A lot of people these days want to be freelance writers. It has been hyped as the new way of making fast, easy money online. In reality, this is largely untrue. A freelance writer is a business person just like any other, and just like any business that thrives, a lot of time, hard work and creativity needs to go into it.
So how does one go about becoming a freelance writer? Well, the answer to this question is not as simple as I would have liked it to be. It would make everything so simple if I could tell you that all you need to do is “just write” or “put yourself out there”, but I’d be lying to you. This is why I decided to come up with this guide. So if you are a complete newbie who simply needs answers, here is how to become a freelance writer for beginners.
WHY BE A FREELANCE WRITER?
Different people have different reasons for being freelance writers. Some people do it as a hobby out of passion, some people do it to make a little extra cash on the side, and some even do it as a full time job. People take it up for equally diverse reasons. There are freelance writers who were introduced to the field by friends, just as there are those who got into it after doing a quick Google search and finding out that freelance writing is one of the ways to make money online.
Whatever your reasons may be, freelance writing is a great way to make money online. It is one of the few business ventures that gives you the ability to be your own boss. You get to pick your own hours, clients, and topics, and if you enjoy writing, you will absolutely love having it as a source of income. Who knows, if all goes well, it might even become your primary source of income! Wouldn’t it be great to live off something you enjoy doing?
The beauty of freelance writing lies in its simplicity. Almost anyone can do it. You do not need an English degree or a Masters in Journalism to write. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. Formal training is a plus, but it is not a requirement. To get started, all you need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a lot of perseverance.
WHAT IS FREELANCE WRITING
A freelance writer is a writer who is not tied down to one client. If you are a writer who gets paid for his/her own writing, most times for another party who does not offer formal, permanent employment, you are a freelance writer.
The modern Freelance writer’s work will feature on websites and blogs online, as well as potentially in print magazines, newspapers, and other publications. A freelance writer can work for a number of different types of people in varied set-ups. For example, you could be hired by an organization which needs you to run their blog posts on their website, and they hire you to write these posts. You can take on several jobs at a time working for different companies at the same time depending on how good your work is.
Freelance writers can find jobs in many places, including freelance job boards, local classifieds, and even on social media platforms such as Twitter. There are also many websites that sign you up to write for them, where you will be getting paid for the number of completed articles submitted. Admittedly, these types of sites come with their own fair share of setbacks. The most obvious one is the fact that these sites are content mills, which means they prefer quantity to quality when it comes to content. Your growth will be limited if you work for them, and churning out that much content will leave you feeling spent after a short while.
So how can you do it right? What do you really need to do to become a freelance writer? Well, here is a list:
TOOLS, SKILLS AND THE STEPS TO FOLLOW
1. Research and build your skills.
Become familiar with the ins and outs of writing. Take time to gather all the appropriate tools and software required. The tools you use will determine your quality of work a lot. A tool that enhances the quality of your work will surely guarantee you success.
Your skill level is also important because it is what will boost you. Overall experience also plays an important role, so write as much as you can. Get creative and develop your own unique writing style: something that will set your work apart from the monotonous multitude will come in handy. When all is said and done, the most important thing that you need to do is to simply get started right away.
Some of the skills required include:
During your writing, you will be working with multiple clients at a time, which may prove stressful if you don’t have a system that works for you in place. This will really help you to stay up to date and keep track of bits of important information.
You will be working with information such as that of all your client’s projects, billing information, client information, you will also have to stay up to date with content information, pitches sent and content schedule for your client’s blog.
You will have to come up with writing routines that are suited to you. These routines will help you to organize your work quickly and efficiently. Following these routines will become part of your job description. However, before coming up with any kind of routine, ask yourself a few relevant questions: What are the steps you take to gather material for your work? How do I outline my work according to my own unique writing style? How do I handle presentations?
Blogs are everywhere these days. And most of them are packed full of useful information. Need to know which specific coffee maker to get or which kayak to buy? It’s all there. It is funny to think that we get all our information from a few short paragraphs on these blogs.
Therefore, you need to write your work in a way that appeals to your readers if you are going to write successfully for clients that have blogs. Be sure to read lots of blogs that will build your knowledge on how to write an appropriate and adequate article.
Your writing style and format will also come into play when appealing to the myriads of online readers. Make sure your work has a heading, a captivating introduction and the appropriate subheadings. Be sure to pack a lot of content in a few short lines. You work should be clear, concise, and cutting through the noise.
Image Editing Program
Invest in a good image editing program. You may have to write articles that feature images. Make these images look authentic and relevant to your work using editing programs. Make sure to do thorough research to get the best deal and value for your money.
Many bloggers use free editing programs like Canva or PicMonkey. I personally highly recommend Photoshop. I use it for all my image editing work. If you are just getting started, it is perfectly fine to start with the free programs.
Mistakes happen when writing. In case you make a few mistakes or forget something, editing apps will swoop in and save the day. Therefore, it is good to run your work through editing programs such as Grammarly or Hemingway, or any other such editing app.
2. Continue to sharpen your writing skills every day.
Completely engage yourself in writing and immerse yourself in your work learning every time you write. Learn from small mistakes and try to avoid them next time. You will soon notice your work getting better with time. Remember this line of work does not require any sort of formal training. You do not need to be the best of writers to hack it. You just have to get what you are saying across in the best way possible.
Improve your writing style by actively reading and writing articles. Also, be sure to pick up a book from time to time to improve your vocabulary. This is truly an “improve by doing” business. The more you write, the better you will get.
3. Create a Portfolio
Sample your best work that will be presented to interested parties. These will sell your work. Keep these articles in a special dedicated folder to make things easy for you. Why Do you need to do this? Because most potential new clients will ask you for a few samples of your writing. Having articles saved that you can send them, or having your own blog that you can point them to will be critical. Whatever you do, make sure to never use articles that were paid for by other clients as samples. The potential client could swipe the work and use it for his/her own purposes. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it does happen!
4. Start Pitching to Jobs.
Pitching for jobs can prove hectic but you still have to get out there. Your clients have to know you exist. How and where do you start? Well, it is a good idea to start with well- known sites like Problogger and Freelance Writing Jobs. Jobs are posted daily and therefore you have to work through these articles with speed and accuracy. Try to find articles in your niche because you will work best with a topic you are most comfortable with.
5. It is all about hustling.
Use all the means available to you to get gigs. The clients have to find you. This means your portfolio has to be posted everywhere. Let them know what you can do. Market your services to let them know you are out there especially when you are just starting out.
How do you do this?
Simple. Get on social media. This is the best way to quickly find clients. Sign up for Twitter and LinkedIn to get closer to the writers and businesses you want to write for.
Get yourself out there and get to know other writers. You do not have to do this alone. Someone knows someone who can get you a good gig. Keep your options open. The more people you know, the more successful you are likely to become. Networking is a constant in any successful business venture. Include it in your business routine and soon it will be like brushing your teeth, automatic!
7. Track your progress.
Keenly assess your brand from time to time and evaluate yourself. Are you actually making any progress? What areas do you need to work on? Tracking your progress will help you in tweaking your work style to create room for improvement. As you follow your progress, you also have to set new goals that will serve as a blueprint for your work. Writers should have weekly, monthly and yearly income goals in mind.
8. Keep Going
Expand your limits and you will be able to swim through the small hurdles that may come your way. Success will only be attained through hustling relentlessly. Keep that in mind. Things will inevitably get tough at some point (mostly at the beginning). You should mentally prepare for these times and be ready to overcome your doubts. Freelancing is an absolutely legit way to make money from home and to be your own boss. it is worth the challenges you will encounter (and overcome) early on!
9. Continue Learning
The landscape is changing every day. You should change with it. Learn through time as you build experience. Do this through active writing and by remaining open to new perspectives and ideas. Get out of your comfort zone! Try to get jobs that you usually don’t do. If you always write health articles, why not accept a job to write an ebook? Maybe ghost-write a mini novel? If most of your work involves writing for blogs, try getting gigs for print magazines? Learn to write sales copy… The possibilities are truly endless!
If you are passionate about writing, you can monetize your skill and even make a living off it with freelance writing. Just be sure to do it right. Get started on the right track, keep going, continuing to learn as time goes, and constantly build on your experience, and you will be a very successful freelance writer in no time.
My only issue with Freelance writing is that you are still trading time for money. I enjoyed being a freelancer for the time I did it. Eventually, I found that my earning potential was limited by the hours I had in a day. So I decided to shift gears and try affiliate marketing.
The purpose of this article is to give you an overview about freelancing in case this is a path you are considering. I hope you found it interesting and helpful!
To your success,