Do you want to set your life free from the 9-5 job that is burning you out? Do you need more time for yourself and your family? Freelance writing can give you the doorway to a comfortable life. It’s time you take control of your own life.
What Is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is a type of writing where clients hire independent writers who work according to their convenience. A freelance writer generally gets an assignment from the client but isn’t a permanent (or contractual) employee of the client.
To clarify more, if you are a freelance writer you are free to work from anywhere you want. You don’t even have to see the client’s face (unless video conference is required) and neither do you have to make any commitment to the company after your assignment is over.
You must be thinking, “but what about security?”. Well, that’s the dark side of freelancing, you don’t have any security in terms of job, insurance paid leave, or even sick leave. The strict law of freelancing is to earn as much as you work. But that’s what makes it lucrative. The theory behind -work more, earn more is actually a considerable one.
I’ll explain the whole concept of freelance writing and how someone can build a freelance writing business from scratch in this guide. Stick to the article while I explain each point.
Can I make a living with Freelance Writing?
If you ask me, I am making a decent amount and yes it is enough for me. But I won’t tell my story here cause I don’t totally depend on freelance writing, I have other small businesses alongside it. There are hundreds of freelance writers who are earning more than you can ever imagine and they are doing it by just sitting at home.
Holly Johnson, an established freelance writer, earns $20,000 per month just from freelance writing. She is an expert finance writer and writing career consultant. Her story is quite unique and inspiring. Johnson and her husband started a blog back in 2011 as an escape from their daily boring life. Things changed when their blog started getting some viewers and Johnson started establishing her as a freelance writer.
Elna Cain is a freelance writer, featured in Huffington Post and Entrepreneur. She started as a freelance writer in the Toronto Star and within six months of her career, she secured a full-time earning from it.
Although there are freelance writers earning millions, I mentioned them because these are the people you can easily relate to. So what I am trying to say is, you can easily have a good earning from freelance writing. Also besides that, a freelance writer can have multiple ways to earn more. First of all, you are freelancing which means there is no time bar. There is no office time, no getting ready, no time schedule, nothing.
Which brings me to my next point, if you are working whenever you want- you have plenty of extra time. For instance, if you are working 6 hours a day, you can still work 2 more hours. And trust me, it’s not hectic at all. In those 2 hours, you can learn tons of new things, discover ways to earn more and expand your expertise. Although I am exaggerating the working hour- most of the freelance writers work around 3-4 hours a day, you should target 6. As a beginner, you will have clients paying $25-30 per hour, for 6 hours every day that amount sums up to $3300-3960 (for 22 workdays).
When you are not freelance writing, you can do some research. You are a writer so why not starting a blog for yourself or writing an ebook. Once you are learning and implementing your knowledge, you are opening the doors of endless opportunities. Learn affiliate marketing, email marketing, social media management; there are lots of possibilities. These spare hours will make a significant difference in your portfolio and will help you generate a nice passive income every month.
When you opt for freelance writing as your career, you are no longer an employee who complies. You become a business in yourself, an entrepreneur. The key of your life is now in your hand, you can choose to be someone who earns decent and leads a normal life or someone who is running several businesses and owns apartments in the posh areas.
Can I be a Freelance Writer with Zero Experience?
You are aiming to become a freelance writer but you have no experience. So, what to do? Look, even for a decent paying gig, you have to showcase some of your previous works to crack the post. When you don’t have any experience whatsoever in writing or in some particular niche, I can show you a few ways to tackle the problem.
Start a Blog
Starting a blog is always the best possible way to overcome the problem of inexperience. Select the niche you are interested in, take one month time to research and write some articles. Let me explain.
Before you start blogging you have to select a niche. I’ll talk about it in-depth in the next point. For now, just select the niche.
Start researching on the topic. If you already know a great deal on the matter then look for what kind of jobs are open in that niche. Read the already established blogs to understand how to pen it down. Visit Quora, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, and different forums to see what people are discussing.
Now you know more than a mere beginner and the first step is taken. Set a 30-day timer and a work schedule for the rest of the mission.
Gather the top 10 most important topics of your niche. You have to write one 1000-words post every three days to have 10 solid articles on your portfolio. Make sure your articles are relevant and rich with data, don’t write opinionative or monotonous and copycat posts.
For each blog post, analyze the top 5 ranking articles on the topic to have a clear idea of what to write and what not to. Do not EVER copy a single line- rephrase, paraphrase or rewrite stuff but don’t copy and paste.
Write 10 articles in 30-days and you are not a zero-experience writer. Contact relevant people with the articles and if they are good enough you’ll secure some paying clients.
If you want you can carry on with the blog and publish regularly, it can be another source of income if you publish roughly 60-70 articles.
Read More- How to Start a Blog
It’s another fine opportunity to start gathering published articles under your name.
Guest post is posting articles on someone else’s blog under your name. Many blogs accept guest posts to increase their number of articles, which in terms help them rank in Google search. So, how to get guest posting opportunities?
Find out some blogs in your niche that accept guest posting. The process is simple, search *your niche* write for us- in Google [Ex: Parenting Niche-write for us]. You’ll get a number of blogs that are open to guest posting.
Read their submission guidelines carefully, these blogs generally describe all the dos and don’ts of submitting an article to their blogs. Also, it’s important that you see the smaller blogs that aren’t very popular. Because posting on popular blogs requires previous experience too.
Though guest posting is a good opportunity to showcase experience, it’s not an alternative for blogging. Even to submit guest posts to established blogs will require experience that a blog can give you. If you are both blogging and guest posting- it increases your chances drastically to land a gig.
Read More- The Ultimate Guide to Guest Posting
LinkedIn and Facebook
You have already written 10 articles on a niche now it’s time to show your works to the audience. There is no better way than opening social media accounts.
Create a Facebook page for your social media activities. Name it something relatable to your work and fill-out all the necessary information like photo, descriptions and other things.
Every time you upload a blog post or guest post on some blog-update it on your FB page. Attach your FB page to your blog and in your author bio so that people can reach out to you.
LinkedIn is a great marketing platform for professionals. If you are looking to gain some clients, be sure many of them are in LinkedIn. All you need to do is be active every day.
Update your profile with regular posts- it’s a professional platform so don’t be too casual or offensive. Write small posts related to your niche and connect with people who are in the same category.
Make at least 100 connections with the people related to your niche. For example, if you are in Digital Marketing send connection requests to marketing agencies. Be innovative, don’t let your profile be monotonous or boring.
Talk to People
In this process, you’ll meet people, experienced people. And the more you talk to them, the more you learn about writing and your niche. Reach out to more people like them, if possible the top 1% of writers in your niche. Email them, some of them are regular on Facebook or Insta live- may be sending a message to seek help will open some doors.
Also, there are Reddit threads like r/freelancewriters, r/copywriters- joining these will bring many opportunities to learn from real people. You have to learn a lot in the way, take these small steps towards a solid base of your career.
Choose the Perfect Niche
As a freelance writer, you must select the perfect niche to work and specialise. Don’t ever be someone who writes on almost everything, it’s bad and it destroys reputation. Let me explain,
You have a problem in your knees and it is getting worse, where will you go? I am sure, it is an Osteopath that you are thinking of and not a general physician. Because serious problems should be handled by specialists. They might be expensive but you know that will pay-off. People don’t compromise their knees for a little less money.
That’s why I and every experienced writer suggest having a niche. I see writers working for a long time but don’t have a stable client base, they just run from one niche to another. This is not only foolish but also a race to the bottom. I mean come on man, grow some roots.
If you are in desperate need of money, then you can do it. But alongside that, find works on your niche. Follow the same rules of gaining experience.
Enough of chitchat, let’s dig into the essentials,
Choose a subject you can lecture for 15 minutes
Yes, choose one or two even three subject matters. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and imagine 100 people in the audience. Your job is to explain a topic to them in a simple and sensible way.
It can be anything, maybe education or the new car Tesla released or maybe how to impress girls. Whatever area it is, if other people have curiosity on this topic- you are good to go.
Start with a brief intro, discuss the substance of the subject, go deep into some points. Make sure your audience is thoroughly enjoying the speech.
You don’t have to be a great speaker, it doesn’t matter how good an orator you are. But you have to speak out loud and describe everything you know to that imaginary audience.
If you are able to speak for more than 10 minutes, then you can select that as your niche. Or if you have more than one field of expertise then select the best.
The Niche you LOVE
Here comes the important stage of choosing the niche. I remember as a child, I was good at math but what I really loved was literature. When the time came and I had to choose between the one I Can and the one I LOVE, I preferred love.
It’s pretty simple, yes applying some formula and solving problems were cool but it wasn’t anywhere near to delivering a monologue from Hamlet or writing a poetry to criticise the government.
You too have to make the same choice. Freelance writing is essentially based on your energy and creativity. It’s you who have to make the decisions and pay the bills. That’s why, choose a niche that will not bore you, on the contrary, the thought of writing another article should excite you.
So, what’s that niche for you? For me, it was digital marketing- I love every bit of it. Whether it is SEO, PPC, Social Media Strategy, Content Strategy, Promotions, or anything else- I’m all in.
It’s something that thrills me and I have experience in it as well. But there is another thing- Finance.
I crave financial knowledge and how a tiny amount of money can compound to a huge number. It’s something I love but at that time didn’t have much knowledge. It’s a side thing for me.
The Niche that sells
You are here to sell your content to your client and your client will sell to someone else. It’s a circle of sales- select a niche where this circle is polished and fast.
An ideal niche should have a large customer base. For example fitness, people spend time on websites and YouTube channels to learn more techniques to lose/gain weight, build muscle and diet… the list goes on.
The important thing is they are spending their time and money on that thing. That means it’s a profitable niche.
So what’s an ideal niche?
Learn More About Related Skills
Freelance writing isn’t a single skill to work with, there are more than one additional skills you have to simultaneously work with.
- Content Trends and Formats
- Specifics of Your Niche
- Task Management
- Text and Image Editing
Simply knowing these things will make you rich with knowledge. Let me break them one-by-one.
SEO is a vaaast subject, so I won’t go into much detail. Before I start using alien words to you understand this, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is optimizing your content according to the rules and regulations of Google (and other search engines).
When Google considers your content to be good and helpful to the audience, it automatically puts the article on the first page of Google search. This is purely surface knowledge, there are much deeper things to know about SEO. I recommend reading this article to know more.
Knowing about SEO is the most important thing for a writer after writing. I am sure you write great, but if people can’t find your article anywhere, then what’s the point.
Content Trends and Formats
Content trends change frequently and every time it brings something new, something more user friendly. Writing is still one of the most important forms of content, and as writers, we should be aware of the changes taking place in the industry and optimize our styles accordingly.
The days of long paras are gone, nowadays marketers recommend two-three line paragraphs and easier words for better readability. The same reason applies for using bullet points and capitalization; it helps to scan the article better and also ranks in snippet results.
Be aware of such trends and improve your skills to match the needs of your clients.
Specifics of Your Niche
Your niche is a broad topic and every day there is something happening, something is changing every bloody day. There are high chances of missing out and becoming an outdated writer.
Believe me, thousands of writers are available in your niche providing the same work as you at a lower rate. Why should your client hire you and not them? Because you provide something the others don’t.
Read more and more, be active in your niche. Follow the top blogs- read their posts daily, subscribe to newsletters and keep yourself updated.
While keeping an eye on today’s news- use the other eye to investigate what happened in this niche previously. How did it transform to its current version? Read proper books, watch interviews of people to understand the pattern.
It’s a long term process and may take you several months to several years to master your niche properly- but on the road to becoming a top-tier full-time freelance writer, it’s worth it.
As a beginner, you might consider it not-so-important but once your business grows, you’ll start recognising it’s important. So why not start from the first hour?
Once you have a series of clients knocking at the door simultaneously, you need a proper calendar to maintain the deadlines, meetings and draft submissions. Building an editorial calendar can help you with this problem.
Then managing invoice, emails and follow-ups is another mess to deal with. Freshbooks gives a pretty unique solution to manage your clients and invoice. And to manage mails, use a mail tracker like Mailtrack. You’ll know when someone opens your mail or clicks a link- it’ll be easy to follow-up when you know who opens your emails and when.
You can use Trello for an all over management.
Text and Image Editing
There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.
– Robert Graves
Every writer would agree that, no matter how talented and experienced you are, you have to edit and proofread your content again and again. Sometimes it takes more time to proofread than writing. To help you in such cases, I would recommend using Grammarly. There is a free version and a paid version. (The Free Version is good enough if you are a good writer)
Also, use the Hemingway app to see the readability score of your copy. Keep it under 6 to make sure your writing is of standard quality. It helps you to edit out long sentences, forceful verbs and passive voices. All these things harm your copy’s readability.
But I don’t also like to follow them blindly because after all, they are some machines. If you think a line should be of that length, keep it- using a verb might give some punch to the message, use it. Although 6 is an average readability score- don’t cross it.
Now coming to Image editing. Sometimes clients ask for images and also you need images for the blog. Don’t download them from Google, it risks copyright. Go to Pixabay or Pexels for completely free images.
Use Canva for editing better quality banners and customized featured images. It’s easy and free.
Create a Sharp Portfolio
Once you have gained some experience as a writer, it’s time to put it all together in one place. The best way to create a portfolio is to open a portfolio WordPress site that displays everything you have done.
Now creating a portfolio website costs a tiny amount of money, but if you want long-term success, invest in yourself first. Buy a .com domain for $10-15 and a hosting service. You can get a hosting service as low as $5/month. But then, design it decently- there are thousands of youtube videos on this.
If you have selected one niche and written four posts on it, display them with title, headlines, and pictures. Don’t make a mess on your site, keep it simple and minimalistic. And also, don’t go for .blogspot or .wordpress sites- they suck. You have to present yourself to the client in a proper manner and not like a weirdo who can’t even afford a proper website.
Okay, now- if you are a high-school kid or going through some real troubles and can’t afford the bill, there’s another way. Create a Google Doc and organize it properly. Check the following picture.
But still, this is a short term thing, once you have started making a few bucks create your site.
Where Can I find Freelance Writing Jobs?
Your practical journey starts from here. Jobs are available for freelance writers but the problem is, cheap writers are filled in the market. With no disrespects, some clients literally think they are making charity by giving one or half cents per word. You have to keep away from them, you are a bloody writer, not a beggar.
In simple words, you are mailing random people in your niche who either have a website or should have one. This is a very successful strategy for many freelance writers to get clients. But you have to follow some specific styles to capture your prospective client’s attention. Even a boring “subject” can leave the mail unopened. Writing Revolt has done a fantastic job with his cold mailing strategy- give it a read.
Clients post about their requirements on several job boards. ProBlogger is a very popular one from them. Also, we have Blogging Pro that you can check out. These job boards pay around 4-5 cents per word.
More Job Board are Available Here
If you don’t have a Reddit account, open it today. Often clients with deep pockets roam around here. Reddit is very strict about writing gigs, the minimum payment is 5 cents, many clients pay 8-15 cents per word. But needless to say, the more the pay rate, the more experience and efficiency you need. Join these subreddits r/HireaWriter/, r/forhire/ and r/freelanceWriters.
Don’t work in Fiverr or any other content mills, it isn’t worth it. You’ll soon be frustrated without any clients or with clients who treat you like slaves.
Upwork is decent amongst these, but it takes years to have a solid clientele. Why go to such places where cheapest sells the most, keep your dignity and morality.
Join Relevant Communities
Joining relevant communities is important to gather knowledge and be updated always. These communities will lead you to become a more experienced and efficient freelance writer with high-value clients.
Subreddits are very effective for this. Don’t join hundreds of communities, it’ll be a distraction. Follow two or three relevant sites or forums in your niche and read them every morning before you start working and check once or twice in between.
Actively participate in conversations, help other people to understand stuff. In this way, you’ll both build a network and confidence.
So that’s it, these are the steps that’ll make you a top-tier freelance writer one day. Have I missed something? Let me know what topic I should cover next. Don’t forget the pen is under your command.