8 Steps to becoming a Successful Freelance Writer

8 Steps to becoming a Successful Freelance Writer

The world is turning freelance. More and more people are passing over traditional, full-time office jobs to become freelancers. In the US, for example, more than 56 million people are doing freelance work. For many, this is about the freedom of being a freelancer gives. As a freelancer, you can pick and choose the work you do, set your schedule, and maybe even travel the world while working at the same time.

There are many ways you can work as a freelancer – as a graphic designer, a website developer, or a writer, to name but a few. Thanks to the growing demand for online content, the latter is a very popular option and more and more people are looking to become freelance writers. However, from the outside, it can be difficult to know where to start.

We have, therefore, put together this guide to becoming a successful freelance writer.

  1. Identify your niche

    Before you even get started, you will need to work out what your niche as a writer will be. Pitching yourself as a general freelance writer is not as effective as promoting yourself as a specialist writer in a particular field. With the large pool of available writers these days, clients are looking more and more to work with writers who are a specialist in their area.

    In order to choose your niche, consider:

    1) What topics are in demand?

    2) What do you have particular knowledge about? For example, if you previously worked as an accountant, you have specialist knowledge on finance.

    3) What are you passionate about?

    Ideally, your niche should be something which fits all three of these things for you. This means there will be demand for your services, you have credibility on the subject and you won’t get bored writing on the topic.

  2. Sell your services

    Once you have decided what you are going to write about, you need to fix your prices. This can be very difficult for new freelancers who don’t know what to charge at first. Your prices should take two main factors into consideration: who much you want to earn, and what your competitors are charging. Of course you need to consider the market and charge roughly the same price as your competitors, but you also want to make sure you are earning enough to pay your expenses.

    Keep in mind that as a beginner freelancer, you may need to price yourself at the lower end of the market and then increase your services as you get more experience. On the other hand, if you have transferable experience even if it is not as a freelance writer, this should also be considered so you may be able to charge more. Above all else, don’t under-price yourself – you need to value yourself in order that others will value you too.

  3. Get your own Website

    Having your own website, even if it is just a basic one, is essential for any freelance writer. This shows potential clients that you are a serious professional. It also serves as a virtual portfolio and showcases the quality of your work, particularly if you include a blog on your site.

    Web design pricing can vary greatly, and hiring a professional web designer can be very expensive. Therefore a good option is usually to build your own site. These days, there are a number of easy to use platforms around which you can make your site, with drag and drop functions which are easy enough to use even if you have limited technical knowledge or experience.

  4. Build a Portfolio

    The next thing you’ll need to have in place before you can attract clients is a portfolio of work. It is all very well to tell people what you can do, but what people really want is to see what you can do. As a writer, this means they want to see samples of your writing.

    Prepare by building up a portfolio of writing, ensuring these are relevant to your desired niche. It is best to have published links which you can send to potential clients, so try to get some articles published online by sending them to online publications or pitching guest posts to other blogs.

  5. Network, Network, Network

    Now you have your niche, prices, website, and portfolio in place, you are ready to pitch to potential clients. However, how do you make these connections? The best way to do this is to network, that age-old tactic! In 2019, networking largely happens online, through social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Be as active as possible on these platforms, building your profile and making connections. Depending on your niche, you may also be able to do in-person networking, such as through local business groups.

  6. Diversify your Income streams

    As you start getting clients, things will start to come together. At this point it is worth remembering that freelancing is by its nature unstable, so you need to diversify your income to ensure your financial security. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on one or two big clients for all your income. If these clients suddenly leave or go bust, you will be up the creek without a paddle.

    Always be on the lookout for new income streams, whether different clients or a side hustle. Could you start to monetize your website at the same time as writing for clients, for example? Or develop an online course or eBook for passive income?

  7. Keep developing your skills

    As you start to get work as a freelance writer, don’t get complacent. Know that everyone always has more they can learn, even the world’s most successful people. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Keep working on your skills. Do courses and training to keep your writing skills sharp and further develop your expertise in your niche or develop new ones.

  8. Rinse & Repeat

    You will find one of the biggest challenges is staying motivated: as a freelancer, you have no boss looking over your shoulder to keep you on track. It is up to you and you alone to meet your deadlines and keep working towards your goals.

Avoid your motivation flagging by keeping an eye on your end goal. At the end of the day, it is about dreaming big – every successful venture started as a dream.

You may also want to know about some Freelance writing websites where you can apply and make money with your writing skills.

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About the Author: Denise Hilton

Denise Hilton is a professional career counselor and an IT professional specializing in Freelancing, E-commerce and Online job platforms.

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