Ever wanted to learn how to become a freelance writer? Freelance writing can be a lucrative gig with the right skill set and knowledge. But getting started can often seem somewhat intimidating with the influx of freelancers saturating the market. So what is the trick?
Well, it’s certainly not something that happens overnight. But if you’ve ever wondered how to become a freelance writer and actually make money, you’ll want to read on. Here’s what you need to know about freelance writing as a career.
What Is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing means working on a self-employed basis without having an employer other than oneself. The role of a freelance writer is diverse and depends heavily on the specific needs and expectations of the clients you serve. Freelance writers may engage with a single client or cater to multiple freelance writing clients.
Freelance writers typically possess the flexibility to adopt either a generalist or specialist approach. Generalist writers have the capacity to cover a wide array of topics, ranging from gardening to home design, demonstrating versatility in their writing abilities.
Specialized writers focus their expertise on specific subjects that require a certain level of knowledge or experience to write about effectively. For example, someone who is completely unfamiliar with finance would likely not do well as a freelance finance writer.
Your skillset, experience, and quality of writing will all determine how much money you can make as a freelance writer.
Does Freelance Writing Pay Well?
Across the U.S., incomes span a captivating spectrum, from $20,000 to a jaw-dropping $583,536. The average salary sits at $115,020 annually according to data from Comparably.
Let’s dive deeper into this salary symphony. The bustling middle 57% of freelance writers earn between $104,836 and $264,155, ensuring their wordsmith wizardry pays off handsomely. But there’s more to this story – the elite 86% of the freelancing crew have their eyes on the $583,536 prize, showcasing the impressive potential of this field.
So, whether you’re a seasoned wordsmith or just starting to craft your path in the freelance writing universe, there’s a wide range of opportunities awaiting you. Your income adventure can span from the heights of a six-figure median to the exhilarating realm of top-tier earnings. It’s a profession where the sky’s the limit, and your words can be as valuable as gold.
How Do I Start a Freelance Writing Career?
There’s no guaranteed process for becoming a freelance writer – but there is one certainty: You’ll do your best work if you’re passionate about your work.
The actual steps to take are pretty simple, but not easy. There are many details – and you’ll be the only one who can decide what path to follow. Let’s look at 10 steps to becoming a successful freelance writer.
1. Decide What Type of Freelance Writing You Want to Focus On
There are many ways to make your writing more interesting, creative, and engaging. One of the best is choosing a niche in which you have an intense interest, skill set, or knowledge that will come across in your writing.
If you have one area that you are passionate about, then this is the way to go. You will always have something to write about – and a platform where your enthusiasm shines through in every sentence.
A freelance writing career is an exciting choice because of the wide range of issues and topics that can be covered. However, I suggest not randomly picking a freelance writing niche based solely on yearly salary and income potential but rather one you are familiar with.
2. Build Your Portfolio
A portfolio is crucial for a freelance writer to have and to show. It demonstrates your work, creativity, and professionalism. A potential employer can see your quality from your past projects, and it will give them insight into what they should expect if they hire you. Websites like LinkedIn can be an easy way to display your qualifications, past experience, and abilities effectively.
3. Create a Freelance Writing Website
Your freelance writing website is your personal space to share with the world. You can customize and control everything for a professional look that represents you best! Are you ready to create a professional freelance writing website?
It’s time for you to step up your game and become an expert in presenting yourself online. I’m here with the perfect plan that will help make it happen! You must decide on a domain name, register it, acquire a web hosting plan, and create and design a website.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, you can always hire other freelancers who specialize in web design to do it for you.
4. Read Up on SEO Techniques So That Potential Clients Can Find You
Why would you want to learn about SEO (search engine optimization)? The internet is a crowded place, and there are thousands of people searching for the same content that your website offers.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if they found what they were looking for without ever going anywhere else? You can help them find exactly what they’re looking for by becoming an SEO guru.
Many businesses that hire freelance writers today expect some sort of knowledge about SEO. Otherwise, they have to hire a separate specialist just for that. Freelance writers who can offer SEO-enhanced writing typically book more jobs and ones that tend to be higher-paying than writers without that expertise.
5. Get Started With Social Media
Promoting yourself on social media, and starting a few professional accounts across different platforms is an important step to building a reputable freelance writing career. Not only does this help you reach a broader range of clients, but it also builds your online presence, which lets potential clients know you are the real deal.
6. Learn the Ropes of How Freelance Writing Works
A good freelance writer is more often than not a combination of a creative wordsmith and a shrewd businessperson. Good writing may just be the start, but it’s not everything. You need to sell your services effectively while managing your finances as well. Here are some things to consider before you get started in the world of freelance writing:
What Is a Freelance Writer Assignment Agreement?
Freelance writing often involves agreements between clients and freelancers. These are usually contracts with details about rates, payment, confidentiality expectations, etc.
However, they can go in-depth on other topics like the ownership of a written piece, or contractor status. These agreements can cover things like whether you’re considered an employee for tax purposes and what your benefits might be if you are not classified that way by law.
How Do I Get Paid as a Freelance Writer?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the payment process. Some clients prefer paying in full upfront or a part of their payment upfront, and others may want you to send them an invoice after completing your work. There are also some who have sophisticated computer systems that can tell exactly how much they owe at any given time with just a quick glance!
But the best way to get paid is with an invoicing app that helps manage your finances and saves time. And, there are plenty of options out there, it just involves a bit of research on your behalf to find the one that suits your needs and financial situation.
7. Manage Your Time Well
Managing multiple writing projects at once is a challenge for any freelance writer. With so many types of assignments and large ones demanding attention, it’s hard to prioritize the workload among them all. Here are some tips on how you can juggle your work without going crazy:
Create a Schedule
The best way to stay on top of your deadlines is by setting yourself deadlines for every step along the project’s journey. Use a calendar app and take time at the end of each day to map out what you need to do next so that when it’s time, you can hit the ground running!
You want to be prepared and on top of your game. Start with any task that requires people to get back to you, such as collaborations, or interviews. This way they can start working while you do your research or other first steps. From here work on projects by the due date (or complexity) whichever works best for your schedule and workload!
Dayboard is a browser extension built by Google Chrome that blocks distractions and helps you focus on your most important tasks. It does this by replacing the new tab page with a minimal list of to-dos for each day, including blocking sites like Facebook or YouTube until work has been completed. The app also gives helpful notifications when it’s time to move on to another task.
8. Start Pitching To Potential Clients
Do you want to be a freelance writer? Well then, you better know how to make an article sell. There are many ways that freelancers pitch their articles and some might work better than others for different publications. Here are some key things to consider when trying to attract freelance clients:
Research Your Audience
Every publication has a specific demographic that they cater to, so while some may be looking for general tips for college students, others might be targeting more of an older crowd. Make sure you know who your audience is so that you can write articles in the style and tone they want to read.
Keep in mind the target audience of your piece and write based on their interests (e.g., not writing 10 ways to save money if you’re pitching a luxurious magazine).
Get Their Attention
A good headline should catch the reader’s eye with its specificity. Research what has already been written on this topic so as not to duplicate content but instead add something new. Make sure you have at least 3 interesting takeaways from the piece before submitting it because if it’s not entertaining, then readers will not read it.
Get to the Point
Write concisely and eloquently- the shorter your pitch is, the better. If you can express yourself on one page, do it. However, if you need more room to explain everything in detail, go ahead. Remember, clarity is key!
9. Check Freelance Writing Job Boards
There are many things you can do to land consistent work, but let’s focus on where to find freelance writing jobs by using job boards. You may think that there is no way someone like yourself without any experience could get a writing job right away.
But don’t be discouraged! Job sites such as Contena, Blogging Pro, and ProBlogger have many listings from reputable brands looking for writers at all levels and skill sets. Here are some more places you can find freelance writing jobs online:
10. Improve Your Writing Skills
The most successful freelance writers are always learning new things and adding new skills to their repertoire. The best ones are eager to continue learning. They constantly read books and take courses, browse information online, and schedule time each week for research.
Become a Lifelong Learner
There are two reasons freelance writers need to be lifelong learners. First, you must constantly learn so that your articles and books are fresh, never stale. No writer can know anything about a subject or write something new on every possible topic. However, you can keep learning to be current with trends and aware of potential hot topics.
The second reason you need to be a lifelong learner is that the competition, especially for writing jobs with online publications, is fierce. It’s hard to get freelance writing jobs without having the latest skills and up-to-date knowledge. Most clients would rather hire a freelance writer who is a lifelong learner, than one whose edge has been eroded by not staying current in technology, trends, and research.
If you become a better writer, your chances of becoming published will also improve. This is because editors and publishers are much more impressed by writers with fresh, unique ideas than they are by “been-there-done-that” writers who do nothing but recycle the same information again and again.
As a lifelong learner, you’ll also learn how to generate new story ideas and marketing strategies. You’ll learn how to expand your skills and grow as an author.
The Bottom Line
You now have 10 steps on how to become a freelance writer. Hopefully, these tips will help you start your journey and make the process easier for you so that one day you can be an established freelance writer with a strong portfolio of satisfied clients who are eager to work with you again!