The shift to remote work got everyone thinking about a career change. But what’s better than working from home in your pajamas? Taking the move to the next level by becoming your own boss, of course.
One great way to make that dream a reality is by becoming a freelance writer. The content marketing world continues to grow by leaps and bounds, after all, ensuring there’s enough room for all to join the fun.
Before you can do that, however, you need to know this: What is a freelance writer? And how to jumpstart a successful freelance writing career that’ll pay the bills and feel wholly rewarding.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go far for the answers to all your most pressing questions. Because we’re here to lend a helping hand as you bravely change up your career path.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know about becoming a freelance writer.
What is a Freelance Writer?
A freelance writer is a self-employed person who gets paid to write digital or print content. Usually, you’ll write to entertain, educate, or advertise, although you can get into the field just to tell your own stories if you wish.
In this role, you operate as an independent contractor, so you’re free to work for whomever you please. Business owners, freelance writing sites, marketing agencies, and local and national publications all hire freelance writers to create their content.
On top of that, you set your own rates and terms plus decide when, where, and how much you work. You’re welcome to write in your free time for extra cash – or fully ditch your day job in favor of working as a freelance writer full-time.
Freelance Writer Job Description
Depending on the project at hand, a day in the life of a freelance writer might look like:
- Look for new writing opportunities
- Respond to client correspondence
- Pitch article topics for your clients
- Pick the articles to write for the day
- Review your clients’ style guides
- Research the keywords and topics
- Complete subject matter expert interviews
- Outline each piece you’re going to write
- Write the articles using the right tone and voice
- Create supporting metadata and social media posts
- Proofread and edit the articles before submitting
- Complete any revisions that come your way
As a freelancer, you’re also responsible for getting professional liability insurance, creating contracts, writing proposals, and submitting invoices. You’ll also need to tend to your business finances, including setting money aside for your quarterly taxes.
What Freelancer Writers Don’t Do
Sometimes, clients want their freelancer writers to go well beyond writing by:
- Completing keyword research
- Creating content calendars
- Writing detailed creative briefs
- Finding distribution channels
- Tracking content performance
Freelance writers supplement a great content marketing strategy. They’re not in charge of its creation and management.
So, be wary of clients who want you to take on all these additional tasks and more. Or if you’re happy to take on all these tasks, consider becoming a content strategist as well.
Tips for Getting Started as a Freelance Writer
Does freelance writing sound like it’s right in your wheelhouse? Just follow these four steps to establish yourself as a freelancer.
Build Your Skills
Competition is fierce in the freelance writing world. So, you must have the skills to pay the bills, such as:
- A knack for research: Can you transform a single target keyword into amazing content? If not, it’s time to learn.
- Great writing chops: It’s only possible to tell excellent stories if you have great spelling, grammar, and punctuation to back it up.
- Superb time management: Expertly manage your time or risk running out of day before all your tasks get done.
- People skills: You might work for yourself, but you write for people. So, they’ll remain at the center of all you do as a freelance writer.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t worry if your skills need work. Just start writing, asking for feedback, and revising until you’re getting accolades all around. Attending content marketing conferences, completing online training courses, and networking with fellow writers can help as well.
Choose a Niche
Freelance writers can choose to work as a generalist and write about practically any topic under the sun. But since you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s often better to choose a niche (or five!).
With that move, you can write better content faster, plus charge higher rates for your expertise. Over time, you’ll build a name for yourself in that niche, resulting in clients seeking you out instead of vice versa.
Set Your Rate
Don’t hesitate to set a competitive rate whether you’re a generalist or choose a niche. Freelancer writers provide a valuable service, so avoid the urge to let yourself get undersold.
Rates can start at a few pennies a word. But you should quickly push past that by raising your rates as you get good clips in your portfolio.
The sky is the limit in how much you can charge, too. The highest-paying niches go well past a dollar per word easily.
Create a Portfolio
You need to create an online portfolio if you’d like to get the word out about your services. You can do this in a number of ways, like:
- Joining a freelance writing site
- Building your own professional website
- Saving your profile in a digital drive
No matter the format, be sure to add your bio, a nice headshot, and a compilation of your greatest works.
Once you make it to this point, it’s time to search out clients and start writing your first professional articles.
How to Find Freelance Writing Clients
Here are a few ways to find clients whenever you’re ready to start getting paid writing assignments.
Join Freelance Writing Sites
Don’t want to find your own clients, submit invoices, and worry about getting paid in a timely manner?
Reputable freelance writing sites, like WriterAccess, are the way to go, for sure.
As an added benefit, these sites allow you to create a public profile you can share far and wide to bring even more clients your way.
Pitch to Key Publications
Digital magazines, blog sites, and many other publications accept pitches from freelance writers. Search Google using the term, ‘write for us,’ to start finding these opportunities.
You’ll need to review their pitch requirements before sending in your ideas. But once you gain an understanding of their approach, it’s easy to quickly fire off pitches whenever relevant topics pop in your head.
Send Out Well-Written LOIs
Business owners with websites, blogs, and social media accounts all need content to properly engage with their target audiences. So, why not position yourself as their freelance writer of choice?
To do that, you just need to send out well-written letters of introduction (LOI) by email. In your LOI, briefly outline your experience and why you want to write for them.
Then, include links to a few of your best writing clips to show them why you’re the ideal person for the job.
Don’t forget to send out LOIs to agencies as well in hopes of getting on their list of freelancers.
If you’d like to try out the freelance writing life, WriterAccess is here to streamline the process from start to finish. Just complete the application to join our exclusive network, and we’ll review your info and get back to you.
Looking for your own team of talented freelance writers? We can help with that, too. Just sign up for two weeks free and then let us know what you think.