Being a freelance content writer has many advantages, such as the freedom of choosing your workload, schedule, and clients.
Despite the benefits, building a career online as a freelance content writer needs a lot of preparation, including promoting the business and managing the payment system.
This article will walk you through the eight steps of starting a freelance writing career, from developing writing skills to producing the first piece.
1. Build Your Writing Skills
To be a professional writer, having solid writing skills is a must. Moreover, content creation is different from writing essays you did in high school. You should understand SEO basics and make the content crisp, conversational, and suitable for a specific brand personality.
As a freelance writer, you’re also in charge of managing your business, including writing a contract, invoicing, and creating persuasive copy to market your writing.
Online courses, such as Skillshare and Udemy, are helpful to develop writing skills. Register and purchase their content writing courses like business writing, copywriting, and editing.
Alternatively, join free courses from digital marketing websites like HubSpot and Surfer SEO. They cover various topics on content writing, from keyword research to social media marketing.
Besides, consider reading content from reputable bloggers or companies. Learning blog articles from them is beneficial as you will know how high-quality content looks like.
2. Learn What Freelance Writers Do
After developing your writing skills, check the freelance writers’ services to get an idea of what you can offer.
Usually, freelance writer services include:
- Social media posts
- Website copywriting
- Video scripts
- Manuals and standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Email marketing
- Press releases
New freelance writers usually try different niches to keep the writing business thriving and find a freelance writing job they enjoy. However, consider choosing one specific service once you’re confident with your skills to make yourself an expert in the field.
If you like the idea of writing various content, you may want to specify certain geographical areas or topics. For example, you market yourself as a New York content writer or finance writer.
3. Set Up a Freelance Writer Website
A website is a great tool to market your freelance writing business. It can increase your online presence and showcase your work to potential clients.
To build your website, start by purchasing a domain name. It’s better to include your name – first, last, or their combination – so people can find the site when typing your name on search engines.
Then, choose a website platform, such as WordPress or any other content management system, and pick a theme reflecting your personality.
Now, it’s time to include the most critical components on your freelance writer website:
- Services page. Describe your services and unique selling points. For example, you can offer up to three free revisions.
- About page. Introduce yourself by adding your name, location, and professional experience. Also, consider including your professional photo to add personality.
- Contact page. List your contact info, such as email address and social media profiles.
- Portfolio page. Showcase your writing samples. You may also want to add testimonials as social proof.
- Blog. A great way to show your personality and increase visibility as you can put more keywords on the blog. When it has top-notch content and high engagement, a blog can also be a solid writing sample or even another source of income.
4. Build Your Online Presence and Network
Besides websites, building an online presence through social media is a great way to attract freelance writing clients. Create a LinkedIn profile or Facebook page to share services and valuable content like a glimpse of your latest blog post.
Moreover, consider networking with other freelance writers by reaching out to their social media or joining a freelance writer community. It helps you get insights and tips in the industry or opportunities for guest blogging.
You may also partner with other professionals like designers or web developers to refer to each other’s gigs.
5. Find Sources of Freelance Writing Work
Sometimes, having a good social media profile and portfolio website may not be enough to find freelance writing jobs, especially for new writers. In this case, signing up for freelancing websites is an excellent solution to land your first client.
Here are our top three freelancing sites:
- Upwork – comes with a transparent review system and freelancer protections, like removing fraudulent offers.
- People Per Hour – enables you to connect with local clients that can lead to long-term opportunities.
- Contently – a writer-only freelancing site with an easy-to-setup online writing portfolio.
However, these freelancing platforms can be competitive. Therefore, consider bidding on smaller projects at the beginning to build positive reviews that will help you land on bigger and better-paying gigs.
6. Decide Your Pricing System
Developing your own pricing system is one of the benefits of becoming a freelancer. However, it can be confusing for newcomers. Generally, you should consider the two points below in your pricing system.
Payment Rate and Schedule
First, decide whether you want to charge clients by words, hours, pages, or projects. Usually, a fair new freelance writer’s rate is $0.20 per word or $30 per hour. Meanwhile, project rates will depend on the particulars, such as the topic difficulty and content type.
One tip is to be confident with your skills. It can be tempting to accept low-payment projects, but consider your efforts and stick to your baseline rate. Raise your prices as you become more experienced and get new clients.
Besides paying rates, you should also decide when you want to get the payment. For a safe option, choose 50% upfront to avoid irresponsible clients and receive the rest when the project is complete.
Some freelancing websites send invoices automatically and include the platform fees. However, you will have to prepare them yourself when you get clients outside the platforms.
Canva and Spreadsheet offer free and professional invoice templates to customize. Alternatively, invest in invoicing software, like Hubstaff and FreshBooks. They come with automatic invoice numbers, reminders, and late fees.
7. Do the Writing
Congratulations on getting your first client. Now, it’s time to produce high-quality content by performing the three essential steps below.
Study the client’s existing blog and company materials to know their tone and style. If it’s for website content, search related keywords using tools like Google Trends and AnswerThePublic.
If you write long content, start by dividing the content into several headings to make the article readable and help you get the big picture. New freelance writers often overthink the first draft, but there is no need to worry as you can always edit it later.
A rule of thumb is to understand the intent as it helps you determine the best angle. For example, copy on landing pages aims to convert visitors, while articles provide information and help readers solve their problems.
Before submitting it to the client, edit your work. Review the requirements and use writing tools, such as:
- Grammarly. This freemium AI tool points out grammar mistakes, gives suggestions on stylistic preferences, and checks for plagiarism.
- Hemingway. Scores the content readability and highlights the complex sentence structures.
8. Get Organized with Your Work
Being a freelancer means you’ll also become your own project manager. As you get more clients, structure your workflow to know all tasks you’re working on and not miss a deadline.
Project management tools like Trello and Asana are helpful to keep track of your work. They’re easy to use and enable you to add new users if you need to invite clients for approval.
There you have it – the eight steps of starting a freelance writing job. The steps may seem overwhelming at first, but they will become easier and lead you to a high-paying freelance career eventually.
Let’s recap the steps on how to become a freelance writer:
- Build your writing skills.
- Familiarize yourself with content writing services.
- Set up a freelance writer website.
- Develop your network by creating social media profiles and joining communities.
- Sign up for freelance writing sites.
- Determine your pricing system.
- Write your first piece.
- Organize your tasks using project management software.
We wish you the best of luck in building your freelance writing career. If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment.