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I come across so many people almost every day and all of them have the same question to ask, “How to become a freelance writer?”
Especially since I myself have settled myself as a successful freelance writer, the concept of working from home, in your own comfort and timings of choice, being your own boss, picking your own projects and earning a good amount of money, seems pretty exciting and tempting to all.
Since you have also opened up this post and are reading on; this implies that you are also looking for ways to become a freelance writer and earn some money.
And why not! Who does not fancy some extra money? If you are a stay at home mother, an unemployed fresh graduate, an underpaid employee or even a university student and are on the lookout for ways that can land some money in your lap; becoming a freelance writer is definitely one of the best, most effective and fast ways to earn money.
But the important or rather common questions regarding taking up freelance writing as a full-time or part-time work are: do you need professional education, a degree or experience to become a freelance writer?
Is it a constant source of income? Does it guarantee money? And so many more questions that bug the mind of someone who wishes or aspires to be a freelance writer.
Don’t worry and read on to have all of your questions answered. What I need you to know for a fact is that becoming a freelance writer is not something you or anyone else can’t achieve. It is not a bed of roses either.
Like any other job or duty, this field of work also requires consistency, dedication, interest, passion, and motivation but once you put your hard work into it; it surely pays off and pays off well.
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Why do you need to be a freelance writer?
Let’s face it; if you want to be a freelance writer and are wondering how to be a freelance writer, then it does not imply that you were a born writer who looked up to being a writer all her/his life.
You might want to become one because you are bored of your current line of job and want a change, you might want some extra money, you might be stuck in a thankless and toxic work environment- in short, it can be anything that serves as a driving force for you to become a freelance writer.
Whatever the case may be, the good news is that you CAN BECOME A FREELANCE WRITER. I want to scream out this line again because self-belief and confidence is the first thing that one needs to become a freelance writer.
The belief that you have the capability to become a freelance writer and you will become one. You know what they say about the first step being the hardest and that is absolutely correct.
When I started out my journey of becoming a freelance writer (because I was sick of my 9-5 job and always wanted to be a low-key writer), every day I felt I couldn’t do it or I would not succeed.
It is a competitive world out there you know and every step of the way you can and will come across people, challenges and obstacles that can knock you down. But your passion, dedication and hard work can help you overcome every hurdle in your way and help you succeed.
If you are also tired of your job, want to earn some extra money, want to shop, travel, save up or just afford a better living style and luxuries; thinking about becoming a freelance writer is definitely the best option for you.
Even if you don’t hold a firing passion to be a writer or are brilliant at writing, you can always learn to be one. The 30-days course to start a freelancing career is the best course being offered out there and probably the only course that actually delivers.
So, if you are reading till now and are with me on how to become a freelance writer, then let me get you started on what is it that you should or should not do (with snippets of my own personal journey of becoming a freelance writer).
How to become a freelance writer?
The best part about being a freelance writer is probably the freedom to work from anywhere and work anytime. No matter where you are from, the steps towards becoming a freelance writer are all the same.
It is such a convenient, effective and easy way to earn extra cash and actually make a living out of it that I wanted to write a guide about how to become a freelance writer. Courses like 30- days to start a freelancing career are definitely useful but hearing from someone who holds a firsthand experience is definitely valuable. So here I am sharing my wisdom and learning with all of you.
I wanted to do something productive in my life, from my home and I wanted to do it fast (else depression would have had the better of me). I started out like any inexperienced and desperate to-be writer would. I signed up in one of those websites offering cheap and bulk content writing jobs.
I wrote my first ever article with so much dedication and hard work but not only did I get multiple rounds of revisions and rejections for it but also got paid really badly. I won’t lie, but I wanted to give up there and then. Come to think of it, I was so tired, overworked, taking care of two demanding kids and yet I was not being paid well or appreciated.
I realized; that it was me who was to be blamed and no one else. I was taking the wrong route. My approach was wrong and all the hard work, sleepless nights and effort I was putting into becoming a successful freelance writer was all going to waste.
The dos and don’ts of becoming a freelance writer!
Do your research and don’t start blank: If you are also a new-bee like I was when I started my freelancing journey then make sure you don’t start blank. Be fully equipped and completely prepared. Read about being a freelance writer (the internet is full of articles, blogs, and snippets telling you how to be one).
Search for the big names, people who are successful freelance writers and read their blogs and pieces of writings. Observe and study how do they go about their business; the techniques they use, how to grab the reader’s attention and keep them hooked. Research, read and learn.
Don’t start blank like jumping in well blindfolded. Be prepared and informed. Apart from learning about various writing styles, there is a lot of other important information that one can learn from the top writers out there, like:
How much should you charge?
How to write a blog post?
How is a blog different from an article?
How to get the first project?
How to keep work coming?
And so many other questions that only an experienced person can answer. There are also a number of websites that are offering information about how to become a freelance writer such as the Freelancer FAQ’s, Be a freelance blogger and The Write Life.
Invest in learning different writing styles and tools: I know that including me you will come across many successful freelance writers, who will preach about how you can start from scratch and become a successful freelance writer. But learning professionally or from a professional regarding how to write and how to write differently never hurt anybody.
There are so many writing styles now that each holds its own essence and value. Depending on what you are writing and whom you are writing for, the style differs. And you can be a successful freelance writer, only if you can cater different writing styles.
Being limited to one will only limit your chances of getting successful and earning good amounts of money because versatility is EVERYTHING.
Are you writing a blog (for a website, a newspaper or a magazine), are you writing an article (again for a website, an official webpage or printed media) or are you writing something for your own blog, the writing style should be different, the tone should be appropriate and the buildup of content should be just perfect. The 30- day’s course can help you get a good grasp on different writing styles and tools, such as:
- Organizing skills: The first and most important skill to learn is to be able to manage. From organizing your projects, billing details, client information, deadlines and content schedule; management is most important.
If you cannot manage you will simply be unable to deliver. A clear headspace, a clear structure of work and a clear layout can lead to a clear and clean piece of writing. A messy head will only lead to messy work.
If you are running a blog, make sure you have a diary to jot down the future content ideas and future posts.
If you are working for some clients, make sure you know when your projects are due and you are COMPLETELY ORGANIZED.
Another important skill to master is task management. Especially when you are running your own business and are your own boss, you need to be at the top of everything.
Either use a manual planner or use an online tool like Excel or Google Sheets but have everything planned; time allotment, deadline-everything.
- Blogging Skills: Not many people know something like, “blogging skills” exist let alone investing in learning some.
Most of the people writing blogs, read numerous blogs post to get an idea but hardly pay any attention to the details.
Important but tiny details (tiny because they can easily be ignored by the new-bee) that make a hell of a difference; formatting styles, creating structure and white spaces and including headings and subheadings.
Make sure your blog is written and edited in a way that the title and beginning content are catchy, appealing and interesting. This part is what will either compel the reader to read or move on.
Use headings, bullets, pointers and make sure to have an action plan so that the reader feels connected and included.
- Confidence: This skill may not seem as important to you, but believe me when I say this one is something you NEED TO LEARN.
Not everyone is a kind-hearted person out there, who will give you feedback wrapped in a bouquet of roses.
You will face rejection, criticism, negative points and demeaning comments. But your confidence in yourself and your work is what will keep you going.
Never let the fear of being rejected, hold you back. You might not be completely skilled or the perfect choices for a job but apply anyway. Worst is you won’t get the project right, but be confident!
- Learn tools like image editing and proofreading: I just CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH on how important is to learn tools like image and content editing. No matter how brilliant you think your work is, there is still room for improvement.
Some clients may require you to include images with your writing and nothing is worse than including bad quality or badly styled images.
Make sure every aspect of your work is brilliant; this just shows how dedicated, serious and professional you are about your work.
Who knows, you might even get some work related to images only. Also, don’t forget to run your work through editing apps such as Grammarly and Hemingway. Always an added plus!
- Practice, practice, and practice! You might not be the best writer out there but that does not mean that you can’t be a successful one. Practice makes a man perfect, I have read this idiom so many times and I completely agree.
Practice writing; make sure your sentences are well-formed, are not repetitive and you have a good grasp on the vocabulary. All of this can be achieved if you practice writing. Write sample blogs and just practice how to write and get your point across.
Being able to effectively convey your thoughts and imagination through words is nothing but a skill that can only be refined and matured through time, experience and practice.
One good approach is to start your own blog. You can select a niche and write pieces for your own blog. This will provide you with the opportunity to practice writing, can help you earn through ads, increase your vocabulary and grip on different writing styles along with helping you land more clients. Your blog is nothing but an excellent gateway to your capabilities and potential. Make it count!
- Create your work Portfolio: Just like when we go and give an interview in a corporate job or for any other professional job, we take our CV along. Pitching and landing online jobs/projects is quite similar to it as well. You need to let people and hiring parties know what you are capable of, and how you can serve them.
Creating an online portfolio is the best way to go about it. Whenever you will apply for a job, they would want to see your published work.
If you have some work published, excellent! If you don’t then, setting up your own blog and writing samples for your blog is the best way to go about it.
Guest posting is another great way to have some work that can be shown to mark as your potential meter. There are various blogs and platforms that allow guest posting. Although you will be posting on someone’s blog, the publication will be under your name and you will have something to show as your work the next time you apply anywhere.
- Start Pitching: Now, that you have set up your identity, researched about how to become a freelance writer, learned different writing styles and tools and created an online portfolio you need to start applying for jobs.
But it is not as easy as it seems. You might be lucky to land a job right away or it might take longer till you land a job; but the key is to remain consistent, persistent and flexible.
I know, you must be thinking about, “how can I apply for jobs and actually land one too?”
There are so many freelancing platforms that are used by millions of people across the globe to bag some work. Platforms like Problogger and Freelance Writing Jobs were my go-to options. Just make sure you stay active, are among the first ones to apply and are smart about your pitching.
There are numerous freelancing market places like Upwork and Fiver but landing gigs on these platforms is more difficult and they don’t often pay really well.
While pitching makes sure that your pitch stands out; you can do it by showing your published work, credibility and including links to testimonials.
Apart from these platforms, there are other ways too through which you can land freelance writing jobs such as:
- Cold pitching (asking bloggers, entrepreneurs and companies that you are a writer and are looking for work).
- Ask around.
- Use your own blog
- Free guest posting (to get paid work later)
- Social ties and networking
- Join Facebook groups (they really do work)
- Impress your clients!
- Stay active: I know and agree that as a freelance writer you need to create a balance between being out there and being visible yet not suffocating the client by being too much.
You need clients to know that you exist but you also need them to come to you. But once you are a new-bee you need to make yourself visible and known. You need to let employers know that you exist. How exactly can you do that?
- Use social media as a platform to advertise your work and your services. Make networks and form associations. Sign up for networking websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter and start following fellow writers, bloggers, and businesses that you want to write for. Be known and stay visible.
- Start guest posting. Guest posting as I said earlier is just not a mean to build a portfolio (something you can show people that shows how good and capable a writer you are) but it also helps majorly in putting your name out there. Every post as a guest writer includes your bio as the author bio and redirects the reader back to your page. Best way to gather attention.
From what little experience that I have as a freelance writer, I can tell you that social networking websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn can get you the maximum amount of work. Just make sure you remain consistent, visible and active. You gotta hustle!
- Never Stop Learning: Always continue to learn. The moment you start thinking and believing that you know it all and there is not much you can learn now- marks the end of your evolution and growth as a writer. Stagnancy is boring.
Keep working on yourself to improve as a freelance writer. When I say improve as a freelance writer I do not speak about the writing part only but also the writing tips, the business tips, the pitching tips- everything! I mean to say never stop learning about all of these.
Beginning your career as a freelance writer and making it big and successful in that field is not an impossible task and similarly, it is not something everyone can handle. I am by no means saying that there are some special qualities that are needed to be one, but some qualities are definitely needed to be a successful one. Qualities like:
- Time management
- Hard work
I personally know so many people who actually took the job of being a freelance writer as a side job or something “easy” that they can manage alongside their full-time career. Only to earn some extra money, afford vacations or save up but the success, the money compelled them to leave their day jobs and take up freelancing as a full-time profession.
Yes, being a freelance writer holds this much potential and value. Only if you remain true to your work, meet deadlines, stay motivated and continue to evolve and grow as a writer.
This brings me to my next point of discussion, which is:
How can you evolve as a freelance writer?
Being self-employed and working from home has pro’s and as well as con’s associated with it. When you can enjoy the flexible timings, the liberty of being your own boss and picking your own projects you also more than often fail to gather the motivation and dedication to get up and work every single day when you know you can just take the day off.
When one works in an office environment when there are so many people working towards a common goal, one also feels the pressure to put the best foot out there and bag the prize.
With freelancing, although the competition is still there, yet it is not that visible. Then how can you stay motivated to your work and continue to evolve and grow as a writer?
To not stop growing as a writer, to evolve, to learn, to grow and to improve- it is highly critical and important to keep updated.
Know what’s new in the market. The latest trends, the new slangs, the new tools, and applications to make your work look absolutely amazing; make sure you are in line with the hottest trend and tricks.
Keep on researching. Read, read and read. Books, magazines, articles, blogs, tech information; read everything. The more informed you will be the more refined and matured will be your work. There are no doubts about how well an educated and informed person can write as opposed to someone who lacks extensive knowledge. You can be good with your words and your writing skills in general but your content, material, and references play a big role too.
Master the art of mixing personal information with the professional material. The perfect balance between touches of personal experience with professional insight is what makes a piece of writing stand out (of course there are exceptions when you are writing something really formal).
Make sure that your writing is valuable and useful for others. This takes time and experience to master. When I started my freelance journey, I used to write for money. I had no personal attachment or feelings attached to my work. It was professional to the T and that’s it.
But with time, I write with an objective. I write so that it has a lesson, a motive, and a meaning. I write something from which my readers can take advantage of; something uplifting, motivational and meaningful. This I believe is the true evolution and growth of a freelance writer.
To be able to instill in yourself the discipline and structure to get up every day and be as passionate about your work as a freelance writer as you would have been as a 9-5 job employee. To learn, to grow, to expand, and to make a difference is what growth of a writer is all about.
In a nutshell!
If you are thinking about becoming a freelance writer and are looking for the final push, then here it is. You can do it!
You might encounter so many lows and problems, you might not succeed in the very beginning but you can do it. Becoming a freelance writer is not impossible rather it is one of the most effective and efficient ways of earning more money and a good amount of money online. Make sure to PUSH THROUGH YOUR FEARS and achieve your target.
Also, one very important point about succeeding as a freelance writer is to select a niche. It is okay if you cannot write about everything (no one can!). Choose what excites you and sparks fire within you. Something you are interested in writing about. Always remember that forced work is bad work.
Be flexible about your rate (especially in the beginning). Work for less even if you have to; work for free just to put yourself out there. Remember, once you start bagging clients and wow-ing them, you can always ask the rate of your choice.
Set up a routine, be regular and be proper. Keep a check and balance of your earnings. Nothing motivates as money does. It’s TRUE!
Invest in yourself. You can never know it all. Look for courses, training, and programs. Become a freelance writer in 30 days is one such course that can help you learn the basics of freelance writing and so much more.
These are a few of the tips and tricks that I have learned along in my freelancing journey and I have shared with all of you aspiring and budding writers in the hope that I can help you take the leap of faith or make it big if you already have taken the first step. Nothing is impossible and if not today you will definitely succeed tomorrow if you will remain consistent, regular and true to yourself and your work.
If you have any questions regarding, how to become a freelance writer, leave a comment and I will hit you up! Happy freelancing everyone!!