How to get started as a freelance writer in 7 easy steps

Starting a freelance writing career isn't as easy as you think, but there's no reason you can't make it easier on yourself with these seven easy steps.
How to get started as a freelance writer in 7 easy steps

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Becoming a freelance writer is something that many people dream of. In fact, it even comes with a handful of benefits that entrepreneurs can use to further their careers.

Getting started is something that many people are often intimidated by, though, and not everyone understands how to go about it. 

Not quite sure how to begin? We’ve got all the information to help you along the way. Let's explore everything you should keep in mind about how to get started as a freelance writer. 

1. Choose your area of focus

Before you can begin your journey as a freelance writer, you'll need to choose what type of niche you want to focus on. This should be more specific than a particular industry in order to facilitate the best chance of you securing work.

For example, you might be interested in writing about sports and athletics. But, it's worth specifying in particular areas, such as athletic training, injury prevention/rehabilitation, etc.

This will give you more 'depth' as a professional writer and allow you to bring more to the table when looking for prospective clients. You'll also benefit from focusing on multiple images that are related to each other to help expand your presence in a particular industry.

So, although you may be interested in technology, finance, and real estate, you will have to build up these portfolios separately, which is something that can be particularly time-consuming.

2. Get your samples together

As you may anticipate, it's not reasonable to expect a large number of clients to hire you if you aren't able to prove how effective you are as a writer. More often than not, clients will want to see a handful of writing samples before they even consider taking you on for a project.

So, this means you'll need to get your best samples together before you begin searching for freelance work.

If you've written in the past at a professional level, this process is relatively straightforward. If you don't have any past projects that you can showcase, however, you'll need to write your own samples from scratch.

This means creating content that you would for a client if you were working for them in order to illustrate what you're capable of. Afterward, you'll need to gather your samples in a centralized location that's easy for clients to access.

In the majority of circumstances, having a professional website is the best method to do so. 

3. Create a brand for yourself as a writer

Being a freelance writer is something that you can't entirely separate from yourself as a person. It becomes a sort of lifestyle, and you can expect your personality to bleed into your writing (and it should).

To take this a step further, freelance writers should heavily emphasize branding themselves appropriately. This means there should be a consistent theme or set of attributes among anything you put out online, including social media posts.

For example, a professional freelance writer who specializes in technical writing isn't likely to post memes or political humor on their professional social media account. 
In general, this individual's way of communicating should reflect their writing, which in this case would be formal and pragmatic.

The more comprehensively you brand yourself, the better idea potential clients will have of what you're able to provide. So, be sure to keep this obligation in mind throughout the entirety of your freelance writing career. 

4. Understand how to pitch your work correctly

In an ideal world, you would have clients knocking at your door to see what type of content you're able to provide for them. In reality, though, your situation will be far different during the early stages.

In fact, you may not have a single client approach you for the first year or two that you work as a freelance writer. So, you'll need to master the art of pitching your capabilities to potential clients.

One of the most important things to remember is that you should keep your pitch as short as possible, as not everyone has the time or desire to read through a long-winded email. A general template to remember is to briefly introduce yourself, explain what you have to offer to that individual, and provide a link to your portfolio.

Put simply, the easier than you make it for a client to learn about you, the more likely they are to actually do so. 

5. Showcase your past work effectively

As previously mentioned, it's imperative for you to have a professional portfolio in order to show the type of work that you can provide to clients. But, this won't take you very far if you don't showcase your work effectively.

For example, one of your highest achievements could have been to have your ad copy placed in a Coca-Cola advertisement. But, if the photo that you use for this project is low quality, blurry, etc., you're not doing yourself much justice.

To elaborate, you should seek to optimize the experience that your clients have when looking through your work. This means that they should be able to seamlessly switch from one project to the next, avoid the need to download projects to view them, etc.

Otherwise, you may find that people quickly lose interest, which will cause you to lose out on potential business. As time goes on and you secure more projects, you should replace the weaker pieces of your portfolio with stronger ones.

Eventually, you'll have a well-rounded portfolio that is full of quality projects, something that will drastically increase your chances of getting hired. 

6. Always improve your skills

Even though you'll be writing for a living, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek to improve your skills in your free time. In fact, it's fairly easy for freelance writers to stagnate if they are consistently writing about the same topics and never expanding their knowledge.

Instead, you should allocate a certain amount of time per week toward learning about the industry, refining your technical abilities, and exploring new avenues of your niche that you could succeed in.

With the rise in popularity with various AI tools and writers, you can also use these to your advantage to brainstorm new topics or develop your writing even further.

For example, you may write primarily about software development and cybersecurity. By learning all that you can about the technology space, you'll be able to provide higher quality content to clients through your increased knowledge.

Other ways that you can improve your writing abilities include taking online courses, enrolling at a local community college, or even visiting a writing workshop. 

7. Manage your time optimally

This is something that many freelance writers (as well as freelancers in general) struggle with during the early stages of their careers. This is particularly true for those who are coming from traditional 9-to-5 jobs, as those often require far less time management than a freelance career does.

It's essential that you do not get in the habit of wasting the time that you should spend working. This could easily lead to establishing a cycle where are you stay up late into the night in order to finish projects that should have been done hours (or even days) ago.

Additionally, procrastination will also prevent you from having free time around the holidays that you could use to spend with friends and family. Fortunately, setting a schedule is a relatively straightforward solution that can eliminate many of the problems that freelancers have when it comes to time management.

But, since everybody functions differently in terms of what time of day they're most productive, there isn't a set schedule that works for every freelancer.

What you should aim to do, though, is calculate the amount of money that you would like to make within a month and then figure out how much time you need to spend working each week in order to reach this amount. Then, you need to figure out when you plan on working during the week.

Some people prefer to work more during the beginning of the week and less on Thursdays and Fridays. Others like to start slow and then finish strong. Other people may not mind working on weekends.

Regardless of how you choose to work, be sure to hold yourself accountable for falling short and reward yourself for reaching goals. This will help you stay motivated as time goes on. 

Knowing how to get started as a freelance writer can seem complicated

But the above information will make the process far smoother. From here, you’ll be able to know exactly how to get started as a freelance writer and jumpstart your career as soon as you're ready to dive in.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to reach out to us today and see how we can help.

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Our team of career freelancers writes about best invoice practices, what makes a great client, and repeats the mantra, "never work without a contract." We're opinionated about the future of work and will always be on the side of freelancers.
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