How to Become a Freelance Writer if You’re Not a Professional

How to Become a Freelance Writer if You’re Not a Professional

Becoming a freelance writer is a lucrative opportunity that many are willing to pursue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers in the US earn a median of 61,820 dollars per year. Payscale provides a somewhat bigger salary range for content writers – from 29,915 to 70,245 dollars per year.  The hourly rate is set at 17.74 dollars, with some of the best writers earning over 30 dollars per hour.

All of this sound great but you may be wondering – can I get started with writing if I don’t have professional training or experience?

The answer is yes.

If you want to find out how to start freelance writing, you’ll need to go through a few important preliminary processes. Getting some training, finding your niche and doing a few projects to gain experience will all matter.

I’ve been working as a writer for over 13 years and based on my experience, these are some of the biggest essentials to keep in mind.

How to Become a Freelance Writer: Find Your Niche

The first thing you may want to test out is starting your own blog.

Blogging gives you a creative outlet to write and see how others are responding to your texts. A blog could also provide some wonderful monetization opportunities

The first thing you need to understand when wondering how to become a freelance writer is that you have to do some research.

Freelance writers can offer a wide array of services and they can make money in more than one way.

Ebook self-publishing, for example, is a project you can get involved in even if you don’t have professional writing experience.

Some other possible niches for freelance writers include the following:

  • Writing content for clients (website articles, product descriptions, whitepapers, website content, etc.)
  • Writing for content mills 
  • Academic writing (I do not support or endorse such projects because they’re not ethical in any way shape and form)
  • Writing content to sell in online marketplaces
  • Joining passive income generation websites (the content you write and upload earns money through views and ad displaying)
  • Submitting your content to magazines and online publications

These are just a few of the possible niches and some of them are obviously much better than others.

Based on your knowledge and interests, you should pinpoint a niche that you’d like to build a career in. Once you know what your freelance writing niche is, you can move on to acquiring the right set of skills.

Free & Quick Proofreading from Grammarly!

Build Your Skills and Knowledge

When learning how to become a freelance writer, you’ll have to put emphasis on acquiring the right skills and knowledge in order to score better paying projects.

Writing for magazines and online publications, for example, could help you make over 100 dollars per text. These publications, however, have strict criteria and editorial guidelines you’ll have to meet in order to have your submission approved.

The next step in the process (and probably the most important one) is acquiring the right skills and building your portfolio.

If you want to be a freelance writer who has multiple gigs with clients (and an online blog to monetize), you will first have to focus on developing your search engine optimization (SEO) skills. SEO enables you to rank your content for keywords of preference. Many clients are looking for people capable of creating such content as the importance of growing a solid online presence is going up.

Next, you’ll need to work on your social media marketing skills.

Social media are required to grow the popularity of your content. In addition, some clients may want you to manage social media accounts for them. Alternatively, you’ll be asked to create specialized content that’s social media-friendly and suitable for use in a marketing campaign.

Experiment with the social networks you use to promote your own blog content. There are dozens of solutions out there. Rewst is a great choice because you can grow your Twitter following through quick and easy automation.

Finally, work on improving your writing skills themselves. Before you learn how to start freelance writing and find clients, you’ll have to get in the habit of making sure your texts are flawless.

Tools like Grammarly are ideal for newbies. I use the Grammarly grammar checker quite often because of its quality and simplicity. In addition, you can rely on a host of additional solutions like a free check for plagiarism and an automated proofreader.

Where to Look for Freelance Writing Gigs

You now have a portfolio, you have some basic skills and you’d like to test out this online money making opportunities.

Finding clients will be one of the biggest challenges you will face in the beginning.

There’s a simple reason why – massive competition.

Numerous freelance writers from all parts of the world will be willing to work for pennies when they should be charging much more. As a result, clients will often go for the cheapest offer instead of paying for a quality service.

As a newbie who doesn’t have a lot of experience, you will often find yourself competing against these lowest tier service providers.

One thing I want you to remember, even when you feel desperate, is that you shouldn’t do price dumping and you shouldn’t join sites like Fiverr. You may earn some cash by writing articles for a dollar but you’ll never build a sustainable freelance writing career this way. 

Instead, work on growing your portfolio and apply for gigs through multiple platforms. Some of the top portals I recommend for finding customers include:

  • Upwork: a wonderful choice, especially if you have specialized knowledge and skills. There are all kinds of clients on Upwork, including people who are ready to pay more for quality. To make the most of Upwork, you should definitely work towards building your profile.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs: there are many freelance writing gigs presented here but keep in mind that the competition is going to be intense.
  • The Problogger Job Board: another great resource that has freelance writing gigs updated on a daily basis. I’ve applied and scored a few projects here. The competition is once again intense. One client, for example, came back to me a few months after I’d applied because of the sheer volume of offers they received from freelancers.
  • LinkedIn: it’s imperative to start working on your LinkedIn profile right now! As a freelance writer, I’ve received a few projects via the social network. Clients looking for the right skills will come across your profile and if interested, they will send you a note. You can also be the one actively looking for gigs on the social network.
  • Craigslist: this one is a bit trickier but you may still want to check it out every now and then. Craigslist offers abound but some of them are fake and some of them will lead to you getting scammed. If you contact anyone on Craigslist and agree to work with them, you should definitely ask for an advance payment.
  • Guru: this portal is similar to Upwork but there’s a much stricter limit on the number of jobs you can apply to. Still, depending on your qualifications and the pricing structure you choose, there may be a few great gigs you’ll land here.
  • The WAHM forum: not only does the Work at Home Mom forum often feature freelance writing gigs that pay well, you can also get a lot of beneficial information about interacting with clients, setting up your price structure or joining content mills.

The one popular website I do not recommend is Freelancer.com.

Freelancer has been around for a long, long time and it is the ultimate choice for people who are looking for writing and other freelance gigs.

The problem with Freelancer.com is that just about everyone is on it.

You will face a ton of competition from people who are willing to work for virtually no payment. Very often, there will be 50 or even more applications for a lucrative job. Because you have no experience and no ratings on your profile, chances are that your application will get lost in the clutter.

When looking for jobs, don’t be afraid to test out new opportunities, as well.

Lensa is a board that allows you to search millions of jobs online. Job openings are relevant and matched to your skills for best results. 

Work on Monetizing Your Content in Other Ways!

While you’re applying for freelance writing jobs and learning how to become a freelance writer, you should definitely try monetizing your content in alternative ways.

There are many possibilities for earning an income with your blog. Affiliate marketing, display advertising and contextual advertising are just a few of the options you may want to test out. While some of these aren’t going to result in massive income, you can still earn a bit of cash through the monetization of your portfolio.

Don’t be afraid to try selling an ebook, as well. You can join Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program or you can sell on Clickbank (or even directly through your own website).

The more you work on expanding your online presence and seeking monetization opportunities, the more experience you’ll gain. Ultimately, the knowledge you acquire this way will make it so much easier for you to attract clients through solid pitches in the future.

Final Tip: Work on Developing Long-Lasting Relationships with Customers

If you want to know how to become a freelancer, I’d tell you one simple thing – work you’re a** off and put a lot of emphasis on customer service quality.

Sooner or later, you will find freelance writing gigs that are ideally suited to your knowledge and experience. You will get hired and earn some cash. This, however, doesn’t end your relationship with the client.

A solid freelance writing career, just like any other business, is predominantly based on repeat customers.

Working with people who already know you and trust you is much easier than attempting to attract new clients.

Every single email you send, every Skype call should be seen as an investment in the future of your freelance writing career.

Get to know your clients better. Who are they? What’s their business all about? What are they trying to accomplish? Based on this information, you can offer personalized services and a little bit extra on top of their requirements.

Through the years, I’ve maintained solid relationships with multiple clients and they’ve referred business partners, acquaintances and friends to me. There’s no greater satisfaction than finding out that someone on the other end of the world that you’ve never met is willing to recommend you.

Be patient, be proactive, keep on working and growing your portfolio. Focus on quality interactions and pitch hard. Using all possible channels and committing yourself to expanding your writing skills will help you set up a freelance career.

If you need some more assistance, you should definitely consider reading my book about starting your own business and making money online.

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