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.