The right goals for you will depend on whether you’re writing for fun, as a second stream of income to supplement your full time job, or as a future career. However, having some goals set out in writing is the best way to make sure you stay on the track that works for you. Your goals might be to write a certain number of pieces per week, to get published in a particular magazine, or to earn a fixed monthly amount, for example.
How To Become a Freelance Writer: A Guide To Getting Started
Bill Hitchner has guided freelance writers along the murky paths of nonfiction and fiction, both online and off, for the better part of two decades. From tech megacorps to quarterly journals, from multimedia financial publishers to lone novelists, he’s assisted forlorn scribblers seeking to develop and hone their chops. Currently, he’s helping people get jobs by serving as an editor for Indeed’s Career Guide.
Figuring out how to become a freelance writer can be daunting at first. Freelance writing is a job anyone with the interest and dedication can do, but it is especially attractive for self-motivated individuals who want more flexibility in their day-to-day lives. As a freelancer, you can create content as different as articles, blogs, scripts, instruction manuals, technical documents, short stories and advertisements. If you are considering starting a career as a freelance writer, it is important to learn what the job entails and how to jumpstart your independent business.
How to become a freelance writer
1. Research the freelance writing industry
Before you start writing as a freelancer, it is essential to find out everything you can about the industry. Perhaps you’ve already started this step if you searched “How to become a freelance writer” and landed on this article. Visit the websites of established freelance writers and read their biographies, articles, blogs and other content.
Many writers share helpful information about what it takes to be a freelance writer, how they manage their writing businesses, what their writing processes are, where they look for work and how they set their rates.
To learn more about how to get into freelance writing, you can browse opportunities on freelance writing job boards. That will give you an idea about what kind of jobs are available, what employers expect and what current market wages look like.
2. Develop necessary business skills
You should implement a set writing routine to work on your projects and have a clear system for keeping track of in-progress, completed and pending projects. Additionally, you must keep track of sent and pending invoices, received payments, writing pitches, job applications and client responses. Many writers also maintain a growing list of writing ideas so they never run out of topics to write about.
3. Ensure you have the tools of the trade
You will need a laptop or a desktop computer equipped with a writing program, a task management program and photo-editing software, since freelance writers often have to include images with their content.
It is important to set up a website to showcase your writing samples, a business email account, a phone and a video conferencing account. You will also need a bank account and an online payment service account to receive remuneration from your clients.
4. Understand current writing conventions
There are different conventions to follow for different types of writing. In online writing, for instance, it is typical to include helpful links to other articles and use headlines and short paragraphs to make content easily scannable. The way you write and format a blog
You will need to know how to research an array of topics and cite your sources. It is also important to know how to catch readers’ attention and write in a style that will keep them reading until the end.
5. Work on improving your writing skills
Even if you are a good writer, there is always room for improvement. Read extensively. You can learn a lot about sentence construction, vocabulary, avoiding fillers, including evocative details and much more from reading other people’s writing. Read things relevant to your professional niche, but also read widely outside of it.
6. Decide on a writing niche
As a freelance writer, you can pursue business writing, speech writing, video script writing, newsletter writing, copywriting, technical writing, journalism and more. You can write about pets, babies, antiques, comics, health products, food, art, architecture, science—the possibilities are endless. But pick one or two topics that catch your interest and concentrate on those first.
7. Create a writing portfolio
is extremely important for your freelance writing business. Set up a professional website where you can upload and stylishly present your work samples. Depending on your preference and knowledge, you can include articles in a specific niche or content covering a variety of subjects.
If you don’t have professionally published clips, write the type of content potential clients will want to commission and showcase it on your website. You can also start a blog to compile clips about the topics that interest you.
8. Market your writing
Marketing your writing services is an essential component of being a freelance writer. Having a professional website and a blog will help with your marketing efforts, and creating content regularly will improve your ranking in search engine results.
On your website, include a page detailing the writing services you offer, a page informing clients who you are and how you are qualified to help them, a portfolio with your writing samples and a contact page to make it easy for clients to get in touch with you.
You can use social media and business networking sites to market your services by posting links to your latest published articles or blogs and providing updates on your availability. Social media also helps you stay updated on industry developments and job opportunities. You might also consider writing guest posts for other writers or hosting their writing on your site.
9. Find freelance writing jobs
online. Visit job boards that update their listings daily and look for work that seems interesting and offers decent pay. Also, look for jobs on business networking sites and social media. Additionally, you can pitch articles to magazines
How to start your freelance writing career in 7 easy steps
For most people getting started in writing, it makes sense to choose a topic to focus on. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to have studied the subject you write about, or hold any set qualifications. Often simply being passionate about a topic, and having an engaging writing style, is enough to start winning work.
1. Choose your niche
Picking what you want to write about is an important first step. By choosing a niche you’re enthusiastic about, you’ll find you can write well without needing to spend hours on research — and your energy will shine through in your work. You could choose one of these popular niches, or pick a favourite hobby or interest of your own:
2. Set up a website or blog
Having an online presence is essential if you want to become a freelance writer. Writing your own blog is a simple way to achieve this, and gives a space to write, share, and get feedback on your work. You can get a blog for free from WordPress or Wix, or post on an outlet like Medium. Alternatively you may want to set up your own website to serve both as a space for blogging and an online resume and portfolio to share with prospective customers.
3. Write great sample work
Before you can progress any further you’ll need to create sample work which becomes your portfolio. Many writers publish online on their own blogs, or as guest writers for other blogs and online magazines. Share your work with family and friends at this stage, to start to get feedback and develop a reader base.
4. Pitch yourself everywhere
You’ve now put together your portfolio and started to build your readership in your chosen subject. It’s time to start to pitch for more work. You’ll find that online and print magazines and other outlets may offer one off paid projects, guest opportunities, or ongoing writing jobs. Some of these may not be paid – or may pay only a token amount. However, for many new freelance writers, they’re a neat way to build your portfolio further and reach a broader audience — so well worth considering.
- Develop a short, effective ‘elevator pitch’ so you’re always ready to tell someone what you do. You never know who you’ll run into who may need a writer
- Contact companies you love and offer to either write for their blog or create sponsored posts about their products for your own blog
- Join networking groups online and in person to build connections among other freelance writers. It’s common for available jobs to be shared in these communities
- Pitch online and print magazines directly, contacting the editors with ideas for specific articles you may provide
- Look at freelance marketplace sites like Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.com — there are often writing opportunities here, although they may not be the highest paid out there. Pick the jobs that appeal and use it as a springboard to bigger things if you need to
- If you love to blog, read and comment on other blogs in your niche. You’ll quickly get to know other writers, and may find opportunities to collaborate and share ideas
- Keep your LinkedIn and other social media pages up to date and include links to your published work for employers to see
6. Check writing job boards
Specialist job boards are a perfect source of leads if you’re looking for more high profile and paid writing work.** Communities of writers may share ideas and information about sites, magazines and blogs you can connect with.** Take a look at these job boards and resources as a great starting point:
7. Collect testimonials from your clients
As you start to build a reputation, it can really help to have testimonials from previous clients. Ask for a few words about working with you, either by email after you’ve completed a job, or using the testimonial function on LinkedIn. Publish great client reviews on your website so new customers can see what you do best.