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Over the past few years, some people have turned to freelance side hustles to earn extra income from home. By doing so, they benefit from being their own boss and working whenever they want and in their preferred setup.
Of the many freelance jobs available today, freelance writing is one of the most popular choices because of its earning potential and flexibility.
If you have a knack for researching and writing about various topics, then becoming a freelance writer might be the right job for you. Keep reading to learn how to become a freelance writer in just a few steps.
What is a freelance writer?
A freelance writer is an independent writer who writes for multiple publications. You’re not an employee but an independent contractor. This means you can choose who you work with, depending on your experience and personal preferences.
If you can research , write, proofread, and edit content across different platforms, you can become a successful freelance writer. As a freelance writer, you could write:
- Content for a corporate website or blog
- Landing pages (those pages visitors “land” on after clicking on a link or an ad)
- Press releases
- Product descriptions and ads
- Scripts for video content
- Search engine or conversion-optimized content
It all depends on your client’s needs and your particular interests and skill set. However, regardless of the type of freelance writing you plan to take on, there are some key steps to becoming a freelance writer.
How to become a freelance writer
Anyone can write, but not anyone can write well. Even those who can write well may not succeed working as freelance writers unless they take the necessary steps to monetize and find clients.
To help you kickstart your journey, here are some steps to help you establish your career as a freelance writer.
1. Choose a writing niche
Freelance writing offers a variety of topics to choose from, as many industries require online content to boost relevance and sales. This can be done by either writing it themselves or hiring freelancers. Consequently, it’s usually easy to find a writing job in almost any niche.
You can write about cryptocurrency, gardening, home mortgages, online gaming, banking, design software, coffee, insurance… you name it! All you need is to find the right company or employer to work with.
So, start by choosing a niche you’re interested in and comfortable writing about. Once you have some experience under your belt, you can explore other niches as well.
2. Research your chosen industry or niche
To navigate the freelance writing industry, you should understand how it works. There are various writing styles, and writing conventions may differ from publisher to publisher. To increase your chances of success in a writing role, you should learn as much as possible about the industry, like its terminology, trends, fads, key players, and more.
Knowing your potential client’s industry will make you feel more comfortable when interviewing for a freelance writing position. It’ll make your writing fit in seamlessly with the content the client has published before.
3. Build a writing portfolio
Your portfolio is a list of your best-written articles showcasing your writing skills and the quality and depth of the research behind each piece.
While a portfolio usually contains previously written content, you can include non-published work if you don’t have any proven experience as a writer. Just choose a few topics within your niche and write one or two good articles to send as examples to potential clients.
4. Search for freelance writing jobs online
With your portfolio ready, it’s time to look for paid freelance writing gigs online. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest by far is to look for jobs on popular online job boards.
When it comes to these job boards, you can go one of two ways:
- General freelance job boards like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Workana, or,
- A platform entirely devoted to online writing jobs, like WritersWork, Fiverr, ProBlogger, and iWriter, to name a few.
Once you choose your platform, create a freelancer profile and start looking for writing jobs you like.
5. Put yourself out there by pitching
The freelance writing industry is competitive and job boards will only take you so far. Another way to find writing jobs is by contacting companies directly. By pitching to different publications and marketing yourself, you’re bound to find someone interested in your writing. You could still get rejected, but once you get the hang of it, pitching can go a long way in earning money as a freelance writer.
Pitching your work to someone you don’t know can seem daunting at first, but it’s not hard.
Find the right person to pitch to
Try to find the website’s editor, content manager, or someone in a similar position. You can search “editor” or “content manager” along with the company name to find that person’s contact information and LinkedIn profile.
Write your pitch
Once you have the right person’s contact info, you should write your pitch. I find that using a general template is an excellent way to pitch to many sites in a short amount of time. Here’s a sample of a simple pitch template you can use and tweak to fit your writing style:
My name’s “your_name_here“, and I’ve been a “state your past relevant experience here” for the last ## years. I’d love to contribute to “company_name_here“.
Here are links to some relevant samples of my work:
- Sample 1
- Sample 2
- Sample 3
I have some ideas of topics that I think would do well on your blog/website. Can I send them to you so you can take a look?
Thanks for your time.
Send out as many pitches as possible
Getting your first assignment as a writer through pitching usually takes time since many editors might ignore your message. To increase your chances of a reply, pitch to as many people as possible.
Once you have all these bases covered, you can start monetizing your writing skills and receive your first payout.
We know you’ll be eager for your first writing payday. Sign up for Chime to get paid up to two days early1 with direct deposit.
How to make more money as a writer
Now that you know how to become a freelance writer, you can make the most of it and expand your skills. Here are some ways you can make more money as a freelance writer.
Develop your skills
Improving your writing skills will help you negotiate higher rates as a writer, regardless of your experience level. So, you should invest in enhancing your vocabulary, learning new writing conventions, and writing more concisely. Tools like Grammarly Premium will also help hone your writing skills while helping you produce professional results every time.
Network and market yourself
Building a network of contacts and fellow writers can help you land more projects, connect with prominent publications and open doors to market yourself more effectively. It can also help you better understand the industry, know your worth as a freelancer and ultimately bring in more clients.
Specialize in a niche
Choosing your niche is one thing, but being a master of it is another. You will need an excellent command of your chosen niche to make the most money possible. Only when you can write highly compelling articles around your chosen interest will you be able to increase your value as a freelance writer and negotiate better rates.
Offer additional services
If you’ve already mastered your skills as a freelance writer, offering additional services to your clients may be another way to earn more money. For example, you can offer editing and proofreading services for articles that could be improved.
You can also offer website and blog management services and conduct paid training for aspiring freelance writers to increase your income.
Diversify your income streams
Try taking on multiple projects and writing for different publications and industries! It’s totally doable, especially after getting some experience and training. This will help protect your income if one client or industry goes through a rough patch. But don’t forget to pace yourself – too much work can lead to burnout.
How do I get started as a freelance writer?
Start by researching and deciding what niche to focus on. Then, build a content portfolio. You can search for your first gig on job boards or market yourself to publications and email them directly, stating your intention to work as a writer with your updated portfolio.
How do freelance writers get paid?
Payment arrangements for freelance writers vary based on the client. Some freelance writers get paid per word count, others per hour, and others per project.
As for payment platforms, many rockstar freelance writers sign up for Chime because they love getting paid up to two days early1 using direct deposit.
Is it hard to become a freelance writer?
Becoming a successful freelance writer can be challenging and requires hard work. The most difficult step is finding those first clients and ensuring you start your career with a firm foot by doing your best. However, things become easier as you sharpen your skills and find better clients.
Can I make $1,000 a month from freelance writing?
Earning $1,000 a month as a freelance writer is doable. It’ll be challenging at the beginning of your career, but as you build your portfolio, you can command rates as high as $500 to $1,000 per finished piece, making much more than $1,000 a month.
What are examples of freelance writing?
Freelance writing examples are everywhere on the internet. This article you’re reading is an example of a freelance writer’s work. Today, much online content is written by freelance writers – product reviews, blog entries, how-to articles, and YouTube video scripts are among the most common examples.
Build your freelance writing career
Freelance writing is one of the most appealing work-from-home jobs, but you’ll need to put in the effort. It allows you to work on your own terms from anywhere and in virtually any industry you find interesting.
Once you start landing high-paying clients, you can set your own hours, work where you want, and live your life on your own terms.
If you succeed in freelance writing, we’ve got the scoop on turning your side hustle into a full-time gig.