So, you want to hack it as a freelance writer, huh?
Well, that’s great news.
A freelance career can offer you incredible rewards, including:
- The freedom to be in complete control of your business
- The flexibility to work where and when you chose
- And the financial independence of getting paid what you are worth
There are no guarantees.
You have to actually put yourself out there and work your ass off — at first — and often for rather modest initial wages.
But listen… I did it, and you can do it, too. Building a successful online, service-based business is entirely possible, if you’re willing to learn and work for it.
But sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know. And for someone who is considering quitting their job to freelance, this can be terrifying.
I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if someone could just show you the ropes? Just teach you the basics to get started?Wouldn't it be nice if someone could just teach you the basics of how to start freelance writing?Click To Tweet
Well, that is exactly the email exchange I had with a former colleague of mine a month or two back…
Let’s call this person Tim, just for the sake of simplicity.
Tim spent his whole career in sales — like me — and one day decided he wanted to leave his sales career behind to launch his own freelance writing business. He reached out and asked me for advice.
Now, please remember, freelancing doesn’t automatically have to mean freelance writing. In fact, there are hundreds of different services you could considering offering online. But in this particular case, Tim had his heart set on freelance writing.Freelancing doesn't automatically have to mean freelance writing. There are hundreds of services you could offer online.Click To Tweet
So I wrote back to him and offered him some tips for getting started…
Do you know what I discovered?
I read it back and realized that I had — inadvertently — just put together a quick start guide to freelance writing. And so I have ultimately decided to share that quick start guide with you today.
In fact, I’m going to share with you two things:
In a hurry?
Then just take a look at a the Quick Start Guide for now. In fact, I’ll even give you the option to download it as a PDF checklist for offline reference. See below.
- Would you prefer to really dive in deep?
- Would you like to learn how to write your way to your first $1,000 in earnings?
- Would you find value in a detailed, 7-week course specifically designed to help new bloggers and freelance writers get started?
If so, you might prefer the Complete Guide, and I’ve also made that available to you in this post.
The Quick Start Guide to Freelance Writing
The Quick Start Guide to Freelance Writing really consists of four steps.
No, this guide won’t teach you how to build a thriving online business overnight, but it will teach you the basic infrastructure to get started. In other words, you’ll be in a position to win your first clients.
And these steps do not necessarily have to be completed one at a time… but I do think this is the most logical order:
(1) Sign Up for Freelance Job Sites
This is a hotly contested point among freelance writers…
On the other hand, some freelancers view these platforms as exploitative. And that’s just fine. Because the real truth of the matter is that I can only teach you what worked for me.
If you have…
- no experience as a freelance writer,
- no portfolio samples,
- little online influence or reach,
- and few — if any — testimonials or reviews of your work,
…then winning your first clients can be tough.
If it were me, I would rather take a job below my pay grade — and have some money coming in — rather than proudly sit on $0 in earnings.
Remember that everyone starts somewhere. It isn’t that you lack the talent to gain higher paying clients, but you certainly do lack the evidence when you’re new.
I remember winning my very first writing job. It was to proofread and edit a 400-500 page manuscript for a book. I earned $300 to do it, and it took me the better part of a week. Basically, I earned less than $1 a page.
But you know what?
It was my very first week freelancing full-time.
Do you know what that did for my confidence as a brand new freelancer to win that job? To at least be able to say that I won a writing job?Do you know what it did for my confidence to win my very first freelance writing job?Click To Tweet
The client also left me a public 5-star review on Upwork — then Elance — that I was able to add to my client testimonials, which we will discuss momentarily.
Further, that job led to referrals and repeat business.
It was a start.
So roll your sleeves up and get something coming in…
“It baffles me how many people think that they’re bigger than they actually are.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
(2) Establish Your Online Presence
Freelance writing without your own blog is like lifting weights with no arms… it can be done, but certainly not as easily.
You need to set up your own website, specifically with a functional blog. It can be a simple design to start… an about page, a contact form, your services and prices, and a place to include some work samples and client testimonials.
Now, if you aren’t sure how to set up your own self-hosted WordPress website with a blog, here’s a quick and simple guide you can follow. Additionally, when I interviewed Alicia Rades earlier this year, we talked about a few things that can make your shiny new website even better.
Lastly, you will want professional social media profiles set up. You don’t need to be present on every platform to begin, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn would be a great start.
(When I say professional, I don’t meant stuffy…! But there is a line between letting your personality shine through and showing off your misadventures last Saturday… be smart about it!)
Start networking with other freelance writers and potential clients as soon as possible. This means joining forums, groups and communities on social media, as well as regularly reading and commenting on blogs in your chosen niche.
(3) Start Blogging & Guest Blogging
When you’re just getting started, you may not have a lot of writing samples to show off… so what should you do? Write something!
You don’t have to be a blogger who blogs about blogging… I find the concept a tad repetitive and uninspired, as I have ranted about before. It works for some, but it isn’t your only option.
Your blog, however, is a great place to show off your expertise on professional subjects and the quality of your writing. And I underscore quality because you never know who is going to read what you have published — so make it good!
If done correctly, regularly publishing new written content will allow you to do two things:
- Establish connections with other writers in your chosen niche.
- Attract potential clients who may be interested in hiring you.
The quickest way to grow your audience is to get in front of other audiences.
As you publish new content and work consistently at networking on social media, look for opportunities to contribute written content to other blogs. This is known as guest posting, and as many freelance writers will tell you, it’s a great way to win new clients.
In fact, Kristi Hines put together a list of 900 different websites that — might — accept a guest post from you.
Just be sure that every guest post you write allows you to include an author byline and a link back to your own writer website.
(4) Start Pitching Your Contacts
(a) You’ve been doing some odd writing gigs on freelance job sites. This has allowed you to establish a few contacts, earn a few dollars, and — hopefully — gain some client testimonials and portfolio pieces.
(b) You’ve established your professional social media profiles and your own website. Your website allows prospective clients the chance to review your portfolio samples, client testimonials, your services, your prices, and provides a simple way to get in touch with you.
(c) You’ve been working diligently at building relationships with prospective clients and other freelance writers, both through social media and blogging. Some of those relationships have allowed you to publish a guest post or two on other blogs with bylines and links back to your writer website.
(d) You’ve published your first pieces of written content on your own blog, too, that exemplify your skill as a writer and your authority in your chosen niche.
You’ve now established yourself online as a freelance writer.
You may not quite be in a position to start writing for TIME Magazine just yet, but you certainly can start pitching new prospective clients.
Start with your existing contacts… your warm market, as network marketers would refer to it. Past employers, for instance. Or even small businesses you currently buy from, as Ariel Rule shared in a recent interview I did with her.
But don’t forget some of those people you’ve been building relationships with online — perhaps they have a need for your services, too. Just remember that people buy from people they like, know and trust.
So focus on pitching prospective clients with whom you have established a connection and legitimately feel as though you can help.
For more tips on pitching, check out this post from Gina Horkey — she has some great insights to share.
Keep doing all the right things… keep winning those clients on freelance job sites, keep publishing to your own blog, keep networking on social media, and keep guest posting.
But also make a point to pitch 5-10 new prospective clients every day.
Before long, you’ll have more business than you know what to do with.
Does it all sound a bit too simple…?
Let me tell you — launching your freelance writing career doesn’t have to be difficult. It really can be as simple as following these four steps.Launching your freelance writing career doesn't have to be difficult. It really can be as simple as following these four steps!Click To Tweet
But I understand that you may still have questions. And that’s cool. I get it.
This was the Quick Start Guide to Freelance Writing.
The Complete Guide to Freelance Writing
I would like to introduce you to my friend and freelance writing peer, Elna Cain.
Elna is a successful freelance writer, a full-time mom to twins, and the creator of an incredible online, self-paced course entitled, Write Your Way to Your First $1k — a 7-week course for bloggers and new writers.
You might even recall that Elna contributed a guest post to my blog in March.
(Boy, talk about practicing what we preach, eh…?)
Elna describes her course as being,
“…modeled after my own journey from stay-at-home mom to professional writer. It’s essentially a blueprint of freelance writing success carried out over seven modules, 41 lessons in a span of 7 weeks.”
– Elna Cain
And she isn’t kidding.
The lessons contained in this guide answer questions like,
- How can I balance business, children and family? (Lesson 4)
- How do I choose my freelance writing niche? (Lesson 9)
- How do I manage my accounting and finances? (Lesson 12)
- How do I set up my portfolio page? (Lesson 19)
- How do I professionally pitch prospective clients? (Lesson 26)
In this Complete Guide,
“…you’ll learn exactly how to quickly land high-paying clients – just like I did – and how you can build a profitable business to make your first $1,000 in 7 weeks or less.”
– Elna Cain
Here’s what you can expect from the course for an investment of $67:
- 7 self-paced modules
- 41 lessons
- Targeted exercises
- Ready-to-use templates
- Pitch archive
- Email swipe copy
- The pitching handbook
- Access to private Facebook group
- Enhanced video training
Want to take a peek?
See What Other Freelance Writers Are Saying…
Since launching Write Your Way to Your First $1k, Elna has helped tons of aspiring solopreneurs enjoy the freedom, flexibility, and financial independence that a freelance writing career allows.Launch your freelance writing career by enrolling in Elna Cain's 'Write Your Way to Your First $1k' online, self-paced course!Click To Tweet
Aside from my own raving review, here’s what other freelance writers have to say:
“This course has ABSOLUTELY helped me! (And continues to help.) In fact, I’ve been trying to set guidelines for myself as a work-at-home freelance writer and one of them is committing myself to a daily schedule. Elna’s course has been the cornerstone in helping me stick to that schedule.”
– Kate Muller
“If you want to get right into freelancing but have no idea where to start, then Elna’s course is right for you! With detailed lessons on what freelance writing really is and how to get started from how to set up your own website – to attract clients – to pitching and landing your first assignments, Elna provides her course takers with a solid, easy to follow roadmap to landing that first $1k.”
– Julienne Roman
“After reading Elna’s course, I changed up my pitch by following her advice. I pitched to five different people. One prospect responded with an offer for a $1,000 editing job! Elna’s course is by far one of the best freelance writing courses out there.”
– Raymonda Rice
“Learning more in one week about freelancing than I did in 6 months of self research in Elna Cain’s #writeto1k course! So worth it!”
– Christine C. Renee
In fact, Elna offers an Advanced version of her course that includes more content, such as:
- Land clients with social media guide
- Copywriting kickstart guide
- Success case studies
- Bonus module – 8 lessons
These eight bonus lessons included in the Advanced version of her course are worth the investment on their own:
You can choose which level of this course is right for you — of course — but either way, be sure to check out the Advanced edition here:
No matter which course level you choose, Write Your Way to Your First $1k will teach you everything — and I mean everything — step-by-step, line-by-line, to establish your own profitable, professional, and rewarding freelance writing career.
Think of it as a 7-week investment into your future… $1,000 is just the beginning!
Because making this one decision — right here and right now — could change the outcome of the rest of your professional and personal life.
And that’s a powerful thing.
To your unlimited success,
PS: What specific questions do you have about a career in freelance writing? Please post them in the comments below and I will respond to you personally.