Do you want a simple, step-by-step guide on how to start landing high-paying clients? Our Freelance Writing For Beginners Resource covers everything you need to know about freelance writing.
Starting a freelance writing career isn’t easy at first. It’s confusing and takes a lot of hustle. In the beginning, you’ll be looking at several different ways to get freelance writing gigs.
You may be trying to land guest posts, running social media ads, or sending pitches on job boards without any luck. This is frustrating, and if you’re looking for your first few clients, you’ll start questioning if it’s even possible to earn money with freelance writing.
Well, many freelance writers make a living doing what they love. Some even work with Fortune 500 companies and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So if you want to break into the freelance writing industry, we've made this guide for you! It contains advice and resources for how to start getting freelance writing jobs for beginners.
- 1. Learning Freelance Writing Skills
- 2. Determining Your Freelance Niche
- 3. Creating Compelling Content
- 4. Building A Freelance Writing Portfolio
- 5. Pitching Clients
- 6. Setting Freelance Writing Rates
- 7. Scaling Your Freelance Writing Business
- Freelance Writing for Beginners: The Final Word
- FAQ On Freelance Writing For Beginners
1. Learning Freelance Writing Skills
A freelance writer produces writing mostly in the forms of content and copy.
Content writing is designed to entertain or educate. Examples of content are blog posts, technical manuals, newsletters, and non-fiction articles.
Copy is writing that's designed to get someone to perform an action like buying a product or signing up for a service. Examples of copywriting are website copy, product descriptions, advertisements, social media posts, and marketing emails.
Freelance writers can write for independent blogs, magazines, publications, and all kinds of businesses including small businesses, corporations, and agencies.
To launch your freelance writing career, cultivate skills like:
- Time management
- An ability to hit deadlines
- Content Marketing Strategy
- And lots more
Read our guide How to Become a Freelance Writer
2. Determining Your Freelance Niche
What is a niche? Your freelance writing niche is the area that you specialize in. Writers who are considered an expert on a topic tend to get paid more, so niching down is a great way to earn more money. Niches are usually either an industry or a specific writing format.
If you're not sure what niche you want to specialize in (many newbies have no idea, it's okay!), consider writing content for a few low-paying clients before or after a day job. This approach enables you to try different writing topics without the pressure of earning a full-time living from freelancing.
Read our guide to Side Hustles for Creatives
If you're considering building a long-term career from freelancing, spend time browsing the jobs market. Find paying freelance niches that align with your interests and or professional experience. Examples of profitable industry niches include:
- Health and fitness
- Business-to-consumer (B2C)
- Business-to-business (B2B)
- Personal development
- Software and reviews
- Food and drinks
- Religion and spirituality
- Real Estate
Also, explore writing formats that you specialize in for clients. Countless options are available:
- White papers
- How-To Guides
- Video scripts
- Blogs posts
- Sales funnels
- Social media Posts
- Sales pages
- Article writing
- E-commerce copy
- Marketing Emails
- Case studies
- Ghostwriting Books
Read our list of Freelance Job Ideas
How To Become A Freelance Reporter
Freelance reporters write for newspapers and magazines, either online or offline. However, this requires a specialized style of writing. If you want to have the flexibility and freedom of a freelancer, then part-time or even full-time reporting can be an option.
If you’re considering journalism, feel free to read our resource on becoming a reporter and finding freelance work!
Read our guide How to Become a Freelance Reporter
Expert Interview: How To Launch And Grow A Successful Writing Career With Jessica Lawlor
If freelance writing for beginners sounds tough, listen to our interview with Jessica Lawlor. She’s the founder of Jessica Lawlor & Company and runs popular blogs like The Write Life.
In this freelance writing podcast, you’ll learn about how to launch a successful full-time writing career so you can make a living doing what you love.
3. Creating Compelling Content
Most of your learning to become a better writer as a freelancer takes place while writing for clients. However, before putting yourself out there, you need to know the basics of creating compelling online writing. This includes:
- Learning to write an eye-catching headline or subject line
- Hooking readers’ attention
- Infusing value into your writing
- Structuring content in a way that’s easy to understand
- Writing persuasive copy
Depending on your preferred learning style, you want to set aside a few days and learn everything you can about the topics mentioned above. I like watching online videos since I’m a visual learner, but books, blog posts, and email newsletters also work.
However, I’d suggest you stick with learning from online videos and blog posts in the beginning. There’s nothing wrong with books. However, you want to learn as much as possible in a short timeframe so you can land writing work.
Books tend to take longer and require more concentration. Also, during this time, you might decide on what niche you’re going to specialize in. This isn’t super important initially since you’ll accept every job offer, but knowing which niche you want to specialize in helps your career direction in the long run.
4. Building A Freelance Writing Portfolio
The paradox at work here is that you need work to gain experience, but many new clients require experience to get a job. Lots of freelancers give up at this stage since it seems like an impossible equation to solve.
There are multiple ways to solve this dilemma, however. You can write some sample articles to start with. Or you can pitch article ideas to blogs that accept them and try to get some guest posting gigs. You can even reach out to companies in your network or local area and offer some free writing for them.
Building a portfolio is as simple as starting your own blog or website with WordPress and implementing what you’ve learned about writing articles. Your portfolio works as a reference when you’re pitching for jobs. Clients can head over to these links and get a feel for your writing style and research and proofreading ability.
Keep it simple and let your writing be the focal point. Don’t get caught up in the design! Instead, let your writing samples do the talking so that when potential clients visit your portfolio, they know you have the skills necessary to communicate their value to their customers.
A portfolio works exceptionally well if your article is in the same niche as the job you’re applying for. For example, when I started out, my portfolio contained articles about the carnivore diet. Using these links, I pitched for over 60 gigs within 3 weeks without any luck.
Then, I found a job looking for writers in the carnivore diet niche. I pitched with my portfolio, and within hours, I received my first client!
5. Pitching Clients
Now that you’ve built a portfolio, it’s time to look to find more paying work. When I first started, there was so much information, and I didn’t know what to do. People will advise you to:
- Run paid ads
- Network with people in your area
- Ask family and friends for writer jobs
- Run content marketing campaigns
Although all these options work, they shouldn’t be on your priority list as a beginner. These marketing strategies take a while to start producing results, and the amount of work required is high.
When you’re starting out, the best way to get freelance writing jobs is to pitch on places like the ProBlogger job board, Mediabistro, or BloggingPro. This is because you’re getting your writing samples in front of eyeballs that are willing to hire immediately.
This strategy is easily scalable. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to send a highly personalized pitch, and if you spend just one hour per day every day sending pitches, you’ll send 28 pitches in a week.
Yeah, this is a lot of work, but even if you get a single job out of the 28, it’ll be worth it. You can always outsource pitching once you're earning the income of a full-time job. Compare this strategy to SEO which takes several months to start producing results.
Discover The Best Writing Jobs
Using Jobs Boards
Getting your first gig is difficult, especially if you have little experience. But this resource keeps things simple and gives you, as a beginner, tips to help you stand out and land a gig.
Finding work as a professional writer is difficult if you don’t know where to look. Also, lots of sites taking advantage of freelance writers by running scams. Falling for one of these scams is surprisingly easy, and that’s why you should only use legitimate sites.
Certain job boards, such as Craigslist, don't check how legit the jobs posted are, so while it can be a good place to find clients, you need to be very careful about vetting any jobs you find through their platform.
Once you start getting work consistently, you’ll want to filter out sites that don’t pay as much. Examples would be content mills like Textbroker. Instead, mainly pitch on high-paying job boards.
Unfortunately, it's not easy to stand out on these sites as a beginner. However, after reading this resource, you have the knowledge required to land clients through these high-paying job listings.
Read our guide How to Get a Job in Writing
If you still want to use a job board, there are several that may help with your freelance writing career:
Writers Work is a freelancing platform that connects writers and business owners. It’s a favorite amongst beginner freelancers since the pay isn’t as low as other platforms. You can also choose which project you’d like to work on. In this resource, you’ll learn how Writers Work works, if it’s worth it, and the pros and cons.
Read our Writers Work Review
Flexjobs is similar to Writers Work and Upwork since they both connect freelance writers with potential clients. However, Flexjobs have their own set of benefits, pros, and cons.
Read our Flexjobs Review
Contently is a place for content writers and other freelancers to set up a portfolio and connect with potential clients who need high-quality content. They offer free courses and other resources for aspiring freelancers.
Fiverr is another freelance marketplace that writers can take advantage of. You can set up gig offers, where you offer something specifically for a set price. For example, you can offer a complete blog article of 1,000 words, or one white paper, or a series of 5 emails. You can connect a PayPal account to your Fiverr page for easy access to the money you make.
6. Setting Freelance Writing Rates
Now that you have pitched for a few months, it’s time to start setting and raising your rates. Before this, you took any job that came your way since you needed the experience.
There isn’t a fixed rate that everyone should set. However, the biggest reason why writers are underpaid is that they lack the confidence to set proper rates. A survey conducted by Make A Living Writing found that one-third of new writers earn below $20 per post.
You’re doing what you love, so why should you charge hundreds of dollars when writing comes so naturally? Well, businesses make money by selling products and services to customers. These products and services are sold using your blog posts, website copy, and squeeze pages.
You’re the direct point of sale between your client and their customers. As a freelance writer, you’re an asset that dictates whether a business makes money or not.
Once you adopt this mindset, raising rates becomes less intimidating since you realize that every business on the planet needs your skill. If one client doesn’t want to pay you what you deserve, there’s an abundance of others who will.
7. Scaling Your Freelance Writing Business
Now that you’re pitching regularly and have started building your brand, it’s time to scale up.
When your workload starts piling up, you’ll be forced to stop pitching for a few days or even weeks. This can cause your pipeline to dry up. Scaling your business and building inbound leads helps with this problem.
Building inbound leads doesn’t have to be complicated, but it requires a lot of hard work, and the results only start pouring in after several months. However, it’s worth it since you’ll have a consistent stream of clients giving you work without having to pitch.
Here are some digital marketing strategies you can use to land more high-paying writing clients:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Running social media ads
- Writing on Medium and LinkedIn
Read our guide to Marketing for Writers
Making Money On Medium
Medium is an engaging social platform that allows you to upload blog posts, articles, and short stories. It offers an opportunity to reach a wider audience with your content. It’s also common for writers to get hired after clients stumbled upon their article.
Opening a Medium account only takes a few minutes, and you can start creating engaging posts. It's great for attracting more clients, building your brand, and getting paid.
Read our guide to Making Money on Medium
Freelance Writing for Beginners: The Final Word
Freelancing is tough, especially at the beginning of your career. However, if you keep things simple and focus on investing your time and effort into activities that land higher-paying work consistently, you’re on the right track.
If you know nothing about creating content or spotting writing opportunities, learn by reading blog posts and watching online videos. But get your hands dirty as soon as possible since you’ll learn the most when working with clients.
Next, start pitching consistently and when your workload becomes too much, and start scaling your business with SEO, content marketing, and guest posting.
If you can follow these steps, you'll be on your way to a lucrative career as a freelance writer in no time!
FAQ On Freelance Writing For Beginners
How can a beginner start writing?
As an absolute beginner, start by learning how to write simple content pieces for businesses. There is a constant need for them. You can find free resources for this all over the internet! One easy place to look is YouTube.
What is the most common type of freelance writing jobs?
The most common type of writing gig on the internet is writing blog articles. Businesses that engage in content marketing need a steady stream of content pieces, so offering to write blog posts and articles is a great way to get your foot in the door.
What are the main skills I need to become a freelance writer?
You need to be able to hit deadlines consistently, manage your time effectively, accept rejection and criticism without taking it personally, and constantly be willing to learn something new.
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