If you’re looking for flexibility, creativity, and independence, then freelance writing might be perfect. But how do you become a freelance writer? How can you make sure your skills are up to par? Where can you find your first job? In this article, we will answer all those questions and more.
Whether you are a writer for a company or a hobbyist writer looking to make some extra money or even a career writing, becoming a freelance writer can look appealing and daunting at the same time.
However, if you have the dedication and self-motivation to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it is a gratifying and flexible job that can give you a new lease of life away from the 9-5.
What do You Need to Become a Freelance Writer?
There is no one specific way to become a freelance writer. Many people who work as freelance writers have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. However, there are some essential skills and characteristics that all successful freelance writers share:
- Strong writing and communication skills: This one is a given! As a freelance writer, your job is to write well and communicate clearly. Whether you’re writing blog posts, web copy, or even marketing materials, your words will represent your client’s or your brand if you choose.
- Flexibility: As you’ll be working with a variety of clients, you must be able to adapt your writing style to fit each one’s needs.
- Research skills: To write well, you need to be able to do your research. Whether you’re writing about a new product or service or exploring a new topic for a blog post, gathering accurate information from reliable sources is essential.
Of course, those points are only for the writing side of being a freelance writer; you also need to consider the aspects of any freelance career, such as time management, self-motivation, etc.
How do You Become a Freelance Writer?
It shows excellent standing that you have got this far in the article; it means that you either already have or are willing to develop the points above, plus the freelancing side of the lifestyle. So now we can start looking at the steps you can take towards earning an income from writing.
Get the Right Tools
The first thing you need to do to become a freelance writer is to have the right tools for the job. The minimum you need is a device that can connect to the internet and write on. The better that device is, the easier it will be for you to do your job.
But let’s not kid ourselves here. Do you need the latest, fastest, most expensive laptop to become a freelance writer? No.
Do you NEED a laptop at all? Probably not; if you can access and use online software like Google Docs and you have a way to track your jobs on your mobile phone, you can start your journey there. It will be hard, more time-consuming, and offputting to some clients if they know it, but it will be a story to tell people in the future.
Look at Current Freelance Writers
Take some time to look at what other writers are writing about, how much they charge, how quickly they complete jobs, etc. The best places to find these things are freelance platforms where you can read reviews and look out for things to avoid, such as setting deadlines you will never meet.
Think about where on the ladder you are. There is no point in learning rates, times, and business management from established writers of 30 years if you are starting today. Likewise, you will undersell your abilities if you have been a hobbyist writer for five years and you look at the rates of newcomers.
Pick a Niche to Work in
Now that you have looked through what is available on freelancing platforms, you can start to build up an idea of your goals and decide the niche you want to work in. There are two facets to a writing niche, each with many selections.
- Topic – What do you want to write about? That is a very general question that you will need to think about. However, if you already have a significant interest in something, such as business, fitness, health, or anything else, that can give you a headstart.
- Style – What kind of writing are you going to do? Again, there are various types of writing that people look for. That could be blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, sales copy, emails, marketing, etc.; the list is almost endless.
If you have some ideas of which you would prefer to write about, then start looking at people who already write that kind of work and see what people are charging to do so.
It would be a great advantage to pick a few topics and styles you are interested in. You can always specialize in one further down the line if you decide to. In the beginning, try to stay focused on which to pick; your goal is to earn some money while searching for your niche.
Learn the Best Writing Practices for Your Niches
Each topic and style of writing has its own “standard practices” that any freelance writer needs to learn and get accustomed to succeed. There is such a vast list of topics and styles that it would be impossible or extremely dull for you to read to list them all in this article.
The best thing you can do is look at styles that already interest you and learn those practices.
Whether you are in a hurry to earn money or already have a day job that pays for everything you need, it is a great idea to start practicing your writing. One of the best ways to practice is by going to a prominent blog site such as Mashable, picking a topic from the menu, choosing a blog post, and covering the same topic yourself without using the same site as research (to avoid copying).
The more you can practice in the areas you enjoy, the better.
Build a Portfolio
The next thing you will need to do is start building a portfolio of your work to show off to clients. There are various ways that you can do this:
- Start a blog and write blog posts on there; once you have written a few, you can offer these as examples to clients.
- Create an online portfolio using a site like Clippings.me or Contently.
- Use social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to post articles or links to articles you have written; this is less formal but can still be helpful for specific clients.
- If you know anyone who needs help with their writing, offer to do it for free in exchange for being able to use the finished product in your portfolio.
- Also, if you do not want to do any of the above, or if you lack experience building websites, etc., you can create articles that are relevant to the work you want. Then, keep those articles as documents or Google Docs so they are ready to send to prospective clients when they ask – they will.
Now that you have a portfolio, you can start pitching to clients.
Find Writing Jobs
Finding the work is the most challenging part of becoming a freelance writer. It can be very competitive, and it can be tough to know where to start if you are not used to seeking out jobs or marketing yourself.
There are two ways that you can get clients: proactively and reactively.
- Proactive means looking for clients; this is often done by cold-emailing or reaching out to companies on social media.
- Reactively means that you wait for clients to come to you; this is generally done by signing up to freelancing platforms or job boards and waiting for someone to contact you with a project.
The best way to start is by mixing both; you are not putting all your eggs in one proverbial basket.
Once you have a few clients, it is important to nurture those relationships and try to get repeat work from them, which is generally more manageable and less time-consuming than always looking for new clients.
Some places where you can find clients are:
- Freelancing websites
- Social Media
- Job boards
- Classified ads
- Personal connections
Market Your Writing
Marketing your services is the final and most crucial step to becoming a freelance writer. You can have the best writing skills in the world, but if no one knows you exist, you will not get any work.
There are various ways to market your writing, and the best way to do it is to mix a few different methods to reach as many people as possible.
Some ways to market your writing are:
- Building a presence on freelancing platforms
- Having a website or blog
- Using social media
- Guest blogging
- Attending events
- Creating a press kit
- Doing interviews
There are many other ways to market your writing, but the above are some of the most common and effective.
If you follow the steps above, you should be well on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer. Just remember always to keep learning, keep practicing, and keep marketing yourself, and you will be sure to find success.
Freelancing Writer Frequently Asked Questions
Can I be a content writer with no experience?
Yes, you can be a content writer with no experience. However, finding work will be more complex, and you will likely have to start with lower-paying jobs. Therefore, it is crucial to build a portfolio of writing samples so potential clients can see your work.
Why become a freelance writer?
There are many reasons to become a freelance writer. Some people freelance because they want the flexibility to choose their hours and work from home. Others freelance because they want to be their own boss and have more control over their career. And others freelance because they want to make extra money on the side.
Where to start as a freelance writer?
Following this article will give you a great start to becoming a freelance writer.
Can I make money as a freelance writer?
Yes, you can make money as a freelance writer. However, how much you make will depend on your skill level, the types of clients you work with, and how much work you are willing to do.