How to Start Your Freelance Writing Business
You’ve had a few ideas about working from home and you have now decided what you want to do but you need some additional information. You now want to know how to become a freelance writer. Read on because I’m going to share how becoming a phenomenal freelance writer is a great way to earn extra income as a side hustle or make a full-time income with your writing talents.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information read full disclosure.
With the right guidance, you can make a great living from freelance writing. However, there is so much information out there and it can feel overwhelming. I’m going to break it down for you so that you know where to start and learn what it takes to become a freelance writer.
The good thing is, anyone can start writing and earning online without the need for special tertiary education or formal training. Let’s explore how to become a freelance writer in more detail.
What is Freelance Writing?
Sounds simple enough but what is freelance writing really? In its simplest form freelance writing is the writing of any type of document for a client for pay as a self-employed person. You are an independent contractor, not an employee and your work is done outside of the clients’ office location.
Different Types of Freelance Writing
From the definition above I mentioned that as a freelance writer that you can write any kind of document but you may wish to stick to writing a certain kind of document or article. Here is a list of freelancing writing services you can offer:
• Blog Posts
• Web Pages
• Landing Pages
• Training Courses
• White Papers
• Press Releases
• Research Papers
• Sales Letters
• Media Kits
• Copy Writing
• Product Descriptions
• Social Media Content
As you can see there are a lot of different types of freelancing writing services that you can offer potential clients. But you don’t have to stop there you can also specialize your writing services to niche businesses and special interest readers. Let’s find out how you can niche down your freelance writing business.
How to Find Your Freelance Writing Niche
Finding the right opportunity to get your freelance writing business off to the right start is important and one of the best ways to do this is by offering a specialized service, focusing on a specific niche.
This is usually one of the hardest things to do as you might be unsure of what exactly your niche focus is. You may have so many interests that finding ‘the one’ might be difficult.
It can get quite overwhelming but you really need to have a good think when you get to this stage. You can do this by checking out what’s the most in-demand topics, or an on-trend topic.
Here’s a great example. A couple of years ago ‘Keto’ was the buzzword of the moment. If you did your research and learned all you could about this niche especially in the early stages you could have become one of the go-to people for writing content on the Ketogenic diet.
One great tool that you might not have thought about that can help you to niche down is Google Trends. You can specify region, categories, date range and check out the most popular words and phrases that people are searching for and start pitching and writing articles and content based on the results.
Another way to find your niche is follow your passion, your hobby, your lifestyle. For instance, if you’re a Vegan you could write content for Vegan blogs or websites. Are you a pet enthusiast? Then you could be the perfect person to write pet related newsletters.
If you’re a fanatic for a particular sporting team (Manchester United, Golden State Warriors, Red Sox, Reggae Girlz) then you could start providing so much information for ghostwriting, product descriptions for ecommerce sporting products, the list goes on.
One other popular way to find your freelance writing niche is your work experience. No matter your working background the experience you have gained can be shared and help someone else.
Just think about it, how many times have you asked some regular work-related question on Google and you got the answer you wanted. Someone took the time to provide the information online and you searched until you found the one most useful to you.
As an example, there are quite a few healthcare workers/nurses who now write excellent content for a number of healthcare businesses, and even fitness experts who write online fitness courses for others as a side hustle and they make good money too.
When you choose a niche there is not as much competition, why? Because you are specialized.
Let’s say you love pets but you really love pet reptiles. If you concentrated on that niche market, marketed your business well on social media and your website or blog with excellent SEO the business will start to come to you. You might even be referred by other writers to clients just because of your niche.
So have a think about what you could specialize in as a freelance writer.
Do Your Research
Want to know what the next step is? Well, the best way to arrive at a destination is to first know the route and how to get there. You now know what freelance writing is, what services you can offer as a freelancer and how to find your writing niche. You need to start researching information about freelance online writing.
A great way to do this is by simply looking for other freelancer writers in places like LinkedIn, Facebook groups and of course, browsing their websites.
Have a read of their blogs, check out their writing portfolios and learn as much as possible about this potentially lucrative work from home business.
Use Google and YouTube to check out how blog posts, landing pages and newsletters are created and published, and learn about the different kind of jobs available for freelance writers.
Identify and Acquire the Tools Needed
Once you do all of the above there are some basic resources that you will need. Nothing fussy or extremely expensive and most of the things I’m going to suggest are actually free as you probably have them already or they will become a really great investment to your freelance writing business.
First and foremost you must have a laptop or pc to work from. Next you need to either use Google Docs or Miccrosoft Word to type up your articles. It’s best to have the complete Google Suites or Microsoft Office to be able to provide a range of documents like slides, newsletter templates and so on.
Another great resource is Canva which is free to use even though you can upgrade to the paid service. If you go into the templates section you have a wide range to templates to choose from such as Media Kits, Newsletter, Ebook designs and more.
To make sure your spelling and grammar is up to speed it’s also a good idea to have Grammarly installed on your computer to avoid mistakes along with a simple project management app like Trello to keep your work organized. This is highly critical if you end up writing for more than one client.
Another great tool to use if you want to get paid for your writing is AndCo. This app helps you to set up contracts, invoices and keep tabs on your time and expenses and never miss a deadline or a payment. An excellent resource to set up your freelance writing business like a professional.
>>>You might also be interested in reading How to Streamline Your Freelancing Business using AndCo.
As an upsell to your business it’s a good idea to learn how to write content that helps with SEO. If you can provide SEO written content you can ask for a higher rate and should be in a much better place to get more work than if you didn’t have this skill.
This means that when you write blog posts, landing pages, websites and even product descriptions that you know how to make the post, article or product rank well on Google.
This can save your client a whole lot of time when it comes to searching for good keywords and help them to make more money too.
Ever felt that learning SEO was like trying to learn rocket science? An excellent resource that I regularly use and can highly recommend because it is explained so simply is Easy On-Page SEO and Easy Backlinks for SEO. Check them both out as they are really worth it.
So if your client wants to increase valuable organic traffic to their site you can easily help them as you would already have the on-page and off-page SEO knowledge.
Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners
Now that you have all the necessary information I’m sure you’re eager to find out where to find newbie freelance writing jobs.
There are many places you can start your online writing business such as Upwork, iWrite and Fiverr plus the content mills but if you want to avoid the urgent turnaround times, get a better rate of pay and avoid the scams a good first step is to start marketing yourself.
Start by getting in touch with friends and family who already have businesses but may not have a strong online presence, local charity organizations that you could easily volunteer for which could easily turn into a paying job and act as a good experience to develop your writing skills and create your portfolio.
You can even start to offer your freelance writing services to local businesses that you frequent.
Other places to look are writing job boards. The key to this is making sure you respond to any writing job requests as early as possible to be in the first set of responders.
I had mentioned earlier that if you join relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups you can also find many freelance writing opportunities. You can also use Google to search for paid guest posts.
Start and Practice Your Writing Skills
Practice makes perfect they say. When you start freelance writing, you do not have to be a perfect writer. The most important thing is to know how to write good sentences and express your thoughts with clarity and in an organized way.
Even if you are not a native English speaker you can still reap the benefits of writing. In fact, many freelance writers are not native English speakers and are located all over the world providing an excellent service.
It is a skill you can develop over time and once you are dedicated and willing to upgrade and learn great writing techniques then your efforts become better and your skills improve.
>>> Want to develop a solid freelance writing business then this should be the perfect course for you from the Horkey Handbook team.
Do you have a favorite blogger that you follow? Have a look at their posts. Think about why you like their style of writing. See if you could make it better by changing it up and adding more information.
Try different styles of writing, friendly, amusing, fact-based, comparison or review style writing. Remember, no plagiarism but you can be inspired by their work.
This does mean you have to put in the hard work and have some content ready and waiting but it will be all worth it in the end.
One easy way to improve your skills is by reading up on your niche. Books, magazines, newspapers, blogs. Not only will you improve your writing skills but you will have the latest and most up-to-date information and your vocabulary and knowledge will increase as well.
Create and Build Your Writing Portfolio
In your search for freelance writing jobs, most clients will ask for samples of your work. This is when you should have a special place set up showcasing your writing skills, a portfolio.
Some clients will ask to see samples of your published work in which case you can just send them the link if you have a website. If you are new then you might be a bit stuck as you likely won’t have published work or any samples to give but you don’t have to worry as you can get around this small problem.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using Google docs to do this and send the link to your potential client.
Another way which may seem a bit tedious is by doing free Guest posts in the first instance for others. This will help in building up your portfolio and getting your name out there.
You can also use LinkedIn and add your content there. Sign up for a Medium account and add your content. Most importantly you should really have a website/blog offering your services and show off your written work with a portfolio that’s easily accessible on the menu bar.
This will really show that you’re serious about becoming a freelance writer and make your business look more professional.
In case you haven’t yet found time to design and create your own freelance writers website/blog offering your services and showcasing your work here are a few more places where you can create a quick and dirty portfolio.
- Journoportfolio – Just remember that if you use the free version it will have the journo portfolio extension listed in the url. Great way to upload your pdf content or add it directly within the platform.
- Clippings.me – Another simple to use portfolio platform to add your written content.
- Contently – Is another great place to register and set up your portfolio.
Make sure that the content that you add on your portfolio is relevant and not random. If you have decided on your niche remember to stay on that path for your articles if you’re looking for that type of client.
How to Pitch for Jobs and Grow a Client Base
Once you’re happy with the content you have written and your portfolio is all up and running now is the time to start pitching your business to grow your business. This is where it gets real, real fast.
Unless you are extremely lucky and a whizz at networking it could take a week, a few weeks or months before you start to see results. It’s all up to you and how determined you are in applying for freelance writing jobs.
In the early stages it can get pretty scary pitching to clients but first of all, you have to make sure that your email signature is professional, has links to your connected social media pages as sometimes out of the blue (months later) some of them will actually get in touch.
Knowing how to send cold pitches to potential clients is a skill that you will have to develop. There are pitching templates that you can use but you must tailor it to fit your style, your niche and your client. Here’s an excellent resource to help you with email pitching called Master the Art of Pitching. Just scroll near to the bottom of the page in the link to access it.
Other ways to connect with clients to get writing jobs is by answering questions in forums and groups. Look out for guest posts and requests for writers within these groups.
Keep your writing hustle going by promoting your services on your own social media sites be it Pinterest, Facebook business page, Instagram and Twitter. Update regularly and add post links on your social pages that lead back to your portfolio or website.
How Much Do Freelancer Writers Make?
How much a freelance writer can make is dependent on experience, niche, and type of written content. So a blog post compared to an academic paper, for example, would be a different rate.
For all instances the main thing to concern yourself with is to know your true worth, this can be difficult when starting out as you’re eager to just get a job, get your first client.
You have to factor in your time, effort and skill in providing your freelance writing service.
There is no point offering to do a long-form post for $10 when no one is quoting below $150. You’re just selling yourself short and there is no way you can make a living wage out of that especially if it involves a lot of research.
There are so many variables to factor in such as your location, the type of industry you’re writing for so it’s not something that is exact. You just need to know that you have to price your work based on your own personal experience, abilities, knowledge of topic, time spent on in-depth research and how much you can afford to live on.
Something I mention from time to time is that if you are located outside of certain countries economic reasons and standard of living will have to be considered. Someone located in India would be able to accept less for their freelance writing compared to someone offering the same skills in Australia.
***KEY TIP – Do not charge rock bottom prices just to get the client!
To help you get a basic understanding of how much to charge as a freelance writer you can use this infographic by Clear Voice 2018 writing rate survey as a guide.
How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?
One of the best things to do when starting out and quoting for freelance writing work is to make sure that you have a contract ready and request a deposit before starting any work. This is one way to avoid the scammers out there as they won’t want to pay leaving space for genuine clients only.
Depending on what you and the client decide you can easily accept payment by using AndCo. This system accepts Paypal, WePay, Stripe and you can also receive ACH payment.
If you have a Payoneer account you can easily set up ACH payment by adding your Global Payment Service information and adding the bank account details manually to your invoice in the currency of choice. (You can find the details within your online Payoneer account under the ‘Receive’ menu).
If you are located outside of the US/UK/Canada and need a way to start accepting payment for your online business you can sign up for a Payoneer card right here.
Paypal Business also has an invoicing facility along with Wave and Freshbooks. Use the one that you’re most comfortable with to get those dollars.
Final Thoughts on How to Become a Freelance Writer
To sum it all up, becoming a phenomenal freelance writer begins with understanding what it is. Then acquire all the necessary skills and tools needed to be a competent writer. Learn as much as possible and share and promote your services to as many people as possible through social media and your online portfolio.
If you or anyone you know want to become a freelance writer please share with them or pin an image as a bookmark and if you have any comments or suggestions just add them below.
Related posts on Freelancing:
- How This Freelance Writer Makes a Staggering $20,000 per month
- Avoid These Mistakes to Freelance Like a Rockstar
- The Best App to Streamline Your Freelancing Business
- How to Easily Get Clients When Working from Home