Ever wished to abandon the mundane 9-to-5 routine and step into a realm where your words can bring about a transformation?
The thought of becoming a freelance writer, typing away on your laptop while sipping coffee in an exotic location, sounds idyllic. How to turn that daydream into a reality?
So how do you become a freelance writer? Can anyone (like you?) break into this competitive industry and turn their passion for writing into a successful career?
I’ll go over some of my freelance writing tips on how I became a freelance writer. These tips include creating a portfolio, starting a website, learning SEO, and reaching out to clients.
Here are my 9 tips:
- Understand the basics of freelance writing.
- Develop your writing skills.
- Start a blog.
- Create a portfolio.
- Learn SEO.
- Find clients and gain experience.
- Set your rates and negotiate contracts.
- Stay organized.
- Grow your business.
How to Become a Freelance Writer: My 9 Steps
1. Understand the Basics of Freelance Writing
The world of freelance writing is both exciting and challenging. You’re your own boss, but that means you have to wear many hats. Remember the 80s pop group Men Without Hats? You’ll be the opposite of them — a woman (or man) with MANY hats.
So, what’s a freelance writer?
A freelance writer is a self-employed person who sells their work to publishers, companies, or individuals. All without being on an ongoing payroll.
Different Types of Writing
You might think all writing is the same, but it’s not. There are different types, such as technical, business, creative, and academic writing.
Creative vs. Technical:
In creative writing, you can let your imagination run wild. But in technical writing, you need to be precise and clear about complex subjects like software or machinery.
Becoming A Freelancer Writer: How To Get Started?
If we boil it down, there are two main steps – develop your skills and market yourself. And nope. No fairy godmother will make this happen overnight. You have to do the work yourself.
- Growing Your Skills
- To start with, sharpen those language skills; remember, be as clear and concise as possible.
- Spend time understanding grammar rules — this is non negotiable.
- Develop your unique voice because clients love originality.
- Learn to edit ruthlessly — a clean, concise copy wins hearts.
- Marketing Yourself
- Create an impressive writing portfolio showcasing your best work.
- A personal blog can be your playground and showcase at the same time.
2. Develop Your Writing Skills
The best way to develop your writing skills? Read. This may seem counterintuitive, but reading exposes you to different styles. It also helps enhance your understanding of language use. I’ve been an avid reader all of my life, and this has really helped my writing.
Courses not only provide structured learning but also give feedback from experienced tutors and peers. If you really want to improve, you need to meet with professional tutors and peers. They can give you valuable insight, which allows you to hone your writing abilities.
Practicing Your Craft
Becoming a great writer doesn’t happen overnight — it takes practice. Aim to write daily, even if just for 15 minutes. Remember the saying “practice makes perfect?” It couldn’t be more true when developing writing skills.
A tool like 750 Words encourages regular writing by challenging users to write 750 words (about three pages) every day.
Joining Writer’s Groups
Participating in writer’s groups is another excellent way to improve. Groups like Meetup offer peer reviews, constructive criticism, and writing prompts. These stimulate your creativity.
3. Start a Blog
To kickstart your freelance writing career, consider starting a blog.
Blogging allows you to practice writing while building an online presence. You’re creating samples of your own writing that potential clients can review.
Picking Your Niche
Your blog needs to have a focus. Selecting a niche ensures you write content that resonates with a specific audience. Ensure that the topic of your blog is something you have an enthusiasm for, be it finance, marketing, or food recipes.
Setting Up Your Blog
Now for the technical bit. But don’t worry. Setting up your own blog is simpler than ever before, thanks to platforms like WordPress. They offer easy-to-use templates, so even beginners can get started without any coding experience.
Themes and block-builders like Kadence make designing your blog super simple (these are the tools I use).
Craft Engaging Content
This is the place to make something special. Remember, these aren’t college essays — be personable and engaging in your tone. Don’t forget to add images. They enhance readability and reader’s time-on-page rates significantly.
Promote Your Work
The last step? Getting eyes on those brilliant posts of yours. Share links to them via social media channels like LinkedIn or Threads. Consider guest blogging on related websites, too. This helps increase visibility while establishing credibility in your chosen field.
4. Create a Professional Portfolio
A professional portfolio is your golden ticket in the freelance writing world. It’s like your visual resume, showcasing your skills and expertise.
Your Best Work Front and Center
Select samples that represent your best writing samples. Don’t just include everything you’ve ever written. Think of it as an art gallery where only the most impressive pieces are on display, ensuring that each one shines.
Diversify Your Samples
Showcase diversity in terms of content types and industries served, if possible. For example, if you have experience with both blog posts and press releases, include samples from both categories.
Or, if you have written on both finance and marketing topics, be sure to use both to highlight your ability to be diverse in your freelance writing work.
Ease of Navigation Matters
The ease with which potential clients can navigate through your portfolio can make or break a deal. Make sure each sample has its own link. This allows easy access without unnecessary clicking around.
You might consider using online platforms such as WordPress or Squarespace. They offer pre-made templates that allow you to organize your samples effectively.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but people do. Make sure the presentation aligns with the image you want to convey about yourself. Do you want to appear professional yet creative? Or perhaps bold and innovative?
Remember: A picture speaks 1000 words. Your portfolio should scream out loud – ‘Hire me.’
5. Learn SEO
Jump into Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you want to get your writing seen by more eyes, mastering SEO is a must. It’s not about stuffing keywords anymore; it’s all about relevance and quality content.
The cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy lies in effective keyword research. Tools like Ahrefs Keyword Generator can help you find words and phrases relevant to your topic that people are searching for online.
Create Quality Content
A well-optimized piece isn’t just keyword-heavy. It provides value to readers. Focus on creating compelling, original, and helpful content that offers solutions or insights. This will ensure that both Google bots and humans love what they see.
Remember, helpful content is what Google wants now, so make sure your content is exactly that — helpful to your reader.
Mind Your Metadata
Your metadata — title tags, meta descriptions — play a significant role in how search engines perceive the relevancy of your page. Make sure they’re optimized with focus keywords without sounding robotic.
Earn High-Quality Backlinks
High-quality backlinks from reputable websites tell search engines that your site is trustworthy and valuable. This can boost its ranking over time. So, build relationships with other writers or businesses who might link back to you.
The rules of SEO change as algorithms evolve, but keeping these basics at heart should give you a solid start.
6. Find Clients and Gain Experience
One way to find clients is by networking with other freelance writers. They can offer insights, share contacts, or even refer you to potential gigs. Remember that every writer was once a beginner, too.
Making the Most of Job Boards
Job boards should not be overlooked in your search for clients.
Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn post freelance writing gigs in different industries. It’s about more than just landing a job — it’s also about gaining experience. This experience can help kickstart your freelance career.
The Power of Networking
Social media platforms such as Threads or LinkedIn are great places to network with other writers and potential clients. Posting helpful material, participating in conversations, and displaying your aptitude will attract attention from someone seeking a proficient author.
Gaining Experience through Diversification
Diversifying your services helps you gain more experience by exposing you to different writing styles — from blog posts and white papers to newsletters and social media updates. The more you write, the better you become.
Be bold and tackle new projects. They can provide invaluable experience and aid in your progress. And don’t be afraid of challenges — they’re just stepping stones on your path to success.
7. Set Your Rates and Negotiate Contracts
Your rates reflect your expertise, so don’t undervalue yourself. The key is to balance fair compensation with market trends. You might start by researching average freelance writing rates.
Determine your worth:
Taking into account the effort and expertise required for each project, as well as its complexity, determine an appropriate rate to charge.
Writing a technical white paper will take longer than a simple marketing blog post. Think about this when setting your rates.
Remember to account for non-billable hours like administrative tasks.
When it comes to contracts, be clear about expectations from both sides — deadlines, revisions allowed, or payment terms. Feel free to negotiate better terms if you feel short-changed.
Finding a Balance Between Quality and Cost
The sweet spot in pricing is where quality meets affordability. Charging too little can send the wrong signals about the quality of work while charging exorbitantly could turn off potential clients.
- A per-word basis simplifies things as it lets clients know upfront how much they’ll pay based on word count.
- An hourly rate may seem attractive. But as you get more efficient at writing faster without compromising quality, this model will result in less income over time.
- A per-article rate is the simplest of all. The client knows exactly how much the article will cost, and you will know how much you will make. But, understand that more complex or longer articles will take more time, so remember this when setting a per-article rate. This is the method that I most often use when working with clients.
Raising Your Rates Over Time
- If you consistently deliver high-quality work that’s well-received by clients, don’t hesitate to raise your rates gradually.
- Use annual inflation or the cost of living increase as a benchmark.
- But always communicate these changes with your clients in advance. Give them ample time to adjust their budgets if necessary.
Depending on the assignment, you might need different contracts. Some tasks could be short and simple, others not so much.
8. Stay Organized as a Freelance Writer
Being a freelance writer means juggling multiple clients, projects, and deadlines. So, it’s crucial to stay organized. Here are some strategies to help you stay organized.
Create Systems for Tracking Deadlines
To ensure that no deadline slips through the cracks, use tools like Google Calendar. Set up notifications so you stay ahead of the curve with this helpful resource.
You can also use project management apps such as Trello or Asana. These platforms enable you to visualize all your tasks in one place. Just don’t pick something too complex. Simple is best. You don’t want to spend all of your time managing tasks instead of actually completing your tasks.
Manage Your Invoices and Payments Efficiently
The satisfaction of completing an article diminishes if payments are delayed. That’s why effective invoice tracking is crucial.
I use Wave for domestic clients and Wise for international. Both have reasonable fees. Wave helps you keep track of outstanding invoices and sends reminders to clients about due dates. This frees you to spend more time writing for clients.
Maintain a Clean Workspace
An organized workspace promotes efficiency. Keep clutter at bay by using storage solutions such as file cabinets or desk organizers.
9. Grow Your Freelance Writing Business
Diversifying your services is a great way to grow as a freelance writer. It’s like having more arrows in your quiver — you’ll always have something that hits the mark. This can mean venturing into different genres or styles, such as technical writing, copywriting, or even scriptwriting for video content.
Expanding into new markets could also give you an edge. If you only focus on one market, what will happen when it’s no longer profitable? But if you cast your net wide enough to cover multiple ponds (markets), chances are at least one will be teeming with fish (clients).
A freelancing platform might help broaden your horizons by introducing you to clients from diverse industries. Another option would be learning a new language. This can open doors not just to new markets but entire continents.
Diversify Your Services
To diversify effectively, start by identifying areas where there’s demand but less competition. For example, lots of businesses need writers who understand SEO — why not take an online course on the topic?
Many successful freelance writers offer SEO services (like me). This is a great way to showcase not only your writing skills but also your SEO skills that you already need for your website.
Expand Into New Markets
Finding new markets doesn’t necessarily mean going international right away. You might discover untapped potential closer to home. Look out for local startups or small businesses that may benefit from professional writing services.
Nurture Client Relationships
Lasting relationships with clients over time become steady sources of income and referrals,
But how do we build these relationships? Consistent communication coupled with delivering quality work forms the basis of a strong relationship. This could mean:
- Regular check-ins or updates on work progress
- Asking for client feedback
- Always delivering on time.
Freelance writing is not just a pipe dream. It is a viable career path that offers abundant opportunities and freedom.
I hope my tips help you start your freelance writing career.
The world is eagerly awaiting your words! Remember, success does not happen overnight. It is crucial to continue learning and writing to achieve your goals.
Now, it’s time to turn your dreams into reality. Are you ready? Set? Write!