How to Get Started as Freelance Writer Beginner

Why You Should Consider Freelance Writing

With so many different types of online businesses out there, why do we believe freelance writing is truly the best way to go?

Well, here are just a few of the reasons to start freelance writing.

And I’m willing to bet, even after all those reasons I listed in the video – you’re still thinking. “But I don’t have time.” If that’s you? Then this will show you how to make time to start a freelance writing business.

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!

Video

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.

But don’t overdo it

On the flip side, don’t be too communicative. Editors are busy, and calling and emailing frequently just to say hello isn’t going to put you on an editor’s good side.

Find out how the editor prefers to communicate (most tend to prefer email, in my experience) and communicate that way. While I’m not a fan of out-of-the-blue phone calls, I’m more than happy to schedule a time to chat on the phone or have coffee. I like to meet the people I’m working with and have a face or voice to put with a name.

But, regardless of how you communicate, don’t share too many personal details of your life — this is a work relationship, after all.

Final thoughts

Freelance writing isn’t a lifestyle that works for everyone, but by reading this article and informing yourself about the industry, you’ll be able to quickly work out whether or not it’s the right gig for you. For the best results when pitching your first articles, don’t forget to follow the straightforward steps we've detailed above.

I’ll leave you with one parting piece of advice. Remember, as you’re launching your freelance writing career, to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to write on topics that you are genuinely interested in and care about. This is the single best way to turn freelance writing work from a slow grind into an exciting activity that you feel passionate about doing well.

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.

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!

How to Become a Freelance Writer: Step-by-Step Guide

Freelance writing jobs and writing clients come in all shapes and sizes. Luckily, there are endless ways to piece together a freelance writing career.

1. Build a Portfolio

Small businesses hit just as many highs as they do lows in the beginning. Freelance work is no different. Focus on finding new clients and building up your portfolio. Portfolios are curated collections of “clips,” writing samples that show your strengths and range as a writer. In the beginning, every byline and project you get can and should go towards building your portfolio, but if you’ve yet to land any paying gigs, you can always write up “spec” clips for hypothetical clients, or use blog posts. If you’re stuck on what you should write about, make a list of your passions, or areas you have experience or expertise in.

2. Start Pitching

The hardest part about freelance writing is also the most crucial: You’ve got to put yourself out there and pitch to multiple publications and websites. Always be listening for ideas or trends in your everyday life or the culture at large. Be sure to identify the right outlet and editor—do enough research to make a good guess about the right person on the masthead to contact (very rarely this is the editor-in-chief this person. Keep initial pitch emails brief. Be sure to include links to one or two solid clips, to give them a sense of your voice. When you do get turned down, handle rejections with grace, refine your idea if necessary, then start again with another outlet. Once you get your foot in the door at a publication, pitching becomes easier.

3. Start Your Own Blog

Becoming a blogger is particularly useful if you’re just starting out and don’t have any published bylines quite yet. Many editors or potential clients will request clips or writing samples to get a sense of your voice; this way, you’ll have something to show them. Blogging is also a great way to hone a daily writing practice. Even if your mom is the only one who reads it, building those habits will make you a better writer—and someone very well might discover your work along the way.

4. Scour Job Boards

Not all freelance writing gigs are 12,000-word articles you’ve reported and pitched. Most companies offer part-time contracts for content marketing, copywriting and copyediting for everything from brand partnerships to search engine optimization (SEO) projects. Sites like Contently, Mediabistro, and LinkedIn are a good place to start looking for freelance writing jobs.

5. Embrace the Side Hustle

Writing work, especially at the beginning, can be inconsistent. A part-time day job can help you financially while you build your portfolio and client list, or while you’re in between assignments and waiting on invoices.

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.

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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.

2. Publish Your Work For Free On Contently

Contently is great! You can create a few writing samples, add images and make your writing look professional.

It’s a great way of coming across as competent when you want to know how to become a freelance writer with no experience.

You can even save your freelancers work into different segments and categories and it’s all FREE.

Here is an example of mine here:

Once you have a few samples and since you enjoy writing, you can apply for jobs and include the Contently links for potential clients to review.

I have done that and have successfully secured a few jobs this way.

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!

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:

Flexible schedule

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.

Flexible location

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.

Networking opportunities

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.

7. Guestpost

Guest posting is essentially where you write for other websites for free. It helps you get your writing published, if you want to know how to become a freelance writer with no experience.

It is normally unpaid but some may pay! I have secured new clients that pay well this way.

A  really easy way to find guest posts is to google your niche + guest posts.

So for example, if you like to write about vegan food:

Vegan food + guest posts

Write for us + vegan food

Here are some sites that accept guest posts :

Tinybeans– Parenting niche

GoMadNomad– Travel niche (Paid!)

Buzzfeed-Entertainment and Viral content

TODAY– Parenting and Food niche

If you want to know how I pitch my guest posts to these sites, read this.

Is Freelance Writing a Good Career Overall?

Online writing and freelance writing are fantastic career choices that allow you to work from anywhere and earn a relatively high income. I know plenty of freelance writers (mainly copywriters) who earn six figures per year or who have gone on to build writing agencies that earn six or even seven figures.

While your success and earnings potential do depend on the type of writing you choose and how good you become at selling your services and building efficient processes, there are enough good niches and types of writing that getting started shouldn’t be a problem.

Plus, the difficulties in being a freelance writer would come with any other freelance career, too, such as software development or design. So, freelance writing is as good as any freelance career, in my opinion.

I also like how simple it is. You don’t need an ultra-high-speed internet connection, the most expensive laptop, or constant contact with your clients. You typically take a sales call, arrange payment, have them send over some details about what they need, and get to work.

So being a freelance writer is also simpler and involves less back-and-forth with clients than most other freelance careers, in my experience.

I enjoyed this work thoroughly and took full advantage by doing some of my freelance writing work from Thailand, Vietnam, and other distant locations while still having my writing business based in the US.

Scripted

Scripted freelancers pitch assignments directly to customers. They can write in any industry where they have expertise. Although each job has a minimum price, writers can set their rates.

Guaranteed payment is made five days after the work is accepted. If work is rejected, writers can qualify for partial payment. 

5. Showcase your past work effectively


As previously mentioned, it's imperative for you to have a professional portfolio in order to show the type of work that you can provide to clients. But, this won't take you very far if you don't showcase your work effectively.

For example, one of your highest achievements could have been to have your ad copy placed in a Coca-Cola advertisement. But, if the photo that you use for this project is low quality, blurry, etc., you're not doing yourself much justice.

To elaborate, you should seek to optimize the experience that your clients have when looking through your work. This means that they should be able to seamlessly switch from one project to the next, avoid the need to download projects to view them, etc.

Otherwise, you may find that people quickly lose interest, which will cause you to lose out on potential business. As time goes on and you secure more projects, you should replace the weaker pieces of your portfolio with stronger ones.

Eventually, you'll have a well-rounded portfolio that is full of quality projects, something that will drastically increase your chances of getting hired. 


2. Mindset first

The number one thing that stops aspiring freelance writers is their own fears. It won’t matter what nuts-and-bolts knowledge you have, if you’re too scared to go out and get clients.

So let’s bust those fears first!

Q: How do I know if my writing is ‘good enough’ to earn a living?

A: Ultimately, you’ll only find out by writing for clients. But if you’re truly a bad writer, you don’t usually try to make it your career. The problem generally is lack of freelance marketing, not lack of writing craft.

Q: How can I get over my fears of failing as a freelance writer?

A: Start taking action. The more actions you take, the more you’ll build confidence. All writers make mistakes. The thing to know is, it’ll be OK.

Q: What if I have trouble making myself do the marketing work?

A: That’s why you need an accountability buddy — find another freelance writer newbie you can call weekly, to keep you working on your goals. In my experience, newbies with a buddy have a much higher success rate than newbies with no buddy.

Q: How do I get started when I don’t feel qualified?

A: This worry stems from thinking you need to know something besides how to write well, to become a freelance writer. You don’t. You can ask experts, research, and learn things. Your strong writing skill is what you bring to the table.

Start with something you know and feel confident in (more on this below in section 4).

Q: What if I’m an ESL writer and want to earn writing in English?

A: Wish I had good news here, but with changes Google has made, that’s increasingly difficult. There may be easier ways for you to earn online than writing.

Q: What if no one takes me seriously?

A: If you take yourself and your writing career seriously, others will, too. Not kidding.

Q: What if I totally screw up an assignment?

A: You will live to write another day. Ask me how I know…

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.

6. You Gotta Hustle

Becoming a freelance writer online means you gotta

Becoming a freelance writer online means you gotta hustle for work.

But, this doesn’t mean you ALWAYS have to hustle. The goal is for clients to come to you.

But, when you’re new, businesses or magazines don’t’ know you even exist.

So, you have to market your services and get your name out there.

How do you do this? There are many ways, but to start try these two ways:

  • Get on social media – This isn’t for socializing; it’s for networking. Sign up for Twitter and LinkedIn and start connecting or following other writers and businesses you want to write for.
  • Guest post – Guest posting is not only a way to build your portfolio. It’s also a way to get your name out there. For every guest post, you write and is published you receive an author bio with links back to your writer website, portfolio, or social media profiles.

When I first started, I only had a Pinterest account and Facebook page. But, I knew I had to be more social so I signed up for a Twitter and LinkedIn account and started networking my butt off.

Later, I started an Instagram account and have landed clients on this platform too!

But I can tell you from personal experience, that Twitter and LinkedIn have landed me the most work from social media.

Knowing how to get started as a freelance writer can seem complicated

But the above information will make the process far smoother. From here, you’ll be able to know exactly how to get started as a freelance writer and jumpstart your career as soon as you're ready to dive in.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to reach out to us today and see how we can help.

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