If you told me growing up that I would write for a living one day, I would have called you crazy. Even though writing has been my passion from a young age, I was always told that it was a useless path to go down because the salary was not sustainable.
So you can imagine, that when I started writing and getting paid for it my senior year of high school, I was mind blown that I could actually make money doing so.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked on Instagram is how I got into freelance writing. I’m planning on filming a Youtube video in October detailing my full story, but for the purpose of keeping this article short, I will just give you straight up tips on getting involved with a little bit about me at the end.
Below you will find my top tips on how to get into the world of freelance writing.
When I began “freelancing” (I say in quotes because I was just trying to make extra cash and didn’t know what I was doing) as a senior in high school, I took everything that came my way.
I re-did relatives website copy, created fake websites to make it look like I had more experience than I did (unethical, don’t do this), and wrote blog posts for the most random companies you would ever find.
I was hungry for work, so I did it all.
Whether you are a 19-year-old college student or a thirty-eight-year-old stay-at-home mom, it’s never too early or too late to jump into the whimsical world of freelance.
The first thing to consider when you are starting off as a freelance writer is the experience you already have.
Most beginner freelancers undervalue their actual “experience.” Have you ever written a long email? Sales letter? Written a report for college? All those things are writing samples and can be considered “freelance” writing work. How you refine your past work will allow you to showcase your abilities without spending hours writing fake blog posts (shoutout 17-year-old me).
Ways to get experience when you don’t have much formal or professional writing experience:
- offer to re-do the copy for your family members small business
- ask your older cousins if you can write a guest blog post on their site
- approach local small businesses and offer to write a blog post free of cost
- create your own blog
Launch a personal blog
In my opinion, the best experience a new freelance writer can get is crafting their own blog. It becomes your resume and a place where you can also showcase future writings if desired. This allows you to show off to your probable clients what you are capable of.
When you create your blog think about what niches you would love to write about. For me, I now mainly stick to freelancing, nutrition, and food recipes on this blog page.
On my companies website, I stick to digital marketing and blogging because of the services we offer.
When I first started out, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about long term, so I wrote about all the things that interested me. I had posts about personal finance, posts about nutrition, and even some political pieces.
I would advise against writing about everything because being a niche writer will help you more than having writing samples in a variety of genres.
Expect a low rate
When you first start out as a freelance writer, you can’t expect to make thousands of dollars. In fact, at first, it’s close to impossible to make a good living off of it. Bloggers these days will say that it’s easy to go from making $0 to $3,000 in a month, but it’s not that simple.
New freelance writers generally get lower rates, but your first jobs can build up your portfolio, and eventually allow you to charge more.
When I first started writing, I did projects for free, simply because I wanted to build a portfolio quickly. After a short period of time working for free, I was able to start charging, and eventually, it grew into an actual career path.
Find your niche
After moving on from beginner, low-paying jobs, think about refining your craft. Discover where your interests lie and what you are genuinely passionate about.
I always tell clients to write down five things that really interest them, and then figure out how to write about the top three.
For me that looks like:
- Personal Finance
I’ve been able to narrow it down over the years and niche my personal writing, and you can do the same!
If you’ve figured out what you’re genuinely passionate about, it becomes easier to write articles around that topic. Whatever niche topic it is, or how small, that is still better than having no topic at all!
After you figure out what topics you want to focus on, try to specialize in that area by writing in those fields. Like I mentioned above, launching a personal blog to write about those topics is also a great way to showcase your work for potential employers.
Next, create special offers
Offering deals or packages are also a great way to get higher-paying clients. For instance, you may set an agreement to write twelve blog posts for the rate of ten posts a month. Making specials for clients is a good way to make them happy and content with both your writing and your client relations services.
After making your clients happy with the services you have provided, you may ask for referrals. Keep in mind that the best marketing is through word of mouth. Take advantage of that opportunity to acquire referrals from your satisfied clients, this way, you won’t be hustling to find new future clients. (For reference, I get 80% of my clients through word of mouth).
Lastly, learn to market yourself well
Once you have fully gained some street cred as a writer, you can take your personal website and run with it. Although many referrals come through former clients, learning how to pitch yourself to new potential clients is very important.
Recently, social media has made self-marketing so much easier. I have received a decent amount of client work through platforms like Twitter or Instagram, which has demonstrated that with the right words, pictures, or even tweets, you can capture your future clients’ attention and gain new leads.
How did I get into freelance writing?
I’m going to keep this short because I will do a longer post on this eventually. Basically, when I was in high school I had to stop playing sports because my body couldn’t handle it. I had too may auto-immune issues going on, and the unpredictability crippled me.
Suffice to say, I had to find other ways to spend my time while my friends were off playing the sports I loved.
You might be thinking, oh she filled her time by writing, but no, I actually developed a bad shopping habit. I already had a nannying job but wanted to do something else to fuel my bad habits, so I stumbled upon writing.
Over the next couple of years, I relied on freelance writing as a way to work when my body wouldn’t let me get out of bed, or when I needed extra income in college.
After college, I worked for a political group as a research analyst, but due to health conditions, eventually had to leave. After focusing on my health, I went full-time for freelancing, and haven’t looked back since.
I’ll definitely give more details on how I went from re-doing website copy for free to making a living off of writing, but for now, this is what I have to share.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any specific questions about freelancing hit me up. I will be writing a post in a few weeks about remote work and how to land freelance gigs too.
P.S. If you wanna learn more about freelancing and the other side to it, check out my post “Freelancers: Your Mental Health Matters.”