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Building a successful side hustle or business of any kind in today’s digital age will rely heavily on your ability to communicate, connect, inform, persuade and engage with an audience.
What better way to do that than with high-quality writing that conveys your message, represents your brand, and brings value to both your audience and your business.
The demand for freelance writers and freelancers will continue to grow as we move into an economy dominated by eCommerce, and as a result, there will be more opportunities for work.According to a study conducted by Statista, the number of freelancers in the USA is forecasted to reach 90.1 million by 2028. A big portion of these freelancers is writers.
If you have writing skills that you would like to apply to earn some extra income, freelance writing may be a perfect fit for you.
In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, I will teach you everything you need to know about how to become a freelance writer today.
In this article hide
What Is A Freelance Writer?
What Does A Freelance Writer Do?
How to Become A Freelance Writer
Pros of Freelance Writing
Cons of Freelance Writing
FAQ on How to Become a Freelance Writer
What Is A Freelance Writer?
Freelance writers are individuals who are self-employed (not on a company’s official payroll) and provide writing services to any number of different clients on a per-project or contractual basis.
They excel at writing content, typically digital in nature, for businesses and entrepreneurs. Freelance writers can be generalists or choose to focus on a specific niche and offer more specialized writing services.
Freelance writers who are earning revenue are considered sole proprietors or small-business operators and will, as a result, pay income taxes on revenue generated in the same way any small business owner would.
What Does A Freelance Writer Do?
Freelance writers can choose to take on a sort of “generalist” approach to their business and offer a wide variety of different writing styles/services.
Others may choose to take more of a specialized approach and offer writing services that target a certain niche or multiple niches.
Some of the different types of freelance writing you can dive into include:
Content writing is known more technically as the process of writing and publishing content created in a digital format. This refers to any form of web content; however, content writers will usually be writing longer-form content — this includes:
- Blog posts
- Magazine blurbs
- Press Releases
- Podcast scripts
- Film scripts
- Informational website content
Content writing typically has the goal of informing, educating, and engaging readers. Its purpose is to contribute more to the long-term strategies and growth of a business.
Examples would include things like SEO strategies implemented to promote organic traffic and online exposure. It takes time to see results, but these longer-term aspects of online copy optimization are incredibly important for sustained growth.
Copywriting is also defined as the writing and publishing of online content; however, this style of writing is known to involve more of a marketing and sales voice.
A copywriter’s job is to write in a way that sells a target audience on a product, service, or brand in general. Their writing will persuade readers to take some sort of action, be it visiting a shop and buying a product, sign-up for an email newsletter, or making an appointment with a sales representative.
Copywriters will write to create urgency and aim to drive sales by using a persuasive tone of voice that is authoritative, engaging, and approachable. These are typically short-term strategies that provide more immediate results than content writing.
Content writing lays the groundwork for long-term success by attracting organic traffic. Copywriting turns that organic traffic into sales in the short term.
Examples of copywriting include:
- Landing page content
- Advertisement copy
- Email marketing campaigns
- Video/radio commercial scripts
- Catalog copy
- Social media content
- Slogans, taglines, and mission statements
Academic writing is more of a factual, evidence-based style of writing that communicates concepts, information, and research. It is typically used to present or showcase expertise, knowledge, data, or other conceptual subject matter.
Academic writing is supposed to be as formal as possible in most cases. Writers should refrain from using any contractions (short forms), slang, or colloquialisms of any kind. Academic writing is intellectual and analytical and serves to inform from the standpoint of expertise.
Examples of academic writing include:
- Annotated Bibliographies
- Thesis Papers
- Research Proposals
- Academic Journal Articles
Technical writers specialize in taking material that is written in a way that is highly technical or complex and turning it into writing that is clear, concise, and digestible. Their goal is to take content that may be difficult for the average individual to grasp and deliver it in a way that makes it easy to understand.
Technical writers are information communicators who excel in their ability to simplify the complex and provide guidance for those who need to accomplish some sort of task or ultimate goal.
Examples of technical writing include
- Instruction manuals
- Technical reports
- Employee handbooks
- SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)
- Software help files
- Troubleshooting guides
- White papers
How to Become A Freelance Writer
Becoming a freelance writer is more achievable than ever before with all of the tools and resources available online.
Ready to get started? I will highlight the most important steps to take on your journey to becoming a successful freelance writer.
Step 1: Develop Proficient Writing Skills
Freelance writing requires proficiency in the English language. Native English speakers are typically going to be highly favored by clients who are looking to hire, however non-native speakers who can develop great writing skills will be just fine.
There are so many resources online that you can use to learn these skills or simply refresh and supplement your current skill set. Everything from basic spelling and grammar to semantics, audience tone, SEO strategies, and more.
I recommend checking out Holly Johnson’s Earn More Writing School — a great online course designed to help freelance writers start and build their writing businesses.
I am also a big fan of Udemy’s Complete Content Writing Masterclass — which covers everything from copy and content writing to SEO keyword research, blogging, and marketing strategies.
Acquiring other skills and certifications will also have a big role to play in your attractiveness to clients as a writer and, ultimately, your success as a writer.
Understanding the best practices when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization), as well as acquiring sufficient knowledge of tools like Google Analytics, would all be important skills/certifications for freelance writers to consider.
One of my absolute favorite online resources for learning about all the ins and outs of Google Analytics is the Google Analytics Academy. It provides comprehensive courses for beginners and advanced users and provides valuable knowledge that will help you optimize your writing.
For a great free certification option, check out HubSpot’s Content Marketing Course offered through the HubSpot academy. The course provides a comprehensive overview of how to become an effective content marketer. If you’re looking for a formal freelance writer certification, you can check out IAP College’s Freelance Writer Certificate Course Online. This certification is tailored for people that want to start a business providing freelance writing services and get hired as a freelance writer.
It is also very important for freelance writers to work on their soft skills as well. Things like organization, interpersonal communication, and task management are examples of critical skills that should be developed early on.
Step 2: Get The Right Tools To Write
When getting started as a freelance writer, equipping yourself with the right tools (hardware, software, accessories, etc.) is the first step to success.
One of the most important aspects of your work setup as a freelance writer will be your computer and related hardware.
Depending on the type of work that you plan to be doing, as well as where/how you plan to be working, freelancers will typically be choosing between a laptop and a desktop computer.
Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. A laptop is compact, convenient, and easy to travel with, which makes traveling and working from different locations a breeze. Laptops will always be the best choice for freelance writers who are often relocating, traveling, or simply living an on-the-go lifestyle.
Desktop computers (tower with monitor) are a lot bulkier, much harder to transport, and virtually impossible to ship without paying a fortune.
However, desktop computers offer more customization capabilities. Upgrading specific hardware to boost performance where you are looking to improve is simple. Laptops, on the other hand, are pre-built and do not have the same customization potential.
Another advantage that a desktop setup provides is the ability to not only choose your monitor’s screen type and size but also integrate multiple monitors if you so choose.
Laptops are manufactured with a relatively small range of model sizes — typically between 13 and 17 inches. As a result, you are inevitably going to be somewhat restricted in terms of screen size when using a laptop for freelance work.
With a desktop setup, your monitor can be as big and as high quality as you choose. If you want to work off of a 28-inch 4K LCD screen – hook it up to your computer, and you’re ready to go.
Maybe you’re looking to cut startup costs and opt to grab a used monitor on eBay — no problem, desktop setups can accommodate virtually any screen.
In addition, desktop computers are built to accommodate multiple screens when needed. This means that you can set up 2 or even 3 screens that will all function simultaneously off of one computer.
I work from a dual-monitor desktop setup that allows me to maximize productivity by doubling the amount of space I have to work with and making multitasking a lot easier.
When it comes down to crunch time, I find that these advantages make the desktop computer option a must. But that is just my personal opinion.
If you are lucky enough to have a desktop and a laptop, you can have the best of both worlds!
Leveraging software that is designed specifically for online written content is another big part of becoming a successful freelance writer.
There are so many incredible tools out there that will help make your writing more fluid, accurate, and engaging while also making it more effective from a marketing and exposure standpoint.
I recommend Grammarly for your editing needs, as it is definitely one of the best editing tools available online. Spelling, grammar, structure, and writing suggestions!
For organization and task/project management, I recommend a combination of Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Calendar software, as well as Asana, Trello, or one of the other good project management applications.
Last but certainly not least, search engine optimization tools will definitely be something to consider for your arsenal. These will help you nail keywords in all of your writing, have your writing rank well on Google and attract organic traffic, and ultimately make your content as effective and impactful as possible.
I recommend taking a look into SurferSEO, SEMRush Writing Assistant, and Yoast SEO for all of your SEO needs as a freelance writer.
Quality internet is an obvious necessity for any successful freelance writer. As remote workers, a stable connection is the heart of your operation. Be sure to choose an internet provider that can guarantee good upload and download speeds, as well as a consistently strong connection.
If you are in a location that does not have a great wifi connection and it is affecting your ability to work, you can try switching to a direct connection (ethernet) in order to maximize your connection stability and speed.
Step 3: Decide on a Writing Niche
Deciding on a writing niche, or as some would call it, “niching down,” is a super important step on the road to becoming a successful freelance writer.
Choosing a niche and narrowing down your scope of expertise will allow you to perfect your ideal customer profile, provide high-quality work on a consistent basis, and ultimately drive sales and increase your earnings.
You can start by choosing a more general niche. We covered 4 of the main freelance writing styles earlier — content writing, copywriting, academic writing, and technical writing.
Once you have decided on the style of writing you would like to do as a freelancer, you can get even more specific by finding a niche within that niche. This will serve to help you further specialize and really focus on writing that you enjoy and excel at.
Here are a few examples of popular writing niches:
- Music & Entertainment (reviews, comparison articles, etc.)
- Gaming & Live Streaming (blog posts, feature articles, game reviews, etc.)
- Health & Wellness (product reviews, blog posts, website content, etc.)
- Education (informational articles, E-books, etc.)
- Investing & Finance (earnings report breakdowns, news, prediction/advice articles, etc.)
Step 4: Create a Client Persona
A client persona, also commonly known as a customer profile, buyer persona, or client avatar, is essentially a collection of key demographics, interests, goals, behaviors, and other important information that pertains to a specific target customer group.
These include things like:
- Challenges (pain points)
- Buying habits
Client personas are extremely valuable because they help freelance writers decide exactly who they will be targeting as their ideal customer, as well as where and how they will go about connecting with them to find work.
Ask yourself a few important questions about where your ideal clients will spend their time online. Will you find them mainly on gig work marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr? Or should you be focusing more of your efforts on networking in Facebook groups or developing your presence on social media platforms?
To get started, here are a few good questions to answer about your target customer:
- Who are they, and what do they do?
- What kind of problems or pain points do they have?
- What solution can you provide?
- What are their goals/motivations?
- What products/services do they use?
- Where do they get their information online?
- What are the best platforms to reach them? (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- What kind of content do they interact with most? (blog posts, informational articles, social media content, etc.)
Once you have answered the questions that are most important to you and your target market, you can build out a detailed client persona and then use it to roll out a strategic marketing plan for your freelance writing business.
For a more in-depth look into this aspect of building a business, check out this comprehensive guide to client personas and how they tie into marketing.
Step 5: Develop a Portfolio of Work
As a freelance writer, putting together a high-quality portfolio that showcases the work you have done is a very important step. Creating an online presence for yourself is a great way to attract leads, impress prospects, and grow your business.
Having a portfolio that you can display on gig marketplace ads, include on your website/landing page, or provide upon request when dealing with new potential customers is crucial. This allows people to learn about you, your experience, skillset, and scope of expertise all in one place.
Well-built portfolios will create authority and intrigue while giving clients a way to connect with you on both a personal and professional level. This establishes a level of trust that will come into play when they make their hiring decisions.
Freelance writer portfolios can consist of the following:
- Published blog posts
- Written website content
- Feature articles
- Press releases
- Promotional material
- Research papers
If you do not have much in terms of written work to showcase in your portfolio, try starting up a blog on platforms like Medium — here you can publish your writing and then use it for your portfolio. This way, you can focus your blogs on topics that are relevant to your chosen niche and target clients.
Other elements that should be included:
- Short bio
- Marketable skills
- Degrees, transcripts, certifications, etc.
- Notable partnerships/collaborations
The projects and examples of work that you choose to feature in your portfolio should reflect the knowledge you gained while building that ever-important client persona (covered in step 4).
If your target clients are known to frequent blogs and social media platforms for their information, it may be a good idea to include samples of that type of writing where possible!
It is important to remember that work portfolios don’t have to be professionally built websites — these typically require a substantial investment of time and/or money.
Instead, writers can use online portfolio builder platforms that are much more accessible and designed to be user-friendly.
Some of the best portfolio-building tools include:
Journo Portfolio is a platform created for the purpose of giving freelancers a place to build a portfolio website and showcase their work. They offer nine different portfolio themes and have a variety of customization options.
Writers can add articles and examples of work by simply copying and pasting a URL into the system. Create multiple pages and use the Contact Me and About Me page templates to tie everything together.
The Journo Portfolio Free Plan allows writers to include up to 10 articles. The Plus Plan offers unlimited articles and pages for $5 a month.
The Pro Plan includes unlimited articles and pages, as well as privacy options, custom domain name options, and backup storage space for $10 a month.
Clippings.me is another great online portfolio website that was made specifically for writers and journalists to display their work online. Users can add live links, upload PDFs, and even embed multimedia into their portfolios.
They even offer a Writing Portfolio Guide that provides design and technical help, as well as language and strategy tips for writing impactful copy that will supplement your work examples.
The Basic Version is free and offers space to include up to 10 articles (links, PDFs, etc.). The Pro version offers unlimited articles, downloadable resumes, contact forms, SEO tools, Google Analytics integration, and privacy options — all for $9.99 per month.
Pressfolios is another online portfolio website builder that makes it easy for writers, bloggers, journalists, and other media professionals to create an online presence and show their work.
This platform takes the coding work out of building an attractive portfolio website that you can change, update and rework whenever you would like.
Pressfolios offers a free 14-day trial that can be canceled anytime at zero cost. Once the free-trial period has ended, users will pay $14.99 per month going forward.
Step 6: Define Your Compensation or Rate
Now that you have gotten through most of the preliminary business-building and information-collecting steps on your journey to becoming a freelance writer, it is time to get down to brass tacks — compensation.
Setting your freelance writing rates can be a bit of a daunting task, especially when you are new to the space. There are a number of important things to consider before you commit to a pay rate that you will offer customers.
Experience level is one of the main factors that will contribute to a freelance writer’s pay rate. More experience will often correlate with more income potential. Earning approximations based on writer experience level are as follows:
|Experience Level||Rate Per Word||Per Hour (500 Word Output)|
|Beginner||$0.02 - $0.06||$10 - $30|
|Intermediate||$0.07 - $0.12||$31 - $60|
|Advanced||$0.13 - $0.24||$61 - $100|
There are generally three main types of writing rates or ways to be compensated for writing. Each comes with its own unique advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you understand them before committing.
Pay Per Hour
Charging per hour is often most effective when you are taking on projects that require significant research hours and other non-writing tasks that take time.
This ensures that you are properly compensated for the time you spend writing, as well as any other time you put into the project and related tasks.
Charging on a per-hour basis is good for
- Projects where the scope is not clear/defined.
- Projects that require extensive research, data collection, etc.
- Projects that require meetings, calls & significant time spent communicating with the client.
- Long-term contracting jobs where word output is not defined
The national average rate for freelance writers right now is around $22.00 per hour. Earnings range anywhere from $15.00 to upwards of $70.00 per hour, depending on things like location and demand, as well as experience and expertise within a certain niche or writing style.
Pay Per Word
Charging on a per-word basis is going to be the best way to charge your clients when you are completing projects that are simple, straightforward, and well-defined. It will help set a mutual understanding of deliverables and compensation for both the writer and the client.
It is important to account for any time you are spending on non-writing tasks in the per-word price that you decide to charge. If this ends up being too difficult, consider charging on a per-hour or per-project basis instead.
Charging on a per-word basis is good for
- When project parameters (word count, keyword research, etc.) have all been set, and there are no plans for large changes or pivots.
- Projects that will not require extensive research hours and/or other non-writing activities that can be time-consuming.
- Projects that will not have multiple revisions (unless you have built this into your per-word price or are charging again for the revision).
Freelance writers who charge per word earn anywhere from $0.01 per word to upwards of $1.00 per word. Again, it will depend on your niche, location, and experience.
Pay Per Project
Charging clients on a per-project basis is a good way to charge for “templated” projects that you are familiar with completing and can provide a final quote price for easily.
These projects should be laid out in a contract that outlines deliverables and timelines before agreements and payments are made.
Using a pay-per-project strategy can be a good way to increase earnings when you are particularly efficient and effective at delivering certain types of writing. Take advantage of these skills by offering a flat per-project rate and turning these projects around quickly.
There is a psychological factor involved with this strategy. Some clients will not even consider a writer who charges $50 per hour for their work but will be willing to pay $500 for a project proposal that you know will take 10 hours to complete.
Charging on a per-project basis is good for
- Writers are good with specific “packaged” projects and deliverables.
- Projects that require writers to incur costs (tools, plugins, etc.)
- When writers deem it to be a lucrative option
Pay-per-project arrangements are best for experienced writers that know how much it will take to deliver a particular piece with a defined scope and timeline.
Step 7: Find Clients and Work
So far, we have covered everything from choosing your niche, finding the right tools, and building a client persona, to creating a portfolio and nailing down your rates.
The next, and arguably the most important step on your journey to becoming a successful freelance writer, is finding clients and securing work.
Client acquisition involves a variety of strategies. Some may be more suitable for you as a person or for your specific niche and target customer base.
Finding out which strategies work best for you and learning how to implement those strategies to market yourself and find clients is crucial to the growth of your freelance writing business.
Let’s talk about some of the best ways for freelance writers to find clients.
Join a Professional Content Delivery Site
Professional content delivery websites are essentially a cross between content marketing platforms and talent networks that are designed to connect freelance writers with brands that need content.
These platforms provide a great way for freelance writers to offer their services, connect with suitable clients and start finding work! They offer brands and organizations access to quality content delivered by their team of content creators — from writers and editors to designers and videographers.
Professional content delivery sites are known to offer some of the most exciting, high-profile, and profitable work opportunities that freelancers can find anywhere. Writers have had the chance to work with multi-national companies like Walmart, Google, GM, and Coca-Cola.
Some of the most popular content delivery platforms that are definitely worth checking out are Contently, nDash, Compose.ly, ClearVoice, and Skyword. Let’s talk about the process of signing up and getting writing jobs with Contently.
Contently Example (Signing-up)
First, writers will need to create a portfolio that showcases at least 1 piece of work that is published online. This can be done by copying and pasting the URL(s) to your work — the platform will do the rest! Writers can also upload documents directly from their devices.
Once your portfolio has been created, you will be prompted to provide a profile picture and a bio that describes your writing skills and experience. Once that has been completed, you can connect your portfolio to any and all of your social networks.
Contently Example (Getting work)
The process of getting work with Contently typically goes as follows:
- A Contently editor will contact you to inquire about availability.
- You will receive information regarding pay rates, project descriptions, and other details.
- If you choose to agree, you will typically receive a list of assignments from that client to choose from.
- Write the content and deliver it on or before the agreed-upon deadline.
- The editor(s) will review the piece and suggest any changes/revisions.
- Complete the revisions and submit your final draft.
- Once the content has been accepted, you will receive payment to your PayPal account.
Create A Profile On A Freelance Platform
Freelancing platforms are designed to help connect freelancers with clients who are looking to hire. They provide a place for freelancers to offer their services, attract new clients and conduct safe and secure business in a regulated environment.
Leveraging the power of these freelance marketing platforms is a great way to find work as a freelance writer. They offer access to a massive customer base and generate hundreds of millions in revenue every year.
Fiverr and Upwork are two of the largest freelance platforms currently in operation. Together, they have millions of freelancers serving tens of millions of active buyers worldwide. However, you can also check out Freelancer, Guru, and PeoplePerHour.
Getting started on a freelance platform is quite simple:
- Create a Fiverr account by following the sign-up process.
- You will then be prompted to activate your seller account and complete the onboarding process (videos, guides, introduction to the platform, etc.).
- Next, you will need to verify your account with a phone number and complete any other administrative steps.
- The final step is to create your first gig (advertisement of services) in order to get familiar with the “gig maker” software and get your first ad on the marketplace.
- From there, you can create more ads for different services and start taking on projects when customers reach out.
- Create an Upwork account by following the sign-up process.
- You will then need to create an Upwork profile that includes everything from work history and experience to educational background, language proficiencies, and desired compensation.
- Submit your Upwork profile for review. You will also need to verify your identity by providing a valid government-issued ID, as well as an online visual verification.
- Once you are all set up, you can start applying for jobs on the Upwork marketplace.
Another great way to find work as a freelance writer in today’s digital age is by using social networks like Facebook — the biggest social network in the world.
Facebook has a super powerful “groups” feature built into the platform that allows people to form communities of like-minded individuals who want to connect, communicate and share.
These groups are the perfect place for a new freelancer to go and start making organic, genuine connections with potential clients and other freelancers. They provide a sort of common ground for relationships to be formed and businesses to leverage the power of Facebook.
Start joining different groups and engaging with other members. They could be blogging groups, journalism groups, freelance writing groups geared towards finding clients, or even advice groups that provide guidance for small business owners.
Build a network, make connections, learn more about the industry, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If someone is looking to hire a freelance writer, leave a comment on their post or send a direct message — you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!
Using other social media is also a route freelance writers can take to find work. Leveraging the interconnectedness of social media and the incredible networking potential that these platforms offer is a great way to build your business.
Two of the most powerful social media platforms for marketing your business in today’s digital age are Twitter and LinkedIn.
Twitter is a great place to connect with other freelancers and learn about the industry while building a profile and finding new leads.
Start by putting a professional picture of yourself on your main profile, and then write up a nice clear, concise bio that highlights your skills and experience.
Start following people who are a part of your industry, companies, and brands that are in the writing niche you have decided on for yourself. Some of the best accounts to follow for info on writing gigs and freelancing advice are @jjobs_tweets and @FreelanceWJ.
LinkedIn is a different style of platform, but the strategy involved with building a profile and connecting with peers and potential clients within your industry is basically the same.
If you are a freelance writer, you MUST have a profile on LinkedIn — Twitter is a great platform, but LinkedIn has become a staple for businesses and entrepreneurs of all kinds.
Again, set up your profile with a professional photo, a nicely written bio, and a title that represents who you are as a freelancer and entrepreneur. Something like “Professional Freelance Writer & Marketing Strategist” is short and sweet but impactful.
Once you have filled out your LinkedIn profile and added all of your relevant experience, skill, references, and achievements, you can start networking.
LinkedIn offers features like the LinkedIn job board, where you can search for jobs by keyword and discover all of the opportunities available in that specific space.
Try searching general terms like “freelance copywriter,” and then try getting more specific with search terms like “real estate writer,” “personal finance writer,” or keywords that relate to your writing niche!
Writing Job Boards
Job boards are online platforms that have been designed and built specifically to give employers a place to advertise job opportunities and find suitable candidates.
Instead of creating an ad and waiting for customers to contact you (like Fiverr and Upwork), Job boards give writers a chance to take the initiative and apply for as many jobs as they like.
Job boards, in my opinion, are one of the best ways to find new clients and really start building your business and portfolio of work.
Some people have the misconception that job boards only lead to one-off type jobs and don’t provide much in terms of long-term work.
This is entirely untrue, as many of the employers who use job boards to find freelancers are often looking to hire people who intend to stick around and grow with the organization.
I definitely recommend checking out ProBlogger for a completely free job board option that features new job listings basically every day.
Freelance Writers Den is another well-known writing job board, however it does cost $40/month to use and only accepts members a few times per year.
Content Marketing Agencies
Content marketing agencies specialize in helping businesses create content and develop marketing strategies. They offer everything from content creation of all kinds to SEO and consulting services.
These agencies will need to hire writers to create all of the written content that their clients need. This can be blog posts, listicles, website content, informative articles, marketing content, and so much more.
So how do you go about landing a job with one a content marketing agency? Well, you may get lucky and find a job posting on LinkedIn or a job board somewhere.
If you are looking to really give yourself a shot, you should consider reaching out to a recruiter or hiring manager at some of these organizations. Introduce yourself, highlight your skills and experience, and give them a reason to consider hiring you as a writer.
Check out Digital Agency Network to explore some of the top content marketing agencies in the United States. Familiarizing yourself with these organizations and what they do will help you put forth an application that shows your knowledge of the industry.
Family and Friends
This one is quite simple. Tapping into your own network of family and friends is always going to be a great way to find work as a freelance writer. These relationships are the strongest and most familiar, and work will often come naturally through conversation and interaction.
Talk to your friends and family about what they are doing for work, entertainment, side hustles, hobbies, etc. You can bet that in today’s digital age someone will be in need of a writer for their business website, their brand new blog, or some other endeavor!
Always do your best to network whenever you can. This can be online, in-person, or both. Regardless, networking will always end up having a positive impact on your business in one way or another.
Cold Email Outreach
One of the tried and true methods of finding work as a business owner of any kind is reaching out to potential clients via a “cold” email. Cold emails are sent to receivers with no prior contact, typically with the intent of gaining something.
In our case, freelance writers can use the cold email outreach tactic to connect with potential clients and offer writing services.
You can start by visiting the websites and social media of organizations and businesses that you are interested in working for. Many times, there will be sections dedicated to “career opportunities” or “work for us” that exist specifically for people like you!
This is a great way to build an email list that includes all of the contact info for businesses you would like to reach out to.
When you are ready to execute, be sure to do some research on each business and its goals, and incorporate that knowledge into an eloquently worded email that expresses your desire to create a working relationship.
Step 8: Nourish Your Clients and Relationships
Once you start successfully landing clients and your writing business becomes profitable, it is incredibly important to consistently nourish the relationships that you have built.
From the minute you enter into business dealings with a client, you should always be doing your best to build rapport and encourage pleasant communication at all times.
Writers need to maintain their active client relationships in order to retain their business and continue reaping the benefits of a repeat client.
It is also just as important to deliver quality work and make a great impression on clients and then continue to maintain those relationships even when the work stops. This will set you up to be a writer that they are happy to recommend to people in their own network.
The power of word-of-mouth marketing and referral-based growth is definitely something new writers should take advantage of. Nourish your client relationships from the start and you will see how much it can do for your business.
Some of the important aspects of maintaining healthy freelance client relationships include:
- Always be polite, respectful, and professional.
- Client interactions should always be pleasant, positive, and respectful. Do not let emotions take over and always de-escalate situations when possible.
- Address them professionally and use proper English — avoid slang and/or abbreviations that are not niche-specific or previously understood
- Set clear deliverables and deadlines.
- When deciding on project deliverables and their deadlines, it is important to always be very clear. This will avoid any confusion or miscommunication issues that can lead to a relationship going sour.
- Take feedback and suggestions/requests gracefully.
- Whenever a client has feedback for you regarding any project or requests revisions to submitted work, you should always respond with positivity and respect.
- Clients will appreciate writers who can receive feedback constructively and then apply it to future writing projects.
Pros of Freelance Writing
Let’s talk about a few of the positives that come with working as a freelance writer.
Work Anywhere, Anytime
Freelance writers enjoy the luxury of being able to work virtually whenever and wherever they want. Having a laptop or even a tablet and an internet connection is all you really need to write and deliver projects.
Work from your favorite coffee shop down the street, take your work with you on vacation in Mexico, and maybe slip away for a couple of hours of work at a cottage weekend with friends. The remote aspect of freelance writing is definitely an attractive aspect.
Set Your Own Rates
As a freelance writer, you decide how much your time and effort are worth by setting your own rates when taking on projects. No more asking for raises or waiting for Christmas bonuses, you control the flow of money in your business!
With this being said, it is important to remember that valuing your work properly and competitively within your industry is an important part of starting out and building a sustainable business that grows over time.
The amount of time and money spent commuting to and from jobs can be substantial. Freelancers can work from home and not only save time but save their hard-earned money on gas and car payments as well.
Spend more time with your family and friends while working from the comfort of your home and eliminating commute times typically associated with an office job!
Cons of Freelance Writing
Now, let’s talk about some of the potentially negative things that come with a career or side hustle as a freelance writer.
Inconsistency of Work/Income
Freelance writers may have to grapple with the ebbs and flows of clients and work. Some months may be super busy and bring great earnings, while others will inevitably be a lot slower and less profitable.
This is just the nature of freelance work in general, especially when you are a new and growing business owner. You control how much money you make in a month, there is no guaranteed paycheck waiting for you on a bi-weekly basis.
As much as the work-from-home life is glamorized as nothing but a blessing, there are some potential downsides to having your work life and your home life both in the same place.
The number of distractions that are available at home compared to in a traditional office setting are plentiful. Dealing with children and pets, neighbors and salespeople at your front door, not to mention all of the easily accessible time-wasting temptations around you.
Managing distractions as a freelance writer working remotely is definitely something that can become a problem if not managed properly.
Dealing With Unpleasant Clients
Working as a freelancer means collaborating with different people on a regular basis. This can be rewarding in many ways, but can also lead to challenging business relationships with unpleasant clients.
This could be anything from indecisiveness and poor communication to rudeness and hostility over payment terms or project deliverables. Freelance writers are bound to run into these types of interactions at one point or another, and it is important to always remain professional regardless of the circumstances.
FAQ on How to Become a Freelance Writer
To wrap up, let’s answer some of the frequently asked questions on how to become a freelance writer.
How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?
Payscale reports that the average pay rate for freelance writers in the United States is currently $24.66 per hour. Earnings will vary based on location, niche, and experience level.
What Skills Do I Need To Start Freelance Writing?
There are a number of core skills that a freelance writer should aim for in order to provide high-quality content and build a successful business. These include things like:
– Writing skills (language/vocabulary, flow, tone, etc.)
– Grammatical knowledge (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.)
– Research & data collection skills (studying new topics, gathering info, finding references, etc.)
You can always develop your skills along the way and evolve as a writer, however it is important to have a solid base of knowledge and expertise in these areas in order to get started.
How Much Can I Charge as a Freelance Writer?
How much you can charge as a freelance writer will depend largely on your experience level, your niche, and the current freelance writing rates that employers are offering.
It is important to consider what other freelancers in your industry are charging and set your rates in order to remain competitive. Freelance writers charge anywhere from $0.01 to over $1 per word, and hourly rates range from $15 to over $70.
Should I Charge a Flat Fee or Hourly Rate as a Freelance Writer?
Deciding whether to charge a flat fee or hourly rate as a freelance writer will typically depend on the project and its requirements.
When a project is clearly defined and deliverables are set in stone, a flat project fee can be accurately determined. However, when a project will require an undetermined number of research hours, revisions, and other time-consuming factors, an hourly rate is the better option.
How Much Should I Charge For a 500-Word Project?
Determining what to charge for a 500-word project is complicated. Rates will depend on the project itself, as well as the writer’s experience level and expertise within that niche.
500 words written by an industry expert for a high-tier publication could cost anywhere from $150 to upwards of $400. While 500 words written by a beginner freelance writer for a Fiverr client at $0.05 a word will end up being a $25 project.
Can I Become a Freelance Writer Without a Degree?
Yes, you can become a freelance writer without a degree. There are no requirements for formal education or accreditation to start a freelance writing business.
Writers should strive to gain real-life experience and expertise within their niche in order to build authority and credibility.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes as a Freelance Writer?
Yes, freelance writers who are generating revenue are considered small business operators and therefore will need to pay the necessary taxes based on their location.
This also means that they can deduct expenses in the same way as any other small business owner would.
How Do I Get Paid for My Work as a Freelance Writer?
Freelance writers can choose how they would like to be paid for their work unless clients have previously specified a payment method during initial communications. The most common ways freelance writers get paid include
– Freelance marketplace: If your clients are on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, you can arrange payment via those platforms. However, keep in mind that the freelance marketplace will take a fee for processing the payment.
– Physical check.
– Free online payment services: Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Venmo, etc.
– Fee-based payment services: PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, etc.
– Direct bank transfer.
You can always negotiate and coordinate with your client the preferred method of payment.
Taking up a career or a side hustle as a freelancer is something that more people are considering as we shift into a world of remote work and digital economies.
Freelance writers in particular are seeing a steady increase in the availability of work and demand for writers, as online written content is a huge part of successful businesses today.
In this article, I walked you through the process of how to become a freelance writer today. From choosing your niche, finding the right tools, and setting your rates, to client acquisition and relationship management.
If you are thinking about getting started as a freelance writer, or are in the process of building your business, leverage articles like these and all of the other incredible resources available online to help you on your journey to success.
I hope you have found this step-by-step guide valuable, and wish you the best of luck in your future writing endeavors.
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Rhys is an online content writer & editor, student of decentralized finance and amateur botanist. He loves playing video games with his friends, learning new songs on the piano, and spending time in the sun with his dog Levi.