Have you ever wondered how to become a freelance writer?
Anytime I meet someone new, I always get asked, “What is a freelance writer anyway?” If you’ve ever wondered what is a freelance writer I’m confident you’ll know all there is to know by the end of this post.
Ever since I left the 9-5 in 2017 to focus on writing and blogging, I’ve had to explain myself to a lot of people that still don’t really get it. But now that I am earning $4,000 or more each month as a content writer, its become easier to explain.
Personally, I still pinch myself that I get paid to write for other websites and bloggers. While it’s not always easy, it’s definitely a great way to make money online and turn into a full-fledged business.
Thanks to the internet, you can make money and earn a good living writing for clients online. The best part is that you get to work at home and create your own schedule. The bad part is that it can take time to gain momentum, build your portfolio, and get clients.
But with hard work and determination, you can become a freelance writer full-time or make money outside your 9-5.
After reading this epic guide I’m 100% confident that you will learn what is freelance writing and have the tools to get started.
What is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing definition: Freelance writing is getting paid to write words for your clients online.
Yes, the definition for freelance writing sounds super basic but that’s what it is at the end of the day.
You can write about anything that is in demand. Naturally, some niches earn much more money than others.
Most freelance writers work out of their home but some might opt for a shared workspace. In rare instances, clients might want you to write in their office as well.
Freelance writers are also business owners who are responsible for their own taxes. While you don’t need to become an LLC, it’s a good idea to separate business and personal expenses.
When you are a freelance writer only half your job is writing, the other half is being a business owner. This includes spending time pitching clients, sending invoices, tracking time, and a variety of other tasks.
FAQ’s About Becoming A Freelance Writer
1. How do freelance writers find work?
While freelance writing is fun, finding the work is not always the most enjoyable part of the job. Obviously, it is necessary because (as I’ve found) without clients, you are not getting paid.
Usually, freelance writers specify one specific niche or topics such as personal finance, sports writing or resume writing. These are just a few examples of freelance writing niches.
Part of freelance writing is finding work and the other part is doing the actual writing. At the beginning of a freelance writing career, it’s easy to spend 90% of the day searching for freelance writing gigs and 10% on actual writing. As you become more experienced and acquire clients less time will be spent searching and more time writing.
2. What do freelance writers write about?
When people ask “What is freelance writing” they might be surprised about all the options of what you actually write about. Some examples of freelance writing topics include:
- Blog posts
- Email copywriting
- Online course copywriting
- Grant writing
- Media kits
- Online ad copy
- Social media marketing
- Technical manuals
- Trade publication articles
And many more options. Freelance writing is about finding a balance between a form of writing you enjoy and something that pays you well for your time.
3. Who pays freelance writers?
Freelance writers can be paid directly by a client (this could be a single person or a business) as well an agency. Every client will have a different payment system.
Some clients will do bi-weekly or monthly invoices while others will pay when the assignment is complete. Some old school clients might even cut you a check. I prefer to use Freshbooks
4. What are the ways you can get paid as a freelance writer?
Depending on the client freelance writers paid in several ways:
- Per word basis – You will receive X cents for every word written
- Hourly – You track the hours and set an hourly rate with the client beforehand
- Per project – You receive the total amount that is not based on per word or hourly rate. If it is a large project you might be paid at different intervals of completion.
Payments can be done in a variety of ways. Some clients will not pay until the work is approved and submitted. Others might pay at fixed intervals such as the 1st and the 15th, similar to a traditional 9-5 job.
5. What are the rates for freelance writing?
Freelance writing rates can vary depending on your experience and niche. Here are the most lucrative freelance writing niches I’ve found:
- Personal finance/money management writers
- Health care and insurance writers
- Fitness, diet, and nutrition writers
- SEO technical writers
It’s not to say that you can’t make money writing in other niches but these have been some of the most profitable niches online.
6. What skills do I need to become a freelance writer?
You need two major skills to become a great freelance writer: time management and persistence.
When you are a freelance writer with multiple clients, you need to be very strict with your time. While you might work at home it doesn’t mean you have 100% freedom in your life.
You must have a calendar for your drafts and deadlines for all your clients. One missed deadline, and you could lose a client and the income for good.
The other skill in persistence. Freelance writers must be tenacious.
There is a ton of rejection when it comes to freelance writing. Anytime you pitch a new client you have the option of being denied or never even being responded too.
Don’t take it personally — it rarely is anything you did! If you want to become a freelance writer that earns consistent money, you must learn to bounce back quickly and keep working toward your goals.
7. What is it like to be a freelance writer?
Freelance writing is pretty awesome. It’s really hard to beat making money writing articles that can get read by thousands or hundreds of thousands of people online.
But, in the beginning, I will say it wasn’t easy. As you earn your stripes as a writer it takes time to learn how to write, pitch, and understand the entire process.
After you get the hang of it though, you can write a ton of content in a short amount of time. This can lead to more time to work on other projects, start a blog, spend time traveling or enjoy more time with family or friends.
Plus, you can make a ton of money as you gain skills, grow your network, and build your portfolio.
8. Do you need a degree to become a freelance writer?
While some jobs will say they require a degree, I’ve never had a client ask for any formal certification. You don’t need a degree to become a freelance writer.
As long as you write, edit, and get clients you have all the skills to become a freelance writer.
9. How much money do you make as a freelance writer?
The best way to answer this question is with a question. How hard do you want to work?
I’ve found that once you get comfortable it’s pretty easy to make $1,000 – $3,000 per month only working part-time hours. But, if you want to earn more in the $5,000 – $10,000 range it will require more work, hours, and effort on your end.
But it is 100% possible as I’ve routinely met writers who make over six figures per year!
How to Become a Freelance Writer (Even With No Experience)
I’m sure you’re thinking, this all sounds great but “How do I actually become a freelance writer?” This is part two of the epic post.
1. Start With The Right Mindset
To learn how to become a freelance writer you need to realize first off that it’s not going to be an overnight success. There is no such thing as online success in any business to get rid of that belief now.
Freelance writing is a skill that is learned over time. As I said, it’s part-time writing and part-time business owner.
You need to have a growth mindset if you want to become a freelance writer. You need to be able to push past the fear of uncertainty, rejection, and potential obstacles.
Before starting, make sure you know that you are going to need to learn, take feedback, and meet deadlines. With a growth mindset, you can always learn more!
Like any entrepreneurial journey, understanding that it won’t be easy in advance, already makes it easier.
2. Choose a Writing Niche
You might be thinking, what should I actually write about? Creating a niche is important but not as important in the beginning as other bloggers and freelancers talk about.
Instead, think more general and niche down as you become more experienced with the entire process.
For example, I started with personal finance. This entailed writing about student loan debt, saving money, homeowning, investing, and other financial topics.
But, as you become a more seasoned writer, you can specialize in one or two topics. This is how you can earn more money as a specialist.
Don’t be afraid to start as a generalist as a beginner freelance writer.
3. Create a Portfolio
Once you have the mindset and have chosen a niche, next is creating your portfolio. You need a portfolio to showcase your writing samples.
While you can use your blog (if you have one) it’s not always the best idea. Often times your blog niche might be different than your freelance writing niche and doesn’t make sense to have off-topic articles.
You have two options to start your writing portfolio:
- Create a free Upwork profile and upload your samples directly.
- Build a personal website and upload your samples to your page. More on this part below.
Try to write at least five samples before pitching and reaching out to clients. Write these samples for the job you want to have in the near future.
Once you have a few samples you can begin applying or even guest post for free on other blogs in your niche. This is a great strategy to meet other bloggers and get your name out there.
4. (Optional) Create a Personal Website
I put this step as optional for one reason. Beginning freelance writers will see this and stop dead in their tracks. I can already hear “I don’t know how to build a website.”
If that’s the case, you can always hire someone for a minimal fee to build a basic website for you. Ultimately, having your own website makes you look much more professional to potential clients.
You can also build your own site for cheap. With Bluehost and WordPress, it’s only $3.95/month.
If you are intimidated by this, hire someone to do it so you don’t procrastinate any longer.
Remember, your portfolio isn’t just for work samples but to also help potential clients learn more about you. Clients hire people they trust.
Make your personal website user-friendly by adding pictures of yourself, significant other, pet or family. Showcase yourself, your work, and your likeability!
Here is my personal freelance writing site for an example. Your site doesn’t need to be elaborate and should include:
- About Page
- Portfolio: Link to your articles or downloadable PDF’s Page
- Contact Page
- Hire Me/My Services Page
Start Writing on Medium
If you don’t have a blog and don’t want to create a website yet, Medium.com should be your new best friend. This site lets you create a profile in minutes, is 100% free, and can get you massive amounts of free exposure.
Medium is a relatively new site but has gained in popularity along with Quora over the past five years. Try to write posts in your ideal client niches.
I’ve found with Medium, a personal story can go along the way gaining trust from the audience. As your writing improves start applying for publications to get in front of a bigger audience.
5. Create a Consistent Schedule
I was horrible about this at the beginning of my freelancing journey. Paired with growing this blog, I ended up working way too much and burning out late in 2017.
The only good thing that came from it was learning how important a morning routine was to have a proper work/life balance.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to create a schedule for your writing. Not only will this keep you sane, but it will also help you write faster and get more done.
Find a time that works best for you. Personally, I like the mornings as I find myself more energized and creative after my morning rituals.
If you’re a night owl, do it then. Just make sure you stick to a consistent schedule and don’t burn out.
6. Start Applying for Freelance Writing Gigs
This is the part where you have to put yourself out there. You have to find jobs that you think would be a good fit for and apply. Sometimes you will apply through a website specifically, others you will email them a pitch.
Don’t be upset if you don’t hear back or get rejected. As Jack Canfield said, “Rejection is a myth. You never even had it in the first place.”
Stay persistent, pitch like crazy and eventually you will land your first client!
These are some of the best freelance writing websites to get your freelance writing career started.
Upwork gets a lot of bad press in the freelance writing community as some people consider it a content mill. In reality, it’s only a content mill if you choose to accept those wages.
But for beginner freelance writers it’s easy to find potential clients, pitch yourself, and get started instantly.
I found some of my best clients and on there that I still work with today. Again, make sure you choose a rate that is fair and not slave labor.
Pro Blogger Job Boards
Pro Blogger job boards is another super helpful site to get started finding clients. You can apply directly through the site or follow the instructions from each client.
Blogging Pro Blogging Jobs
Blogging Pro Blogging Jobs is another great place to find your first potential client. Make sure you sign up for their daily email so you don’t miss any writing opportunities.
Also, be sure to check out these 101 websites that pay you to write.
7. Set Freelance Writing Goals
To be a great freelance writer, you need to set goals for different types of activities to stay accountable and motivated. As you won’t always make a ton of money in the beginning, it’s important to set small goals to hold yourself accountable.
Goals could include:
- Monthly revenue goals
- Number of clients
- Number of pitches per week or month
- Cold pitches vs. job boards
Whatever it is, make sure you set some freelance writing goals to keep you motivated to succeed. And when you reach a big goal or land a new client make sure you celebrate your victories!
8. Track Your Income
As you begin to land freelance clients it’s super important to keep track of your expenses and income. You can do this old school in a Google doc or use a program like Freshbooks.
Personally, I love Freshbooks as it makes it easy to track everything, send invoices, and collect payment.
9. Invest In Yourself and Your Business
Remember, freelance writing is a business and you need to treat it as such. Like any good business, you should always look for opportunities to invest in yourself and your business.
Here are a few things I have invested in as a freelance writer:
Earn More Writing Course
For six months I tried freelance writing with very minimal success. I knew people were making good money from freelance writing but I kept striking out.
I would land an occasional Upwork client from time to time but the pay was low. Or I would spend a ton of time writing proposals only to never hear back.
I won’t lie, it was discouraging. Luckily I met Holly from Earn More Writing at FINCON in 2017. Holly Porter is a freelance writer who regularly earns over $200,000 from writing online.
In the freelance writing community, she is someone to aspire to be like. Freelance writing and blogging have helped her pay off a mortgage and make more than most 9-5 careers ever could.
I signed up for her course, Earn More Writing, in December and by January I had earned my money back from one writing gig.
The best part? I’m still working with that client. Her course has also helped me learn how to work with editors, ask for raises, and learn how to prioritize my time.
If you want to take freelance writing seriously you need to act like it. Holly’s course does just that. It will show you how to cold pitch clients, negotiate, land big clients,
Get Started — Freelance Writing for Beginners
Hopefully, this post has given you plenty of information to get started landing jobs as a beginner freelance writer. I want to help you start earning more money outside of work!
Whether you work full-time, part-time or unemployed freelance writing is a great work from home job. With all the freelance writing sites available and using the tips above I’m confident you can hone your skills to start earning money.
If you already have freelance writing experience but want to take it to the next level be sure to check out the “Earn More Writing” course.
If you have any questions about how to become a freelance writer, don’t hesitate to let me know as I love helping new freelance writers get started.
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