Have you ever wondered what is freelance writing?
I get asked that question all the time when I tell people I’m a freelance writer and blogger.
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 make freelance writing a great way to make money outside your 9-5 or turn it into a full-time writing career.
What is Freelance Writing?
In the simplest way, freelance writing definition is getting paid to write words for your clients online. You can write about anything that is in demand and 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.
How Do Freelance Writers Find Work?
While freelance writing is fun, finding the work is not always the most enjoyable process. Obviously, it is necessary because (as I’ve found) without clients, you are not getting paid. Usually, freelance writers specify one niche or topics such as personal finance, sports 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.
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.
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
How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?
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.
What Are Typical Freelance Writing Rates?
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.
What Skills Do You Need as 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, especially if they are new.
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! Freelance writers must learn to bounce back quickly and keep going toward your goals.
What Are The Top Freelance Writing Sites?
These are some of the best freelance writing websites to get your freelance writing career started.
Also, be sure to check out these 101 websites that pay you to write.
How to Start Freelance Writing
Freelance writing can be a great gig to earn more money and work from home but don’t fall into the trap (like I did) of thinking it’s easy. I made that mistake and I learned from it. Freelance writing is a skill that is learned over time. Like I said, it’s part-time writing and part-time business owner.
Here are five ways to get started freelance writing:
Create a 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 not relate.
While creating a website might seem like a ton of work it’s actually not nearly as hard as you might think. For $3.95/month you can get started with Bluehost. From there all you need to do is upload a theme (I recommend Studio Press) and customize.
Again, don’t be intimidated by this process.
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
Write Five or More Samples
Once your website is live you need to have writing samples. At the beginning of your freelance writing career, you might not have anything to display. If you have a blog you can upload some of your most popular and well-written posts if the niches align.
Try to write at least five samples before pitching and reaching out to clients. Another great strategy is to guest post for free on other blogs. Not only will this get you in front of a new audience but it will give you a link to send to potential clients.
Once you have them written upload your samples as a PDF into your website.
Enroll in 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 has 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,
Check out this piece on her blog, Club Thrifty, to start earning more money writing online!
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 start earning money writing online.
Set Freelance Writing Goals
The last part I’ll mention is the importance of setting goals. To be a great freelance writer you need to set goals for different types of activities to stay accountable and motivated. 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.
Start Writing on Medium
If you don’t have a blog but want to get started creating portfolio pieces and honing your writing skills 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.
Get Started — Freelance Writing for Beginners
Hopefully, this post has given you plenty of information to get started landing jobs for beginners. 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.
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