Let’s explore if freelance writing is right for you. Read more to learn what freelance writing is, the skills and tools needed to be successful, and how to start your freelance writing business.
What is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is a professional writing career that is not tied to any one company. As a freelance writer you will work on a contract basis for several clients, working across many different genres of writing about a wide range of topics.
As a freelance writer, you will be self-employed, which means you are your own boss. So, you will need to search for your own clients, make your own writing deals, and select your own rates.
This employment option offers a wide range of flexibility because you mostly have control over choosing your clients, rates, and deadlines. However, having your own company comes with administrative and marketing work.
6 Skills Essential to Being a Successful Freelance Writer
Before you decide to start your own freelance writing business, let’s discuss the essential skills you need to be successful as a freelance writer.
- A passion for writing: Most importantly, you need to love what you are doing. You will be writing for several hours a day. If you do not have a passion or love for writing then this career path is not right for you.
- Strong writing skills: You don’t need to be an expert on everything to succeed in this field, but the most basic skill you must have to be successful as a freelance writer is exceptional writing ability. This includes all aspects of writing including grammar, knowledge, and the ability to conduct research.
- Time management and organizational skills: Deadlines are essential in writing. Clients will expect you to finish a project by a specified deadline. Staying organized will help you create quality work while meeting all your deadlines.
- Excellent communication skills: As a freelance writer, you will be working remotely and communicating with clients digitally. It is crucial that you use good communication techniques to build a relationship with your clients.
- SEO knowledge: It is nearly impossible for a freelance writer to succeed in this field without knowledge in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the act of getting your work to the number one spot on search engines, which increases visibility. Using SEO practices will ensure your work is seen by people.
- Self-motivated: You are your own boss. Therefore, you need to have the motivation to meet your deadlines, look for new clients, and find writing jobs.
Do you have these skills? If you answered yes, then freelance writing may be the perfect career choice for you!
4 Tools Needed To Jumpstart Your Career as a Freelance Writer
Before getting started, there are certain tools you need to launch your career.
- Laptop or desktop computer: You can’t be a freelance writer without a computer!
- Photo-editing software: As a freelance writer, most of your work will entail writing material for the internet. Therefore, you will need some type of photo-editing software to edit photos that need to be included in your project.
- Business necessities: As a freelance writer, you are your own boss. You need to have a business email, phone/video conferencing account, and a business bank account.
- Task Management Program: You need some way to manage your deadlines, time, and organization.
Is a College Degree Needed to be Successful as a Freelance Writer?
No, you do not need a college degree to thrive as a freelance writer. Most freelance writers do have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, English, or Communications, but it is not mandatory. There are several resources available to become a successful freelance writer without a college degree.
How to get Started as a Freelance Writer
Do you have the skills and tools to be a successful freelance writer but don’t know where to start? Here are the steps you need to take to start your career as a freelance writer:
Step 1: Improve your writing skills
Even if you are a good writer, there is always room for improvement. Here are some tips that will help you from becoming a good writer to an exceptional writer.
- Tip #1: Read! You can learn a lot about writing from reading different forms of literature. Reading helps you learn about sentence structure and broadens your vocabulary, mechanics and style choices, approaches to dialogue, and so much more. Read things relevant to your profession, but also literature from several genres by a variety of authors to become familiar with different styles of writing.
- Tip #2: Practice makes perfect! There are free writing prompts on the internet that will provide you with topics to write about.
- Tip #3: Perfect your grammar skills! Clients do not want to receive work that needs a lot of editing. Being an expert in grammar and punctuation will also benefit you as a writer.
- Tip #4: Take an online writing course. There are many free and paid online courses that teach the ins and outs of having a successful career as a writer. You do not need to take an online writer course to be a good freelance writer, but it is recommended. Courses are a great way to improve your skills and teach you tips to being successful in this field.
Step 2: Know how to write content for the internet
As a freelance writer, the majority of your work will be to write content for the internet. This includes being able to write in multiple styles such as articles, blogs, social media posts, and more. Writing for the internet is different from writing content for print because there are different conventions that you need to follow. Here are some tips for writing content for the web:
- Tip #1: Formatting content for the internet is very different from print. For example, you need to include links, headlines, images and use short paragraphs.
- Tip #2: Readers want to quickly find what they are looking for so the writing style of internet content is clear and concise.
Step 3: Decide on a writing niche
As a freelance writer there are endless types of writing you can choose from. To help you narrow down your niche, here is a short list of online writing categories you can choose from.
- Blogging: Blog writing is a diary-style writing that companies use to provide content focused on their products, services, or business. It is a way to reach prospective customers and answer their questions.
- Social media content writer: You will create social media posts for companies on social platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok, Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Some clients will even have you manage their accounts.
- Grant writer: Many non-profits or foundations will hire freelance writers to draft grant proposals. To apply for grants, companies need to follow strict guidelines to apply for funding.
- Content strategist: In this role, you will be creating marketing plans for companies. As a content strategist there are many responsibilities companies may want you to do like making branding/style guides, overseeing a team to implement the tasks of a marketing plan, or writing and editing content.
- Script writing: As a script writer you can write scripts for podcasts, tv-shows, movies, or videos.
- Video game writer: If you love writing and video games, consider being a video game writer. You can write about anything video game related like how-to guides or tips.
- Travel writing: There are many opportunities as a travel writer. You can write for airlines, magazines, newspapers, or hotels about anything related to traveling. Click here if you are interested in becoming a travel writer.
- Research writing: As a research writer you need to enjoy researching different topics. If you are able to sift through material, pick out the important information, and write about what you learned, specializing in research writing is the perfect fit for you.
These are just a few examples of writing you can specialize in as a freelance writer. You can also be a news reporter, resume writer, copywriter, food writer, ebook writer, product reviewer, technical writer, education curriculum writer, translator, and much more.
Step 4: Make your writing portfolio
A writing portfolio is a necessity to starting a freelance writing business. Most clients will ask to see examples of your work. Set up a professional website where you can publish your best samples.
Step 5: Finding freelance writing jobs
Now it is time to start looking for work. The best way to do this is to reach out to clients and pitch them.
3 Ways to Find Clients
- Freelance marketplaces: One way to find clients is through freelance marketplaces. These are websites that help match clients with freelance writers.
- Job boards: There are thousands of writing opportunities on job boards. Companies will post daily on job boards looking for freelance writers.
- Cold pitching: If there is a specific company you would like to work for, cold pitching them is the best way to get jobs. Email them with your resume, writing portfolio, send a customized pitch, and make a personal connection.
Now that you know all the ins-and-outs of freelance writing, it is time for you to start your new career path!