The digital age has created a demand for talented writers, opening up vast opportunities for those aspiring to become freelance writers. Freelancing offers flexibility, creativity, and the potential for a fulfilling career. However, breaking into the field can be challenging without the right knowledge and guidance. I often get asked how to become a freelance writer. Rather than continuing to give advice and tips to individuals I thought I’d put together a guide to help you embark on a journey of professional growth and personal fulfilment.
Before I start, a note on the type of freelance writing I’m talking about here. As a freelance copywriter you’re likely to spend much of your time writing copy that businesses are using to market themselves. Certainly the easiest way to start out as a professional copywriter is to land gigs writing blog posts and other copy required for B2B and B2C marketing. Businesses need a TON of copy, constantly, so there’s always plenty of work to be found in these areas. You may not want to do this forever – you might have your eye on becoming a professional ghostwriter, or a travel writer, spending your time writing but not for the purposes of marketing.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. To start out, you’re almost certainly going to need to do some amount of copywriting for businesses; it’s simply the fastest way to build a portfolio of professional work. You can pivot later, and specialise in another area, but doing that initial work creating marketing copy gives you the ability to break into the world of freelancing very easily, and immediately earn money doing so. Becoming a travel blogger, on the other hand, means landing gigs specific to travel writing; while this isn’t impossible without experience it’s a LOT tougher to do.
Aside from that, understanding how to leverage copywriting effectively in marketing, content creation, and SEO, will enable you to market your own business by writing. This is exactly how I build my own business, and it’s highly effective. So, this guide will teach you how to get started landing gigs and establishing yourself as a freelance writer working for businesses.
How To Become A Successful Freelance Writer
We’ll start with a few things that you’ll need to do to get yourself in the freelance writer ‘zone’ – both physically and mentally…
Hone Your Writing Skills
The foundation of any successful freelance writer lies in their ability to write captivating, engaging, and error-free content. Start by reading extensively, both within and beyond your preferred writing niche. Familiarise yourself with different writing styles, grammar rules, and storytelling techniques. Practise writing regularly to improve your skills and experiment with various forms of writing, such as articles, blog posts, copywriting, or creative writing.
Define Your Niche
Identify your areas of expertise and interest to carve out a niche for yourself. Specialising in a specific field will enable you to establish yourself as an authority and attract clients seeking expertise in that area. Consider your professional background, hobbies, and passions, and explore niches where you can leverage your knowledge and skills effectively.
Build a Portfolio
A strong portfolio is essential to showcase your writing abilities to potential clients. Begin by creating a personal blog or website where you can display your best work. If you’re starting from scratch, offer to write guest posts for reputable websites or contribute to online publications. You can also create sample pieces specifically tailored to your target clients or submit articles to content platforms. Aim to have a diverse range of writing samples that demonstrate your versatility and expertise.
Create Your Own Website
This is the one that everyone wishes they’d started doing sooner, once they’re a few years in. Having your own website as a freelance writer does several key things:
- It gives you a place to display your portfolio professionally, so that when you’re applying for gigs you can share a link that will impress.
- It enables potential clients to easily find you via search engines and contact you.
- It gives you a professional, modern ‘business card’ that clearly displays who you are, what your experience is, what you do, and how much you charge.
- It allows you to showcase your copywriting skills on your own blog – even if you don’t have a thing in your portfolio yet, having a blog allows you to create well-crafted content to show prospective clients as an example of what you can do.
Do NOT spend a fortune doing this. Not right away. Do it as quickly and cheaply as you can to get started, and develop it as and when you can afford to do so. I recommend you begin with a self-hosted WordPress site (this is more professional than a free one, but still very cheap, and WordPress is far superior to Wix and the like) under your own domain name. You’ll need to buy a domain, pay for hosting, and either build the site yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. Again, it doesn’t need to be complicated, you can start with a single-page site that has a blog feed, a portfolio page, and a simple contact form.
Should you want some help with this, please get in touch and tell me you’re a new freelance writer – I have a special offer to make this step as affordable as possible for noobs!
Develop a Professional Online Presence
In today’s digital landscape, establishing a strong online presence is crucial. Create professional profiles on freelancing platforms, such as Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer, to connect with potential clients. Craft a compelling bio that highlights your expertise and showcases your unique selling points. Actively engage in social media platforms relevant to your niche and share valuable content to build your personal brand and attract clients.
Networking and Building Relationships
Networking plays a vital role in the freelance writing industry. Attend writing conferences, seminars, and workshops to meet fellow writers, industry professionals, and potential clients. Engage in online writing communities, forums, and social media groups to connect with like-minded individuals and stay updated on industry trends. Building strong relationships and fostering connections can lead to referrals, collaborations, and long-term clients.
Pitching and Marketing Yourself
To secure freelance writing projects, you need to market yourself effectively. Craft a compelling pitch template that highlights your skills, experience, and unique value proposition. Customise your pitches for each client, emphasising how your expertise aligns with their needs. Research potential clients thoroughly to understand their brand voice, target audience, and content requirements. Cold emailing, guest post pitches, and direct client outreach are effective strategies to land freelance gigs.
Pricing and Negotiation
Determining your rates as a freelance writer can be challenging. Research industry standards, consider your experience level, niche expertise, and the complexity of the project when setting your prices. Be prepared for negotiation and define your boundaries. Remember, it’s essential to strike a balance between fair compensation and gaining experience when starting out. As your skills and reputation grow, you can gradually increase your rates.
Delivering High-Quality Work and Building a Reputation
Deliver your writing assignments punctually and maintain a high standard of quality. Be receptive to feedback and revise your work accordingly. Client satisfaction is paramount in building a strong reputation. Request testimonials or reviews from satisfied clients to bolster your credibility and attract future clients.
How To Get Your First Freelance Writing Jobs
Getting your first freelance writing jobs can be challenging, but with the right approach and persistence, you can land your initial clients. Here are some steps to help you secure your first freelance writing gigs:
Leverage Online Freelancing Platforms
Sign up on popular freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or Guru. These platforms provide access to a wide range of clients and opportunities. Create a compelling profile highlighting your skills, experience, and writing samples. Take skill tests relevant to your niche to boost your credibility and visibility on the platform.
Craft customised pitches for potential clients. Research their websites, blogs, or social media profiles to understand their needs, tone, and style. Tailor your pitch to showcase how your skills and expertise align with their requirements. Be professional, concise, and demonstrate value in your pitch. Send out personalised pitches to targeted clients regularly.
Guest Blogging and Content Platforms
Offer to write guest posts for reputable websites or contribute to content platforms. This will help you gain exposure, build your portfolio, and establish relationships with editors or website owners. Some websites may not pay for guest posts initially, but the exposure and credibility you gain can lead to paid opportunities later.
Network and Utilise Social Media
Engage with other writers, editors, and industry professionals on social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook groups. Participate in discussions, offer insights, and build relationships. Networking can lead to referrals or direct job opportunities. Share your writing samples, blog posts, or industry-related content to showcase your expertise.
Consider Pro Bono or Lower-Paying Projects
Initially, be open to taking on pro bono or lower-paying projects to gain experience, build your portfolio, and establish a track record. These opportunities can help you demonstrate your capabilities and lead to higher-paying gigs in the future. However, be mindful of your boundaries and ensure that the projects align with your long-term goals.
Ask for Referrals
Reach out to your personal and professional network, including friends, family, or former colleagues, and let them know you’re offering freelance writing services. Ask if they know anyone who might be in need of a writer. Referrals from trusted individuals can provide you with your first clients or valuable leads.
Be Professional and Reliable
Once you land your first freelance writing jobs, deliver high-quality work within the agreed-upon deadlines. Maintain clear and prompt communication with clients. A satisfied client is more likely to provide positive testimonials or refer you to others, helping you build your reputation.
Remember, getting your first freelance writing jobs requires persistence and perseverance. Keep refining your skills, expanding your network, and actively seeking opportunities. With each successful project, your portfolio will grow, and you’ll gain the experience needed to attract higher-paying clients.
Weekly Actions to Land Paid Work
Consistent action is the key to building a base of freelance writing clients. Small tasks can be done on a weekly or daily basis which help to consistently put you in front of the right people.
Research and Identify Prospective Clients
Spend time each week researching potential clients in your niche. Look for businesses, websites, publications, or agencies that may require freelance writing services. Make a list of these prospects and gather relevant contact information.
Tailor Your Pitch
Craft personalised pitches for each prospective client on your list. Highlight their specific needs, showcase your expertise, and explain how you can add value to their projects. Customise your pitch to align with their brand voice and target audience.
Send Out Pitches
Dedicate a portion of your week to sending out pitches to your identified prospects. Aim to send a set number of pitches each week, depending on your availability and workload capacity. Consistency is key, so establish a routine and follow through with regular pitching efforts.
Follow up on previously sent pitches that haven’t received a response. Send a polite, concise email or message to inquire about their interest in your services. Sometimes, clients may overlook or forget to respond, so a friendly reminder can be beneficial.
Network and Collaborate
Engage in networking activities each week. Participate in online writing communities, join social media groups or forums, and attend virtual events or webinars related to writing or your specific niche. Build relationships with fellow writers, editors, and potential clients. Collaborations and referrals often stem from these connections.
Improve Your Skills
Dedicate time to improving your writing skills and expanding your knowledge base. Read books or articles on writing techniques, attend webinars or workshops, or enroll in online courses related to your niche. Continual learning enhances your abilities and makes you more valuable to clients.
Optimise Your Online Presence
Regularly update and optimise your online profiles, such as your website, blog, or social media platforms. Showcase your best work, share industry-related insights, and engage with your audience. Consistency and active participation demonstrate professionalism and attract potential clients.
Research Job Boards and Freelancing Platforms
Explore job boards and freelancing platforms relevant to your niche. Keep an eye out for freelance writing opportunities and submit applications or proposals accordingly. Some popular platforms include ProBlogger, Freelance Writing Jobs, and LinkedIn ProFinder.
Develop Content for Your Personal Brand
Create valuable content for your personal blog or website. Share informative blog posts, industry insights, or tips related to your niche. This content not only showcases your expertise but also helps attract organic traffic and potential clients.
Evaluate and Refine Your Approach
Regularly assess the effectiveness of your pitching strategies, networking efforts, and marketing tactics. Analyse which methods are yielding the best results and adjust your approach accordingly. Experiment with different techniques and learn from both successes and failures.
By incorporating these weekly actions into your routine, you’ll actively pursue paid work as a freelance writer, increase your chances of landing new clients, and steadily grow your freelance writing business. Stay dedicated, resilient, and proactive, and success will follow.
The Importance of Effective Copywriting in Marketing, Content, and SEO
Copywriting is a crucial skill for marketers, as it involves crafting persuasive and compelling content that influences readers, drives conversions, and ultimately achieves marketing goals. Whether you’re creating sales pages, email campaigns, social media posts, or website content, effective copy can make a significant impact on your marketing efforts. Here are a few reasons why mastering copywriting is essential:
Captivating and Engaging Audience
Effective copywriting is about capturing your audience’s attention, engaging them, and compelling them to take action. It involves understanding your target audience’s needs, desires, pain points, and motivations, and crafting messages that resonate with them. A well-written copy can establish an emotional connection, build trust, and drive desired actions.
Copywriting plays a central role in content marketing strategies. Compelling copy helps attract and retain readers, encourages them to share your content, and increases brand visibility. Whether it’s blog posts, articles, videos, or podcasts, the quality of your copy can make a significant difference in the success of your content marketing efforts.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Copywriting and SEO go hand in hand. Search engines rank web pages based on various factors, including the quality of the content and relevance to users’ search queries. Effective copywriting ensures that your content is optimised for relevant keywords, includes appropriate meta tags, and provides valuable information to readers. By understanding SEO principles, you can enhance the visibility of your content and attract organic traffic.
Persuasive Messaging and Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
Copywriting is instrumental in crafting persuasive messaging and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs). The words you choose, the tone you adopt, and the structure of your content can influence how readers respond to your marketing efforts. Whether you want them to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, or share your content, persuasive copywriting guides readers towards the desired action.
Brand Voice and Consistency
Copywriting helps establish and maintain a consistent brand voice across all marketing channels. Consistency in messaging and tone strengthens brand identity, fosters trust, and ensures a cohesive customer experience. Developing a style guide and understanding how to infuse your brand personality into your copy helps differentiate your business and resonates with your target audience.
Building Relationships and Trust
Effective copywriting fosters relationships and builds trust with your audience. By delivering valuable, informative, and engaging content, you position yourself as an authority in your industry. Trustworthy and authentic copy strengthens your credibility, encourages repeat engagement, and leads to long-term customer relationships.
Essential Skills To Learn
While there’s a lot that goes into marketing, here are a few tips that will help you learn the basics needed to create copy that can effectively market a business (either your own or a client’s)…
Understand your target audience: Conduct market research, develop buyer personas, and gain insights into their preferences, pain points, and motivations.
Tailor your messaging: Craft your copy to resonate with your target audience, addressing their needs and desires while aligning with your brand voice.
Use storytelling techniques: Engage your audience through compelling narratives that evoke emotions, create connections, and make your content memorable.
Optimise for SEO: Research relevant keywords, incorporate them naturally into your copy, and optimise meta tags, headings, and URLs to improve search engine visibility.
Test and refine: Continually evaluate the performance of your copy and make data-driven adjustments to improve engagement, conversions, and SEO rankings.
By mastering effective copywriting techniques and understanding how your copy functions for people, you can enhance your marketing efforts, drive meaningful engagement, and achieve your desired outcomes in today
Becoming A Freelance Writer
Becoming a successful freelance writer requires dedication, perseverance, and continuous learning. By honing your writing skills, defining your niche, building a strong portfolio, and establishing a professional online presence, you can position yourself as a sought-after freelance writer. Remember to network, market yourself effectively, and deliver exceptional work to build a solid reputation. With time and persistence, you can forge a rewarding career as a freelance writer and enjoy the freedom and creativity that comes with it.