So you want to become a freelance writer? I don’t blame you.
I might be biased, but I think freelance writing is THE best career around. Not only do you make your own schedule, choose your work and set your own rates, but you can do it all from the comfort of your own home, too (and PJs!)
It’s no wonder you’re intrigued! What other career can offer benefits like that? Plus you get paid, to boot? You’re probably thinking “Sign me up now!” Am I right?
Sadly, becoming a successful freelance writer isn’t as simple as deciding to do it. There’s a lot of work that goes into building your reputation, attracting clients and getting the rates you deserve.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
I know first-hand how great the freelance writing life can be, so I’ve made it my mission to help others achieve it, too – and do it well!
What to Expect as a Freelance Writer
Before we delve into the details of how to become a freelance writer online, let’s talk about the reality of the freelance writing life. Yes, it has all those benefits I mentioned earlier – a flexible schedule, control over your work and rates, and a pretty great dress code, too – but freelancing isn’t always a positive experience.
In fact, it’s actually a lot of work.
Unlike at a 9-to-5 job, you don’t have someone telling you what to do and how to do it. You have to go out and find that work – those clients who are willing to pay you to create their blogs, website content, eBooks or whatever else they need. And sometimes, that can be difficult – especially when you’re just starting out.
There’s a little bit of a learning curve. You have to try things out and figure out by trial and error what works for you and what doesn’t.
Not getting clients with that pitch letter you’ve been using? Tweak it until you see a difference.
Disappointed at the income you’re bringing in? Branch out into new venues or start raising your rates.
It takes some effort, but once you find the right formula, it can be a very rewarding – and very lucrative – career choice.
How to Become a Freelance Writer Online – The Steps
Now that you know the reality of freelancing, it’s time to jump into the real content you came here for: The step-by-step process that can get you from newbie, wanna-be writer to bonafide freelance success.
Here are some steps on how to do it:
Create a Website
It might sound a little like putting the cart before the horse, but believe me – you NEED a website from day 1 of your freelancing career.
Your website should include a full bio, details on your educational background, writing experience and anything else applicable, as well as samples of your work.
If you’re just starting out, you might not have a lot of samples, and that’s okay. For now, you can use what you have: old term papers you got an A on, stories you wrote for the school newspaper or even just fictional, short stories you wrote for fun. You can add more as you expand your portfolio and experience in the coming weeks and months.
Start Your Own Blog
If you don’t have a lot of clips yet, blogging can be a great way to get more.
Not only does a blog allow you to create content as often as you like, but you can also use it to show potential customers your expertise – your knowledge on specific topics or industries. And the more specialized you are in a topic, the better rates you can command!
Sign Up for a Content Mill or Bidding Site
Now I’m not promoting content mills or bidding sites by any means; in fact, they often grossly underpay freelance writers, and I’m definitely not okay with that. But as a newbie freelance writer, sometimes they can offer you a good opportunity to gain experience. You can learn what it’s like to work on a deadline, flex your writing chops and even get hands-on practice in the editorial process, making revisions and working with editors. These are all skills that can make you more marketable (and worth more money) later on.
Optimize Your LinkedIn Page
The real money will come from clients who contact you directly – not from bidding sites or content mills. And those clients? They’ll likely contact you via your website or, you got it, your LinkedIn page.
Take some time to update your LinkedIn page with a new headline (something like “Freelance writer for hire”) and make sure your experience, educational details and bio area are all up-to-date. If you have some samples already, you can even upload those to your page, too, and don’t forget to ask past clients, bosses and colleagues for recommendations; those can go a long way in making you look great!
Check Job Boards Daily
Once you’re comfortable escaping content mills and bidding sites, it’s time to start finding more direct clients. A great way to do that is by watching one of the many freelance writing job sites… sites like BloggingPro, FreelanceWriting.com and ProBlogger. (See more in this blog!)
You’ll need a good pitch letter, a resume and some applicable clips, and you should also be prepared with a rate or quote for the client should they be interested in you.
Hone Your Pitching Skills
As you delve more into the direct client arena, you’ll need to really hone your pitching skills if you want to lock down those jobs. Whether you’re contacting a magazine editor about a potential story idea or you’re simply applying to a job post, your pitch needs to sell you, your services and your talents as the only option for the client – the single best way for them to get the results and quality they’re looking for.
Every pitch should be completely customized to the job or client you’re applying with, so forget canned examples you find on Google. Create your pitch from scratch each time, and include specific details about how you can meet the needs of the client, the job description and their audience.
Update Your Site Constantly
As you gain more experience, keep returning to your website and updating it. Add more samples, expand your bio and experience, and update your resume to reflect your newfound skills. You want that site to be as thorough and informative as possible, because in today’s digital age, it’s probably the single biggest marketing tool you have in your arsenal. It can make or break you.
I know this can all sound somewhat overwhelming. But, I promise it will get easier over time. Have you checked out my “30 Days to $1K Action Plan” for freelance writers yet? It outlines my strategies for getting started as a freelance writer and also reveals my personal 30-day Action Plan for earning $1K as a freelance writer in 30 days. No experience required! Get it here.
Keep at it
Finally, you simply need to keep at it. As a freelance writer, you can certainly make immediate cash, but it takes a while to earn the big bucks. You have to build a reputation for yourself and expand your experience wherever possible.
Once you do that, clients will come to YOU for work, instead of vice versa. It may take a few months or years, but with hard work, dedication and consistently raising your rates, you can enjoy a lucrative freelance writing career (maybe even a six-figure one like mine!)
Need More Help?
I love showing others how to become freelance writers online, so if you need more help, please browse the site. I have dozens of blog posts, articles and advice that can help guide you along the way. Also, don’t miss this comprehensive guide, The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Freelance Writer.