how to get started as a freelance writer

How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer: The Ultimate Guide

How to Work from Home as a Freelance Writer

Are you wondering how to become a freelance writer?

Freelance writing is one of the most popular ways to make money from home.

It’s an ideal job for moms looking to work from home because it gives you the freedom to work whenever you have the time from wherever you happen to be.

When you’re a freelance writer, you aren’t bogged down by a set schedule. You can choose your own hours and be your own boss.

I’ve been freelance writing for nearly 10 years. In that time, it’s given me the opportunity to make money and help my family financially while also giving me the freedom to homeschool my four children.

Freelance writing is definitely possible with small children at home. When I started, I had two kids ages 3 and 3 months. I worked when they were napping or after they went to bed. Now, I often work before my kids are awake or while they’re playing outside.

Freelance writing is also a great work from home job because you don’t need any special software or education in order to do it.

While it may take some time for you to get used to it, the learning curve isn’t steep. Plus, the more you write, the better and the faster you’ll get. 

The best part of all is that freelance writing can make you a full-time income. This isn’t an exaggeration –  my income has helped our family very substantially.

I’ve made as much as $1200 writing just one article!

I’ve been freelance writing for nearly 10 years now, and in that time I’ve had a lot of people ask me how to get started. So many people would love to start working from home and earning money online, they just aren’t sure where to begin.

If that’s you and you’re ready to jumpstart your freelance writing career, you’re in the right place.

I’ve put together this guide to help moms just like you start a successful freelancing career so you can make money online.

Let’s get started!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link

Freelance Writing: Understanding the Basics

how to get started freelance writing

Before we get into how you get started as a freelance writer, it’s important to understand what a freelance writer does.

The Work of a Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, you’ll provide whatever written content your client needs.

In most cases, this will be blog posts or articles, but it certainly isn’t limited to this. In my years I’ve written everything from product descriptions on a website to a monthly email newsletter.

When you work as a freelance writer, you’ll likely work for several clients at a time, providing whatever content needs they have.

Setting Your Rates

When it comes to freelancing rates, payments are all over the map. In your search for work, you’ll find jobs that will pay you mere pennies for your efforts, and others that can exceed three digits (remember my $1200 article?).

Now, you could start working for a client who has posted a job and will pay you a set amount regardless, but in many cases, you’ll be the one who needs to set your rates.

You could choose to price your services by word (for instance, $.10/word would earn you $50 for a 500-word article), or by article (say $50 for a 500-600 word piece).

The rates I’m using here are just examples. You’ll need to consider ahead of time what to charge.

When making your determination, estimate how much time it will take you to complete the project (including research). Then do some sleuthing online to find out what others are charging and work out a fair hourly wage for yourself.

Other Things You’ll Need to Know

When you run your own business as a freelance writer, you have to do more than just write. You’ll also need to know how to market yourself, and have an understanding of the best content practices on the web, like keywords and SEO.

Depending on your topics and clients, you may also need to know how to navigate around the backend of WordPress, or write things like a sales funnel or lead magnet.

If you don’t know about these things now, it’s ok!

Like I said above, there may be a little learning curve here, but it’s not steep. If you don’t know something, the answer or solution to your problem is just a quick Google search away.

When it comes to working online, so much of it is a kind of learn as you go process.

As you build your business, dedicate yourself to learning a little bit more each day about the mechanics of writing and working on the web.

Getting Started as a Freelance Writer: Setup for Success

person typing on yellow typewriter

Freelance writing is a good way to make money, but in order to do that, you have to set yourself up with a good foundation. Because freelance writing is a relatively easy job to start from home, you’ll face a lot of competition at first.

Now you can do what many people do and apply to (very) low-paying content-mills and start writing right away. But I do not recommend this!

You’ll quickly get burned-out churning out your best work for essentially pennies, and you’ll wonder how it’s possible to make a full-time living as a freelance writer.

If you want to be successful and make good money, you have to take the time to set up that firm foundation and build your business the right way. Here’s how to do that.

Choose Your Niche

What is a niche? It’s an area that you’ll specialize in as a writer.

You may think that broadening your scope and writing about everything is the best way to land paying clients, but it isn’t.

Niching down actually makes clients more likely to hire you because they view you as an expert in your field. It will also make life much easier for you when you aren’t wasting all your time researching something that you know absolutely nothing about.

To find a niche, think about things you love to do, have a great interest in, or have experience or expertise in. Then consider if people or businesses have a need for content in these areas.

Popular niches could be things like travel, finance, family, or digital marketing.

Limit your niches to two for now – you can always expand and grow (or scrap those and change) as you build your freelancing business.

Create a Website

While you don’t technically need a website to be a freelance writer, it helps your credibility and is a great way to stand out from the pack.

I strongly recommend you create one because:

  • It makes you look professional
  • It’s an easy way for you to sell your services
  • It shows clients how to contact you
  • It’s a way for you to showcase your portfolio and testimonials

When you create a website, you’ll want to purchase your own domain and a hosting provider. Your domain name should be something simple and memorable, like your name.

As you’re setting up the website, include the following:

  • Your picture (putting a face to your name lends credibility)
  • A clear description of the services you offer
  • An “about me” page
  • Any testimonials you have
  • Samples or a portfolio
  • A clear and easy way to contact you

If you want a straightforward guide to help you through the process of setting up your site, this course can help you do that.

Write Your Samples

If you’ll notice above, one of the things you’ll want to put on your site is writing samples. These could either be full documents you place directly on your site or links to things you’ve already published (or ideally both!).

Samples are a very important part of establishing yourself as a freelance writer. You need to have verifiable proof that you can write, and clients want to see what you’re capable of.

Don’t stress if you’re brand new to this!

Take the time to craft several articles in your niches, and put them on a portfolio page on your website. You’ll also need these samples if you’re applying to jobs through freelance writing websites.

Don’t limit yourself to putting your writing samples just on your site. Think of other places where prospective clients might see your work, like LinkedIn or a Facebook page.

If you want to get your name out there, you could also publish some articles on a site like Medium, or write some guest posts for blogs. These types of articles and posts are great to use for proof that you can show to prospective clients.

Getting Started as a Freelance Writer: Find Clients

Now that you’ve established that nice foundation for yourself, you’re ready to find your clients.

Initially, the search for jobs can take a lot of work, but it’s necessary no matter what business you’re in. After all, those entrepreneurs and business owners won’t know you exist unless you promote yourself.

This means that now is not the time to be shy! Here are some of the best ways to find clients for your new business.

Cold Pitching

Pitching – or reaching out to companies via email – is an excellent way to land freelance writing clients. In a pitch, you need to explain who you are and how what you do can benefit the business.

One popular way to pitch your writing services is to look up personal emails for people working in companies in your niche (these can often be found on LinkedIn).

Reach out to them and explain what you do and why they should hire you. In your email, include a link to your writing samples and your website.

Be prepared for rejection many times (or no response at all), but don’t let it get you down. It just takes one client to make all the difference.

Self-Promotion

If you want to work as a freelancer, you need to let people know you’re open for business.

Self-promotion shouldn’t be something you shy away from. Even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea, it’s an important component in gaining clients and building your business.

Here are some ways you can promote yourself:

  • Have business cards made up and hand one out every time you talk about your work.
  • Develop a 30-second pitch that succinctly explains what you do and how your work directly benefits the client
  • Utilize social media to help spread the word about your new business
  • Be prepared to talk about your job – a lot. When you’re at the park, a playdate, a party, or a family function and someone asks you what you do for work, be prepared to tell them!
  • Set up your LinkedIn account and begin to actively use it. Market yourself as a freelance writer, and start networking with your connections. Follow businesses you want to write for, or connect with freelance writing groups and organizations.

Social Media

I mentioned LinkedIn above, but don’t neglect your other forms of social media too. I know writers who have great success finding clients on Facebook, and others who’ve killed it with Twitter.

Make sure you’re active on all social media profiles and make it clear that you’re a writer, putting your website info front and center.

If you’re on Facebook, start joining groups in your niche and adding helpful content. Connecting with people this way is a great way to earn new clients over time.

Find Work on Freelance Writing Job Boards

These days more and more companies are taking to the Internet to outsource their work. Good freelance writing job boards compile these jobs in one place, making it easier for you to see and apply for jobs.

Several of the best of these sites include Blogging Pro and Problogger. In fact, I wrote an entire post detailing some websites where you can find freelance writing jobs:

15 Best Websites for Freelance Writing Jobs.

You’ll find a wide variety of job postings on these types of sites. While it’s tempting to undersell yourself at first just to get something, I encourage you to avoid this.

Starting off with higher-paying jobs that you know you’re capable of establishes your credibility as a writer and will help you grow your business much more quickly.

Get Testimonials

What is a testimonial? It’s like a review from a former client, explaining why your work is so awesome.

These testimonials are so important in cementing your status as a freelance writer and scoring you new clients.

How do you get them?

Once you’ve had a couple of paying jobs, I simply send a follow-up email to the client, which might read something like this:

Hi [Name],

I just wanted to reach out and make sure you are happy with the work I provided you. If there are any problems with anything, please let me know!

If everything was satisfactory, I’d really appreciate it if you would send me a review of a sentence or two that I could add to my website. In exchange, I’m happy to link to your site. Feedback like yours goes a long way in helping me grow my writing business.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. It was a pleasure working with you!

Thanks,

[Your Name]

Once you get a testimonial, put it front and center on your website where people can see it. This will go a long way in convincing others that you’re a good writer and that they should hire you.

Tools to Help You Grow Your Freelance Writing Business

Getting your first gig isn’t the end of the process, it’s only the beginning! These tools can help you bring your freelancing to the next level.

Paypal

Once you have a client, you will need a Paypal account to send invoices and get paid. This is what I’ve always used, but I know there are other platforms out there too that seem to be growing in popularity, so use due diligence in figuring out what you’d prefer.

With Paypal, make sure to set up a Paypal business account. From there you can invoice the client when you deliver a project, and receive payment.

Grammarly

Not a grammar pro? With Grammarly, you dont have to be. Grammarly is a free plugin that checks for grammar as you type and prompts you to make corrections where needed.

Let me tell you, this program has been a lifesaver for me.

Grammarly also has a paid version, which checks for other things like style, sentence structure, and punctuation.

If you want to become a professional freelance writer, it might be the thing that you need to bring your writing abilities to the next level.

Self-Confidence

The final thing you need to become a successful freelance writer is confidence in yourself.

If you want to write and make a business out of this service, you need to own it. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are a freelance writer, and don’t be afraid when you’re reaching out to potential clients.

Sure, you may get a rejection from time to time, but that’s all par for the course!

If you get a rejection notice or poor feedback on something you’ve written, don’t let it get you down (easier said than done, I know!). Pick your head up, view it as a learning experience, and keep going.

The work is plentiful – and profitable – if you keep plugging away at it.

Looking for More Help?

Do you think freelance writing is the right work at home job for you? If you want a more comprehensive guide to getting started freelance writing, freelance writer-turned-teacher Elna Cain can help.

Elna’s course, Write Your Way to Your First $1K, walks you through all the steps to freelance writing success in a comprehensive manner.

If you want a little extra help in starting your business off on the right foot, I highly recommend you check it out here.

Do you have any more questions about getting started as a freelance writer? If there’s something that I didn’t cover but you’d like to learn more about, please let me know in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer: The Ultimate Guide”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I’m Bridget Sielicki. 

I’m a freelance writer and a mom of four. For the past 10 years, I’ve been working from home as a freelance writer, creating content for major brands like Hertz Car Rental, Bankrate.com, and Credit Sesame.

Working from home has been a dream come true for me. Now I want to share my expertise with you, so you can make money while you’re home with your own kids. Learn more here.

Learn How to Become:

shares