How To Become a Freelance Writer
With more and more people enjoying the benefits of freelancing, you might be wondering how you can take the plunge into a freelance career yourself.
Freelance writing is a popular choice, as it offers a huge variety of potential projects and the chance to turn your passion into a flexible career. Even better, you can get started as a freelance writer without any previous experience.
Our guide to becoming a freelance writer will help you plan your next steps toward a fully flexible freelance life.
What Does a Freelance Writer Do?
A freelance writer produces written material on behalf of a client. Rather than working full- or part-time for an employee, freelance writers are self-employed and can choose when and where they work.
Some common areas freelance writers work in include:
The freelance writing process varies from project to project but typically follows the same basic steps:
- A client reaches out to a writer (or vice versa).
- The writer agrees on a brief with the client.
- The writer plans and researches the content.
- The writer produces a draft.
- The writer returns the draft to the client for review (this step may be repeated several times).
- Once the client is satisfied, the writer issues an invoice.
Getting started as a freelance writer takes time and discipline, but it is possible. Read on to find out how.
How To Become a Freelance Writer
Research the Industry
Before diving into freelance writing head-on, first, make sure that you understand the industry and what to expect from it.
Freelance writing is a broad category of work, which can be split into more specific forms, such as the ones outlined above. By reading about and researching these different types of writing and their conventions, you will better understand what sort of freelance writing you want to do and how you can pursue it as a career.
A good place to start is to look at job listings on freelance marketplaces, paying particular attention to what clients might expect from a writer.
Many freelance writers also run their own blogs, where they share insights into the world of freelance writing. These are great places to pick up information and tips about what working as a freelance writer is really like.
Set Yourself Goals
Setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals can help you take the necessary steps toward a successful career in freelance writing.
Think about the following questions:
- What services will you offer?
- What sorts of clients would you like to work with?
- Will you specialize in a particular niche?
- How much would you like to earn?
Once you’ve defined your goals, you can think about what you need to do to reach them.
Develop Your Skills
It goes without saying that to be a successful freelance writer, you’ll need to be able to write well. But you’ll also need:
- Good time management
- The ability to stay focused
- Basic skills in relevant writing tools and software (like Google Docs and Microsoft Word)
- Strong communication skills
- An understanding of SEO
And if you choose to offer particular services, such as technical or legal writing, you may need to develop specialist skills related to those areas.
Luckily, there are various ways you can improve and expand your skill set. These include:
- Reading widely
- Practicing your writing
- Following training guides and videos
- Having a mentor
And while you don’t need any particular qualifications to work as a freelancer, taking an in-person or online course can be a great boost to your confidence and potential job opportunities.
Build Your Experience
Starting off as a new freelance writer might seem daunting at first. You’ll need to demonstrate your experience to find writing jobs – but how are you supposed to gain that experience if you haven’t worked as a freelance writer before?
Fortunately, building your writing experience isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
First, you can start demonstrating your skills by writing samples. These are pieces of writing similar to what you would produce for clients. If you plan on writing content for blogs, for instance, you could create a few sample blog posts to both flex your writing muscles and provide an example of what you can do.
You can also gain experience in working with real clients by offering your writing services on a voluntary basis to:
- Friends and family
- Charities and nonprofits
- Local businesses
And for jobs that will earn you some money while you’re starting out, you can make use of online freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr. These sorts of gigs may pay less than other freelance writing work, but they’re a great way to gain experience.
The key to a successful career as a freelancer is being able to market yourself. For freelance writers, this can involve:
- Building a portfolio
- Creating a website
- Setting up a blog (and posting regularly!)
- Updating your resume
- Setting up professional social media profiles
- Guest blogging
- Cold emailing potential clients
If you choose to specialize in a particular type of writing, this will help you narrow down your strategies for marketing and know which clients to target.
Building a network with other freelancers will also help you to get your name out there and find out about potential work opportunities. You can do this by posting in online freelance writing groups, joining writing societies, and attending online and in-person networking events.
Becoming a Freelance Writer
Now we’ve given you some tips on launching a career as a freelance writer, it’s up to you to take the next steps.
If that involves developing your skills with an online course, then our new Becoming a Freelance Writer course should be next on your agenda. Complete with a work guarantee, CPD qualification, and course content written by industry experts, Becoming a Freelance Writer comes with everything you need to kickstart your career.
See what’s in store with a free trial.