How to Become a Freelance Writer From Scratch (2022 Complete Guide)

What Is a Freelance Writer?

A freelance writer is a professional writer who acts as a contractor, rather than a full-time employee, and usually offers their writing services to a number of different clients and publications. A freelance writer can work across a variety of forms and genres, whether they sell their short stories to creative writing journals, articles to magazines, or work as a copywriter for a company outside of the media world.

Video

Get some experience

Experience is the foundation on which you will you build your freelance writing career. A copywriting course can give you a good introduction to writing different kinds of copy, but you won’t know how effective your words are until you put them in front of a real paying client (and their audience).

James Baker (https://bestreviewsbase.com/)
James Baker (https://bestreviewsbase.com/)

Getting experience can come in many different forms. First and foremost your blog will prove your skills at blogging in general, but here are some other ways to get real, tangible writing experience: • Sign up to jobs boards • Scan employment sites and social media for project work and job vacancies • Join a content marketing agency • Pitch work and guest posts to established titles (newspapers/magazines, websites, other industry blogs) • Approach local or niche-interest community groups and businesses to see if they could do with regular blog posts, editorial/newsletter/magazine articles or need their web content rewriting.

8. Decide what to charge

Q: How do I know what to charge my first clients?

A: There are a few ways to figure this out. First off, if you’re writing for a publication, they may have set rates and tell you what they are.

If not, you can ask clients what their budget is — and sometimes, they’ll tell you.

If their lips are zipped on that, you can ask around that network you’re building, to learn about typical rates. You can also calculate your daily rate, and simply charge what you need to, to pay your bills and maintain the lifestyle you want.

Big tip: Don’t worry a lot about pay rates in your early days. It’s more important that you get to work for good clients in your niches, and build your portfolio. You can just keep raising your rates as you go, until they’re where they need to be.

Q: Should I charge by the word, hour, page, or project?

A: Ideally, you want to charge by the project. Project rates are especially great for newbies, because then your client won’t be penalized if it takes you longer to write than a more experienced writer. They’re what pros do — we’re not hourly clerks, as writers.

When you work on project rates, you will automagically increase your hourly rate over time, as you become more efficient and take less time to write. And your client will never be the wiser. So yeah. Project rates all the way.

Q: What’s a good average hourly rate my freelance writing should work out to?

A: As a newbie, try to shoot for at least $25-$35 per hour with first clients. Less will mean you’ll never earn enough to stay afloat. Aim to rapidly raise that into the $50-$75 an hour range, and keep moving up from there. Experienced freelance writers earn $75-$100 an hour and more.

Q: How do I know how long it will take me to do projects?

A: By tracking your time. Lots of free software out there for that. Figure out how long it takes you, and then challenge yourself to get it done faster on the next project. Keep improving!

Tips On How To Become A Better Writer When Writing Online

Here are some tips that you can implement and stand out compared to other writers.

1. Always Hunt For Work

If you are to choose freelance writing as a career path, one thing to remember is that the quality clients are out there, and is your job to find them.

Look up employment sites online or introduce yourself to the content director in an email to prospective clients. You must constantly search for new freelance writing jobs if you want to maintain earning money and avoid downtime between tasks.

Connect with experienced writers so they may refer you to clients when they are booked up.

2. Learn SEO

More businesses require materials that will direct customers to them.

They will want content marketing writers that understand the fundamentals of SEO and how to raise the ranking of their website in search results.

SEO is great to reach the target audience that your client is seeking.

Have a fundamental understanding of how search engine optimization functions as a freelance writer and know where to strategically position keywords to increase web traffic to the company’s website.

When it comes to SEO, a list of keywords targeted at a certain phrase or category will be provided by a customer looking for SEO content. As the writer, you can make use of these keywords and incorporates them into your article in various ways.

This course on SEO Sucess for Beginners is a great place to start!

3. Start Cold Pitching

Come up with pertinent article ideas and begin pitching them to the publications or newspapers you wish to write for because you probably have your own thoughts running through your brain if you are a writer.

When it comes to this, I know it is tempting to create a single cold-pitch email and send it repeatedly, merely changing the company’s name and business.

However, this may come off as spam-like emails to the eyes of the recipient.

The secret is to include a blank space in your template where you may add one or two unique sentences for each customer.

You must show that you genuinely want to be part of their business and that you are willing to put enough effort to do some research on their company. 

Also, you must promptly explain to them how you may benefit their business without criticizing it.

If you notice that there is some content on their site that needs to be updated, portray it in a way that your services will be of use to them.

When you cold pitch to a potential client, identify ways to benefit them.

You need to ensure that your email does not get deleted in a blink of an eye and that the client notices the effort you have placed to better their site.

4. Produce Tidy Work

When I say tidy work, I mean work that has been screened through for minute errors. If the editor or client has to point out a grammatical error in every paragraph, you know there is a problem.

It is crucial that you submit writing assignments with error-free text and this entails editing and proofreading your own work. Make sure your phrases are succinct, clear, and simple to understand.

Check your writing for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling by going through it word by word and line by line.

If you think your writing work could be polished, just go and search for youtube videos on how to improve your writing. There are plenty of results for anyone who loves and loved writing to watch!

Bonus tip! – Read through this article on Freelance Writing Courses That Will Transform You Into A Six-Figure Writer for free course and paid ones.

5. Feedback Is Essential

In this business, you are bound to receive feedback on your writing and as a beginner, developing a thick skin is essential.

You will receive comments on your work from your clients where sometimes you will turn in a flawless article, and other times you will need to spend a lot of time revising. Do not take criticism personally.

If you are going to be beaten down with every bad feedback that comes your way, you will find yourself being demotivated fast, which will then lead to self-doubt.

Writing for a client is producing the content they require while adhering to their brand’s unique voice and tone.

Successful writers take criticism in stride, implement the suggested modifications, and use the experience to advance their writing experience.

Remembering that every feedback is the key to becoming a better writer in your freelance writing career will help you improvise your writing skills when you start freelance writing.

Ask any experienced writer and they are bound to agree with this tip!

4. Create A Writers Website And Display Your Samples

If you want to know how to become a freelance writer with no experience, it’s worth creating your own writer’s website.

Nothing screams professional like a writer with their own writer’s website.

Think about it this way … are you more likely to trust a gadget from a little stall at the side of the road or a shop with its own website and testimonials?

Having your own writer’s website demonstrates you are a professional and credible writer that has taken the time to invest in a website.

She will teach you places to find free theme and free resource to create a website like no other.

Clients are more likely to take you seriously.

‘But I’m no good at IT!’ you bleat.

Join the club. Technology makes me want to do violent things to my computer, but I have 2 solutions for you:

  • Follow my FREE step by step guide.

You can read my Step-by- step Guide on How To Create A Writer’s Website and then set one up yourself if you follow the 8 steps!

She will teach you how to set up a full-fledged professional website in 2 days.

At this moment it’s only $45!

Think about how much you spend on dinner and movies.

Maybe skip a few date nights and invest in the course and it will transform your writing career.

The Writer’s Website in a Weekend will help you set up a:

  • Homepage
  • Services/Hire Me Page
  • Portfolio
  • Contact Page

Here is the website Elna taught me to build from scratch:

How Much Does Freelance Writing Pay?

I assume that you’re interested in freelance writing because you want to make money. But how much money are we talking, exactly?

It depends.

On the very low end, there are content mills that will pay you a few bucks to churn out surface-level, bite-sized articles. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been paid $1,000 for a single (long, detailed) article. And some writers earn far more than that (mostly in the world of copywriting).

So what makes the difference between the freelance writers earning less than minimum wage and those who charge more per hour than a lawyer? It all comes down to the following:

  • Experience – If you’re brand new, then you’re not going to be able to charge as much as someone with more experience. However, experience matters much less than you would think, which is one thing that makes freelance writing such an appealing field.
  • Skill – More important than experience is skill. The best writers can (and should) charge more for their work. Luckily, it takes less time than you’d think to become a skilled freelance writer.
  • Positioning – This might be the most important factor in earning more. If you can position yourself as a skilled writer who does great work, then you can charge more.
  • Clients – One overlooked aspect of earning more as a freelancer is finding the right clients. If you can find clients who are willing to pay top dollar for the best work, then you’ll earn more.
  • Topics – Some topics are more profitable than others. This includes topics that are highly technical (car repair, for example) or require special expertise/credentials (medical topics, for instance).

No matter your starting knowledge/skills, you shouldn’t expect to make much in the beginning. In my first year of freelance writing, I made a few hundred dollars. I’m not saying you can’t do better, but expect your income to be pretty modest the first year or so.

Finally, note that your freelance writing earnings depend on how much time you can/want to commit.

If you just want to freelance write for a few hours per week, it can be a nice supplemental income (and far more pleasant than driving for Uber). But if you want to put in full-time hours, it’s possible to earn a full-time income.

6. Build your network

Q: This is all great — but how do I actually get freelance writing clients?

A: One great way is to start building a big referral network, and letting people know what sort of writing client you want. Don’t have a network? Build one! You can do that through in-person networking in your town, or virtually, through online groups such as the interest groups on LinkedIn.

Q: Who do I want in my network?

A: A mix of other writers, related service providers such as designers, editors, and photographers, as well as prospective clients, or people who would know your prospects.

Q: What do I say at in-person networking events?

A: Ask people to tell you about what they do, and who their ideal client is, so you can refer them. They’ll probably ask you the same. Have a little ‘me’ speech prepared to introduce your freelance writing services.

Q: What if I’m really shy and don’t like big groups?

A: You can do one-on-one meetups for coffee or after work, or hop on short phone or video calls. Doesn’t have to be big meetings!

Q: How do I ask for referrals?

A: Big tip: Make it mutual. Ask contacts if they are looking for referrals, and if so who’s their ideal client. Then, tell them yours, and that you’d appreciate their keeping an ear out for anyone who needs your type of writer.

Q: How do I build my network online?

A: I love LinkedIn for that — you can import your rolodex, send connection invites to people who Viewed My Profile, or join Groups and then invite group members to connect. You can look for LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) who connect to all comers, and use LinkedIn’s ‘Discover’ listings to find more people who might be good contacts.

Once you’ve connected, ask how you can help. Share and comment on their content. Send them articles that might interest them. Hop on a Skype call. See what you can do to get to know your connections better. The more you stay on their radar, the more likely they’ll remember to refer you when they hear about a writing need.

Are you a content writer?

Receive insider tips straight to your inbox

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

3. Practice Writing

Now, you don’t have to be the best writer to

Now, you don’t have to be the best writer to be a successful one. But, learning how to become a freelance content writer, you do need to know how to write sentences and get your thoughts across!

What if English isn’t your first language?

There are many freelance writers who don’t have English as their primary language and they are making a living freelance writing.

So, it is possible but it might just mean you have to work a little harder showing prospects you are more than capable of writing for them.

If, though, you are a fairly good writer, work on improving your writing.

Practice adding sensory details, eliminating filler words, and honing your craft. You can do this by starting your own blog.

Make sure to know the difference between blogging and content writing.

Not only will this help you become a better writer, but it will also help you market your freelance writing business. I have landed many clients from my blog and I know my blog only makes me more credible as a professional writer.

Reading is also a great way to improve your vocabulary and world knowledge.

I try to read blogs in my niche and when I can, I actually pick up a real book or two to read on my downtime!

Want to Learn More About Writing?

Become a better writer with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by literary masters, including Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, and more.

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.

How do Freelance Writers Get Paid?

As a freelance writer, you can use a payment processor like Stripe or PayPal to accept card payments from clients. You can also accept ACH bank transfers. I like PayPal because it allows you to sound a professional-looking invoice via email that the client can then pay via card or PayPal balance.

If you use freelance marketplaces like Upwork to start pitching and getting your first few paid writing clients, then the platform will handle payments for you. You’ll simply add your bank details to receive your payouts.

As you get started as a freelance writer, you’ll want to have a plan for getting paid, so iron out that plan before proceeding. It’s just as important as deciding what you want to write and how you’ll find clients.

What exactly is freelance writing?

If you’re searching for entry-level freelance writing jobs, it’s important to be specific about what it is that you’re looking for. In short, freelance writing is the work done by a self-employed person—a freelancer—who earns money by writing articles, white papers, blogs, and other text-based content for one or more clients. Often, freelancers work from home offices, coffee shops, or coworking spaces.

{writer}

Although some tasks might be paid hourly, freelance writers are normally paid according to the amount of work they do for a client. Sometimes that means setting a price for each word written or for a certain number of weekly articles.

Clients hire freelance writers to create content on a huge range of topics. Some freelancers stick to certain niche topics or fields that they have lots of experience with, often because their expertise enables them to charge a higher rate for their work.

However, a large proportion of successful freelance writers are generalists who quickly learn about and write on unfamiliar topics according to their clients’ needs.

Although a large proportion of freelancers search for and contact clients themselves, finding freelance writing jobs for beginners is time-consuming, and the hours spent searching for new sources of work are unpaid.

For this reason, many freelancers are turning to writing agencies such as Eleven Writing. At Eleven, we pair writers with clients in need of their specific expertise.

Even if you haven’t got any previous professional writing experience, we can help you to develop your skillset while earning a competitive rate for the work you do. Eleven partners with a diverse range of clients, ensuring that the freelance writers we hire always have as much work as they need.

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?

Communicate when something goes wrong

From time to time, life happens. Maybe you get the flu or your dishwasher floods the house on deadline day. Sometimes, these hurdles are unavoidable.

In a perfect world, we’d all have our assignments in a week early, unafflicted by the day-to-day hiccups of life. But it’s not reality for most. If something comes up where you need an extension, talk to your editor.

Why NOT to Start Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is great and all, but the reality is, it’s not for everyone.

Maybe we should have listed this video first as if any of these are dealbreakers for you, then we shouldn’t waste any more time.

Still think freelance writing is for you?

Let’s get to it.

Next Steps

This was a long article, and you may be wondering where to go from here.

Here’s a summary of the steps I outlined above for quick reference:

  • Learn how to write for the web (and how it’s different from academic writing).
  • Make a website and start publishing articles there.
  • Use networking, job boards, and direct outreach to find your first client.
  • Once you have your first client, it’s all about building from there.
  • Learn the business side of freelancing (and talk with an accountant if you’re confused).

Finally, if you’re looking for further step-by-step guidance, then I recommend checking out this freelance writing course from my friends Kristin and Alex. It walks you through the entire process of becoming a freelance writer, from finding your first client to growing your freelance business.

No matter what route you take, remember to be patient and persistent. I wish you all the best with your freelance writing endeavors, and I believe in you!

Image Credits: featured

Do You Need a Website to Become a Freelance Writer?

You do not need a website to start a freelance writing career. There are plenty of other online platforms like Upwork where you can build a profile and find clients, and you can also use LinkedIn to build a profile, show writing samples and testimonials, and bolster your online presence.

Creating a website takes time and effort, and almost nobody is going to be visiting your site at the beginning of your new freelance career.

So you’re better off building your portfolio on sites that already have millions of visitors, like Upwork and LinkedIn, and then focus your effort on becoming a good writer, landing clients, and getting paid.

You can always circle back and create a website later, but to begin, I’d start by building out a LinkedIn profile (or customizing your existing profile) to suit your ideal freelance writing niche and then finding one or more freelance marketplaces like Upwork.com to build a profile on, too.

That’s the quickest path to making money and being able to earn a full-time income through online writing.

By the way, you can read my best LinkedIn profile tips here.

Should you become a freelance writer?

First, you need to find your reason for becoming a freelance writer. Without a solid reason to pull you through the long hours, it can be difficult to make your dream a reality. The benefits of becoming a freelance writer can be absolutely amazing.

You have the opportunity to build your freelancing business from the ground up. You have the option to choose how much you are willing to work, when you are able to work, where you will work and how much you will charge for your services. However, you need to determine why these benefits matter to you.

Would you use the newfound flexibility to spend more time with your kids? To pursue a new passion in your free time? Or to make your own schedule while you travel the world? You’ll need to understand how these benefits will play out in your life.

Find something to hold on to. As you start to build your business, you’ll likely need to put in long hours on top of your regular job. As you get closer to the tipping point of being able to afford to quit your regular job, the longer those hours might get to you. You’ll need to draw on the reason why you are doing this to find the self-discipline to carry on.

DOs and DON’Ts On How To Become A Freelance Writer With No Experience

DO

  • Submit your work before a deadline.
  • Market yourself on Linkedin.
  • Cold pitch via email/Linkedin.
  • Create a portfolio website.
  • Take up paid courses and add value to your writing skills.
  • Read your client’s demands carefully (I once hired a writer that wrote the whole article wrongly as she missed out ONE word from the topic)

DON’T

  • Give up after 10 cold pitch emails (please, it takes 100 at times before you hear your first reply)
  • Submit work after a deadline.
  • Bug your client every few hours with questions (please Google before asking simple questions, your client’s time is valuable – they hired you for a reason).
  • Expect paid value in a free course.

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.

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Over to you – are you interested in freelance writing?

Remember to please pin me!

What Is Freelance Writing (And How Do I Become a Freelance Writer)? 9 Freelance Writing Habits to Earn More Money How to Become a Ghostwriter for Beginners (Ghostwriting Step-by-Step)

Tags