Becoming a freelance writer has to be one of the most exhilarating jobs in the world. Imagine tapping away at a keyboard, snow-covered mountains one week, a tropical island the next. Your work follows wherever your heart leads. While the work is flexible, and we must acknowledge that it is rewarding, it can be challenging to launch a freelance writing career. Read on, and learn how to get it done.
Becoming a freelance writer is as simple as taking a few inspired steps and working toward your goals. Dedication and determination are critical. Set up your website and social media accounts. Learn the current writing standards and reach out on writers’ platforms. Pitch to companies for an extra boost.
If becoming a freelance writer is your dream, know that you have chosen a career teeming with opportunities. Online business is thriving, and if you provide a valuable service to businesses, you can set yourself up for a successful freelance writing career. Join us as we uncover all you should know about becoming a freelance writer from the very beginning.
How To Become A Freelance Writer From The Beginning
Becoming a freelance writer from scratch will require much study, like any new career. To learn the lingo and new skills and understand everything this new role entails, you will need to engross yourself in the freelance writing world as much as possible.
There are a few easy-to-follow steps you can take to ensure you cover your bases before launching into serving clients. It helps to have a solid foundation for your freelance business to enable your work to be of a high standard.
1. Hone Your Writing Skills
If you are starting from the very beginning, the best place to begin is with your writing skills. Since you are interested in becoming a freelance writer, you obviously desire to write. Do you have the skills to offer your clients quality service?
This is your opportunity to research current writing trends, take short courses in writing, and study good writing practices. A polished skill set will serve you well as you work on your portfolio and begin offering written pieces to paying clients.
We recommend taking online courses from establishments like Udemy, Coursera, or LinkedIn, but there is also a wealth of content on YouTube. Learn all you can from experts willing to share their knowledge to get you started and on the road to success.
Consider taking some of the following courses:
- Writing Articles
- Writing Ad Copy
- Secret Sauce of Great Writing
- The Content Writing Course
You can try free online courses through Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera:
- Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth
- Become a Better Blogger: Content Planning
- Content Marketing for B2B Enterprises
- High-Impact Business Writing
Other areas to learn about for the current writing environment include the following:
- How to write catchy headlines
- How to keep the reader engaged, especially with the use of emotion
- Content frameworks, like list posts
- How to support your points with examples within articles
- How to cite your sources within a blog post
- How to research and cross-reference
- How to use research uniquely without re-hashing what another author has already written
- SEO writing practices
If your grammar and general writing skills have slipped a little since school, there is no harm in refreshing those with a short course in basic grammar and English, too. When you write for clients, it is imperative that your grammar and form are as near to perfect as possible.
2. Focus On Your Talents And Interests
When starting out as a freelance writer, you may feel a little desperate for work. The desperation may lead you to accept any and all jobs offered. While there is value in writing for a diverse group of clients and on a variety of topics, there is also value in narrowing your circle of topics to your area of relative expertise.
As you visualize your freelance business, take time to jot down your talents, skills, areas of interest, and what you would like to write about. When you are at a social event, what would you feel comfortable talking about for a while?
A few items to include could be:
- Your hobbies
- Part-time work you did when you were younger
- Sports you have done
- Things that interest you deeply, E.G., murder mystery, Sign Language, dog breeds, etc.
- Previous work experience
- Something you are good at, E.G., helping the elderly with technology, bookkeeping, PlayStation hacks, etc.
- Something you love to research
- Daily life things you enjoy, E.G., cleaning your refrigerator, essential oils, etc.
- School subjects you were excellent at
Once you have noted your areas of interest and expertise, you should see a general niche pattern emerging. You may be all business, with your interests in accounting, business management, and bookkeeping. You may be about an alternative lifestyle, with your interests in the outdoors, holistic healing, and yoga.
Wherever your focus is, your passion will be evident through your writing. These areas of interest should not box you in but may guide you when looking for clients since clients that match your areas of interest are more likely to enjoy your energy and writing style.
3. Select A Niche
Another way you may find it necessary to niche is by deciding between writing content or copy. Although the two are sometimes bundled together, they are two different jobs.
Content writing typically includes blog articles, newsletters, emails, journalism, speeches, and scripts.
Copywriting is persuasive writing that uses psychology to get the reader to make a purchase. You find copywriting in ads.
In general, copywriters earn slightly more than content writers since they need to understand the human psyche and write according to influences. Still, content writers can earn well in their own right, especially those writing for companies that have them on retainer and order regular work.
Once you have decided which type of freelance writing you will focus on, you will need to research the best practices and methods to perform your job well. Since the two are so different, we will not go into detail about them here, but you will find many helpful articles and videos available to teach you what you need to know to master the art of both copy and content writing.
4. Create Your Workspace
To be a freelance writer, you do not need much. A few non-negotiable items will allow you to do your work, and these simple items should be your first priority when setting up your freelance writing business.
You will need a laptop or P.C. with access to relatively fast internet. You will need the internet to meet with clients, research topics, run checks for grammar and plagiarism, and send your work to your clients.
You will need the ability to download, learn, and use platforms and software your clients prefer. These could be for video conferencing, scheduling, uploading, or retrieving work.
You need access to online banking. Since you may be traveling or have international clients, having access to online banking will serve you and your business well.
An office setup is highly recommended if you are working from home and will stay in one place for a long time. A standing or sitting desk with a good chair will ensure your back and neck do not suffer too much from long periods of writing.
(We like to keep a stash of snacks nearby; depending on the mood, they are either extremely healthy and excellent brain food or downright sinful chocolate. But this part is non-essential and entirely your choice.)
5. Create A Portfolio
Once you have polished your writing skills, decided on your niche, noted your areas of interest, and created your workspace, it is time to start working on your portfolio.
A portfolio should be a showcase of your strengths. You do not need to include numerous long pieces. Instead, consider showing off snippets of articles you are proud of that show your range of skills.
If you plan on offering newsletters, blog articles, lifestyle pieces, and journalistic pieces, include a few examples with different tones and target audiences. Go all-out with images, a great layout, and catchy headlines. This is your opportunity to shine and impress potential clients.
You will use links to your portfolio in pitches to potential clients and job applications, so you will need to upload your portfolio to a website. It is best to have your own website, which we will discuss next.
6. Create A Website
Having your own website is an essential part of running a successful business. When you are a freelance writer, you are a business owner, which means putting your business on show for potential clients to find you.
If budget allows, hire a web developer to create a website for you. Be clear about your brand colors, fonts, and the type of imagery you wish to include on the website to portray the energy of your business and personality.
If you do not have a large budget to hire a web designer, consider building your own website with a platform like Wix or WordPress. Remember that hosting needs to be paid once a year, so you will need to keep money aside yearly.
On your website, include the following essential basic pages:
- About me
If you have more to add, like a gallery, that is even better. You can add client testimonials as you receive them later on. We recommend adding those to the home page for your audience to see.
Keep your website aesthetics in line with your overall branding. Stick to a basic color scheme throughout your website and social media accounts to keep your look and feel uniform. Use between one and three fonts and stick to them to keep your brand identity clear.
When you have decided on your brand colors and fonts, you can add them to Canva for use in your designs. This is a fantastic feature if you have Canva Pro and is extremely helpful for maintaining brand identity when creating social media and blog post images.
Once your website is up, add your portfolio pieces to your portfolio page. Add a “feature image” to each piece to interest the reader. You can now use these pieces when pitching to clients or applying for jobs you have seen advertised.
7. Write A Blog
One way to practice writing, work your SEO, keep your website in use, and possibly get noticed for your writing is to start a blog. You serve all of these purposes by writing daily, whether to one reader or many.
Use the blog section of your website for blogging your heart out. Research different blogging styles and give them all a try. Eventually, you will find the best one that fits you, and you can run with that.
Share the link on your social media and email newsletter when you write something good. Add the masterpieces to your portfolio and share those when applying for jobs or pitching to potential clients.
At the very least, blogging keeps your writing current and fluid and helps you find your voice. You really can’t go wrong!
How To Become A Freelance Writer Today
Writing is the kind of job that is all or nothing. You love and hate it and pour everything into it, only to feel worthless the following day. Still, freelance writing for online clients is a lucrative business, and today, there are so many opportunities for people like us that it is simply a matter of finding the right clients and offering a valuable service to become a success.
Whether you are starting out or have been writing for a company and want to go solo, becoming a freelance writer can be a gratifying business. The only limit is your imagination, and we all know that writers have pretty good ones, so really, there is nothing in your way.
Let us look at a few key ingredients that make you a successful freelance writer today, including how to find jobs, market yourself, and keep the pot boiling until you have enough freelance work.
Before we get into these points, let us recap the basic essentials that every freelance writer needs to set up shop:
- A workspace including a laptop or P.C. with access to the internet
- A website
- A portfolio
- A niche (what type of writing you offer, E.G., content writing)
- A set of interests or areas of expertise
- A blog
- Writing skills that are in practice and up-to-date with current trends
When you have all of these in order, it is time to take your freelance writing game to the next level.
You know you are good. Now it is time to let your dream clients in on your secret.
1. How To Market Yourself As A Freelance Writer
There are a few key ways to market yourself as a freelance writer. Your first step, the website, is already taken care of.
A website is a fantastic way to market yourself as a freelance writer. It shows that you mean business and that you are a serious writer with credibility. Websites are also excellent marketing tools because they assist with search engine optimization. (SEO)
SEO is how the bots on the internet index websites and rank them according to usefulness for the reader. So, the more you write in your blog section, the more helpful and valuable your articles are, and the higher you are likely to rank.
Websites also rank according to how much engagement they get. If your website gets traffic and your audience clicks on links, shares content, and generally uses your website well, you will rank well.
Another reason your website is a wonderful marketing tool is that you can post links to it from other sources. Once you have written blog posts, marketing pieces, and upcoming events, post the links on your social media accounts and email newsletters. Your audience may click through, raising your engagement and increasing the likelihood of them supporting you now or in the future.
Social Media Accounts
Social media is one of the small businesses’ most widely used marketing tools. Do you know what is so great about social media? It’s free!
According to Neal Schaffer, 75% of marketers noted an increase in web traffic thanks to social media marketing, and nearly 90% credited it with improved business exposure. With such a high increase in exposure on your website and for your business in general, we do not see how you can afford to miss out on using social media marketing for your freelance writing business.
For freelance writing, we recommend setting up Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts. As with your website, keep your branding uniform and consider using a logo or specific image throughout to allow your audience to recognize your brand when they see it.
Post regular updates, uplifting quotes, prices, testimonials, and links to blog articles on your social media accounts.
It is also imperative that you interact with these accounts as your business. Follow, like, and comment on similar accounts and potential clients’ accounts as your business. That way, the algorithms notice that you are active and allow your accounts to be seen by more people.
Play an active role in writer groups. Offer and ask for advice, share your opinion where it is appropriate, and make yourself known respectfully.
On LinkedIn, connect with as many like-minded businesses and individuals as possible. Select those whom you would like to serve and those who can inspire you. Post news and updates on this platform, and share links to your blog posts for potential clients to view.
The goal of social media marketing for a freelance writer is to show potential clients who you are and to get them onto your website to view your portfolio and contact you with work.
You can achieve this goal by staying true to your brand identity, posting with dignity and respect, sharing tips and tricks for what you do, and being encouraging and authentically yourself. Always post your website link on your posts and refer readers to your website. Remember to explain what you offer regularly.
2. How To Pitch Yourself As A Freelance Writer
As a freelance writer, pitching yourself to a potential client can feel awkward. The thought of putting yourself out there may be intimidating, but if you think of it as a business deal instead of something personal, it will sting a little less.
The first step to pitching is researching the client. Before you go in, know exactly who you are speaking to. You should know the following:
- Why have you chosen this company
- What are they good at
- What are their pain points
- How can you assist
- Why are you the best fit for the role (your unique selling point)
- What are you willing to settle for in terms of remuneration
To pitch, you must research the company and its marketing strategy in as much detail as possible.
View their website and social media pages. Look at the company reviews on pages like Hello Peter and others. Assess how you can add value to their existing marketing strategy and current content.
Also, assess whether the values and culture of the company match yours. Is this a company you would feel good about assisting? Does their work sit well with your soul and your life purpose? If so, you have a good match and should pursue this job with an outstanding pitch.
When approaching a company to send a pitch, send a short introductory mail asking for permission to send a pitch. Explain who you are in a friendly tone and then wait for a response. After receiving the go-ahead, you should create a tailor-made proposal for the specific company, outlining all you have researched and how you believe you can add value.
In your life as a freelance writer, some companies will go for your pitches, and some will not. It is best to see the rejections as learning opportunities. Tweak your pitches and client selections and try again. After all, it is not you that they are rejecting; it is the job. They likely have staffing or budget issues you know nothing about.
Keep your head up and keep going. There are so, so many jobs out there, and the perfect ones are waiting for your perfect pitch.
3. How To Find Work As A Freelance Writer
Freelance writing work is easy to come by if you know where to look. Job boards update their listings daily, and you will likely find various jobs to choose from.
Here are our favorite places to visit for a dependable flow of freelance or more permanent work:
- Freelance Writers Den
- Keep an eye on the “careers” pages of the companies you would like to write for
When you are allowed to write for a company, do everything you can to build a good relationship with your contact person. A good relationship can go a long way in assuring you more regular work at the same company or a retainer.
Another way to find work is by chatting with friends, family, that guy behind you in line in the grocery store, and everyone else about what you do. Keep reminding people what you do and that you are available to help with their writing needs.
Small jobs, big jobs, whatever they need, you will do it. Once they have seen how terrific your writing is, your work will speak for itself, and word of mouth is by far the best marketing tool out there.
Keep putting yourself and your work out there, and you will soon find more opportunities than you can handle.
4. How To Survive While Building Business As A Freelance Writer
Building a freelance writing business is like most businesses. It takes time. If you are stressed about making ends meet while you develop your business, consider having a half-day or part-time job for a while.
Knowing you can pay your bills while you build up your client base will give you the peace of mind to work on your goals without starving to death. Keep your eye on the prize, though. Do not let yourself get too comfortable. If your ultimate goal is to be a full-time freelance writer, give yourself a deadline and work towards it with a vengeance.
Becoming a freelance writer is definitely one of the most rewarding and exciting career moves a writer can make. In today’s world of online writing opportunities, it is more than possible to be a successful writer. Market yourself, network, check job boards, stay up-to-date with current writing practices and ensure you have a reliable laptop and internet connection. You have a valuable service to offer the right client.