To learn how to become a freelance writer today, we need to start at the beginning.
Back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and we started Location Rebel, the easiest way to get into freelance writing was via something called SEO writing.
SEO writing is banging out short pretty low-quality 300-500 word articles stuffed with keywords. The goal the articles would rank highly for those keywords on search engines and get more clicks.
Hence the name, SEO (search engine optimization) writing.
But, Google got smart to that and decided that just blasting the interwebs with heaps of mediocre writing wasn’t the best way to go about things.
Instead, it’s all about creating good, informative, and educational content. The people that hire freelance writers want their readers to click on blog posts, open emails, buy stuff off sales pages, and download ebooks.
That’s where freelance writers come in. They create this type of content for brands and get paid to do it.
Do keywords still matter?
Of course, but as a freelance writer, part of your job is to be able to blend both worlds. Figure out how to do that well and you’re not going to need to worry about finding clients or getting low-paid work.
You’re going to have a successful freelance writing business with the freedom to set your schedule and choose your clients. Sounds like a dream, right?
It’s even better: it’s something you can start right now.
We’re going to teach you.
Keep reading and you’ll learn what is freelance writing and how to become a freelance writer that gets paid.
So grab a snack and get ready to dig in.
How to Become a Freelance Writer in 2022 and Beyond
What is Freelance Writing?
So, what is freelance writing? Let’s cover this question right from the jump to clear up any confusion.
A freelance writer is someone who gets paid to perform writing work.
It’s that simple.
Where people get confused is that freelance writing is a blanket term that covers a ton of different types of writing.
As a beginner, you’re going to see all sorts of examples of freelance writing, including:
- Email writing
- B2B writing
And that’s just the start.
The cool thing about freelance writing is there are so many possibilities for you to get started. That’s not only because there are so many different styles of writing, but there are so many niches to write in too.
Let’s cover each of these real quick, beyond SEO writing, which we touched on above. If you’re still interested in that type of writing, check out this post on SEO writing.
What is Blogging?
Blogging is the bread and butter for most freelance writers, especially beginners.
Check out any job board and you’ll find dozens of freelance writing gigs for blog writing.
Location Rebel is an example of a blog.
You can find blogs across any industry.
Here are a few examples:
- This insurance company has a blog.
- This site about what’s going on in the world of comic books has a blog.
- This wedding dress designer has a blog.
- This commercial HVAC company has a blog.
- This SaaS budgeting tool has a blog.
Starting to get the picture?
Now, if a consumer or commercial brand wants to be found online, they need a blog. That’s just how it works.
And they need people to write blog posts.
Some companies do that in-house, where it is someone’s job on the payroll to write blog content.
But a lot of companies pay freelancers to write their blog content for them.
As you can see, it doesn’t matter the industry, pick the wildest and craziest ones in your head — they all need writers to write stuff for them.
So as someone starting, freelance blog writing is a great opportunity — no, blogging is not dead.
What is Copywriting?
To clear things up from the start: copywriting is a type of freelance writing.
If you are a copywriter, you might also be a freelance writer (assuming this isn’t your day job). You’re getting paid to write for brands.
Copywriting is writing persuasively to get someone to take action.
One of the most common forms of copywriting is a sales page.
The goal of a sales page is to get you to buy something.
That takes skill. That’s why copywriters usually get paid more than other types of freelance writers.
Beginners can get into copywriting, but there is a learning curve. You need to understand things like persuasion and human psychology, not to mention a lot about the product you’re trying to sell.
So, if you want to go this route, and it’s a great choice, just prepare that it might take you a little bit longer to build those skills.
But, if you stick with it, being a copywriter can definitely pay off.
More Copywriting Resources:
- What is Copywriting and How to Become a Copywriter – A great overview if you’re just getting started.
- 5 Weird Ways to Land Copywriting Jobs (that actually work!) – Learning how to get creative with your marketing is one of the hallmarks of being a successful freelance copywriter, these tips will help.
- How Copywriting Made Me a Million Dollars: 5 Copywriting Tips – These are the 5 aspects of copywriting that helped Sean to make over a million dollars in my career directly from copywriting.
What is Technical Writing?
Technical writing is all about documenting processes.
You’ll see a lot of technical writing in engineering and IT. It used to be very heavy on writing out things like user manuals for equipment, systems, and parts.
Yea, it doesn’t exactly sound sexy.
Today, technical writing is a bit broader; it can cover reports and summaries and white papers, for example. And it can also hit on a lot of other topics like software and social media too. So if you’re someone with a bit of technical experience and very good at details, it might be something to explore.
BUT it’s a specialty of writing that is growing, and if you can do it, you’re going to be in pretty good shape.
What is B2B Writing?
B2B stands for Business to Business.
Being a B2B-focused freelance writer just means you write for businesses that sell to other businesses.
Some examples include:
- Insurance companies sell products to other businesses.
- Commercial landscaping companies sell services to other businesses.
- SaaS budgeting tools sell a service to other businesses.
- Industrial office furniture companies sell furniture to businesses to put in their offices.
B2B freelancing is exactly the same as other types of freelance writing. The only difference is your target reader.
If you don’t own a company that is in need of industrial office furniture you don’t need to read any blog posts about it.
But there are thousands of companies who do.
That’s their target market.
Because of that, like copywriting, B2B writing involves a little bit more of a skill set to do it. That’s why B2B writers will often get paid a bit more than B2C (business to consumer) bloggers.
Beginners can get into B2B writing, it’s just about taking a little bit extra time to understand the differences between audiences.
Ok, got all that?
Don’t let yourself get lost in the differences between B2B blog writing and B2C copywriting. It’s all freelance writing.
And a lot of freelance writers do a mix. You don’t have to choose just one kind of writing.
As another resource, I’d also check out Jennifer Gregory’s blog on writing. Beyond this site, it’s my personal favorite. (You can learn a bunch from her book too, which I’ve recommended on a number of LRA Office Hours calls).
Alright, you’re here because you want to know how to do freelance writing, so let’s get started.
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Why You Should Consider Freelance Writing
With so many different types of online businesses out there, why do we believe freelance writing is truly the best way to go?
Well, here are just a few of the reasons to start freelance writing.
And I’m willing to bet, even after all those reasons I listed in the video – you’re still thinking. “But I don’t have time.” If that’s you? Then this will show you how to make time to start a freelance writing business.
Why NOT to Start Freelance Writing
Freelance writing is great and all, but the reality is, it’s not for everyone.
Maybe we should have listed this video first as if any of these are dealbreakers for you, then we shouldn’t waste any more time.
Still think freelance writing is for you?
Let’s get to it.
How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer
Woah, you didn’t think I was going to tell you to hop on UpWork and go for it, did you?
It’s like you don’t know me at all.
A quick note before we dig into all this.
All the information you need to become a freelance writer is here.
Read through this post, and then read it again.
Start slow. Go through each step. And, most importantly, take action.
Step 1: Take Inventory of Your Current Skills
When a lot of members join LRA they fall into the trap of ignoring all the skills they already have. Instead, they think they need to create an entirely new set of skills and experiences and learn everything there is to know about a topic before they can even consider becoming a freelance writer.
Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.
The easiest way to get into freelancing is to write about what you already know.
So if you are currently an accountant, writing about accounting shouldn’t be a very big leap.
For example, you could write:
- 5 Tips That Can Save You Time During Tax Season
- 3 Deductions Most People Don’t Know About
- 5 Tips to Find a Great Accountant
Any accountant should be able to write something along those lines.
That’s freelance writing.
Sure, you may not love writing about accounting, but having some income at the start can help you transition into the topics you do want to talk about.
Before I became a freelancer, I worked in mutual funds and hedge funds, doing pricing, accounting, and risk management. In college, I also did an extended three year internship with a financial advisor, so I knew about the market, retirement investment, and asset allocation.
The smart Liz of today would say, “whew girl, with that experience, you should start by looking at financial writing.”
(The very not-smart Liz of 10 years ago ignored all this advice and it took a while to make the big bucks).
So think about what you know.
Use your life, work, software, or tools you know how to use, educational experience, your volunteer experiences, your hobbies, make a big list, and see what pops up.
Here are some other places you can look to get the juices flowing.
Action step: Make a list of the things you know. Include everything and anything that comes to mind.
Then, start to narrow things down a bit.
- Where do you have the most experience?
- Where do you have the most expertise?
- Do you enjoy anything on the list?
- Can this industry pay? (some industries pay better than others)
- If I had to pick one thing to write 1,000 words on today, what would it be?
Before you start to panic, you are not picking a life partner here.
For many, it’s easier to start with something where you have experience.
One of the biggest advantages of being a freelance writer is you can write about anything. And once you get tired of writing about something, you can switch gears and write about something else.
The key here is to start getting focused on a few areas where you can succeed early.
Step 2: Choose a Freelance Writing Niche
Ideally, the goal of step one is to help you focus on a couple of areas you can start writing.
These areas are called niches.
One semi-controversial topic for freelance writers is niching.
There are two main camps here.
A lot of freelancers think the sooner you niche the better.
Niching will help you become an expert on one topic and that means you can get super focused on the brands you want to work with and the type of content you write. Also, a lot of brands will only hire freelancers with experience in that industry.
So, niching will help you be seen as one of the ‘go to’ people in your industry and you can get paid a lot more for your writing.
I wouldn’t classify anyone as anti-niche. But the other camp of freelancers are people who think you don’t need to worry about niching until much further down the road, or ever.
People who don’t niche are called generalists. That just means they can write about a ton of different topics or can do a lot of different types of freelance writing.
All of this is to say, there is no one right or wrong path to freelancing.
I personally think that finding a niche early can help you get focused. Because freelance writing covers such a huge number of jobs, industries, and types of writing, it’s really easy for people to get overwhelmed and do nothing.
So, for me, looking at a few areas where you already have some skills and knowledge means you can zoom in on those to start and not worry about the other stuff.
Then, if and when you want to focus on other areas, you already have experience freelancing and you know how to find clients. That makes switching niches easier, you just repeat the stuff that worked already.
Ok, with that out of the way, let’s keep going.
Sean offers good advice on how to choose a niche. Find an industry first and then a niche within a niche in that industry.
It looks like this:
Here are some examples:
Financial services –>B2B –>I write for SaaS budgeting tools
Health –> Sleep –> I write for sleep technology brands
Movies –> Superhero movies –> I write movie reviews about superhero movies.
Like with everything else when it comes to freelance writing, there are a million niches out there.
Here are a few good niches to think about that tend to pay well:
- Financial services: let’s face it, there’s money in money, and you can cover a ton of different topics ranging from personal finance to cryptocurrencies
- Insurance: here’s another one that has money floating around and there are many different areas to get into
- Technology: add tech to any niche, and you’re going to find lots of opportunities — sleep tech, pet tech (yes this is a thing), hospitality tech, health tech, fintech, insurtech, you name it
- Hospitality: This goes beyond travel blogs (though keep those on the list too) hotels, rental cars, apps, tourist boards, airlines, travel insurance, luggage, are all involved here also
- Health: There are about a million ways you can dig into health from the medical side, I know quite a few former nurses who make good money freelancing, to fitness, diet, training products, and more
Think outside the box.
I find most people all focus on the same few industries and ignore a ton of potential possibilities.
I just highlighted this inside the Location Rebel Academy forums recently. Here’s a sneak peek, don’t tell Sean I let you see the good stuff.
I spent about 7 minutes on the ProBlogger job board (you can find over 100 places to get work as a freelance writer in this post) and saw postings in all of those niches.
And here are our six favorite freelance writing job boards for finding high-quality work.
Don’t want to do the digging yourself? Check out Freelancer’s Friend. It’s our premium newsletter where we send you two emails a week each loaded with high-quality, hand-picked freelance writing opportunities.
Step 3: Research Your Niche
Once you’ve narrowed down a few areas you’d like to niche in, it’s time to start researching.
Here’s how to do it.
Go to Google and type in a niche + writer and see what pops up.
See what brands, stories, and blogs are out there already. Also, see who is writing for these niches.
Here’s a great interview with pet writer Kaitlyn Arford to check out more about this niche.
This is a straightforward way to get a feel of what’s happening in the niche you’re interested in.
If you find a niche where there are a bunch of writers, this is good news; it means the industry is paying.
Action step: Make a big list of places and people in your niche.
This is where you are going to start pulling your potential client base from as you get started.
So make your life easier now and add whatever you find to a spreadsheet as you come across them. You can always cut later.
How to Think About Your Freelance Writing Clients
As you dig into your niche, you also want to start thinking about your potential clients too. Here’s how to approach figuring out what clients you want to work with.
Step 4: Create a Target Client
When I say target client (or buyer persona or ideal client), I mean the ideal person or brand you want to work with. When you figure out who this is, it makes it a lot easier to find potential cleints.
If you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself these questions about them:
- Who are they?
- What do they do?
- What problems do they need help solving?
Buffer has a good intro post that goes a bit more in-depth on buyer personas. And HubSpot has a cool tool you can use to start building your own too.
Here’s an example in action:
You want to write about smart homes.
Who is your ideal client?
- Someone who has expendable income and loves technology. They want to be connected at all times to their homes through their smartwatch or phone. They love using voice technology to get answers to questions or help when they are cooking.
Ok, so what types of products do they use?
- Smart home speakers (Google Home, Alexa, etc. )
- SmartLocks for their doors
Where do they get information online?
- Smart home forums
- Wired magazine, Cnet, TechHive
- Chatting with friends
- Tech events
- Smart home brands websites
What problems do they need help solving?
- What’s the best product out there?
- What works with the operating systems/configurations I already have?
- What has cool features that will impress my friends?
Where can I write about this?
- Company blogs
- Blogs within the industry that talk about this technology
- Real estate blogs
- Home design blogs
- Trade magazines
What type of writing can I do for this?
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Thought pieces (these can often be ghostwritten for the CEO or other executives)
- Guides on how to use the products
- Product descriptions
- Website copy
- Sales emails
- Facebook ads
- Video scripts
Action step: Start building an ideal customer persona.
Do you see how you can start niching in multiple ways here?
You can niche within an industry, a product, and even a medium.
That can turn you into someone who says, “I write about tech.” to someone who says, “I write video scripts that sell smart home speakers.”
Now, if you were a company looking to hire someone to help sell more speakers, who sound like the person you’d want to hire?
The point of this exercise is to help you not only figure out potential clients that will be a good fit.
As you start building out your bullet points, it should start becoming a lot clearer about who your potential clients are and where you can write. That makes it so much easier to land a job and get paid as a freelance writer.
How to Get Work as a Freelance Writer
Ok, now we’re getting to the meat of things.
Any potential client is going to want to see a few writing samples.
If you don’t have writing samples, no one is going to hire you.
So, you need two things:
- A website (or a place to put your writing samples).
- 3-5 samples on that site that you can include in your job applications and the emails you send to potential clients introducing yourself.
Set aside a few weeks to take care of this part.
Step 5: Create a Freelance Writer Website
First, get a website up and running. Here’s how to do that.
Your freelance writing website is your home base. It’s a way for potential clients to find out a little bit more about you, check out your writing samples, and hire you.
A lot of people who are trying to get started in freelance writing get stuck at this step. They make the website way more complicated than it needs to be, and that derails them from going anywhere.
When you start make your site as simple as possible.
All potential clients care about is you are a real person with writing samples.
On your website, you need at least 3-5 sample pieces.
The very first question any potential client will ask is for your samples. This is the thing that makes or breaks you at the start.
Potential clients look at your samples and imagine you writing for them.
If they like the way you write, they will hire you. It’s that simple.
Here are some tips to get made and not broken:
- Have 3-5 samples on your site. You need this amount at the minimum, ideally more if you can.
- Spend time on your samples. Don’t slap something up there that you put zero energy into. This is probably going to be one of the more time-consuming parts of getting started. Here’s how to write a blog post.
- You need your samples to be in your area of focus. Don’t say you are an accounting writer and have 1 sample on Star Wars, 1 sample on your favorite hike, and 1 sample on why you love your iPhone.
- If you are niching in a type of writing, for example, long-form blog posts (blogs that are 2000+ words) then all of your samples need to be 2000+ words.
- You can always add new samples and remove old ones, especially if you change or switch niches.
- You can use the blog feature on your website to write samples.
Pep talk over.
Learn how to think about a freelance portfolio right here.
Action step: Start building your freelance writing website.
If you don’t have the funds to get a website up right now or you know you’re going to get lost and frustrated, a simple, quick fix is to set up an online portfolio.
The following sites let you put up free portfolios (some of them will limit the number of pieces you can put up for free):
Each of these is a quick fix to get to show your work professionally.
Looking for a good checklist of everything to include on your portfolio website?
Here you go:
Reading more your thing? Here’s our 17 Point Freelance Portfolio Site Checklist.
Step 6: Sign up for Professional Content Sites
There are some content sites out there that do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. You can sign up to them for free, post your pieces, and if your profile dings the special algorithm, then you get matched with a potential client.
Contently, Skyword, ClearVoice, and nDash are some of the most popular sites for this type of thing.
I’ve written quite a bit about Contently; you can read more about it here.
These sites are great for beginners because you don’t have to do any marketing. The clients are connected with you. And you’ll typically have an editor who is the middleman between you and the client.
Keep in mind; these aren’t the only places to start.
I’ve worked on a bunch of projects on all four of the above sites.
The negative with these sites (besides nDash) is you have to wait to be found. There is no feature for you to go in and search for available jobs.
Create a profile and make sure you have keywords about your niche in it. Then post up your samples. Set time in your calendar every month to go in and add more samples or update the descriptions of your posts and profile.
Step 7: Contact Marketing Agencies
Another way to go through a middleman is to work directly with content marketing agencies. In this case, they do most of the marketing and finding the client and leave you to do the writing.
You won’t get a full fee like you do if you’re out on your own. But for a lot of people, the tradeoff is worth it. Working with an agency means you can try out a bunch of different types of work and get some good clients under your belt.
A lot of successful freelancers will have 1-2 agencies they work with on a regular basis.
Hop on Google and do a search for agencies and send them some cold emails – follow this checklist before you click submit.
I like to start with local agencies, that gives you a bit of an automatic connection. If you’re not new to an area, that’s fine; just tweak it and make it work for you. I always like to start an email like this with one sentence that’s personal versus copy and pasting the same thing to everyone.
You can use an email just like this one:
I recently moved to Portland and wanted to connect with some local agencies. I’ve written for brands primarily in the finance and insurance industries, including Company 1, Company 2, and Company 3.
I saw on your site that you do work with freelancers, so here I am! I’m happy to work on a per-project basis, and my rates are $xxx/hr.
You can find my portfolio here.
This type of email is called a letter of introduction or LOI. It’s a simple 3-5 sentence that says who you are, the type of writing you do, and asks if they work with freelancers.
Read more about LOIs here.
Get used to LOIs, because as a freelancer you are going to send out thousands of these over your career.
After a week or two, if you haven’t heard anything back, send a follow-up email.
It looks something like this:
- 1 <– Link to a new article
Simple and to the point.
If you haven’t written anything new or don’t have new links to share, just say you’re following up per your last email and you’d love to chat more.
Once you have contacted the agencies in your city or town, spread out to your region, and then the country.
Beyond Google, check out big lists like these and go through the agencies one by one:
- Clutch.co Agency List
- Themanifest.com Agency List
- Digitalagencynetwork.com Agency List
- Upcity.com Agency List
There are tens of thousands of agencies in those lists. So you have no excuse to say you can’t find places to start sending emails.
Step 8: Use Social Media Effectively
For freelance writers, Twitter is an amazing tool for getting work, making connections, and befriending other freelancers. Check out a few examples of how Twitter works for freelancers in this post.
When you’re on Twitter, be on the lookout for posts like this:
1/5 Hello! Allow me to reintroduce myself on this platform, since it's been a sec: I'm an editor at @BusinessInsider sourcing pitches and stories from freelance writers and contributors. Nice to meet ya!
— Alyse Kalish (@Alyslice) August 2, 2021
You’ll see posts like these on social media every day.
Lots of freelancers can tap into social media and use it to connect directly with editors, so that is probably something you might want to explore too.
Tapping into LinkedIn
However, there is one social media site I really love for
stalking finding potential clients, and that’s LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is my go-to social media channel for prospecting for new freelance writing clients. Here’s how to get started with LinkedIn.
Once you’ve created a LinkedIn profile, you can follow how I use it:
- Find a company I think would be a good target in my niche.
- Check out their blog and website.
- I pop over to LinkedIn and then click on ‘jobs.’ Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and they might be looking for a freelancer if not…
- Click ‘people.’ This gives you a list of all the people who work at that company
- Do a quick scan for anyone who has marketing or content in their title
- I click to connect, and then in the note, I send an introduction
🚨 Now here’s where things can go off the rails. 🚨
Do NOT use LinkedIn to pitch yourself off the bat.
We talk a lot, I mean endlessly, about bad pitches and the things you should not do. You can apply all that stuff to LinkedIn and social media in general, too.
Here is an exact example of an introduction I sent recently to the content manager of a site I think is great and falls right in my target niche:
Hi X, I was reading the “Company name” blog and came across your name. Would love to connect, I’m a freelance writer and have been working with some finance and insurance brands like Client 1, Client 2, and Client 3. I thought I’d reach out and say hello. Have a great weekend. – Liz [If you have space here add your email or website URL to make it really easy to connect]
That is it.
Note I did not ask for a job or go on about myself.
I wanted to connect because this person is a good writer on both this blog and a few others I found while I was internet stalking them. And lucky for me, now they are in charge of content for a good company in my niche. So in life, I’d like to connect if it leads to a writing assignment, even better.
This video breaks down an example of a bad pitch and rewrites it top be much more effective:
Action step: Create a LinkedIn profile and get on Twitter.
How to be a Paid Freelance Writer
When it comes to getting found online, some of the best advice I can give you is to think from your prospective client’s point of view.
So that means think about what they are looking for when they want to hire a writer (i.e., someone who knows this subject, can deliver solid work on time, and isn’t a huge PITA).
It also means you need to think about what they are typing into search boxes on Google and LinkedIn and other places. What key terms are they looking for? Make sure you highlight those in all of your profiles.
Step 9: Marketing Your Freelance Writing Business
Dun, dun, dun….this is the part of freelancing that people don’t like.
Inside Location Rebel Academy, it’s not unusual for someone to say they aren’t landing any freelance writing work. The first question we ask is, how many LOIs are you sending out and how many jobs are you apply to each week?
Usually, the answer is 2-3.
When you’re a new freelancer, that just isn’t enough.
You need to get that number up as high as possible. The second you get your website up and your samples posted, your number one priority needs to be marketing.
At the start, landing freelance writing work is a game of luck and touches.
Most new freelancers will see a response rate under 10% to their LOIs, pitches, and job applications.
So if you’re sending out 10 LOIs you may only hear from 1.
If you only send out 5 LOIs a month, it’s going to take a while before you find a job.
If you send out 50 LOIs a month, chances are much better that you’ll land something.
Look, I get it.
Marketing is scary.
But, it’s a key part of freelancing.
Marketing consistently is vital to your success as a freelance writer.
Because guess what?
When you work for yourself, you are in the sales business. You have to sell yourself and your skills all the damn time at the start. Then, hopefully, you’ll start getting more people who come to you through referrals and word of mouth, and you won’t have to sell quite as much.
But at the end of the day remember this: no one and I mean this, no one is going to market for you.
You have to do it yourself.
Building Your Marketing Mix
Ed Gandia has a great concept that I use a modified version of which is called a Marketing Mix.
Ed lists a bunch of tasks that fall under marketing including:
- Cold emails
- Follow up emails
- Letters of introduction
- Updating website/portfolio
- Updating LinkedIn
- Tapping into your network
- Connecting with other freelancers
- Content marketing
- Going to conferences/meetups
- Connecting with agencies
What he then suggests is to do a couple of these each week as a Marketing Mix.
Block out time every week to do marketing.
Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, use that 15 minutes to send out LOIs and apply for jobs.
When you schedule marketing into your calendar, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It helps you get into the habit of doing a little bit every day.
As you start creating lists of potential clients to target or sites you want to write for, build a list. Then when it’s time to start doing your marketing tasks, you can work off of that.
So when I say marketing, here’s what I do (and maybe you should too):
- Create a spreadsheet for my marketing tasks; I track it all using Airtable you can use Streak for Gmail, Excel, gdocs, a notebook, whatever.
- Schedule time in your calendar that is devoted to just marketing
- Send out whatever combo of the marketing mix you’re working on that day and note it in your spreadsheet
- Look at previous tasks (you might want to check your email for this) and send follow-ups to all prior pitches and contacts
- Send new story ideas to current clients
Once you have a system set to track your outreach, it’s so much easier to send follow ups and learn how many LOIs/job apps you need to send out to get work. That can help you plan for the future.
It also helps you see where you’re getting the most responses so you can double down on those.
A big part of freelancing success is figuring out repeatable systems for outreach.
Action step: Set time aside each week, put it in your calendar, and devote it to marketing yourself until it becomes second nature and just what you do.
I try to focus during my marketing block on stuff that is going to result in getting clients. Reading a blog post about how you should be marketing does not count as marketing outreach. You actually have to do stuff.
Step 10: Figuring Out Your Freelance Writing Rates
Ok, so let’s say you followed all the advice up above and holy guacamole, it worked!
You have a potential client who came back to you. They are in your niche, they want to work together, and they asked you what your rates are to write for them.
Except, this is the part where a lot of people start stage two of freaking out.
In my experience, two big problems give people anxiety when it comes to pricing:
- There is no ‘standard’ rate system
- They are worried about overcharging and scaring the client away when the reality is most new freelancers are undercharging consistently
Setting rates is a very personal thing.
The rates that work for me might not work for you, and that’s because there are a ton of factors involved.
It depends on your expenses, experience, cost of living, and all sorts of things that make it hard for me to say, ok, charge $250 for that 1,000 word post.
In this post, I cover a really basic and easy way to figure out your freelance writing rates.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a good way to start.
Here are some additional tips you need to keep in mind as you start getting more freelance writing clients:
- Have a baseline rate that you won’t go below
- Continually raise your prices as you get new clients
- You’re probably undercharging in most cases
- It’s ok to turn down clients who aren’t willing to pay your rate
- Be confident in your skills and expertise
The main thing out of that list that I’d highlight is having a baseline floor rate. Even though I don’t charge by the word but by the project, I’ve figured out essentially what my bottom line per word rate is to make a project work.
Action step: Figure out your baseline writing rate (and stick to it).
I have this number written down on a post-it note that sits on my desk. Anytime I get an offer to write, I compare the rate to my post-it note number. If it’s below that, I counter offer at a higher price. If they say no, I walk away and find the next opportunity.
I spent a lot of time when I was first writing undercharging myself. I honestly didn’t realize people could get hundreds or thousands of dollars for freelance writing work until I started connecting with higher-level writers who did.
Fast forward to today, where I’ve gotten over $1,500 a pop for a single 1,000 word post.
That’s a long way from my first client, who paid me $10 for 500-words.
Step 11: Consider Additional Beneficial Skills You Can Learn
Obviously knowing how to write is the most important component to becoming a successful freelance writer.
But many people fail to realize how beneficial it can be to learn other complementary skill sets.
A great example is search engine optimization.
If you know the fundamentals of SEO, and can make your content search engine friendly — that will give you a huge leg up over your writing competition.
Think about it, what is the point of most online content these days?
It’s to generate search traffic.
So if you develop SEO skills to go along with your writing, you’re making yourself more valuable to your client. And you’re making it easier to get work and charge more money because of your increased skillset.
See more about why learning SEO as a freelance writer can be so beneficial.
Why You Need to Think Like a Business
It took me a long time to get into the right mindset about running a six-figure freelance writing business. I paid a bunch of my hard-earned freelancer dollars to an excellent business coach who helped me get out of my head and take action.
This is what you need to do, too — except you don’t have to pay me anything (except maybe your eternal gratitude when you become a successful writer).
One of the biggest keys to success in growing your business is to stop thinking of yourself as ‘just’ a blogger and instead as a small business owner.
When you think like a business, you start to run your shit like a business. And that means getting a focus, attracting the right clients in that area, and getting them to pay you real dollars (not $.03 a word) for the content you create.
In reality, becoming a paid freelance writer is not rocket science. It just takes focus and consistency.
Once you start making money from freelance writing, it helps you shift your mindset.
The me who was making $.05 a word and the me who makes $1+ a word are in two very different mental places. A big part of that hinged on building the confidence that I could be a writer and make real money.
To do that, I had to bust out of my shell, get focused, and start marketing myself as a serious business owner.
To make it in this business, you need to do the same.
A Few More Pieces of Advice (Things I’ve Learned From Nearly a Decade of Being a Freelance Writer)
This post gave you the general outlines of how to get started with freelance writing. But I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make a site a success early on.
These are a collection of posts I’d recommend reading to help you with the dig even deeper. Read these, and you’ll learn more about how to get your freelance writing business up and running.
Learn How to Write
- The EXACT 10 Steps You Need to Learn How to Become a Writer – A big part of being a freelance writer is uh, writing. Use this post to learn how to write.
- The Best Writing Tools For Becoming a Freelance Writer – We’ve got all the tools you need to help you start up a writing practice and make sure your writing is pretty good too.
- How to Write Every Day – Speaking of learning how to write every day, here’s what you need to do.
Different Types of Freelance Writing
- Want To Be A B2B Writer? Here’s Everything You Need To Start – If you’re going to focus more on B2B writing, this is an in-depth post that covers exactly how to do it.
- How To Make $150+ Per Hour as a Freelance Blogger (And Why That’s Not Good Enough) – As I said, blogging is a great way to get into freelance writing, this post covers a lot on blogging.
- How to Make $3,000 in Two Months with SEO Writing – Some people still dig SEO writing as an easy way to bring in some money each month; if that’s you check out this post.
Here’s More on How to Make a Freelance Writing Site
- The ONE Thing Your Freelance Writing Website MUST Have to Get Clients – You want more clients? Then make sure you do this with your freelance writing website.
- How to Start a Blog in 2021 (Step by Step Guide) – This post shows you how to get a site up and running step by step.
- 17 Point Checklist for Your Freelance Services Website – Think your site is looking good? Check out this checklist, and you can make sure you get all the essential stuff that matters.
- How to Build an Online Portfolio That Actually Gets You Work – Having a quality portfolio is a key part of freelance writing, this post shows you how to display your work.
- Contently Review: A Killer Portfolio Tool for Freelance Writers – If you can’t get your website going, Contently is a great (free) option to start.
- Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners: 10 solid strategies for landing your very first client.
How to Become a Freelance Writer (That Gets PAID)
- Freelance Writing Jobs Online: Over 100 Places to Find Writing Work – Ready to start looking for freelance writing work? Start right here.
- How to Figure Out Your Freelance Writing Rates – This post will give you a simple way to figure out how much you should get paid for your work.
- 12 Strategies to Find More Freelance Work – Need to find more clients? This post has a bunch of strategies to help you.
- How to Find More Freelance Writing Clients: 10 Things You Must Do – Do these ten things, and you’re going to get more clients.
- How to Get Your FIRST Freelance Client: 10 Easy Strategies – Still looking to land that very first client? This post walks you through exactly how to do that.
- 10 Tips for the New Freelancer – Basic things to remember as you’re getting started in your new freelancing journey.
How to Build Good Marketing Habits
- Freelancing Advice: 15 Valuable Lessons You Should Learn – Want some of my biggest lessons from years of freelance writing? Check out this post.
- How to Send a Cold Pitch Email (And Why Most People are TERRIBLE at it) – You need to get good at sending emails; this is where you can start to learn how.
- The Ultimate Cold Email Checklist – Once you’ve got your cold emails set, run them through this checklist.
- Want to Start a New Habit? Here are 5 Easy Ways to Build Habits – A big part of marketing is making it a habit; this is how you can start slowly and build up.
- Is it Worth Building an Email List as a Freelance Writer? – The answer might surprise you.
How to Become a Freelance Writer in 2022: Final Thoughts
Alright, you made it!
Yes, that was a lot of information, but if you’ve gotten this far, you should have an excellent idea of how to become a freelance writer. And you can start right now.
Go through each of the steps and follow the tips and advice. You’re going to be able to get your freelance writing business up and running in no time.
Check out our 6 day FREE COURSE on starting a freelance writing business.
This page contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and buy one of the products on this page, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you!) This doesn’t affect our opinions or reviews. Everything we do is to benefit you as the reader, so all of our reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.
Sean OgleSean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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