Thursday, 3 October 2019

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Content marketing is in high demand and businesses all over the world are in constant need of new and unique content. This presents a great opportunity for individuals looking to learn how to become a freelance writer or start an online job with the freedom to work wherever they want.

Blog posts and other short and long-form pieces are good ways to use writing talents to make some extra cash. But how does one start a freelance career and how does it become a lucrative source of income?

Most people learn how to become a freelance writer — or, in many cases, how not to become a freelance writer — the hard way: through trial and error.

They start a website (often using platforms like WordPress), throw up a few samples, pitch jobs on Upwork to prospective clients, and maybe even land a few projects.

However, they quickly realize that being a part-time blogger doesn’t quite make enough money for time spent on projects, and certainly not enough to take their freelancing career full time. This is where many new freelance writers throw in the towel.

They begin to believe “you have to have a degree in journalism” or “know the right people” to become a successful freelance writer. Some even convince themselves that freelance writing is not a viable career option. Turns out, many people with these attitudes never properly learned how to become a freelance writer.

After building a six-figure freelance writing career, Holly received thousands of questions from aspiring writers looking to build a career online. Armed with years of experience and lessons learned through trial and error, she created her course, Earn More Writing, to help writers uplevel their freelance businesses and blogging careers.

Holly also offers a free online workshop called How to Build a Six-Figure Writing Career.

Since her course launch, she’s helped teach hundreds of people how to become a freelance writer so they could make money from home. If you aspire to make an income as a freelance writer, here are eight steps you can take to get started.

1. Narrow Your Focus

Before you dive deep into how to become a freelance writer, decide what type of freelance writer you want to be.

The better you define your passions, hobbies, interests, or areas of expertise, the easier it will be to find freelance writing jobs that match your skill set.

To be clear, you don’t have to confine yourself to one specific topic. However, in Holly’s experience, “it can help if you have some expertise in a specific area.”

For example, if you’ve worked in marketing for a decade and can authoritatively speak on various marketing topics, it will be easier for you to land freelance writing clients in that niche as opposed to something you have no personal experience with.

2. Learn What You Don’t Know

As a new freelance writer, you’ll have to answer a lot of questions. For example, how much will you charge for your work?

Don’t be afraid to research successful writers and borrow a page from their playbook. For example, Holly suggests that new freelance writers “set a minimum hourly rate they’re willing to work for and set their per-piece rates from there.”

“This doesn’t mean you’ll write hourly,” she explains. “It just means you will only take on assignments that result in your hourly minimum rate or more.”

Say you want to make a minimum of $50 per hour. You estimate it will take you three hours to write a 1,500-word article. Using this idea, you would charge $150 per 1,500-word article, which comes out to $0.10 per word.

“This works best when you are able to estimate how long a project will take you,” Holly admits. However, your predictions will become more accurate with time.

3. Create an Online Portfolio

Even as a new freelance writer, you’ll need a portfolio to share your work with potential clients.

“After all,” Holly says, “it will be more difficult for people to hire you if they cannot read some of your writing samples online.” A simple portfolio website will do the trick if you’re not interested in becoming a blogger.

In order to showcase your work to potential clients, you’ll first need to create some samples. You can do this in a couple of ways.

One option is to write and publish a few articles on your own website. WordPress is a fairly simple way to start building out an online portfolio.

While that can be a great start, prospective clients may feel more comfortable hiring you if they see your work has been published on other sites as well.

As a new freelance writer, one of the best ways to get your work out there is to reach out to websites in your niche and offer to guest post for free. Not only is this a great way to build your portfolio; it will also help get your name out and put your work in front of prospective clients.Source: Holly Johnson.

4. Find Your First Client

Don’t be discouraged if the majority of your pitches go unanswered at first.

“It’s not too difficult to get more ongoing work when you have a few clients,” says Holly. “What’s difficult is getting your very first writing job…You have to find that one person willing to give you a chance.”

Often, finding that first paying client is a challenge for new freelance writers. But the good news is, you can send an unlimited number of pitches for free using online job boards.

Many beginner freelance writers turn to sites like Upwork for those first few clients. However, the majority of those writing jobs are low-paying. Not to mention, there are so many people competing for jobs, you could send in dozens of pitches without hearing from a single one.

Two of the best freelance writing job boards are at ProBlogger and Both sites post new opportunities each day, and you don’t have to pay to join and start pitching your services.

5. Improve Your Writing (and Other) Skills

One of the best tips when learning how to become a freelance writer, is practicing your writing. Just like with any skill, the more you practice writing, the better you become. And the better your writing, the more you can charge for your services to help you make cash fast.

That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or even a great writer to be successful. However, it should encourage you to spend some time honing your craft.

In addition to improving your actual writing, figure out what other skills can set you apart from the competition and devote time to learning them.

For example, according to Holly, “SEO content is probably the most in-demand type of content right now. Many websites are competing to rank for various keywords on Google, and they need qualified SEO writers to create content that fits their guidelines.”

Explore job postings in your niche to find out what companies are looking for in their writers. That way when you go to pitch a new client, you can highlight how your experience makes you a perfect fit for the job.

6. Invest in Yourself

Perhaps the best way to launch or uplevel your freelance writing career is to invest in yourself. There are two main ways to invest in your new writing career.

Time: This one is a given. As with any new skill — especially one you want to make money with — you should plan to spend a significant amount of time researching, reading, and improving your writing.

This includes reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, setting your rates, learn content marketing, pitching new clients, learning new in-demand skills, and anything else required to get your freelance writing business off the ground.

Money: Another option for investing in yourself as a freelance writer is to pay for training, such as an online course or personal coach.

Most freelance writers, or anyone who starts a new business venture, avoid monetary investments for fear of losing money or not seeing results. They opt for the trial-and-error method, often floundering for months or even years. Some figure it out while others give up before ever landing their first paying client.

When it comes to investing in your freelance writing future, there’s no one right answer. If you’re highly self-motivated, then you may be fine with investing your time to research freelance writing for yourself. However, if you value your time and want a proven path for success, consider investing in a mentor who’s already done what you want to do.

For example, hundreds of new and established writers have invested in their freelancing career through Holly’s Earn More Writing course. An online course or coaching program can be a great way to build a foundation and learn the skills you need to start earning money as a freelance writer.

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