Content of the material
- What Is Freelance Writing?
- Is Freelance Writing Right for You? (Pros and Cons)
- Freelance Writing Pros
- Freelance Writing Cons
- 8. Ask What Your Clients Want
- Set up a website
- Ability to fly solo
- 3. Create a blog that matters
- A Look Inside Den 2x Success Stories
- 20. Create more exciting copy by varying sentence length
- 11. Do the writing
- Become a freelance writer today
- 5. Decide what you want to write about
- 5. Be Professional
- Becoming a freelance writer: Savannah’s story
- Do You Possess the Qualities of a Good Content Writer?
- 3. Learn How to Craft a Good Query Letter
- Why You Need to Think Like a Business
- In reality, becoming a paid freelance writer is not rocket science. It just takes focus and consistency.
- 5. Find your niche
- 3. Get Out From Behind Email
- Handle rejection well
- 2. Don’t Create Extra Work
- 3. Be Open to All Types of Writing Jobs
- Grow your career
What Is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is the career of a professional writer who works as a contractor as opposed to a full-time staff writer at a company. Freelancers offer their writing services to different clients and often work across a variety of genres, writing about any topic a client assigns. Freelance writers can also write for different types of clients—they might sell their short stories to creative writing journals, write newspaper and magazine articles, or work as a copywriter or content writer for a client.
Is Freelance Writing Right for You? (Pros and Cons)
If you want to get into freelance writing, then you should do it! I don’t want to discourage anyone. But I do want you to understand what this work is really like.
Lots of travel and lifestyle bloggers portray freelance writing (and freelance work in general) as sitting on the beach sipping tropical drinks.
While you can work in those conditions, the glitzy Instagram photos don’t convey the turmoil, b.s., and stress that can accompany a lot of this work.
So below, I want to present a balanced, realistic look at both the pros and the cons of being a freelance writer.
Freelance Writing Pros
Let’s start with the fun, sexy parts of the job. Here are some of the benefits of being a freelance writer:
No one cares when you do your work, as long as you get it done on time. So whether you want to work early in the morning, late at night, or any time in between, freelance writing will let you do it.
Just as no one cares when you do your work, few companies care about where you do it. While it’s helpful to be in the same general time zone as your clients, it’s far from necessary (as long as you’re a good communicator).
Flexible amount of work
If you want to make an extra $1,000 per month to help out with bills, there’s freelance writing work for that. On the other hand, there’s the option to work 50 hours per week and earn more than most of the people you know.
Get paid to learn new things
Freelance writing means constantly researching and learning about new subjects. If you enjoy this process of discovery, then you’ll likely enjoy this job.
Freelance writing can bring you into contact with everyone from startup founders to seasoned CEOs, especially as you gain more experience.
Creative and challenging work
Freelance writing often means figuring out how to make a boring topic interesting, or how to convey a huge amount of information in a few hundred words. This creative challenge keeps things varied.
Credentials (rarely) matter
Unless you’re writing about something very specialized or technical, no one cares about your credentials. All you need are writing skills. I have a B.A. in English, but none of my clients have ever asked or cared about my degree.
Freelance Writing Cons
Lest you think freelance writing is all tropical islands and charcuterie boards, let’s take a look at some of the cons:
Income can be inconsistent
While you can make very good money freelance writing, clients and projects come and go.
If you’re not careful, you can find yourself with a month where you make little to no money. Proper budgeting and planning can mitigate these fluctuations, but they’re still a reality of the job.
You have to manage yourself
All of the flexibility and freedom that come with freelance writing can be a double-edged sword.
There’s no boss breathing down your neck to make sure you do your work. You need to be able to manage your time and your business, or you’re not going to last.
You go from one boss to many
If you dislike having one boss, then beware. Freelance writing means having many bosses (clients). And each likely has different preferences for how you submit work, how they pay you, etc. Managing all of these relationships can be stressful.
Getting paid can be a pain
If you’re used to getting a paycheck direct-deposited every two weeks, then you’ll need to adjust your expectations.
Freelance writing usually means getting paid monthly, and there’s no guarantee that clients will pay on-time (or in extreme cases, at all). Plus, you’ll need to pay taxes on your earnings each quarter, as there’s no employer to take care of that for you.
It can get boring and repetitive
Freelance writing can be creative and exciting, but sometimes it means writing a dozen articles that say more or less the same thing in different ways.
Writing about succulent gardening might be fun the first time, but do you have the professionalism to still write about it well the 50th time?
Burnout can happen quickly
The flexible, open-ended nature of freelance writing means that it’s easy to take on more work than you can (healthily) manage. If you’re a compulsive workaholic, then this may not be the field for you.
It can get lonely
Freelance writing means sitting alone for long periods of time while you stare at a computer screen. As an introvert, this work suits me. But if you need a job where you’re constantly interacting with people, then this is not the work for you.
8. Ask What Your Clients Want
Knowing what your editor wants in advance will save you a painful amount of editing later on. Always ask your editor or your client for a brief that provides your:
- target word count
- topics to cover
- a deadline
- types of interviewees
- any other information you should include
Before you accept a commission, it’s also worth agreeing how many rounds of edits you’ll make.
Tip: If you’re collaborating with a new editor, ask if the publication uses a particular style guide.
Set up a website
It doesn’t have to be all-singing, all-dancing, but having a web presence is crucial to marketing yourself as a professional that clients should take seriously. You need a contact page, an about page, a testimonials page and, of course, your blog.
You can get started on WordPress or Wix for free, though you will look much more professional to clients if you shell out for a personalised domain and email address. Make sure you have your social media profiles linked to your website as well as sharing buttons on all your pages and content.
Familiarising yourself with SEO isn’t just a good way of getting found online, it’ll also help you in your freelance writing career, especially if you go into copywriting.
Ability to fly solo
Being self-disciplined is hard for many people. If you’re used to being in an office where you’re interacting with your coworkers all day long and you really thrive on that human interaction, the transition to being a freelance writer can feel isolating. But if you know you work best alone, you could really crush it as a freelance writer because that’s what you’ll do 90 percent of the time.
3. Create a blog that matters
If you’re building a business, you need a website. And if you are building a writing-based business, you absolutely must have a blog.
In her Problogger article, Have You Got What it Takes to Become a Highly Paid Freelance Blogger?, freelance writer Marya Jan notes, “You need to have a successful blog. This one seems like stating the obvious, doesn’t it? If you don’t have a blog, how do you even know if you’d enjoy blogging for pay?”
In addition to being a source of content marketing for your business, building a successful blog is also an excellent opportunity to practice your craft. “If you want to become a writer, you need to get used to writing for others. You need to practice taking feedback and dealing with rejection. You also need to start earning some fans. You do this by publishing, publishing small and regularly,” notes Joe Bunting. Your blog is the perfect place to do just that.
Need help starting your first blog or growing your existing blog’s readership? Fizzle has just re-launched the popular course, Start a Blog That Matters. In the course, you’ll discover the exact strategies used to start some of the biggest and most celebrated blogs on the web. Learn more here.
A Look Inside Den 2x Success Stories
The Freelance Writers Den is the online community where freelance writers learn how to grow their income — fast. Inside the community, there are two levels: The Freelance Writers Den is for freelancers who are just getting started, learning the basics, and giving…
20. Create more exciting copy by varying sentence length
Varying your sentence length and structure makes your writing more interesting.
For example, longer sentences are generally used to explain complicated topics or outline a series of events. But short sentences have their place too. You could even try a one-word sentence. Interesting.
And now with emoji’s earning their place in the dictionary, you could even get away with a single-emoji sentence.
11. Do the writing
Q: What’s the best way to make sure I do a great job on my assignment?
A: Study the publication, the blog, or the company materials you are writing for. Really take it apart. How do they start their articles, quote their sources, how long are paragraphs, what sort of experts do they use? How do they conclude? Then, you do that.
Q: I’m scared to turn in my writing to my client. What should I do?
A: Have a writer-friend give it a read and make suggestions. Or consider trading services with an editor for a while, while you build confidence.
Q: What if I don’t have enough article ideas to get assignments regularly?
A: Then don’t write articles. There’s a ton of paid writing for businesses, where they will dictate the topics. Alternatively, learn about how to be a story idea machine.
Q: What if my article gets killed?
A: Like the old song says: Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again. Can’t let any little setbacks get in the way of your freelance dreams!
Q: My client hated my first draft, and I’m devastated. How can I prevent this problem?
A: Ask more questions up-front. Learn about the tone, style, and content the client needs. Pros ask a lot of questions. Here are some key questions to ask copywriting clients.
Q: What if I take an assignment and then I can’t meet the deadline?
A: Try not to worry about it — many deadlines are fungible. Try to build in extra time, until you get a better sense of how long it takes you to do things.
Become a freelance writer today
You can become a freelance writer in next to no time with Copify. Simply fill out an application and be on your way to accessing paid writing jobs from a range of clients. You’ll gain the writing experience and confidence you need to kick-start your freelance writing career and have a new world of flexibility and freedom doing what you love at your fingertips!
5. Decide what you want to write about
If you intend writing non fiction articles, then you might be at a loss what to write about. The best thing to do is to grab a paper and pen and ‘brainstorm’ ideas. For example, what jobs have you had? You may have been in the medical profession, so would have knowledge on health matters, or you may have experience of working outside the home as well as being a parent. What hobbies and interests do you have? You may be a keen genealogist and be able to write an article on how to start researching your family tree. Or you may have experience of collecting something unusual, or be an expert on rare books. Think about the questions you would have if you were new to a particular hobby or interest. Have you traveled to some unusual countries? Sampled the cuisine? Rode on a camel and encountered some strange customs?
Tip: There is a huge market for travel, health and parenting articles. For story writers the biggest markets are for speculative fiction and erotica.
Learning how to become a freelance writer and building a successful freelance writing business is challenging, but do-able. I’ve done it, the 25 experts quoted in this guide have done it, and you can do it too.
Stick the 10-step path outlined here, heed the advice and tips shared by the experts, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful career as a paid writer.
Here’s those 10 steps for you again. Which one’s next for you?
- Decide what type of writing you want to do
- Set reasonable expectations for timelines and revenue
- Create a blog that matters
- Build your portfolio
- Identify ideal clients
- Get networking
- Learn to sell
- Set value based rates
- Provide massive value
- Continually improve your productivity
Thanks for reading! I’ve been Kevin T. Johns, a writer and ghost writer who helps writers from around the world get ideas out of their heads, onto the page, and into readers’ hands.
5. Be Professional
One thing I take pride in is being able to make money in my pj’s!
I love it. I can have a messy bun, a coffee in one hand while wearing my comfy pj pants, and go to town with my writing!
But, just because I may not look professional doesn’t mean I’m not professional online!
You bet I exceed deadlines, reply to emails quickly, and am very flexible with my projects.
I treat my clients like gold, and doing that can quickly grow my income! So, how can you be professional so you can learn how to be a successful freelance writer?
One thing is to respond to your emails within a reasonable time frame. If you don’t do freelance writing work during the weekends, tt’s up to you if you but send an automated email at least mentioning this to a lead.
I don’t mind answering emails on the weekend and realized early on as a freelance writer that some countries have different days for their weekends.
Another way to act professionally is to do what you say you will do.
If you say you will write a 2,000 blog post on starting a Youtube Channel for Etsy Sellers and submit it in three days, do that!
If you tell your new client you will send over an outline for three blog topics at the end of the day, submit it three hours before the end of the day – don’t wait until the last minute to send it.
These little things will be noticed by a client – especially if they normally hire writers.
Becoming a freelance writer: Savannah’s story
The only downside to having so many opportunities is that it can make getting started as a freelance writer feel somewhat overwhelming.
One of the biggest initial challenges people face is trying to picture what the process of becoming a freelance writer actually looks like.
While the origin story of every freelance writer can—and does—look a little different, it’s helpful to ask around in person and look at stories online to visualize the process and get some inspiration.
To illustrate the process, I asked my friend Savannah how she got started as a freelance writer, and here’s what she shared:
“Like many people, I wasn’t too sure what to do with my life as a college student. Despite being an English Literature major, I ended up going down the path of becoming a digital marketer because it felt ‘safer,’ and I decided to pursue my love of writing in my free time by creating a lifestyle blog.
While I really enjoyed the analytical side of things with digital marketing (and those skills certainly came in handy later), I found myself longing for more creativity and a better schedule.
I started to travel a lot and grow my blog more as I went along, and I realized that I didn’t want to give those things up.
Basically, the freedom of working wherever I wanted and doing what I loved as a freelance writer grew more and more appealing.
I had no idea how to be a freelance writer, though, so I turned to a friend who was already working as one and asked her for advice. She led me to a freelancing platform called Upwork and was kind enough to give me some tips and share her profile to reference.
Soon after talking with her and putting in some solid market research, I started pitching myself to a ton of potential clients on the platform.
Nerve-racking as it was to put myself out there (and rejections are an inevitable part of the process), it wasn’t long before I found someone who wanted to work with me.
Since then, I’ve continued to grow my own blog and have worked with multiple clients across industries, writing blog articles, social media posts, web pages, and much, much more. As of today, I’ve happily been a freelance writer for the past three and a half years.”
Now, with an idea of the process in mind, are you ready to create your own freelance writing story?
Do You Possess the Qualities of a Good Content Writer?
If you possess the qualities of a good freelance writer, then this profession will probably be a great fit for you. Comment below with more traits you believe make a successful content writer.
3. Learn How to Craft a Good Query Letter
This is your pitch to an editor to give him or her a taster of the article you are offering to sell. This is a very important part of the marketing process, possibly the most important of all. If you fail to ‘hook’ the editor within the first couple of paragraphs then you can forget it. If you undersell the piece, he or she may not even want to read your article, no matter how good it is. So it makes good sense to take your time when crafting a query letter.
Tip: Think what you want to say and say it concisely. Even slip in an extract from the article as ‘bait’. Read books and articles on writing a query letter.
Why You Need to Think Like a Business
It took me a long time to get into the right mindset about running a six-figure freelance writing business. I paid a bunch of my hard-earned freelancer dollars to an excellent business coach who helped me get out of my head and take action.
This is what you need to do, too — except you don’t have to pay me anything (except maybe your eternal gratitude when you become a successful writer).
One of the biggest keys to success in growing your business is to stop thinking of yourself as ‘just’ a blogger and instead as a small business owner.
When you think like a business, you start to run your shit like a business. And that means getting a focus, attracting the right clients in that area, and getting them to pay you real dollars (not $.03 a word) for the content you create.
In reality, becoming a paid freelance writer is not rocket science. It just takes focus and consistency
Once you start making money from freelance writing, it helps you shift your mindset.
The me who was making $.05 a word and the me who makes $1+ a word are in two very different mental places. A big part of that hinged on building the confidence that I could be a writer and make real money.
To do that, I had to bust out of my shell, get focused, and start marketing myself as a serious business owner.
To make it in this business, you need to do the same.
5. Find your niche
To become a sought-after freelance writer, you’ll have to niche down after a while. Many freelance writers start out writing about all sorts of topics until they figure out the specific niche or genre they’re good at, such as medical or finance writing.
Others focus on certain types of writing, such as Google and Facebook ads copywriting, white paper writing, article writing, email writing, and so on.
3. Get Out From Behind Email
Email is a great communication tool, and it works for a lot of pitches.
However, it’s also easy to misinterpret the tone of a client email, which is why live conversations with editors or clients are so important. I sometimes received more lucrative commissions by attending events, by phoning editors and by getting to know people.
Tip: Use Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet to check in with clients regularly. Transcribe interviews with Rev.
Handle rejection well
To be successful as a freelance writer, you have to cast a wide net, because rejection is a given. If you reach out to dozens of clients, not all of them will even answer you, much less go through the process of signing up to work with you. If you don’t have time in your schedule to market to 10 or more prospects per week at a bare minimum, you won’t be able to turn enough of a profit. Furthermore, your batting average won’t be that good, because you’re not contacting enough clients to convert some of them.
2. Don’t Create Extra Work
Your editors are busy people, and the last thing they want to do is spend half the day revising your article and getting it into their content management systems. If you can eliminate typos, properly format your piece, and make it insanely easy for your client to copy and paste your writing into their systems, they’ll keep hiring you.
To ensure you don’t create extra work for your clients:
- Read their websites through and through to ensure what you’ve written aligns with the content they publish.
- Make it easy to pay you. Create simple invoices (I use Wave) or use a system like Skyword. Accept credit card payments.
- Include a headshot and author bio, even if you’re not sure they need it.
- Ask if there are additional ways you can help. Be specific—ask if they want you to find images for their articles, or if you can take on more than one article at a time.
- Show pride in your work. Share your articles on social media platforms before your client even asks.
3. Be Open to All Types of Writing Jobs
Some of you may already know you want to be a press release writer and nothing else. While that’s great you are niching down, you have to be still open to all types of writing jobs that come your way.
I’ve had prospects ask me to:
- Write course lessons
- Write Landing page copy
- Write eBooks
- Social media posts
- Create Pin graphics
- eCommerce product descriptions
Teresa, a Writeto1k course student, had one of her clients ask her to write a white paper, and she told them she had never done that, but she was willing to try it out. Her white paper exceeded their expectations, and they paid her more than what they agreed to!
Just because you excel with press release writing, it doesn’t mean you can’t try ghostwriting or eBook writing.
I get excited when prospects ask for other things besides blog writing. Doing those other writing jobs gives me a break and makes my job more of a passion than a chore.
So, what are some ways to improve your writing?
One thing is to create an outline of what you want to write about.
Online writing structures itself around subheadings. In your outline, have the title, introduction points to cover, and the subtopics before adding the conclusion.
Another important writing skill is knowing how to find credible sources for your articles. Finding up-to-date blog posts or statistics is what will help you become a successful freelance writer and the go-to writer in your writing niche.
Finally, make sure you are comfortable writing long-form blog posts. This is a high-paying writing job, and if you can solidify that skill, you will be getting paid hundreds per bog posts (even thousands per post too).
To learn more about this lucrative service, check out Freelance Blogging in a Weekend.
Grow your career
If you’re ready to take your freelance writing career to the next level, consider building your portfolio via the Constant Content platform.
On Constant Content, you can build a reputation as a dependable freelance writer while attracting global clients at the same time. Check out our freelance writing resources, and you’ll soon discover how powerful the Constant Content platform can be for growing your career as a marketable freelance writer.