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How to Become a Freelance Writer: The Basics

  • By Yuwanda Black
  • Published 01/24/2012
  • Writing

The new year is a time when many start new things – diet, exercise, a home-based business, etc. If the latter is something you’ve been wanting to do, freelance writing is an excellent one to consider. 3 Reasons to Start a Home-Based Freelance Writing Business i) Low Cost: If you have a laptop/computer and an internet connection – which many do as a matter of course — you have all you need to get started. There’s no need to buy anything else. ii) Work from Anywhere: As a freelance writer you can work from anywhere -as long as there’s an internet connection. iii) No Special Training Needed: If you know how to read and write, you can start this career. Now, of course, you will need to know how to conduct research, how to write copy that sells, and to work within deadlines, etc, but basically reading/writing is all you need as far as a basic skill set. I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993. Following is a basic rundown – in my opinion and based on my experience – of what you need to know to become a freelance writer. How to Become a Freelance Writer: 8 Steps to Get You On Your Way to a Whole New Profession I. Choose a Niche: This is important because for a number of reasons, ie: (i) it cuts down on your marketing time; (ii) it makes it easier for you to sell your services to clients; (iii) you can charge more and (iv) you’ll land jobs easier. Think of it this way – why do doctors, lawyers and other professionals specialize? It’s for all of the above reasons. Related Article: Learn How to Develop a Niche with No Experience II. Decide Service Offerings: What type of writing (and related services) will you offer, eg, SEO writing, case studies, press releases, social media, etc. Word of Advice: The best piece of advice I can give is to start slow, especially if you’re still employed full-time. You don’t want to get so overwhelmed that you can’t deliver to clients on time. You can always add on other services as you grow and can afford to hire help. III. Create Writing Samples: Once you select your niche, you should pull together some writing samples. Do at least a couple for each type of writing service you plan to provide. For example, if you’re going to do press releases, cases studies and general web articles, write two samples of each one. They should be letter perfect. IV. Set Your Freelance Writing Rates: This is probably the hardest part of starting a freelance writing career. Why? Because rates tend to be all over the place. I always advise new freelancers to research what other freelance writers – in their niche – are charging. Note the highs and lows. Then, look at your personal finances and see how much you need to earn to cover your bills. Then, set your rates based on that.

This way, at least you’ll be covering your bills. And, even if you’re charging too little

(which many newbies do), you can always raise your rates later. V. Create a Simple Marketing Plan: There are many free ways to market your freelance writing business, especially online. There’s social media, email marketing, article marketing, cold calling, etc. Only you can decide what works for you. But, the most important thing to keep in mind is to systemize your marketing so that it becomes automatic. For example, if you’re going to use email marketing, reach out to a certain number of contacts each day; if you’re going to use article marketing, write and distribute a certain number of articles per week/month; etc. One final note: Only use marketing strategies you can afford to repeat because consistency is what will bring in writing jobs. VI. Get a Website/Blog: Once you’ve selected a niche, created your writing samples and decided your service offerings and how much you’re going to charge, then it’s time to create your freelance writing website! And note, it does not have to be fancy. A basic, clean site is all you need. You can create one yourself. There are tons of do-it-yourself templates out there that allow you to do this. Or, you can hire someone off of free classified ad sites like Craigslist and backpage to do one for you. How? By placing an ad, looking at the portfolios of respondents, and hiring he one that works for you that you can afford. A simple 4-5 page site can be done very quickly – and very cheaply. I hesitate to say how much you should pay because, like freelance writing, web design rates are all over the place. But, less than $500 is a good ballpark figure to go with for a very simple site of just a few pages VII. Just Get Started Already! Many wannabe freelance writers who complete all the steps above still fail to start. They’ll tell themselves that it’s because they need to do this, that and the other first. Don’t do this to yourself. This, that and the other can wait. All this boils down to is fear – fear of starting, fear of the unknown, fear of (you fill in the blank). So just recognize this for what it is and take the plunge, which brings me to the last step you need to take if you want to become a freelance writer. VIII. Make Time to Learn: As in, to learn more about what it takes to be successful as a freelance writer. This can be done in as little as 15 or 20 minutes per day, and it can be done for free. How? By finding – and bookmarking – the websites of a few successful freelance writers that appeal to you. Many of them dispense a ton of free information about how to freelance, eg, how to set your freelance writing rates, what to put on your website, how to deal with non-paying clients, etc. The beautiful thing about this starting a career as a freelance writer is that you can almost always find the answer to whatever question you have because there’s a ton of it freely given by those who’ve been in his profession for a long time.

I hope this information helps, and good luck starting your freelance writing career. Log onto InkwellEditorial for tons of free, in-depth info that can help you in your journey.


Learn how to freelance! Get Living the Freelance Life!, which details how the author has made her living completely online since 2007 — all while living PT in Jamaica. It’s free when you subscribe from any page of InkwellEditorial.com. Ms. Black has been a freelance writer since 1993. She’s published over 50 ebooks and provides free content for reprint on ebook writing, freelancing, internet marketing and more at YuwandaBlack.com.

by Yuwanda Black



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