Do you want to become a freelance writer but need clarification on how to get started? This article is jam-packed with answers. We understand the importance of having the ability to work for ourselves, and the immense freedom it brings can be life-changing. Let's dig in and find out how to become a freelance writer and enjoy the lifestyle you covet.
Let us find answers to these and many similar questions so you can clearly understand how to become a freelance writer and the benefits of being a freelance writer.
What is a Freelance Writer?
Writers can perform various jobs, work with clients, and find work differently. A freelance writer works on a self-employed basis (as an independent business owner) with or without a long-term commitment to a single employer. In other words, a freelance writer is a professional writer who works as an independent contractor instead of a full-time staff writer at an organization or institution.
Writers provide their writing services to local as well as international clients. They work across various genres, such as health, spirituality, fashion, beauty, international affairs, cloud computing, business, marketing, sales, etc. Freelancers may sell their stories to journals, work as content writers or copywriters for clients, or write newspaper and magazine articles.
The role of a freelance writer may be sub-classified into the following categories:
- Freelance Blogger: Someone who has a focus on freelance writing for blogs.
- SEO Writer: Someone with expertise in creating highly-optimized content for brands so they can feature on top search engine result pages (SERPs).
- Content Writer: Someone focused on creating a rich range of content (blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, etc.).
- Ghostwriter: Someone who creates content (not in their name) for website pages, whitepapers, emails, eBooks, blogs, and more.
- Content Strategist: Someone with expertise in creating, organizing, and managing content.
- Freelance Web Content Writer: Someone focused on creating content for websites.
- Technical Writer: Someone who specializes in writing from a technical standpoint, technical documents, instructions, etc.
A freelance writer may offer one or more of the following services:
- Blog Management: You may be entrusted with managing a team of writers and ensuring that content is regularly created and posted on the client's website.
- Editing/Proofreading: You may provide essential proofreading services or a more in-depth approach known as developmental editing.
- Copywriting: You may create a copy for press releases, sales pages, or the web or use your creative and persuasive skills to upgrade the content of an existing website.
- Social Media Marketing: You may regularly handle and update a client's social media account(s).
Read Top 10 Freelance Writer Jobs for Beginners to Get Their Feet Wet if you think you've got the skills.
Access some of the best freelancing resources to improve your freelance productivity.
How to Become a Freelance Writer
If you've decided to become a freelance writer, now is the time to learn how to get started and the resources available.
Let's find out!
Decide what you want to write about
First, decide what you want to write about. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available. You can choose from a wide range of topics, such as health, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, automobiles, bodybuilding, personal finance, parenting, engineering, travel, fashion, beauty, gardening, spirituality, aromatherapy, etc. It will help if you choose something that excites you. Otherwise, it may prove challenging to stick to the plan.
Ask yourself the following five questions.
- What do you like to write or talk about?
- What are your primary and secondary areas of expertise?
- Is there a topic on which you're an expert?
- Does your educational background allow you to enter a specific writing area as an authority?
- What day-to-day things drive you nuts?
The point is to figure out what you can see yourself writing about for years. Of course, your freelance writing niche will evolve, but you will need a place to start.
Set a schedule
Making a good living and enjoying being your own boss is serious business. Therefore, you must decide on a work schedule and stick to it. This might initially include working late nights, early mornings, or weekends to get the ball rolling.
The point is to develop a clear process that will govern how you work so you can focus more freely on creating unique, engaging, purposeful, and value-driven content. This will allow you to become a stellar freelance writer and grow your business.
Practice, practice, practice
Nothing in your life can help you grow more than practice. After all, practice makes us near perfect. Although you don't need to be a language genius to excel as a freelance writer, more practice will surely help you in countless ways. It will help to devote a few hours daily to your freelance writing business in the beginning to grow your skillset.
It will also help if you create a rich range of content, such as blogs, social media posts, eBooks, whitepapers, website copy, etc. Over time, these practice sessions will help you improve your thought process, writing, vocabulary, and the time you need to complete a piece of content.
Honing your skills doesn't have to be done overnight, but if you take the initiative to work on your craft, your earnings and opportunities will improve.
Build a writing portfolio
Creating a writing portfolio may appear overwhelming for those just starting out. However, it doesn't have to be that way. Over time, you can build a complete portfolio. If you need help getting going, start a blog and use the posts to demonstrate your writing abilities.
Blog post writing can improve your writing craft and make you a better writer. You can also improve your SEO skills when you write your posts. Having your website gives you an edge over other freelance writers. You can also provide guest posts to improve your chances of finding paying clients.
Paying clients like to see samples before they hire freelance writers. There are many would-be freelance writers, which makes having your published work on a website a must. Many bloggers are looking for guest writers; getting opportunities like this will grow your freelance opportunities.
You can start prospecting for guest post opportunities once a few content pieces are published under your name. Generally, marketers and others in any niche will happily share a quality story in exchange for a byline. You can offer your freelance writing services to get your name out there.
Start pitching to freelance writing jobs
Once you have a solid portfolio, the next step is to pitch potential clients. First, research the niche of the brand you intend to pitch to understand better what content they publish and how it resonates with their audience.
You should inform a website editor of what you can offer and what you like about their website while sharing freelance writing samples. Ideally, it will help if you pitch a story idea that fits nicely with their content or niche.
Of course, not every pitch will work out, and that's okay. You can continue this path until you get a brand to take a chance. Once you've got this “big break,” you can prove to them that you were worth the risk.
Invest in the proper growth and learning tools
The world of freelance writing keeps evolving. Therefore, you need to stay relevant and up-to-date with the ever-changing dynamics of the industry by investing in the right tools and courses. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new and hone your skills.
Try hands-on techniques such as creative writing, academic writing, memoir, personal essay writing, business writing, medical writing, etc. This will help you learn basic and advanced skills from top-rated freelance writing instructors.
Here are 15 freelancing resources to help you master learning and productivity.
Expand your areas of work
One of the best and easiest ways to increase your income potential is to expand the areas of your expertise. For instance, you may have started as a freelance writer, but you can develop writing skills related to social media or search engine optimization. This will allow you to charge more for the content you create.
Sometimes, you'll feel like you need to change direction or stop altogether. There may also be instances where you'll be tempted to take a full-time job or consider giving up freelance writing.
These tough times are for remembering why you wanted to become a freelance writer in the first place. To succeed, you must believe in yourself and your freelance writing ability. Tough times don't last, but tough people can outlast them.
The Benefits of Being a Freelance Writer
A freelance writing career sounds exciting, but to thrive, long-time writers know the daily efforts that go into the craft. To succeed, one must put in the extra time and effort to develop skills appealing to many brands and companies looking for writers.
Nonetheless, there are countless benefits to becoming a freelance writer. Let's explore the benefits of freelance writing.
This is one of the most significant advantages of the freelance lifestyle. You can work on your terms and take writing projects as per your availability and convenience. The best thing is that you can utilize the saved time to achieve a better work-life balance, thus allowing you to enjoy your life more.
However, you must follow a disciplined approach to efficiently manage your time, especially when no one tells you how to spend it.
You can select where to spend your hours creating content with a freelance writing business. Most freelance content writers prefer to work from home, but you can always head to your favorite library, coffee shop, beach, or another inspiring location.
You can control your freelancing services when you are on vacation. However, you should avoid falling into the trap of working while on vacation. Achieving a balance between your time and energy spent on your freelance career is vital for long-term success.
Say Goodbye to Commuting
As a freelance writer, you aren't expected to commute to and from work. You can sit comfortably in your pajamas on the sofa or writing table, and work hours are convenient. You can save money by not spending on car maintenance, gas, eating lunch out, or fancy work clothes.
However, to be successful, you should draw a firm line between when you're at home and when you're at work when both are in the same place.
Do Things When You Want
With a freelance writing career, you can do things at your convenience. This means you can follow your other passions, such as swimming, meditation, gardening, painting, etc., when you want and even make them one of your additional sources of income.
To ensure success, set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. Too much freedom or too many liberties can disrupt a healthy environment for work or for home.
This is one of the most important benefits of freelance writing. With a regular job, you get a fixed paycheck and deal with office politics. Thankfully, freelance writing helps you earn as much as you want to work and can provide excellent job security once you prove your writing expertise and credentials.
Moreover, a regular job may mean you get laid off. This could mean a loss of 100% of your income. On the other hand, you may experience only a loss of 10-20% if one of your freelance clients winds down. The best part is that you can get this income back by signing a new client.
The balance between keeping clients and finding new ones can seem daunting for those without sales initiative. Remember that your work can do a lot of the selling for you. If you produce quality results, you will likely find that referrals are your number one source of new clients.
More Interesting Work
A nine-to-five job may put you in a position you love, but you might also find yourself in a position that you don't enjoy, has tedious and mundane tasks associated with it, and does not motivate you.
With freelancing writing, you can control what jobs you want to take and what freelance writing jobs you want to leave. In other words, you can control your own destiny and, as such, find the projects or gigs you are most passionate about.
Health & Wellbeing Improvements
Working from home means you get quality time caring about yourself. It also means less contact with the “masses,” which can be good or bad depending on your personality type. It will help if you make it a point to keep your social life meaningful and relevant; freelance writing can be lonely.
At regular jobs, your income is usually fixed. This may sound comforting to some, but that's how people get caught in a money-crunch issue. You can get stuck with credit card debt when your wants outweigh your means.
You can take on different projects or work additional hours as a freelance content writer to make more money. The best thing is that you have repeat clients to assure you of a fixed income, and winning more clients provides that extra income you want.
How to Manage Your Time as a Freelance Writer
For new freelance writers, time management is the second biggest obstacle after finding clients. Writers trade their time for money; therefore, they must efficiently get the most out of their time.
Below are tips for efficiently managing your time as a freelance writer.
Use spreadsheets to track your income and projects
You can use spreadsheets to track your income and projects like many writers already do. This tracking will help you stay on top of when your assignments are due, how long you spent on the projects, what are the “do date” and “due dates,” how much money you will make from the project, how much time you're devoting and how much you're earning from each client work each week, month, and year.
For instance, you can plug a new project from a client into a spreadsheet on the due date. If the project is large, you can split it into smaller tasks. It's best to color-code everything. Scheduled projects may be marked white, and completed projects may be marked orange or any color, such as yellow. After you have sent the invoice to the client, you may change it to yellow. Once you have been paid, you may make it green.
Let's find out the reasons for tracking all of these items:
- To track all due projects so you can complete all deadlines
- Keep enough reasonable time with some leeway for the unexpected
- Keep prioritized lists
- To track the entire lifecycle of all tasks and projects: scheduled, completed, invoiced, and paid
- To ensure you don't overbook yourself
- To help you meet your financial goals
- To set aside time for vacation days
Track your time
You can easily find countless freelance time trackers, but you should find out what works best. After all, your preferred time tracker should jive with your personality and work habits. For instance, you can try out apps like Toggl to stay on track. It allows you to name your project and hit the start button and is an excellent way to ensure your rates are set accordingly. It will also help you identify your most productive times and prepare better quotes for the future.
Paradoxically, the most challenging part of freelancing is the freedom that comes with it. In a typical 9-to-5 job, your deadlines and tasks are clearly defined. You know what, when, and how to deliver. This rigid structure keeps things straight for you.
When freelancing, the entire burden of winning projects, creating and nurturing mutually-beneficial business relationships, choosing and completing your tasks, and creating a positive work environment for yourself is on you. If you need the proper writing skills, tools, and knowledge, things may go out of hand. There may be days when you may lose an entire day without completing anything and earning nothing. On the worst days, you may miss deadlines, upset clients, or become a victim of a distracted workspace.
Batch work and minimize distractions
One of the biggest mistakes many freelance writers unknowingly commit is believing they are good multitaskers. According to neuroscience and psychology research, no one is! A study by MIT neuroscience professors revealed that human beings could not focus on more than one thing at a time. They end up spending more time at a productivity loss of 40 percent. Thankfully, there are many ways by which you can enhance your productivity levels.
- Consider freelance writing and editing separate tasks if you have much to complete.
- Identify distractions and try to add up the work time lost.
- Always have a dedicated workspace for yourself that is sacred, and keep only work-related things in that area.
- Stay goodbye to your phone and other devices during work, as your concentration may get hampered due to constant alerts and dings.
Learn to set boundaries and say no
As a freelance writer, you must be precisely sure what and when you do something. You should keep certain work and off-hours and follow them rigorously to get started.
Sometimes, there may be some deviations, but you should honor them to the best of your abilities. To avoid losing your sanity, you should make it a point to keep your personal and professional lives separate.
Let your friends and family know about your working hours, so they clearly understand when you are unavailable. You can even tell your clients that you respond to emails from “x-x times a day” or accept calls “x-x times or only by appointment.” It's always a good habit to be clear for yourself and others from the start.
Tips for staying productive while working from anywhere
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of screen time freelance writers put in to make money. Undoubtedly, it's vital to churn out quality content consistently, but it can be mentally and physically draining.
Some writers face ‘writer's block or brain fog that temporarily prevents them from creating unique, engaging, and relevant content. Thankfully, there are countless ways by which you can stay productive as a freelance writer while working from anywhere.
Draw the line with research
Do you often read 5-10 eBooks or go through 25-30 websites to create a 750–1000-word article? No one says that you shouldn't research thoroughly, but you must tell yourself how much information should be utilized to create a piece.
More often than not, research helps you with sub-headings and the structure of the article at hand. It also lets you break down your study into more short chunks.
ou should pass the freelance writing baton between research and writing so you stay energized. For this, it's best to account for the duration of time that you will put into research.
Make use of productivity apps
Countless productivity apps such as Hemmingway Editor and Grammarly can make freelance writing a better and more rewarding experience. You can choose SwiftKey, Ayoa, Evernote, Dragon Dictation, and ContentGrow.
Do the most challenging thing first every day
The famous words of Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” still hold good for a reason.
It is best to rank the tasks ahead of you in order of difficulty and finish the most complex thing first so that it keeps you from weighing you down the rest of the day.
This will also instill a sense of achievement in you that will, in turn, help you complete your remaining tasks for the day better and quicker.
Keep a file of ideas
It is widespread for writers to come up with brilliant ideas and thoughts during a morning walk, a shower, or when having your me time. Some of the most creative ideas occur when our mind is not focused on creating content.
It will help if you never let those beautiful ideas and thoughts disappear, and you must always jot them down in an app or notebook. This idea file will soon become your go-to assistant when you run out of juice for your content.
Avoid too much self-editing
It's often seen that some writers have a penchant for grammar, but being picky about it right from the word go will only hinder your creativity and productivity levels.
The point to be made here is that you should let loose on the first draft and avoid spending a lot of your time on whether a hyphen or colon can bring more impact to creating the perfect sentence.
Make it interesting
If freelance writing gets you to slow down, you may switch the format during the initial draft. In other words, you should try to break out from the general article structure by following the undermentioned freelance writing tips:
- Research helpful videos, images, and infographics that you can incorporate within the article.
- Add bulleted sections between paragraphs.
- Include Q&A-type content for brevity.
- Incorporate sarcasm, humor, and other exciting tones.
- Find relevant statistics, facts, and other journalistic tools.
- Switch to active voice.
Set fake deadlines
Setting fake deadlines is a great way to keep projects under control and ensure that your freelance writing clients always stay with your punctuality. For instance, you have a work deadline of Friday (July 15). It would help if you gave yourself a fake deadline of Monday (July 11).
This will give you enough time to deliver your projects well ahead of the deadlines and get some wiggle room if your laptop stops working due to technical reasons or you get hit with writer's block midway through your content piece.
It will also help reduce your anxiety and stress levels while holding yourself more accountable for your freelance writing projects. This, in turn, will ensure better mental health, productivity, and creativity.
Freelancer work-life balance
One of the most significant advantages of creating a work-life balance as a freelancer is that it allows you to ditch overthinking, stress, depression, and people-pleasing for good.
For most of us, a work-life balance is all about work on one side and the rest of our life on the other side. We all need to equalize both sides by focusing on the time on each side. Now comes the problems – time isn't the real problem, and life is not too easy to balance like a see-saw.
A positive work-life balance is all about:
- Staying present and happy in the moment.
- Creating a positive impact on the life of everyone around us.
- Making a more significant impact in the world and at freelance writing work.
- Letting go of having it all and trying to do it.
- Firm boundaries that we can feel good about enforcing.
- Focusing on self-care, both consciously and subconsciously.
- Prioritizing what's important to us without shame, guilt, or apology.
All in all, work-life balance is about being content with our decisions and who we are. This is precisely where your role as a freelance writer can help you create and nurture a positive work-life balance.
Freelance writing allows you to deal only with a manageable workload and spend a significant majority of your time doing things that are important to you. This includes items that make you happy and that you're passionate about, which reduces your anxiety and stress levels.
It will also help you become more capable of saying no to things that aren't on your priority list and deal better with negative thoughts, emotions, and people.
Moreover, freelance writing allows you to enjoy breathing space to think and become more self-aware, that further helps you make more intelligent, better, and more informed decisions in your professional and personal lives.
Since you are in complete control of the professional tasks ahead of you, you can utilize the saved time to lead an active lifestyle. You can spend time outdoors, which will help generate endorphins (hormones that make you feel better and positive about yourself) in your body.
This will give you more energy, a positive outlook towards life, people, and work, and sleep better.
These advantages further clear your mind of cluttering thoughts that may sometimes be difficult to decipher. It will also help you derive more purpose and relevance from your connections with people around you (your family, friends, colleagues, relatives, and neighbors).
In addition to these fantastic advantages, freelance writing can also help you avoid getting bombarded by social media, phone calls, texts, emails, and people all the time. After all, our brain requires space, freedom, and peace to think clearly and creatively.
This, in turn, will help you become more productive than ever, feel better (both physically and mentally), be more focused and present, and get more motivated to work hard.
Undoubtedly, freelance writing is not always easy, but it can bring more balance and freedom to your life. You are free to work at times convenient to you from anywhere, which, in turn, helps you take good care of your professional and personal life.
You can use the saved time to develop new hobbies such as gardening, swimming, etc., or spend more time with your loved ones. You can even plan vacations, visit new places, learn new languages, and see new people.
You can even utilize the saved time to engage in meditation and recreational activities while relishing feelings of self-independence, creativity, and contentment.
Working as a freelance writer saves you from never-ending office meetings, zoom calls, and office politics, which can negatively affect your overall well-being. Furthermore, freelance writing can help you improve your financial situation as it opens more avenues and enlarges the scope for seemingly unlimited earnings.
Freelance writing jobs are undoubtedly one of the best stay-at-home jobs anyone can pursue. You can take up freelance writing without experience if this is not all.
Related Content: Top 10 Freelance Writer Jobs for Beginners to Get Their Feet Wet
How to become a freelance writer on Fiverr
Fiverr is a huge marketplace for buyers to find sellers and for sellers to find clients. For instance, you can bid on freelance writing projects that global clients post on the Fiverr job boards. Fiverr is an excellent place where many new and experienced freelance writers can hone their writing skills and win new projects in an open marketplace.
Working on Fiverr may appear quite attractive to everyone. No barrier to entry. Get up and running in minutes, and earn from day one. Let us understand how to become a freelance writer on Fiverr.
First, you must create an account to dive into freelance content writing on Fiverr. This will help you find buyers and clients, and you must spend quality time creating your Fiverr account.
You should refer to the Fiverr profiles of some of Fiverr's most successful and highly-rated freelance writers to find out how they have created their accounts.
Here are some of the best Fiverr ghostwriters for inspiration.
Once you have created the account on Fiverr, it will be time for you to make ‘gigs' to sell your services. Gigs are a great way to showcase your expertise and experience by demonstrating your unique selling proposition (USP) and why clients should choose you over others.
It is worth noting that Fiverr gigs start in multiples of $5 (such as $5, $10, $15, and so on). You have the complete freedom of the varying price tiers of your gigs, and you can fully customize your gigs and how they scale, how much you wish to charge for your services, and what comes in your gigs.
You need to know about certain things on Fiverr and follow all the advice to find your ideal client. Here are some crucial points that you need to remember about Fiverr:
- You should price your freelance writing gigs reasonably, especially if you're a beginner.
- You should never compare yourself to top-end sellers, especially if you're a beginner, but don't sell yourself short.
- You may search for other writers in your space and learn how they price their services.
- Get some original reviews from real clients, and don't try to fool the system.
- Avoid being the ‘Jack of all trades; instead, be a specialist of one.
- Learn to be realistic and handle rejection and critique.
Rejection is a part of the game, and there will be times when some potential buyers will not like your style of writing, your offerings, or you personally, and that's perfectly okay.
All you need is to move to the next project. Like many aspiring writers, you should also learn how many orders can be handled at a time, how much you can write in a single day, and how much you can make in a month.
It will help if you remember that freelancing on Fiverr should be treated as something other than a ‘get rich quick scheme. However, you can consider Fiverr an excellent platform to offer your writing gigs and quickly become a successful freelancer.
You can find many successful writers on Fiverr who make a fortune while working on it exclusively. But you should take your time and focus on dedication, commitment, and perseverance to acquire the required skills and knowledge to justify the prices of your offered services and clients.
That said, Fiverr can be a highly revenue-driven platform for you. Many digital nomads utilize Fiverr to pay for travel and other expenses as they create and nurture a more extensive buyer base.
How To Become a Freelance Writer Wrap-up
Freelancers are still professionals and deal in client-facing jobs. Therefore, you must constantly interact with clients professionally, as you would in a corporate job. With freelance writing, nothing turns off a client more than a delayed project or a project gone wrong.
Remember, your reputation as a freelance writer will decide your success and failure with freelance writing. Make sure you play your cards right to succeed.