Do you like to speak in front of an audience? Do speeches inspire you? Do you also have a knack for writing?
If so, you’re on the right track to earning a nice full-time income writing speeches from the comfort of your own home.
Not only speech writing is a lucrative career path, but it is also an interesting writing genre that offers a lot of flexibility. So, if you’re confident and persistent, this could be an area to explore.
But how do you become a freelance speechwriter? Here’s how to get started in ten simple steps.
Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
Being a speechwriter is great and certainly pays well, but how do you land such a gig?
Although you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to start your career as a freelance speechwriter, it can certainly help you get your first gig.
Receiving a bachelor’s degree in speech communications, journalism, or English literature can help you land different jobs that might lead to a career in speech writing.
Friendly Tip: Freelance speech writing does not require any formal education but having a degree will help you get noticed for sure.
Step 2: Decide On Your Path
The first golden rule is that the audience is more important than the speaker. To write a speech, you need more than theory and commonplace generalizations.
Before you rush into it, it’s crucial to understand that not all speechwriters write for politicians or CEOs. Some are mid-level speechwriters who write speeches for lesser-known folks for less money.
While the genre primarily focuses on communication, you need to understand the four basic types of speeches: Entertaining Speech, Informative Speech, Demonstrative Speech, and Persuasive Speech.
Understanding the differences between these types of speeches can help you decide on your career path.
Step 3: Take Speech Writing Classes
Even if you have the talent and temperament to become a freelance speechwriter, you should prepare for disappointment.
No matter how good you think you are, someone somewhere is going to find something wrong with the speech that you wrote.
So, a great way to take a step ahead in your career is to take classes without pursuing a degree. Taking help from an expert will help you understand the nuances of speech writing.
Remember, audience focus is vital for a great speech and an expert understands how to put together a compelling speech that communicates the message you’re trying to convey.
Friendly Tip: You can find several classes online that teach how to write speeches. Some colleges and universities offer courses on speech writing for those looking to polish their skills.
Step 4: Volunteer to Work for Local Groups
As with any career, the idea is to start small and take one step at a time.
There is no simple, magical way to launch your career. So, it is worth spending a little time doing some volunteering work before getting into the actual job.
You can start by writing smaller speeches for local charities or community centers in your neighborhood.
Writing appreciation speeches or welcome speeches for these local groups can help you build a good portfolio for your freelancing career.
Friendly Tip: If you want to become a political speechwriter, you can volunteer to write a speech for a local political group or assist in their campaigns and elections. This will help you brush up on your skills.
Step 5: Put Together an Online Portfolio
A problem the speechwriter faces from time to time is the lack of a strong online presence.
Even if you have done nothing relevant apart from writing a few regular speeches, putting together an online portfolio can help you land clients.
A solid online portfolio is crucial for any freelancer because it is tangible proof of your professional identity.
Also, if someone wants to hire you, they’d probably want to see proof of your work or anything that proves that you can write speeches.
Friendly Tip: You do not need to pay some professional to build a portfolio for you. In fact, you can find a lot of pre-built portfolio templates to get started.
Showcase some of your best works or anything that shows your voice and talents.
Step 6: Take Time to Master Your Skills
Speech writing is a creative craft and a speechwriter’s preparation can be quite intense.
In fact, writing speeches vary from other forms of writing and it might take some time to get used to.
Enhancing your skills takes more than just good listening and hard work. It takes time and patience to continually improve a wide range of skills.
Speechwriters are much more than writers; they are skilled researchers and creative thinkers. So, do your homework and if possible, seek out local speechwriters for mentoring.
Writing a good speech takes time and you need even more time preparing a great oratory piece.
To understand what makes a great speech, you need strategy and strategy requires planning.
Step 7: Read Books on Speech Writing and Speechmaking
Being a good writer isn’t enough. You need to understand the nitty-gritty details of the job and work hard to be good at writing speeches.
How do great speechwriters think? How long do they like to speak? There are dozens of questions that you’ll answer only by reading all you can about speech writing.
Two such good books for speechwriters are Peggy Noonan’s “What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era” and Richard Goodwin’s “Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties.”
Author Peggy Noonan wrote some of the most memorable speeches delivered by late U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Step 8: Find Sources of Freelance Speech Writing Work
Finding work is probably one of the biggest challenges you might face while starting your career.
Well, there are plenty of resources and tools to be found when searching freelance writing gigs online.
A well-curated marketplace is a great place to start when searching for companies and industries that are looking for freelance speechwriters.
If you are actively seeking some exposure in building a strong portfolio for your career, you can choose from over a dozen online job boards to look for opportunities.
Fortunately, there are tons of freelance job listing websites, such as Upwork, LinkedIn, The Freelancer by Contently, Fiverr, FlexJobs, and more.
Step 9: Get Feedback on Your Writing
Hiring an editor to throw some light on your work is one way to get some feedback on your writing.
But getting help from an expert speechwriter who’s been doing exactly that for a while will give you a whole new perspective on what areas you can improve upon.
If you go to experts for feedback and take it positively, you will find that they are very supportive, and they love to share what they know to help people like you learn better.
There are a couple of ways you can find a good mentor who can provide unbiased feedback on your writing.
You can go to speechwriter conferences or connect with authors you follow on social media or join a membership organization.
Step 10: Be Patient When You Hit a Wall
Now, you can be confident that you have what it takes to become a speechwriter. So, it’s time to put yourself out there.
Writing speeches can be extremely exhilarating and rewarding, but there are times even professional speechwriters hit a wall. Producing and crafting excellent content is exhausting.
And sometimes, a speaker will read your lines and he’ll simply butcher them. Staying constantly wired to the news and current affairs, and developing a firm knowledge of politics, can be exhausting too.
It is a great ride, but only a few can stay on it for long. So, it’s important you take every feedback and comment positively. Instead, see them as an opportunity to do better.
Speeches matter, so it only follows that speechwriters matter, too.
If you are passionate about becoming a freelance speechwriter, you must get out of your comfort zone and seek new opportunities to kick-start your career in writing speeches.