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8 Tips for Becoming a Freelance Writer

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Last editedNov 20223 min read

Blending flexibility with creative freedom, becoming a freelance writer is a dream for many. If you’re just starting from scratch, the prospect of building a portfolio and finding clients can be daunting. Yet online tools make it easier than ever to find work and get paid – all you need is a laptop and a reliable internet connection. Here's how to become a freelance writer even without a formal writing background.

What is a freelance writer?

A freelance writer creates written content for money, but within this framework there’s a wide range of possibilities. Some freelance writers work on long-form newspaper and magazine articles, while others create short, snappy advertising copy. They might write content for individual clients or have ongoing relationships with marketing agencies. What they have in common is the fact that they’re self-employed and self-directed.

How to become a freelance writer

The basics of becoming a freelance writer involve finding a suitable workspace, writing a few sample pieces to get started, and using these pieces to pitch for more work. To be successful in this field you’ll need to be organised. This means establishing a writing routine and keeping track of content calendars. Most freelance writers juggle multiple clients and projects at once, so organisation is key.

Naturally, strong writing and editing skills also come into play. While many writers have a formal degree, this isn’t always required to get started. It does help to learn more about SEO marketing and social media if you plan to work in the digital marketing sector. When writing for an audience, you need to perfect your intros and headlines to capture attention.

Freelance writer beginner tips

Taking the leap into freelancing is overwhelming, so it helps to break it down into smaller steps. Here are a few handy freelance writer beginner tips to help:

1. Choose a niche.

You can research any subject under the sun, but you’ll be more successful if you stick to a niche. Choose an area you have natural interest in – whether it’s organic food or financial technology – and your writing will be more persuasive. It’s also easier to build authority with a series of published pieces in the same niche.

2. Create an online presence.

When you’re just starting out, you’ll need to hustle and send out pitches for jobs. But the dream as a freelance writer is to have clients come to you. To accomplish this, you’ll need a strong online presence including social media profiles, writing samples, and a slick website or blog. Ask for client testimonials and LinkedIn recommendations to strengthen your brand.

3. Build your network.

It’s also helpful to network with other freelance writers. Not only can they commiserate about job woes and tough clients, but they can recommend you for projects and help provide constructive feedback.

4. Research your rates.

Interconnected online platforms means that you’re pitching against writers from all over the world, all with different payment expectations. If you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to charge low rates to stand out from the competition – but this can backfire when it’s hard to attract higher value clients and jobs. Don’t sell yourself short. Research going rates in your specific niche, negotiating a fair wage whether it’s per word, per hour, or per project.

5. Grow your portfolio.

To get work, you’ll need to show work. If you don’t have published work just yet, a blog is a good place to start showcasing your talent. From there, you can work on guest posts for other bloggers and publish on sites like Medium to build your presence.

6. Perfect your pitches.

You can check job boards and social networks to find clients. From there, you’ll need to send a pitch detailing why you’re the perfect writer for the job. Back it up with data including things like click-through rates, email sign-ups, or other measures of success.

7. Communicate with clients.

One of the best ways to make yourself stand out as a freelance writer is by being a great communicator. It may seem obvious, but many writers become unresponsive while working on a project. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your brief to get the details just right, and if you need an extension, ask for it.

8. Be professional with payments.

Finally, you’ll need to set up a system for sending invoices and collecting payments. Some clients can take their time with payment, so don’t delay. You can use online templates or automated invoicing software to create professional invoices to send to clients at the completion of each job.

GoCardless can help when it comes to collecting invoice payments to freelance writers, using Direct Debit to pull payment from your client’s bank account on the day it’s due. This eliminates awkward conversations about late payment to maintain good relationships with your customers. It also ensures a healthy cash flow by reducing late payments – a must for any freelance writer.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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