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How to Become a Freelance Writer: Complete Guide to Get Started

Do you have a talent as a wordsmith? Life as a freelance writer might be a career worth considering. Read our complete Guide to get started
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Do you have a talent as a wordsmith? Life as a freelance writer might be a career worth considering if you have complete command of the English language.

The demand for content online is staggering, with millions of websites requiring top-quality articles, blog posts, and web content.

Making it as a freelance writer isn’t as challenging as you think. You could find your first gig as a writer in less than a week if you know where to look and how to present your work. In this article, we’ll provide you with a strategy that’s effective at launching your career as a freelance writer.

CreativeLive – Learning Resource for Freelancers

If you are just getting started working for yourself, one resource we recommend is called CreativeLive, it’s basically a live streaming education platform with online lessons from instructors with vast experience in different fields.

The lessons are very high quality with great production values and go into a lot of detail about each subject.

They offer a range of classes which would be suitable for freelancers such as:

  • How to be a successful Freelancer
  • Time Management
  • Money & Finance
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Communication Skills
  • Finding Clients
  • And also lots of videos about the writing process itself

We love CreativeLive and are members of the platform – we keep the latest streaming lessons on the big screen in our office!

Cost wise, the individual classes can be expensive but they offer a Creator Pass which is a monthly of $39 and gives you access to the whole library. You should easily find more value in the platform than their fee.

Take a look or read our review of the platform here.

Freelancing Tips

Visit CreativeLive

The Benefits of Freelance Writing

Why would you want to work as a freelance writer? There are plenty of benefits involved with choosing this vocation as your career. Here are our top reasons why people choose this occupation to make their living.

Work from Home

Freelance writers work from home. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection to make it in the industry. In most cases, you don’t need a dedicated internet line, and you can get away with using your phone as a mobile hotspot.

Life as a writer is the ideal choice for people that have small children. Most parents that have to work in an office, barely get 5-hours of quality time with their kids each day. For those parents that want to take more time to be around their family, working from home presents the ideal employment situation.

Working from home also reduced your expenses. There’s no commute to an office, saving you hundreds of dollars in gas and maintenance costs on your car. You also don’t have to visit the local fast food restaurant for a “business lunch,” saving you money on food throughout the week.

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Low Barriers to Entry

As a freelance writer, you don’t need a degree or diploma for the job. Most people interested in hiring you will rely on your sample portfolio when considering you for a position. As a freelancer, you are not a W-2 employee, so you need to ensure you perform at your peak if you want your clients to keep sending you work.

However, with the demand for content being so high, you won’t struggle to find a gig. Most other jobs and professions only allow you to look for work in your state or immediate area. As a freelancer working online, the world is your hunting ground for employment opportunities.

No Workplace Pressure

As a freelancer, you work alone. You might have a client or a boss, but they aren’t standing over you looking at every move you make. You work at a pace that you enjoy, and your client will judge your performance based on the quality and quantity of work you send them.

However, this benefit can also be a drawback as well. Freelance writers need plenty of self-discipline if they want to succeed. If you struggle to motivate yourself to start working, then you might want to think about another career instead.

Still, if you do have the determination and self-discipline to work in an unmanaged environment, you’ll enjoy the freedom associated with the gig. If you feel like taking the morning off to take your kids to the dentist, no manager is telling you that you can’t take the time.

However, you need to remember that your clients judge you based on your performance, so you had better prepare to work longer in the evening.

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Do You Have What It Takes to Make It as a Freelance Writer?

Starting a career as a freelance writer is not for the faint-hearted. You might have to prepare yourself for dealing with rejection, and the chances are that it’s going to take you some time to find your ideal client and working conditions.

As a freelancer, you don’t receive a monthly or weekly salary. You’ll earn based on the volume of work you turn in each day.

How Much Do Freelancers Earn?

When you start as a freelance writer, don’t expect to make a fortune. Most “content mills” only offer rates of between $0.60 to $1 for every 100-words you write. Working for these companies means that you’ll struggle to make ends meet, even if you decide to write 8,000-words every day, seven days a week.

The average online pay for entry-level writers that have talent is between $1,50 to $2 for every 100-words you write. This rate is a significant improvement compared to thof the pay on offer at content mills. However, it’s still tough to make a full-time living from writing, especially if you aren’t living with a partner that can help share your household expenses.

Still, if you live in an emerging economy, such as Asia, Africa, or South America, you can earn a decent living with writing for $1,50 to $2 per 100-words. You might have to work 7-days a week, and for up to 10-hours a day, buts it’s possible to make a full time living from your work at this rate.

The top echelons of freelance writers earn far more than $1,50 to $2 per 100-words. If you manage to land a job with a leading content firm that supplies blogs and articles to top-tier websites and publications, you could net anywhere for $5 to $20 for every 100-words you write.

However, this work is hard to find, and while there are plenty of blogs out there stating that you can easily find these types of jobs, the reality is that it’s tough to find high-paying clients.

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Tools for Freelance Writers

When you embark on your quest to find work as a freelance writer, there are a few indispensable tools that you need to meet your client’s content requirements.

The Basics

As a writer, you need a laptop or PC with a word processor. You can select any device you like. However, we recommend you invest in a laptop because its portable, and you can work in the coffee shop if you feel like getting out of the house.

You don’t need a powerful machine, and a Celeron processor or a netbook will work fine. Our preferred word processor of choice in Microsoft Word. However, the utility of free tools like Google Docs is more than sufficient for the task, and many clients’ will prefer you to write in this format.

Grammar Tools

If you want to stand out from the pack, then you need to invest in grammar tools to check your work before you submit it to your client. Programs like Grammarly are a must-have and identify the short-comings in your writing.

Clients despise poor grammar and the use of passive voice in your work. Unless you’re an English major, then you’ll find that a program like Grammarly can benefit your writing. Most freelance writers only use free versions of these software’s, and then wonder why they never get any repeat work from their clients.

Grammarly Review

Visit Grammarly or Read our Full Review

Copyscape

Plagiarism of other people’s work is a real problem, and if your client discovers that you’re ripping off other people’s work, you can expect them never to contact you again.

Grammarly offers an excellent plagiarism checking function, but the leader in this niche is “Copyscape.” All you need to do is upload your file, and the system shows you any instances of plagiarism that you need to change to make your work original.

Avoid Writing Courses

Most aspiring freelance writers will spend plenty of time researching the niche before they decide to go looking for clients. The chances are that your research is what brought you to this article in the first place.

Freelance writing “gurus” offer you the opportunity to sign up for their writing courses. These gurus make false promises of shooting you into the top echelons of writers, all for the low price of $997 for their online course. Don’t fall for these gimmicks. The only way you can get better as a writer is by writing. Implementing the above tools is all you need to make it online as a freelancer.

How to Start as a Freelance Writer

So, now that you have an understanding of the tools, you need to start your career as a freelance writer. Let’s take a look at how to get you started on the path to success.

Pick Your Niche

Most freelance writers start their career as a writer in a niche that they understand. For example, if you have tons of knowledge about nutrition, then you can start by applying for gigs writing about the topic. As the old saying goes, write what you know.

Gain Experience

When applying for a writing gig online, the client will ask you to send them samples of your writing. Therefore, the first thing you need to do before you start applying for gigs is to create a sample portfolio.

Write three or four articles on your favorite topic, and make sure they pass Grammarly. These pillar articles will form the foundation of your sample portfolio, and you’ll need to use them every time you apply for a gig. Therefore, t’s critical that you refine these articles with perfect grammar.

As you complete more gigs, create files on your laptop for each of the categories, such as nutrition, lifestyle blogs, travel, etc. Eventually, after a few months of writing for clients, you’ll have an extensive library of articles you can use for samples.

Finding Your First Freelance Writing Job

After completing your sample portfolio, it’s time to get into the market and apply for writing jobs. There are plenty of places to look for work, let’s take a look at some of your best options for finding your first freelance writing gig.

Freelance Sites

These websites are the best place to start as a freelance writer. Each of the platforms operates a little differently than the others, so you need to be aware of the technicalities of each of them, and the best strategy for finding work using these sites.

Fiverr

Most freelancers start their careers on Fiverr. With this platform, you create an account, build a profile, and then wait for the work to come to you. The issue with the platform is that there are thousands of writers, just like you, waiting for clients to send them work.

When prospective clients search the site for writers, most of them rely on the writer’s star-rating to give them an idea of the writer’s performance. The issue with this is that as a newbie to the platform, you have no previous client testimonials to validate your profile.

To build your profile, get a few friends to sign up for the platform, and pay them to buy a few articles from you, and leave you 5-star feedback on your work. This strategy might cost you $50 to build your reputation, but it’s better than sitting around and getting no offers.

Freelancer and Upwork

Both of these sites run a similar model. Instead of waiting for clients to come to you like on Fiverr, you go out and bid on jobs on Upwork and Freelancer instead. The issue with these sites is that there is so much competition, and you’ll end up in a bidding war with other freelancers trying to secure the contract. As a result, you’ll end up working for peanuts.

You also need to be careful about applying for work on these platforms. If you bid on too many jobs and don’t get a response, then the platform might ban your account. The admin team will send you an email stating that it seems your services are not in demand, and they’ll permanently ban you from the platform, even though you haven’t violated their terms of service.

Useful Links

Outreach Methods

Rather than wasting your time on freelance sites, use the outreach method to capture new business instead. Many writers avoid this method because they don’t have a go-get-em attitude. They find reaching out to prospective client’s intimidating.

However, if you swallow your fear, and complete this process, you’ll find that you get far more offers for gigs, than if you apply on the freelance sites.

Selecting Prospective Employers

Open a spreadsheet, and then visit a website like BlackhatWorld.com. This forum has thousands of members and an entire dedicated section to content where webmasters can hire writing services for their content needs.

Go through the list of content providers, and take down the contact email addresses of these vendors. After you have 20 email addresses, move onto the next step.

Create a Script

Create a well-written script that’s around 200 to 300-words in length. In the script, mention that you’re an excellent writer looking for work. List your qualities, such as your skills and your dedication to clients. The following is an excellent example of a well-written outreach email.

Hi (insert contacts name)

I caught your thread on SITENAME regarding professional content services.

My name is (insert your name); I’m a professional writer with two years of experience in creating content for guest posts, blogs, etc.

I want to offer you a risk-free trial of my professional services. I call them professional services because;

  • I deliver on time, every time. Up to 2000 words per day, five days a week full-time.
  • I write any content, with any word count, on any subject.
  • I use professional editing software (that I pay subscription fees for) with all my article submissions – so you don’t have to waste time editing.
  • I’m available to you for long-term commitments.

Please see samples of my writing attached.

Please contact me if I can be of value to your team. If you aren’t looking for writers at the moment, no stress. Thanks for your time in reading this unsolicited email (my sincerest apologies).

But, If you want to be a legend and help me out, I would appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction of anyone that is reputable and you feel would use me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

(Your name)

Manage Your Outreach

After creating your script, send it off to the top three prospects on your list. It’s vital that you don’t send the script to your entire list of contacts straight away. If you do, and all 20 contacts get back to you offering you a trial, you’ll find yourself in panic mode.

Instead, send three scripts, and then wait for 3-days for a response. If you don’t receive any response, which is highly unlikely, then send another three. Repeat the process until you start getting responses.

Sort the Wheat from the Chaff

The chances are that you’ll receive a hit rate of 1 in 3 on your outreach using this method, which is far better than anything you could expect on the freelancing websites.

From there, it’s a matter of negotiating your rate, and we recommend you don’t settle for anything less than $1,20 per 100-words as a newbie to the game. However, the reality is that you’ll probably have to go through about ten clients to find one that offers you a decent volume of work at a reasonable rate.

However, your persistence will eventually pay off. When you do find a client that’s worth working for, make sure you never let them down.

There are no second chances when working online, and if you fail to deliver, you can expect your client to cut ties with you immediately, and they won’t respond to any of your emails requesting a second chance – when you’re gone, you’re gone.

Freelance Writing Jobs

Independent Publishing Sites

An excellent way to boost your income as a freelance writer is to sell your work on independent publishing sites. If you have specialized knowledge on a trending topic, such as nutrition or cryptocurrency, then the chances are that you can write very informative articles on the subject, with minimal effort on your part.

Signing up for an account of a platform like Constant Content is an excellent way to leverage your knowledge and skills on the topic. With these platforms, you submit complete original articles to the site, and they list them for sale. When your article sells, the platform takes a 33% commission of the sale.

That might seem expensive, but you can sell your articles for far more on these platforms than working for clients. For instance, the average selling price for a 500-word article on constant content is anywhere between $27 to $97, depending on the subject material.

However, many people avoid this platform because there is no pressure to drive them to submit articles. There is also a sense of uncertainty because there is no guarantee your articles will sell. However, research shows that the majority of listings on Constant Content, sell within 3-months of your upload.

Do You Need a Website and Social Profiles?

Contrary to what other professional writing “gurus” might tell you, you don’t need a website, or a social media presence to make it as a successful freelance writer. While having a LinkedIn profile is a nice addition to your prospecting process, it’s not a necessity.

Most of your prospective clients will let you prove your worth by issuing you with a test article. If you do well, you can expect them to give you more work – it’s as simple as that.

Wrapping Up – Freelance Writing Jobs to Avoid

There are plenty of potential clients online looking for your freelance writing services. However, we recommend that you qualify all of your prospective clients before committing. Don’t get desperate and start working for the first content mill that offers you a gig.

You must know your worth as a writer, and only accept gigs that meet your financial expectations. If a client starts to try and lure you into a gig that only pays $0.6 per 100-words, it’s better to leave it and move onto the next contact on your outreach list, and start writing for self-publishing sites like Constant Content instead.

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Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased reporting.oliver@moneycheck.com


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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