In this writing Wednesday episode, I tackle the question I am frequently asked “What is Freelance Writing?”.
I answer that question as well as other frequently asked questions, such as:
- What is difference between blogging and freelance writing?
- How did I find my writing niche?
- How do I find clients?
- How do I get paid?
Being a ‘pen for hire’ is a great job for any freelancer as it does not take a lot of money, you can get started quickly and you can make financial gains rather easily. I actually consider it the best job or side hustle for any aspiring online entrepreneurs.
I foresee content reigning king for years to come which means brands will be looking for content! That is the best part of being a freelance writer! You can become an expert writer in whatever niche you are interested. You can get paid to write about hobbies you are passionate about or topics that interest you.
I get to write about my favorite pastime golf and also about motivation and entrepreneurship – and I get paid to do it! Freelance writing is the perfect opportunity for those that want to control their destiny. If you want more money, you need to just either do two things, raise your prices, get more clients, or both. Writing content is not just a fad! It is the number one way to make money online, all you have to do is just start.
I am really excited to share more of my journey with listeners during Monday’s with Michael and then dive even more into the details of freelancing on Writing Wednesdays.
Are You Ready to Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career?
The doors to my freelance writer coaching are now open! Schedule a free 20 minute call below, I would love to inspire your success.
Michael: 00:00 Okay,
Michael: 00:01 you are listening to inspire your success podcast. Episode number 44. In this episode we’re going to cover the topic. What is freelance writing? Because if you’re like most people, you have no clue and I want to share with you exactly what it is and how I’ve been able to make a full time income and way more as a freelance writer coming up. All right, welcome back to inspire your success. This is our first writing Wednesday and yeah, that is the kind of the theme of, of this hump day episodes that, we have planned out. So again, Mondays are going to have some writing advice, but really a lot more entrepreneurship can have some Q and A. A lot of questions that I get from students, in my writing course and people on social media and things like that. So, Monday we’ll have a little bit more of that but Wednesdays here.
Michael:: 00:58 Again, all about freelance writing because again, I want to help you crush it as a writer, but before we can help you crush it and you might be thinking, well Mike, I really like your content and your inspirational or whatever else. But what is freelance writing? And you know, it’s a good question because for a while I didn’t really have a, a great way to describe what I did to people. I mean I would go to events and you know, meet people at a coffee shop or at a bar and they’d be like, Hey, what do you do? And I would just stumble around with my words and be like, Oh, I’m a writer or blogger or golfer, entrepreneur or like, God, it was so bad. And it just made me feel like awful about myself. Cause like you don’t, you can’t even like tell people what you do.
Michael: 01:46 Like, what are you doing? Right. And uh, so that was kind of like where, where it all comes from is like what is freelance writing. I mean, I don’t even think my dad has any idea what I do. He just is like, all right, cool. You make money, but I really don’t know what you do. I think my mom does. I know my other half does, but you know, you might be there as well. And I did a very poor job communicating it with social media, friends, things like that. So if you’ve been thinking that, again, like what is freelance writing? And I have a really long blog post all about this as well, but I’m just going to give you the snippets of it and just talk a little bit more you know, and just talk about some of the experiences that I’ve had, because I think a lot of people, you know, if you understand what freelance writing is, you’ll realize that in my mind, I, again, I think is by far the number one side hustle that you can do.
Michael:: 02:34 You don’t need a ton of skills, right? And I’ll talk all about that. You don’t need a ton of money to get started, but I’m gonna read you the definition here, uh, that I got from Quora. There was a good answer on that website. It says, a freelance writer is what I like to call a pen for hire. And every niche that you work in, you’ll exchange your words or time for money. You work completely independently. You don’t work for anyone, but you work with people on your project. So just a fancy definition to say you get paid to write other people’s words. So unlike a blog where like, you know, on my blog on inspireyoursuccess.com, it’s all about my content, right? I have to figure out how to make money from it, how to monetize it, how to grow the audience, things like that.
Michael: 03:22 There’s a lot more work to a blog than to be a freelance writer because a freelance writer, like I said, you’re just a pen for hire. So all you do is, you know, you work, you find clients, and then from there you basically write what they want. And that could be all kinds of things. So I think that’s kind of part two where people really get confused. It’s like, okay, I understand you’re a writer, but what exactly are you writing about? And really to me, just being like a freelance writer, you could either be a content writer or you could be a copywriter and a content writer is more like writing blog posts or eBooks or what are known as like lead magnets, which is like when you put your email in for a company and they send you a free gift or an ebook or something like that’s what a lead magnet is.
Michael: 04:11 And in case you’re not familiar, but that’s really what it is to me is like writing blog posts, writing emails, writing content, like you’re more informational then persuasive, trying to sell stuff. And that’s really what copywriting is. And again, they kind of blend together depending on your client and objective and things. But just for example’s sake, like copywriting would be more like how to write a sales funnel email sequence or how to write a sales page. So if you have a, an online course that you’re selling and you need someone to create a sales page, you know, that’s something that people can do as a copywriter. So again, that’s something that always think about too is like copy is usually gonna require more experience, usually get paid a lot more cause you’re maybe paid on a something that can like you can partner with a brand or a company or an entrepreneur.
Michael: 05:01 And so there’s just more lucrative opportunities usually. But again, for freelance writing, at least in the context of what I teach my students is basically getting paid to write blog posts and other content. So like for example, like this year I have blown up my freelance writing business and I really just did it from writing blog posts. And, uh, I have a client that I do a lot of ghost writing for, which is expanded into speech writing, motivational video scripts, email writing, blog post, lead magnets and books. So that one’s a little more robust. There’s a little bit more content there. But for the most part, like for example, let’s just say you want it to be a blog writer, you have a goal to make a thousand extra dollars a month. Like here’s how that would look like. You would basically say your niche is a fitness and you want to be a fitness writer.
Michael: 05:56 Really what you would is you’d reach out to fitness blogs or fitness websites, people that need content and they need someone that is a writer and obviously, involved in the fitness space in some capacity. And you would then they would give you a topic. So they’d say, Hey, write this post, you know, 10 ways to lose weight during the holidays or, or whatever it would be. And then it’s your responsibility to create the content to get it scheduled or published or however you submit it to the client. And that’s what you get paid on. And I’ll talk a lot more about like the rates and how you get paid and things like that. But that’s kind of like an overview. So again, if this is like, you know, really dumbed down for you and you’re like, Hey Mike, I’m way past that. I’m already doing it.
Michael: 06:38 I apologize. But again, I just want to make it super, super clear because so many people don’t really understand what it is. So just remember the good old slogan content is King. It still is in 2019 and 2020 we need content like people always need fresh content, whether you’re writing captions on Instagram, long form blog posts, email marketing, messenger bots, like whatever you’re doing, there’s so much need for content and that’s where writers come in. That’s what you can do. And the cool thing that I love is that you just don’t need a lot of experience. So I’ll talk about that here in just a moment. But a lot of other terms you might hear too is like a freelance web content writer, freelance blogger, SEO writer, and another one is ghost writing. So if you’re not familiar, ghost writing is where you do not have your name associated with it.
Michael: 07:29 So I do a lot of ghost writing because usually you can charge a lot more. Uh, I’ve done a combination of ghost writing and writing under my name because basically, you know, you don’t want to just do all ghost writing if you’re trying to build a portfolio because you can’t accredit any of your writings. So it’s really hard to build a business if you’re just a sole ghostwriter. Not to say you can’t do it. Uh, but like for me, for example, like if you go on fearless motivation, it’s a, it’s a huge, huge website and I have like a hundred plus articles on there. So like if you type in Michael Leonard writer into Google, like that will be one of the things that pops up. So I have that, but then I have other clients that have done ghost writing for, so that’s really, the thing that you want to think about is like is it ghost writing or is it writing under your name? Because a lot of blogs have a team of writers and you get credited for everything. But sometimes again, you will do ghost writing. So I’ve done both. Uh, I don’t really care one way or another. Uh, but yeah, I mean there’s just kind of giving you some context as to what some of those different writing types are.
Michael:: 08:33 And then again, just kinda like breaking it down to me. Like there’s a lot of different services that you can do. Like we talked about, you can be a blog writer, content writer, copywriting, ghost writing, social media now needs a lot of writers. So there’s a ton of opportunity out there, you know, digital magazines, eBooks, lead magnets, like do not underestimate much content is needed. Um, another one too is like white papers, which are like lead generating more like professional articles. I can say. I’ve never done a white paper, so I’m not even gonna try to talk about it. And, uh, but yeah, I mean those are some of the things. But a couple other things like speeches, media kits, case studies, radio scripts, press releases, digital courses, uh, need written content, newspaper articles, if those are still around. Like there’s so much stuff out there. So again, just want to give you guys some like context.
Michael: 09:24 So or some context to all this. So if you meet someone and they say they’re a freelance writer, that is probably what they’re doing. If they’re like a content writer, they’re writing for someone else. And once you do that, like if you want to do that, like I want to give you a few steps. So to me the first thing is to like figure out what you want to write about because I’ve been writing for a few years now and I’ve written about stuff that I hated and written about stuff that I love and uh, you know, I’m sure you can relate to this. Like if you’ve ever went to a job you hate just for the money because you’re like, ah, it’s worth the paycheck though. Like that those days go by slow. Like your life kind of sucks sometimes, right? You’re like, Oh my God, like I am so over being here.
Michael: 10:08 This isn’t worth the money. You know what I’m talking about. But if you go to a job, you actually don’t mind or the coworkers are good and the stuff you do is like fun or you don’t mind it, at least it makes the day go by a lot quicker. Right. And the same goes for freelance writing because when I started out, I didn’t really have any other expertise, if you will, other than personal finance. So that was kind of the start of my whole journey, which I talked about in a different episode. But you know, I started out in the personal finance niche, so I was writing solely about Roth IRAs, investing, savings, how to make money online, side hustle, stuff like that. But I got to the point where some of my clients were like super technical and it was painful. Like it was just, I didn’t care about it anymore.
Michael: 10:57 Like when I started, all I wanted to do was talk about finance. But after a while, like my heart just wasn’t in it. I didn’t care about Roth IRAs. Not that I didn’t want to help people, right. But I just didn’t love it. So that’s why I think it’s super important to figure out what you wanna do. And it was at that point, I kind of transitioned and started writing more about personal development and motivation and really started to get on that train and then randomly and applied to a golf gig cause I was like, Oh well I’ve been playing for 20 years and you know, working on being a professional and might as well see if I can be a golf writer. And so now I have two niches. And so that’s kind of where it’s at now. So I’m pretty fortunate because I just have positioned myself to only work with people that I want to work with and, and working with the type of writing that I want to do.
Michael: 11:44 Because like I said, if you’re writing a 4,000 word blog posts and you’re not passionate about it or don’t like it at all, like that’s gonna be a long 4,000 words. And then I want you to be stuck behind a computer screen, uh, being all pissed off and being like, Oh, what am I doing? This isn’t worth it. Because that’s exactly where I was. So step one as a freelance writer is to find your ideal client, right? You want to figure out who it is, what’s the audience like. Just think about that and really, really nail your niche. That is the biggest thing. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna talk about this throughout the show because it’s such a central theme in writing and in online business, which is why I niched down this podcast because the old saying, right, the riches are in the niches and it’s true, right?
Michael: 12:28 The more you niche down your expertise, the more knowledgeable that you are and the higher quality content that you can crank out. Because if you’re someone that you know has 12 different niches versus one niche, obviously you’re going to be way more qualified when you have one niche, if that’s your specialty and one it’s gonna show, and two clients will realize it, right? Clients want to work with specialists. They don’t want to work with a generalist. Now, there’s nothing wrong with getting started as a generalist and in all talk more about that as well. But being a generalist is you got to start somewhere, right? And I’m not opposed to it. But if you really want to blow up your income and you want to make this a full time gig or just make more money as a writer, you need a niche. So here’s some tips that I have on kind of how to find your niche and we’ll have a whole nother podcast episode all about that.
Michael: 13:20 But think about your current job and your past jobs, right? Like unless you’re like a college student and you don’t really have any work experience, you probably have some experience already and maybe you worked in sales or you knew something about management or you worked in the fitness industry or the golf industry, right? Whatever it was like leverage your past because the skills that you’ve acquired can really, really help brands. And again, it will give you an a leg up because you already have experience. Even though you’re not maybe a writer or not a writer yet, or you don’t have writing experience, you already know about that industry. So it’s going to cut down the amount of time you need to research and it’s going to make you just probably a little bit more passionate about, again, assuming you liked your past jobs. So another one here is to use your past like life experiences and hobbies.
Michael: 14:09 So like I’ve mentioned like I’ve gotten paid to write about golf. That’s something I’ve been super passionate about for 20 plus years. And there’s golf blogs out there, they need content writers, you know, it worked out, right? So that’s something to think about is like, what do you like to do? Maybe it’s a sport, a playing an instrument, maybe it’s music, fitness, lifestyle, travel, like fashion, whatever it is. Like there’s a niche out there, right? So think about that. Uh, and again, I kind of parlayed that even with personal development, like I got paid to write about going to events and Tony Robbins stuff. So think about like what you’re doing in your life or what you have done or maybe a past passion that you’ve kinda lost a little bit of or don’t spend as much time on. That is a great place to find your, uh, initial niche and really get your footing.
Michael:: 15:00 And then another thing is to think about like big brands that you love and use already because a lot of times big brands, again, they need content. And if you’re already like a consumer and you can prove it or talk to them about, Oh, I really like how this and this work or you know, I really like these new features on this model or whatever it is, they might actually need your help as well. Because also big brands have way more money than solo bloggers. So again, that’s something to think about, to try and maybe pick one or two different things that you could say to yourself. Like, you know, I could talk about this all the time. Like that was what it was like for me when I was like, uh, personal finance when I started, at least before I got like burned out on it.
Michael:: 15:43 Hell, you’d find me at happy hour and I’d be like, Hey, what’s your Roth IRA looking like? Are your index funds? Like I was such a geek. I was like slamming vodka sodas, talking about personal finance, like who does that? But yeah, it just shows that I was passionate about it. And the same thing now you’re going to, if you catch me in happy hour now or out and about, I’m probably gonna be talking about golf, personal development or entrepreneurship. And that’s, that’s my niche. That’s what I get paid to write about now. So again, figure out one to two things and start there because that can help you get the ball rolling. And once you get started there, I mean then it really just comes down to like figuring out like literally who will pay you money to write about this stuff. And it’s all about getting that first client.
Michael: 16:25 And we’ll have tons of more episodes all about this because getting clients is a whole nother thing. But the biggest thing to really think about is like how can I get clients right? And is it on Upwork, is it cold pitching? Things like that. But before you even get there, you’re going to want to actually have some collateral, right? You want to actually prove to people before you start reaching out. Like, Hey, I actually can write like I do, you know, even if I’m brand new, like you know, my writing is good. So that’s one of those things where you can like guest posts on other blogs or websites. Um, that’s what I did and you know, parlayed that into full time gigs. You can start a blog or add a blog section to your freelance writing website, things like that. And just create samples about content that you think would appeal to your audience.
Michael: 17:13 So again, for example, like a, I remember when I was starting out, I had, again, I was in the personal finance and I was reaching out to financial advisors that had blogs and I sent them different pieces that I created. They were like, I dunno, 1,012 hundred words about a certain topic. So like 10 things you should do before you’re in your forties with your finances or a five side hustles for full time working adults, things like that that I thought would actually appeal to their reader and to their website. And then I linked those up or attach them or both I guess in a in an email and I was cold pitching him. And then I was also guest posting on finance blogs and then that turned into paid gigs as well. So again, those are just a few ideas to kinda think about it.
Michael: 18:03 But you need to have some samples, right? You don’t, you wouldn’t go into a job without a resume and just be like, I’m here, I can do the job. Like unfortunately you need a little bit of a expertise, you need to show that off. So again, we’ll talk more about building a portfolio, writer’s website and all that stuff. But just think about that. Like what can I create that will attract my ideal client? That’s what you want to do. You don’t want to just write some super broad topic that like goes into everything. Again, you want to nail your niche show, you’re an expert, people want to work with experts and they will pay you more for it. So again, think about that. And then once you like actually have that again, I always recommend like getting that first client uh, is, is not as hard as it needs to be.
Michael: 18:48 And I would say that the first thing to do is like reach out to your network like social and like your real life network of people because there’s probably, even if someone, you know, you don’t know in your direct network, they might know someone that needs a writer. And so like just start reaching out on like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, just kinda like get some feelers out before you like, Oh, make it all complicated and build a website and all these things, which again you want to do. But if you’re just thinking like, man, is this even worth it or can I actually make money from it? Like just start there because that’s always like a good starting point is like a referral because that’s a warm lead. It’s not like a cold pitch where people have no idea who you are. And we’ll talk about that as well.
Michael: 19:31 There’s, that’s, that’s the way I always recommend you get too. But again, you got to start somewhere. So just start pitching clients, look job boards, Upwork, in person, network referrals, things like that. Set some goals and make it happen because if you can get one person to say yes, then you can get a lot more as well. And then once you get that, it’s all about writing it, hitting deadlines, editing and just getting paid. It’s literally that simple. It does not have to be hard. So if you wanted to know what is freelance writing, hopefully that’s super clear. Just a couple of like FAQs too that I had because I might not have covered everything. So a lot of times people are like, well how much does a freelance writer make? And that’s a great question because you know, obviously you want to start a business where there’s potential.
Michael: 20:20 And that’s what I love about freelance writing is that you control your destiny. If you want more money, you need to just either do two things, raise your prices, get more clients, or both. It’s as simple as that. And it’s really cool because a freelance writer can make however much you want to make. I mean, to a degree, you’re not going to make $1 million just being a freelance writer, but I mean, you could easily make $1,000 $5,000 $10,000 a month if you are committed and learn the skills and you know, price your stuff accordingly. But like, you know, in the beginning it’s like anything, right? You don’t just step into like the brand new job market making $200,000 you know, most of the time, right? You’re probably gonna start at $50 or $60,000 like, like most people. And so that was what it was like for me.
Michael: 21:04 But you can scale so much faster. You don’t have to wait for the raise. You decide like, Hey, I’m worth 12 cents a word, or I’m worth 20 cents or 30 cents or whatever you’re going to do. And then you pitch new clients and you get that new rate. So freelance writers can make however much you want. My first job was, I have a screenshot here. I’m looking at, I wrote 2000 words of premium golf content for $120 and looking back, that’s a pretty low rate. But again, I had to start somewhere and it was pretty funny because that was I guess, August 9th so that was really like before I started freelance writing, that was like, ah, let’s just see how this works. And I think I did that one and then I didn’t do anything for like four more months. And then that’s kinda when I got started.
Michael: 21:48 But pretty funny because again, you can do that the most I’ve ever made about 20 little over 20,000 in a single month. And I’ve only been at it at the time of this podcast, about 21 months, which is nuts. So again, like I said, you have the potential, there’s so much potential and that’s why I think freelance writing is the best side hustle for 2019 2020 and beyond. So that’s how much you can get paid. And then people say, well, how do you actually get paid? Again, pretty simple. We’re all about making it simple here and all you need to do to get paid. If you actually deliver the work and do all this stuff, really, you just need to send an invoice. And you can do that with like FreshBooks or QuickBooks or a business PayPal account. Super easy. Like it doesn’t need to be hard there.
Michael: 22:35 The client can pay with a credit card or bank account. Um, I’ve gotten, I think one client to pay with the check that that was just an inconvenience. I mean, who uses checks anymore? But yeah, I mean that’s really all you need to do it. It doesn’t need to be hard. Uh, and again, you don’t need a degree to, that’s like the next question I was get is like, well, you know, it sounds cool but I don’t have a degree. Well, you don’t need one. Like, yes, I have a degree as a bachelor’s in marketing or something. I literally have no idea, uh, what the specific degree was even in, I mean, I’m 32, so that was what I had pretty much 10 years ago. So I graduated college. But needless to say, I’ve never had to like whip out my diploma and be like, Hey, here it is.
Michael: 23:16 So again, if you don’t have a degree, no worries. Like you could be me a high school dropout, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about your experience and your work ethic. If you deliver deadlines, clients are not gonna care what time of day you write it. If you have a degree, you know, if you have an office, any of that clients just want solid content and that’s all you have to do. And then the last question I love is, well, isn’t this just a fad or is this going to go away? Like, no, it’s, it’s one thing to that I know that AI can’t replace and that’s, that’s humans being writers. So freelance writing isn’t going anywhere. I don’t think that robots can do our job just yet. I mean, I’m knocking on wood, I guess. Um, you know, but I mean studies just show that the workforce is changing to freelancers more and more.
Michael:: 24:03 People don’t want to have to work at a job and they want to have financial and remote flexibility, things like that. So you know, the end of the day there is a lot of potential out there. So with a freelance writer, you know, I know that you can get started. I got started with very minimal skills and to be honest with you, I wasn’t a very good writer. I’ve had to work on it a lot and I’m still getting better. Right? I’m learning my lessons just like all of us. And so if you’re looking for a side hustle, if you’re looking for an online business that isn’t like taking surveys or like walking dogs, no, not that that’s a bad thing. That’s lot. I used to literally do that. But like if you actually want to make money online and it can actually scale and it’s not just like a random side hustle, this is what freelance writing can do because I love blogging too.
Michael: 24:53 But man, it takes a lot more work, a lot more time. And I know a lot of people just quit on it because it’s, it’s not fast. And that’s why I love freelance writing too, is you get paid quick. I mean, if you’re in a financial bind right now and you’re a writer, you can just, you can dig yourself out of it pretty quick. I paid off a lot of debt thanks to freelance writing and it was in a very short time, and I’ll talk more about that journey in a separate episode. But yeah, I mean that’s the cool thing, right? The better you get as a writer, the faster you get, the more money you can make. And you can be more selective with clients. So if you work with a client that you just don’t really like, or they don’t really respect you or respect your boundaries, you don’t have to work with them.
Michael: 25:32 So it’s pretty cool. Again, I love so many different things about freelance writing, but that’s kind of a general overview and how you can get started. Again, it’s not a fad. It is the number one way to start making money online. So again, my biggest recommendation is to just start. Even if you don’t feel ready, if you don’t feel like you’re enough, if you don’t have enough experience, whatever, give it a shot. Like if you don’t, you might regret it in the future. And that to me again is like the most poisonous feeling is regret. So if you think that you can inspire or make people laugh or educate or whatever your niche is and you can do it and you’re not, you’re, you’re, you’re basically hiding your gifts from the world. So get out of your own head, get out there, you know, start reaching out to people, pick your niche, create some samples, find some clients and start making some money online because it could literally change your life.
Michael: 26:29 So, all right guys, hopefully that was good at first writing Wednesday. I had no idea what to expect, but I appreciate you listening to it. Next episode is going to be all about why my blog failed and why most bloggers fail because like I mentioned, this episode, there is a graveyard on the internet of dead blogs. So if you thought about sharing your knowledge or experience on a blog, I’m going to talk about that more in the next episode on the following Monday. So thanks again for being here. Whenever you listen to this, I hope you have an awesome rest of the day. And yeah, again, just appreciate your support here in the new direction of Inspire your Success podcast. And again, if I can help you out with anything, you know my email, [email protected] inspireyoursuccess.com and again, if you want to share it, always do it on Instagram and give me a tag at @IamMichaelLeonard. Thanks again for being here and as always, I hope you have an Epic day.
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