Often when we think about freelance writing we tend to only think about writing for the end consumer. There’s a huge market out there for B2B writing (business to business) though and it can be extremely rewarding.
So what is B2B writing and how can you make this a key part of your freelance writing business?
What Is B2B Writing?
B2B writing is when you produce content for your client that is going to be read by a business, or someone reading on behalf of a business. It might not be as prevalent in freelance writing, but there is a massive market for B2B Writing, and many of the biggest brands in the world hire freelance writers to produce their content.
As with B2C writing (business to consumer), there are lots of different forms of B2B writing in lots of different industries. This means that no matter what your niche is, there’s going to be plenty of work out there for you in B2B writing and there are some big upsides!
Why B2B Writing?
So you’ve been doing B2C writing your whole career, why should you suddenly switch to B2B writing?
One of the big reasons for making the switch is money. Working in B2B you have the potential to double your fee versus what you earn in B2C. Besides this, you can often find yourself working for some really big brands, which is great when you’re looking to market yourself.
Of course, B2B writing offers its own challenges and you might have to adapt your writing style a little bit, but really, it’s much the same thing.
5 Tips to Help You Succeed with B2B Writing
Here are some simple tips you can follow when you land your first B2B writing jobs.
1. Businesses Are Humans Too
You might be selling your client’s services to a business, but the person at the other end of the computer is a human being. Even when they’re at work, humans like to be entertained, and they certainly don’t enjoy reading overly technical writing.
If you’re writing about something technical, which you might well be in B2B writing, it’s tempting to get carried away with technical language and endless acronyms. The person reading your work may or may not have great technical knowledge, but it’s fairly certain that they’re going to prefer reading something that is written in plain English.
In Everything That’s Wrong With Your Web Copy – And How To Fix It, John Kerrison advises “technical talk is all well and good, but it needs to be saved for when you’ve already generated interest.”
No matter how technical the subject your writing about is, there’s always a way to write it so that everyone can understand it and easily read it. You can assume that your readers all have high-level technical knowledge, but you’ll find that you’re losing a big chunk of your audience at the first hurdle.
It’s quite easy to get carried away with the technical aspects of B2B writing, but in reality, your goal is exactly the same as when your writing for B2C. Keep things light and interesting and you’re sure to see better results than if you just churn out technical speech.
2. Everyone’s Busy
This is another point that is as true in B2C writing as it is in B2B writing. Nobody wants to waste their time reading something that’s not going to answer their questions. As a consequence, it’s vitally important that you get straight to the point.
People need to be convinced early on in your writing that you’re going to answer their questions. If you can’t do this, then you’re going to have a lot of people who stop reading and look for their answer somewhere else.
When you’re working in B2B writing that means when people leave your page, they’re probably going to go to your competitor’s page to find what they’re looking for. This makes it vitally important that you hook your reader early on, and convince them that you’re going to answer their question in a light, easy to read way.
As Michael King says in 6 Ways To Improve Your B2B Copywriting Skills “your first 20-50 words need to surprise your reader, make them smile in agreement, or explain what value they stand to gain out of reading further.”
People’s time is valuable, so show them their time is valuable to you by getting to the point. You might enjoy writing creative fluff, but at the end of the day, it’s answering people’s questions and solving their pain points that are going to sell your product.
The first 20-50 words of your article are vitally important when it comes to this, so make sure your first sentences are addressing questions about your keywords. This includes titles, so make sure your titles are laser-focused!
There’s still room to be creative, but you’ve got to do it in a way that convinces your reader to read on.
Once you have your reader invested in your content then you can afford to get a little bit more creative and really express your style, but your number one goal at the beginning of your content is to get people to read on.
3. You’re At Work But You’re Writing Doesn’t Have To Be
Just because you’re writing B2B copy doesn’t mean you’re writing all of sudden has to become rigid and joyless. You’ll find that some of the best B2B writing uses an extremely laid-back tone that many of us don’t associate with business communication. That’s because the person you’re talking to is a human!
Don’t be afraid to use all your writing skills and use the tone you want to use. Nobody sold anything by simply spouting technical information – it’s the art of your writing that’s going to do that. So, have confidence in your style and treat your reader like any human being you normally come into contact with.
You’re obviously highly knowledgeable about the subject you’re discussing, but the main thing you’re being paid for is your great writing ability. If your client simply wanted technical writing with no frills then they could have got an employee to do it. So use the skills you’re client has hired you for and wow the person at the other end of the computer!
4. Know Your Audience
Like any form of writing, it’s vitally important that you understand your audience when you’re writing for B2B. This starts with understanding the business you’re writing for and can take a fair amount of research.
The better you can understand your client’s goals, values, products, and services, the better you can understand your audience. If you don’t get this stage of your research right, then you might well find that you’re writing fails before you even begin.
Once you understand your client’s business, the best thing to do is put yourself in their prospective customers’ shoes. If you were them, what would your most pressing concerns be? What questions would you have? What would you like to know more about?
The more information you can put down on paper, the more you can tailor your writing to your audience. As Elise Dopson states in her article, 11 B2B Copywriting Tips To Take Your Content From Hero To Zero, “your copy–whether it’s a blog post or complex B2B white paper–should reflect your understanding of your industry, and of your customers’ needs and problems.”
Understanding your audience is important for all forms of writing, but it can be a little harder to do in B2B writing. If you’re going to have success as a freelance B2B writer though, you’re going to have to learn to understand who your audience is.
5. Use Clear Calls To Action
No matter what you’re writing there is a reason for you writing it. It is important that you keep your goals in mind as you’re writing, and make them obvious to the reader. This means using clear calls to action (CTAs).
It’s easy to think that the objective of your writing is painfully obvious, but the truth is, readers have a mind of their own. If your goal is to get people clicking to a certain page or offer then make it obvious, then come back and make it even more obvious!
You can write the absolute best B2B copy, but if your calls to action are not clear then you won’t achieve the desired results. There’s so much noise on the internet that if you don’t get people following your calls to action while you have them hooked then they can easily become distracted and go elsewhere.
Once you have your reader’s attention, make sure you use it to funnel them in the direction you want them to go. A big part of modern content writing is being able to control where you direct your reader’s attention and if you’re not using clear calls to action then you’re going to find this much more difficult to do.
There are some subtle differences between B2B and B2C writing, but the concept is the same. You need to understand your audience, use your sparkling writing skills to appeal to them, and get them to take action.
It seems like a very simple formula, and it in some ways it is, but it takes a lot of skill to do it well. If you’re a successful B2C writer then you certainly have the skills that are needed to succeed in B2B, but there are some steps you can take to get you started on the front foot.
If you remember these things then you can avoid some of the mistakes many people make when writing for B2B:
- Remember you’re talking to a human.
- Accept that everyone is busy.
- Don’t be afraid to keep your casual tone.
- Understand your audience.
- Use clear calls to action.
At the end of the day, writing is writing, so if you feel confident writing B2C then there should be absolutely nothing stopping you from writing B2B. You’ll need the same writing skills and the same planning and organizational skills, the rest is down to understanding your audience, and wowing them with your words.
How To Lose Your Fear and Get Paid To Write
To many people, the idea of getting paid to write is quite appealing apart from one key issue. They’re afraid of what people will think of their writing. There’s plenty of us out there thinking – “yeah I’m a good writer, but am I like those people you see on America’s Got Talent where they think they’re really good but in reality they suck?”
The thought of your article being read by thousands of people and torn to shreds by a group of aggressive keyboard warriors is nothing short of terrifying. We’re here to tell you that there’s nothing to be terrified of though and if you think your writing is good enough to earn you money then it is.
The thing is, every would-be writer has the same fears as you. We all think our writing is quite good but we just don’t know if everyone else will think the same thing. The simple answer is, not everyone is going to think you’re a good writer, there are some that will think your writing sucks.
Even the most famous writers in the world have their critics, world-famous writer, Rudyard Kipling was once told “… you just don’t know how to use the English language” in response to a pitch he made to a newspaper. One editor even told H.G. Wells that The War of the Worlds “was an endless nightmare. I think the verdict was ‘oh don’t read that horrid book.”
If some of the most famous writers of all time get this kind of feedback then surely we cannot be too worried about what Joe Public thinks of our writing. There are going to be some people that don’t like it, but there are going to be plenty of people that really enjoy it.
Whether or not we have legitimate reasons to worry if our work will be well received, there are plenty of things we can do to make the process easier. If you’re going to get paid to write then you want your writing to be as well-received as possible, so we’ve put together 7 steps that will help you get over your fear of having your writing read.
How to Get Paid to Write
- Just Write
- Make Your Writing Digestible
- Become An Expert
- Post Frequently In Low-Pressure Forums
- Seek Feedback From The Right People
- Become a Critical Reader
- Rely On Your Research
1. Just Write
Writing is one of those things where once you’ve started you can get completely lost in the process, so just start writing. You’ll find that once you get started and things start flowing you’ll be too busy to worry about what people will think of your writing.
It’s the case with so many things, but it seems especially true of writing – starting is the hardest part. Before you start writing your brain has so many questions: how long will this take me, can I write 2,000 words on this subject, will people like this subject, will people agree with my ideas, do I know enough about this subject?
However, when you actually start writing, those questions disappear. You’re just in the flow and things seem to come naturally. You may worry about what people think about your writing before you start, and you may think about it again when you’re finished, but for that period where you’re writing, you can be worry free!
If you’re going to get paid to write then the place to start is by actually writing! Just sit down in a quiet place and get the process started. You’ll find that the more you get into it, the less you’ll worry about whether people like your writing and the more you’ll enjoy the process.
Need some topic ideas? Why not check out our Guide To Freelance Writing Topics?
2. Make Your Writing Digestible
Most of the people you’ll write for aren’t looking to read War and Peace. Depending on what kind of medium you’re writing for, you’re going to want to make your writing as easy to consume as possible.
The internet has had a big change on the way we consume information, and writers have had to adapt to keep up with this. One of the big things you have to take into account is the formatting. When you view a webpage, the last thing you want to see is a massive block of text, and your readers are the same.
You really have to be aware of the fact that information is so easily available in today’s world. If people don’t like the way your article is formatted then they will simply go and get the information they need from somewhere else. That means understanding what the modern consumer wants.
What the modern consumer wants is convenience. First of all, they want to know that your article is going to cover the topic they are interested in, and they want to feel like they’re going to be entertained. How do you take care of these two issues? Well, you’ve got to get your title just right. It needs to be snappy, to the point, and entice the reader into reading on.
Human attention spans really aren’t all that long, so once you’ve captured your audience’s attention, you’ve got to focus on keeping them with you. Don’t get carried away with fancy words when simple ones will do, and make sure your text is broken down into manageable chunks.
It’s nice to show off the complexities of your writing some times, but in many cases, the most successful writing is very simple. It might seem like a simple point, but you’ve got to tailor your writing to your consumer.
3. Become An Expert
It’s hard to overstate the benefits of selecting some writing niches. Everything becomes so much easier when you have a few key subjects to focus your writing on. Not only does it make marketing yourself much easier, but it also makes writing itself much easier.
The best way to feel confident in your writing is to know that you completely understand everything you’re writing about. If you have a few niche subjects that you focus on, it’s possible to become an expert in those subjects and then you can build your confidence writing in those subjects.
As Miranda Brookins says in her article, The Advantages of a Niche Business, “Being recognized as an expert lends credibility to your brand and motivates customers to do business with you.” The more you can establish yourself as an expert, the more confidence you will have in yourself, but more importantly, the more confidence your clients will have in you.
It’s a horrible feeling if you’re constantly worried that what you’re writing is not factually correct. The best way to get over this lack of confidence is to gradually build your knowledge in certain subjects. For us, we started out in the niche of tennis, and it allowed us to build our confidence because we knew we had a huge amount of knowledge in that subject.
You might not have a niche that jumps out at you at the moment, but if you put a little thought into it you’re bound to find a subject that you’re passionate about and can become an expert in. When you do this, you’ll find you become much more confident in your writing, and it will be much easier to create content.
4. Post Frequently In Low-Pressure Forums
A lot of the pressure that we put on ourselves when we’re writing is based on what we think other people will think of our writing. So why don’t we take other people out of the equation and build our confidence in a less pressurized forum?
This is one of the reasons we recommend new freelance writers start their own website. It’s a great way to do something productive that will benefit you in the future, whilst pratcicing your writing in a less pressurized environment. When you start out with your website, you can write your blog, safe in the knowledge that, at least in the beginning, not many people are going to be reading it.
Having your own website means you control how your writing is presented and allows you to just write for yourself. There’s no need to worry about what people are going to say about your content, and you can just relax and do your thing. The other nice thing about this is that you can edit what you’ve written at any time. You can go back in a year and change the whole article if you wish.
Medium is another great forum where you can post without too much pressure, and it’s a great way to just practice. The more you practice, the more you’ll feel comfortable writing, and before you know it, you won’t worry about what people say.
Once you get over your fear of writing, you’ve taken a big step towards getting paid to write. If you worry about what people might think of your writing then practice by posting to low-pressure forums where your work isn’t going to be widely read.
5. Seek Feedback From The Right People
Another big change that has come about in the modern age is that everyone has a platform to voice their opinions. This means that no matter how good your content is, there’s a chance you’re going to get some criticism for it.
If you look at some great products on Facebook, there’s always someone who has to find some ridiculous criticism of it, and the same thing can happen with your writing. The trick to dealing with criticism is taking feedback from the people that count. Rather than focusing on negative feedback from a single source, Impraise recommends getting “Feedback from different sources gives you more perspective and helps you form a more holistic view”
Having said that, the best people you can get feedback from are your clients and potential clients. At the end of the day, you want to get paid to write, so you need to cater to the people that are going to be paying you. Whenever you’re dealing with a client always try and get as much feedback as you can.
It can be difficult to ignore criticism of your writing that comes from the wrong sources, believe me, I know. But if you take every single criticism to heart then you’re just going to lose confidence in your writing ability.
The best way to get over this problem is to seek feedback from the people that really matter. If you’re working with the right clients then they will give you constructive feedback that you can use to improve your freelance writing.
6. Become a Critical Reader
I find one of the best ways to improve my own writing is to read lots of content and constantly evaluate what I read. If you can learn to analyze everything you read, dissecting the things you like and dislike, then you’ll find you can improve your own writing without having to do much work.
The more you read, and realize that your writing is as good as much of the writing out there on the internet, the more confidence you will have in your writing. It’s not something that happens overnight, your writing is a never-ending quest, but you will soon find your confidence growing.
If you want to get paid to write then you’ve got to see writing as a part of your life. Just like you have to make your niche a part of your life, you need to see writing in general as a big part of your life. This means being a critical reader and analyzing everything you read.
Find some quality content in your niche and read it regularly. Discover what the trends are, the styles of writing, the tone, and incorporate what you like into your own writing. This is another easy way to prove to yourself that you’re ready to get over the fear and get paid to write.
7. Rely on Your Research
One of the easiest ways to boost your confidence in your writing is to double the effort you put into your research. If you know that your research is absolutely top-draw then you’re not going to worry that people are going to find holes in your work.
I always remember a saying my Dad used to say to me when I was playing tennis, “perfect planning prevents piss poor performance,” and it rings true for freelance writing. If you go into your writing knowing that you’ve done everything you can with your research, then you’re going to be a lot more confident about the result. It’s easy to skip the research step, but if you do, you’re going to know, and your readers are going to know.
If you’re going to grow your confidence and get paid to write then you have to take your research seriously. You might not have perfect grammar or perfect spelling, but those are easy fixes in today’s world. If you don’t do your research though, there’s no technology that’s going to bail you out.
Building confidence in your writing is something that’s completely in your hands. There are many steps you can take to build your confidence and give you the belief that you can get paid to write.
The only thing that is holding you back in this situation is you, you just have to make your mind up that you’re going to get over your fear of writing and actually start the process. If you follow our 7 steps, you can gradually build your confidence and increase your chances of getting paid to write.
- Just write
- Make your writing digestible
- Become an expert
- Post frequently in low-pressure forums
- Seek feedback from the right people
- Become a critical reader
- Rely on your research
If you can use these techniques to build your confidence and improve your writing, then you will soon find that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get paid to write. A fear of writing is nothing unusual, but you have to take steps to overcome it if you’re going to be successful as a freelance writer.
In Need Of Ideas for Freelance Writing Topics?
So, first thing’s first, you’re probably wondering about the title here. Well, all will be revealed with time! As you probably did guess though, we’re here to talk about freelance writing topics, and most importantly, what you can do when the idea well appears to have run dry.
When you’re struggling to think of topic ideas it can be pretty frustrating, but there’s a big plus side to this. At least it means you’re getting work and the demand is there for your excellent writing! In the grand scheme of things, struggling to think of something to write about is not a bad problem to have.
Even if we’re not writers, we’ve all been in that position where you’re banging your head against a brick wall trying to work out what to write about (we all went to school). Unfortunately, from time to time as freelance writers we might feel like we’ve been transported back to Mr. Robertson’s 9th grade English class as we’re forced to figure out what to write about!
There’s no need for PTSD to start kicking in though because there are plenty of ways to get around this and come up with tons of interesting freelance writing topics to write about. No matter how much you’ve written about a topic there’s always a new angle you can find, you just need a little push in the right direction.
To help you out in your quest, we’ve put together our 7 key steps to coming up with new freelance writing topics. Ensuring you can keep the great content rolling.
1. Use Your Day To Day Life
Hopefully, you’ve taken the first step in your freelance writing career and selected a few niche topics to focus on. I’m even more hopeful that these are niches you’re passionate about and enjoy working on, because if so, this process is going to be much easier.
The thing is, when you’re writing about topics that you enjoy and have a personal interest in, it’s easy to incorporate them into your everyday life. You can relate the things you see back to your niche subject, and consequently, the things you do and see in your day-to-day life become topics you can use in your writing.
If you’ve always got your eyes open, your ears peeled, and your niche on your mind, then your life can provide many of the content ideas you need. For instance, in my niche of tennis, I found I was always making mistakes on the most important points, so I decided to research the best ways to approach big points and write about it.
It doesn’t even have to be tennis specific. Say I see something on the news about people having less spending money than ten years ago. Boom, I’ve got an article, “How The Squeeze on Take Home Pay Might Affect Tennis”.
No matter what you do, you’re exposed to so many stories in your day-to-day life that some of them have to relate to your niche in some way. Learn to focus on how the things you see and hear on a day to day basis might affect your niche, and you’ll find there’s a wealth of content to tap into.
2. Borrow From Other People
If you’re not finding content ideas in your own life then it’s time to start looking at what other people are seeing in theirs. No matter what niche you’re in, there are bound to be plenty of people out there who are writing about it, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing some of their ideas.
You may be thinking this is like stealing but that’s not the case. As long as you’re taking the ideas that are out there, rewriting them, and putting your own spin on them, then that’s absolutely fine. Just because Bob has written an article on why John Deere tractors are better than Massey Ferguson tractors doesn’t mean you can’t too!
In fact, borrowing ideas from your competitors is an excellent way to understand what content works well and what content doesn’t work well before you’ve even written it. Here’s how you do it!
So I typed my query, “why John Deere tractors are better than Massey Ferguson” into Google and selected the first result that came up. It’s not actually an article but a forum (chance for a nice article in there). Anyway, next I go to neilpatel.com and put the domain of the first result that came up, tractorbynet.com into the search.
If you scroll down to Top SEO Pages, you can see which pages bring in the most amount of traffic for that website. Click the view all button on one of the pages and you will see which keywords that page ranks for, and how many visitors those keywords bring in.
When I do this, I can see that TractorByNet is getting around 3,768 visitors a month from the keyword field leveling and that term only has a difficulty rating of 22, which means it’s pretty easy to rank for! I might even write an article about field leveling at that rate!
This technique works for any niche and is a brilliant way of discovering freelance writing topics. Not only does it give you ideas for what to write, but it also shows you what is popular.
3. Take Your Research a Step Further
Have you ever been researching something and you’ve gone down a certain root of investigation and found a treasure trove of content ideas? Well, that can often be the case when you do some good digging!
Why not take a previous article you have written, take your research to the next level for that article and see what you dig up. You’ll often find that you not only have the potential to vastly improve the original article, but you also discover some great writing topics.
I once did this with an article that touched on betting in tennis. The original article included betting as a bit of a side-note, but when I went back through the article and did a little bit more research on the betting aspect of it, I realized there were a whole series of articles to be written on betting in tennis.
Even if you put in a crazy amount of research for an article you will find that new information comes to light with time. When you revisit an old article you might find that there’s lots of new research out there, and lots of potential for new freelance writing topics.
4. Use a Title Generator
So, I told you I would tell you the story behind the quirky title I picked for this article and I didn’t lie! Clearly, “The Mayan’s Lost Guide To Freelance Writing Topics” is a bit of a fanciful title for this article, and I must admit for the purposes of this piece I got it from a title generator.
I simply went to Tweak Your Biz and put my keywords – freelance writing topics – into the generator and before I knew it I had hundreds of topic ideas. Now, not all of these function as adequate titles (this one being point in case) but they will stimulate your mind and give you some new ideas.
Sometimes it’s just a tiny thing that can get your creative juices going and a title generator can be that tiny thing. It’s not fancy or complicated, but it’s a fun way to get some ideas for things to write about.
If you’re really struggling for ideas don’t beat yourself up about it. Relax, take a step back and try and find a fun way to stimulate your ideas like this one.
5. Get Personal
Humans love stories! Even more so, they love personal stories. Why do you think we have so many reality TV shows? Well, you don’t have to go to reality TV star levels, but you can make some good content out of your personal experiences.
Let’s go back to our John Deere vs Massey Ferguson tractor debate. Now, I know absolutely nothing about tractors, but I do have a personal story that I can use to create a story and weigh in on this debate.
I went to university in the same town where John Deere has its headquarters, so I know about the great work that Deere does within the community. I can’t use that to say John Deere tractors are better, but I could use that to write something like “Why I’ll Always Fly The John Deere Flag”.
Again, it’s not complicated, but it’s a different angle that can give you some new ideas. We always underestimate the value of our own stories, when in reality there are tons of people who would be interested in them. Use your stories to satisfy the human love for storytelling.
6. Keep Up With the News
I’ve already alluded to this one earlier on in the article, but the news can be a great source of inspiration. The news (should) show us the things that are important in people’s lives, so surely it’s something we can borrow from.
If you’ve completely hit a wall then why not go out and buy a newspaper? If you can flick through the entire paper and not come up with one freelance writing topic then I’d be amazed!
The other thing about the news is that it’s wonderfully diverse. It covers everything from the most serious events to someone making a hole in his roof so he can fit a massive Christmas tree in his house. No matter what your niche is you’ll be able to find something relevant you can write about.
I don’t want to sound like that boring person that goes around telling little children they should watch the news, but as writers, we can take a lot of inspiration from what’s going on in the world.
When you’re in a funk and can’t think of anything to write about, check out the news, and you never know what you might find!
7. Expand Your Niche
Sometimes you get to the point where you’ve covered all you can cover about a topic. Especially if you have quite a specific niche, there are going to be times where you simply can’t find anything else to write about. When this happens you need to look for ways to expand your niche.
Take this website for example. There are only so many things that can be said about freelance writing. Eventually, I’m going to have to find a way to expand the niche a little bit. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just normal!
Of course, if you’re writing in a very broad niche, then this point might not be so helpful to you, but it can still have some benefit. Whatever your niche is, it’s sure to have some niches that intersect, so why not look into them? The chances are, if you have specialist knowledge in kayaks, you’ll be able to learn everything there is to know about canoes pretty quickly!
We recommend that freelance writers choose a niche so that they can specialize, but don’t let your specialization hold you back. Don’t be afraid to look for niches that intersect with your niche and venture into it. If it doesn’t work out then you’ll soon know.
Looking for inspiration in other niches is an easy way to change up what you’re doing and refresh the mind. Once you start doing a bit of research into a new topic you might find you get some good ideas for your main niche.
Sometimes you’re going to struggle to think of freelance writing topics but there are plenty of ways to get fresh inspiration. Most of the time we find that taking a step back from the computer is the best way to replenish the tank and there are plenty of fun ways to do that!
If you’ve hit a wall with your freelance writing topics then why not try some of these steps:
- Use your daily life.
- Borrow from other people.
- Take your research a step further.
- Use a title generator.
- Get personal.
- Keep up with the news.
- Expand your niche.
You’re bound to find some fresh content ideas from some of these methods, and you might just have a bit of fun doing them!
How To Become a Freelance Editor
The freelance writing industry isn’t limited to writing, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. For those people with a keen eye for detail and a great grasp of grammar then working as a freelance editor is also an option. Not only is this an excellent option for writers to expand their portfolio, but it also offers the ability to specialize.
What is a Freelance Editor?
A freelance editor is someone who works on a self-employed basis to meet the editing needs of their clients. A freelance editor will make sure that their client’s work is ready for publication, checking it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and general flow.
Editing is needed on a whole variety of writing, whether it be websites, magazines, books, or many other publications. While writers will do their best to ensure everything is perfectly written, there are always things that slip between the cracks, and this is where the editor comes in.
Of course, the difficulty for the editor is they are the last line of defense between those pesky errors making it into the final publication, so they must have super attention to detail and a methodical approach. Where the freelance writer might be able to get away with the odd mistake, the freelance editor doesn’t have such leeway.
What Skills Will You Need To Become a Freelance Editor?
Just like freelance writing, there are no specific qualifications you will need to become a freelance editor. That being said, you will need to show you have an excellent grasp of the English language, with strong spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Unfortunately, when it comes to freelance editing, you just can’t hide any mistakes. Even if your mistake evades the consciousness of your client, someone out there is bound to notice it in a document that’s going to be read many thousands of times.
To combat this, most freelance editors will normally be extremely organized, with great attention to detail. When it comes to combing through hundreds of pages to find a single grammar mistake you’ve got to be on the ball, and the best way to do this is to be organized and follow routines (we’ve got some great tips when it comes to organization for freelancers).
So, to become a freelance editor you don’t need any official qualifications, but you do need some solid language skills. It can be a painstaking job poring through documents to find a single error, but it’s an important one and if you can do it well then you will be nicely rewarded.
Here are our 7 key points for making sure you know exactly how to become a freelance editor.
1. Understand That It’s a Business
Before you start off in any freelance venture you have to understand that it’s a business. You may be in it to do editing, but you will find you have to do much more than that. It’s important that you’re aware of the bigger picture of what being a freelancer entails and are ready for the challenges ahead.
Becoming a freelance editor means becoming a one-man team. As business.com says, “from sales, to marketing, to accounting, IT and innovation, there are a number of roles you assume as owner of a new business.” All of these are on top of editing! Now, of course, this makes things more complicated, but it also allows for some of the biggest positives to being a freelancer – you answer to nobody but yourself!
However, if you enter into a freelance editing career without careful planning and don’t address all of your business’ needs, then you’re going to find it much more difficult to be successful. In our article, “7 Ways To Start Ahead of the Competition,” we say that planning and understanding your strengths and weaknesses is key, and it’s true. You might be the best editor out there, but if you can’t get your other business practices in order then you’re going to find it difficult to get the jobs you need.
The best way to avoid this is to always be aware of the fact that you’re running a business. The reality is you won’t be spending 100% of your time doing editing. If you split your time wisely though, you will be able to spend plenty of time editing, but most importantly, you will get paid handsomely to do it.
2. Figure Out What Your Time Is Worth
Part of running a business is figuring out how much your services are worth. This can be a difficult thing to do when it comes to freelancing, but it’s something you’ve got to be on top of. Of course, you can just pick out a figure that you want to make per hour, but we find it’s much more effective to dive into things a bit more deeply.
The first part of this equation is going to be your expenses. When you’re just starting out as a freelance editor it can be hard to know what your expenses might be, but just make your best guess. Find out exactly what you need to make to cover your expenses and use this as your base.
Once you know your expenses you can then work out what you want to earn per month, week, and hour. For us, we find the hourly rate is most useful because it allows us to easily work out how long a job might take us and therefore how much we need to charge. An important thing to remember here though is not all your time is going to be spent editing.
Say you get a job that’s going to take you 30 hours. There will be the time you spend coordinating with the client, perhaps some research, and the main editing time that adds up to 30 hours.
However, if you’re dedicating 30 hours in a week the chances are you’re going to spend the remaining hours in that week working on other tasks such as your marketing, bookkeeping, and networking – jobs that you’re not going to get paid for.
So, you’ve got to remember that not 100% of your time is going to be spent working for the client, and factor that in when you’re evaluating how much your time is worth. Being a freelance editor means you have much more to deal with than just editing and you have to factor that into your equations.
Once you’ve come up with a figure, make sure to check it against what other people in the market are offering, but, at the same time, don’t let it sway your decision too much. As long as you’re in the right ballpark then you have the opportunity to use your great marketing skills to make it work.
Obviously, you’re not tied to any decision you make here, but it’s always a good first step to understand what you need to make as a freelance writer. With time, you will get a much better feel for what you can earn, but make sure you give this question some serious thought before you begin.
3. Invest In Yourself
Depending on your level of experience it might be a good idea to refresh your skills a little bit. If you’re considering a career as a freelance editor then I assume you already have great English language skills and an eye for detail, but it’s always worth adding to those skills.
As we mentioned earlier, as an editor, you’re the last line of defense against something embarrassing potentially being published so you have to be on top of your game at all times. Letting errors slip through is an easy way to sour your relationships with your clients, so you’ve got to feel confident in your skills.
If you’re new to editing then we definitely recommend taking some editing courses. Groups like the Society For Editors and Proofreaders offer very comprehensive courses at reasonable prices, money that will come back to you through your improved work.
Even if you’re a more experienced editor it might still be worth taking a little refresher course just to make sure you’re up to date with everything. These things might cost a little bit of money up front, but they’re certainly worth it in the long run.
It’s easy to get bogged down as a freelancer with all the things you have to do, but sometimes it’s a good option to simply take a step back and work on your skills.
Ahhh, the forgotten part of being a freelancer. You may be an editor at heart, but I assure you, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time on marketing. At the end of the day, if you don’t get jobs then you’re not going to make any money, and marketing is going to be key to this in one form or another.
Luckily, there’s tons of information out there that can really help you with marketing (check out Marketing Yourself as a Freelancer). In the past, much of a freelancer’s marketing would be word of mouth, but today, the internet has opened everything up. To be successful as a freelance editor, you’ve got to be able to make the most of all these new marketing platforms and bring them together with a strong marketing plan.
In our opinion, your website is always going to be the centerpiece of your marketing efforts. While you will use all platforms to market yourself, the idea is to use them to drive people to your website. Once you’ve got people to your website, you’re in complete control of how you portray yourself.
If you’re worried about setting your own website up then let us put your mind at ease, it’s really not as hard as it sounds! You can set up a website that looks professional without having to spend too much money and you don’t need to be a tech whizz to do it. Once you’ve got your website set up it will grow with you and be crucial to your marketing efforts.
What you choose to put on your website is up to you, but the best place to start is probably a bit of a bio and a portfolio. Put some of your past work up there and show the documents before your editing and after.
It’s probably a bit easier to come up with content to put on your website as a freelance writer than it is a freelance editor, but still, there are plenty of things you can put on your website. Invest some time into your website at the beginning of your career and it will help you earn jobs for years and years to come!
Being able to communicate with your clients is extremely important when it comes to “how to become a freelance editor.” If you can nail this part of freelance editing then you’re going to find that you get a lot of repeat work, and trust us, repeat work is a wonderful thing!
Being an editor, you need to make sure that your client’s vision is accurately expressed through the piece of content that you’re editing. That document needs to be accurate, well written, have the correct voice, and be error-free, and you’re the person who makes sure this has all been taken care of.
The only way that you can understand your client’s vision for their content though is through good communication. You need to learn to ask the right questions and really get a good handle on what it is that your client wants. If you don’t understand what it is your client wants then your job becomes much more difficult.
This communication needs to be ongoing throughout the project for the best results, so it’s important to keep regular contact with your client throughout. The more you understand what your client wants, the better you can meet their needs.
As someone who has used the services of freelancers in the past, I know that one of the biggest worries is finding someone who will get the work done in a punctual and professional manner. One of the ways you can assure your clients that you are going to do this is through good communication.
If you can nail the communication part of this job then you’re going to make your life much easier, and we guarantee you’ll see some glowing feedback for your troubles.
There are tons and tons of people out there who need editing services so why not get out there and talk to some of these people? There are bound to be lots of business networking events in your local area that you can attend and you never know who you’re going to meet at these things.
Even if you don’t find people who are looking for editing services, if you make the right impression then they’re likely to recommend you to people they know who are looking for editors. As Susan Ward says in her article What is Business Networking and What are the Benefits? “You need to meet and communicate with potential clients and business partners on a regular basis to maintain your business relationships. Attending business luncheons and other networking events raises your personal profile and can help keep you front and center in the minds of the right people.” We often get a bit carried away with digital networking these days, but the power of a face to face interaction cannot be underestimated.
Once you’ve made a personal connection with someone the chances are they might remember you next time someone they know is looking for an editor and guess what? You might just pick up some work!
The other nice thing about networking is it gets you out doing something slightly different that is still beneficial for your business. It’s easy to spend all day every day stuck in your office sat behind a computer as a freelance editor, so doing some networking is a nice way to break that up.
It may get forgotten in the modern world, but face to face networking is still a thing, and it’s still a very effective way to market yourself.
7. Remember You’re an Editor
When you’re an editor, everything you write is going to be scrutinized to a higher standard than everyone else. This means when you’re writing things like bios, job pitches, and blogs, your work has to be absolutely spot on. If you make errors in a pitch, then the chances are, you’ve failed the first test, and there’s no coming back from that.
Make sure that whatever you write, you go over it as if it’s a piece of work for a client. You’re going to be held to a very high standard, but on the flip side, you’ve got a very high level of skills when it comes to editing, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Take the time to go over your work and make sure you don’t fail at the first hurdle!
If you find yourself wondering how to become a freelance editor, the answer is there is nothing stopping you. Like any job, you’re going to need some specific skills but you don’t need any qualifications, and as long as you have good grammar, spelling, and reading skills, there’s nothing to hold you back.
If you want to be a successful freelance editor then we recommend these simple steps to get your career off to the best possible start:
- Understand that it’s a business.
- Figure out what your time is worth.
- Invest in yourself.
- Market yourself.
- Communicate with your clients.
- Remember you’re an editor.
Going it alone as a freelance editor isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but the rewards are well worth the sacrifices. Getting to be your own boss is something that few people achieve, and freelance editing is a career that can allow you to do just that.
If you’ve got great language skills and an eye for detail then why not give it a go and see if you can make it as a freelance editor?
What Is a Ghostwriter?
Ghostwriting is a tricky subject in the writing industry. Many people question the ethics of it, and yet more are asking “what is a ghostwriter?” On the question of ethics, there’s no definite answer, you’ll have to make your own mind up on that one. When it comes to what is a ghostwriter though it’s actually quite simple.
A ghostwriter is someone who writes for a client but receives no credit on the published work. As such, they are a ghost, because they’ve written the work but there’s no evidence of them having done so. Although it sounds like a strange practice, ghostwriting is actually very common in the writing industry and there are some writers who earn a living solely through writing pieces that they receive no credit for.
As you might imagine, there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to ghostwriting, and there are many writers who avoid this practice altogether. For Larry and myself, we’ve both dabbled in ghostwriting, however, there’s definitely a tradeoff between ghostwriting and the regular freelance writing we do and there is a balance to be struck.
So now that we’ve got the what is a ghostwriter question out of the way we thought we would run you through some of the pros and cons of taking these mysterious jobs, whether ghostwriting is right for you, and how to go about winning them!
Why Do People Employ Ghostwriters?
There are many reasons as to why people employ ghostwriters. In our experience, our clients have often had great knowledge of a niche, and a good platform, they’re just lacking the writing skills or time to turn that knowledge into useful information for their audience.
We sometimes assume that just because someone is an expert in their field and a very intelligent person then they automatically must be a good writer, but that’s not the case. Sometimes clients need a little help in turning their experiences into easily digestible content.
Other times the problem is time. If someone has a busy career in a certain field then they might not have time to squeeze in the writing they want to do. To overcome this problem they enlist the help of a ghostwriter, giving them time to focus on the jobs they’re good at and allow you to get paid for the things you’re good at.
Ghostwriting has been around for a very long time in all forms of writing. With the growth of the internet, the opportunities for ghostwriters have risen greatly though.
Advantages of Ghostwriting
Of course, there are some great benefits to ghostwriting. While it might also have some serious disadvantages, there are strong reasons why some writers swear by these jobs.
Here are some of the main advantages to ghostwriting that might convince you it’s the right gig for you.
To offset the negative aspects, you’re likely to get more money from ghostwriting jobs than regular freelance writing jobs. Clearly, not getting any credit for your work is less than ideal, so to make up for it, you get more money!
Whatever problems there are in the world, most of them can be solved by money, and in many cases, that’s precisely the case with ghostwriting. One of the nice things about being a freelance writer is the ability to set your own prices, so we won’t tell you what to charge for your ghostwriting services, but we generally look to add 10 – 20% on to the price for ghostwriting work.
Adding 20% to your income is certainly not something to turn your nose up at, but you’ve got to remember that on the flipside you have the pesky no credit problem. At the end of the day, you have the option to be very flexible with your rates and that allows you to decide whether ghostwriting is worthwhile for you or not.
2. Build Connections
Although you won’t have your name at the end of your articles when you ghostwrite, it does give you the opportunity to build some very important connections within your industry. Ghostwriting often involves working very closely with the person you’re ghostwriting for, and this is a chance to really build bridges with someone high up in your industry.
If they’re in a position to pay for your ghostwriting services, then the chances are, they’ve got quite a good idea of how to make things work in your niche. Working closely with these people allows you to learn new things and pick up knowledge that can help you greatly in your career.
Not only will your client have some useful knowledge about your niche, but they’re also likely to know plenty of people in your niche. You might not get credit for your work in the form of your name being at the bottom of your article, but you can get credit another way.
Ghostwriting is an excellent way to get word of mouth recommendations from serious players within your niche. If you do great work for your client, they’re sure to spread the word that if you’re looking for someone to ghostwrite in their niche then you’re the guy. As we said in our article, “How To Become a Writer Without a Degree,” networking is a brilliant way to get new writing jobs. How better to do it than by doing work for some of the movers and shakers in your subject?
3. Recurring Work
Another great benefit of ghostwriting is the fact that they often tend to be long lasting gigs. Because clients who use your ghostwriting services are claiming your work as theirs, it’s much more authentic when they use you to write all of their content. This way, “their” voice stays constant throughout, rather than sounding like it has been written by a number of different authors.
I’m pretty sure that whatever industry you’re in, recurring work and specifically recurring pay are pretty much the Holy Grail! As a freelance writer, where you can never guarantee where the next job is coming from, recurring work is even more important.
If you have some solid recurring work in your arsenal then if you do go through a little lean spell where you’re not picking up too much work then you always have your recurring gig to fall back on. This is one reason why some people love ghostwriting so much, it can bring a little bit more certainty to an uncertain industry.
Disadvantages of Ghostwriting
1. It’s More Difficult to Build Your Brand
Building your brand it an important part of freelance writing. Your portfolio is going to make up a big part of your brand, and unfortunately, articles that you ghostwrite won’t contribute to this. This means that you could potentially write the best article you’ve ever written as a ghostwriter, but you’re not going to get the exposure for it.
If you already have a strong brand as a freelance writer then this isn’t such a problem, but if you’re just starting out in freelance writing it can be an issue. Building your portfolio is a key part of getting freelance writing jobs, and if you’re devoting all your time to ghostwriting then it can be much more difficult to do this.
The word ghost features in ghostwriting for a reason! The problem is, much of your success in this business will be based upon your ability to be highly visible so being a ghost is generally the last thing you want.
Of course, there are plenty of people who make ghostwriting work and earn a great living for it, but there’s definitely a balance to be struck. If you’ve got the time to build in some ghostwriting as well as working on your freelance writing brand then you’ve got the best of both worlds. For many people, this can be a difficult balance to achieve though.
2. It’s Hard to See Other People Take the Credit For Your Work
Remember those kids at school who would practically build a fort around their desk when they were taking an exam just so other kids couldn’t copy their work? Well, the chances are these people really aren’t going to like the idea of ghostwriting!
So, we weren’t all quite that secretive about our precious work, but naturally, everyone wants to receive credit for the work they do. Ghostwriting can be a little bit like doing someone else’s homework and seeing them get an A for your work, and lots of people aren’t comfortable with that.
Of course, when it comes to ghostwriting you get handsomely rewarded, but it can still be a bitter pill to swallow, particularly if your work becomes highly acclaimed.
This is one of those issues where we can’t really advise you on how you might feel. When we’ve done ghostwriting in the past, we’ve always seen it as a simple transaction, we sell the client our writing and they do with it what they want. However, if some of that work had turned into some kind of global phenomenon, then I’m sure we would have been pretty upset that our names weren’t on it.
3. The Question of Morals
Some people question whether it is right to pass someone else’s work off as your own. The reader thinks they’re reading a piece of work by one person when in fact it wasn’t written by them at all.
While the practice of ghostwriting can certainly be seen as misleading, we find there are certain scenarios where it is more acceptable than others.
Say you’re ghostwriting for someone whose niche is rainforest trekking. They’ve been on hundreds of treks around the world, they’ve carried out rainforest conservation research, and they’re a respected name in the niche. They give you strict parameters for the content, and provide you with the research you need to make a great article. All they want is your writing skills. Perhaps they’re not a great writer, or they just don’t have the time, either way, all they really want is your deft touch with the English language.
In this case, we would say that ghostwriting is fairly defensible. Your client has had the idea for the content and put in a lot of the hard work. You are something like an editor of their ideas rather than the sole creator of their content.
On the other hand, if your client simply says I want you to create some content on rainforest trekking then it is a bit more of a grey area. You’re the one coming up with all the ideas, doing the research, writing the content, and editing the work, but the audience is being led to believe it’s the work of the client.
Generally, when it comes to ghostwriting, we would much rather be working with the first scenario than the second. However, personally, I wouldn’t write the second scenario off completely.
Either way, this is a decision that you have to make for yourself!
How To Get Those Ghostwriting Jobs
We’ve covered the what is a ghostwriter part and what some of the advantages and disadvantages of ghostwriting are, but how do you go about getting these jobs?
The answer is – in much the same way as you go about getting regular freelance writing jobs.
In our article “How To Start Freelance Writing With No Experience,” we detailed 7 ways to jump ahead of the competition, and they’re as applicable to ghostwriting as they are other forms of writing.
For the full story on how to get your freelance writing career off to the best possible start check out the article, but for now, we’ll provide you with a quick run through of the points.
1. Work Harder
We’re firm believers that in order to get ahead of the competition you’ve got to work harder than the competition. Talent is a great thing to have but there’s a reason we have the saying “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
The competition is fierce in this industry, so you’ve got to be willing to put in the hard yards. Continuing with the motivational quotes, “nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort” (Theodore Roosevelt).
You may have a limited amount of time to dedicate to freelance writing, but there’s nothing stopping you making the most of every second. Learn to maximize your productivity and get the absolute most out of your time (we’ve got some tips for this!)
This one’s all in your own hands!
2. Choose Your Writing Niche
You’ll notice we’ve mentioned niches a lot in this article already. That’s because the people who are successful in this industry generally have a niche in which they’ve become an expert.
Choosing a niche is going to make your freelance writing journey so much easier, we can’t begin to tell you. Follow the advice in our article, “7 Ways To Choose Your Niches and Start Ahead of the Competition” and start your career off on the right foot.
3. Build a Website
Unfortunately, being a freelance writer isn’t all about the writing. You’re going to have to do a lot of marketing too. We always find that the best way to do this is by building your own website. Not only does this make you look more professional but it also allows you to control how you advertise your work.
Once you’ve got a website up and running you can start to build a great portfolio that’s going to show off your best work. Building a website to showcase your portfolio might take a little bit of time to start off with, but it’s going to be a great money maker for you for years to come.
4. Guest Blogging
At the beginning of your ghostwriting career, you might find it difficult to get well-paid work because you don’t have a portfolio of work to show clients. A great way to get the ball rolling when it comes to building a writing portfolio is by writing guest blogs.
You may not get paid for these pieces of work, but they can get you lots of exposure and look really good in your portfolio. Check out our article, “How to Build a Writing Portfolio in 7 Easy Steps” for some advice on how to find guest posting gigs in your niche.
Of course, we all want to get paid for our work, but when that’s not a possibility, guest posting is a great option. These gigs might not earn you money today, but they will certainly contribute to your success in the future.
5. Keep An Eye On The Jobs Boards
There are always ghostwriting jobs out there, you just have to be alert. While we find jobs boards like Blogging Pro and Freelance Writing aren’t the perfect way to get jobs, they’re certainly worth keeping your eye on.
There are tons of jobs on these boards and they’re completely free, so set up reminders and remember to check back on these sites every once in a while. There are tons of different ways to pick up jobs as a ghostwriter, so make sure you’re using every one to your advantage.
6. Always Keep Pitching
Pitching is how you get jobs, it’s that simple. Like many things in life, pitching is a numbers game. Not every pitch you send is going to land you the job, but if you keep going, eventually you will get the work.
Make sure you’re sending out high-quality pitches, but always remember that volume is important too. Many times when people are struggling to get enough work we ask if they’re sending out enough high-quality pitches, and generally the answer is no.
7. Don’t Give Up
Being a freelance writer is not an easy thing and there are bound to be plenty of ups and downs in your journey. It can be tempting to give it up sometimes but the worst thing you can do is give up just when you’re on the verge of something great.
Make sure you’re evaluating your career in a sensible way, but don’t give up on your dreams too early!
Undoubtedly, ghostwriting is an excellent opportunity for freelance writers to boost their revenues. However, for all the positive aspects of ghostwriting, there are also some serious drawbacks.
When you consider taking on a ghostwriting job you have to take a few factors into consideration. If you find ghostwriting morally acceptable and can handle not getting credit for your work then the equation becomes quite simple. Is the extra pay worth giving up the exposure for?
The major negative to ghostwriting is that you’re not going to get credit for your writing and this means you don’t get the exposure. Building a brand is a big part of freelance writing and if you spend a lot of your time doing ghostwriting work this is going to be much more difficult.
That being said, if you’ve got plenty of recurring ghostwriting work then you don’t have to worry about getting more work! Whichever way you look at it, there are tradeoffs to doing ghostwriting work, and at the end of the day, it’s a decision only you can make for yourself.
7 Steps To Building Your Writing Portfolio
It always seems like an inescapable loop when it comes to securing jobs. Everyone wants someone with experience, but you need a job to get experience. So how do you break the loop when it comes to freelance writing and show that you’ve got what it takes to get the job done? The answer is by building a great writing portfolio that showcases all the wonderful skills you’ve got!
Running your own blog and writing guest posts are excellent ways to start building a portfolio. You might not get paid for these pieces of work, but they are great building blocks to begin your career with. Choose your niches, sit down and write some quality content, and follow our 7 steps to building the perfect writing portfolio.
We absolutely love freelance writing. It’s a wonderful career where you can indulge in your passions whilst making a great living. When you’re starting out though, freelance writing can be a scary proposition. You’re starting out on your own with only yourself to rely on. You’ve got so many questions running through your head, not least, “where do I start?”
Well, building yourself a writing portfolio is certainly one of the best places to start your freelance writing career, and we’ve got 7 top tips to bear in mind when you start on this path. If you can build a strong writing portfolio and most importantly, get people reading it, then you’ve got an excellent shot at making this gig work.
Always remember that when it comes to freelance writing, marketing is as much a part of your job as writing. This means that it’s not enough to simply make a great writing portfolio, you’ve got to actually get people to it and get them reading it.
So, without further ado, here’s our guide to creating the perfect portfolio and getting those all-important potential clients reading your work.
1. Choose Your Niche
There’s one place we recommend everyone starts when it comes to how to build a writing portfolio and that is choosing your niches. You want to be a professional writer and that means specializing. Not only is this going to help you out with the quality of your work, but it’s also going to make marketing yourself much easier.
Make a list of the things your passionate about, and narrow it down to a few niche subjects that you think you would enjoy writing about. You don’t need to be supremely knowledgeable about these subjects, but you will find your life is much easier if you have an interest in them.
Lawrence and I were very lucky when it came to choosing our niche because we had one stand-out subject. We’ve both spent the majority of our lives playing tennis to a high level, so we had a professional level of knowledge on the subject.
You may not have a subject that jumps out at you in the same way, so we’ve put together our 7 point guide on how to choose a niche and start ahead of the competition!
This step is really simple. Pick a few niches and commit to them, if you find you’re not suited to them, then you can move your focus to another subject, but it’s important to find a few niche subjects to build your portfolio around.
I speak from experience when it comes to this step because I once got a gig writing regular posts on a subject I found so boring that I could simply fall asleep while writing. I can’t promise you that you’ll never get bored writing about your chosen niches, but I can promise you if you’re passionate about them you’re life is going to be much easier.
2. Think About the Medium
Before you start thinking about building your writing portfolio it’s important to think about how you’re going to showcase it. There’s no point writing a great portfolio if nobody ever sees it, so you want to find the best way to present your hard work.
In our opinion, there’s no better way to do this than by creating your own website. This way might take a little bit more effort up front than some other mediums, but the rewards are far greater.
The main reason we recommend having your own personal website is it gives you complete control over how you present yourself and your writing portfolio. Not only does it look more professional than other methods, but it also has a personal touch that allows you to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Once you have your website set up as your cornerstone, you can easily use your other marketing platforms (social media, jobs boards, email marketing) to point people to your website.
Remember that you want to market yourself as a niche writer and build your website around that. Prospective clients want to know that you’re an expert in whatever subject they’re looking to hire for so really use your website to showcase this.
If you get this step sorted out at the beginning of your career then it can be a great source of income for years to come. It doesn’t take a huge amount of technical knowledge, you just need to buy a domain and set it up on WordPress. There’s tons of technical support if you do get stuck, and really, the effort is totally worth the reward.
3. Start Blogging
In a recent article, we said that one of the hardest things to do in freelance writing is to actually start writing. It might seem like an easy step to overcome, but in reality, it’s not an easy one to take. Until you actually start writing, a freelance writing career can seem like a bit of a dream, but when you take that first step it all of a sudden becomes real.
There is nothing to fear about writing your first pieces of work though. Once you’ve set up your own website you have the perfect forum to write your first articles with absolutely no pressure. Take as much time as you like because there’s nobody pressurizing you to meet a deadline. Make your first article something you’re proud of and give yourself that little confidence boost you needed!
As you can tell, we loved writing a blog so much that we made this one! The great thing about keeping a blog is that you can do everything at your own pace and best of all, all this work contributes towards your writing portfolio.
You might be thinking “that’s all well and good but I need to make some money” and you would be right. In the short term, you’re not going to see any money for these articles. What you’re doing though is building the foundations that will earn you your money in the future. If you build a great writing portfolio and learn how to market yourself effectively, your website and your blog, are going to be one of your big money makers.
There are lots of ways to start building a writing portfolio, but blogging is one of our favorite because there’s no pressure, but it’s still very fruitful. Writing for your own website gives you a great opportunity to practice your skills whilst still building for your future.
4. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is another excellent way to start building your writing portfolio whilst easing you into the industry. Not many of these opportunities will be paid, but they represent a wonderful opportunity to get your work read by a big audience and pad our your portfolio.
Thanks to the internet, there are literally thousands of opportunities out there for guest blogs, so there should be nothing stopping you. Here’s how to find all the guest blogging opportunities you could possibly want!
All you need to do is type into google your niche + write for us, and you will find plenty of opportunities for guest posts. Every website will have slightly different guidelines for your posts, but they’re generally pretty straight forward and can put your work in front of a large audience.
Here are the guidelines for the first website on our search. They’re all pretty straight forward and mean you have a good opportunity to test your skills.
If you were to get one of your articles posted on a website such as Journal of the Civil War Era this would be an excellent addition to your writing portfolio (assuming your niche is American History!)
Most guest posts allow you to write an author bio at the end of the article which gives a little background info about the author. The best thing here is you get to put your website! So not only have you got your name out there in your niche, had your article read by thousands of potential clients, but you’ve also got some exposure for your website.
Once your article has been posted you can then use your website to link to the original article and include it in your writing portfolio. These guest posts can really make your portfolio stand out and impress potential clients so look to take every opportunity you can to do some guest blogging!
5. Start Pitching
If you’ve gone through steps 1,2,3, and 4, then it’s likely that you’ve built up a decent body of work and it’s time to start doing some pitching! If you ask us, this is one of the most fun parts of being a freelance writer because it calls on you to use some creativity.
No matter what your niche is, there’s someone out there who’s running a website about it. This means there’s plenty of opportunities to pitch for work. Now, you might think that cold pitching random website owners isn’t your idea of fun, but, it’s actually a great way to pick up work and you can make a big difference to someone’s website.
We love leveraging our SEO skills in a cold pitch to earn new freelance writing jobs, but every writer is going to have different skills that they can use to get great new gigs.
(If you’re looking at boosting your SEO skills then take a look at Larry’s Guide to SEO in Freelance Writing)
Whatever expert skills you’ve got you should use them to show website owners how you can make a difference to their website. We’ve detailed our favorite pitch in Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners – 7 Ways To Win Work, so check it out and see how you can fill in your skills to get great writing jobs.
At this point, you are moving on to getting paid work, so make sure everything you do is professional. Treat your pitches with the same care that you do your writing and really show potential clients what they’re going to get.
Like any cold pitch, you’re going to go through a fair few rejections, but that’s just part of this job. Eventually, you’re going to get a positive result and you can turn this into a long-term, recurring job.
Once you’ve built up a good body of work you will have the opportunity to be a bit more selective about what you show in your writing portfolio. While you obviously want to keep all of your blog articles live, you don’t necessarily need to link to every article you’ve written in your portfolio.
This is why we would recommend a portfolio page that is separate to your blog, this way you can keep adjusting what you show in your portfolio. With your writing portfolio, you really want to show the very best highlights of your writing. Imagine what you would want to see if you were looking for someone to write for your website and tailor your portfolio as such.
How large you make your portfolio is up to you, but remember there is such a thing as too much choice. We tend to keep our portfolio to around 12 articles, showcasing the variety of our writing, but we really try to focus on the great feedback we’ve had from our work.
If we’ve had particularly good feedback from an article, or lots of comments, or ranked highly on Google, then we will tend to put those in our writing portfolio. Clients look for good writing, but they also want to know that your writing can engage their audience. By including feedback and comments from your articles you show prospective clients that you’ve got the whole package.
Make sure to keep updating your writing portfolio as you want to show that your knowledge of your subject is up to date. You may have a great article from five years ago and it’s fine to put that in your portfolio, but if every piece in your portfolio is from five years ago it’s going to lead your potential client to ask some questions. Namely, “what has he been doing for the past five years?”
Your writing portfolio needs to showcase your great writing, but it also needs to show how you can engage your audience. Focus on articles that have received great feedback and make sure you have some recent articles in there.
7. Show More Than Just Your Writing
As we alluded to in the last paragraph, you want to try and show that your articles are more than just well written. You have to try and show that people engage with your content and that clients find you a pleasure to work with.
In our recent article, “Marketing Yourself as a Freelance Writer,” collecting testimonials came in at number three on our list of things you need to do! You’ll find that your clients are more than happy to give you some feedback on your work, so incorporate it into your writing portfolio.
Your writing says a lot about you, but it can’t possibly tell the whole story. As someone who runs my own website, I’d much rather work with a good writer who’s a pleasure to work with than a great writer who’s a pain in the butt to work with. If you can show that you’re a great writer who’s a pleasure to work with then you’ve got the winning ticket!
When you’re building your writing portfolio make sure that you have a wide focus. Of course, great quality writing is essential for your portfolio, but it’s not the be all and end all. Imagine what you would want from a freelance writer if you were a prospective client and market yourself accordingly.
It can be a vicious circle trying to build a writing portfolio. On the one hand you need a portfolio to get some work, on the other, you need some work to build a portfolio. You can break that circle though by following our 7 Step Guide For How to Build a Writing Portfolio.
- Choose Your Niche
- Think About the Medium
- Start Blogging
- Take Advantage of Guest Blogging
- Start Pitching
- Show More Than Just Your Writing
If you follow these 7 steps then you have great potential to build a writing portfolio that can earn you lucrative jobs for years to come. Sure, it takes a good amount of work in the short-term, but in the long run, you’re going to benefit enormously.
Your website, and consequently, your writing portfolio is something that will grow with you throughout your career, you just have to take a little bit of time now to get it set up. If you can build a body of work that you’re proud of and successfully get people viewing it, then you’ve got a great shot at making your freelance writing career a success.
7 Ways To Start As a Writer Without a Degree
If there’s one thing that seems to stop people from becoming freelance writers it’s the belief that you need a college degree, specifically in English or Journalism, to make the grade. Of course, when you become a freelance writer, you don’t have to take a test or fill out a form saying where you went to school, but nonetheless, this issue seems to be a big barrier to many people.
In reality, there is absolutely no need to have a college degree in order to become a freelance writer. Of course, there are plenty of skills you can pick up during a college degree that will help you in freelance writing. However, it’s also possible to pick up those skills in your day to day life, and the chances are, you’ve got what it takes. So, don’t let the fact that you don’t have a college degree stop you from becoming a freelance writer.
Instead of sending you off to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a college education, we’ve put together our 7 key skills for how to become a writer without a degree. Although many of these skills are honed in a college environment, they are more life skills than academic skills, and anyone can thrive in these areas.
Your success in freelance writing is going to come down to hard work and passion far more than it will your education, and that’s one of the things we love about this career. It is what you make of it, and if you put in the hard graft, you’re likely to see results.
1. Be Brave – Start Writing
This may seem like a simple step, but it can be one of the hardest for any would-be freelance writer. Freelance writing might seem like a great dream and you don’t want to start writing, just in case it shatters the illusion and you actually find out it’s really hard.
The thing is, you’re never going to know until you actually start writing. The hardest part about anything is getting started, and once you’ve banged out a few articles you’re sure to feel better about the prospect of freelance writing.
We love this article on lifehacker.com which states, “It’s that hump of ‘just start’ that is so hard to get over. Yet once we do, momentum takes over. We see immediate results from the work we’re doing and instead of looking for ways to avoid it, we look at ways to finish.”
So, start out with a short list of topics that you’re passionate about and make yourself a target of writing five articles. Work your way through the articles and simply do your best. They don’t need to be articles that you’re going to sell, but do it for yourself, and show yourself you can write five articles and do a really good job!
You’ll soon discover there’s nothing to fear about writing, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Your articles don’t have to be Nobel Prize winning pieces, they just have to convey your passion for your subject and be grammatically sound (the internet offers plenty of help in this area!).
We find that when it comes to figuring out how to become a writer without a degree, the one thing that is normally holding you back is yourself. We all have fears, and even if you asked experienced writers, you’d probably find that many of them still fear having their writing torn to shreds by thousands of people. What they do though, and what you need to learn to do is push through that fear!
The internet is full of some pretty mediocre writing and there’s no reason why you can’t do a better job than many writers out there. You’ve got to take the first step though, and that means starting the writing process.
2. Be Curious – Question Everything
We find that one of the keys to being a successful writer is the ability to use critical thinking. This means engaging in thorough research for all your articles and most importantly questioning your sources. Whatever it is you’re writing, make sure you’re making it original by really taking your research to the next level.
No matter how obscure the subject you are writing about is, the chances are there are a lot of people out there who have already addressed it. This means that what your writing has to be original and have the ability to capture the attention of your audience. There’s no better way to do this than to offer your readers a superior experience through your research.
It’s easy to just skim the internet for a few key facts about your subject and fill the rest in with fancy words, everybody can do that. But, what you have the opportunity to do with each and every article, is to give your readers a new viewpoint and convince them with your superior research skills.
Fuel Your Curiosity
There’s no easier way to do this than by simply being curious about your topic. If you love the things you’re writing about then it’s likely you’re going to immerse yourself in those subjects. You’ll get to know all the best sources for information on the topic and you’ll be able to form highly eloquent arguments that are going to engage consumers.
At the end of the day, that’s what this job is all about – engaging the consumer. If you can show that your content is engaging and people want to read it then you’re going to be a success.
For more information on using critical thinking in your writing check out our article “7 Ways To Learn From Everything You Do”.
Curiosity is just another quality of a freelance writer that you don’t need a college degree to have. You’ve got to forget about “how to become a writer without a degree,” and focus on simply how to become a writer because there’s nothing in here you need a college degree to learn. You’re obviously curious about being a writer, so harness that curiosity and use it to make your content exceptional.
3. Be Savvy – Choose a Niche
Hopefully this is the first article you’ve read by us, because if not, you’ll be tired of us banging on about niches. We don’t keep talking about niches just to bore you though, they’re actually hugely important and choosing your writing niches is going to be a big step in your writing career.
(We could send you to virtually any of our articles for some more advice on choosing a niche, but here is one specifically about finding the perfect niche!)
There are an infinite number of subjects you could choose to write about as a freelance writer, but in order to make the most out of your skills, you need to select a few niches that you’re going to specialize in. There are lots of reasons for this, but the main one is you want to become an expert in your niche.
If you can pick a few niches where you have a passion for the subject, you can focus all your time on those subjects and gradually increase your level of knowledge. The more you know about your subject, the easier it’s going to be to write about it. This means you’ll write higher quality articles, but also, they’ll take you less time!
Earning good money through freelance writing is about quality first of all, but you’ll find you also need to have a focus on quantity. The chances are, you’re not going to make a full time living out of one article that takes you all week. That’s why choosing a few niches to focus on is an important first step when it comes to becoming a writer without a degree.
Not only will you produce better work when you choose your writing niches, but it also becomes much easier to market yourself. If you’re writing about hundreds of different topics, it’s much harder to market yourself than if you have a large body of work centered around a few select subjects.
The clients you’ll be working for want to know that they’re employing someone who is knowledgeable and authoritative in the given subject and the best way to show this is by having a strong portfolio of work in that subject.
It’s tempting to approach freelance writing by just applying for any job you see advertised. In the long run though, it’s much more effective to select a few niches and gradually build your reputation in those subjects.
You’ll produce better work and your reputation will grow much more quickly.
4. Be Proud – Market Yourself
When you do great work as a freelance writer, you’ve got to celebrate yourself! Shout it from the rooftops and make sure people see the work you’ve been doing. You’re only going to get work as a freelance writer if you get people reading your stuff, and that’s easier said than done. Freelance writing is as much about marketing as it is writing, so make sure you’re dedicating just as much energy to the marketing side of things.
Luckily, in today’s world, there are tons of ways to do this and you don’t have to invest lots of money to do it. Social media is one platform that is particularly effective when it comes to marketing and it’s completely free, so there’s no excuse not to use this to showcase the work you’ve been doing.
If you’re looking for a little bit of guidance on the marketing side and social media in particular then check out Larry’s article, “7 Social Media Hacks To Gain More Freelance Writing Gigs”. These are some pretty simple tricks you can use to help boost your profile and hopefully score some great writing jobs!
Marketing yourself as a freelance writer is a multipronged effort that is going to require you to engage in social media, do plenty of networking, apply for jobs, write pitches, and keep an updated website. None of these things are hard, but they’re things you need to stay on top of if you’re going to maximize your profitability as a freelance writer.
Show your work to as many potential clients as possible by engaging in all these marketing platforms. Self-celebration doesn’t come naturally to most people, but in order to get jobs, you’re going to need to show prospective clients that your writing rocks!
5. Be “Techy” – Build a Website
I like this title because it’s kind of misleading. You see, you don’t need to be techy to build your own website, it’s really not that hard and you certainly don’t need to be a tech genius to do it. So many writers choose to skip this step because they think it is going to be too much work (or something they’re not capable of). If you really want to be successful and become a writer without a degree though, your website is going to be vitally important.
That’s because your website is the perfect place to showcase all the great work you’ve done. If you’re starting out in the industry then simply create a blog and start practicing your writing. It gives you the opportunity to gain some invaluable experience as well as build your portfolio.
Even if you’re an established writer you should definitely look at starting your own website. Link to all the work you have done, and again, start posting your own blogs. Your own website shows that you are a professional and that you should be taken seriously, and, can earn you some great new gigs.
Use Your Marketing To Point People To Your Website
Use your other marketing efforts such as social media to point people towards your website and let your great writing do the rest of your work for you. The key is getting prospective clients to read your work and there’s no better way to do that than with a good website.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to create a world-leading website, it just has to show that you’re a professional with some great writing ability.
As Laurence Bradford says in her Forbes article, 3 Reasons Why You Need A Personal Website, “In this way, a website can function similarly to a resume. However, a personal website has the freedom to be much more extensive and engaging, since it allows for the inclusion of photos, work samples, and even testimonials.”
Buy a professional sounding domain name, Youtube a few videos on how to set up a WordPress site and before you know it you will have a great platform from which to market yourself. It sounds difficult, but it’s really not that hard.
6. Be a Sharer – Follow and be Followed
One of the best ways to help you on your quest to becoming a writer without a degree is to follow what other successful writers are doing. To do this, you’re going to have to do a little networking.
By joining and contributing to writing communities you can pick up some great contacts and tips that can give your freelance writing career a good boost. Get involved with these communities and find out what techniques other writers are finding successful.
You can pick up all kinds of strategies from these groups and you might even find you score the odd job out of them too! Share your journey with others and you’ll find there are plenty of people willing to help you with some insider knowledge.
As topresume.com says, “networking will help you develop and improve your skill set, stay on top of the latest trends in your industry, keep a pulse on the job market, meet prospective mentors, partners, and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster your career development.”
In the past, you’d probably have to physically go out and meet people to do this, but of course, in today’s world, you’re sure to find everything you need online. If you’re looking for active communities, Facebook and Reddit are particularly useful.
This may not be the most important point on the list, but, you never know what might come from conversing with other writers. They say it’s not about what you know, but who you know, so why not get out there and start to know some of the important people in the writing industry.
7. Be Open – Always Look For Opportunities To Improve
Feedback plays a massive part in freelance writing. Look to get feedback from all the work you do, but most importantly, learn from that feedback. No writers start out doing everything perfectly and you will be no different. The difference between the writers that become successful and the writers that don’t is learning from those mistakes.
It’s not always easy taking criticism over your work, but it’s just part and parcel of being a writer. I know when I first started out I really struggled with this aspect, but with time, you realize that negative feedback is actually one of the best ways to improve.
Everyone loves to get great feedback about their work, but sometimes it’s the negative feedback that can make the most positive impact on your career. Nevertheless, make sure you celebrate when you do get great feedback. Post a link to your website and social media pages, and most importantly, give yourself a pat on the back!
Being a writer can sometimes be a lonely place, the onus is on you for everything and there’s going to be no one else around to pat you on the back but yourself. Make sure you take the time to reward yourself when you do good work and use it to spur you on to the next big thing in your career.
Whether you’re getting positive or negative feedback, it’s important to always be open to advice. Analyze the feedback you’re receiving, digest it, and if you think it’s worthwhile, take it on board. Criticism might be hard to take, but at the end of the day, it’s free advice!
There’s absolutely no requirement for a college degree in order to become a writer, so to answer the question “how to become a writer without a degree” is simple. Simply start writing, start pitching (here’s our favorite pitch), and start marketing yourself.
If you follow these 7 steps, then you’re sure to put yourself on the right track to achieving success as a freelance writer. All that’s left is hard work and time.
- Be Brave – Start Writing
- Be Curious – Question Everything
- Be Savvy – Choose a Niche
- Be Proud – Market Yourself
- Be “Techy” – Build a Website
- Be a Sharer – Follow and be Followed
- Be Open – Always Look for Opportunities to Improve
Whether you have a college degree or not, you can easily utilize these skills to get your freelance writing career off to the best possible start. They’re not skills that will necessarily come naturally to you, but with time they will become second nature and you can use them to leverage some excellent writing jobs.
Having a college degree is not something you can change in the short run, and really, there’s no need to change it. Instead, focus on the things that are within control and watch how they can make a big difference to your writing career!
Freelance writing is a brilliant career that gives you job satisfaction, a fantastic potential source of income and the freedom to spend your time how you see fit.
It’s a wonderful profession which is why we decided to build this website – to share some of the best freelance writing tips we’ve come across and have used in our own work as freelance writers.
If you’ve reached us, then the chances are you already know how to write and you want to either put your passion to work in order to create a flexible job for yourself or you are interested in enhancing your already established career as a freelance writer.
Either way, you’ll need to successfully convince companies you’re the right candidate to write for them, and in an ever increasingly competitive market, this is not always easy.
So How Do You Use Social Media To Separate Yourself As The Best Freelance Candidate?
What many would be freelance writers fail to see is that your job is just as much about marketing yourself as it is writing content. Thankfully, Social Media provides a ready-made platform for you to tell the world of your ingenious writing style – you just need to be able to leverage it!
Being an effective social media marketer is not easy, it requires patience and dedication as well as a thorough knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.
Our “7 Social Media Hacks to Gain more Freelance Writing Gigs”, will help you sell yourself and secure those all-important jobs!
The 7 social media hacks you can leverage to win more freelance writing jobs are;
- Sharing to Groups
- Build Your Own Brand
- Add People
- Comment & Engage
- Use Your Niche
- Don’t Forget To Sell Yourself!
Share Your Content More than Once!
This is the easiest hack in marketing you will ever see! But as easy as it is, very few marketers do it. It’s simple;
..If you write an article for a company and they share it on their blog, go and find that blog and schedule it to be shared 6 times throughout the year on as many social media platforms as you can.
The key to this hack is writing a piece which has no ‘sell by date.’ By sell by date I mean the article you have written should not be old news in a couple of weeks. For example, if I write a news article for a tennis company wanting to drive traffic to their site, there would be little point of me sharing who won yesterday’s match, three months from now.
The story would be old news and I would look out of touch by sharing it on my social media platforms.
However, if I write a groundbreaking, earth-shattering masterpiece on how to hit a forehand like Roger Federer, then I need to share that content at least 6 times a year!
Why 6 times a year? Well, if I only share my Federer forehand article once, I am only going to reach the audience available that day.
There could be a legion of Federer fans somewhere in the world who lost all means of communication that day who would have loved my article and shared it to all of their friends. By sharing it only the once, I miss out on that opportunity.
For the sake of spending an extra two minutes scheduling content to be shared 6 times a year, you will triple the amount of attention you receive for the same amount of work input.
You may have witnessed this already when someone tags you in something you tagged them in a year ago! The big Social Media companies do it, and you should too! Maximize your work by re-sharing good content.
Sharing to Groups
Ever read a seemingly mundane and yawn-tastic piece of writing which has somehow clocked up a mouthwatering amount of shares?
It happens all the time and it’s often because of a company somewhere spending either time or money to have the content shared in specific channels for them.
You’d be amazed to find some companies have entire teams of ‘Social Media Technicians’ spending days sharing content to certain groups, in comments of influential profiles or in areas targeted to a certain demographic.
Now, there’s no need to go to this extent. However, if you spend ten minutes sharing your content into targeted groups on different social media channels, you will see a huge reward.
For example, let’s say I magically woke up with some sort of artistic ability, combined with a mean dexterity and an endless amount of time to spend my days’ knitting. I become so prolific at knitting that I decide to write about the hobby, giving tips and insight into my knitting talent and knowledge.
I write a blog, 7 hacks to master knitting in one night, and want to spread my teachings to all knitting enthusiasts…How do I share my experience with the knitting community?
With a simple search on Facebook for ‘knitting,’ look at the audience available to me!
In the first page alone I have 1.3 million knitting enthusiasts to share my expertise to.
You can just join the groups and share your content but to be even more successful, you should participate in the discussion and contribute to the community.
By networking, I might find a knitting company that would dearly love to have me as a freelance writer. Alternatively, I might see an opportunity to share another of my articles that may solve a member’s issue.
Sharing to targeted niches is an exceptional Social Media strategy and one that can provide exponential exposure to your written work.
These groups are not just exclusive to Facebook, they’re on every channel, so do some exploring and find the best place to share content on your niche.
Don’t forget to make note of the articles that receive a lot of attention and add them to your portfolio!
Build Your Own Social Media
If you’re reading this, you were probably already thinking you need to do some social media work. ‘Build your own social media’ doesn’t seem like much of a hack does it!?
Building your own social media is not groundbreaking and you’ll find a lot, if not a majority of freelance writers have their own social media, advertising their writing skills and the niche they’re interested in.
But I’m not talking about building a ‘Hi, I’m Lawrence and I like to write’ kind of social media; I’m talking about building a social media presence that influences others in a certain niche.
For example, the niche my brother and I find the most success with is tennis. We run a company that sells tennis ball hoppers and other sports ball collectors and are heavily involved in the online tennis community, with a Facebook and Instagram following of close to 7,000 followers, a further 7,000 Twitter followers and consistent marketing on Reddit.
When we bid for freelance tennis jobs, we highlight this immediately and explain that we will share our content through our available social media channels.
Tennis companies, given the choice of taking on a freelance writer which displays a generic freelance writing social media or influential tennis related social media will pick us every time.
To build your social media, figure out your niche, research which social media is most prevalent and start to build a niche related presence which highlights and sells yourself as a freelance writer.
Having an idea of what you want to achieve when building your social media is one thing but knowing how to do it is often the hurdle most people struggle with.
Unfortunately, there’s not an all-encompassing hack that will magically grow your social media, it is instead a journey of consistent quality work that will build an audience.
However, there are some quick, easy tricks to help grow your social media following fast and one of them is simply adding friends, or subscribing to other people’s channels.
If you follow 100 people in your niche, you’d be amazed as to how many people follow you back. If you’re sharing interesting content on your niche, and you add someone interested in that niche, the chances are they’re going to check out this stranger who has just subscribed to their channel or requested to follow them.
If they like what they see, then guess what!? You’ve just gained a follower. It may not seem the easiest way of gaining followers, but you have to start somewhere and this is one easy way of getting going.
Comment and engage with others and with groups
Just as with adding or requesting to follow people, the same is true for engaging in niche related groups or commenting on other profiles.
By starting a conversation or engaging in other profiles, you put your name directly in front of them and the chances are, if they like what they see, they’ll follow you back.
Use Your Niche
Understanding your niche is vital when growing a strong social media platform. When one thinks of social media, they often think of the obvious, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube.
However, the most engaged individuals within a niche often use alternative sources for communication.
For example, in the tennis world, the most enthusiastic supporters are often found in online tennis forums dotted around various websites that sell tennis apparel and equipment.
Forums are free for anyone to post a topic of discussion to or comment on any discussion and are a great way of pointing audiences to your work.
By finding where everyone in your niche hangs out, you can push them to your social media channels, your blog, or the articles you’ve written for one of your freelance writing jobs.
If you haven’t already, check out Reddit and type in your niche; you’ll be amazed at the number of people involved in the conversation and the intensity of which they view and respond to information in your niche.
Network & Sell Yourself
Building a Social Media presence isn’t easy. If you don’t provide consistent noteworthy content, people won’t subscribe to your channel. Even if you provide consistently brilliant content specific to a group of people, there’s no guarantee it will take off for months or even years.
With such a difficult task ahead it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason you’re building an online social media presence in the first place and that is to win more freelance writing jobs.
No matter how many followers you have, how often you post or how many social media accounts you have, bear in mind that all of it is to enhance or serve as a portfolio for you to point to when bidding for freelance writing positions.
If you have 500 engaged followers on twitter that love your articles, show the prospective company screenshots of the comments and engagement your writing creates.
If you share a post 6 times over a year in targeted niche groups and your article goes viral with thousands of shares, make sure you put that right where potential employers can see it!
Always think about building your portfolio and leveraging it to your advantage.
In addition, make sure you network with the most engaged individuals in your niche; comment on their work and push them to look at yours. Try and start a conversation; you’ll often find they are a gateway to many more writing jobs.
Take Your Marketing To The Next Level
You’d think that the most important part of freelance writing is simply the ability to write. However, to view a freelance writer as someone who just writes is a major oversimplification. In reality, a freelance writer must excel in many skills, but perhaps top of the list is their ability to market themselves as a freelance writer. So how do you go about marketing yourself as a freelance writer?
To successfully market yourself as a freelance writer, you first have to accept that a massive part of your business is marketing. It is just as important as the writing, and you will have to dedicate just as much time to it.
Marketing yourself as a freelance writer boils down to a simple equation. The more people you can get to read your content and see your amazing reviews, the more jobs you are going to get. The key to this is creating a quality website and driving traffic to it.
1. Build A Killer Website
You can’t overlook the importance of building a good website. It doesn’t have to be the most sophisticated thing in the world, it just has to show people that you’re a professional, and most importantly, showcase your excellent work.
It’s Not As Complicated As You Think
A lot of people are put off from making a website because they think it is going to be difficult and the great thing is, this just makes it even better for you when you do make your website. In reality, making your own website is not that difficult in today’s world. You don’t need to know code, or anything too technical to create a great site, and it’s the most effective way to get your work exposed to a big audience.
As Medium says, “when it comes to having a business these days, having an online presence is not a choice anymore. It is inevitable. It’s the crucial factor that might uplift your business for good.”
Don’t let us put you off when we say you need a “killer” website. What makes a website great is the content, and since you’re a freelance writer, you already know how to write some great content. Use those skills to write about yourself and build the website out by writing your own blogs and linking to your work.
It’s Not As Costly As You Think
You don’t have to spend too much money on this either. You can easily get started for $100 and can build yourself the jewel in the crown of your marketing arsenal. At Think Freelance Writing, we’re always stressing the importance of building your own website and the reason is there are only positives to doing this. If there’s one way to make yourself look like a pro in this industry then it’s to create a professional looking website.
Buy yourself a domain, spend a little bit of time getting your website set up, and in no time at all, you can have a website that’s going to help get you jobs.
2. Get Writing
We don’t buy anything these days without reading a review, and freelance writing is no different. When you’re dealing with potential clients, they’re going to want evidence that you’re great at your job, and the only way you’re going to be able to give them this is by writing.
Build A Portfolio
Writing blogs for your own website and writing guest posts for other websites is an excellent way to do this. Try and keep your writing centered around a few niche topics and view each piece as an essential piece of marketing. You might not start out with tons of examples of your writing, but quality trumps quantity and if you write some great content, you’re going to get jobs.
Bear in mind that you’re building a brand, so whatever it is you’re interested in, make yourself an expert in that field and sell yourself as such. The nice thing about starting out with your marketing is that you’re a blank canvas, you can go in whatever direction you would like, the important thing is you’re consistent and stick to the path you choose.
Build Your Reputation In A Specific Niche
It’s much easier to build your reputation in a few select niches than it is if you don’t specialize and your website needs to reflect this. If you’re not sure about which niches to pick, take a look at our article, 7 Ways to Find Your Freelance Writing Niches, but whatever you do, make sure you focus marketing around some kind of specialization.
Throughout your freelance writing career marketing and writing are going to go hand in hand. You can’t market yourself without your writing and there’s no point writing if you can’t market yourself. You already know you can do the writing part, so use your great writing skills to market yourself.
3. Collect Testimonials
Whenever you complete work for a client you have to get feedback! If you can quickly build up a collection of amazing reviews then you’re going to find your career takes off much more quickly. Great testimonials are a perfect way to put your potential clients’ minds at ease and push you over the line in getting a job.
10 Reviews For A Client To Trust You
According to a 2017 survey by Bright Local, reviews have a staggering effect on consumer behavior. They found that 91% of 18 – 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and that consumers read an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a local business.
If you can’t tap into the modern phenomenon of online reviews then you risk missing out on a huge chunk of business.
Reviews Tell The Bigger Picture
The thing about testimonials is they tell everyone a bigger story about you than just your writing. You may be an amazing writer, but if you’re difficult to work with then potential clients are going to be sceptical. By having a collection of good testimonials that attest to how great you are to work with, how hardworking you are, and what great content you produce, you can show that you’re the complete package.
Clients are generally extremely happy to give you a review of your work, so if you haven’t got one then make sure you ask. Not only are these testimonials a big part of your marketing, but they’re also an excellent opportunity for self-improvement. Take the feedback you get and use it to make yourself a better freelance writer.
Marketing yourself as a freelance writer is a combination of many things, but testimonials are going to be one of the most important things in your armory. If someone is going to invest a lot of money in you they want to know they’re going to get their money’s worth. The best way to convince a client this is the case is to show them how happy other people who invested in you are with your work.
Don’t just collect feedback and have it saved in a series of emails though – actually use it! Make sure your great reviews are prominent on your website and social media pages. You’ve done a great job, so be proud of yourself and let the world know.
4. Social Media
One of the things about marketing is there’s no one action that is going to make your efforts a success. Every successful marketing campaign is a multi-pronged attack, using many different formats. Whether you love it or loathe it, social media is one of those prongs that you simply have to utilize.
Have A Consistent Social Media Presence
Once again, the good news here is that you’re a freelance writer, so you should be good at producing great content. Social media has its own nuances, but the idea remains the same, get as many people reading your work as possible. Use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Linkedin to drive people to your website and articles and get people reading your stuff.
One of the big things with social media (just as it is with websites) is consistency. Make sure you’re consistently posting links to your content because you never know who might click next. As Forbes says, “every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor.” It might just be a potential client with a big job that can make a huge difference to your life.
Focus on your niches and link to anything you find interesting. You’re not going to have a brand new article every day to link to, so link to other people’s’ content that you find interesting. Keep your followers interested and keep them clicking, ready for when you want to send them to your website.
Use Social Media To Bring Traffic To Your Website
When you’ve got your own website and it looks great it can be tempting to forget about social media and think that it’s not as important but it’s not true. The reason you have your website is to showcase all the great work you do, but you’re going to need to get people to that website and one of the ways to do that is social media.
Search for freelance writing groups on Facebook and become involved in the forums. Not only can you learn a lot from these groups, but they can also be a great way to promote your services. Networking has always been a big part of marketing, but nowadays, a lot of that networking can be done on social media.
Social media is one of those things where there are some people who love it and others who hate it. Whichever you are, you can’t ignore social media when you’re marketing yourself as a freelance writer.
5. Never Stop Pitching
We always say that one of the quickest ways to turn around your freelance writing career is by upping your pitch game. If jobs don’t seem to be coming your way then there has to be a problem somewhere, and the chances are it’s in your pitches.
Pitching is a difficult art because you want to make as many pitches as you can, but, you can’t sacrifice quality in your quest for quantity. Your pitches need to be custom built for the job you are applying for and meticulously crafted, but at the end of the day, you can’t win every job, so volume is important too.
We have our own pitch which we love to use and we’ve become very adept at writing this pitch up and tailoring it to our audience, but you can’t use the same thing every time. You’ve got to be able to recognize what the job needs and appeal to different clients.
Your pitches are something you’re going to want to invest a good amount of time into, but you always have to remember that volume is important. The only way you can push the needle further in both quality and content is by making sure you’re making the absolute most of your time. Productivity is key and distractions are your enemy, so make sure you go into your pitches with a clear plan and nothing to distract you.
Use All Your Marketing Tools In Your Pitches
Whether you’re replying to jobs postings or cold pitching to potential clients, make sure you include all the marketing efforts you have worked so hard on. Mention your website, social media pages, and testimonials, and make sure you’re getting your content in front of your potential clients.
When you’re developing your reputation in freelance writing, pitching is your most likely source of jobs. As you build your reputation you are more likely to have people come to you and offer you jobs, but this is something you earn. The chances are, you’re going to have to make thousands of pitches and suffer through a few rejections before you get to that point.
6. Keep Track of the Competition
A classic marketing technique is keeping a close eye on the competition. Fortunately, in the modern world, this is very simple. All you need to do is follow some other writers in your niche and see what they are doing.
Emulate Successful People
Check out other writer’s websites and social media pages and see how they are doing things. Figure out if there’s anything you can improve upon and do it. Emulating other freelance writers who are already doing well is an easy way to come up with some new marketing ideas that you know are having success. Make sure you don’t just take exactly what they are doing, but tailor it to suit your own profile.
If you’re going to learn new ways of marketing yourself as a freelance writer you might as well take a leaf out of your competitors’ book. Find out what other people in the industry are doing and look to do it even better than them! It might sound a little bit underhand, but this happens in every industry, without fail.
Just as you’re always on the lookout for the next piece of great content, you should always be looking for the best ways to market yourself. There’s no point writing if you can’t get people to read your work, so figure out what your competition is doing well, and use those techniques to your advantage.
The idea behind marketing yourself as a freelance writer is simple. The more potential clients you can get reading your work (and reviews) the more likely you are to get jobs. This means that marketing plays an equal part with writing in the fortunes of a freelance writer.
The most effective way to show off your portfolio of work is to create a professional looking website and use your social media pages, guest blogs, and pitches to push people towards your website. Once you have drawn people to your website you can wow them with your great content and inspiring testimonials, collecting leads effortlessly.
It’s important to remember though that your website won’t be effective unless you continue to market on multiple fronts. You can’t overlook the importance of social media, guest blogging, and making lots of pitches. You may have the best website in the world, but it’s useless if you can’t get people to look at it.
A good website might be the most important tool in your marketing arsenal, but you have to take a multi-pronged approach to marketing yourself as a freelance writer. You’ll find that the jobs you win originate from many different sources but if you can funnel them through your website you’re only going to increase your conversion rate.
In order to be successful as a freelance writer, you have to accept that marketing is a massive part of your business. You’re going to have to dedicate as much time to marketing as you do writing, otherwise, you’re going to find it hard to earn a good living.
If you’re looking for ways to better market yourself as a freelance writer then make sure you’re focusing in these areas.
- Building a professional website
- Writing great content
- Collecting testimonials
- Posting on social media
- Making lots of high-quality pitches
- Keeping track of your competition.
There’s no one marketing technique that will magically start bringing in lots of jobs, but if you double your efforts in these areas, you’re bound to see positive results.
What is a Freelance Writer?
A freelance writer is someone who works on a self-employed basis to meet the writing needs of their clients. Through creating their own freelance writing business, a writer can have multiple clients for whom they write different types of literature about a variety of subjects.
In today’s information-oriented world there is a constant demand for high-quality writing across all industries, and freelance writers perform an important role in meeting that demand. Whether it be through magazines, novels, marketing materials, or internet blogging, there are many different ways a freelance writer can earn an excellent living.
What Are The Benefits of Being a Freelance Writer?
There are a lot of great benefits to being a freelance writer, but one of the most popular is the ability to be your own boss. Being a freelance writer you are able to work where you want, choose the kinds of jobs you want, and set your own hours, these are some of the reasons so many people are attracted to this career.
No longer will you be shackled by the 9 to 5 work day and the long commutes, instead you can work from the comfort of your own home at the times that suit you. This is a massive positive for the majority of people who dream of escaping the rat race.
Asides from the freedom of being your own boss, freelance writing also gives you the opportunity to pursue whatever you are passionate about. If you never stop talking about open water swimming, then freelance writing gives you the opportunity to make open water swimming a big part of your work. If it’s mathematical equations you’re crazy about then you can make that part of your work. Whatever it is you love, you can make it a part of your day to day work.
Of course, it would be quite helpful if you’re passionate about writing as well, seeing as you’re going to be spending quite a lot of your time doing it! You might be thinking back to writing in school right now and be thinking “how can anyone be passionate about writing,” but it’s a very different prospect when you’re writing about something you enjoy (and are getting paid to do)!
We like to answer the question of what is a freelance writer by starting out listing the benefits of a freelance writing career. A freelance writer is someone who’s their own boss, who gets to choose the writing jobs they’re passionate about and work to their own schedule.
There’s always a drawback I hear you say! So here are some of the downsides of being a freelance writer.
What are the Downsides of Being a Freelance Writer?
There’s no job in the world that doesn’t have downsides and freelance writing is no different! The funny thing is, the one aspect that offers some of the biggest benefits is also responsible for many of its downsides, namely being your own boss.
The thing is, being your own boss is amazing. You get to choose your jobs, work where you want, and work when you want, but when you’re your own boss, the buck stops with you! There’s no guaranteed paycheck in freelance writing, so if you’re not bringing in the jobs then you’re not going to get paid.
Unfortunately, being your own boss doesn’t have the same safety nets as when you work in a traditional job. You might have a lot of freedom but that freedom comes at a price. This can be very disconcerting for some people and ultimately is a big barrier to people wanting to become their own boss.
You can never guarantee success, but the chances are the challenges of becoming a successful freelance writer are something you can overcome. It might seem very attractive to be able to set your own hours and work where you want, but we find that the only way to make this gig work is by working exceptionally hard.
Too many people come into freelance writing with unrealistic goals of how great it is to be your own boss. There is a lot of competition in this industry, so being a successful boss means being disciplined with yourself. You might be able to start working at midday and never change out of your pajamas, but is that the best way to be successful?
The best way to avoid the pitfalls of being your own boss is to recognize the challenges and plan accordingly. If you can learn to use your time effectively and create good habits then you’ll put yourself in a good position to overcome the challenges of freelance writing.
As long as you recognize that being your own boss has the potential to be a huge negative if it is not done properly and you act accordingly, you should be able to enjoy the benefits that being your own boss brings. Sure, you’re always going to be responsible for making sure you get that next paycheck, but at least you know your destiny is in your own hands.
Why are Freelance Writers Needed?
According to Tech 21st Century, the human brain is loaded with about 105,000 words of information in any 12 hours of being awake. Forbes reports that 90% of the world’s data was generated in the past two years – the fact is, the world has gone information mad.
This is great news for freelance writers! In the past, you would have associated writing with newspapers, magazines, novels, and perhaps advertising, but now, the internet has unleashed a whole new market for freelance writers.
One of the reasons for this is that search engines love content. When you type a question into Google, Google wants to send you to the best article possible to answer your question, therefore there is a huge demand for great writers to write that content (this is a very simplified explanation, but check out Larry’s SEO Guide to Freelance Writing for more information on this.)
Whether you’re a massive company like Coca Cola or a Mom and Pop store selling candy, if you want to rank high up on the search engines you’ve got to put out some great content. While Coca Cola may have a team of writers in their employment, there are a million Mom and Pop stores out there who don’t and guess what, they still have aspirations of ranking well on Google. This is where you, the freelance writer comes in!
As well as the traditional writing jobs, this internet has opened up a number of new services a freelance writer can provide. There’s an ever-expanding number of websites out there, and they all need people to write their site content for them, provide them with blogs, write ebooks, and research white papers. As a freelance writer, you can do all of these things, or, if you like you can even specialize.
The moral of the story is there’s a lot of work out there. Whether you see yourself doing more traditional forms of writing, or specializing in internet work, there are a ton of opportunities. In order to be successful, businesses need great content and if you can provide them with that then you stand to make a good living from it.
How Do Freelance Writers Work?
It’s easy to think of freelance writers spending all their time simply writing content, but that’s certainly not the case. Like any business, you’re selling a product, and your product is your content. Having a product doesn’t make you any money though, so the most important aspect of freelance writing is being able to sell your content.
Like any sale, you’ve got to show how your product can benefit your client, and the best way to do this is by building a great portfolio of work and pitching potential clients. Pitching is a part of freelance writing that cannot be underestimated. Without doing this well, you’re simply not going to be successful. If you want a head start when it comes to pitching then take a look at our favorite pitch.
Asides from writing and marketing yourself, a freelance writer also has to deal with administrative tasks. Of course, you can outsource things like taxes and other general admin work, but may freelancers will do the majority of this themselves. These tasks aren’t particularly glamorous but they’re part and parcel of running your own business.
With so many different requirements on the freelance writer, it can be very easy to get blown off course. Ideally, we would love to spend all of our time working on getting new work and on writing, but there are other tasks that will require our attention from time to time.
This means that one of the most important skills for any freelance writer is time management. You need to learn to be very organized in this job in order to make the most out of your time. We are big believers in setting goals and thoroughly planning our work days out and we follow a 7 step process to ensure we get the most out of our working day.
A freelance writer’s work is not just about writing. Although this is the part that everyone sees, it’s the work that a freelance writer does behind the scenes that can decide whether they are successful or not. In order to make a success of this job, you must be able to market yourself to an extremely high level and competently take care of administrative tasks. The writing might be the glamorous part, but there’s plenty more to freelance writing.
What Types of Freelance Writing Are There?
There are a lot of different forms of freelance writing that can earn you good money. It’s likely you will specialize in a few of these types, but the nice thing is you always have that option to branch out and do something a bit different. Here are some of the most common types of freelance writing.
This is probably what people think of when they think of a traditional freelance writer. This is where you write feature articles for magazines and newspapers. These jobs are not limited to print media though, nowadays there are tons of newspapers and magazines with huge online publications. These websites often use a team of freelance writers to help produce their content and as a result, there are a lot of jobs going in feature writing.
As we discussed earlier, the internet has brought with it a huge demand for the services of freelance writers. Virtually every business in the world has a website, often in many different languages, and they all need content. This can include anything from about pages to product descriptions to blogs. These jobs represent a great way to get writing jobs in your niche and improve your writing skills.
Blogging can be considered to come under the umbrella of content writing, but there are a few distinct forms of it. If you’re blogging for a website as part of a wider content strategy then it would probably come under content writing. However, there is guest blogging and your own personal blog which are great ways to make some extra money. By setting up your own blog, you not only create a great platform from which to showcase your work, but you also have the potential to monetize it when you get enough traffic.
Just as its a necessity for virtually every business to have a website it’s a must to have social media profiles. Social media profiles form a big part of many businesses’ marketing strategy and they spend big money on producing great content. This creates yet another opportunity for freelance writers.
The demand for freelance writers is growing daily, with job opportunities in all sorts of different forms of writing. You will find that you are naturally better at some forms of writing than others, but don’t be scared to give them all a try!
How Do You Get Paid As a Freelance Writer?
At the end of the day, you can’t be a freelance writer just because you love it, you’ve got to get paid for your hard work. This is perhaps the scariest part of being a freelancer because you’re solely responsible for making sure you get paid. Thankfully, there are a lot of great websites that take care of this and will make sure you get paid for your work.
We find that one of the best ways to find work and know you’re going to get well paid is through paid job sites like Writing Jobs Online and Contena. With these websites, you pay a small monthly fee, but you benefit from a great selection of jobs, and most importantly peace of mind that you’re going to get paid for your work.
That being said, there are plenty of opportunities to work directly with the client without using an intermediary. There are tons of great jobs where you work directly with the client and you can easily sort out payment through Paypal or Stripe.
In most cases, you would discuss a price per article with the client and create an invoice for your work. Some writers may take half payment up front and the rest of the payment on completion of the work. In our case, we normally just take payment on completion of work and we’ve never had any problems with getting payment from our clients.
In terms of how much you charge for your work, there are a lot of different factors that go into this. Of course, the amount of experience you have is going to make a big difference, if you’ve got a great portfolio of work it’s going to be easier to charge more, but if you’re just starting out don’t undersell yourself.
The best thing to do is to work out how long the article might take you, and how much you need to earn per hour. Then do some research on what competitors are charging and pick your price accordingly. Figuring out how much your writing is worth can be challenging to start with but you will soon get a good feel for it.
We all need money to pay the bills, so having a good understanding of how you’re going to get paid as a freelance writer is very important. Make sure you’ve done some good research on this and really plan well.
There are many aspects that go into a successful freelance writing business. Of course, writing is an important skill for any freelance writer, but equally important is the ability to market yourself. If you can’t successfully market yourself then it’s going to be very difficult to make good money in this career.
The good news is there are a ton of opportunities for freelance writers today. The internet has greatly expanded the market for freelance writers and now is a perfect time to take advantage of that.
If you are planning on getting into freelance writing the important thing is that you go into it with a plan. Arm yourself with as much research as you can and treat your venture like a business. If you’re willing to work hard and follow expert advice then there’s a great change you can make this career work.
There are so many benefits to freelance writing but it also has its pitfalls. As long as you remain aware of the pitfalls and constantly work to overcome them then you might just find you’ve got yourself a perfect career.
7 Ways To Start Freelance Writing With No Experience
If you’re wondering how to start freelance writing with no experience I have some good news. No matter how successful someone is as a freelance writer, they all had one thing in common, they started out with no experience. There are countless examples out there that show you it’s possible to succeed in this business without experience, but, there are very few examples of people who have done it without an exceptional amount of hard work.
No matter how talented you are and how hard you work, it’s very likely you’re going to make some mistakes on your path towards freelance writing success, but what’s important is that you persevere and never lose faith. If you work hard enough, there’s every chance you can use this wonderful career to make an excellent living for yourself.
It can be pretty daunting starting out in freelance writing though, so we’ve put together our guide for how to start freelance writing with no experience. If you follow these 7 points, then you’re going to have a much better chance of making your writing career a success than if you approach it in a haphazard manner.
Having a clear plan at the start of your freelance writing career is key, so check out our 7 point guide on how to start freelance writing with no experience.
1. Work Harder
Freelance writing is a great career. This means there are tons of people out there, who just like you, love writing, want to work their own hours, be their own boss, and earn a great living. The competition is fierce! The only way to reach the top is to work smarter, but just as importantly work harder.
Larry and I grew up playing tennis, which is one of the most difficult professions out there to make it in. We saw tons of super talented tennis players who didn’t make it, and we saw some not so talented players who made it simply because they worked harder than most of those talented tennis players combined.
Freelance writing is the same! Being a talented writer does not and will not guarantee you work; working harder than everyone else will.
Since you’re reading a blog on how to start freelance writing with no experience, you already recognize you’re at a little disadvantage, namely, you’ve got no experience. As we’ve said, the great news is that everyone started out in your position and look at how many people are making a success of freelance writing.
However, to overcome that lack of experience, you’re going to have to put the hard yards in to give your career the kickstart it needs. Once you’ve established yourself as a top-notch freelance writer you’ll find things start to get a little easier, but right now, you’re at the beginning of your journey and you’re going to find that in many ways it’s the most fun part.
So you’re happy to work harder than the rest and you’re ready to embark on this quest, so what’s the next step?
2. Choose Your Niche
Don’t make the mistake of approaching your freelance writing career in a haphazard manner. You need to be cool, calm and collected when it comes to your business and one of the most important steps will be choosing your niches.
We’re always banging on about niches at Think Freelance Writing because we believe that selecting the right niches can really boost your chances of success in this business. If you think about virtually any successful company or individual, they have achieved that success by being an expert in a certain subject.
It’s not possible to be the best writer in the world for every subject. Instead, you’ve got to become the best possible writer you can be in a few niche subjects. Not only will this help you create much better content, but it will also boost your output. You’ll have more knowledge in your field to draw upon and won’t have to spend extra time researching the basics.
The other great thing about being a specialist in a niche is it makes it much easier to market yourself. Imagine a profile that reads “I’m a freelance writer with 5 years experience in freelance writing, who can produce engaging content” vs “I’m a freelance writer who specializes in marine conservation efforts, whose blogs have helped sign 10,000 people up to a petition to protect the Great Barrier Reef”. There’s no competition.
If you haven’t done so yet, take a look at our article “7 Ways to Choose Your Freelance Writing Niches” where we run through some of the best ways to find your perfect niche. The important thing to remember with this is that there is no wrong answer. All that matters is that you’re passionate about it. There’s nothing worse than having to write about something you have no interest in day in day out.
For some people, this will be an easy choice, for others, it will require a little bit of thought but the main thing is that you don’t skip this step. Choosing your niche gives you a great opportunity to make a great name for yourself in one subject right from the beginning of your career. It’s the fastest way to show that you actually do have experience!
3. Build a Website
The internet is something you just can’t ignore and failing to create your own website is one way to severely hold yourself back in your freelance writing career. We know why many people shy away from making their own website; it’s a pretty scary thought (all that techy stuff). The thing is, that’s just not how it is.
With a little hard work and not too much cost, you can easily set up a very respectable website that can showcase your work brilliantly. A decent website is an excellent marketing tool and one that can earn you a ton of jobs. Not only will you look more professional for it, but you will also gain some great experience writing and posting your own blogs.
The start-up costs associated with a website are very small too, you can easily get a good website up and running for $100 and it will earn that money back for you in no time at all. If you really wanted to up your game and collect tons of leads, we recommend Leadpages, which is a great tool for sourcing potential clients.
It might require a little bit of effort to start with, but once your website is set up it’s going to be your ultimate calling card. You can build a portfolio of your work which showcases your excellent writing ability and also learn a lot about the technical side of running a blog.
There are so many benefits to having your website it’s something you’ve just got to invest a little bit of time into in the beginning. I know it can be a pretty scary prospect making your first website, but it’s really not as difficult as it sounds and there’s a ton of information out there to guide you through the process.
4. Guest Post
This is one of the easiest ways to start overcoming a lack of experience. Guest blogging might not be the most trendy thing to do because you generally don’t get paid for it, but it is a wonderful chance to showcase your ability.
The easiest way to find guest posting opportunities is to search google for “(your niche) + write for us” so if it was freelance writing, I would search “freelance writing + write for us”. Many of these websites are eager to have people write guest posts for them and it is a great opportunity to practice your writing and get your content read.
Make sure to try and get a link back to your website to help it grow and link from your website to the post so that everyone can see the amazing work you’ve done. You may not get paid for writing these articles, but the important thing is you’re building a portfolio and beginning to show you have some experience!
You’ll find that some of these websites get a lot of traffic so the chances are, you’re article will be read by a lot of people, and might even generate some good comments. I remember when I started out writing, I would get a bit obsessed with tracking how my posts were doing but don’t get too bogged down in this. Keep an eye on them and if you get some good feedback then be sure to brag about it, but don’t take it too personally if there isn’t a massive response.
Another benefit of guest posting is that it is a great opportunity to practice your pitches and work with a website owner. Try and incorporate a little bit of SEO into your work and make sure you give the client the best possible work you can. If you’re not sure about SEO, check out Larry’s “7 Step Guide To SEO for Freelance Writers” and you can soon use SEO to help you win even more writing jobs.
The fact that many guest posts are unpaid means that it is often an overlooked aspect of how to start freelance writing with no experience. The fact is, guest posts are an excellent way to practice your writing skills whilst building a great portfolio and if you nail it, the chances are you will get some paid work out of it.
5. Jobs Boards
There are tons and tons of places where you can find jobs postings for freelance writing. While these might not be the perfect way to get jobs, it is well worth keeping an eye out for writing jobs in your niche. We particularly like Blogging Pro and Freelance Writing where you can find lots of good writing jobs.
These websites have good search functions, so you can narrow down the kind of jobs you’re looking for and save time trawling through 1,000s of listings. We normally subscribe to notifications on a wide variety of websites just so we know when anything interesting comes up. You’re going to find that most jobs won’t appeal to you, but it’s well worth being subscribed when the good jobs do come up.
Other popular “free” websites with freelance writers are Upwork and Fiverr, where it’s free to sign up and you can find a lot of different job postings. The thing we find with these websites though is that they are very oversaturated markets and there are a lot of people on there working for bargain basement prices, which pushes down the pay for everyone. Of course, if you’ve got the portfolio and produce great content you can overcome this, but we just feel like they’re not great places to start.
Even when you do land work with these sites, they take a percentage of your fee, so while there are no upfront costs, you do pay for it in the end. We find that it’s much more effective to invest a little bit of money upfront on a paid site that doesn’t take a percentage of the money you earn.
Not only do these websites such as Freelance Writing Online and Contena give you the ability to separate yourself from the bargain basement writers, but they also offer better jobs in our experience. They generally cost between $20-$30 a month, but you’ll easily save that money back by not paying out on your earnings.
There’s no magic answer when it comes to places to find jobs. Everyone’s got the same tools available to them so it comes down to how hard you work and how well you can market yourself. We would recommend making a small investment in yourself by joining one of the paid jobs sites, but there’s nothing stopping you from getting jobs without this.
6. Keep Pitching
There may not be a magic answer when it comes to places to find jobs, but there is one when it comes to winning jobs. You see, the thing is, if you don’t pitch for a job, then you’re never going to get that job!
Unless you’re some kind of superstar in your niche then jobs aren’t going to fall in your lap. It’s not easy work winning freelance writing jobs and you’re going to have to put a lot of effort in if you’re going to be successful. This means making pitches for jobs and lots of them.
When I started out in freelance writing this was one of the most difficult parts. I was a little bit sensitive, so I didn’t enjoy being looked over for jobs, and this led me to be overly perfectionist about my pitches.
Now don’t get me wrong, you need to write great pitches, but there’s got to be a point where you accept that it’s a great pitch and send it off. Keep it simple, make sure the writings great and there are no grammatical mistakes but don’t over complicate things. There’s going to be plenty of jobs out there where you make the perfect pitch, but for one reason or another the client will go with someone else. That’s just the way life is, forget it and move onto the next one!
If you’re not seeing the kind of results you want then there are generally two main reasons for that. The first is the content of the pitch. You need to make sure your pitches are tailored to the jobs you’re applying for and they need to make you stand out. Treat your pitches like your writing and really plan them out before you start.
We love to use this pitching format to earn jobs in our niche and have had a lot of success with it. The main thing about it though is that it requires researching our potential clients and tailoring our pitch to their needs. Figuring out how to start freelance writing with no experience is all about hard work, and that goes for when you’re pitching too.
The second reason that you might not be seeing the kind of results you’re expecting is that you’re not pitching enough. Like many things in life, this job is a numbers game. If you make enough (good) pitches, you’ll earn enough jobs, and you’ll make enough money. If you’re not getting that much work at the moment then use that time to work on your pitches. Make sure they’re great and make sure you’re making a lot of them.
What’s the worst thing that can happen when you pitch someone? They say no, it’s not the end of the world. Move onto the next one.
7. Keep Going
There will likely be times in your freelance writing career where you get pretty downbeat at how things are going. Being your own boss isn’t like working for someone else where you can go to work and know you’re going to get paid. As a freelance writer, you can put a lot of hard work in and not see financial gains and this is something that can cause a great deal of stress.
If you work hard enough and follow the right steps then you should be able to earn a good living from freelance writing, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and downs. Sometimes the jobs might not come and you might want to pack it all in.
The important thing is that you don’t make irrational decisions. Be honest with yourself and constantly analyze how things are going. If you can find evidence to suggest that you’re on the right track then keep going, keep working hard and the results will come.
Equally though, you have to be honest with yourself when things just aren’t working out. Freelance writing isn’t an easy industry to succeed in and you must recognize when things aren’t going in the right direction.
At the end of the day, only you can decide whether you’re in a slump or there’s a deeper problem. It’s a delicate issue because you’ve got to back yourself, but you’ve also got to be realistic.
Experience is very helpful when it comes to freelance writing, but it’s not the be all and end all. If you’re wondering how to start freelance writing with no experience, the answer is to build your experience as quickly as possible and learn how to market your new found experience.
There are plenty of ways to start building a portfolio and anyone can do them. There are tons and tons of websites out there that are crying out for guest bloggers, so if you can’t find paid jobs just yet, use those guest blogs to get you kick-started.
Build up your website and make it your number one marketing tool. From there you can create your own blogs and link to blogs that you’ve done for other people, giving you the perfect platform from which to market yourself.
Once you’ve got these things set up there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from pitching for all sorts of jobs. You may not have as much experience as some of the other candidates, but you can more than make up for that through hard work and great content.
Follow these seven steps on how to start freelance writing with no experience and make sure you’re on the right path to freelance writing success.
- Work Harder
- Pick a Niche
- Make a Website
- Guest Post
- Subscribe to Job Postings
- Keep Pitching
- Don’t Give Up
We can’t promise that your freelance writing adventure is going to be easy, but we do believe that sticking to these 7 points will give you the best chance of success.
The SEO Guide To Freelance Writing
So you want to be able to use SEO to help get you those vital writing gigs? Well, there’s good news; if you can write well and put a little bit of time into learning SEO you’re going to get more jobs. Simply by researching SEO and reading top SEO blogs from experts in the field, the chances are you’re going to know as much as half the people out there claiming to be SEO pros!
That’s right! You know how professionals are often using “jargon” to make you feel like you could never possibly understand their profession? Well, SEO is a little bit like that. People might try to convince you otherwise, but there’s nothing stopping you getting a good grasp of it and using that knowledge to increase your profitability as a freelance writer.
Not every freelance writing job out there revolves around the internet but a heck of a lot of them do and SEO skills are going to make a big difference when it comes to you winning them. We’ve learnt these skills over the course of our freelance writing careers, but there’s nothing stopping you from mastering them from the beginning and kickstarting your freelance writing career with some expert knowledge.
SEO makes up an important part of our guide to freelance writing; so we’ve picked out 7 points that represent some of the best ways to improve your SEO knowledge and use your SEO skills to gain more work.
The SEO 7 Step Guide to Freelance Writing
- Understand the basics
- Content is King
- Change is always round the corner
- Always be Niche
- Consistency is key
1. Understand the Basics
As with anything in life, nobody starts off as an expert. Professional race drivers don’t learn how to race in an F1 car; they start with a single engine go-kart on a small track. The important thing is though, they share the same foundations.
Despite this, when it comes to anything remotely academic like SEO, we seem to think that if we don’t know everything like an all conquering pro then that knowledge is not useful. That’s not the case with SEO though and the truth is even basic knowledge can make a big difference to your writing.
When it comes to the SEO guide to freelance writing, understanding the basics means understanding the foundations of how Google and other search engines (don’t forget Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Amazon, Ebay, Linkedin & Twitter) rank items at the top of their results.
There are a ton of factors that go into this, but we’ve picked out backlinks and keywords because they give you the best opportunity to turn your SEO knowledge into more jobs.
Backlinks are an essential part of the SEO guide to freelance writing. The easiest way to explain backlinks is to think of each search engine like its own high school, packed with hormonal teenagers all jostling for social acceptance and importantly – popularity.
Google’s aim, unlike that of a high school, is to provide its customers with the best possible content for their search query. If I type in ‘Game of Thrones recap’ into Google, Google would ideally like me to be sent to a website that provides brilliantly edited video on each season so far (a miniature cinematic masterpiece in recaps), deliciously eloquent and thorough writing, and an option for a team audio synopsis by David Attenborough & James Earl Jones. They would ideally have a pop up that makes me a coffee and shoots out a couch for me to kick back and relax on, all whilst I enjoy the fruits of their algorithmic labors.
Too far? Well, you get the point, Google loves great content. But there’s only one problem. With billions of websites on the world wide web all fighting for those all important top three spaces on Google, it relies on robots to scan each website and decipher which content is worthy of one of those top three positions.
The problem with this is that robots still aren’t advanced enough to decipher how well written a piece of writing is, how advanced a video is or whether the greatest audio duo of all time have collaborated on a podcast. However, Google (and other search engines) do have a trick up their sleeves to try and separate the great from the not so great and that is popularity.
Just like the high school metaphor, Google algorithms use popularity to distinguish those that prosper from those that don’t. If your writing has a million links to and from other Game of Thrones related websites, Facebook groups, Youtube channels and more, Google is going to recognize your website as an authority in Game of Thrones and you’ll be far more likely to rank for Game of Thrones related keywords than competitors.
Continuing on the same metaphor, if you’re friends with the star player of the football team, or dating the prom queen, you’re probably going to see a rise in your popularity. If your Game of Thrones writing had a link from the HBO website (Company that makes Game of Thrones) then your writing would instantly gain a lot of domain authority (term used to describe the popularity of websites based on the amount of high ranking backlinks they have).
So, how do you become the popular kid in this High School of freelance writing? Well, in true movie fashion, you turn up in a Porsche! How do you do this? Well, the best way to do this is be a superstar of your niche and have tons of examples of how your work has been a social media phenomenon and everything you post gets thousands of links.
Most of us couldn’t afford a Porsche in High School though so we had to play the game a little differently. We played by the rules and worked our way up. Just like High School, when you’re starting out you need to show people that you understand the rules, that you’re going to follow the rules, and you’re going to use the rules to help your potential client succeed.
Another huge ranking factor and basic foundation for how search engines rank websites is precision. If I search for a specific term, Google wants me to receive information that will answer the question I’m asking or satisfy my reason for asking it something. Google’s answer to this is keywords.
This is the most important bullet point so far because it is the area where you can make the biggest difference as a writer.
For example, if my blog is targeting wildlife documentaries and I create a blog titled Blue Planet, it’s going to be harder for Google to recognise my intention than if the blog title read, Top Ten All Time Wildlife Documentaries.
Choosing keywords that you have a realistic chance of ranking for is an important aspect of SEO and one that can easily be overlooked. If you choose the wrong keywords there’s a chance your writing might never see the light of day, but if you get it right, it has the potential to draw a huge amount of traffic.
This means keyword research is a hugely important step when you’re writing for a website, but it doesn’t stop there. You then have to follow the best practices for SEO by making sure your headings, subheadings, and text contain your keywords in the right places.
This might seem like a small detail, but understanding this process well can give you a huge advantage in freelance writing. In our article “7 Ways to Win Your Dream Work” we ran through our favorite pitch where we use our SEO knowledge to get the kind of writing jobs we’re really passionate about. This pitch has worked for us time and time again, and by understanding the basics of SEO and keyword research, we have picked up some lucrative jobs.
When you get into pitching for writing jobs, you’ll find everyone does the same thing. They’ll put a generic statement along the lines of ‘I research keywords.’ Well, that’s great, but the problem is every other would-be freelance writer out there will put this in their pitch! In addition, most freelance writers don’t actually do it.
So, when you’re creating your pitch, come up with a strategy for your keyword research. Show how you’re going to make a difference for this client! Consider the difference in reaction of the person reading your pitch if you provide a step by step list of how you research keywords in your writing compared to that person simply reading the generic ‘I research keywords’ line.
A little lost on how to research keywords?
Check out this blog https://neilpatel.com/blog/dominate-keyword-research/
4. Content is King
This is my favorite take home for this blog because if you’re reading this post, you have a talent, and the great news is Google wants your talent!
Yes, if you can write well, Google’s algorithms will want to promote your content. If you provide consistent, high quality content that’s pertinent to a large enough group, then you’re going to get exposure on search engines that can bring in a serious number of readers.
I was talking with one of the first people I did freelance writing for the other day (we now run a website together) and he said “the great thing is – the internet is filled with so much average content that when we put out great content it stands out like a sore thumb.” He’s right, how many times do you have to trawl through websites to really find what you are looking for?
There is a slight hitch though, you might be creating amazing content, but if you’re not following SEO best practices then people won’t find it!
The unfortunate problem many would be successful freelance writers and companies come across is that Google doesn’t seem to pick up their great content. If it is truly well written content and of interest to readers, then the only reason Google is not picking it up is because the website does not abide by Google’s SEO rules or is not following Google’s basic guidelines.
This is the reason SEO is so important and it’s why as a freelance writer you should commit to a lifelong habit of keeping up to date with the latest SEO trends.
So really, the message gets even better here. If you produce great content and you nail the SEO guidelines then your possibilities are limitless!
So, how do I leverage this knowledge into writing jobs? Well, Google loves great content and if you can prove in your pitch that you have a history of shareable content, then you’re in with a good shot at winning the gig.
Keep a tab on where your writing is being shared and how it ranks on the search engines. If you find that a certain article you’ve written has gone viral, then take a screenshot of it and include it in a portfolio of work you provide in your pitch.
It’s important you can convey an understanding of why content is important and show a history of great content to back up your claims.
5. Change Is Always Round the Corner
You don’t need to be an SEO expert to win a freelance writing job but the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to gain the job in the first place and indeed to keep that job.
When I first started off in my freelance writing career; I had a few jobs with some smaller companies that knew very little about SEO.
They understood they had to post regular content, but they were simply posting blogs without optimizing titles, images, headings, or anything. As this was affecting the exposure my work was getting, I put in some research and presented them a strategy for how to turn their SEO around.
In short, I gained an additional job of optimising their blogs to align with SEO best practices! The thing was, the people who had been running their SEO might have had knowledge of how everything worked at some point, but things move so quickly in this industry that the things they were doing were simply outdated.
Things are changing all the time in SEO so you need to keep up with what’s going on. This means committing to life long learning! The good thing for you is you might not know much now, but shortly your knowledge can be greater than those “experts” who have spent the past year resting on their laurels.
Since my early days of struggling with SEO inept clients, I’m always keeping up with the latest SEO news and particularly keep an eye out for Neil Patel’s blogs. I find Neil Patel to be the best authority out there on SEO and I read every blog written on his website, using the knowledge in my pitches.
Using this knowledge to leverage more jobs is simple, the more you know, the easier it will be to talk about the quality of your work and its ability to gain traffic on search engines.
This doesn’t have to be limited to Google. There are many companies out there looking for product descriptions and bullet points optimised for Amazon, descriptions and titles for Youtube and much more.
6. Always Be Niche
I don’t think we’ll ever write an article without talking about niches! Choosing you niches wisely helps with so many aspects of your freelance writing career and it’s the same for our SEO guide to freelance writing.
When you dedicate your time to one niche the chances are you’re going to get pretty knowledgeable in that subject. It becomes much easier to understand how keywords work in that niche and how best to utilize them.
I did some work once for a company that sold tennis scoreboards and they were very confused when I told them that I wouldn’t be using the word scoreboard as a keyword. The reason was, when people type tennis scoreboards into Google they are more often than not looking for live scores from pro tennis.
This meant that ranking highly for the keyword scoreboard would be nearly impossible because you would be competing with massive sports and betting companies. So instead, we focussed on terms like tennis score keeper and had a lot of success!
Again, this wasn’t rocket science, but by understanding my niche and running a little keyword research I was able to make a success of a job that otherwise might have ended up in failure.
The other great thing about being an expert in your niche is being able to link back to some of your other work. Google wants to see links from your blogs to other blogs on your website, from your blogs to other highly influential sources in your niche, and lastly, backlinks from those highly influential sources to your blog.
This gives you an opportunity to link some of your blogs and help to maximize your exposure. Of course, this depends on the wishes of your clients, but the thing is there are only positives to finding yourself a freelance writing niche.
7. Consistency is Key
Consistency is extremely important in ranking well on Google. Google loves to reward websites that consistently put out good content, so use this to your advantage!
Many small companies understand they need to share content online to help create a buzz around their offering but they often fall short when it comes to consistency. The odd article here and there isn’t going to make a big difference, but if they can consistently produce high quality content there’s a good chance they will increase their exposure.
Use this knowledge to maximize the amount of work you’re getting from one client. If your client is only posting once or twice a month, highlight the benefits of more regular posting. Of course, you stand to benefit from this, but the main point is they will too!
Producing consistent, high-quality content is not easy, but if you get it right then it can make a massive difference to a client’s fortunes. If you’re producing great content for a client, but you don’t feel like they’re posting regularly enough do some research, show them the benefits of more regular posting and make a plan!
Your client may not go for it, but they will respect the fact that you’ve put the effort in. The great news is that Google wants your content and there are going to be tons of people out there who recognize that. If our SEO guide to freelance writing teaches you one thing it should be that your skills are in great demand!
You can use SEO to leverage freelance writing jobs. Even a basic understanding of how search engine optimization works can make a big difference to your offerings. Not only will it improve the results your clients achieve, but it will allow you to get more jobs, and ultimately, make more money.
If you follow our SEO guide to freelance writing, do a little research and put the effort in, there’s no reason you won’t see results.
- Understand the basics
- Content is King
- Change is always round the corner
- Always be Niche
- Consistency is key
Although you definitely don’t have to be an expert in SEO to gain high paying freelance writing jobs, every piece of knowledge you have in it can aid your pitch. There’s a huge amount you can learn in SEO, but even the basics can make a big difference.
Luckily there are a multitude of great resources for SEO learning. It is one of the more competitive markets on the web with thousands of marketing firms offering free content to try and rank top for SEO related keywords.
This means you can just access all their free content and absorb all the knowledge you need to become a great freelance writer. To start off with I would advise these resources.
Win Your Ideal Writing Jobs – Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners
You may be seeking freelance writing jobs for beginners, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pitch like a seasoned pro. Follow our 7 steps to winning work, and you will be putting yourself in the best position to win the kind of writing jobs that you’re actually passionate about.
We’ve taken our favorite pitching formula and broken it down into 4 simple steps so you can tweak it to your needs and put yourself in pole position to land the writing jobs you’ve always wished you could have.
In our example, we talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but you can tailor this pitch to whatever your strengths are. SEO skills aren’t a necessity for freelance writers, but they can help you earn jobs, so if you want to learn a little bit more about SEO, check out Larry’s article, 7 Ways to Use SEO to Take Your Freelance Writing to the Next Level!
Whether you’re an SEO hero or not, tweak our pitching formula to incorporate your strengths, and you can be pitching like a pro in no time at all.
1. Find Content You Love
Finding freelance writing jobs for beginners doesn’t have to be difficult. There are tons and tons of people who are looking for good content, you’ve just got to find a way of matching yourself with those people.
One of my favorite ways to do this is through being passionate about my niche. I’m always reading up on things that are happening in my niche and when I find some content I really love I let the people know.
Peter Gasca writers in Master These 4 Simple Pitching Concepts to Capture a Room’s Attention “as an observer, mentor, and judge, I have seen numerous pitches fall flat because the entrepreneur failed to deliver even an ounce of passion through their pitch.” If you’re pitching to someone whose content you love, this is never going to be a problem though!
When you’re passionate about something it shows, and when you contact someone to tell them how much you love their work your passion for that subject is going to shine through. Obviously, these guys have already got some good content, so they know what they’re doing, but even the best blogs need a little help from time to time, so why not ask if you can do some writing for them?
I recently found an amazing website in my niche of tennis. This guy had some unbelievable content that was focused on tennis statistics (pretty nerdy, but I loved it), so I thought why not let him know how much I enjoyed his work.
Here’s how I started out my message
The amount of research you’ve put into your website is unbelievable! This is such a valuable resource for anyone connected with tennis and I’m very grateful to have found it.
I am a tennis writer myself and run my own tennis blog and I know that your statistics can add great authority to some of my posts. Statistical analysis is an area of tennis that I find is severely overlooked and I believe that by understanding the numbers of the game, we can massively improve our performance on the court.”
Of course, this isn’t rocket science, all I’ve done is used the fact I like this person’s content as an excuse to get in touch with him! However, I’ve created a connection and hopefully, I’ve positioned myself as someone who shares his passion for tennis statistics.
This is just the beginning of the pitch though! Once you’ve established your passion for the topic and made a connection with the person, you move onto the next step.
2. Find Where You’re Needed
In 12 Easy Steps to a Perfect Pitch, Bruna Martinuzzi recommends establishing the need for your services early on in the pitch, she says, “one of the questions that goes through your listeners’ minds when they set out to listen to you is ‘what problem are you trying to solve?’ Convince them that there is a need.”
Immediately, I could tell from the way Bob’s website was laid out that it probably wasn’t well optimized for SEO. So, I did a little research and checked out how the website ranked for its keywords.
(Again, SEO might not be your thing, but there will be some way your skills can improve this person’s website, you’ve just got to find it.)
It turned out that this website had 5-star content, but it was portraying itself as 1 star-content. For example, the titles of the blogs were very technical, but people rarely search in technical terms. The information in the blogs answered simple questions in clear terms, but the titles didn’t portray that. Everyone knows that a good title is important, but this was just one of the things that could use huge improvement on this blog.
Anyway, here’s what I found and how I continued my pitch
“As far as I’m concerned, any article that’s ever written about tennis could benefit from quoting your statistics. That’s why I was a little bit surprised to find there aren’t many websites linking to your blog. I’m sure there are many people who would love to be linking to your website, but the problem is it’s very hard to find.
Your content is some of the best out there, but unfortunately, you’re only ranking on page 1 of Google for about 10 keywords. In my opinion, your content is so good that your ranking possibilities are unlimited if you just make a few changes.”
So this is the area in my pitch where I have really positioned myself as an expert. I have analyzed Bob’s website, understood the requirements that this website needs to meet in order to be successful and suggested reasons as to why it might not be reaching its full potential.
The danger here is that I alienate Bob by being critical of his website but in all probability, he probably knows there is something not working on his website and he is eager for someone to help him fix it. SEO specialists are generally very expensive, so by approaching him as a writer, I am positioning myself as being able to fix his problem at a much cheaper rate.
We said in our article Freelance Writing For Beginners – 7 Ways to Learn From Everything You Do that you need to become your own business analyst, well here’s just another example! Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know how to analyze a website or magazine, it’s something you will get better at with time.
Just think about how you can use your skills to make this person’s posts better. Write out some ideas and develop them into a coherent plan.
3. Offer Up a Specific Strategy
So, you’ve found Bob’s content and you love it. But, you’ve noticed some flaws with his website and you thought you’d be a good Samaritan and let him know. Well, we’re not quite that altruistic because we do want something in return!
This is the most important part of the pitch, the part where we tell Bob how we’re going to help him solve the problems with his website and achieve his business goals. This is where we offer up a specific strategy that’s going to change the fortunes of Bob’s website.
All businesses love a strategy and without one, your pitch just isn’t going to have the same authority. In 5 Benefits of Strategic Planning, Vera Ong recommends that “a strategic plan offers a much-needed foundation from which an organization (Bob’s website) can grow, evaluate its success, compensate its employees and establish boundaries for decision-making”.
We want to show Bob he can grow his website, achieve his goals, and we want to get compensated, so this is a great place to really nail our pitch!
This part can be a bit of a balancing act as we want to show Bob that we are the answer to his problems, but we’d also like to leave enough in our pocket that he doesn’t go off and do it all on his own.
Here’s how I pitched my strategy to Bob:
“I really do think that with a few fixes your website could be ranking on p1 of Google for hundreds of keywords, and you could easily increase your traffic 10 fold.
What I would suggest is reworking your titles and targeting them to specific keywords and adding in a summary to each of your blogs. At the moment, your content is presented in a very number focussed way which might be leading Google to think that your content is thin.
By writing summaries of what your statistics mean, I believe you could improve on your content and most importantly, make Google sit up and take notice.”
Now, this is a simple fix in many ways. It really is just a few tweaks. Bob has done all the hard work by putting 11 years worth of statistics in one place, all that’s left to do is optimize them for keywords and write a summary. But when you’ve got 1000s of blogs, suddenly the job becomes more complicated and Bob might need a hand, as well as some guidance!
So here’s where we move on to step four and really drive home our value.
4. Back Up What You Say
You’ve pitched Bob a strategy, but how does Bob know it’s going to work and you’re worth giving a chance? This is where you back up your words and show Bob all the great work you’ve done in the past.
Talk about the successful writing you’ve done in your niche. How many visitors does it attract each day? Did it rank on p.1 of Google? How many comments did it generate? Whatever success stories you’ve had, link it back to your strategy and show how you have a track record of making this strategy work.
This is how I did it with Bob:
“By targeting keywords through high-quality written content, I have successfully implemented this strategy with my own website and have seen great results. We started the website 6 months ago and now rank on p1 of Google for around 200 keywords, which generates us a substantial amount of traffic.
I think that with your website you could achieve even bigger results because it is more established, having been running for over 2 years now. I’m confident that a little bit of work and some small changes could make a big difference for you.
If you’re interested in my ideas then I’d love to organize a time to Skype and discuss them further.
As I said, I love your content and would be very excited to help out.
So my pitch is now complete and I think we can agree it’s a little bit more thorough than just posting my name on a jobs board. It shows that you’ve got expertise, you understand your potential client’s goals, and that you’re willing to put work in to make this blog a success.
Bob may not agree with my analysis of his business, but the chances are he is going to be impressed with my efforts and I’m certainly going to stand out from the crowd.
This pitch does take a fair bit of work, but, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. If you follow these steps then you might be looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners, but you’ll be pitching like a pro.
Find Content You Love
Find Ways That Content Can Be Improved
Offer Up a Specific Strategy
Back Up What You Say
5. Treat Your Pitch Like Your Articles
If you’re going to put a ton of effort into writing a pitch, there’s no point doing it if you’re going to overlook the small details. You need to treat your pitches like your articles and that means making sure they’re grammatically correct and there are no spelling mistakes.
Impact writer Carly Stec writes that “one of the easiest ways to discount your business’ credability is to fall victim to spelling errors and poor grammar.” When you send in a pitch with a small mistake it’s automatically going to jump out of the page at the client. You’ve got a very small window to make a good impression and a grammatical error is a quick way to get rejected.
To put our minds at rest, we use Grammarly’s Writing Assistant, which is great at doing a first screening of all your writing. We know when we’re using Grammarly we’re going to be pretty close to perfect, but that doesn’t stop us doing an extra couple of proof readings.
It’s easy to get overly anxious about these small details, so trust yourself, but you don’t want all your great research and pitching to be ruined by some simple grammar mistakes. Do your proofreading, trust yourself, and send it off!
Always keep in mind that your pitches are just as important as your articles, so treat them as such. Freelance writing jobs for beginners are a competitive field, so put yourself above the competition by absolutely smashing the pitch.
6. Get Testimonials
One thing that is going to be very important to step four (backing up what you say) of this process is testimonials. If you can show prospective clients that you’ve achieved tangible results then you’re going to make your life so much easier.
To do this, you’re going to have to make sure you collect testimonials along the way. Many websites will encourage clients to write reviews of your work when you’ve submitted it, but don’t leave it to chance.
Make sure that if your client is happy with your work they leave you a review. If you’ve achieved something like ranking on page 1 of Google then remind them. They’ll be more than happy to write it for you if you’ve done this, but without you reminding them it might slip their mind.
In today’s world, people rarely buy anything without reviewing it first. The same is true of freelance writers. As a freelance writing beginner, you’re not going to start out with reviews, but if you do good work and make sure you chase up your testimonials then you’re going to have plenty of good reviews in no time.
Make sure you don’t just collect reviews though. Use them to market yourself as much as you can. Put them on your website (yes you should make a website – check out our article Choosing Your Niches – 7 Ways to Start Ahead of the Competition, point 6) and celebrate yourself when you’ve done good work.
7. Value Yourself
It’s very important when you’re talking to prospective clients that you understand your value. Freelance writing jobs for beginners can be difficult to get when you’re starting out, but you must remember not to undervalue yourself.
Everyone’s trying to save a buck in this world, so clients might look to talk you down, but don’t feel pressured into taking an offer that doesn’t work out for you. If you’ve written a great pitch, then you’ve already shown the kind of value you can offer, stick to your guns and respect the high quality work you’re going to be doing by getting the right price for it.
Likewise, if you’re not getting the jobs you think you should be getting and clients are suggesting you should be pricing your work a little cheaper then don’t bury your head in the stand. Make sure you’re monitoring your competition to see how much they are charging and remember you will be able to increase your prices as you collect great testimonials and build a killer body of work.
Understanding how to price your work is a difficult part of freelance writing, but it needn’t be complicated. To begin with, check out the competition and price your work accordingly. Once you start building an impressive body of work you can start to adjust your pricing to reflect your growing reputation!
At the end of the day, winning freelance writing jobs is the same as anything else. You’ve got to put in the hard work and make your pitch stand out from the rest. Freelance writing jobs for beginners are going to have tons of people applying, so you have to find a way of making your pitch better than the next one.
We love to do this by using our cold pitch formula to get jobs we’re actually passionate about. To do this, you simply have to follow these four steps:
- Find ways that content can be improved upon.
- Reach out to the owner of the content.
- Offer up a specific strategy.
- Back up what you say.
If you treat your pitch like you do your articles and make them word perfect then you’re going to find that potential clients are highly impressed with the effort you have gone to. Most jobs will have lots and lots of people applying, but you can guarantee that the vast majority won’t have gone to the same level of effort as you have.
When we were starting out in freelance writing this was one of our go-to strategies for getting work and it worked a treat. The main thing is you have to get yourself out there and start pitching for jobs. The more you do, the better you will get!
Freelance Writing For Beginners
People are always asking us “what tips do you have when it comes to freelance writing for beginners?” The answer is, there are lots of things you need to figure out, but learning from everything you do is the best way to put yourself on that path to success.
We find that everything we do is an opportunity. Whether that be an opportunity for a story, for professional improvement, or for getting a writing job, everyday events can help you achieve your goals if you look at them in the right way.
When you’re a freelance writer, you’ve always got to have your eyes open and your business on your mind because you never know what opportunities might come your way. To help you with this endeavor, we’ve put together 7 ways to learn from everything you do, so you can cut your learning curve and jump to the front of the line for freelance writing jobs.
1. Treat the Business Like Your Baby
When you have a baby, your whole life suddenly revolves around one tiny being. Somehow, everything you do seems to relate back to one little person and you’d do anything to see it succeed. In order to make a success of your freelance writing business, you’re going to have to treat it with the same reverence as you would a baby!
Everything you do throughout your day can relate back to your writing so long as you’re taking note of what’s happening in your life. Perhaps you’re writing about a recent slump in the stock market. If you are aware of everything you see throughout the day, the chances are, you are going to see some evidence of the effects of the slump. The stories are right there, you just need to connect them back to your writing.
One key characteristic of humans is that they are innately interested in the stories of other human beings. If you can relate your day-to-day stories back to your niche then you’re going to have some great content without having to do too much hard work.
“Character-driven stories with emotional content result in the better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later” Paul J. Zak – Harvard Review
The problem is, we are generally not trained to investigate what goes on in our day to day lives. We are lost in routines and on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much benefit in questioning what is going on. We don’t ask ourselves “what”, “why”, “who”, and “how” often enough, but as a writer, you have to learn to question everything.
When a baby is born, we are suddenly given a look at life through a new prism. Our life becomes dedicated to aiding the survival of another human being and we see everyday events differently. Well, congratulations, because you’ve just had a baby and it’s a beautiful baby freelance writing career!
When it comes to freelance writing for beginners who are struggling to think of content ideas, this is always my number one suggestion. No matter where you go, or what you are doing, always be ready to discover the next story.
2. Be Your Own Analyst
There’s a reason big businesses spend huge amounts of money on business analysts; because analysis works! When I was waiting tables in Australia, the restaurant manager would always say “information is power.” I thought it a bit grandiose at the time for a waiting job, but I discovered it’s true no matter what you do.
Freelance writing for beginners isn’t the easiest thing in the world. You’re starting out in a new field, against more experienced and more established writers. However, there is a way to quickly jump the ladder and learning to be your own analyst is going to be key to that.
You might not be the king of your niche just yet, but one thing you can be is the most on the ball challenger out there. This means knowing everything there is to know about your niche, what’s working well in your niche, and how you’re performing.
In our article on Harnessing Your Self-Discipline to Boost Productivity, we recommended setting aside some time on Sundays to plan out the week ahead. Well, why not go a step further and extend that time to run some analysis?
You can do this however you like, but these are four simple categories I like to break my analysis into:
- How did my performance last week lead to me achieving my goals?
- What did I do well?
- How could I do better?
- What were the key developments in my niche?
Clearly, I don’t sit around plugging numbers into algorithms, but nevertheless, the more you know, the quicker your learning curve is going to be. Tiny details are what separate the best from the also-rans and if you don’t take the time to look back at what you’re doing, it can be difficult to spot the details you are getting wrong.
Freelance writing is a one-man business, so you’re not going to be employing teams of analysts to go over your data. Instead, you’ve got to be your own business analyst (as well as boss, workhorse, and coffee maker.)
3. Become a Critical Thinker
Critical thinker – it seems to be every teacher and professors’ favorite phrase. My university felt it was such an important thing that they made it part of their motto. I didn’t really start to appreciate it until I got into freelance writing though.
When it comes to freelance writing for beginners, one thing that can be very difficult to do is to stand out. If you go and look on something like Upwork (we’d recommend Writing Jobs Online as a better place to start), you’re going to see tons and tons of other writers all trying to do the same thing.
One way to put yourself ahead of the competition is by becoming an excellent critical thinker. So what is this elusive critical thinking you ask! Well, I like to think of it as what critical thinkers do, and Skills You Need put it nicely when they say, “critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value.”
Working on your critical thinking skills is something you can practice at any point and they’re bound to help you in your writing. Wabisabi Learning lists the 7 traits of critical thinkers as:
Curiosity – Critical thinkers always want to know why. They are eager to learn about all subjects and if there’s something they don’t know they will look it up. Learn to apply your curiosity to your niche, but be willing to learn about other things too.
Compassion – Being a critical thinker doesn’t mean investigating other people’s arguments because you think they are trying to fool you. In order to be an effective critical thinker, you need to understand where everyone else is coming from. This is especially true when you’re writing as you need to use the art of gentle persuasion.
Awareness – Every moment is an opportunity for critical thinking. Dig that little bit deeper, ask one more question and be constantly alert. If you can discover content where others can’t it will make your life a lot easier.
Decisiveness – Critical thinking shouldn’t be confused with over-thinking. In critical thinking, you learn to know which questions are pertinent and which ones aren’t. Asking the wrong questions over and over isn’t going to move you forward; asking the right questions and acting on the results will.
Honesty – Your critical thinking might not always lead you in the right direction but you have to be honest when it isn’t. First off, you have to be honest with yourself that you are not infallible and will make mistakes. Then, you need to be honest with your reader and say “I thought this, but it was not the case, in fact, I found this”.
Willingness – Following these practices day in day out is not easily done. It’s going to take a lot of effort and you have to be willing to open your mind up to everything around you. Sometimes you might not like what you see but you’ve got to be flexible and willing to adapt to what you find.
Creativity – This is how you’re going to stand out from the crowd! Can you ask the most creative questions, find unique insights from your research and present your evidence in an attractive way?
You need to become an archeologist of the truth. Dusting away the layers until you have something tangible in your hands. The “truth” that everyone tells is boring, the real truth that you find at the bottom of your excavation is what is really interesting.
If you regurgitate the “truths” that are already out there, you’re not going to stand out. Your writing might be a bit better than the competition, but they’re already established which puts them ahead. The answer is discovering a better truth, a more accurate truth, and it starts with critical thinking.
4. See Everything as an Opportunity
One of the keys to freelance writing for beginners is being able to stand out from the competition and establish yourself as a go-to person. However, in a competitive market, that’s not always the easiest task. Luckily, you have one thing that is completely unique, which is your life, so you have to learn to use it.
The time when you’re not writing can actually be some of the most valuable you have in the day. So many intriguing things happen in our lives on a day-to-day basis, we just have to look for the story in them. If you start to look at everything that happens to you as an opportunity for a story then you’re bound to find rich content ideas coming to you.
Of course, you’re writing ability is going to help to stand out in freelance writing, but the overall content is where the best writers separate themselves. It’s not that easy to hold a person’s’ attention in the 21st century, so to do so, you’re going to have to offer something different.
Constantly coming up with a new viewpoint or theory is exceptionally difficult though. You can sit around at a computer pondering ideas all you like, but eventually, the well is going to run dry. This is why you have to be switched on to everything you see in life and ask questions about what is happening.
In our article Choosing Your Freelance Writing Niches – 7 Ways to Start Ahead of the Competition, we said that if you have an interest, the chances are, there are tons of other people out there with the same interest. The same thing goes for questions. If you’re going about your day and suddenly wonder why Bigfoot shows always seem to find Bigfoot but never get a picture of him, the chances are, someone else is having that thought too!
Do some research, ask the questions, and produce some great content and the bigfoot non-believers will come! This probably won’t relate back to your niche, but the idea is the same. Question the things that happen in your life, and turn them into amazing content through investigation.
One thing we love about the idea that everything is an opportunity is the ability to learn from your failures. At some point in your career, you’re going to write something that completely bombs. Some writers would be quick to erase those pieces of writing from their memories, but to us, they are an excellent opportunity.
If you can figure out what it is that makes an article bad, then you’ve taken the first step to figuring out what makes an article good! Dust that article off, spruce it up, and see if you can get a different result next time around. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of A/B testing.
Your options are unlimited when it comes to finding content, the only thing that is holding you back is the limits of your imagination. By learning to be a critical thinker and seeing everything as an opportunity for a story you’re going to be able to make your writing stand out in a way that’s going to put you on the path to success.
5. Step Out From the Shadows
We just said that freelance writing for beginners is about trying to stand out, so why are we constantly trying to fit in? We need to learn to stay true to ourselves and not be afraid to offer something different.
Everyone in your niche is saying one thing, but you’ve done your research, and you have a completely different view on the matter. Congratulations, you’ve got yourself an excellent opportunity! All you have to do is trust yourself and use this to your advantage.
Sometimes it’s easy to think that in freelance writing there is a bigger market for traditional thinking than there is for your new idea. This might be true, but there are even more people trying to peddle that traditional thinking. Clear up the jobs with the people who are open to new thinking and build yourself a reputation.
Your new way of thinking might not go down well, but on the flip side, it might go down very well and suddenly you’re a hot commodity!
As Linkedin say, “if you want to get on in life and are motivated then you have to stand out from the crowd and get yourself noticed by the people that count.” There are many ways you can do this in freelance writing, whether it be through your branding, your profile, your voice, or through your content, but the main thing is you can’t be scared to break away from the pack.
Personally, I like to let my content do the talking. There’s nothing better than taking a topic and turning it on its head by using unique questioning to find a new reality. So much of the internet is filled with mediocre research that people are crying out for your unique take.
It’s time to step out from the shadows and show the world exactly what you can do. Use your unique thinking to create your own identity in your niche.
6. Persistence Pays
When you take something very seriously like you’re going to take your freelance writing career, it’s easy to take it personally when some of your work or ideas are rejected. However, one person’s opinion shouldn’t allow you to be pushed off course.
What you’ve got to do is be really honest with yourself, evaluate your work, and if you still feel like you’re on the right track then you’ve got to keep going. Maybe tweak a few things here and there, do a little bit more research, but the main thing is if you think you’re on the right track then don’t doubt yourself.
Sometimes, persistence is key in this job and unfortunately, you’re going to face some rejection along the way. The most important thing is that you don’t get discouraged. If you thought you were on the right path yesterday, the fact that one person didn’t like your work shouldn’t change that.
While rejection shouldn’t faze you, it is a good chance to find out where you can make improvements. Have a dialog with potential clients if you don’t get the job. Ask what you could have done better and what areas you need to work on. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They don’t get back to you, which isn’t going to cost you anything.
Like any profession, freelance writing for beginners has a sharp learning curve. Some people never catch up with the curve, but if you can learn to take rejection, find out why you were rejected, and come back even stronger, you’re going to cut that learning curve down greatly.
7. Give Yourself a Break
We’re always talking about being the best boss you can at Think Freelance Writing. We think it is one of the most important parts of any freelance job because no one else is going to be looking out for you but yourself.
Part of being a great boss is recognizing when you need to go easy on yourself and give yourself a pat on the back rather than a telling off. Sure, you might have made a mistake, but everyone does. If you spend your time cursing yourself for messing up you’re just prolonging the time it takes for you to learn from your mistake.
“Stop beating yourself up. You are a work in progress, which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once.” Unknown
Some people say that an important part of freelance writing for beginners is being able to be strict with yourself, and to some extent, it is true. But not every moment needs strictness. There are going to be some moments in your freelance writing career when you’re just going to have to be nice to yourself. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes, allow yourself to make them and then move on.
When I first started writing I really struggled with this aspect. If I had a new blog out somewhere I’d constantly be looking through the comments to see if they were positive. If I did find a negative one I would really take it to heart and be critical of myself.
This is such a waste of mental energy though. Instead, it’s a much better use of time to focus on the bigger picture, accept when you do make the odd error and make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.
Freelance writing is a difficult mountain to summit. The chances are you’re going to have some falls along the way. The important thing is not that you don’t make mistakes, it’s that you learn from your mistakes. Freelance writing for beginners is a constant opportunity for learning, so we’ve put together our 7 ways to learn from everything you do:
- Treat the business like your baby.
- Be your own analyst.
- Become a critical thinker.
- See everything as an opportunity.
- Step out from the shadows.
- Persistence pays.
- Give yourself a break.
One of the great things about you is that you’re unique. That’s why you have to use your life to offer your readers unique and engaging content. Learn to think critically about everything you do and relate it back to your niche.
If you can learn from everything you do then you’re going to cut your learning curve greatly and start to stand out as a freelance writer. Once you know how to stand out and make a name for yourself then you’re on the path to great success in freelance writing!
Creating a Freelance Writing Business – 7 Ways to Reign in Your Self Discipline and Boost Productivity
Freelance writing is all about writing right? Well, the truth is, the writing is just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, you’re creating a freelance writing business and with any business, there are plenty of things that go on beneath the surface.
Like any business, you might have the best product in the world, but if the rest of your affairs are not in order, you’re not going to be successful.
In order to make this venture a success, you’re going to have to be disciplined. Being a freelance writer means there is no set structure that you have to follow, but that doesn’t mean your days can be unstructured.
When you work for yourself, there’s nobody looking over your shoulder to make sure you are getting work done, so it’s important you become this person. By setting clear goals and constant planning, you can make sure that you are always moving towards your dream of creating a successful freelance business.
It’s not always going to be an easy process, but with these 7 ways to reign in your self-discipline and boost productivity, you can take a step towards successfully creating a freelance writing business.
1. Be The Best Boss You’ve Ever Had
One of the most exciting parts of being a freelance writer is having the ability to be your own boss. Being able to take jobs that appeal to you, working the hours you want and generally not having to answer to anyone (other than the client) are some of the perks that draw us to the job.
The problem is, those same benefits that we love about the job can also be some of the biggest contributors to us not making a success of freelance writing. There’s no point in being your own boss if you can’t enforce the levels of self-discipline that are necessary to succeed.
The great thing about this is that you have the opportunity to be the best boss you have ever had. On the flipside, you could also turn out to be the worst boss you’ve ever had. It is important to remember that you have the potential to go both ways here, and always strive to be the best boss you can be.
In Forbes’ 10 Commandments of Being Your Own Boss Brian Rashid highlights the importance of “recognizing your work as a career and not a hobby.” He goes on to say, “be patient with yourself, but also realize your obligation to take it seriously.”
Writing is something that so many people enjoy that it can easily be seen as a hobby, but you are building a career, something that will enhance your prosperity and look after your family; treat it as such.
If things aren’t working out, you have nobody else to blame but yourself in this business, but by being the best boss you’ve ever had, you’re going to give yourself the best shot of making this thing a success. Creating a freelance writing business isn’t easy, but if you follow these steps, you can help to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance.
2. Without Goals you Won’t Even Score the Open Goals
Goal setting is a fundamental part of everyday life that far too many of us neglect completely. Without goals, we’re something like a message in a bottle. We have a purpose, but we’re not likely to reach our destination because we have no direction.
To achieve our overarching goal of becoming a successful freelance writer, we need to have clear and achievable goals along the way. If we only set ourselves one goal of earning $50,000 in our first year from freelancing, it can be hard to find the motivation we need in the short term to keep going when things get hard.
It’s much better to create a series of goals, both in the short term and long term that you can continue to evaluate and strive to reach. This way, if you’re failing to meet some goals, you’ve always got the motivation of seeing yourself achieving other goals.
The key to setting goals is that they must be SMART goals. I’m really not a fan of acronyms, but this one works pretty well I’d say! Anyway, here’s what makes a SMART goal smart.
- Specific – “I want to improve my writing skills” vs “I want to increase the amount of research I put into my writing in order to make it more academic.”
- Measurable – “I want to earn some money through writing” vs “I want to earn $20,000 through writing in my first 6 months.
- Attainable – “This time next year Rodney we’ll be millionaires” vs “This time next year I will be earning a sustainable income from writing.”
- Relevant – “I want to learn to be a hot air balloon pilot because it looks fun” vs “I want to learn to be a hot air balloon pilot because my niche is hot air balloons.”
- Timebound “I want to write 6 blogs” vs “I was to write 6 blogs this week.”
Once you’ve had a chance to think about some goals, make sure you put them down on paper so they become real. As MindTools.com says, “the physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it.”
When you become a freelance writer there’s going to be nobody watching over your shoulder and making sure you’re hitting targets all the time. This makes it even more important that you have clear, attainable goals to work towards. You’re not going to achieve every goal, but as long as you’re achieving some, you know you’re moving in the right direction.
3. Do Like Rafa – Make Routines
I’m sorry to anyone who’s not a sports fan out there, but this is my niche slipping out (check out how I choose my niches). Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but he is also obsessive about routines. People make fun of his routines all the time, but you don’t see him changing them, that’s because they work! The same is true in freelance writing.
When you’re creating a freelance writing business, there are so many things you could be doing at any given moment that it’s easy to spend hours deciding what to do next. Instead of thinking “what if I do this” or “what if I do that” simply move on to the next part of your routine. Take the decisions out of the equation and just do what you do next.
I had a law professor who always loved to announce “if you’ve committed a crime and find yourself in court, you better pray that you’re not the last person to be sentenced before lunch or home time.” That’s because as the Judge becomes more tired from constantly making decisions, he becomes less likely to rule in your favor. Adam Eason touches on this in his great guide to productivity, “everybody’s will-power gets affected as a result of making decisions all day every day and we tire as a result.”
By creating effective routines you can take many of those decisions out of your day to day life. Just as Nadal doesn’t want to be thinking “what if I hit a double fault,” we don’t want to be thinking “how should I go about writing this essay.” Just follow your routines and everything will come to you.
One of the reasons routines are particularly important for freelance writers is that their day doesn’t require any structure. If you really wanted to, you could sit in your pajamas all day. However, we can all agree that is not a formula for success.
Instead, you have to create a routine that gets you ready for work. I find it’s best to mimic what I would do if I was going to work at a normal job. I work normal hours, dress in casual smart attire and try to do everything I would do if I was working in an office.
This one can be quite difficult to do, but once you get used to creating and following routines, it is amazing how much it can improve your productivity. Don’t waste time sweating the small stuff, just follow your routines and get the real work done.
4. Every Success Story is Full Of Plans
The main reason you know you can fall back on your routines is because they have been well planned. Over time we learn what works best for us and we gradually incorporate those things into our routine until eventually, we’re running as close to peak performance as we possibly can.
Planning shouldn’t be limited to having a good breakfast or actually putting clothes on though! The more we can plan out our week, the more brain energy we have left to get the real work done.
The simplest way of doing this is buying a planner, sitting down on a Sunday and planning out exactly what the next week will entail. Set deadlines, organize appointments and make a writing schedule. There are many, many different ways of planning, but here are a few I always stick with.
1. Start your day with the most unpleasant task: As I mentioned in How To Choose Your Freelancing Niche, writing about a subject you have no interest in can be pretty painful. I know because I write one blog which I find particularly dreary. If I left this to the end of the day, it simply wouldn’t get done. The easiest way to combat this is to get it done at the beginning of the day.
2. Do One Thing At a Time: This one’s quite dependent on the person, but as a general rule, it’s not good to be multitasking. Set your sights on completing one task before you move onto the next one. If you need a break, take a break!
3. The 80/20 Rule: The 80/20 rule is something you hear about a lot and it applies to planning too. Productivityist.com encourages you to “remember that if you spend 20% of your day focused on working on something towards your long-term and current goals, you’ll garner 80% of the desired result.” Keep your plans focused on your goals and keep moving forwards. (You may be thinking that 20% to achieve 80% seems fanciful, but we’ll get to that in the next paragraph!)
4. Follow the Plan: There’s no point making a plan if you don’t follow it. Sure, unexpected things will happen that take you away from the plan, but whenever possible, you need to follow it. Make your life as easy as possible by having everything planned out and you will be more productive.
Structure is a vital part of productivity and nobody is going to give it to you when you’re a freelance writer. You’ve got to create the structure yourself and that means plenty of planning. If you fail to do this, it can be one of the easiest ways to bomb your freelance writing career.
5. More is not More
Perhaps one of the reasons you got into freelance writing in the first place is because you were sick of spending 10 hours a day stuck behind a desk. You’re expected to be there, working the whole time, but you know that’s not the way to get your best work done. The days of thinking more time spent at work means you get more work done are starting to come to an end and for good reason.
No matter how great you are, you only have a limited attention span; it’s human nature. The old idea that you can sit at your desk for 10 hours at a time and smash out work just doesn’t hold up anymore. Instead, you need to make the most of the human attention span by breaking your work into smaller blocks.
Simply follow these steps:
- Choose a task.
- Remove all distractions (social media, phones, emails, everything).
- Set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on your project for the full 25 minutes until the timer rings.
- Take a quick break. 5 or 10 minutes.
- Repeat this sequence until you have completed 4 work sessions.
- After 4 sessions take a longer break of 30 mins.
Why does this technique work? Well, asides from the fact that we only have a limited attention span, we also have a million and one distractions. How often are you trying to write an article when you stop mid-stride to reply to an email you have just seen pop up.
By focusing all our energy on one task for a full 25 minutes we can maximize our productivity without experiencing FOMO. Fear of missing out means that we always want to check what the latest email says, or find out why our phone is buzzing, but if you know that after 25 minutes you can check all those things you can relax and just get on with the job at hand.
In order to maximize your time, you need to get rid of tasks and routines that are not beneficial to you and the Pomodoro Technique is a great way of doing that. I have a tendency of getting a bit carried away with looking at analytics to see how my blogs are doing, but constantly doing this doesn’t contribute to my goals so I’ve had to alter my routines to make sure I maximize my time better.
The Pomodoro Technique might not necessarily be the one that works for you, but what’s for sure is trying to sit down for 4 or 5 hours at a time and bang out an article isn’t productive. When it comes to work, more is not more, most of the time, less is more.
6. Disavow the Distractions
If there’s one thing that can really throw you off track it’s needless distractions. In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous Flow Theory on how to achieve happiness, one of the key aspects of an enjoyable experience is “a complete focusing of attention on the task at hand – thus leaving no room in the mind for irrelevant information.”
Not only is this a key requirement for us to enjoy a task, but it is a key element in us doing a task well. If I’m trying to write my article on the Dialects of Parrots, but I’m busy wondering what Bob has just said in Facebook Messenger, I’m not going to do my best work. It doesn’t matter if the distraction is related to your work or not, you have to compartmentalize these tasks.
Returning to Adam Eason’s great article, a great way to do this is by identifying OHIO tasks, or only handle it once tasks. These are tasks like replying to emails that you can respond to immediately on an individual basis, but for the most part, you can select a time slot and reply to them en mass.
This is something I do a lot for things like replying to emails and writing social media posts. I run a few social pages for different websites and what I will do is schedule an hour or two where I plan out as many posts as I can. Rather than doing it three or four times a day, I get everything I need done and get it off my mind. I can then return to what really earns me my money: writing.
By having a set time that I check into my emails or my Facebook, I take away the temptation to do it just because I’m bored of writing an article. If I know I can legitimately go and make a Facebook post for work then I can justify stopping my writing and distracting myself. If I have a set time when I take care of my social media posts though, I don’t have that distraction.
Distractions like your phone, social media, and emails can be a huge drain on your time, so it’s no wonder that a central theme of the Pomodoro Technique is removing those distractions. Training yourself to ignore distractions isn’t that hard to do and it can give you a great head start over other freelance writers. Factor these things into your planning and you’re bound to see an increase in your productivity.
7. Eat, Sleep, Repeat
The thing about goals, plans, and routines is that they’re useless if you don’t keep on doing them. Consistency is key and complacency is your enemy. Your routines need to become as familiar to you as waking up, eating three meals a day, going to bed, and waking up again, because without them, making a success of your freelance career is going to be very difficult.
People think that creating a freelance writing business is either extremely easy or extremely hard, but the truth is, it’s somewhere in the middle. One thing you have to do really well though is the basics. You have to be your own boss, you have to be professional, and you have to create a winning structure for yourself.
You don’t achieve this by doing something for a day, a week, or even a month, you achieve this by doing things over and over month after month and doing them well. After a time, everything begins to feel like second nature to you and the chances are, some of your goals will be starting to come to fruition
How successful you are at creating a freelance writing business probably isn’t going to come down to how good your writing skills are. You can sell the best product in the world, but if your business practices are a shambles you’re not going to succeed.
Through consistently following these 7 steps, you will give your freelance writing business the best chance of returning you a solid income that you can rely on for years to come. You may do many of these things naturally, but if you fail to do them at all, you will more than likely fail in your venture.
- Be the best boss.
- Make great goals.
- Always follow routines.
- Plan the details of your success.
- Recognize that more is not more.
- Disavow distractions.
- Do it over and over and over again.
Nothing guarantees success in anything, but it is widely recognized that these practices are key aspects of a successful business. Individually, they are not hard to do, but the challenge is doing them all well, all the time.
You must never lose sight of the fact that this is a business and it must be run as such. By staying one step ahead of yourself, through good planning, goal setting, and routines you will give yourself a great chance of creating a successful writing business.
Why Is Defining Your Freelance Writing Niches important?
Niche is such a buzzword when it comes to anything to do with the internet that you could be forgiven for thinking it was a meaningless piece of jargon. However, if you want to be a successful freelance writer then you dismiss niches at your peril. The word is so popular because it is so important! You have to choose your freelance writing niches and you have to do it now.
It’s not just freelance writing where choosing a niche is important. Forbes magazine says that “almost every thought-leader and hotshot CEO who made it big did so by focusing on one crucial aspect of their business: they embraced their niche.” I’m pretty sure life is not that simple, but clearly, choosing a great niche is important when it comes to business and freelance writing.
There are so many reasons why choosing your freelance writing niches is an important first step, but the most important one has to be your own sanity! Freelance writing is a great gig, but when you’re spending all day everyday writing about something you don’t care about it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Life is going to be so much easier if you’re writing about something you love!
If your own sanity is not reason enough for you to choose a niche then your success should be. By choosing a niche and building a great body of work in that niche you make it so much easier to advertise yourself. Once you establish yourself as an expert in your niche the job offers will start to pour in and suddenly you’re living the dream.
Trying to figure out your niche isn’t always easy though, so we’ve put together 7 steps to put yourself ahead of your competition when choosing a niche. Follow these steps and be honest with yourself and you will make the first steps to ensure your freelance writing success.
1. Think of Yourself as a Brand
When you think of McDonald’s, what do you think of? The chances are – burgers. That’s because
The more important question is: when you think of burgers, what do you think of? In many cases, the answer is going to be McDonald’s. The equation works both ways because of McDonald’s unbelievable branding.
When it comes to your freelance writing career, you need to take a leaf out of McDonald’s playbook and make sure you become the go-to (brand) name in your niche. By focusing on a specific niche or niches, you can create a competitive advantage for yourself, that gets you more jobs, earns you more money, and reduces your workload.
Don’t let us limit your ambitions, but it may difficult to show that you have 68 million happy customers a day in your niche, but the principle is there. If you have a body of work that includes 100 top notch articles about competitive chess, this is going to be more useful than a 100 articles on anything from the vocabulary of parrots to the music of Art Garfunkle (unless they’re somehow linked).
Follow Mcdonalds and focus on a few things that you are good at – burgers, fries, and soft drinks. Hone your skills in these areas, so that you have every step of the process down to a tee and create a body of work that shows you are an expert in this field.
The better you get at writing about competitive chess, the more people are going to think competitive chess and then think of your name. You will jump to the top of listings, boost your earning potential and attract job offers without having to source them.
As The Writing Cooperative says, “you can’t do your branding properly until you have figured out some niche stuff. It’s also hard to do niche stuff without thinking about your brand.” Your niche and your brand are always going to be intertwined because that is your calling card.
Like McDonald’s calling card might say burgers, fries, and soft drinks, your calling card needs to say “Will Palmer – attracts 10,00 viewers to competitive chess blogs by making complex chess talk accessible to the average reader.
2. All Good Things Start With Brainstorming
The easiest things to write about are the things that we are passionate about and that we have a high level of knowledge about. You can take it from me, there’s nothing more painful than constantly having to churn out 2,000-word articles on something you just don’t care about out.
On the flip side, when you write about something you’re truly passionate about it can be an extremely enjoyable process. Time seems to fly by, the ideas flow and you know that this is what you were meant to do.
Maybe you’re sitting there thinking there’s nothing I’m passionate about that other people want to read about, but you would certainly be wrong. It’s a weird and wonderful world out there, and the internet is the embodiment of that. Up to 4.3k people a month ask Google “is bigfoot real” in the US alone, so the chances are that whatever you’re interested in there are other people out there searching for it too.
The best place to start out when you choose your freelance writing niches is with a good old-fashioned brainstorm. We love to do our brainstorming on a whiteboard, but the main thing is that you write it down! Think about your skills, your passions and anything that generally gets you excited, put them down on a piece of paper and start from there.
For me, this was quite an easy process to begin with. I’ve played tennis for 20 years and played college tennis, so I had a high-level of knowledge in this niche that could put me ahead of the vast majority of other writers. When you’re starting out in the freelance game, this is an invaluable boost.
While I’ve had a lot of success writing about tennis, I didn’t want to limit myself to that though, so I continued my brainstorming. I studied politics at university but didn’t feel like my passion for the subject was sufficient to keep on writing about it. So I kept on thinking back and remembered my love for creative writing in high school.
At the time, I certainly wasn’t an expert in creative writing to the same extent I was tennis, but I knew that the passion was there and I had the eagerness to learn. That’s the beauty about freelance writing. You don’t have to be an expert in something, you just have to have the will to become an expert in it.
Don’t get carried away with thinking you don’t have the expertise to write about a subject. Creative Revolt recounts a typical story where a financial advisor of 2 years worries about not having enough experience to freelance write in the financial sector.
The fact is, there are tons of people writing out there who probably have less expertise than you. What’s going to make the difference is how committed you are to continually learning your niche and how much research goes into your articles. As you often hear in sports, “hard work beats talent” and the same is true in writing.
Commit to your niche and commit to your articles and you will reap the rewards.
3. Research is Key
Once you’ve found a potential niche it is important to start to understand that topic. It’s not enough just to have a basic overview of the subject, you’ve got to know it inside out. That means research!
The most important part about any type of writing is that you’ve got to create great content and that means understanding what content people consume. There’s no point in writing about a specific aspect of your niche if only 2 people (you and your mom, because of course she will read what you put out) want to read about it. You’ve got to make sure your feeding people’s thirst for your niche and that means researching what they are thirsty for.
The simplest way to do this is to type your niche into google. Ranking number 1 on google is pretty difficult, so you know whatever comes up first is going to be a solid indication of what is popular. Analyze what’s there, think to yourself, what did they do well, what can I do better, what insights can I add.
Don’t just check out google and stop there though. Once you choose your freelance niches, you’ve got to incorporate them into your life. Everything you read or view, you can ask yourself “how does that affect my niche?” The world will give you plenty of content ideas, you’ve just got to be open to them!
A simple way of understanding how in demand your content ideas are is by doing some keyword research. This is simply finding out how many times your topic gets searched for across different search platforms. We use Moz for this, but you can just as easily use Google Keyword Planner. Just type in “competitive chess” and you’ll find out how many people search this term.
- A tool for facilitating knowledge and building learning.
- Means to understand various issues and increase public awareness.
- An aid to business success.
- A way to prove lies and support truths.
- A means to find, gauge, and seize opportunities.
- A seed to love reading, writing, analyzing, and sharing valuable information.
- Nourishment and exercise for the mind.
Amazingly, Owlcation isn’t a website that is dedicated to writing, but their summary of why research is so important hits the nail on the end when it comes to freelance writing. If your research can lead you to complete these 7 steps, then you will be well on your way.
4. Evaluate Your Skills
It’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself! You’ve seen the competition in your niche, you know what they do well and what they don’t do well, so what are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you use those strengths to make an impact in your niche?
When I handed in the first draft of my Postgraduate dissertation I’ll always remember my advisor telling me “I absolutely love your writing” which was quickly followed by “it’s possibly not best suited to academic writing though!” Seeing how I had just handed in a 20,000-word academic paper, I didn’t appreciate the compliment at the time, but now I do.
I now understand that my strengths lie in taking a subject, putting in academic research, but presenting the findings in a light-hearted, simple manner. I seek jobs that are looking for this kind of writing and use it to my benefit.
Like me, you’re going to have your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. What you’ve got to do is figure out which is which and then major in your strengths and minor in your weaknesses. The one thing they have in common is that you’ve got to continually work on both of them!
One of the worst mistakes you can make is taking your weaknesses and trying to bury them. They have a tendency of resurfacing when you least want them to and if you think they’re buried you won’t spot them when they do pop up. The best way to overcome this is by working on your weaknesses as much as you work on your strengths.
First thing’s first though, you’ve got to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take out a pen and paper, be honest with yourself, and jot down the things you are good at and the things you’re not so good at.
5. Market Yourself as a Niche Writer
There’s no point in choosing a freelance writing niche if you don’t advertise yourself in that niche. We might all know that Mcdonalds sell burgers without them telling us, but if you don’t tell people you write about competitive chess then nobody is going to know.
Build up a body of work in your niche and then point people towards it. Make it your tagline
on job boards and your social media pages, make sure everybody knows what niches you are an expert in.
One of the best ways to build a body of work and get your name out there is by guest blogging. Sure, you won’t get paid for these blogs, but you will get your content read by a ton of people and start to create a name for yourself. If you can feature on some good websites in your niche then you can really sell this to prospective clients.
Finding guest blogging opportunities is easy. Simply type into google “competitive chess + guest blogs” or “competitive chess + write for us” or something similar and you will find tons of opportunities. Most people who run blogs are more than happy to give you exposure in return for some great content, so don’t be afraid to reach out to these people.
One of the key reasons for choosing a niche is the added ability to be able to market yourself. You’ve got to take that opportunity with both hands and push your marketing as far as it will go. Which brings us nicely to our next point!
6. Build your Own Website
There are so many reasons to do this and absolutely no good reasons not to. Not only is your own website a perfect platform to advertise from, but it also allows you to practice all kinds of skills. Most obviously, you can practice by writing and posting your own articles, but it also allows you to develop website building skills that may come in handy further down the line.
The main barrier to most people building a website is that they think it is going to be difficult, but I’m telling you, it’s really not that hard. Go to GoDaddy, buy a domain and set it up on their platform and they will literally hold your hand through every part of the setup. You can make a great website through their Word Press plugin, or, if you wanted to make your life even easier you could use a paid plugin like Leadpages. Either way, it’s not hard and if you can figure out freelance writing, you can figure out building a website.
You may want to start off freelance writing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a kickass website of your own that attracts tons of visitors. As you develop your own website you will come to appreciate what it takes to put together a good website, and better understand how to write for someone else’s website.
Most importantly though, this is a great way to market yourself. You can not only show that you write great articles, but that you fully understand the nuances of your niche. Rather than sending potential clients a bunch of articles you can simply send them to your website and they will immediately understand what you offer.
Much of your work is going to be posted on the internet, so why not cut out the middleman? Make your own website, make it great, and use it to market yourself.
7. Scale Up
One of the keys to being successful in this industry is scaling up. Like anything, things will start small, but there will soon be great potential to scale up. When you think things are starting to go well, that’s when you’ve got to double down. Increase your marketing efforts, research even more and take on bigger challenges.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one niche or a few small niches, but remember that these are your bread and butter. When you do take on a new niche you’ve got to make sure you are prepared. You need to have as much passion for any new niche as you did your first niche and you’re going to have to research just as hard.
The opportunity for personal and financial growth are huge in freelance writing, you’ve just got to keep working hard and scaling things up.Once you’ve chosen your freelance writing niche you’ve taken the first big step towards making a success of your new career. It will be a long and sometimes difficult road, but as long as you can position yourself as an expert in your niche you’re going to make a success of it.
Once you’ve successfully demonstrated that you’re an expert in your niche, you will find that lots of opportunities present themselves for you to discover new niches. Whether you choose to pursue those opportunities is up to you, but you know you’ll always have your niche to fall back on.
Narrowing down your freelance writing niches is an important step in your journey. Without a well defined niche it’s easy to drift of into the freelancing unknown and get lost. By choosing a niche you give yourself an anchor and a stable base from which to develop.
Picking a niche is not difficult but it does take some deep thought and honesty. Take your time, and write out the things you are passionate about. No matter what your passion is, the chances are there will be a market for it. Once you’ve chosen a couple of niches you’re bound to feel a lot more confident about your freelance career.
If you follow these simple steps, you will put yourself ahead of the competition and start your career out on the right foot.
- Think of yourself as a brand
- All good things start with brainstorming
- Research is key
- Evaluate your skills
- Market yourself as a niche writer
- Build your own website
- Scale Up
Choosing your freelance writing niches is a simple step, but it is one you can’t afford to skip. There aren’t really any wrong answers to this question, what matters is that you make a decision, choose a niche, and market yourself around it!
Have you chosen your niche yet? What did you come up with?