Thinking of becoming a freelance writer? More and more people are giving up their regular jobs and going it alone for good reason. Even if you don’t have any experience writing professionally, it can provide a great work-life balance that allows you to work from anywhere. However, it’s a competitive market and one that can be hard to stand out in. You might think you’ve got what it takes, but the hard part is often actually getting enough work to make it a sustainable job.
If you’re thinking of becoming a freelance writer, then you’re in the right place. We’re going to look at 11 steps to becoming the best freelancer you can. So where can you get started?
1. Pick a few niches
You might think you’re a good writer, but you probably still have a lot to learn. Especially if you’re just starting out. There are tons of different types of freelancing writing from technical papers to blog posts. Don’t assume getting good at one will make you good at the other. While it’s a good idea to specialize in a few different areas of writing, you don’t want to limit yourself too much when you’re starting out. Try and let the market guide you in a certain niche direction rather than picking one and sticking to it.
When you’re starting out, you’ll want to get as much work as possible so start applying for anything you can. Eventually, you’ll end up with more experience in certain areas so that can be where you start to specialize. If you’re wondering how to make money online, writing could be one of the more straightforward options.
Don’t assume you know everything. Always keep learning. Start getting a few writing books and learn the basics. Make sure you’ve got a lot of knowledge to back up all your work. When you get hired for a job you don’t know a lot about, do some additional research. Always be striving to learn more. If you’ve read all the main writing books, you can start reading blog posts and ebooks from other successful writers.
If you’re struggling to get work at the start, you can always simply write some content for yourself. While this won’t be paid work, it’ll help you get in the zone and writing proactively. This free work can also be added to your portfolio and shown to potential clients as examples of what you can do. You don’t even have to tell them it was unpaid work, and they will assume you were paid for it (putting you in an even better position).
4. Write for free
While you want to start earning money eventually, if you know someone who needs some work done for free in return for some great testimonials, this could be a good place to start. Don’t take on too much unpaid work, only an hour or two should be fine. Then once you start getting good reviews and testimonials, your paid client-base should grow.
5. Get published
One of the best ways to get more paid clients is to show them published examples of your work, with a byline with your name on it. This has a lot more impact than just sending them the documents you’ve written. You can find plenty of places who’ll be happy to publish your content for free if you do a few quick searches online.
6. Get feedback
The cornerstone of a successful freelance career is getting good feedback. It’ll lead to more clients and more money, plain and simple. If someone isn’t happy with what you’ve produced, offer to change it for them for free. In the beginning, you don’t want to worry too much about the money you’re getting paid. What’s more important than that is the feedback you’re getting. So always make sure you over-deliver.
7. Keep learning
Had a few paid clients and think you know everything and don’t need to do any more learning? You’re making a big mistake. Not only do you want to make sure you stay ahead of market trends and movements, but you also can never know enough about writing as a whole. So keep reading, and keep learning.
8. Start a website
One way to set yourself apart from countless other freelancers is to start your own writer website. Make it personal and professional and add examples of your work. This is the best way to get higher-paying clients and more work.
9. Get testimonials
When you’ve got some happy clients, make sure you show their testimonials prominently. Remember, it isn’t all about the money they’re paying you. If someone forgets to leave you a comment, ask them for one. Testimonials on your writer website can be the biggest factor in getting you more work and higher paying clients. You can always give someone a link on your testimonial page as an extra incentive for leaving a positive one.
10. Reach out
Once you’re starting to build your writer website, you’ll want to reach out to new clients and possibilities. Start writing posts for other sites that link back to yours. It’s great for link juice (SEO) and direct clicks which could lead to orders.
When you browse the web and see a site that you think could do with some new content or a re-write, try sending them a polite email telling them what you can do for them and point them in the direction of your writer site. You’d be surprised how many high paying clients you can get this way.
11. Up your rates
Once you’ve got all this sorted, you should start to see more work coming in. While money wasn’t important in the beginning, it’s still why you’re working long-term. So if you’re getting too much work to handle, try upping your rates. When people have seen what you can do, they might be more likely to pay more rather than lose you. You don’t want to price your work too high, but try and find the sweet spot that gives you enough work at a rate that’s worth working for.