How to become a freelance writer
So you want to know how to become a freelance writer?
Many people dream of becoming one. The idea of working in the comfort of your living room, in your pajamas with a hot cup of coffee is just too difficult to resist.
As great as that may seem, how do you begin? What is the right way to kick off your freelance writing career?
While having reputable writing experience gives you an advantage, one doesn’t necessarily have to have this to become a freelance writer.
The key word is passion. If you are passionate about writing and it gives you joy and pleasure to put together interesting and high-quality narratives, you are on the right path.
Passion alone won’t get you anywhere though. Just like any other huge undertaking, getting into freelance writing requires preparation and planning, something we will share with you through the steps below.
If you really want to know how to become a freelance writer, make sure to do the following.
Build your professional presentation online
Since you are just starting out, not everyone has an idea of how good you are at writing and what you bring to the table.
Being a total unknown, the most sensible strategy is to be able to market yourself not only to become more visible but also to highlight your strengths. This would give prospective clients an idea of just how great you are and how your skills can help them grow their businesses.
It would help potential clients a great deal if they could easily look you up. From your basic information to your writing samples, having it all in one place makes it easier for clients to get to know you and what you’re capable of.
Most writers design their own websites with links dedicated to different sections like their bios, contact information, rates and writing samples.
Others who have a tight budget settle for portfolio sites which are mostly free and design-ready like Quietly, Contently, and Clippings.Me for example.
Whatever you decide, make sure that all information contained on the site is factual. Don’t forget to highlight your best blog posts or any other written materials as samples.
Remember that the objective is not only to be seen but to impress.
Join marketplaces and begin marketing on social media
Marketing yourself doesn’t end with a professional presentation or online portfolio. If you really want to become a freelance writer fast, you need to be where clients are too.
Joining a freelance market like Upwork or FreeeUp is a good place to start. By creating an online profile, an engaging cover letter and a killer resume, you are giving yourself a better chance of landing your first client.
Though the competition can be stiff (especially with Upwork which has millions of freelancers in its database), the opportunities and the business owners looking for writers on these marketplaces are abundant.
You just have to figure out a way to stand out. Since you are just starting out, lowering your rates temporarily would be a good idea. Most clients won’t be willing to shell out money for an inexperienced writer.
Apart from these freelance markets, there are also marketplaces specifically made for writers. Some of the popular ones you can try are Text-Writers.com, Scripted, and WritersMarket to name a few.
Social media is also a good place to market your writing skills. It’s no secret that companies today also look to social media when background checking their prospects.
Make sure that your details are updated especially on Facebook and LinkedIn. Make sure to share some of your past work on social media so clients can see them and get an idea about your writing style.
Land your first client
Landing that first client is the first step towards your freelance writing journey but achieving it is easier said than done.
With an online portfolio and a social media presence, it should get easier right?
Well, not exactly. As we mentioned in the previous sections, the goal is to market yourself and let everybody know who you are and why they should trust you with their writing projects.
Putting yourself in front of prospective clients is crucial if you really want to land that first gig that you’ve been looking forward to.
Apart from the website, the marketplace and social media presence, there are still plenty of alternatives left for you to sell yourself.
Networking with other freelancers, particularly the seasoned ones, will definitely help. Ask them everything you want to know about landing that first client. What do you have to do? Where do you have to be? Who do you need to contact?
Network hard if you must because sometimes, it is through these relationships you make that opportunity arises. One of these freelancers may have a client looking for a writer with a lower rate or someone they can mold to become a full-time blogger. Getting your first gig through referrals is a good way to start.
As mentioned above, you also have to consider lowering your rate for the meantime because, at the end of the day, business owners will still want to save money whenever they can. You can gradually increase your rate with succeeding clients as you gain more experience.
Visiting freelance sites and sending out applications is another way of fast-tracking your writing career. When it comes to getting hired, always remember that “the more entries you send, the better the chances of winning.”
After landing your first gig, everything shouldn’t be as difficult as the first time. You just need to get over the hump by breaking into the freelance writing industry with your first client.
Setting clear expectations and providing accurate estimates
Communication is key. When you work with someone from the other side of the world whom you haven’t even personally met, communication is indeed crucial.
As a freelance writer, you have the option of getting paid by the hour or per project. It’s important to be able to establish this from the very beginning to avoid disputes.
Equally important is to be able to set clear expectations when it comes to your writing projects. How long will it take to complete the blog post? What kind of voice do you need to use in writing the piece? Will you be provided with data or do you need to do the research yourself? Will there be an extra charge for revisions?
These are very specific questions that need to be addressed before you begin writing because a misunderstanding is the last thing you want to happen.
Before you accept a project, consider answering these questions first so that when you finally get hired, you know what expectations to set with your client.
Relationships are built on trust especially when working with a freelance client where everything is settled online.
Communication with clients while writing
Clients appreciate transparency and open communication. Even though you’re left to work on your own, keeping clients posted on the status of the blog post or copy you’re creating is a good practice.
Equally important is to be able to clarify any confusion or questions you may have about the topic you’re tasked to write. It’s never safe to assume anything when it comes to the information you’re being fed. If something’s not clear, sending a short chat message or email will go a long way.
It’s also a good practice to send a draft of your work to the client before finalizing. This way, the client can still provide suggestions to improve the flow of your writing.
You have to remember that it’s their business you are creating content for. Though you know more about writing, they have every right to adjust or remove anything they think will put their business in a bad light.
As a freelance writer, you’re not necessarily working FOR the client. You are working WITH the client to make things better. It’s like working with a business partner so always keep clients in the loop.
Becoming a freelance writer is never easy. It requires passion, dedication, patience and hard work for one to start and maintain a successful freelance writing career.
If you want to know how to become a freelance writer, follow the steps we mentioned above. Clients won’t come to you if they don’t know you.
You need to grab every opportunity to get in front of clients if you’re just starting out. You need to be able to market yourself properly and be in the right places to land a writing gig.
If you’re eager to become a freelance writer, we suggest you start building your portfolio as soon as possible. Create a blog or start accepting free writing projects in the meantime so you can gain some experience.
Showcase these writing samples in your portfolio so clients can see your writing style and potential. Once you’ve successfully landed gigs, make sure to take care of your clients by establishing a relationship built on trust.
If you do these, you’ll not only get projects, you’ll also have return clients always willing to work with you.
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Noel Rosos is a personal development writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and founder of Life’s How You Live It, a personal development blog dedicated to helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of. He is also a writer/contributor for Arianna Huffington’s wellness site, Thrive Global. He is an affiliate marketer, a full-time husband and father, and a self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST.