How to Become a Freelance Writer: A Newbie-Friendly Guide

Updated on September 11, 2018
Abhi Gaur profile image

A part-time freelance writer who is trying different ways to earn money online.

Freelance writing can be your dream job as it not only allows a lot of flexibility, but you can make some serious money if you are great. Becoming a freelance writer is not exactly a walk in the park, and it can be quite confusing where to get started. In this article, I will show you how to become a freelance writer and cover each and every step-in detail.

There are many paths that you can take for starting your freelance writing career. Let us take a look at the two major ways of starting your freelance writing career.

  1. Freelancing Websites or Content Mills
  2. Finding Clients on Your Own

You can find a lot of information on the first method, so I will cover the second method in this article. I know that the second one sounds scary, and it will certainly require patience to find your first client through the second method.

Now you might be wondering how you will find clients? There are some simple steps that you need to follow for finding clients, but before that you have to pick a niche.

Pick a Freelance Writing Niche

You can be a freelance writer that writes about cosmology one day and about the art of sculpting the next day. I am not denying that you can make money by writing about topics that have no relation to each other. The issue is that the clients (especially the high paying ones) want people with expertise that can produce high-quality content around a particular niche.

You can't ask your neighbor about what niche you should pick, so how do you do it? I personally feel that almost all niches are profitable, but some niches are more profitable than others. Niches that receive a lot of traffic are the most profitable ones. So, you can't go wrong with niches like health, making money online, fashion, SEO, etc. In short, your niche should be something popular.

Pro tip: You can pick more than one niche for having access to more job opportunities, but I recommend focusing on mastering one niche before thinking about another one.

There are certain niches that require technical knowledge like SEO and not anyone can write quality content related to those niches. A person writing a blog post about SEO can charge higher than a person writing about freelancing. Another example of a technical niche could be cryptocurrency, but it is too narrow and that is why it will be harder to find clients. So, the second thing that you need to keep in mind is that technical writers can charge more money than non-technical writers.

The last thing that you need to consider is whether you are interested in the niche or not. If you pick something that you aren't interested in, then your freelance writing journey will be painful. Learning more about your niche will become a problem, when you pick something that you aren't passionate about. These are a few things that you must consider if you want to pick a niche.

Which method of finding clients do you prefer?

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Establish Your Authority

It is true that there is no easy way to establish your authority, and it takes time to make people recognize you as an authority. There are many ways of establishing your authority such as making a niche website to showcase your knowledge.

You can also take some online courses that give you certificates that show your expertise. Having a portfolio where a lot of people recommend your services can be very helpful. So, here are the steps that you should take for establishing your authority.

Start a Website: I highly recommend starting a niche website, where you also have a section for hiring you. Your website will also have a blog. I know that blogging is something different altogether, but it will compliment your freelance writing career. Your blog will be useful in practicing and improving your freelance writing skills, and at the same time, it will allow you to learn more about your niche.

Build Your Portfolio: You must have a section on your website where the reviews of your clients will be placed. You can call that section 'Testimonials' or 'Reviews.' It is hard to trust reviews online that don't contain a link to the client's website or the name of the client website. Some clients may not want you to post a review, but most clients will agree to help you out if you ask them nicely.

Keep Learning: After you start to make some money, it would be wise to spend some of it for buying courses or books that will help you in learning more about your niche. Think of the books or courses as an investment as they will help you in earning even more money.

I think that if you follow the above three steps, then you will definitely be seen as someone who knows what they are doing and get more attention than people who just claim to know about their niche. Establishing your authority is an ongoing process, and you should start doing freelance writing jobs while working on it.

Find Clients

Once you have published a few blog posts and mastered the basics of your niche, the next logical step is to start finding clients. Here are a few ways of finding clients without depending on freelancing websites or content mills.

Contact Website Owners Directly: Most website owners will ignore you if you try to pitch your services the wrong way. The owners of the popular websites receive a lot of emails, and many freelance writers try to contact them. If you will not differentiate yourself from other freelance writers, you will be ignored or even muted. I will show you how to craft a good pitch for your freelance writing services later.

Use Job Boards: There are many job boards that contain job ads like Problogger job board. All you have to do is find a job that you can do and send your proposal to the client.

Linkedln: Linkedln is used for making connections and doing business, so it would be easy to find clients there. You need to learn about using the platform for attracting clients as well as contacting them. I don't think that it would be too hard to familiarize yourself with this platform, but make sure that your profile shows your expertise. Linkedln also has a job board that you can use to find clients.

Your Blog: Over time your blog will grow as you produce more content, and you might find clients from your growing readership. It is true that most people will visit your blog for reading content, but some people might want to hire you if your writing skills impress them. If you take the time to write quality content on your blog, I am sure that you will not regret it.

These are only some of the ways of finding freelance writing jobs, and there are many other ways that you can use. The problem is not finding potential clients, but it is getting hired by those potential clients.

If the clients constantly turn your down, then there is something that you can do. You can build your portfolio by working for free or a lower pay so that the clients start taking you seriously. This is not something that I recommend, but you can use this as a last resort.

Craft a Great Pitch

A freelance writer that can't craft a great pitch will always miss opportunities to get more clients. Hence, this is one of the most important parts of being a great freelance writer. A great pitch is about what you can do for the client that others can't as well as approaching the client in the right manner.

Anyone can find the email address of a potential client and email them the same email that he or she has sent to several other clients. The generic emails might not impress the clients that you want to work with the most.

The most important thing about crafting a great pitch is to avoid any spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure that you check your pitch at least two times before sending it to the client. There are different methods that you can use to stand out from other freelance writers, who are pitching for the same job. Let us take a look at two methods that might work well.

Method #1: Share and Compliment

This method is simple, and it will surely make you stand out. It will take some time to implement this method. Once you have located someone you want to work with, you need to read a few of his blog posts and start sharing the ones you like on Twitter and Facebook.

After a few days of sharing his blog posts, email him about a particular blog post. In the email, mention the name of the blog post and tell him what you liked about the blog post. Don't forget to link to the blog post. In the next paragraph, mention that you are a freelance writer, and you would like to work with him as you specialize in the niche of his blog.

In the end, mention your name and link to your website. If you really want to work with a client, then you can also offer him a free 500-word article to grab his attention. The fact that you shared some of the posts of the client on social media may also help you if the client remembers you name.

Don't mention that you shared his posts in your email and let the client make the connection on his own. I am not asking you to fake anything here.

Method #2: Use a Custom Blog Post

The first method doesn’t require a lot of work, but this one does require you to write a high-quality blog post. This is how it works. First of all, you will write a blog post that the client would want to pay for. You will need to read the blog of the client and write a blog post that matches the writing style of the client's blog. Also ensure that the blog post is in the same niche that your client's blog is in.

You will link to the client's blog in your blog post in a natural way. This will give you an opportunity to email the client. Your first email should only mention that you have written a blog post that links to the client, and you want him to take a look. If the client responds positively, then you can mention that you are a freelance writer, and you can write similar high-quality content for his blog.

This approach will work only if your blog post impresses the client and if that happens, then you chance of getting the job increase dramatically. So, if you use this approach, research your client well and make sure that the blog post is impressive.

You can link to the blogs of multiple clients in a blog post and email them as long as you believe that they will like your blog post. This way you can get hired even when someone ignores your email.

Use the Right Tools

You cannot become a great freelance writer without relying on some tools that help you in performing your work efficiently. There are many free and paid tools that you can use, but I will only discuss the free ones here. You can buy the paid tools later when you start making enough money through your freelance writing work.

Ginger: Ginger has a free version as well as a paid version. The free version will show you mistakes, but it will only auto-correct the mistakes a fixed number of times. You will have to upgrade to the paid version if you want more corrections. This tool is not perfect, and it will not detect all mistakes. Still, you can use it for free for as long as you want by correcting your mistakes on your own. It integrates with Microsoft Word making it easy to use.

Evernote: A note-taking app is something that every freelance writer should have. It will allow you to record your ideas, organize your research, and much more once you understand how it works. You will also be able to sync your notes across all of your devices just by downloading the app.

Dropbox: Dropbox will allow you to share files with your clients so that they don't have to download anything. You can also access the files on multiple devices that you use easily.

These are the basic free tools that you can use, and they will surely help you as a newbie. Once you become more experienced, you can start using more tools as per your needs

Learn Skills That Compliment Freelance Writing

I have seen many clients who are willing to pay top dollar for a freelance writer that can write content that is search engine optimized. Learning about on-page SEO will increase your marketability and allow you to improve the traffic of your blog as well. I know that a freelance writer doesn't need to know about SEO, but knowledge of SEO compliments freelance writing very well.

One more skill that you can learn is using Canva or Photoshop to create graphics that the client can use. It is easy to learn the basics, and they will help you in creating graphics for your clients so that they don't have to worry about their content being visually uninteresting. Obviously, you must possess all the normal skills like managing work, editing, writing long-form content, etc.

Conclusion

Freelance writing is not easy in this highly competitive environment. You can still make it if you take the time to develop your skills and stand out from the crowd. Your blog will help you in developing your writing skills, and you can also share your posts on social media to see the reaction of others.

It will take some time to get started without using freelancing websites or content mills, but you will get paid much more if you find clients this way. Once you get your first job make sure that you always honour the deadlines and exceed the expectations of the client. Also get your payment upfront so that you don't have to worry about not getting paid.

Building your portfolio and doing guest posts on high-authority blogs will help you gain more high-paying clients. In the end, passion and perseverance will lead to success. I hope that this article helps you to become a freelance writer.

Let me know where you are in your freelance writing journey through the comments below? I would also appreciate it if you would share this article on social media.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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