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How to Become a Freelance Writer [Guide]

How to become a freelance writer, the ultimate guide.

If you’re looking for a flexible and well-paid job, freelance writing may be of interest to you.

Freelance writing has a low barrier to entry. Most jobs are suitable as a side hustle for students or 9-to-5 workers. Once you have built your reputation, it is also possible to work full time and earn a decent living.

A lot of companies hire freelancers to write blog posts, video scripts, press releases, etc. This is your opportunity to make money as a freelance writer.

With the help of this step-by-step guide, you will learn basic writing skills, how to build your freelancing business and find your first clients.

The topics covered are:

Let’s dive in.

Make an informed decision

Here is the deal: freelance writing may or may not be a good fit for you.

I want to help you make an informed decision. This is why I have gathered some basic information about writing jobs: pros and cons, salary and the writing opportunites for freelance writers.

Pros and cons of being a freelance writer

The main advantages of being a freelance writer are:

  • Freelance writing is a career-oriented job – your earnings are quite low at the beginning. However, it is a job with decent potential for growth.
  • Like most freelance jobs, you get the opportunity to work wherever and whenever you want.
  • There is virtually no required equipment besides a computer and an internet access.
  • No specific education is needed for freelance writing positions, but prior experience is almost always required.

There are also some disadvantages to consider:

  • Work isn’t consistent; you have to hustle every day to find writing jobs.
  • It can be difficult to cope with writer’s block.
  • Working alone can be difficult.
  • There is a wrong perception that giving a freelancer work is giving them charity. Too often freelancers get caught writing a bunch of articles but never seeing the paycheck, or receiving their paycheck late.

How much do freelance writers make?

According to PayScale, the median salary of freelance writers is about $25 per hour. There is a big discrepancy between starting level earnings ($10 per hour) and top-level earnings ($55 per hour).

So, it can be hard to get started. However, once you have built your reputation, it is possible to earn a decent living.

Different types of freelance writers

There are a lot of writing opportunities out there. Some of these opportunities require specific writing skills.

Take a look at these different types of freelance writers and see if one of them interests you:

  • Web content writer – publishes blog posts, articles, product reviews, ect. Web content writer should have a good knowledge of SEO.
  • Business writer – tackles white papers, reports, press releases, prepared speeches, and more.
  • Columnist – writes articles that usually offer commentary and opinions.
  • Technical writer – writes user manuals for consumer products.
  • Ghost Writer – is hired to write literary, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person.

Novice freelance writers can’t be too picky. They usually write on almost all topics/genres to establish themselves. Once you are more experienced, you can focus on one of these jobs.

Learn the basics

In this section, you will find a list of the basic skills you need to master to become a freelance writer. If you think you need to work on one of these skills, you can also check out some of the most popular writing resources listed below.

Skills every freelance writer should master

A set of skills that freelance writer should master

It takes a lot of work to become a successful freelance writer. Here is a list of the most basic skills every freelance writer should master:

  • You should have a good grasp of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Strong research skills add credibility and value to your content.
  • If you are writing content for the Web, you need to understand the basics of SEO. SEO involves compliance with search engine rules so as to maximize the rankings of your contents.
  • You need to be able to adapt your writing style. You should not write a blog post in the same way as a press release.
  • Having a wide vocabulary gives you an edge over your competitors.

The best writing blogs for freelance writers

I recommend that you subscribe to the following blogs. They will teach you how to improve your writing skills:

  • The Write Life – the go-to resource for writers who want to make a living from their craft.
  • The ProWritingAid Blog – ProWritingAid is a grammar checker and style editor tool. Their blog is a gold mine for writers!
  • The Jeff Goins Blog – Jeff Goins is a best-selling author. He shares his secrets on his blog.
  • Elna Cain’s blog – Elna is a freelance writer and blogger. She helps people just like you become a profitable freelance writer.

The best resources for freelance writers

Most writers think they were born with whatever talent they have, and they’re not going to get much better. Here are some resources that will help you write like Hemingway, James Joyce, Malcolm Gladwell, and many others.

  • The write practice – want to improve your writing skills? This website is a great way to start your writing practice.
  • ProWritingAid – an online grammar checker and style editor.
  • Hemingway Editor – paste one of your articles into this editor and see how many issues it finds.
  • The advanced guide to SEO – Quicksprout’s guide covers everything a freelance writer needs to know about SEO.

Build your freelance writing business

To get started, you need to register your business. There are three types of business structures most freelancers register under: sole proprietor, LLC and S corp. Each situation allows you to deduct for business costs.

Before you start your freelance career, it is important to list your services.

Companies often hire freelancers to write:

  • Video scripts
  • Web pages and blog posts
  • Radio scripts
  • Magazine articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Press releases
  • Marketing emails

Once you have gained some experience, you can decide what market you really want to stick with. Specializing in a market is usually a good way to increase your income.

How much should I charge as a freelance writer?

To determine how much you should charge, you need to know what your peers are charging. Look up other freelance writers and make a list of all their pricing plans.

Then, you need to adjust your pricing based on the following factors:

  • Your services
  • Experience and ability
  • Years in business
  • Location

Experience is one of the most important factor. Inexperienced writer charge around $0.02 per word while some can earn as much as $0.30 per word.

Find your first clients

As a freelance writer, you need to market yourself to potential clients.

If you have no experience, it can be extremely difficult to find companies that will actually pay for your services. This is why it is so important to secure your first clients.

Here are some proven ways to land your first writing customers:

  • Offer your services for free to a blogger. If the article is decent, it will be a great asset for your portfolio.
  • Contact your friends and family to see if they have any blogging needs.
  • Promote your writing services on social media.
  • Find your first job on a freelancing website.

List of freelance websites for writers

A lot of freelancers get their first gigs on freelance websites. This is a good way to build your reputation as a competent writer.

Here is a list of the best freelance websites for writers:

  • ProBlogger’s job board – for 10 years the ProBlogger Job Board has been the leading marketplace for blog related jobs.
  • TextBroker – gives you access to thousands of projects to turn your writing skills into cash.
  • BehanceJobs – an online platform for creative professionals.

And some of the best freelance websites:

  • Fiverr – it is the world’s largest freelance services marketplace.
  • PeoplePerHour – small businesses turn to PeoplePerHour and post jobs they need completed, freelancers can then bid on the jobs posted.
  • Upwork – a platform that connects top companies to talented freelance workers.
  • Flexjobs – for about $15 a month, you get access to a list of remote jobs.
  • TopTal – through a rigorous screening process, TopTal identifies the best freelancers and connects them to potential employers.

Guest post on authority websites and publications

Think of yourself as a personal brand.

If you can publish a few articles on Forbes, HuffingtonPost or any authority website, your credibility is going to go through the roof. A lot of publications and authority websites accept guest contributions.

So, how do you secure a guest post these large publications?

First, take the time to research everything you can about your targeted publication:

  • Potential topics.
  • The publication – some sites have an editorial calendar.
  • The editors – know the personto whom you’re pitching.

Once you have the name of the editors, find the proper email address to send your pitch and cross your fingers. Make sure your email is personal and grabs the reader’s attention.

Find more clients

Now that you have some experience , it’s time to step up your game and attract more clients!

Create a website to show off your skills

There are a lot of bad freelance writers out there. So it’s important to stand out enough to make yourself noticed.

Unless you’re a not interested in growing your brand, you need to have a website.

Here is the most important information to display on your website:

  • Details about your writing services
  • Pricing
  • An online portfolio to showcase your writing skills
  • A contact page

The most important part of your website is undoubtedly your portfolio. A portfolio is proof that you know how to write decent articles. It is also a proof that you can get results for your clients.

Work for authority websites and large publications

Once you have a decent portfolio and a reputable personal brand, it’s time to get more picky. Reach out to authority websites and large publications to see if they have want to outsource to your freelance writing business.

Final word

Here’s a short recap of how you can start your career as a freelance writer:

  1. Learn the most basic skills: grammar, research, SEO ect.
  2. Land your first job.
  3. Build your reputation.
  4. Create a website to display your services.
  5. Create an online portfolio to showcase your skills.

As a former college student, I know how hard it can be to find decent part-time jobs. This is why I want to share my knowledge and help whoever might need it.