One interesting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is how people are now more conscious of remote work. Indeed, most corporate workers would opt for hybrid work over a whole week at the office.
The reason for this is not far-fetched. Working from home is arguably more comfortable and productive. You get to work from the comfort of your home without the stress of commuting or having to withstand nosey Jane at your office.
A freelance writing career gives you this freedom. You get to dictate your work hours and work from any place on earth – or the moon, really.
Although starting a freelance writing business is rewarding, it is not a walk in the park. The road to it is littered with unending work hours and surprises – pleasant and unpleasant. With commitment and the right strategy, though, your freelance business will kick off smoothly.
Steps to a Successful Freelance Writing Business
To become a successful freelance writer, here’s what you’ll need to get started.
Decide on Your Writing Niche
There are different writing niches, and some of them are:
- Health and Fitness
- Personal Hygiene
Now, someone who has been in the game for a while may decide to dabble in several niches. If you are just starting, though, you should stick to a particular niche – at least, until you find your feet.
As such, you must determine the type of writing you want to venture into. Do you want to write on spiritual wellness? Or would you rather write on forex and bitcoin mining?
Choosing one niche for your freelance writing will help you find and develop your writing voice. Since you are focused on one aspect, it will be easy to decide on a writing style and hone your skills. It will also be easy to know the kind of brands you want to work with.
In a particular writing niche, acquiring knowledge and becoming an expert in that field is feasible. One thing about being an expert in a writing niche is that it improves your authority in that field and, ultimately, your income potential. After all, a jack of all trades is a master of none.
Advisably, the niche to choose is one you find interesting and are already familiar with. This will make research and writing a breeze. If, on the other hand, you go for something you have no passion for, you might end up uninspired, and your writing business would suffer.
Research the Industry
To succeed in any business, it is wise to conduct market research. You get to know who the ideal customer is and the mode of operation. The same rule applies to a freelance writing business.
After deciding on a writing niche, you must conduct research into that niche. Go to Google and type in your preferred niche plus “writer.” The result page that the search brings up will tell you more about the writing specialty.
You can also read up on magazines centered around the niche. Target, especially the top players in the game, how they write their content, and how they attract their audience.
From the data you get, you will know how competitive your proposed niche is from the data you get. This will better inform you on developing an effective strategy for successfully planting your foot in freelance writing.
You will also be able to spot trends in the industry if you research your preferred niche. You will get to pay attention to particular topics that are popular as well as new technologies that aid writing.
When you do your research, you get to know your target audience and understand the kind of writers they require. This will necessarily influence how you write.
Create a Business Plan
It is often said that “he who fails to plan, plans to fail.” While this might sound cliché, it is factual in the general affairs of life. If you want to start a freelance writing business, this also holds true.
Before taking any significant step in your business, you must draw up a feasible business plan. The plan is to include factors that will shape and influence your business and how it is to be run. A good business plan is an instructive roadmap that will guide you in determining the vision for your freelance business and how to achieve it.
What should your business plan contain? First, you must state the objective and vision of your freelance writing business. Where do you see your business in 5 to 10 years, and what is your drive? What is the growth trajectory, and how do you intend to achieve it?
Also, your lead plan needs to consider your target market and the best way to market to them. Are forex trading companies or food brands ideal for your writing business? What marketing strategy would be most effective in attracting them?
Build a Writing Portfolio
As a newbie in the freelance writing world, you should know that the business is showbiz. This means that potential clients want to see your writing samples.
Your target brands must see your writing style, tone, and dedication to your craft. What they see in your work will inform their decision on whether or not to pitch their tent in your camp.
As such, you must put together some of your written content and create a portfolio. The freelance writing portfolio you build is a precursor to your talent; it speaks about you in places your feet can’t reach. Consequently, it makes sense for you to include the best of your work.
Meanwhile, if you still need ready-made content to portray, you must work on getting some. You can get your own content by volunteering, creating blog posts, guest blogging, etc.
Create an Online Presence
The world is a digital village, and the internet benefits freelance writers. Since most of your target audience is online, you must create an online presence. You can create a website where you will consistently upload articles.
To further enhance your online presence, you must learn to utilize free advertising tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, etc.
You make yourself more visible to potential clients online when you position yourself this way.
You must also optimize your website through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When people search using targeted keywords, your website can be among the top result pages.
Source for Clients
After successfully setting up shop, the next box to check is sourcing for freelance writing clients. While there is no clear-cut rule on how to do this, you may try a blend of different techniques.
For one, consider networking with fellow freelancers and other writers who have gone ahead of you in the niche you chose. Relationships with other creatives are one of your most significant assets in the freelance writing space, especially if you’re just starting out.
Networking with other creatives will allow you to collaborate with them, thus enhancing your brand’s exposure.
Another client-prospecting technique you want to adopt as a freelance writer is the art of cold pitching. Cold emails allow you to work with the brands you handpick, unlike what you get on freelance job sites.
As opposed to other mediums of client attraction, like social media, cold emailing has an instant effect, inasmuch as you know how to market yourself. The cold-emailing strategy is one of the surest ways to get attention.
As a new freelance writer, you should definitely try guest blogging as another way to find clients. You can write guest posts for company blogs, other websites, and brands that outsource their articles to external writers.
When you have your content spilled across several websites, blogs, and magazines, it enhances your visibility within the freelance community.
Meanwhile, it is not just enough to work to attract clients; you must work harder to keep them. You should know the writing style and tone that resonate with each of your clients and anticipate their needs. Remember that no one spreads your words faster than clients who are satisfied with your work.
Set Your Rates and Learn to Create Contracts
After you set things in motion and the projects start coming, make sure to draw up a solid contract. The contract should spell out how you will be paid and when you will get paid after the projects are finished.
Negotiate the amount and other terms of payment with your clients before you set to work. This avoids confusion and arguments about how much is owed when payment is due. Besides, it pays to set the record straight on what you and your client expect from each of your ends.
To avoid overcharging or undercharging your clients, there have to be criteria you use in determining each of your client’s bills. Some clients will bring really technical topics, others will have tight deadlines, and others are hardly satisfied with the content submitted.
You want to put these factors into consideration before billing your clients. Not charging enough hourly rates can make it challenging to realize your profits in terms of the time and energy expended. On the other hand, setting the bar too high might discourage people from hiring you due to cost concerns.
If you need to improve at charging rates, you may keep in touch with other writers in the same field as you and learn how they charge for their writing services.
Manage Your Tasks Effectively
As you look to venture into the freelance writing business, keep at the back of your mind that it involves a lot of tasks and processes. What might make this feel overwhelming is that you must carry out these tasks simultaneously.
Since maintaining relationships with your clients is just as important as managing your finances, you must juggle your tasks effectively. A successful freelance writing business is dependent on you being able to manage these processes well without letting any aspect suffer.
This might seem impossible for a newbie, but it isn’t. You can easily keep track of your projects with the right tools. Project management tools help you prioritize your projects by setting them out with a timeline. The tools also assist you in staying aware of deadlines, such as when a client requests his work.
Meanwhile, you might program your project management tools to remind you of deadlines before your clients’ work is due. Submitting projects before their deadlines helps foster trust in your client-writer relationship.
Some of these tools can also help you set up tasks to be done automatically when a certain event happens. For instance, when a client assigns you a task via email,
When you have good tools for managing projects, your business has more structure because tasks and deadlines are more defined.
Manage Your Business With Automation
At this juncture, you should know that being a writer is different from running a freelance writing business. The difference between both is underscored by the fact that a freelance writing business is not just about putting pen to paper—or punching words into a screen.
Freelance writing business is broader and involves a wide range of tasks, from account management to marketing to client prospecting to task management.
To run a successful freelance business, you have to juggle a lot of tasks. It would be smart to let automation work for you.
Automating your freelance writing business affords you a lot of benefits. For one, it increases productivity because you will have more time to focus on high-value tasks rather than circling over repetitive ones. This makes room for growth and innovation in your business.
Another advantage of automation is that it simplifies your workflow and increases the likelihood of accuracy compared to doing the tasks manually. Account management is a good example.
Having to alternate between the hats of tax compliance, bookkeeping, invoicing, etc., takes a lot of work. It takes too much time and concentration. Even if you were an account person, there is no denying that manually carrying out these tasks leaves room for error.
Work automation also saves you money. There is a high chance of getting overwhelmed with the many tasks involved with the business, so you may decide to acquire extra hands. Good labor is costly, and if you’re just starting, you should cut expenses where you can. Work automation affords you this luxury.
Tools You Need to Get Started With a Freelance Writing Business
Every business requires some level of capital or investment. You have to put these things in place so you start on the right note.
For a writer just venturing out, some of these tools are:
A Reliable Laptop
You can only enjoy freelance writing if you own a laptop. Writing, editing, and sending submissions to clients on a personal computer is easier than on a mobile device.
A Strong Internet Connection
As a freelance writer, most of your business is online. Whether you want to source for clients, market yourself, or network, you need a stable internet connection.
You will likely have clients from different continents too, so you want to ensure you’re easily accessible at any time of the day.
So, if your connection fluctuates, you should look into that before starting a freelance writing business.
Great content makes a successful writer. Because the content you create is the most visible representation of your abilities, you want to make it of high quality.
Aside from a creative mind, you would need writing tools to ensure you write top-notch articles.
For one, you need Grammarly and Quillbot to check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It would be embarrassing and not speak well of your business if your clients had to point out these errors.
You would also need plagiarism checkers like the Hemmingway app or Copyscape. No one wants to work with a writer who has no original ideas.
Social Media Accounts
Marketing is essential to every brand, whether big or small. In fact, notable brands spend a lot on marketing.
Since you might have little to budget for marketing as a beginner, you should take advantage of free marketing tools. Social media is a powerful tool that can help you raise awareness and drive traffic to your business.
Set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., and create interesting content that tells stories about your skills and business. Let people also see why you’re the best person for the job.
You will also need a bank account and an online payment service account to receive remuneration from your clients.
How to Find Your Writing Niche
Specializing in a writing niche is a fast way to get to the top quickly. This is because it helps you focus on a particular aspect of writing. It is thus easy to channel your concentration, hone your skills, and accelerate your growth in your chosen field.
A “writing niche” is an industry or topic you choose to write on as a freelancer. It is the area that you specialize in, in which you have domain knowledge, experience, or are just passionate about.
A writing niche may be broad, like health, law, or finance, or narrow, like forex investment or email marketing.
As a beginner in the freelance writing space, it is vital to have a writing niche to build domain authority and get quality client referrals. In the long run, this builds your confidence when you’re marketing yourself and leads to sustainable profit.
Finding your writing niche as a newbie can be overwhelming because of the several factors you must consider. In the meantime, these factors have been reduced to three:
- What are You Passionate About?
Freelance writing involves a lot of research, reading, and learning. It would be highly beneficial if the topic you research and write about is one you are naturally interested in learning about or discussing.
For some creatives, specializing in an industry they are passionate about helps them feel a sense of purpose and alignment. On the other hand, going into a niche that you have no interest in could lead to burnout and displeasure.
- What Industries are Profitable?
No matter how passionate you are about a business, the end goal is to make some money. As such, it would be wise to watch out for industries that are heavy on marketing.
Such industries are the ones that rely on written content to drive sales and have a healthy profit margin. Because it is a substantial part of their marketing strategy, they can assign a fat budget to content writers.
Some of these industries are Real Estate, Insurance, Health, etc.
- Which Topics are in Demand?
Some kinds of writing are constantly in demand because people always look them up. They may be new topics that people still need to fully understand or services they would like to acquire.
In either case, brands in these fields are always looking for copies that teach or convince the people they want to reach. As a result, writing gigs are usually plentiful in these industries.
When you look at these topics, they point you to a niche. For instance, NFTs point to Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, and software points to SaaS (software-as-a-service).
How to Land Freelance Writing Gigs as a Newbie
The bitter truth is that there are new crops of freelance writers now and then, so what makes you stand out? You have to prove yourself and give people a reason to give you a chance over experienced writers or other new writers.
Your best bet is to improve your writing skills. If you are a good writer, you can be better. Besides, the content marketplace is constantly evolving, and you must keep abreast of the trends. Dip your feet in copywriting, SEO, and other hot forms of writing.
Make Content Writing Samples
If you don’t already have writing samples, you should start working on building one. You can volunteer. You can also create blog content.
Subscribe to Freelance Writing Job Boards
After setting things in motion, freelance job sites should be your new best friend. They provide an avenue to connect with potential clients and get hired.
Thankfully, there are a lot of job boards to choose from, although it would be wise to subscribe to all the free ones. Freelance writing job boards that you want to check out freelance writing job boards: Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Contena, We Work Remotely, etc.
After being subscribed, you would see a lot of proposals to pick from. When you see one that catches your fancy, you may send your pitch to the proposed client.
Of course, you can start a freelance writing business without experience. Even in the corporate world, there is such a thing as learning on the job.
You can easily find job opportunities online as a freelance writer since the internet is a content marketplace. You must learn to utilize social media and job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, and Contena to get a steady flow of freelance writing gigs.
Eight types of freelance writing that pay more than others are:
1. Technical Writing
3. SEO Writing
5. Landing Pages
6. Email Writing
7. White papers
Most new freelance writers fail because they don’t know how to run a business, and not necessarily because they can’t write.
As a newbie writer, a reasonable rate that you can set for your writing is between $25 and $70 per project. The reason there is no clear-cut price is that projects differ. Several factors will determine how you set your rate.
In a world that has come to place more emphasis on remote work, deciding to start a freelance writing business is a smart choice. From whatever angle you choose to view it – whether mentally, financially, or physically, this business is highly gratifying.
What’s more, you can choose whatever business model you want. You can choose to become a full-time freelance writer or just do it by the side for the extra money.
While starting this business might not be easy-peasy, it is not something you can’t do; so far you stick to this guide.