Freelance writing can be lucrative. If you’re just starting out, there are certain things you need to know and do to become a well-paid freelance writer. We cover some of them in this guide.
If you want to make money writing, having the ability to write is just the beginning. The content landscape is constantly changing, and so are the tools and skills needed to stay in the game.
But maybe you’re wondering if there’s a place for another fledgling freelance writer in an already saturated market?
The thing is, there are tons of jobs available for freelance writers. Just Google “freelance writing sites to find paid work” or “best places to find paid writing gigs,” and you’ll get millions of results.
Although countless people identify as freelance writers, the truth is that not all of them are good at freelancing.
I’m not saying their writing is crap. What I’m saying is that few of them know how to find a job, how to market themselves, or are willing to learn or keep up with the changing nature of the content landscape.
But if you’re someone who’s willing to do the groundwork — and there’s a lot to do, just to set your expectations — the answer is yes, there’s always room for good freelance writers.
I’ve been writing freelance since 2012, and since then I’ve picked up quite a bit of advice, both from successful freelance writers and from my own experience as a freelance writer in general.
In this guide, I share some tips that can help you get started as a freelance writer.
1. Don’t just love writing, love it!
Much of what you will do will involve writing, lots and lots. So if you don’t particularly like writing and have only chosen it from a list of independent options to try to survive COVID-19, take a step back and do a gut test. Writing as a career can easily become a chore – make it a nerve-wracking experience – if it’s not something you’re passionate about.
And, of course, there’s the problem of writing about subjects that can bore you to tears – especially technical subjects you don’t know much about. The goal is to eventually work in a niche, but if you’re still just starting out, chances are you’ll need to write about topics that don’t interest or inspire you when building your portfolio.
2. Learn to sell yourself
To stay in the freelance writing business long term, you need a marketing plan. A freelancer is technically an independent contractor, not an employee, which means that to make freelance writing sustainable, your ideal clients must be able to find you.
Most people find self-promotion embarrassing, but learning how to market your services as a freelancer is necessary to develop a strong personal brand and therefore sell your services to the right people.
Here are some tips to help you market your freelance writing services:
- Start a writing website (more on that below).
- Start guest posting, which is writing for websites other than your own to get noticed and increase your brand value. Ideally, you want your guest posts to be published on high-quality sites in the same niche or industry that you are writing about. So, if you write about computing and technology, for example, you can Google sites that accept guest author submissions by typing “computing and technology,” followed by the following additional phrases: “submit a guest author post.” ‘guest’, ‘contribute’, ‘write for us’ or ‘guest posting guidelines’.
- Be active on social media. A former colleague draws attention to LinkedIn by regularly posting updates such as these:
3. Launch a writing website
As briefly mentioned above, a freelance writer is an independent contractor who typically works for multiple clients simultaneously. To land freelance gigs that pay decently, create a freelance writing website – especially if you want to build a business out of freelance writing instead of just having a side gig.
Creating a freelance writing website accomplishes several things:
- Let your name be known: A client can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist. A regularly updated website indicates that you are open for business.
- Capture the attention of your ideal audience: A common freelance marketing term you’ll hear is audience targeting. Not everyone looking for a freelance writer is right for you, which makes identifying your target audience critical to the success of your website. Ideally, you want clients in an industry you enjoy writing about. If you want to write for the fitness industry, for example, your website should reflect that.
- Strengthens authority: Writer websites usually have blog sections that you can use to post articles or opinion pieces aimed at addressing customer issues or questions. This way, you can showcase your knowledge on specific topics and solidify your reputation.
- Presents your portfolio: Potential clients will want to know what you’ve already written to see if you’re the writer they’re looking for. Select the writing clips you’re most proud of and upload them as a portfolio to your website.
- Includes customer testimonials: Leveraging social proof is a powerful marketing strategy. Ask customers for testimonials that you can post on your website.
4. Learn SEO and other essential skills
Customers need content for a whole host of reasons, and generating more sales or customers is just one of them. When done right, content marketing – creating and distributing non-promotional content (blogs, articles, social media posts, white papers, videos, etc.) to drive interest in the company’s products or services. a business – can lead to higher search rankings for your client’s website.
Search engine optimization (SEO), another vital online marketing strategy, complements content marketing and several other digital marketing tactics. It is therefore essential that you have at least a rudimentary understanding of the role keywords play in SEO and how to strategically incorporate them into the copy. you write.
Other essential freelance writing skills you may want to pursue include:
5. Find your niche
To become a sought-after freelance writer, you will need to niche after a while. Many freelance writers start out writing on all sorts of topics until they find the specific niche or genre they’re good at, like medical or financial writing.
Others focus on certain types of writing, such as writing Google and Facebook ads, writing white papers, writing articles, writing emails, and more.
6. Invest in yourself
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making mistakes and learning as you go to establish yourself as a freelance writer, as long as they make you better and stronger. But if you want to build a freelance business and be successful faster, you need a proven plan to follow. That means investing in a freelance writing course or a freelance marketing master class.
This saves you time. You learn from those who have done it before how to pitch properly, where to find jobs, and the right way to establish your brand and reputation as a freelancer.
If you’re considering taking a freelance writing course, some places to look include:
Or, you can just Google “best freelance writing course” and you’ll get tons of results. Remember to always check reviews so you don’t waste time and hard-earned money on courses that may not be worth it.
For freelance marketing courses, check and see if these can help you achieve your goals:
You can also search popular online learning sites, such as Coursera, edX, and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com).
Launch your freelance writing career today
Like any business, succeeding as a freelance writer takes hard work. If you do it right, freelance writing can be profitable. Remember to implement the tips above as you build your freelance writing career.