06 Jul 2023 - 6 minutes to read
Freelance writing is a career anyone with an interest and passion can do, but it is especially attractive for self-motivated individuals who want more flexibility in their working day, or are perhaps looking for an additional side hustle outside of their 9-5. Yet, while freelancing may sound pretty straight forward, figuring out how to start a freelance career can be a little daunting at first. But not to worry, we’re here to help you get started!
Here are some steps to help you get started with your freelance writing career:
The first step you must take before starting a freelance career is to take some time to really research the freelance industry and learn everything you can. Look online for websites of established and successful freelance writers and read their biographies, articles and blogs to get a good idea of the quality and expertise that is typically going to be expected of you.
Many experienced freelance writers like to share useful information about their freelance career, such as how they manage their business, what their typical writing processes are and how they set their rates.
This is also a good time to enhance both your writing and business skills before taking the leap into the world of freelancing. Even if you’re an amazing writer, there is always room for improvement, just like any other job or skill.
Improve your writing skills by reading things not just in your professional niche, but also outside of it. For example, articles, books, novels and papers, just to name a few. Whatever you may be reading, you can learn a lot about sentence structure, avoiding fillers, correct vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and the different writing styles just from reading other people’s writing.
As freelance writing is ultimately going to be your business, whether it be full time or part time, you must have basic business skills, such as time management and organisation skills, for example.
To ensure you stay organised and on top of deadlines, it’s a good idea to implement a set writing routine to work on your projects and have a clear system for keeping track of in-progress, completed and pending projects.
What’s more, you must keep track of invoices, received payments, pitches, job applications and client responses. Many successful writers also keep a growing list of content ideas so they never run out of topics to write about.
This next step is crucial. Determine what type of writing you are most interested in, most skilled at and what brings you the most enjoyment. By choosing an area where you have the most expertise and enthusiasm, you’ll find you can write quality content without spending hours on research - and your energy will shine through in your work.
The great thing about freelance writing is that your possibilities are endless. Are you interested in business to business writing, copywriting, creative writing, speech writing, video script writing, journalism or newsletter writing? Do you want to write about health, fitness, art, interior, antiques, parenting, babies or comics? Identifying your specific niche will help you target specific clients and adapt your services accordingly.
After some time once you get established as a freelance writer and are better able to manage your time, you can expand the scope of your content production to other niches. But to start off, it’s best to stick with just 1 or 2 areas.
A well-presented and up to date writing portfolio is crucial for your freelance writing business, especially at the beginning. The purpose of a portfolio is to showcase your best writing examples to demonstrate your skills and versatility.
If you don't have any professional experience as of yet, why not create your own writing samples by contributing to guest posts or volunteering for non-profit organisations. You can also start your own website or blog page and, depending on your knowledge and preference, write articles around your specific niche or a variety of topics. Having an online presence is essential if you want to become a successful freelance writer, so having your own page where you can show off your writing ability is a pretty good place to start.
On your professional website or blog, as well as showcasing your portfolio, you want to clearly describe your services and what you can offer your clients. For example, state whether you offer blog posts, website copywriting, product descriptions, editing services or social media content. For each service, include an in depth description of what is included, your strategy of carrying it out and the price. It’s important to remember that, when starting out, you may need to offer competitive rates to attract new clients.
You should also include an ‘about me’ page informing clients who you are and how you are qualified to help them.
Have a look at freelancing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr to enhance your visibility and access potential interested clients.
Once you’ve got your portfolio and website up and running, you’ll need to market your writing services. Engage with your existing network and make them aware of your new freelance writing services. Additionally you can attend industry events, join writing communities, and engage with other professionals in your industry or niche to spread awareness and make yourself known among others. At Tramshed Tech we are always hosting various networking events, so be sure to keep an eye out on our website or socials for these.
It’s also a great idea to utilise social media and business networking sites to market your services by posting links to your latest articles, providing updates on your availability and connecting with potential clients and those who are interested in your work.
Social media also helps keep you up to date on industry developments and job opportunities, which brings us nicely onto our last point…
You will find many freelance writing opportunities online, especially specialist job boards that update their listings daily. Job boards (such as IWriter, BloggingPro & The Writer Finder) are a great starting point and a perfect source of leads if you’re looking for high profile, well paid work. You might also decide to pitch articles to magazines and online journals and even send cold pitches to companies.
Prior to submitting your applications or article pitches, it’s a good idea to spend some time researching the companies. Ensure they hire freelance writers regularly and discover how previous writers have found working with them. You’ll also want to analyse the content currently on their website to get a good idea of their writing requirements. Personalise each application and include the appropriate writing samples from your portfolio.
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Written by Kate Jones for Tramshed Tech.