Let me make a wide guess: you’re on this site because you want to learn how to become a full-time freelance writer. You’re not alone.
In this short freelance writing guide, I’m going to walk you through the process of becoming a full-time freelance writer in about 20 minutes.
Whether you’re a newbie looking to start a freelance writing career or you’re a part-time freelance writer that’s planning to make freelance writing a full-time job, you’ll find timely and actionable tips that you can implement in this guide.
So sit back, relax and grab a cup of coffee while I demystify the process in an easy-to-understand format.
But you might be asking what makes me qualified to teach you this? Let me quickly share my story with you.
How I Became A Full-time Freelance Writer
About two years ago, I got drowned in a job that almost divorced me from my passion- writing. I was working round the clock with little to show for it in terms of value and remuneration. Because of this job, my first real blog suffered content drought, so it withered and died.
I was helpless. But the only way out was to quit the job and look for another one which would give me ample time to write.
So I continued enduring until one faithful day. A very close friend of mine, Abdullahi Muhammed, whom I had always shared my frustrating job experience with, told me to quit.
He implored me to consider freelance writing, and went ahead to show me how he was already making a lot of money as a freelance writer.
I got really excited, and I wished I could start right away. But there was still something holding me back. I knew I had creative writing skills but I had self-doubt.
Will I make enough money as a freelance writer? What if clients don’t like what I write; won’t I get screwed up? How will I then cater for my family if I resign and I don’t get regular writing gigs?
These are the same fears you nurse, aren’t they? I know how it feels because I’ve been there.
But somehow, I managed to start. And if you ask me now, I’d say the cup is no more half-empty.
Before you start…
If you’re in a job already, don’t quit yet. Consider making freelance writing a side job where you can earn passive income. Set a time limit for yourself (three months) but register it in your mind that you’re going to pull out within three months. This timeline will give you a psychological push to reach your goal quickly.
In my own case, I left after two months because I was already earning more than my current salary at the end of the second month. So I took the risk and submitted my resignation letter.
How To Get Started As A Full-time Freelance Writer
Now, this is the real job.
The first step is to side-step your fear, believe in your abilities, trust your guts and be prepared for hard work. Because, sincerely, freelance writing is serious business but the rewards are worth every drop of sweat.
In addition to this, you should form the habit of reading blog posts of established freelance writers regularly, and subscribe to their blogs. It helps a lot.
For example, when I started, I benefitted so much from freelance writing blogs owned by foremost freelance writers. Also, by buying eBooks, attending webinars, and downloading lots of freebies, you’d have gained tons of insights that’d help you start off on the right foot.
Qualities You Must Possess As A Freelance Writer
To become successful, you must possess certain qualities that’d help your writing career. These are:
Freelance writing requires deep passion. Being passionate about your job is what keeps you going. So even if you’re not earning enough money at the initial stage, you’d still have a thousand reasons to hang on. If you aren’t getting enough jobs from your clients yet, you’d still continue doing what you love doing. But if you aren’t passionate about it; one major challenge will knock you off your feet.
- Great writing skills
This is needless to say. No client will hire you if you’re a mediocre writer. Here, being a non-native English speaker would not be an issue if you possess excellent writing skills. I know quite a few non-native writers who charge above $200 per article. Becoming a good writer requires you to write consistently, read other people’s works, and publish guest posts on authority sites.
This is your ability to complement your writing skills with other related skill sets. And that’s the secret to earning more as a freelance writer. It puts you at an advantage when you can do some other stuff apart from writing. Clients love it because it saves them the cost of hiring different freelance writers. But that’s a lot of money for you since you aren’t charging for your writing services alone. So when you pitch clients, add skills like SEO audit, social media marketing, and WordPress in addition to writing great content.
Being a freelance writer doesn’t give you the licence to handle jobs shabbily. Poorly delivered jobs produce woeful results, and this can damage your reputation. For a great job delivery, you need to be dedicated, make thorough research, pay attention to details and perfect your work before hitting the send or publish button. This is what makes you a professional at what you do, and not just a run of the mill freelance writer.
It takes discipline to succeed as a freelance writer. Because there’s no boss to give you orders, your level of discipline is what pushes you to complete your client’s work at the appropriate time. Again, chances are that you might be working from home, and so maintaining focus while working could be an issue. But with discipline, you can work according to schedule without giving in to distractions.
Honesty is an essential quality in any kind of business; not just writing. It is particularly more important in freelance writing because clients award projects based on trust. Dishonesty is one of the most common issues that bring about friction between client and freelancer. For example, if you won’t be able to deliver a job at the specified time, don’t promise your client just to get the job. Rather, tell them your limitations; they’d appreciate your honesty.
8 Proven Ways To Get Regular Freelance Writing Jobs
The biggest challenge every freelance writer faces is getting work on a regular basis. While there are several methods you could explore to get regular freelance writing jobs, a combination of two or more of these 8 proven methods will just be enough to set the ball rolling for you.
- Use freelance bidding platforms
If you’re just starting out, freelance bidding platforms are your best friends. There are quite a number of freelance platforms where you can bid for jobs and get paid upon completing your client’s job. However, you must be very careful not to fall victim of cheap work.
Bear in mind that you have to be at your best to win bids. The reason is that there are many freelancers looking to outsmart others through the quality of their bids. In addition you must select a platform that’s flexible and less competitive.
- Create a freelance writer’s website
The importance of having a freelance writer’s website cannot be over-emphasized. This has helped me get few clients that I still work with till date. The website serves as a portfolio for all your past work and also allows web users to learn about your services faster. Since most web users rely on the internet to search for products and services, optimizing your website for search engines is a very nice option.
Once you have set up your website, create pages that indicate your services as a freelance writer. Essentially, you need a ‘hire me’ page, an about page, contact page, and a portfolio of your best works. You should also consider adding a blog to your writer’s website. This gives you credibility, increases readers’ trust in you, keeps your readers engaged, and improves your search engine ranking.
- Search the internet for freelance writing jobs
Just like having a website where you can announce your freelance writing services to, you can also benefit from websites that announce freelance writing jobs or sites that pay writers. These jobs are usually specific, so you’d know on the spot if you qualify to apply.
To make your search easier, consider using search terms with relevant keywords. Examples of search terms you could use are: “write for us”, “guest bloggers wanted”, “become a contributor”, “submit an article”, “become an author” etc.
While you might likely get results which do not specify whether you’d get paid or not, you could try search terms that are more specific to your need. Add “+ paid” to your search terms. For example, “write for us + paid”, will return search results that pay contributors. You get the catch?
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- Send cold pitches to prospective clients
Cold pitching is the act of introducing your freelance writing services to people or companies that you want to work with. This method is fast and easy, and the opportunities are limitless. Smart freelance writers know how valuable cold pitching is, and that’s why they don’t joke with it.
Bamidele Onibalusi is one freelance writer that has benefitted so much from cold pitching. For example, he earned $5,025 from a single cold pitch and explains in details the strategies which he used to nail a perfect pitch.
Now, you might think this method works only for the pros, and that nobody would open your mail. Really, you don’t have anything to lose by sending out mails. The worst thing that could happen is for your mail to be deleted, marked as spam or abandoned. But you could also be lucky to come across those who’d like your pitch and hand you a mouth-watering contract. Really, you don’t lose anything by trying.
- Work with other freelance writers
For the first few months of my freelance writing career, I relied solely on gigs I got from my freelance writer friend. He knew that I could write so he kept encouraging me, and was also sending me jobs on a regular basis until I started getting my own gigs.
The secret here is to be a good writer, first of all. But then you don’t have to wait till somebody finds out about your writing skills. Go back to your cold pitching lesson (which I explained up there) and send mails to a few freelancers that you’d like to work with. Essentially, you should introduce you as a budding writer who’s looking for work, and is open to work on some of the jobs which they can’t find time to do.
- Write guest posts
Guest posting is one of the best ways to establish your credibility as a writer. The implication is that your article is good enough to feature on other peoples’ blogs. But apart from this, it helps you get new clients and win more jobs.
After publishing my best guest post so far with over a thousand social media shares, I started getting an influx of invitations from clients looking for unique content. Some even wanted me to promote their products or come on their on-going projects.
To increase your chances of getting new clients, use your writer signature on every blog you write guest posts for, and create a gravatar profile that helps to link your website to your guest posting bio. Also, consider writing for websites that pay you to write. You’d definitely earn a decent pay if your writing style is top-notch.
- Be active on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one amazing platform to get writing jobs or contracts. Since different jobs are announced by different companies on this platform, it’s a good opportunity that you might want to explore.
In this article, Carol Tice explains how she was able to bang a freelance writing job that’s worth $15,000 in 7 days through LinkedIn. That’s crazy, right? Other effective strategies include using a call-to-action on the articles that you publish on LinkedIn, and publishing on LinkedIn groups.
- Join freelance writing forums
Writing forums are avenues where freelance writer meet to share ideas, ask for advice, and get burning questions answered. If you’re active on those forums you could get new clients or get work from other freelance writers looking to sub-contract their existing work. Sophie’s Lizard’s “Be a Freelance Blogger” and Carol Tice’s “Freelance Writer’s Den” are good examples of forums that you could join.
Apart from these, freelance writing forums help you when you run into certain problems, and also ensure that you don’t work in solitude.
Building the right attitude to freelance work
There’s no gainsaying that you need good attitude to succeed as a freelance writer. This is because attitude, they say, is everything. Here are few tips on how to build the right work attitude.
- Use your time productively
Successful freelance writers spend their time productively. They understand the importance of time management, and as such they stay focused on their job. To become a productive writer, use the right tools, and stay away from distractions (phone calls, emails and social media) as much as possible when you’re writing.
You should always fill your time with productive work and use your spare time to rest. If there’s no client job to work on, then work on your own project. Start writing that eBook you’ve always wanted to write or create your own soft tool. You could also publish a blog post or write a guest post. Lastly, you need to organize your work by developing a work plan, and sticking to it.
- Market your expertise
Every freelance writer should realize that writing great copy is just half of the job; the other half is marketing your work. Personally, I feel that the marketing aspect is even more important because it’s what ensures that you get work regularly.
Find time during your week to seek new opportunities; write guest posts, pitch new clients, bid for jobs on freelance platforms and search the internet for paid writing jobs.
- Follow up
One good way to keep track with clients is through follow up. Send reminders to those contacts that you have previously pitched but whom you aren’t receiving responses from. Who knows, your mails might be hiding somewhere in the junk folder. So sending them reminders might not be out of place.
Most times these people get too many guest posting requests per day. Their non-response might not be because your pitch lacked substance but because their mail inbox is filled with many such requests. However, you could be lucky to get a feedback if you send a follow up mail.
The next level
The next level in your freelance writing career is to expand your reach. One way to do this is creating your own content marketing company. It’s quite important to build a content marketing team to include content writers, designers, software developers, SEO experts etc.
During the course of your freelance writing career, you must have met and worked with many experienced resources that you can build your team around. Leverage the connection you’ve built over time to create a powerful team and take the world by storm.
In conclusion, becoming a full-time freelance writer within three months is achievable. However, it has to be a calculated move. Ensure that you’re already earning sizable income as a part-time freelance writer for some time before taking the final plunge. If you follow the advice and tips shared herein, you’d be surprised how much progress you can make within a short period of time.