How to Become a Freelance Writer
Freelance writing is for anyone who has a passion for writing and wants to change their career to one that gives you more freedom. When you first start out and are establishing yourself in the industry, you may want to sign up with a few freelance job sites on the internet. There are some that specialize in writing jobs but don’t limit yourself to only those sites. A lot of them you pay for the membership and some have very strict rules before they will sign you up.
There are even some ghostwriting companies, like The Urban Writers, that are always looking for freelance writers with potential. As long as you are willing to put in the hours, learn, and grow, you will soon be making a comfortable living doing remote writing jobs.
But make no mistake, it is not all easy peasy lemon squeezy! It is tough and like any job these days, competitive. Only, over the internet you are up against hundreds of talented people from all over the world and not just five or so local ones.
So, the first rule of thumb is to start thinking of yourself as a business. You are no longer just you, but “You Incorporated.” Your knowledge, talents, and 10 fingers are now your commodities that you want customers to invest in. Just like any startup, you have to break through all the competition, find your niche in the marketplace, and an edge that is going to set you ahead of your competition.
Three Steps to Getting Started as a Freelance Writer
As a business, you need to get organized and have some form of strategy; the following three steps will help you to get started on your new business venture.
For more information about some of the top job types available for freelancers, read “Freelance Writing Jobs for Ebooks and Blogs.”
Step 1 — The Game Plan
Taking Stock of What You Have to Offer as a Writer
This is where you have to take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. You will be surprised just how much you may have to offer to various writing niches just with some of your everyday routines. List all your hobbies, sports, interests, if you are a parent, likes, dislikes, talents, and skills.
Some writing niche’s that your hobbies, talents, and skills could be useful for are:
- Arts and crafts
- Health and fitness
Even being a parent can be listed as a skill set as each family is unique and can bring different perspectives to an article.
Settle on One or Two Niches
Once you have listed your skill set it is time to whittle it down to about two or three of your top choices. In order to do that, ask yourself, if you were stuck having to write on this topic for the rest of your life, which three would they be. Write them in order from the most to the least favorite of the three.
This will give you your niche to specialize in but two as your backup plans or to offer some diversity in your writing assignment choices.
Time to Hit Google or Your Search Engine of Choice
Do some research on your chosen niches:
- Find out how much interest there is in the niche.
- Find out what people are asking about the niche.
- Find the websites or blogs that offer articles on the subject.
- Brush up on your knowledge of the subject.
Make a List of Your Targeted Customers
The next thing you have to do is some deeper research into who your potential customers are going to be and the best person to contact. Read some of the media posts and take note of the writing style.
Step 2 — Build Your Online Presence
As a business, you are going to need an online presence in the form of a website and at least one social media account such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
Start with your website as this is where you can establish your online portfolio and you get to showcase your writing abilities by displaying some writing examples on your site. It is also a great place to introduce who you are and your experience. All you need is a home page, about page, examples of your writing you have published on other sites, your own blog, and what writing services in what niches you offer.
A website is also a great place to showcase some testimonials or referrals of your skills. Building a website or blog should not take longer than a weekend, even less for experienced website builders. There are many web design packages that are so easy to use and come with ready to use templates that are easily modified to suit your needs. You can look at sites such as Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress. They come full of interesting and handy add-ons, graphics, and animations.
Set up your social media account(s) and find people with an interest in your niches. Start to follow them as that is one way to get people to notice you and follow you back. If you are camera savvy, create a few YouTube videos on a subject you love, tweet snippets of your writing, and get friends to promote you on their pages.
Step 3 — Reach Out, Socialize, and Market
The third step is to actually reach out to your intended customers. You can do this by writing a personal introductory letter introducing yourself and what you do. Put links to your website and social media accounts. Try not to bring up the topic of “looking for a writing position;” just introduce yourself, tell them how much you admire what they do or how you love their products, etc.
Some of the best places to find and reach out to potential customers are on sites like LinkedIn. If you go to LinkedIn jobs and search for freelance writing, writing jobs, freelance writers, or remote writing jobs, it will list all the companies looking for writers. LinkedIn usually has a surprising amount of detail about each company or person looking to employ writers.
Make sure you maintain your website and social media accounts and keep them up to date. Keep adding to your blog; if you find a potential client is looking for a specific topic, write a test article on it and add it to your portfolio.
Keep increasing your list of potential clients and put aside at least an hour or two every day to dedicate to marketing your business by writing introductory letters, posting on your social media accounts, and making a point of commenting on businesses you are following.
Get involved in various online writing groups and join freelance job sites such as:
- LinkedIn Jobs
There are various applications and online tools to help you with your grammar, punctuation, sentence structures, etc. such as Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Scribens, and Hemmingway Editor. They all have free versions with limited editing help but the full versions offer in-depth writing analysis and usually include a comprehensive plagiarism checker.
Brush up or research the various citations styles; these include; APA, MLA, IEEE, etc. And if you are writing a lot of articles, you are going to find that part of capturing a reader’s attention is the heading of the article. In order to find out how your heading rates, you can use tools that measure this like Sharethrough Headline Analyzer.
Take a few online courses or attend a few freelance writing webinars; they usually have a host of valuable information for writers that freelance for a living. They normally have information on how to set your rates and the standard rates for various niches and different levels of writers.
Practice makes perfect, so make sure you write each day, even if it is a 500-word article for your own blog. Learn as much about the latest writing styles, writing gadgets, and check the job boards on a regular basis. The quicker you get your application in, the better chance you have at getting the job.
If you are serious about becoming a freelance writer, you are going to have to persevere and not give up at the first hurdle. You will have to learn to take harsh criticism, be willing to do rewrites and make various changes to your submitted writing work, even if you do not agree with them. You will have to develop a tough skin and see criticism as a way to hone your writing skills to a sharp point of precision.
Writing is an art; art involves passion and passion burns at the heart of every good writer. Hold onto that passion and see every piece of work you write as a new adventure. Every adventure offers something new to learn, and it makes us stronger as it gives us a bit more courage to tackle the next one.