How To Start a Freelance Writing Career: Steps and Tips

Updated 12 December 2022

Freelance writing can be a great side job or a full-time career. If you enjoy writing and working independently, a career in freelance writing may be great for you. Knowing how to start a freelance writing career and how much you can earn can help you decide if this is the career for you. In this article, we explain what freelance writing is, give you steps on how to start your freelance writing career, explore how much you can earn and give you tips to become a successful freelance writer.

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How to start a freelance writing career

Freelance writing can be an exciting career for those who love writing. There are no formal qualifications to start this career. Here's a guide to show you how to start a freelance writing career:

1. Choose your niche

Though choosing a niche is optional to start your freelance writing, it can help you be efficient and prevent spending too much time researching challenging topics. You can choose a niche you're passionate about and then find writing jobs in that line. This ensures that you produce quality content and prevent burnout, allowing you to work on many writing projects. Some of the popular niches you could choose include:

  • fitness and diet

  • nutrition and cooking

  • finance

  • leadership and careers

  • travel

  • family, parenting and relationships

Related: How To Be Self-Employed (With Steps and Career Options)

2. Create a portfolio of writing samples

To get writing jobs, it's important that you create writing samples to act as a portfolio of your work. You can use these samples to show clients what you can offer. You can create different pieces in varying niches to ensure you have a sample for any job opportunity that arises. You can share your samples with family and friends to get feedback on your writing skills and develop a reader base. Be sure to include a sample when sending out resumes for a writing job.

3. Set up a blog or website

Setting up a website is another excellent way to showcase your portfolio to potential clients. On the website, you can create blogs that can work as samples of your work and provide information on the kind of services you offer. You may include a feedback space on your website to get reviews from readers.

4. Begin pitching for jobs

You can begin pitching for jobs after setting up a website and selecting a niche. You can pitch your services to print and online magazines, writing job boards and any other jobs that require the services of a freelance writer. When pitching, be sure to share your portfolio and a link to your website or blog. You can let the potential client know why you're the best person for the job and give a time frame for submitting the tasks if given the job.

It may be best to pitch as many times as possible to increase your chances of landing a freelance writing job. Here are a few ways you may pitch yourself:

  • Join networking groups, where you can meet and interact with other freelance writers. You can get job ads posted in these communities, and you can also learn about job opportunities from other freelancers.

  • Consider reading and commenting on other blogs in your niche. That way, you can learn about other writers and improve your writing skills.

  • Develop a short but effective pitch that you can always use whenever you meet a potential client.

  • Contact companies in your area or that you love and offer to create sponsored posts about their services and products on your blog.

  • Include links to your published work on your social media pages. Be sure to update your website to reflect on your current contacts and works.

5. Invest in yourself

Though freelance writing doesn't require any specific qualifications, it may be helpful to invest in yourself as a writer. Consider taking an online writing course, reading other blogs, staying up to date with writing trends and learning new writing skills. There are several writing sources you can use to better your writing abilities and goals.

6. Stay up to date

As a freelance writer, it's important to stay up to date with current writing trends. Consider updating your website and blogs with relevant samples and content as per the timings. For example, if the country is having elections, consider uploading content on elections. This can help you produce a timely article.

What services does a freelance writer provide?

Freelance writing is when a person writes on a self-employed or freelance basis. As a freelancer, you work on your schedule and are not a permanent employee in an organisation. In most cases, freelance writers get paid per assignment or project and some get paid by the hour. Freelance writing can be a part-time job or a full-time job, depending on your preference. It's important to note that freelance writing requires hard work, dedication and strategic planning.

There are various types of freelance writing services, including:

  • Copywriting: This is when you write copies for various press releases, websites or mediums.

  • Ghostwriting: This is when you write content for a company under that company's name. For example, a company may hire you to write an article, but instead of having your by-line on the content, it gets attributed to the company.

  • Blog writing: This involves writing content for a blog in a blog post form. The content gets published online.

  • Editing: This is when you offer editing and proofreading services as opposed to writing. As an editor, you can work on various content types depending on the client or company you're working for.

Related: 10 Types of Freelance Jobs Online (Plus Tips for Starting)

How much does a freelance writer earn?

The average salary of a freelance writer is $42.94 per hour. This depends on the services you offer, the company or client you work for, your niche and quality of work. To earn more as a freelance writer, you may want to choose a niche that offers considerably higher pay and improve your writing quality to get more referrals and writing jobs.

Tips to become a successful freelance writer

If you want to be successful and earn more as an online writer, consider using the below tips:

Embrace your writing journey

Like any other job, it takes time to perfect your craft. The journey to becoming a successful freelance writer may not be easy and may take time, but it can be gratifying if you give it time and invest in yourself. Learn skills that can make you a better writer and consider taking a course on writing skills.

You can also learn from other experienced writers by reading their content or asking them to be your mentor. Try to stay positive and develop a growth mindset. You may consider writing goals and reviewing these regularly to help you stay motivated.

Consider your portfolio carefully

To get online writing jobs, you may use a portfolio of your writing samples. Be sure to create an outstanding portfolio that makes you stand out among other candidates. Try to select your best pieces. Also, consider updating your portfolio as you advance in your freelance writing career.

Develop a professional network

Consider building a professional network by joining a local writing group or an online community of freelancers. This is optional, but it could help you meet new professional connections. They may recommend you for new jobs, or they can offer specialised advice about this career path. You may also develop a professional network in your niche. For example, if you're a food blogger, you may attend food and beverage events to help you grow your network.

Get started

For some people, getting started can be a difficult step. To become a successful freelance writer, it's important to consider your goals and take the first step to begin your career. Freelance writing requires little to no monetary investment. You can get a free website or blog and spend time writing about your favourite topics. With time, you may get better at writing and gain the confidence to start pitching for jobs. Many professional freelancers start writing as a side job. This can be a helpful way for you to develop your skills and gain experience.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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