How to Become a Freelance Writer, Starting from Scratch

How to Become a Freelance Writer, Starting from Scratch

How to Become a Freelance Writer, Starting from Scratch

Imagine you’re sitting in a living room chair on the seaside, staring out over the glittering sea, the ocean breeze ruffling your hair, paying attention to the sluggish, constant rhythm of the waves.

It’s peaceful. Perfect for questioning.

And so you do, scribbling down your thoughts with one hand and ingesting a martini with the other.

You’re a contract writer. You receive a commission to jot down for websites, magazines, corporate clients — all exclusive sorts of gigs.

And it’s paintings you may do from everywhere.

Free Training: A Cheat Sheet for Becoming a Freelance Writer, Starting from Scratch

One week, you’re on the seashore. The next, possibly you’re in the mountains. The week after that, you’re touring family.

Sounds like a dream, right? Like it is able to’t likely be actual?

But it’s far.

In this submit, I’m going to train you how to emerge as a contract author. I’m also going to speak about what’s modified with freelance writing and what it genuinely takes to build a writing profession in these days’s international, each as a complete-time author or simply doing it on the aspect.

Because the career is actual. The freedom is real. In truth, you might even say it’s less difficult than ever before. Here’s why:

The $412.88 Billion Opportunity for Writers

That’s now not a typo.

Have you observed how pretty much every commercial enterprise has a website, weblog, and a social media page (normally Facebook)?

Maybe you’ve also noticed how the stuff maximum of them put up kinda sucks? Boring content, unprofessional spelling and grammatical errors, etc.

Well, that’s why successful agencies are hiring freelance writers in droves. In 2016, agencies spent 195.Fifty eight billion on content material advertising, and the research company Technavio predicts spending will greater than double to 412.88 billion with the aid of 2021.

Freelancing is the brand new regular, however right here’s what’s crazy:

While corporations are nicely-aware of the significance of content material marketing, writers are nonetheless stuck within the Stone Age of wanting to get posted in magazines and newspapers. Yes, you can nevertheless make a living that way, but with an increasing number of publishers now not paying writers at all, the competition for paying gigs is getting stiffer and stiffer.

With content advertising and marketing, then again, there’s surely a scarcity of writers. You could make plenty more money with way fewer complications.

Here’s a way to get started out:

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Develop Your Content Creation Skills

Up Your SEO Game

Build a Portfolio of Writing Samples

Get Your First Paying Client

Scale till You No Longer Want to

1. Develop Your Content Creation Skills

Your skill at growing splendid content could have greater of an impact on how an awful lot money you’re making than whatever else. Here’s why:

The corporations paying the best quotes are those who apprehend the significance of fine content. They are glad to pay expert writers and copywriters, due to the fact they accept as true with (successfully) that it will assist them dominate their competitors.

For a handy visible reminder of the ROI of content material advertising, check out the photo beneath (click on to see a larger view):

So, how do you level up your content writing talents?

We have dozens of posts approximately that very subject matter here at Smart Blogger. Start with this step-by way of-step guide approximately the way to write a great blog put up and paintings your manner through. Our Freelance Writing Hub and listing of favored writing hints are other terrific assets.

In precise, here are a number of the maximum essential writing talents with the intention to increase:

Mastering content material frameworks. The web is overflowing with list posts (i.e., 7 Ways to X) for a purpose: they paintings. It’s now not the handiest content material framework, even though. There are truely approximately a dozen demonstrated frameworks, and the exceptional freelance writers grasp as many as feasible.

Writing headlines. The headlines of your posts have a larger effect on their site visitors and normal achievement than every other aspect. Get inside the habit of brainstorming 5-10 per day. Like something else, writing the appropriate headline is in general about exercise.

Thinking for yourself. Ever notice how most writers are just regurgitating the advice of other writers? Don’t be one of those. I’m now not announcing you have to be absolutely original, however at the least layer your very own thoughts on pinnacle of the same old advice. It’ll give your writing a much greater feel of authority.

Supporting factors with examples. Instead of creating a factor and leaving it putting there unsupported, get into the addiction of backing up every point you make with an instance. There are exceptions to this rule, however you’re far higher off having too many examples than too few.

Keeping the reader emotionally engaged. To get paintings as a freelance author, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your posts want to make logical feel, however you won’t realise in addition they want to resonate with the feelings of the reader. The better you get at keeping readers emotionally engaged, the extra stocks you will get to your content, and you’ll be able to price extra.

And while the ones are a great begin, there’s one unique skill that’s so important it deserves its own factor:

2. Up Your search engine optimization Game

Companies and corporations are extra than happy to pay a bit extra for a person who knows the fundamentals of SEO.

The more intimate your understanding of effective key phrases, user rationale, and competitive evaluation, the much more likely your put up is to rank nicely inside the serps. Therefore, your writing becomes greater treasured.

Because positioned your self of their shoes: wouldn’t you rather pay greater for someone with a confirmed capacity to rank? I sincerely would, and so it makes experience to grow to be that individual.

Tip: Here’s a really thorough search engine optimization guide and aid list from my friend Brian Dean.

The strongest portfolio you can have is a collection of posts ranking on web page 1 of Google. Sarah Peterson, as an example, now makes over $1,000 consistent with put up, due to the fact she has a validated song document of rating properly.

Granted, it takes time to construct that sort of portfolio. Let’s walk via the manner, starting with what you do whilst you’re a total amateur.

Three. Build a Portfolio of Writing Samples

You’d suppose it’d be sincerely hard to end up a contract writer with out an extensive writing portfolio, right? After all, it’s evidence for prospective customers which you recognize what you’re doing.

But right here’s the component:

There are distinctive levels of proof, beginning with…

Level 1: A Portfolio That Proves You Know How to Write a Decent Post

You’d be amazed how many so-referred to as “freelance writers” don’t apprehend the way to write a proper blog post. I’d say it’s extra than eighty%, which sounds horrible, however it’s also a huge advantage if you do know a way to write a great post.

Let’s say you’ve been working on your content skills (step one above *cough*), and you’re getting comfortable writing special forms of weblog posts. Well, create a few writing samples to expose off your abilities.

If you’ve got your own blog, put them there. If no longer, it’s brief and clean to publish them on other blogging systems like Medium.

The exceptional element is, you may try this in a matter of per week or two. Two or 3 posts is sufficient, and also you don’t need absolutely everyone’s approval to post them. If you don’t have a web presence with posted work but, it’s simply where you must start.

Level 2: A Portfolio That Proves You Know What You’re Talking About

Next, you want to construct your credibility as a topic remember expert.

And I’m no longer just speakme approximately demonstrating your expertise. This phase is also about showing you may get published on top courses.

Think about it… in case you see a person writing on one of the top websites for your area, don’t you right away expect they’re a professional?

Well, that’s the form of credibility you want. It’s additionally ways simpler to do than you might expect.

Because most massive websites have stopped buying content material, they’re usually seeking out true writers. In our visitor blogging program, we’ve helped loads of the latest writers get posted on sites like Forbes, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Lifehack, and dozens of others. I received’t say it’s easy because it’s now not, but it’s some distance less difficult than most people assume. Here’s a guest post via Laura Tong posted at Huffington Post:

I’m generalizing right here, but for the most component, it’s about the pitch. If the editor likes your concept, and you follow up with a nicely-written piece, you could get posted almost everywhere.

And that without delay enables make you a warm commodity as a contract author.

Level 3: A Portfolio Showing Documented Results for Clients

Finally, you want testimonials that show you can get effects for clients.

One way is to music stocks and seek engine scores for the posts you write, like we mentioned above for Sarah Peterson, however an excellent better manner is to create case studies. Here’s an example from Ross Hudgens of Siege Media:

He indicates screenshots of increasing client site visitors with the aid of 250,000 visits consistent with month for 3 different clients. Nothing is extra compelling than that. Granted, it’s extraordinary difficult to do, but that’s what makes it so valuable.

Your lengthy-term goal must be to expand that kind of proof for your self. It may take you years, and that’s high-quality, because while you get there, it is able to actually make you one of the highest paid writers and specialists in the global.

4. Get Your First Paying Client

So, we’ve talked a lot approximately the talent and credibility factors of turning into a freelance writer. What approximately getting freelance writing jobs? That’s the difficult component when you’re an aspiring creator, proper?

In the start, yes. Eventually, top freelance writers become getting more work than they can take care of, in general through referral, however, getting those first few paying clients may be an actual slog.

Here are a few insider hints for purchasing began:

Keep an eye fixed on organization process postings. One of the fine ability customers is agencies because they generally have an ongoing need for writers. Instead of only getting paid as soon as, you may expand a courting with a few and get new freelance writing gigs for months or even years into the future. Here’s a big listing of content material advertising and marketing companies.

There are fundamental methods of getting work from them. You can reach out to them and ask if they have any freelance paintings — a gutsy but effective method — or you can preserve a watch on their “careers” page.

Pitch software program agency blogs. This may appear extraordinary, however, stay with me here for a moment. You need to work with corporations who’ve cash to spend on advertising. Chances are, those corporations are subscribed to diverse apps for email marketing, analytics, and so forth. Most software groups within the advertising area (like Hubspot, Sumo, Ahrefs, and so on.) additionally put up a wonderful deal of content. So, who better to put in writing for? You’re instantly stepping into the front of thousands of the proper clients. Many of those blogs may also pay you to write for them, so in many instances, you may get your first consumer even as additionally prospecting for new customers. What could be higher than that?

Browse awesome activity boards. LinkedIn Jobs, ProBlogger, and Freelance Writers Den are some good alternatives.

Link for your offerings on your byline. Let’s say you’re in “Phase 2” of the portfolio constructing process we walked through above, and you’re writing a few guest posts for pinnacle blogs to your area. You can point out it to your byline to draw customers. Here’s an instance from Sophia Dagnon over at Copyhackers:

Before we pass on, there’s one thing you SHOULDN’T do…

Compete towards bottom dollar freelancers on content material turbines like Upwork.

Yes, writing gigs are continually available on websites like those, however normally speaking, it’s clueless, irritating clients who will nickel and dime you over the whole lot and never refer you to different paintings. It’s better than nothing, I assume, but I accept as true with you’re ways higher off pursuing a number of the options I cited above. Not best will you receive a commission more, but you’ll be treated higher too, and it will likely be tons simpler to grow your purchaser base.

5. Scale till You No Longer Want to

In the beginning, you’ll probably be thrilled just to get a writing purchaser paying you to write down a few articles at the facet, but I suppose it’s beneficial to step again and reflect on consideration on how freelance writing fits into a usual profession.

Here’s the career course for maximum freelance writers:

Phase 1: A Nice Side Income

Most new freelance writers begin writing element-time with only some articles on the aspect, and I assume that’s clever. You can learn the craft, build your connections, and make a couple of bucks at the aspect. Most probable, approximately $20-$25 in step with hour.

Is it going to make you wealthy? No, but it’s surely now not an awful side hustle. A lot of element-timers clear $500-$1,000 in steps per month from their writing.

Eventually, if you’re precise, you’ll additionally start getting extra freelance writing paintings than you could handle for your spare time or even begin turning into an associate, and that’s whilst you can contemplate shifting on to the subsequent section.

Phase 2: A Full-Time Job or Business

When should you keep in mind quitting your day job and diving headfirst into a contract writing profession?

The easiest solution: every time you experience assured your freelance writing ought to replace your revenue. You can both…

Go to work as a complete-time content marketer. The wide variety of process openings for complete-time content material entrepreneurs is exploding. Here’s a graph of the process increase just from 2017 to 2018:

Start your own content material advertising corporation (i.E. Copywriting or freelance writing business). Once you’ve picked up some clients, you could emerge as an enterprise owner — start hiring humans to paint beneath you and develop your very own miniature business enterprise.

Both options have huge upsides. You could have a protracted, stable profession as a content marketer running businesses who definitely respect it, and building an organization ought to doubtlessly make you a millionaire.

At some factor even though, I’ve located that even the most a hit writers typically become moving directly to…

Phase three: Starting Your Own Site

In the beyond, you have a probable idea of beginning your very own website online because the first step, is no longer the closing, and it’s actual — there’s not anything preventing you from beginning your web page right now.

But reflect on consideration on it for a second…

Would you as a substitute begin your very own web page on WordPress right now, spend more than one year learning the entirety from scratch, and then slowly but definitely start to make money from it, or may want to it absolutely be a higher option to go to work for someone else for some time, get paid even as you study, after which start your personal website with several years of revel in beneath your belt?

Over the years, I’ve observed an increasing percentage of our students deciding on the second choice, and I think it makes sense. Yes, you may certainly start your personal web page proper now, and yes, you may be successful — we’re the market leaders in helping humans do precisely that — but it’s a tough street. You need to persistently put inside the effort for years before it starts to pay off.

If you end up a freelance author and begin running for different agencies, on the other hand, the payoff is speedy. Probably a month or two to analyze the basics after which another month or two to get your first patron. While it would take you longer than typical to build your very own publishing powerhouse, it’s less complicated to stay persistent when cash is coming in each and on every occasion, you submit an article.

The backside line?

You Can Make Good Money As a Writer

Too many herbal-born writers accept it as true with it’s impossible to make a living writing. It’s just now not real.

Yes, it’s tough to make a reside as a creator or ghostwriter. Yes, it’s tough to scrape with the aid of writing for magazines and newspapers. Yes, there are masses of could-be poets and novelists residing below bridges.

But the ones are only some types of writing.

If you want to make money as a author, pass wherein the cash is. That’s what I did. I began out writing for different websites, took a full-time activity at Copy blogger, after which branched off by myself — precisely the career path I described above.

The effects?

About $five.Three million thus far. In this situation observe, I defined precisely how I did it.

Oh, and did I point out I did it all from a wheelchair without being capable of flow from the neck down?


So please, don’t inform me you can’t make cash as a a hit freelance author. You absolutely can.

You just must be smart approximately it.

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