Freelance writing is one of the best ways to find freelance work. How do I know? Over the past few years, I have built a six-figure freelance writing career alongside working on my own blog. Read on if you want to know how to become a freelance writer.
Starting a freelance writing business is no easy task. Building a successful freelance career requires following the right steps, in addition to passion and commitment.
The good news is you don’t necessarily need advanced writing skills or writing skills to become a freelance writer. All you need is to find freelance writing gigs and start building your writing samples.
This article will cover the steps you need to get started with a successful freelance writing career. Whether you want to quit your day job or just be a freelance writer on the side, here are the steps you need to get started.
1. Start Building Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
If you want to know how to become a freelance writer, building your freelance portfolio is the first step. You will need writing samples to showcase your skills.
It may not be easy at first, especially if you don’t have prior writing experience. However, you must have a portfolio that can showcase your writing style, versatility, and skills to potential clients. You will need these to become a successful freelance writer.
If you want to start writing without previous experience, you can start by creating work on your own platform. For example, you can write a blog post on your own website. If you don’t have a personal website, you can write samples on platforms like Medium or Substack.
You can also guest post on established sites to help you gain recognition. However, guest posts are usually unpaid, so you should move on from offering guest blogging as quickly as possible. You need to get paid, after all.
It’s also important to pick the best writing samples to showcase to potential clients. Not only should they show your best writing work, but they should align with the type of freelance writing work you are seeking.
If you want to become a freelance writer, make sure to organize your portfolio for easy navigation, using categories or tags to help people find relevant pieces. Freelance writers sometimes skip this step, but it’s important not to miss it.
2. Develop the Right Skills for Freelance Writers
Successful freelance writers know that having the right skills can help them find freelance writing jobs. Here are some of the most important important skills to have as a freelance writer:
- Writing and editing skills: One of the most important skill sets to have is writing and editing. This means being able to explain potentially complex topics in a straightforward, easy-to-digest way. You should also be able to take difficult pieces and be able to distill them down to something more readable.
- Research skills: No matter how much knowledge you have, you probably don’t know everything. This means you should know how to leverage search engines like Google. Perhaps more importantly, you should know how to find information from databases, studies, and surveys.
- Time management skills: As a freelance writer, you will have to juggle a lot of tasks at one time. You must be able to structure your time effectively to be more productive and avoid wasting time.
- Communication and networking skills: You should be able to communicate effectively with not only editors but also other freelance writers. Both can be a vital part of helping you build a successful freelance writing career.
If you are new, you may not have all these freelancing skills just yet. This makes sense, as it takes time to learn the ropes.
But good freelance writers are learning all the time. Indeed, to be a good writer, you must learn constantly and always work to improve your skills. This is the way to become a professional writer.
3. Research the Freelance Writing Market
New freelance writers typically have a lot to learn when first starting their careers. Understanding the freelance market can help you create freelance content that aligns with your interests and skills. Before you resort to illegal ways to make money, start by learning the different types of writing.
Some common types of writing include:
- Content writing: This involves writing articles, blog writing, and web content. These articles often focus on engaging readers and optimizing for search engine optimization (SEO).
- Copywriting: Involves writing compelling content for digital marketing and advertising purposes. Some tasks you might have include creating sales copy, email campaigns, and product descriptions. You might even been involved in content marketing to help companies promote their brand.
- Technical writing: Specializing in technical or complex topics, such as manuals, instructional guides, or industry-specific reports.
- Creative writing: You can create content such as short stories, scripts, or narratives. This can be anything from writing books and magazines to writing scripts for media.
- Ghostwriting: You might find a business owner or blog that wants you to write content under their name. Often, they will pay you for this service.
You should also learn the market to better understand your target audience. Regularly search job boards and follow other writers to see what they are writing about. This will help you better understand writing online and what kind of writing is in demand.
4. Find Freelance Work
As a freelance writer, you must do more than just write articles. To become a freelance content writer, you must be able to find freelance writing gigs. Here are a few of the best places to find your first writing job.
If you are just getting started as a freelance writer, you might be able to find your first job on a job board. These include not only traditional platforms like Indeed and Moster but also freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
However, you must be careful when using these platforms because they can sometimes direct you to content mills that don’t pay well. Unfortunately, the freelance writing industry is rife with these, and they quickly become a race to the bottom.
To be successful, you must be able to find high-paying gigs. While making money on sites like Fiverr and Upwork is possible, it can be difficult for a freelance writer.
In general, these platforms tend to be very competitive, which can make it difficult if you are new. And it’s even more difficult to get paid. If you want to know how to become a freelance writer, consider the next two options.
Networking with other writers and those who work for publications you want to work for can be a great way to land a high-paying gig. If you are an aspiring writer, you might think other freelancers are your competition. However, this simply isn’t the case. You would be surprised just how willing they are to help.
There are a couple of reasons freelancers might be willing to help you. For one, they were once in your shoes and know how difficult it can be to get started. Another reason is they might have too many clients sending work to them and refer clients when they are overloaded.
There are many ways to connect with people in the freelance industry. This includes LinkedIn and Facebook groups and attending conferences.
Often, these connections won’t lead to a gig right away. Networking is more of a long game, but it can seriously pay off. If you can establish yourself as the go-to person for a particular topic, people will refer clients to you when that topic comes up.
This makes it much easier to land gigs than competing against hundreds of people on a job board! In fact, it often means no competition at all. This is why networking is so important.
Cold Pitching Publications
Cold pitching about your writing services isn’t exactly easy, but it can be easier than applying online. This is because, once again, there will be much less competition.
If there is a publication you want to work for, contact clients and let them know. You might be surprised, but many publications are looking to hire writers, even if they aren’t advertising it.
There are many ways you can go about finding the right clients.
For example, you can send them article pitches that detail a specific article you believe would be a fit for their site. Try doing this and see if you get a positive response.
Or you can send an email detailing your services and what you provide. Either way, reaching out directly is something experienced writers know can be a great way to land their next gig.
5. Improve Your Freelance Writing Skills
If you’ve already started doing your own writing or even found some writing gigs, you likely already have many of the skills you need. However, the best freelance writers are always improving their skills.
Freelance writing is one of the best work-from-home jobs. But if you want to write full-time, you should always be working to get better.
There are many ways to improve your skills as a content writer. Here are some ways you can improve.
Enroll in an Online Course or Workshop
Start by enrolling in a relevant online course, such as those focused on search engine optimization, technical writing, or content writing. The course should match the kind of freelance writing you want to do. You can find relevant courses on platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning.
Attend Writing Workshops and Webinars
You can also attend a writing workshop or webinar hosted by a professional writer. They can provide industry insights and help you better understand the kind of skills you need to improve your writing services. They can also help with networking opportunities.
This might seem obvious, but if you aren’t already writing regularly, it’s important to do so. Just like any skill, becoming a better freelance writer requires consistent practice. Either write every day if your day job already includes it, or set a writing schedule for yourself. Or perhaps you can write on your own blog.
These are just a few of the ways to hone your writing skills. If you want to find high-paying gigs, don’t forget to work on getting better.
6. Understand the Challenges of Freelance Writing
Freelance writing has its set of challenges. For instance, finding writing jobs can be tough, especially in the beginning. Many freelancers find themselves stuck in a feast or famine cycle.
If you want to become a freelance writer, you must know how to find potential clients. You can do this with consistent marketing and by diversifying your client base.
Another struggle freelancers often have is time management. If you have many freelance writing jobs, you may find it difficult to juggle them all and meet client expectations. You can overcome this challenge with effective planning, realistic deadlines, and prioritization.
Also, consider the challenge of irregular income. Although some freelance writing jobs pay a lot, that income can be inconsistent. You can clear this hurdle with good financial planning, reducing expenses, and diversifying your income streams.
These are just a few of the challenges freelance writers often face. As you are gathering your writing samples, think about these predicaments and how you will overcome them.
Bottom Line: Start Your Freelance Writing Career
Freelance writing can be one of the most rewarding careers there is, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. If you want to know how to become a freelance writer, follow the steps outlined in this guide.
Successful freelance writers know that building a lucrative career doesn’t happen overnight, however. You’ll need more than just an internet connection and a laptop to be successful. You must also have persistence (create content consistently) and always improve. You don’t need to write academic essays, but you should still get better all the time.
If you have followed these steps, you are well on your way to becoming a better freelance writer. So go on and start getting your writing samples together!
Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm a personal finance writer who has been freelancing since 2018. Since then, I've built a six-figure career as a freelance writer. My work has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes Advisor, TIME.com, USA Today, and many other outlets. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.