Being paid to write is a dream for many people: if you’re interested in learning how to become a freelance writer, this article is for you.
I’ve been a freelance writer for ages now, I’ve chosen to pursue a career that is certainly fulfilling, but it’s not easy: competition is stiff, and if you have no experience you end up getting paid very little. Still, after having gained knowledge, a lot of freelance writers keep their rates so low that they ruin the market for everyone, and they barely survive.
So in this guide, I want to give you tips and advice on how to become a freelance writer without sugarcoating it: you need to be prepared if you’re going to be paid to write, you need to know what you’re talking about. Improvising leads to not being able to progress and not even being able to demand more money.
A good freelance writer is experienced, has something to offer, can really make the difference, and for this reason should always be paid what’s worth it. Whether you’re starting your career and you’re looking for professional advice on how to become a freelance writer or you are considering a career move to become a writer, keep reading.
I will tell you exactly what you need to become a freelance writer, and what it takes to become one.
Table of Contents
How do you do become a full-time freelance writer?
Let’s start from the basics: there’s no step-by-step process that will land you the freelance writing career you’re dreaming about. Every single freelance writer starts differently, pursue a different goal, and it’s not hard to find people telling fantastic stories about their freelance writing career that are merely not realistic. Let me be honest: freelance writing is not easy, and it requires time and skills.
So said, there are a few things you can do to facilitate your writing career. The truth about making a living as a freelance writer is that you need to be ready to jump into the market, and if you want to jump in the market, you need to be educated.
1. Learn how to write
We all have stories to tell, but not everyone can translate ideas into writing. Freelance writers have to know how to tell stories and how to communicate ideas: it’s their job to put in writing an idea, a concept, a thought. Since there are a lot of different writing styles, it’s necessary to seek out appropriate training to become the best in your job: if you want to become a copywriter, you need to learn how to write copy content. If you’re going to become a travel writer, you need to know how to write travel content. If you want to become a content marketer, you need to know the basics of marketing and how this translates into writing. You also need to know the grammar, but this is implicit, isn’t it?
You may have a degree, or you may not have a degree: this doesn’t matter that much as long as you seek out specific training and writing courses that can help you become a better storyteller, or a content marketer, or a copywriter.
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2. Pick a Freelance Writing Niche
The more specific you are, the better it is: nowadays, people tend not to get specialized, and that leads to fierce competition in niches that are now oversaturated. Consider choosing a less popular niche, learn how to write correctly for that niche, and build your career around it. You may end up being considered an expert and a leader in this field, and your writing career will be flawless and successful.
Whether you’re starting from scratch our you already have built a bit of experience, now is the time to find a niche you feel comfortable with and become a specialized writer. Your niche could come from one of your passion or even from a calculated analysis based on what’s missing. No matter the output, it’s the outcome that counts the most.
3. Showcase your work online
Many freelancers start their career in writing dreaming about having their book published, sooner or later. It is a dream that pushes the limits of many people out there. The truth is that you need to start planning your goals as soon as you start thinking about pursuing a career as a freelance writer. And you may never end up publishing a book, just to be crystal clear.
Showcasing your work online is one of the best ways to be seen: you don’t need a complicated website, just something where you can publish your work. If you pick a niche, you know, people looking for writers with your skills or for specific information about a particular topic may land on your website and eventually hire you for your writing skills. Also, a blog is a great way to practice your craft, refine your skills, and also build a career.
A few resources to start your blog:
- NameCheap or Domain.com: to register your domain name;
- BlueHost: to host your blog (it comes with WordPress installed);
- WpEngine: another hosting, and in this case you can go for the managed or the unmanaged one;
- Premium WordPress Themes: you can choose one for your blog;
- Weebly: if you want to use a ready-to-go platform and just focus on content.
These three actions alone could be sufficient to become a freelance writer. But there’s more than that. Once you’ve started, you need to plan all your moves carefully in a way that your business can really become sustainable and also grow over time.
4. Keep learning
Not only you need to know how to write for a specific industry and niche, but you also need to master the tools you may need to stand out from the crowd. WordPress is the platform everyone uses, so you not only need to know how to work with WordPress, but also how to get the most out of it. But there’s more than WordPress. Let’s assume you decide to get specialized in content writing for e-commerces. Then you need to know how Amazon, Shopify, Magento works, how to get content that works, how to convert leads to sales.
And there’s SEO: if you work as a freelance writer online, you need to know about SEO. It doesn’t mean you need to be an SEO guru, but you must know how to write content that can rank, how to use keywords at your advantage, how to write catchy headlines and titles, how to format a piece of content. Digital marketing is also part of the equation, at least the basics.
Then, based on your preferred niche, you need to stay updated on the news, what’s going on, what’s trendy.
To become a successful freelance writer, you need to invest time in learning and keep learning, refining your skills, and offering a better service to your client.
5. Pitch constantly
If you want to work as a freelance writer, you need to pitch. The more you pitch, the easier it gets, and the more you pitch, the easier it gets to get clients if you can craft your pitch in the right way. Too many freelance writers think that editors are waiting for them, but the truth is that nobody is waiting for our work, and it’s up to us to give people a reason to hire us. Make sure you know the company or the magazine you’re pitching and do not forget: your pitch has to be unique because nowadays, we all have access to the same information. If you can send a specific angle on something unique or something that you only know or can explain, your pitch will have more chances to be picked.
Be creative: do not focus on pitching just magazines. Companies are always on the lookout for writers because the content is fundamental in marketing today, and everyone is producing content to push their products. Think outside of the box and start pitching companies that are into your niche.
6. Get used to be rejected
The life of a freelance writer is full of rejection. Especially in the beginning, you’ll likely get more rejection news than “good news.” It’s all part of the process, and over time it can change if you have the right skills and you know how to make sure people see them.
7. Learn how to sell yourself
None of the advice above makes sense if you don’t know how to sell yourself. Show your work, emphasize what you can do, join social media, and let yourself be seen. Social media are the right place for writers to get clients and be seen, but there’s more.
Create your profile on writing websites but also on freelancing websites emphasizing your skills, your client(s), and your samples. Guest posting is another way to make yourself seen: pick sites that are close to what you do, write an article for them, and build your credibility.
Remember: becoming “famous” on social media doesn’t guarantee you work, unless you are skilled and expert. So make sure you know what you are doing before exposing yourself.
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I told you: this is not a sugarcoated article. Being a freelance writer can be tough; it’s hard, and considering this is one of the most loved and desired jobs, competition is also fierce. A lot of the time, you will have to compete against people offering peanuts, and you’ll be tempted to do the same just not to be left off the market. Commit to this freelance position if you want to work hard: in the long run, it will pay off if you keep adhering to your principles, without lowering your rates just to stay on top of the market.
Remember: it’s better to have a big client than 100 small and low-cost clients. Your effort should be in the direction of working with the best clients and being recognized for your skills.
9. Think outside of the box
A freelance writer doesn’t just write articles and papers. A writer can ghostwrite and earn money. A writer can write content for social media. A writer can write a speech. There’s an infinite number of opportunities waiting for freelancers in the writing space, so it’s really up to you to find the best one. Being creative is a big plus when it comes to pitching and finding writing jobs!
How Much Does Freelance Writing Pay?
This is a burning issue, and I’ve already touched on the subject a few times in this article: you can get paid peanuts or a lot of money. It all depends on what type of freelance writing and ideal client you pursue.
It’s really up to you when it comes to doing money writing: some freelance writers prefer to get paid way less and get more work, others prefer to get fewer clients and get paid more.
It all comes down to your skills, your experience, and your fear of not getting enough work, this being one of the most critical elements that push freelancers to charge less even when they should charge more.
And do not forget that some niches pay more than others because they require expertise, and it can be hard to find skilled freelance writers.
And do not forget that some niches pay more than others because they require expertise and it can be hard to find skilled freelance writers.
How much can I charge for my writing?
Once again, this is extremely subjective and depends on your experience, your skills, and the ideal client you have in your mind. We’ve written a comprehensive guide on how much to charge your clients for your freelance services. The same rules also apply to the writing business.
Final Thoughts on Getting Started Freelance Writing
Building a freelance career isn’t easy. And the work isn’t always glamorous: you may get an assignment for a cool magazine, but in the meantime, you need to pay your bills so you may end up writing annoying texts for a company. It’s all part of the game, and you need to be able to score cool writing gigs and recurring ones to build the backbone of your business. The more you will be in the industry, the easiest it will get assuming that you will have to keep learning, pitching, and doing every single thing that will make you keep up with the job. Freelance writing can be hard and exhausting, but the joy of doing it repays the effort.
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