamidele Onibalusi, a young blogger I’ve followed for a couple of years, asked us about doing a challenge. He would set it up, giving us the steps he used to build his website called Writers in Charge. He would show us how to cold pitch and get other freelance jobs. Many of us said yes so the challenge started July 25.

Bamidele called the challenge, Earn Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing. He started a Facebook group so we could support and cheer each other on. He could share the steps of the challenge.

Steps of the challenge

1. Writer website

When I started the challenge, I was a step ahead of many of the others. I already had a website for my freelance editing. However, the website didn’t have the writing because I hadn’t planned on making it a freelance writing website. With a few minor changes, Beach Girl Publishing was updated and ready to go.

2. Social proof

Over the past couple of years, I’ve done a bit of freelancing, but I haven’t written any articles for social proof. Bamidele suggested pitching the Huffington Post so that was my next step. I rewrote an article about 9/11 since the anniversary was approaching and published my first article on the HuffPo.

3. Social media

I have a Twitter account for my novels, but I opened an account for my freelancing. I’ve been told to separate the two as I have two different audiences.

I still need to do this for Facebook, but I wanted to get started with the challenge. I updated my LinkedIn profile and created an About.me page.

4. Upwork alternatives

Signing up for Upwork alternatives was one of the items we could do. I did sign up for all but one of them. The writing test for that one was a bit crazy so I didn’t do as well I had thought. The pay on these alternatives looked better than Upwork.

5. Job boards

Before the challenge, I had a few job boards I checked every day or every other day. Bamidele suggested a couple of different ones so I added those to my bookmarks. I have used several job boards in the past and have gotten responses but only one job. Too many people are competing for those jobs.

6. Cold pitching

To prepare for cold pitching in my niches, I researched companies on the Inc. Top 5000 and Forbes Top 100. I will need many more companies than what I have, but for now this gave me a good start.

Breakdown of my results

When the challenge began, I had started a new job so I didn’t start pitching until the second week. Bamidele gave us spreadsheets to help us keep track of our progress.

In the middle of the challenge, I dealt with some health issues so I wasn’t pushing myself to do much more than what I needed to do. As a result, I didn’t pitch much for about two weeks.

Even though I didn’t pitch the 30-50 cold pitches or apply to 10-20 offers on the job boards every day as Bamidele suggested, I did what I could. Like I said, I work outside the home to pay the bills until the freelancing takes off so my hours are limited.

During seven of the eight weeks for the challenge, I sent 28 cold pitch emails and 43 emails for offers on job boards. I checked the Upwork alternative sites, but no jobs interested me. I was supposed to pitch publications that paid writers. While I did research the publications, I haven’t pitched ideas yet.

Out of the 28 cold pitches, I got the chance to do a trial run at blog posts. If I do well with the three the client asked me to do, we’ll sign a contract. I had one client say he would keep my name on file. Another client added me to the freelance pool, which I’m not sure when I’ll ever write for them.

I almost did a phone interview for a client, but he told me the job required me to be at their office part of the time. I can’t relocate to Dallas, but he will keep me on file if a remote job comes up.

Of the 43 offers on job boards, I had to do a couple of sample tests for editing jobs. I have the possibility of writing a middle grade short story if my outline is accepted. I’m hoping to hear back from the client in the next week. I applied for another short story through a website I found by accident and was invited to give it a try, which I will do.

Overall, I have done okay. I haven’t done as well as I had hoped, but if I hadn’t done this challenge, I ask myself, “Where would I be right now?” I wouldn’t have the client on a trial run and I might not have the short story possibilities. And I certainly wouldn’t be published on the Huffington Post.

Even though the challenge ended Sunday, I won’t stop pitching ideas or trying to get jobs. Full-time freelancing has been a dream of mine since high school. I can feel I’m on the brink of landing some great jobs as long as I continue pitching and trying to get jobs.

The best part about this challenge? I’ve gained new writer friends who have the same goal as me. They’re supportive and encourage me to keep trying. That makes this all worthwhile.
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