Whether it is online or in person, when people learn that I make a nice income as a freelance writer, people want to know how I do it. Millions of people would love to make a living, or even a nice side income, from writing, but simply don’t know how. Whether you’re looking to turn writing into your only income, or you just want to earn some extra money while following your passion, it is important to know how to get off on the right foot.
So, How Do You Get Started as a Freelance Writer?
The following little tips or pieces of advice will help you get the ball rolling. These tips aren’t going to get you making $100,000 per year, but they will get you from $0 to that first good paying client. Of course, these tips can be used to expand an existing freelance career as well, but they are really designed for people who really want to get their freelance writing business started from scratch.
Do Something – The biggest reason most people don’t become successful as freelance writers is because they don’t take any action. If you never take a first step, you can’t ever improve and become more successful. Let me get the hard news out of the way now. Your first steps won’t be perfect! It doesn’t matter, the first step is the hardest and once you take it, you’ll learn from your mistakes and know how to improve for the second step. So, with that in mind, look at the following action options and choose one of them to take action on, RIGHT NOW. There is no reason to delay.
- Action Option #1 – Reach out to the owner of your favorite website and offer to write some articles for them. You can do this free of charge, but only if they are willing to publish the posts IN YOUR NAME. If they accept, this will give you a great ‘resume building’ article that you can show to other potential clients in the future. It will also help to boost your confidence. Keep in mind, however, that you DO NOT want to write for free forever. One or two posts for free is about the limit per site, and don’t do it for more than a few sites.
- Action Option #2 – Offer to write for your favorite local business that has a website that looks like junk. There are hundreds of businesses in every local area, and most of their websites have low quality (or no) content. Offer to improve their content. Explain that it will help them by building a more professional look, and can also attract SEO traffic. Typically you can get paid for this, but if necessary, do it for free to build up your resume.
- Action Option #3 – Build your own niche website. This is one of my favorite options because it can build value for you in a variety of ways. First, you can choose to write on any topic you want, which can be fun. Over time, you can build this up into an authority site that brings in lots of traffic. You can then work on making money by selling products, selling advertisement space, and much more. In addition, you can send potential clients to your niche site to show them the quality of your work.
- Action Option #4 – Build a business site for yourself. Create a simple business website to offer your services. This site can have information about the type of writing you do, your prices, and of course, some samples of your work. This is a great way to give yourself a professional look and feel, which will help potential clients feel more comfortable hiring you.
- Action Option #5 – Create your social media accounts. As a freelance writer, you’ll want to have accounts on all the major social media sites to help build your brand. Choose your business name (it can just be your name if you want) and set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other top sites. You don’t have to know how to post or promote anything at this point, just get the accounts made for now.
- Action Option #6 – If you choose this one, you need to have already done #5, but its not hard. Start following established freelance writers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Following them is a great way to learn what they do to become successful.
- Action Option #7 – Contact SEO companies. SEO companies need to have high quality content for their clients, or they will never be successful. Offering to write for these companies is a great way to bring in some steady work. There are hundreds of good SEO companies out there, and if you land just one of them as a client, you can have a good amount of work coming in.
- Action Option #8 – Send a query letter to a magazine. Magazines (both print and digital) need a lot of content to stay up to date and interesting. Choose your favorite online and offline magazines and contact them. Their website will have a ‘contact us’ email, so find it and shoot them a message explaining that you are a great writer and you’d love the opportunity to submit an article for their publication. Ask them what the proper process is for submitting content, and where you can learn about their payment structure. Once some of them respond, follow through with submitting an article!
- Action Option #9 – Sign up for freelance writing accounts on eLance, oDesk and other locations. I’ve written on how to use these sites in the past, so look through my site for a detailed guide on how to use them. It isn’t hard, and it is free. If you’re not applying for jobs on these sites, you’ll never get hired!
- Action Option #10 – Get a mentor. If you’re still not sure what to do, and you prefer a little more hand holding when trying something new like this, consider hiring a mentor. There are freelance writing mentors online that offer one on one coaching and guidance, which may be right for you. These mentor programs can be expensive, but if you’re willing to learn, they can be worth it. If you are interested in working directly with me as your mentor, I’m happy to help. I don’t have a formal program in place, but I would be glad to talk with you and set something up.
So, now is the time to take that first step. Don’t put it off a second longer, take action! This ‘trial and error’ method is how I became a freelance writer, and I’m sure it will work for you too. Just don’t give up, and keep learning! And, most of all, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it!