[This is a guest post by Rachel Maree from WriteFreelancerforyou with great detailed tips on how to become a freelance writer and make money from home. I love how Rachel starts from the basics of defining what a freelance writer is and then goes into how to become one, where to find freelance writing jobs and make money as a freelancer working from home!]
Are you ready for a career change? Do you want to work for yourself and be your own boss? Are you looking at ways to use your passion for words to earn some extra cash? Then freelance writing could be what you have been looking for!
What is a freelance writer?
An interesting fact I learnt only recently (which is a little embarrassing):
The word freelance was formed back in medieval times. A knight or a mercenary would sell their services (like using their lance) to any lord who could pay the right price. He was not tied to any particular lord or allegiance. He was “free” to work for whomever he chose. Hence, he was a “freelance” for hire.
Like I said, embarrassing that I did not already know that!
The simplest definition of a freelance writer is that they are a pen for hire. A company, business or individual can employ a freelancer on a contractual or per project basis to write for them, and just like a knight you are free to choose who you work for as long as the price is right!
Have I scared you off yet? No? Good!Freelance writing is a fantastic career. There are so many facets to it that you will never get bored!
There are many different breeds of freelance writers from business or SEO writers, to content or grant writers. You can even be a ghostwriter (someone who doesn’t have their byline on the publication).
When creating your freelance writing business, think about WHO you want to write for, what AREAS you are knowledgeable in and what you are most interested in. This will help you decide what kind of freelance writer you are.
Not only are there several different types of freelance writers, you can further break it down into skills and services:
- White papers
- Product descriptions
- Website content
- Marketing material
- Press releases
The list really goes on and is only limited by your imagination! Think of any writing project a business or individual may need, and you can find a freelance writer to help.
You need to work out what TYPE of writing you enjoy the most (and what you are good at). These skills are a great starting point, so go ahead and add these to your list of freelance writing services.
How to become a freelance writer
Let us get one thing straight before we talk more about HOW to become a freelance writer. You DO NOT need formal training or qualifications. A journalism degree may help if that is the line of writing you are pursuing. However, it is NOT necessary for most other freelance writing.
Of course, it helps if you are skilled at putting words together (and enjoy it).
There is no one right way to becoming a freelance writer. Everyone comes at it from a different background, walk in life, age and for different reasons.
However, the steps to becoming a freelance writer are relatively the same:
When I made my first foray into freelance writing I set out with no plan and no real idea of what it was. Eventually, I sat down and did some research and boy am I glad I did! The best research you can do is to have a look at other freelance writers, read their blogs, look at their portfolios and websites, jump onto forums and ask questions.
There are also many courses out there on being a freelance writer. Do your research carefully and pick a course that appeals to you (and your bank account). Again, it is not necessary, but if you need a framework of where and how to start then freelance writing courses are great.
2) Decide your niche
Having a specific niche makes marketing your freelance writing services easier, and gives you a better focus for targeting potential clients.
To decide your niche, you need to ask yourself several questions:
- What are you good at?
- What are you knowledgeable about?
- What interests you?
Answers to these questions will help you figure out what you enjoy writing about.
3) Set-up your freelance writing business
We will cover this step below as it is a BIG one.
4) Create your portfolio
If you want to sell yourself as a freelance writer, you need to PROVE your skills. The best way to do this is with a portfolio.
There are several ways you can build your portfolio as a new freelance writer:
- You can start a blog on your website.
- Write guest posts for other websites in your niche.
- Pitch to editors of online magazines and newspapers.
- Create sample articles.
5) Find a client!
Finding clients and jobs can be arduous, especially well-paying ones! We will cover this topic more in-depth below. For now, think about what your “ideal client” looks like:
A small or large business or company?
An individual looking for help with their autobiography or other personal project?
Will their ethics line up with yours? Does that matter to you as long as they pay?
How to set up a freelance writing business
Now that you have decided freelance writing is for you and what niche you will be writing in, it is time to set up your business.
The first thing you need to do is decide on a business name and register it. Before you register your amazing business name, make sure the domain is free so you can use it for your business website.
Now you have your business name, you can start on the other fun stuff such as branding colors and logo.
It is important to come up with an eye-catching design that will set you apart from other freelance writing websites, whilst capturing the essence of your business.
I used this course to create beautiful graphics for my blog.
If you are not creative in terms of graphic design, you may want to splurge and hire a designer to help. They can set you up with business cards, website banner, letterheads and even an email signature. But it would cost you more than getting this course instead.
Read this post to learn how to create social media graphics quickly.
Once you have all your branding and logo set, you can start designing your website.
A writer’s website is essential. It is where you will host your portfolio and create an attractive site where potential clients can find you.
Set up a strong social media presence. In today’s age nearly everyone is connected to one social media platform or another. My advice is to research where your target audience hangs out the most on social media.
Pick the top 2 and focus on building your presence up there first.
Then you can add in more platforms if you wish. However, when you are first starting out as a freelance writer, there is so much to do that you do not want to overwhelm yourself by joining a gazillion different social media platforms and trying to keep up with them all.
You are better off doing one or two really well, than five different platforms poorly.
Your next step is to sign up for an invoicing service.
Initially, I went down the Word Document route, where I made my own invoices and tracked through an excel sheet. Do not do that. It looks unprofessional and gets very messy!
I now use Rounded, an Australian online accounting system aimed at freelancers. I can keep track of all my invoices, income and expenses. It even estimates how much tax I may have to pay.
There are many options such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Myob and Xero that you can look into.
Find one that works for you and is easy to use.
Last, but not least, you need a way to keep track of all your clients and projects. A simple spreadsheet is great for this. I also love old-school paper and pen planner and have recently started using Asana.
Here are the simple steps to setting up your freelance writing business:
- Business name.
- Branding and logo.
- Create a website.
- Establish social media profiles.
- Create beautiful graphics
- Sign up for an invoicing service.
- Use a project tracker system.
- Offer a freebie to grow your email list
How to find freelance writing jobs as a beginner
So you have your business set-up and ready to go, you know how to become a freelance writer, now all you need is to onboard a PAYING client.
Some people swear by content mills such as Fiverr and Upworks. I even joined a few back when I first started. However, I quickly found that if you wanted to find quality clients who treated you well and paid you what you deserved for all your hard work, you had to move beyond content mills.
Job boards such as ProBlogger, GumTree, Craigslist and LinkedIn can be amazing.
Again, you may have to search hard to find a quality client. Do not be tempted to settle for a cruddy job that pays next to nothing, even for the experience. Chances are these are the sorts of clients who won’t give a good review or be satisfied with your work, no matter how good.
And the only reason for taking on low-paid or free work is for a GREAT review that will improve your reputation as an amazing freelance writer.
Network with other entrepreneurs and offer your freelance writing services in Facebook groups.
Another fantastic way of finding clients is to cold pitch.
Simply Google your niche and look at those websites that pop up. Do they need website content? Regular blog posts? Are the product descriptions boring? Send a pitch to this business selling your amazing freelance writing skills!
Ask friends, family and local businesses if they are in need of an amazing writer. You just never know. Your local community center may need someone to help with eBooks. Your aunty may be considering paying someone to write her autobiography. Until you ask, you do not know!
Once you have found your paying client, the last and exciting step is to start the work BUT before you do that, make sure to have a freelance or independent contractor agreement in place with your client to protect your hard work and ensure timely payment for your services.
Side Note: This is an excellent resource that teaches you how to outsource your content if you are looking to hire a freelance writer.
Your freelance agreement will cover a lot of important legal things like:
- scope of your freelance writing services
- your payment terms
- late fees for untimely payments
- intellectual property rights
- confidentiality provisions
and much more! It’s best to purchase a contract template from a lawyer like Amira since she’s a lawyer and provides the most comprehensive legal contracts. Plus her prices are the most affordable in the market. This contract will prevent lawsuits and ensure you get paid on time!
Freelance Writing Tips
My top tips for a successful freelance writing career are:
- If you have researched until you are seeing double and still undecided about freelance writing, why not try it as a side business first? Dip your toes in to see if it is for you before fully committing!
- Set realistic goals.
- Be organized!
- Build relationships with other freelance writers, especially those who are in your niche. This support system will be invaluable, and sometimes even lead to paid opportunities.
- Do it in writing! Make sure to have a legal freelance contract in place with your client
- My number one tip is not to let fear hold you back. Just do it.
Freelance writing is such a great career for those who have the drive and determination to be their own boss. You can take on as little or as much work as you want, you can decide who you work for and when, you set your hours and you can even work in your pajamas if you want. As long as you get your work done!
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About the Author:
Rachel Maree is a freelance writer, registered nurse and mum. Her experiences with these lend her inspiration to write intriguing, funny and informative articles and stories. As a busy working mum she knows how crazy life can be.
Rachel blogs about freelance writing and being a WAHM, teaching others through her own journey how to do it all! She is an ordinary mum, just like you, making it work.
If you are interested in freelance writing, check out her FREE email course: “How to be a freelance writer in 10 easy steps”. Tailored for WAHM and those with limited time, it is the perfect place to start your journey!