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Every now and then, I get a lot of questions on how to be a freelance writer. I’ve been into this freelance writing career for the past 3 years and it’s going pretty good for me. I always wanted to pen down my words on this topic and help others with I have learned along the way. So, I guess, this is the right time for it.
Just know that I’ll use a step-by-step approach for this article instead of writing it like a how-I-made-it story. Hence, you will be able to understand and apply things in a better way.
I have already written down my brief journey as a content writer on my blog. In case you are interested, you may read it here.
Anyway, let’s come back to our topic…
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Freelance writing is becoming quite a popular career choice for people who want to earn money from home. Some professionals are using it as a primary source of income while others are using it as a part-time job.
There are some popular myths about freelancing that I want to blow away today. People say you need proper training or certificates to start writing online. Just know that you do not need any professional training or degree to work as a freelance writer. Regardless of where you reside in the world or what qualification you have, you can always be a freelance content writer.
It is a profitable business for stay-at-home mommies, bloggers, or anyone who wants to live a life away from a 9 to 5 job. Currently, freelance content writing is my full-time income source and I am quite satisfied with it.
How to Become a Freelance Writer in 10 Simple Steps
Without wasting further time, let’s jump into the steps to start a successful freelance writing career:
1. Set Clear and Smart Goals
See, freelance content writing is not something that works immediately for you. It takes time and you have to be patient with the process. Thus, while thinking about making a career in freelance writing, you should be clear with what you want to achieve through it.
Ask yourself if you want to make it your full-time job or just want to keep it as a part-time thing? This will help you in setting definite financial goals. Besides that, you will be able to make a proper schedule or routine for your day.
Secondly, keep in mind that as a freelancer, you will face different problems like:
- Clients paying late.
- Clients not paying at all.
- Having payment transfer problems.
- Getting a lot of work in one week and no work for the next few weeks.
- Tight deadlines and revisions demand.
Facing situations when you are not paid at all for your hard work creates a lot of frustration. So yes, you must have a well thought financial plan before trying to live your life as a freelance writer. If you are quitting your job for getting into the content writing career, it is better to have some reserve funds for 6-12 months to tackle the emergency circumstances.
When I started working as a content writer, I was not aware of the above-mentioned potential problems. I did not have clear financial and emotional goals at that time. That is why it took me quite some time to learn how to deal with such situations without losing my cool.
2. Identify Your Expertise
I always talk about finding your passion and working on it. The same goes for freelance content writing. Grab a pen and a paper and list the topics that you can write well on. Know that you always have to do research before writing a quality article for your client. If the topic you are writing on goes with your interests, it would be easier for you to write and research on it.
On the other hand, if you think you are not passionate about any particular niche, you can pick an area and start building your expertise around this topic by learning about it.
Parallel to that, do not limit yourself to one niche or area. Experiment with different types of writings. It will help you in getting exposure and knowing the vastness of this field.
My comfortable niche for writing is technology, blogging, SEO, and entrepreneurship but guess what? I wrote a highly professional law document for one of my clients a few days ago. I did not know much about the topic so I did extensive research on it before writing. The client appreciated my work a lot and came with another order for me. This made me realize that we should challenge our limitations and always keep ourselves ready to learn and try new things.
See, every expert was once a beginner. It’s okay if you do not have strong writing skills or knowledge about a certain topic, you can always learn. Remember, consistency is the key. Make your mind and then stick to your plan. Keep working on it and you will be an expert one day.
3. Start somewhere and Start Small
Once you have made your mind to be a freelance writer, just stop waiting for the right time to begin. Stop worrying that you do not have enough experience or knowledge about this field.
Start somewhere no matter where it is. Take the first step and you’ll find your way eventually. When you go through this trial-and-error process, you get to learn a lot about this freelance writing marketplace.
Besides that, in the beginning, the best bet is to take small projects for building up your portfolio. Remember, there are no shortcuts. It takes some time to build a reputation as a great writer. In the initial days, you cannot demand $30 for an article of 500 words so be patient with the process.
4. Build Your Portfolio
While hiring you as a freelance writer, clients always prefer to see your previous work samples so that they can analyze your writing style and expertise. That is why, you should always focus on building a portfolio that can reflect your skills, accomplishments, experiences, and attributes.
I have already written about this topic in detail. Read some best ways to build a writing portfolio as a beginner and the platforms that you can use to find paid content writing jobs here:
5. Market Yourself
If you have profiles on different major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you have a great opportunity to market your skills. Mention in your bio that you are a freelance writer. Write about your experience and the types of niches you can cover.
Basically, create a good professional profile on these popular social media networks. Share your best articles from time to time. Build a network around people who belong to the same industry. Communicate with them and tell them about your services. Keep the conversation casual. Do not pitch anything unless and until the other person shows interest. Eventually, this will help you in finding some good and long term clients.
If you visit my personal social media profile, you will see that I have mentioned the work I do, my experience, and the companies I work for. This actually helps in building authority and a relationship of trust with the clients.
6. Keep Refining Your Skills
The best thing that you can do to yourself as a freelance writer is to never stop learning. You should always continue to refine your writing style, learning process, business skills, social profile, and the method of finding clients.
When you grow as a writer, you get to work with a variety of clients who run different kinds of websites. In order to work with them, you have to get some prior knowledge about their niche. This is only possible when you keep yourself open to learning new stuff all the time.
Besides that, as a writer, it is important for you to stay in touch with industry analysis. The freelance writing market keeps on changing rapidly because of the nature of this business. That is why, you should always have proper information about the current industry rates, the trending writing style, and the kind of work other writers are doing.
7. Interact Professionally with Clients
Every freelance project starts with communication. Long before clients make a deal with you, they actually get to know your writing ability and expertise through the way you communicate. That is why effective communication with clients is as necessary as the writing itself.
Remember, effective communication starts with setting certain boundaries. Interact with clients on a professional level and talk to the point. Try to understand the scope of the project, ask them what they what, how they want, and when they want it. This will clear most of the things for you as well as for them and will set a track to work on.
I always prefer to have written communication before making a deal to avoid any kind of inconvenience later. I specifically mention the tasks I will perform, the deadline, and the cost. Once the client approves this message, I start working on the project.
Parallel to that, I stay in touch with the client and keep him/her updated with the work. This helps me in clearly understanding the client’s perspective on that particular project. It also helps the client in better understanding his/her own ideas and expressing them effectively.
8. Learn Time Management
One of the biggest challenges that you will face as a freelance writer is how to make the best use of your time. There are times when you get seven to eight projects at a time with close deadlines and it becomes really tough to deliver each one of them on time.
If you want to become a good freelance writer, you will have to use your time productively. You will have to figure out how to divide your time to complete all the projects in time.
When I have a lot of work, I manage my time by turning off all the distractions, creating a to-do list, breaking up the work into chunks, and then finishing the easier tasks first. You can also use Trello for organizing your projects or day-to-day tasks. It is a flexible and easy-to-use time management app.
So yes, managing and delivering the work on time is important to develop a long-term working relationship with clients.
9. Do Your Work Honestly
I am the kind of person who believes in working with utmost honesty no matter how old school it may look. If you think you can fool clients by delivering copied content, believe me, you cannot go a long way in this freelance writing career.
Once you have taken a project, work on it with full dedication and write original content. Do not copy content from the internet. Yes, you can take ideas from the internet but you just cannot copy the whole content and then deliver it to the client. This is being dishonest with your profession as well as with the person who is paying you to write the “original” piece.
Once you are working with a client, try to go above and beyond his/her expectations in every possible way. Good reviews hold a lot of value and pleasing a client through your work is a sure way of building a profile with excellent reviews.
10. Stay Humble
I read it somewhere that if you want to be a better writer, always stay humble. If you want to grow as a writer, learn from everyone.
Many times, writers take themselves too seriously and after getting a lot of praise for their work, they develop an egotistic attitude and start ignoring even the most constructive feedback.
Remember one thing: Even the world’s greatest writers have had to improve and revise their masterpieces until they die. When you stop improving, you stop growing. Never let your writings make you arrogant. Focus on your end goal and always pay attention to healthy criticism.
Another important thing is, once you are in a position where you hold a lot of experience, never hesitate to help other new writers. There is no shortage of new writers looking for guidance. When you see a newbie who holds a lot of potential and needs support, try to take that person under your wing. Share the hard-earned lessons you have gained all over the years. It will not only help that person in his/her professional endeavors but will also give you a whole new perspective about the work you do.
So, this was all about how to be a freelance writer. See, nothing comes easy. You always have to work for building recognition for yourself. The same goes for the field of freelance writing. If you follow the above-listed steps in the right way, there’s no doubt that you will be a great professional freelance writer eventually.
If you want to know more about this topic or have any queries, write them down in comments and I’ll answer. Good luck! 🙂