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10 Tips to Become a Freelance Writer from Scratch

Ever wanted to learn how to become a freelance writer? You’re in luck! Research suggests that the freelance writing industry is predicted to grow substantially during the next five years.

That’s good news for you because it means there’s plenty of freelance writing work out there, and you can get started with little more than persistence and some simple tips.

woman trying to figure out how to become a freelance writer

What Is Freelance Writing?

Freelance writing means working on a self-employed basis without having an employer other than oneself. You can be a magazine writer, newspaper reporter, ghostwriter or blogger and still call yourself a freelance writer.

The role of a freelance writer can vary greatly depending on the client. You may work for one or many freelance writing clients. With a freelance writing career, you may have steady ongoing income from just one big chunk of business with little to no other projects.

Writers have the ability to work in a generalist field or specialize in their craft. Generalists can cover topics as diverse as gardening and home design, while specialities include personal finance, for example.

A writer’s work can have a profound impact on the world. Stories and ideas are powerful forces that shape our understandings of things. A freelance writer gets to help shape the stories and ideas that reside in people through their writing.

Does Freelance Writing Pay Well?

Freelance writers in the US are getting paid an average of $30.39 per hour as reported by ZipRecruiter, with more experienced freelancers receiving rates that top out at over double this amount and some even higher than $100+/hr!

Freelance Writers typically make between $12.50-36.06 USD per hour, which can be a good way to supplement your income.

This guide is for those who want to enter the field of freelance writing in order to make extra money on top of their day job or to start earning a living from it entirely. Regardless of what your ambitions are, I will show you how you can get started with this profession and become successful at making money by providing high-quality articles.

How Do I Start A Freelance Writing Career?

There’s no guaranteed process for becoming a freelance writer – but there is one certainty: You’ll do your best work if you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

The actual steps to take are pretty simple, but not easy. There are lots of details – and you’ll be the only one who can decide what path to follow.

First, learn more about freelance writing and check out a few publications for paid writing opportunities. Then, build your portfolio. Once your portfolio is solid, it’s time to find some paid writing gigs.

You’ll need to learn how to negotiate contracts, pitch your work and find your first client. If you can handle the business side of freelancing, and finish enough assignments to build a reputation, you’ll be on your way to being a freelance writer.

How to become a freelance writer in 10 easy steps: 

person learning how to become a freelance writer in finance

1. Decide What Type Of Freelance Writing You Want To Focus On

There are many ways to make your writing more interesting, creative, and engaging. One of the best is choosing a niche for which you have an intense interest that will translate into your writing.

If you have one specific area that you are passionate about, then this is the way to go. You will always have something to write about – and a platform where your enthusiasm shines through in every sentence.

There are various niches within freelance writing that provide different types of services to meet the needs of clients. The following list offers information on some popular freelance writer positions and their salary ranges: (these are listings from popular writing jobs boards)

  • Finance – $52,000/year
  • Cryptocurrency – $1,000/month
  • Travel – $52,000/year
  • Digital Marketing – $58,000/year
  • Education – $47,000/year
  • Alternative Health – $52,000/year
  • Ghost Writing A Book – $3k/per month
  • Video Script Writing – $.30-.70/word
  • White Paper Writing – $6,000/month
  • Food & Wine – $52,000/year
  • Email Writing – $58,000/year
  • Entertainment – $47,000/year
  • Sports – $51,000/year
  • Beauty & Fashion – $52,000/year
  • Tech – $64,000/year
  • Real Estate – $59,000/year
  • Parenting – $52,000/year

A freelance writing career is an exciting choice because of the wide range of issues and topics that can be covered. However, I suggest not randomly picking a freelance writing niche based solely on yearly salary and income potential but rather one you are familiar with.

how to become a freelance writer by using a portfolio

2. Build Your Portfolio

A portfolio is crucial for a freelance writer to have and to show. It demonstrates your work, creativity, and professionalism. A potential employer can see your quality from your past projects, and it will give them insight into what they should expect if they hire you. It’s important that you know what goes into a good portfolio. Here are some tips on how to create one:

Portfolio Examples

Look at various portfolios online for freelance writing jobs, or examples of freelance writers’ portfolios in general. Some good examples are:

Elna Cain – Elna Cain’s portfolio shows you that she is the freelance writer you need to fix your business or project. She has a row of prominent publications that show her skills and how she can help, as well as positive client reviews at the bottom of the page.

Francesca Nicasio – Francesca Nicasio is a copywriter who expertly writes content for B2B clients in retail, eCommerce, and technology. Her website showcases this expertise by showing off her work as soon as visitors enter the page while also providing information about how she can help them with their business goals!

Kayla Hollatz – Kayla’s website does one thing: She pulls you in by subtly emphasizing her know-how. From spelling out the details of how she will work with you to sharing impressive client success rates, it is evident that this writer knows what she’s doing.

Digital Portfolio Sites

Using a digital portfolio site is the newest and most innovative way to showcase your freelance writing skills. You can create attractive, professional-looking portfolios without worrying about handling any of the technology or design concerns – it’s all taken care of for you! This will give you more time to focus on creating quality writing samples that help land clients.

Clippings.me – Add your best work, customize your page and then share it with the world – without a single line of code. Thousands of writers trust Cliipings.me to get their online portfolios up in just minutes!

Pressfolios – Pressfolios is an easy to use online platform that lets reporters, bloggers, and other media professionals back up their articles with a professional portfolio website. This tool allows you the opportunity to showcase your personal brand without having any coding experience!

Journo Portfolio – Journo Portfolio is a professional portfolio website that allows you to customize your layout. You can choose from hundreds of ways to design and publish articles or multimedia files, including PDFs with their bio section being an impressive highlight on the site.

how to become a freelance writer by creating a website

3. Create A Freelance Writing Website

Your freelance writing website is your personal space to share with the world. You can customize and control everything for a professional look that represents you best! Are you ready to create a professional freelance writing website? It’s time for you to step up your game and become an expert in presenting yourself online. I’m here with the perfect plan which will help make it happen!

Pick A Domain Name

The domain is the URL where your site lives and it should be based on what people know about you as a freelance writer. It is important to have a domain name that reflects your brand. If you cannot get the .com version of your name, try for something like yournameauthor.com or yournamewriter.net instead-but if these fail to don’t worry because there are other options out there!

Buy A Domain Name

Domain name registrars are very important since they play a crucial role in establishing and maintaining the presence of your freelance writing website. They also enable you to buy domain names from them as well if you don’t already have one! The following is a list of quality domain registrar companies who can help get your site up and running with ease:

Choose A Webhost

HostGator is one of the best web hosting services for those who are just starting out with their website. It also offers plenty of options so you can find a plan that fits your needs, and it’s PC Magazines top pick!

Decide On A Theme For Your Freelance Writing Website

You can choose any theme you want but I personally use the Kadence theme and I love it. Kadence is a multipurpose WordPress theme that’s perfect for creating any kind of blog or website. And the best part?

It was designed to be customizable, so you can make Kadence your own with just a few clicks! Not only does it come in free and pro versions, but also has multiple layouts including magazine-style layouts – which are always fun to try!

seo can help with freelance writing

4. Read Up On SEO Techniques So That Potential Clients Can Find You

Why would you want to learn about SEO (search engine optimization)? The internet is a crowded place, and there are thousands of people searching for the same content that your website offers. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they found what they were looking for without ever going anywhere else? You can help them find exactly what they’re looking for by becoming an SEO guru- it’s easier than you think if you know where to look!

Google’s SEO Starter Guide

Bing, Yahoo and Duck Duck Go are all well-known search engines but Google remains the most popular. Without an optimized website to rank in its listings, your freelance writing business will miss out on a large number of potential leads and sales. Thankfully for those looking to optimize their sites, there is plenty of free advice available from Google themselves via their own search engine optimization starter guide!

Yoast

If you’re a WordPress user, then Yoast is an SEO analyzing plugin that will make your life so much easier. The traffic light system tells you if the content on your page meets search engine requirements and gives practical suggestions to improve it when needed.

Moz’s Beginner’s Guide To SEO

Moz offers many tools, resources about internet marketing including its Beginner’s Guide to SEO- complete with seven chapters that are sure to help you optimize your site for maximum ranking potential as well as measuring website exposure through major search engines!

Stupid Simple SEO Course

Most people think SEO is hard, I used to. It’s true that Google changes its algorithm regularly and updates like Penguin and Panda make ranking high in search engines difficult. On top of that, there are so many conflicting opinions about what you should do for SEO.

That’s why I took the Stupid Simple SEO Course. In this course, Mike shows you the exact techniques I used to rank my blog at #1 on Google for over 235 keywords – without spending a dime on advertising or promotion! Just follow along with the videos (they’re short!) and implement the strategies…then watch your traffic soar!

use social media to promote your side hustle

5. Getting Started With Social Media

One of the best ways to stay ahead in today’s fast-paced social media world is following blogs and newsletters that deliver important insights into trending topics, news stories, and new strategies. We’ve compiled some of our favourites for you here!

Social Media Today

Social Media Today is an online publication that covers literally everything to do with social media. It’s one-stop for all, with up-to-date news and articles on popular trends in their field.

Hubspot

Hubspot has created an insightful blog for digital marketers looking to increase and build their social media presence. With dozens of resources and articles to help you along the way, Hubspot will guide you through everything from content marketing strategies, sales techniques or customer service tips.

Monica Louie

Monica Louie is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about marketing on Facebook and Instagram. She has tons of tutorials, training videos, templates and more all designed specifically with the modern marketer in mind!

Hootsuite

Schedule all your posts in one easy place – Hootsuite. Upload and schedule content across multiple social networks with ease, using a simple calendar view that makes reviewing for scheduling even easier!

make money as a freelance writer

6. Learn The Ropes Of How Freelance Writing Works

The freelance writer that is successful must be a combination of creative wordsmith and shrewd businessperson. Writing well may just be the start, but it’s not everything. You need to sell your services effectively while managing your finances as well! Here are some things to consider before you get started in the world of freelance writing:

What are the rates?

If you’re wondering how to price your services as a freelance writer, there are two major factors that go into pricing. The first is the depth and length of experience; rates vary quite a bit depending on this variable alone!

Some clients pay more for experienced writers who have proven themselves in given fields or industries while others may pay less for a writer that is starting out with no portfolio at all.

Another factor that goes into determining prices is where you decide to sell your writing skills: do you want short-term projects? Do long-term contracts sound better? Are specific types of work required (such as blog posts)? These variables can also affect how much money a writer will make per project.

I’m frequently asked, “How much should I charge for a 500-word article?” For a 500 word article, an inexperienced or new writer can expect between .01 and .09 per word. Expert writers with research skills and niche experience will charge anywhere from .10 and .50 per word depending on the quality of their work. Specialized niches that value uniquely equipped freelance writers could pay more than average for their services (+.50 per word).

Hourly Freelance Writing Rates

  • Copywriting: $45-$100/hr
  • Editing: $30-$90/hr
  • Fact checking: $15-$50/hr
  • White papers: $100-$200/hr
  • Ghostwriting: $40-$100/hr
  • Proofreading: $25-$60/hr
  • Grant writing: $40-$80/hr
  • Technical writing: $40-$100/hr
  • Web content :$10-$90/hr

What is a freelance writer assignment agreement?

Freelance writing often involves agreements between clients and freelancers. These are usually contracts with details about rates, payment, confidentiality expectations etc., but they can go in-depth on other topics like the ownership of a written piece, or contractor status – whether you’re considered an employee for tax purposes as well as what your benefits might be if you are not classified that way by law. Here is a sample agreement that you can look at.

How do I get paid?

There are no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the payments process. Some clients prefer paying in full upfront or a part of their payment upfront, and others may want you to send them an invoice after completing your work. There are also some who have sophisticated computer systems that can tell exactly how much they owe at any given time with just a quick glance!

But the best way to get paid is with an invoicing app that helps manage your finances and saves time. And, there are plenty of options out there! Here are some freelancer invoicing apps you can use for your next project.

PayPal

Freelancers who don’t need software to track their time or invoices should use the PayPal app. It’s free and simple, with a clean interface that is accessible anywhere you can get an internet connection.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks offers an interesting and modern way to track your money. You can automatically send payment reminders for unpaid invoices, set recurring monthly invoices for clients, and customize the look of your invoices. The service also allows users to charge late fees if necessary.

use time management to hone your skills

7. Manage Your Time Well

Managing multiple writing projects at once is a challenge for any freelance writer. With so many types of assignments and large ones demanding attention, it’s hard to prioritize the workload among them all. Here are some tips on how you can juggle your work without going crazy:

Create A Schedule

The best way to stay on top of your deadlines is by setting yourself deadlines for every step along the project’s journey. Use a calendar app and take time at end of each day to map out what you need to do next so that when it’s time, you can hit the ground running!

Prioritize

You want to be prepared and on top of your game. Start with any task that requires people to get back to you, such as collaborations, or interviews. This way they can start working while you do your research or other first steps. From here work on projects by the due date (or complexity) whichever works best for your schedule and workload!

Meetings And Appointments

The best way to get things done is with a little help from a scheduling app. Find an app like Calendly or Youcanbook.me and use it! It’ll save you so much time, especially when coordinating meetings between multiple people in different locations – no more back-and-forth emails that take forever just to confirm the date of the meeting itself!

Google Calendar is another time-saving app. It can help you stay organized with interviews, deadlines, reminders and more! You can sync Google calendar to your phone or Slack account so that it sends you notifications when necessary. The time block feature also helps keep everything on track.

Stay Focused

Dayboard is a browser extension built-in Google Chrome that blocks distractions and helps you stay focused on your most important tasks. It does this by replacing the new tab page with a minimal list of to-dos for each day, including blocking sites like Facebook or YouTube until work has been completed. The app also gives helpful notifications when it’s time to move onto another task.

Time Management

Billing per project is a common practice for freelance writers. But you need to know how much time you’re spending on a client project- Toggl, an online tool that allows freelancers to keep track of their time, can help with this!

pitch clients if you want to write

8. Start Pitching Potential Clients

Do you want to be a freelance writer? Well then, you better know how to make an article sell. There are many ways that freelancers pitch their articles and some might work better than others for different publications; however, there is one set of guidelines that will always help your chances- follow these points when pitching:

Get Their Attention

A good headline should catch the reader’s eye with its specificity (e.g., “10 Ways To Reduce College Debt”) rather than just being vague (“College Student Struggles With Money”).

Research what has already been written on this topic so as not to duplicate content but instead add something new. Make sure you have at least 3 interesting takeaways from the piece before submitting it because if it’s not entertaining, then readers will not read it.

Research Your Audience

Every publication has a specific demographic that they cater to, so while some may be looking for general tips for college students, others might be targeting more of an older crowd. Make sure you know who your audience is so that you can write articles in the style and tone they want to read.

Keep in mind the target audience of your piece and write based on their interests (e.g., not writing 10 ways to save money if you’re pitching a luxurious magazine).

Get To The Point

Write concisely and eloquently- the shorter your pitch is, the better. If you can express yourself on one page, then do it; however, if you need more room to explain everything in detail, go ahead. Remember: clarity is key!

Check Spelling, Facts, Grammar, and Tone

Always proofread your work; otherwise, potential clients will think you’re sloppy and disorganized. Not to mention that it makes a better impression when a writer has zero typos in their pieces.

Also double-check facts before submitting anything because if you make an error in fact, then the editor may be wary of publishing other pieces by you. Any of these items can be avoided by proofreading.

woman who want to write

9. Check Freelance Writing Job Boards

There are a lot of things you can do to land consistent work, but let’s focus on where to find freelance writing jobs by using job boards. You may think that there is no way someone like yourself without any experience could get a writing job right away.

But don’t be discouraged! Job sites such as Contena, Blogging Pro, and ProBlogger have tons of listings from reputable brands looking for writers at all levels and skillsets. Here are some more places you can find freelance writing jobs online:

FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a popular website for remote jobs. When you create an account, you can search by category to find your perfect position!

SolidGigs

SolidGigs is a one-stop-shop for finding the best freelance writing jobs on the internet. They handpick all of their listings and compile them into weekly emails saving you hours in scouring job boards across different sites.

LinkedIn

To be successful in the freelance writing world, you need to network. The best way to do this? LinkedIn! Sign up for a free account and link it with your other social media accounts so that people can find you easily.

You’ll also want to check out Jobs section where there are new jobs posted every day from companies looking for talented freelance writers like yourself.

girl learning to be a writer

10. Improve Your Writing Skills

The most successful freelance writers are always learning new things and adding new skills to their repertoire. The best ones are eager to continue learning. They constantly read books and take courses, browse information online, schedule time each week for research—whatever it takes!

Become A Lifelong Learner

There are two reasons freelance writers need to be lifelong learners. First, you need to constantly learn so that your articles and books are fresh, never stale. It’s true that no writer can know everything about a subject or write something new on every possible topic. However, you can keep learning so you are current with trends and aware of potential hot topics.

The second reason you need to be a lifelong learner is that the competition, especially for writing jobs with online publications, is fierce. It’s hard to get freelance writing jobs without having the latest skills and up-to-date knowledge. Most clients would rather hire a freelance writer who is a lifelong learner, than one whose edge has been eroded by not staying current in technology, trends, and research.

If you become a better writer, your chances of becoming published will also improve. This is because editors and publishers are much more impressed by writers with fresh, unique ideas than they are by “been-there-done-that” writers who do nothing but recycle the same information again and again.

As a lifelong learner, you’ll also learn how to generate new story ideas and marketing strategies. You’ll learn how to expand your skills and grow as an author.

Professional Writing Associations

One of the best ways to remain a lifelong learner is by joining professional freelance writing associations such as the Freelancers Union, or Freelance Writers Den, where you can network with other writers who will be helpful in sharing their knowledge.

By joining online writing groups and forums, you can learn about current trends and ideas. You can share best practices with other freelancers who are facing some of the same issues and challenges.

The more knowledge you have as a freelance writer, the better your writing skills will become, which in turn will increase your chances of finding good clients.

Apps To Improve Your Writing

Canva helps freelancers and small business owners to create stunning graphics in a matter of minutes. With their intuitive design interface, you can save your brand colors, edit existing templates for the perfect size or shape, use multiple elements like fonts or backgrounds to make it uniquely yours and even share directly with social media sites!

The best freelancers are those who not only submit work that is perfect and error-free but also takes time to proofread. Grammarly can help you improve your writing with its advanced features like spellchecker and grammar checkers.

Jarvis is an artificial intelligence that can help freelance writers come up with catchy headlines, well-structured stories and social media content. With his skills in all of these areas, a freelance writer may spend less time trying to figure out what they want their article about or how it should be structured than ever before!

Conclusion

You now have 10 steps on how to become a freelance writer. Hopefully, these tips will help you get started in your journey and make the process easier for you so that one day you can be an established freelance writer with a strong portfolio of satisfied clients who are eager to work with you again!

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