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How to become a Freelance Writer?

Share your journey & guide aspiring Freelance Writers on their path!

Note: We've seen a lot of interest in this career, so we're looking for guidance from our community of professionals.

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you


5 answers

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Roger’s Answer

The fact that you are asking this question is a great encouragement to me. Our language is being assaulted by the lack of good reading and writing skills; words are hacked and sentences diminished and replaced by acronyms … or should I have said “acros”?

I hope you are one of many young people who will show a genuine interest in words and the crafting of them into engaging ideas and stories and conversations, and not go the way of the dinosaurs into extinction … reduced to grunting and finger pointing.

Getting started in Freelance Writing.
Bare Bones:

Write an ad for a garage sale and publish it in the new paper, or online in social media. It doesn’t have to be great.

No one will pay you for it, but you may draw people to the garage sale and they will pay you then … unless it was a neighbor who you offered to write their garage sale ad.

Or, maybe you didn’t ask them to write it, you just did, and then you told them. They smile and thank you for it. After the sale is over, they hand you 20 bucks! Now you’re a freelance writer!

Freelance Writing covers several forms of writing:
* Content Writing
* Ghostwriting
* Copywriting
* Technical Writing
* Business Writing
* … and more

A Couple of Steps:
Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Take stock of your skills and Interests.
Sit down and take 10 -15 minutes and write out all your unique knowledge you got, your unique skills you got, all the stuff you know about or have an interest in. Get all that out on paper.

All of those skills, all of the interests or knowledge about a topic will give you a leg up from the other freelance writers who might be trying to grab the same job.

2. Choose a Niche (Neesh or Nitch … whatever)
You might not have a niche, a specific set of knowledge. No prob. You could be a Generalist. If you can take a topic, learn about the topic then write a good piece around it, that’s a niche within itself.

Then after writing on different topics you may fall into finding something you really enjoy writing about, and wallah, you found your niche!

But if you do know a lot about something, and can write a cohesive article or a blog about it, perhaps with a different angle then, again, you’ll rise above most of the other writers out there.

3. Research your Niche
By researching your niche you can find out if it’s a niche that is something people are wanting to know more about, how much interest is out there.

Let’s say your niche is in Beauty, you’ll find by searching online (freelance beauty writer) that there is a ton of interest for that niche.

But if your niche is sewer drains, you probably won’t find much interest in that niche. Or, the amount of people looking for a freelance writer to write articles or blogs about sewer drains will be very few and far between.

Which leads me to my next point …

Saturation or Opportunity
If the niche you’ve chosen is very popular (like travel or beauty) it may be one that every freelance writer in the world is seeking after. That niche is considered saturated. And the chances that you’ll be able to get work will be greatly diminished.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the niche that covers sewer drains, will be significantly under-saturated to the point where finding work in that industry will be like a desert.

The key is finding a niche that is popular, and has a demand for writers that is not over saturated. Whatever that niche is, is where you’ll find the best opportunity.

Now how do you figure that out?

I alluded to this earlier. Do a search in Google “freelance writer for beauty” and you’ll find that there is a lot of opportunity for freelance writers in the beauty industry. But if you do the same search for a freelance writer for the gravel world you’ll find very little.

Niching down
If you really like the beauty industry and would like to specialize, but you see that it’s saturated, niche down.

The beauty industry is composed of lower level “niches” that you can delve into:
* Budget beauty products
* Hair type
* Cruelty-free beauty
* Skincare
* Nails
* Makeup tutorials
* DIY beauty
* … others

Then if you want you can niche down even deeper. For instance under the Skincare niche, you could niche down to either Men’s skin care, or Women’s skin care. These are called sub-niches.

Perhaps it’s Nails. You can niche down deeper to nail polish, and all about the various types of polishes and applications and whatever, or manicures and you can write about how they perform manicures around the world, the instruments they use … and on and on and on.

As you niche down, you are becoming more specialized and more unique as a freelance writer. And if you’re good at it, you will be the one people will seek after when they need to know about Men’s skincare … or whatever.

But you’re still under the umbrella of the beauty industry.

So start with the Industry, then find a niche within that industry that you’d like to write about, something you really love, or are really interested in and do a search. See if it’s saturated or under-saturated, or if it’s the perfect fit, Goldilocks.

But when you’re starting out, what's most important is finding that client. You can start by asking friends, family, neighbors (that garage sale). Check out shops and other businesses in your area, check out their website, or just stop by and tell them you are a freelance writer and would like to know if they need some help.

An important part of getting clients is personality, and friendliness. Be yourself, and be honest - always! Your clients need someone to help them, someone they can rely on and trust. They’re putting their business in your hands, and you need to be there for them.

Let’s say you found that client. They are going to want to see if you can write. For that you’ll need some samples to show them. Three to five samples are enough within your niche.

How do you show them writing samples when you’ve never written anything as a freelance writer?

1. Ask Artificial Intelegence (AI)

Keeping with the Woman’s skin care sub-niche, ask an AI bot “Please create a list of 20 topics or headings on woman’s skin care” and it will spit out a list that you can use for ideas.

Go through the list … you might see something you know a lot about, and items you may know very little but sounds interesting, and are willing to do some research on.

When I do this, I’ll ask AI to include a brief description for each topic. It gives me a better idea if I’m truly interested or if it’s going to be too much to handle.

2. Product Reviews

If you have purchased something within your niche, write a product review on it. Focus on the benefits rather than the features. Explain what it will do for somebody, how it will solve a problem.

Write: “After using this product for only two days my face felt softer and smoother, and wrinkles seemed to melt away. I was already starting to look younger.”

Don’t write: ““This product has aloe and lavender, and the squeeze bottle is very convenient.”

Write: “After working out with Bodylastics I gained an inch of muscle on my biceps in one week, with no joint pain.”

Don’t write: “Bodylastics comes with 6 resistance bands ranging from 3 lbs to 23 lbs of resistance.”

Typically you’ll see this kind of writing in copywriting, where the writing is geared toward selling and marketing. Nevertheless, I’d rather find out what a product can do for me more than how it can do it. That much I’ll figure out once I’m hooked into buying it.

3. Rewrites

You’ll have to think outside the box for this one.

Find a popular blog post or article in your niche and rewrite it from a different angle, targeting a new audience. This lets you showcase your research and writing skills while putting a fresh spin on existing information. Just be sure to credit the original source!

Let’s say you find an article or a blog on "The Ultimate 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine." Many women may not want to spend all that time, or they’re busy bee’s. So you can write something like, "The 5-Minute Korean Skincare Must-Haves for Busy Women."

Focus on a Different Angle: Instead of a full routine, break down the essential Korean skincare products and their benefits. Focus on cleansing, hydrating, and sun protection as the core 3 steps.

Add Unique Insights: Briefly explain the purpose of each step and offer time-saving tips like multitasking products (cleanser/toner combo) or sheet masks "... for a quick hydration boost!"

Again, finding articles for rewrites may be harder, but if you can find one or two and show off your creativity…

A Word About Formatting

Earlier I gave you a brief list of writing types. Not all types of writing follow the same “standards”.

Technical writing doesn’t follow the same formatting styles as Copywriting. And Copywriting doesn’t necessarily adhere to the same styles as Business writing.

But that’s not to say that they are completely different either.

Whatever writing discipline you choose to focus on, the most important thing, make your writing easy on the eyes. Use headings, bullet points, numbers, 1-3 sentence paragraphs.

Stay consistent with headings and subheadings. Use sans-serif fonts and larger font sizes.

Check out blogs and other sites and pages - it’s everywhere!

Be observant. Notice the styles of writing when you visit a website. The amount of white space, how the page is formatted and arranged, designed, layed out.

So now that I’ve given you a brief introduction, I would you suggest that you continue your learning by researching this topic from other freelance writer.

One who has helped me in the past is Elna Cain. She has many videos and articles on everything regarding freelance writing.

Here’s an article answering your very question:

Here’s a video of hers on showing concepts on how to write:

In this next video from Elna Cain, she discusses the same topics I did, but in more depth and you can see where she goes online to research a niche for instance.

It starts out kind of dry (for me), but you can click on "More" below the video and see the chapters where you can pick and choose which topic you’re most interested in. Although I do suggest you make an attempt to watch the whole video.

I hope this helps. There is a ton of information out there but I’ve found that Elna Cain is very helpful, and while she does have a couple of courses, selling courses isn’t what she’s about. She wants to help. And so do I.

Ciao for now!

Remember: be kind … and love the one you’re with.
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Brandie’s Answer

Becoming a freelance writer involves developing your writing skills, building a portfolio, and establishing a client base. Here's a step-by-step guide to help aspiring freelance writers:

1. **Develop Your Writing Skills:**
- **Practice Writing:** Write regularly to improve your skills. Experiment with different styles and genres to find your niche.
- **Take Writing Courses:** Consider taking online courses, attending workshops, or enrolling in writing classes to learn more about the craft and business of writing.
- **Read Widely:** Read books, articles, and other content in your areas of interest to understand different writing styles and to stay informed about current trends.

2. **Choose Your Niche:**
- **Identify Your Interests:** Focus on topics you are passionate about or have expertise in.
- **Research Market Demand:** Look for niches that have a demand for writers. This could be anything from technology and finance to travel and lifestyle.

3. **Build a Portfolio:**
- **Create Writing Samples:** Write articles, blog posts, or other content that showcases your writing ability and style.
- **Start a Blog or Website:** Having a professional website or blog can serve as a portfolio to display your work and attract clients.
- **Contribute to Publications:** Submit articles to online magazines, local newspapers, or blogs to get published work that you can include in your portfolio.

4. **Learn About the Freelance Writing Business:**
- **Understand the Market:** Research rates for freelance writing services and learn how to price your work.
- **Know Your Rights:** Learn about copyright laws and how to protect your work.
- **Set Up a Business Structure:** Decide if you want to operate as a sole proprietor, form an LLC, or consider other business structures.

5. **Market Yourself:**
- **Networking:** Connect with other writers, editors, and potential clients through social media, writing groups, and professional associations.
- **Social Media:** Use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to showcase your work and connect with potential clients.
- **Pitching:** Learn how to write effective pitches and proposals to magazines, websites, and other publications.

6. **Find Work:**
- **Freelance Job Boards:** Websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and ProBlogger can be good places to find freelance writing jobs.
- **Cold Emailing:** Reach out to businesses, blogs, and publications that might need writing services.
- **Content Agencies:** Some freelance writers find work through content agencies that connect writers with clients.

7. **Manage Your Freelance Business:**
- **Invoicing and Payments:** Set up a system for invoicing clients and tracking payments.
- **Time Management:** Develop a routine and use tools to manage your time effectively.
- **Contracts:** Use contracts to outline the scope of work, payment terms, and other important details with clients.

8. **Improve and Expand Your Skills:**
- **Continued Learning:** Stay current with writing trends, SEO practices, and content marketing strategies.
- **Diversify Your Services:** Consider offering related services such as editing, content strategy, or social media management.

9. **Collect Testimonials and Referrals:**
- **Ask for Testimonials:** Positive feedback from clients can be a powerful tool for attracting new business.
- **Referral Business:** Encourage satisfied clients to refer others to you.

10. **Stay Motivated and Persistent:**
- **Handle Rejection:** Rejection is a part of freelance writing. Learn from it and keep pitching.
- **Set Goals:** Set short-term and long-term goals for your freelance writing business.
- **Self-Care:** Freelancing can be isolating, so make sure to take care of your mental and physical health.

Remember, the journey to becoming a successful freelance writer is unique for everyone and requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to adapt and learn. Keep honing your craft, be open to feedback, and continue to build your professional network.
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Nik’s Answer

There is already some excellent advice provided in answers to this question. The only thing that I would add is to not wait until someone is willing to pay you to start your freelance career. There are a lot of places you can begin self-publishing. Start sharing on LinkedIn or Facebook. Start a blog. Write a book and self-publish it on Amazon. Prove you have skills by freelancing for yourself and you will find it is easier to get someone else to pay you.
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Madeleine’s Answer

I began freelance writing or working as an independent contractor in 1988 with a newspaper. I was a student at Eastern Michigan University in my junior year.

It was much easier to freelance back then because I literally walked in and asked to speak with the editor. I really never looked back.

Newspapers aren't selling so you may want to find a local magazine to publish your work. The magazine may be connected with a college.

You may want to try communications as it is broader and lends itself to copy writing, marketing and digital design.

Remember this should be fun. I did a technical manual, but it was not for me.

Explore your options. You may want to look into the Walter Cronkite school of Journalism at Arizona State University.

Madeleine recommends the following next steps:

Keep a broad idea of what major you want.
Communication lends itself to many options.
Explore university publications.
Sit in on your local council meetings to make contacts for journalism.
As a young person, you may want to try Facebook live.
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Joanne’s Answer

Great comments, yes.
Write, Write, Write.
Share with friends and family for comments.
Share on social media and in blogs where appropriate.
Reply to other's comments and ideas (like this community!)
Read a lot, of other people's attempts.
Submit to competitions.
Keep great files so you can keep topics, work in some kind of order to refer to later on, incorporate them in future work, etc.
Keep a "notebook" of ideas and interesting comments, and facts so when you need something to write about, there it is.
Whatever you do, look into a specialty and become the best and brightest at it. Niches are still important.