It’s easy to become overwhelmed at the prospect of being a freelance writer. Yes, it’s super exciting to control your schedule and not have a boss breathing down your neck. It’s completely amazing to be able to sit on your front porch, sip a glass of tea, and type away. Yet, it’s also a lot of hard work and it can be frustrating trying to figure out how to realize your goal. To cut through all the confusion, here are seven steps you should implement to start rocking a freelance writing business.
1. Start Studying
A lot of people will choose to skip this step, and it’s really a disservice to experienced writers. When you are starting out as a freelance writer, it’s important to check out the blogs and writing pieces of writers already well-established in their niche. In the writing world, a niche is your main focus in writing.
If you choose nutrition as the main topic of your writing, make sure to check out the blogs of other well-known nutrition writers. Scour the internet for articles on your favorite subjects. Here, it is important to take note of their style. Are they more conversational or formal? Do they use traditional sentence structure or is it more haphazard? Are they quirky in their tone or more subdued? None of these choices is wrong; it is simply their style.
Studying the styles of others does not mean that you are plagiarizing. It is similar to how children learn to write better the more they read. You will develop your own style of writing, but in order to figure out what you like best, check out the work of others. It’ll give you a taste of the freelance world and build a better foundation to start your business.
2. Start writing
This one is pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how many people neglect this step. When you want to have a career in writing, it is critical to write a lot and practice. Don’t over-consume material in the first step and forget the most important part — write!
Every day, practice writing a blog post or article. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so try not to compare too much to others. The importance of this step is to establish a flow in your workday, create your voice, and practice more technical topics like formatting. At least thirty minutes to an hour a day should be focused on producing work.
Once you get comfortable, begin working on your “portfolio pieces.” These are the examples of your writing you will send to prospective clients to showcase your talent. Don’t get nervous! If you later find that the pieces you wrote are not working for you, it is easy to write a new one. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three portfolio pieces. Try your hardest on these, but don’t obsess over them either. Writing is about learning and developing skills. It’s not about becoming perfect in a matter of days, weeks, or even months.
3. Build a basic website
Here’s where you start to really build on the foundation you have made so far. Now, not all writers have websites, but it is highly recommended that you have a basic one at least. It gives you a place to showcase your work, collect testimonials, and attract customers.
Pick a hosting provider you are comfortable with and create your domain name. This is essentially what people will type into the search bar to pull up your website. A good domain name for freelance writers is your full name, but there are other options. Try not to get too hung up on the name of the website. Remember, the goal is progress.
Once you have your domain registered through your hosting provider, it is time to start building your website. You will want to include a home page, services page, about me page, and a contact me page. These are not concrete rules, but it’s a fantastic place to start. One last tip is to not focus too much on yourself in writing content on your website. Rather, focus on what you can bring to your clients. People want to know what you can do for them, rather than read a biography. It’s the hard truth, but it totally works.
This is where it all comes together. You’ve studied from the best, wrote your heart out, and created a website. Now, it’s time to put your name out there. This can be accomplished in three ways.
The first is by guest posting. This is where you write a blog post or article on someone else’s site. These can be paid or free. It’s a good way to start getting your name onto the web and to be able to show future potential clients your past work experience. An easy way is to type “write for us” into your search engine along with your niche (like nutrition).
The second way is to work on job sites. Usually, clients will ask for work on these websites, and writers can propose to work for them. This avenue may not pay as much as the last option, but it’s a great way to get started. Not to mention, a lot of people do make their living this way solely. Check out Constant Content for a good place to start selling work. There’s also a writer’s forum that you can learn a lot from.
The last way is cold pitching. It may sound scary, but it can also be the most lucrative of the bunch. In a nutshell, cold pitching is where you send an email to potential clients. In the email, explain what you love about their blog and how you can contribute to it.
There are many helpful cold pitching ideas and templates on the web, so be sure to research before you send the email. Burning bridges is not a good idea. Also, try to send out multiple cold pitches per week. Everyone has a different opinion, but at least ten to twenty is a good idea. It sounds like a lot, but rejections are fairly common. Don’t get discouraged. One fantastic, recurring client could be worth a week of cold pitching.
Breaking into the freelance writing world can be terrifying, but in the end, it’s not as complicated as everyone makes it seem. Follow these four steps and you should be well on your way to creating the career of your dreams. Just don’t give up!