Are you interested in pursuing a career as a freelance writer? Do you dream of escaping the 9-5 routine for lucrative writing contracts? If yes, you are at the right place.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics , there will be approximately 15,200 job openings available annually for individuals pursuing careers as writers and authors over the course of the next decade. Which means writing is here to stay and this career gets more lucrative for you.
Having affirmed how lucrative your career is, then, let’s go ahead to explore as I provide you a comprehensive guide on how to achieve your goal of becoming a successful freelance writer.
But before we dive into the details, let’s start by understanding who a freelance writer is, and the role and responsibilities of a freelance writer.
Who is a freelance writer?
A freelance writer is a self-employed individual who offers their writing services to various clients on a project-by-project basis. They are not employed by a specific company or organisation but work independently, typically from their own location or home office. Freelance writers can work across a wide range of industries and mediums, including print, online, advertising, marketing, journalism, content creation, and more.
What does a freelance writer do?
Here are some common tasks and responsibilities of a freelance writer:
- Writing articles, blog posts, web content, product descriptions, social media posts, press releases, and other forms of written content.
- Conducting research on various topics to gather information and support their writing.
- Tailoring their writing style and tone to match the requirements of the client or target audience.
- Meeting deadlines and managing their workload effectively.
- Editing and proofreading their work to ensure quality and accuracy.
- Collaborating with clients, editors, or other stakeholders to refine and finalize the content.
- Adhering to any specific guidelines, style guides, or SEO requirements provided by the client.
- Keeping up with industry trends, news, and best practices to continuously improve their skills and stay competitive.
- Managing their own business aspects, including invoicing, contracts, and client communications.
How do I start freelancing as a freelance writer?
Starting a freelancing career as a writer involves several steps. Here’s a general guide to help you get started:
Assess your skills and niche
Determine your writing strengths and areas of expertise. Consider the types of writing you enjoy and have experience in, such as blogging, technical writing, copywriting, or creative writing. Specialising in a specific niche can help you stand out and attract relevant clients.
Build a portfolio
Develop a portfolio of your best writing samples to showcase your skills to potential clients. If you don’t have any published work, consider creating your own blog or website where you can showcase your writing. You can also contribute guest posts to reputable websites or publications to gain exposure and credibility.
Set your rates
Research industry standards and determine your pricing based on factors like your experience, the complexity of the project, and the client’s budget. Initially, you might need to be flexible with your rates to attract clients, but as you gain experience and build a reputation, you can adjust your rates accordingly.
Create an online presence
Establish an online presence by creating a professional website or a portfolio platform where clients can learn about your services and review your samples. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to connect with potential clients, join writing communities, and share your expertise.
Network and market yourself
Attend industry events, join writing associations, and participate in online forums or groups to connect with other writers and potential clients. Utilise online job platforms, freelancing websites, and job boards specific to writers to find freelance opportunities. Don’t hesitate to reach out to businesses or individuals directly to offer your services.
Provide exceptional service
When you start working with clients, ensure you deliver high-quality work within the agreed-upon deadlines. Communicate effectively, be responsive to client feedback, and maintain a professional attitude throughout the collaboration. Positive client experiences can lead to referrals and repeat business.
Continuously improve your skills
Stay updated with industry trends, writing techniques, and new tools. Read widely, take writing courses, attend webinars, or participate in workshops to enhance your writing skills. The more you develop your expertise, the more valuable you become to clients.
Manage your finances
Keep track of your income, expenses, and invoices. Consider setting up a separate bank account for your freelance earnings. Keep records for tax purposes and consult with an accountant or tax professional to ensure you comply with local tax regulations.
How do freelance writers find work?
Freelancers find clients or through various channels and strategies. Here are some effective ways to find freelance writing opportunities:
Online job platforms
Register on freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or Guru, where clients post writing projects and freelancers can submit proposals. Search for relevant writing jobs, submit compelling proposals, and showcase your portfolio to attract clients.
Freelance job boards
Regularly check job boards dedicated to freelance writing, such as ProBlogger, Freelance Writing Jobs, and BloggingPro. These platforms list writing opportunities across different industries and niches. Respond to job postings or pitch your services to the companies or publications advertising on these boards.
Content mills and agencies
Content mills offer a platform where writers can find clients looking for content. These platforms often have lower pay rates, but they can be a starting point for gaining experience and building a portfolio. Additionally, consider reaching out to content agencies that outsource writing projects to freelancers.
Research and identify businesses, publications, or websites that align with your writing expertise and target audience. Craft personalised pitches highlighting how your writing can benefit their audience or business. Send these pitches via email or through the contact forms on their websites.
Networking and referrals
Leverage your professional network and let friends, family, and colleagues know about your freelance writing services. Attend industry events, conferences, or writing workshops to connect with potential clients, editors, or fellow writers. Building relationships with people in your industry can lead to referrals or direct writing opportunities.
Offer to contribute guest posts to established blogs or publications in your niche. Not only does this provide exposure and a chance to showcase your writing skills, but it also helps you build relationships with editors or website owners who may offer paid writing opportunities in the future.
Social media and online presence
Utilise social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to share your writing expertise, connect with potential clients, and engage in relevant communities. Create a professional website or blog where you can showcase your portfolio and optimise it for search engines to attract organic traffic and potential clients.
What skills do you need to be a freelance writer?
To be a successful freelance writer, several skills are valuable. Here are some essential skills for freelance writers:
Excellent Writing Skills
Strong writing skills are the foundation of a freelance writer’s work. You should have a good command of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure. You should also be able to adapt your writing style to different tones, voices, and target audiences.
Freelance writers often need to research various topics to gather information and provide accurate and well-informed content. Effective research skills help you find reliable sources, gather relevant information, and ensure the credibility and accuracy of your writing.
Freelance writers work with diverse clients and industries, so the ability to adapt your writing style, tone, and content to meet their specific needs is crucial. Flexibility in accommodating different project requirements and client preferences will enhance your value as a freelance writer.
Freelancers must manage their own time and meet deadlines. The ability to prioritise tasks, set realistic deadlines, and effectively manage your workload is essential to deliver quality work on time.
Self-Motivation and Discipline
Freelancers work independently without direct supervision. You need to be self-motivated, disciplined, and proactive in seeking new opportunities, meeting deadlines, and consistently producing high-quality work.
Good communication skills are important for understanding client requirements, clarifying project details, and effectively communicating with clients or editors. Prompt and professional communication helps build strong client relationships and ensures project success.
Editing and Proofreading
Freelance writers should possess strong editing and proofreading skills to review their own work and ensure it is free of errors. The ability to revise and refine your writing for clarity, coherence, and flow is crucial for delivering polished and error-free content.
Understanding the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) can be beneficial for freelance writers. Clients often require content that is optimised for search engines to improve visibility and ranking. Familiarise yourself with keyword research, on-page optimization, and writing for SEO purposes. This could make you stand out amongst other freelance writers because your content ranking on search engine result pages (SERP) is a big deal. And you can learn all about SEO with practical steps that are capable of bringing effective results through our 90% practical course. See for yourself here.
Business and Marketing Skills
Freelance writing involves managing your own business aspects. Basic knowledge of contracts, invoicing, negotiation, and client management is valuable. Marketing skills, such as promoting your services, networking, and building a professional online presence, can help you attract clients and grow your freelance career.
What are the types of freelance writing jobs for a freelance writer?
Freelance writing offers a diverse range of job opportunities across various industries and mediums. Here are some common types of freelance writing jobs:
Many businesses and individuals hire freelance writers to create blog posts for their websites. Blogging involves writing informative, engaging, and SEO-friendly articles on specific topics to attract and engage readers.
This involves the creation of various types of texts that are not necessarily for the purpose of advertising. Content writing format includes website content, product descriptions, newsletters, whitepapers, case studies, and brochures. They focus on providing valuable information while maintaining the brand voice and meeting specific objectives.
Copywriters specialise in persuasive writing that promotes products, services, or brands. Copywriting involves creating compelling advertising and marketing materials, including sales pages, landing pages, email campaigns, social media ads, and slogans.
Freelance journalists contribute articles to newspapers, magazines, online publications, or news websites. They conduct interviews, research, and write news stories, features, profiles, and investigative reports.
Technical writers produce documentation and instructional content for technical products or industries. They write user manuals, software guides, technical specifications, and other documents that require a clear and concise writing style.
Grant writers specialise in writing proposals to secure funding for nonprofit organisations, research projects, or community initiatives. They research grant opportunities, craft persuasive proposals, and communicate the organisation’s goals and impact effectively.
Freelance academic writers work on assignments, essays, research papers, and other academic content for students or educational institutions. They adhere to academic guidelines, conduct research, and present information in a scholarly manner.
Social Media Writing
Social media writers create engaging and concise content for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They craft posts, captions, and short-form content that resonate with the target audience and align with the brand’s voice.
Ghostwriters write content on behalf of clients who take credit for the work. They collaborate closely with clients to understand their vision and writing style, producing articles, books, speeches, or other materials.
Scriptwriters create scripts for various mediums, including films, television shows, commercials, or video content. They develop compelling dialogue, engaging storylines, and descriptive narratives for visual media.
How much do freelance writers make?
The compensation for freelance writers can vary significantly depending on factors such as the industry, the nature of the work, and the writer’s level of experience.
According to Payscale’s data, freelance writers have a median hourly wage of $24.64.
However, it is important to note that freelance writers’ annual earnings can range widely, from approximately $25,000 to as high as $115,000 or more, depending on various factors such as the volume of work, client base, and expertise.
Freelance writing offers flexibility in terms of working hours, location, and the ability to choose the projects you want to work on.
However, as a freelance writer, you need to actively market your services. Build a network of clients, and maintain a consistent income stream, as your workload and income may vary depending on the availability of projects.
Remember, freelancing can take time to establish, so be patient and persistent. Building a strong reputation and client base often comes with consistent effort, delivering quality work, and maintaining professionalism.