How to start freelance writing? When I first asked myself this question, I was at a complete loss. Although I knew I had the skills, I was lacking in both confidence and experience.
Initially, I was stumbling my way through the world of freelance work. This means months of anxiety, accepting low-paying jobs, and struggling to secure continuity.
But, with persistence, I figured out how to start freelance writing on a full-time basis. And, I am here to help you do the same…
How to start freelance writing as a complete newbie
If you want to know how to start freelance writing when you have zero experience, it’s time to start looking at ingenious ways to boost your portfolio. When I began my journey as a freelance writer, I took the following approach:
- Producing writing samples for prospective clients to peruse
- Writing pro-bono articles to boost my portfolio
- Creating a CV/Resume that highlighted my qualifications and work experience from the offline world
- Signing up for backup sites (I’ll detail some below) to get a feel for the industry and boost my resume further
At the time, I was enjoying a not-so-leisurely bout of maternity leave. However, I know many a freelance writer who takes the same approach while focusing on their day job too.
A great example (although I don’t know her personally, I just love her books) is Sarah Knight. Okay, so she came with a publishing house background. But, she did take the sensible approach of boosting her income on the side before quitting her day job and flinging herself into the full-time freelance writing world.
Sign up for your backup sources of income
Few freelance writers with lots of experience appreciate the presence of ‘content mills.’ Seeing as you’re trying to figure out how to start freelance writing, I’ll go ahead and assume you don’t know what the term means.
The long and short of a content mill is that it’s a site where freelance writers will churn out articles at a low price. The pay isn’t great, but if you’re quick and adept at your work, you can command a decent hourly rate.
For example, when I am short on private clients, I can use one content mill to earn £40 per hour. Again, I won’t detail the site, because this basically means a lot of rapid writing on my part. But, I will point you in the direction of sites where you can get started:
While some of these sites provide continuous work, the majority produce periods of feast and famine. As such, if you want to know how to start freelance writing and make a decent income, there are other steps you should take too.
Start selling gigs
In the interest of not placing all of your eggs in one basket, now’s a good time to start selling gigs. But, what are gigs? And, where do you sell them exactly?
I’m not talking about gigs in the musical sense. Instead, I’m suggesting that you join sites such as Fiverr, creating a winning profile, and sell articles there. Initially, the pay is low, but once you have more clients and more reviews, you’ll move up seller tiers. Moving through the tiers gives you the chance to increase your prices and provide deluxe packages.
Admittedly, sites such as Fiverr don’t provide consistency. Also, it’s worth noting that there are similar sites you can use to boost your income. Here they are:
Each site allows you to sell gigs, plus People Per Hour gives you the chance to apply for freelance writing work that others advertise. Create a great profile, advertise your gigs for sale, and watch out for buyers. Oh, and if you go on vacation, make sure you switch your profiles to vacation mode.
In my post on freelancing websites you can use to source work quickly, I detail how some people can make a six-figure income from such sites. So, don’t write them off as a long-term solution either.
Create your first freelance writer website
I honestly believe it’s professional suicide to work as a freelance writer and not have your own site. Think about it carefully. It’s an excellent outlet for writing about what you love from time-to-time. So it then becomes your online portfolio. Also, it’s the place where you’ll advertise your services, prove your worth through including testimonials and interact with other freelancers.
After writing for a while, you’ll draw in organic traffic that leads to better-paying work, and you give yourself a professional edge. If you have social media accounts, it’s worth connecting them too, just as a means of promoting your work.
There are lots of hosting services out there. Personally, I purchase themes through Theme Forest and then host via Names.co.uk. After creating your site, you’ll need to learn some SEO basics, but all of the skills you require will come with time.
Pitch to clients consistently
Finally, if you want to know how to start freelance writing, you need to learn how to pitch. To cut a long story short; clients advertise for writers and you send a covering letter that is your ‘pitch.’ Depending on the platform you’re using, you may also bid for the job, just like you’ll bid for an item on eBay.
Sometimes, this means negotiating rates with clients. That skill will come with time too.
For now, just remember this: make sure each pitch is unique. Look at the advert, consider what the client wants, and write your covering letter accordingly. It’s not unusual for some freelance writers to dedicate half a day or so to this process when they see a job they really want. If a contract sings to your heart, give it your all.
Figuring out how to start freelance writing isn’t difficult. While some people take a different route, this is the approach that worked for me. Today, I write on a part-time basis, while simultaneously fulfilling my dream of completing my medical career.
On that note, do you need a freelance writer? Fill out my contact form and we’ll see if we can work together.