Hi, I’m Elna, a freelance writer and blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. →
How To Become a Freelance Writer: A Guide To Getting Started
Bill Hitchner has guided freelance writers along the murky paths of nonfiction and fiction, both online and off, for the better part of two decades. From tech megacorps to quarterly journals, from multimedia financial publishers to lone novelists, he’s assisted forlorn scribblers seeking to develop and hone their chops. Currently, he’s helping people get jobs by serving as an editor for Indeed’s Career Guide.
Figuring out how to become a freelance writer can be daunting at first. Freelance writing is a job anyone with the interest and dedication can do, but it is especially attractive for self-motivated individuals who want more flexibility in their day-to-day lives. As a freelancer, you can create content as different as articles, blogs, scripts, instruction manuals, technical documents, short stories and advertisements. If you are considering starting a career as a freelance writer, it is important to learn what the job entails and how to jumpstart your independent business.
How to become a freelance writer
1. Research the freelance writing industry
Before you start writing as a freelancer, it is essential to find out everything you can about the industry. Perhaps you’ve already started this step if you searched “How to become a freelance writer” and landed on this article. Visit the websites of established freelance writers and read their biographies, articles, blogs and other content.
Many writers share helpful information about what it takes to be a freelance writer, how they manage their writing businesses, what their writing processes are, where they look for work and how they set their rates.
To learn more about how to get into freelance writing, you can browse opportunities on freelance writing job boards. That will give you an idea about what kind of jobs are available, what employers expect and what current market wages look like.
2. Develop necessary business skills
You should implement a set writing routine to work on your projects and have a clear system for keeping track of in-progress, completed and pending projects. Additionally, you must keep track of sent and pending invoices, received payments, writing pitches, job applications and client responses. Many writers also maintain a growing list of writing ideas so they never run out of topics to write about.
3. Ensure you have the tools of the trade
You will need a laptop or a desktop computer equipped with a writing program, a task management program and photo-editing software, since freelance writers often have to include images with their content.
It is important to set up a website to showcase your writing samples, a business email account, a phone and a video conferencing account. You will also need a bank account and an online payment service account to receive remuneration from your clients.
4. Understand current writing conventions
There are different conventions to follow for different types of writing. In online writing, for instance, it is typical to include helpful links to other articles and use headlines and short paragraphs to make content easily scannable. The way you write and format a blog
You will need to know how to research an array of topics and cite your sources. It is also important to know how to catch readers’ attention and write in a style that will keep them reading until the end.
5. Work on improving your writing skills
Even if you are a good writer, there is always room for improvement. Read extensively. You can learn a lot about sentence construction, vocabulary, avoiding fillers, including evocative details and much more from reading other people’s writing. Read things relevant to your professional niche, but also read widely outside of it.
6. Decide on a writing niche
As a freelance writer, you can pursue business writing, speech writing, video script writing, newsletter writing, copywriting, technical writing, journalism and more. You can write about pets, babies, antiques, comics, health products, food, art, architecture, science—the possibilities are endless. But pick one or two topics that catch your interest and concentrate on those first.
7. Create a writing portfolio
is extremely important for your freelance writing business. Set up a professional website where you can upload and stylishly present your work samples. Depending on your preference and knowledge, you can include articles in a specific niche or content covering a variety of subjects.
If you don’t have professionally published clips, write the type of content potential clients will want to commission and showcase it on your website. You can also start a blog to compile clips about the topics that interest you.
8. Market your writing
Marketing your writing services is an essential component of being a freelance writer. Having a professional website and a blog will help with your marketing efforts, and creating content regularly will improve your ranking in search engine results.
On your website, include a page detailing the writing services you offer, a page informing clients who you are and how you are qualified to help them, a portfolio with your writing samples and a contact page to make it easy for clients to get in touch with you.
You can use social media and business networking sites to market your services by posting links to your latest published articles or blogs and providing updates on your availability. Social media also helps you stay updated on industry developments and job opportunities. You might also consider writing guest posts for other writers or hosting their writing on your site.
9. Find freelance writing jobs
online. Visit job boards that update their listings daily and look for work that seems interesting and offers decent pay. Also, look for jobs on business networking sites and social media. Additionally, you can pitch articles to magazines
How to start your freelance writing career in 7 easy steps
For most people getting started in writing, it makes sense to choose a topic to focus on. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to have studied the subject you write about, or hold any set qualifications. Often simply being passionate about a topic, and having an engaging writing style, is enough to start winning work.
1. Choose your niche
Picking what you want to write about is an important first step. By choosing a niche you’re enthusiastic about, you’ll find you can write well without needing to spend hours on research — and your energy will shine through in your work. You could choose one of these popular niches, or pick a favourite hobby or interest of your own:
2. Set up a website or blog
Having an online presence is essential if you want to become a freelance writer. Writing your own blog is a simple way to achieve this, and gives a space to write, share, and get feedback on your work. You can get a blog for free from WordPress or Wix, or post on an outlet like Medium. Alternatively you may want to set up your own website to serve both as a space for blogging and an online resume and portfolio to share with prospective customers.
3. Write great sample work
Before you can progress any further you’ll need to create sample work which becomes your portfolio. Many writers publish online on their own blogs, or as guest writers for other blogs and online magazines. Share your work with family and friends at this stage, to start to get feedback and develop a reader base.
4. Pitch yourself everywhere
You’ve now put together your portfolio and started to build your readership in your chosen subject. It’s time to start to pitch for more work. You’ll find that online and print magazines and other outlets may offer one off paid projects, guest opportunities, or ongoing writing jobs. Some of these may not be paid – or may pay only a token amount. However, for many new freelance writers, they’re a neat way to build your portfolio further and reach a broader audience — so well worth considering.
- Develop a short, effective ‘elevator pitch’ so you’re always ready to tell someone what you do. You never know who you’ll run into who may need a writer
- Contact companies you love and offer to either write for their blog or create sponsored posts about their products for your own blog
- Join networking groups online and in person to build connections among other freelance writers. It’s common for available jobs to be shared in these communities
- Pitch online and print magazines directly, contacting the editors with ideas for specific articles you may provide
- Look at freelance marketplace sites like Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.com — there are often writing opportunities here, although they may not be the highest paid out there. Pick the jobs that appeal and use it as a springboard to bigger things if you need to
- If you love to blog, read and comment on other blogs in your niche. You’ll quickly get to know other writers, and may find opportunities to collaborate and share ideas
- Keep your LinkedIn and other social media pages up to date and include links to your published work for employers to see
6. Check writing job boards
Specialist job boards are a perfect source of leads if you’re looking for more high profile and paid writing work.** Communities of writers may share ideas and information about sites, magazines and blogs you can connect with.** Take a look at these job boards and resources as a great starting point:
7. Collect testimonials from your clients
As you start to build a reputation, it can really help to have testimonials from previous clients. Ask for a few words about working with you, either by email after you’ve completed a job, or using the testimonial function on LinkedIn. Publish great client reviews on your website so new customers can see what you do best.
Research About Freelance Writing
Now I know I said you can become a freelance writer without a degree (from scratch). This is absolutely true, but if you want a better chance of succeeding, it’s probably a good thing to learn a few skills and tools.
Task Management Program
You might find Asana is a better fit for you or even Microsoft Excel. Find a program that you like and start creating a system for your projects, finances and if you want, your blog content or pitches you send.
Image Editing Program
For me, I go through an in-depth editing process before I submit my work to my clients. You might have to invest in a subscription, but it’s well worth it if you plan on making freelance writing a business.
How to Become a Freelance Writer
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About The Author
Hi I’m Elna and I’m a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.
Becoming a freelance writer: Savannah’s story
“Like many people, I wasn’t too sure what to do with my life as a college student. Despite being an English Literature major, I ended up going down the path of becoming a digital marketer because it felt ‘safer,’ and I decided to pursue my love of writing in my free time by creating a lifestyle blog.
I had no idea how to be a freelance writer, though, so I turned to a friend who was already working as one and asked her for advice. She led me to a freelancing platform called Upwork and was kind enough to give me some tips and share her profile to reference.
Since then, I’ve continued to grow my own blog and have worked with multiple clients across industries, writing blog articles, social media posts, web pages, and much, much more. As of today, I’ve happily been a freelance writer for the past three and a half years.”
How to start freelance writing – your first 5 steps
1. Explore freelance writing job opportunities
Upwork is one platform I often recommend getting started with. You’ll find a ton of writing opportunities there, making it an awesome place to get a feel for the freelance writing market and, of course, actually begin your career.
2. Create your freelance writing site profile
So, rather than talking a lot about yourself, where you like to go on holiday, and your cat, Greg, tailor your profile overview to focus on clients’ needs, positioning yourself as the solution to their problems.
Describe the client
Describe their pains
Describe the gains they want
Position yourself as the solution
Provide validation (testimonials and results)
End with a call to action (CTA)
So, an example of a CTA might look like, “contact me today” or “get more conversions now;” however, there are several ways you can play around with it to showcase your unique personality and stand out (like Alex does).
3. Make your freelance writing portfolio… while you apply for writing jobs
Basically, instead of wasting your time coming up with random ideas, like “101 Ways to do Underwater Basket Weaving” that might not be relevant to anyone, you’ll create an effective writing sample that aligns with what a client is looking for in their listing.
And the best part of the MVP method is, all you have to do is spend half an hour or so writing just one highly efficient 200-400 word sample, as opposed to spending days or even weeks writing several long portfolio samples that could potentially lack any significant appeal.
4. Take a freelance writing course or two to hone your skills
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