Have you ever thought about being a freelance writer, but worry about leaving a more secure job? Or are you already dipping your toes in the self-employed pool but are struggling to get noticed?
If you answered yes, you are not alone.
More and more people are choosing to work independently. In fact, over the last decade, foregoing a traditional career path in favour of self-employment has become a viable option for people from all walks of life. With the rise of the Internet and social media, working for yourself is suddenly accessible to anyone and everyone; an opportunity that so many are now taking advantage of.
According to the McKinsey & Company report, Independent Work: Choice, Necessity and the Gig Economy, up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States engage in some form of independent work.
I think it’s safe to say that freelancing has become the new normal.
The numbers initially seem staggering, but they are unsurprising. Working for yourself offers flexibility, independence, control over your workload and the ability to work from anywhere.
Who wouldn’t want to do that?
What’s more is there has never been a better time than now to take the leap of faith to become a freelancer, especially for writers.
In the digital age that defines the 21st Century, content writing is on the rise, with more and more large companies outsourcing writers to create online content and marketing for their websites and social media platforms.
You’d think this would be an exciting opportunity for writers, right?
Well, not wrong exactly. Plenty of writers see the benefit of content writing for companies, but so many writers still seek validation through traditional media, wanting to be published in magazines and newspapers rather than in the blog section of a software company.
Because of this, there’s actually a shortage of writers in content marketing.
There is an entire industry seeking more writers, and you could be one of them.
So the first piece of advice for getting started in freelance writing: don’t get stuck on wanting to write for traditional media sources. Go where the money is, and where there isn’t a surplus of writers competing with you.
It’s sounding like a good time to become a freelance writer, right? What’s even better is that, in the current state of the world, Forbes theorises that freelancers will play a growing and important role in the post COVID 19 economy.
The way we live our lives has altered dramatically and companies are increasingly reliant on independent workers. Not only is it more cost efficient, but also safer. With a greater emphasis on social distancing, employing freelancers who generally work from home means less people in the office, creating an overall safer working environment.
How to Become a Freelance Writer and land your First Client in 2021
So I’m sure at this point you’re wondering, how can I actually become a freelance writer? And what can I do to land my first client?
Well you’ve come to the right place. Deciding to take up freelancing is a realistic and feasible option for anyone. If you decide to keep your day job and do freelancing on the side or if this is a career you want to pursue full-time, check out our tips below on how you can become a freelance writer and land your first client in 2021.
1. Do your research and develop a strategy
Research. Research. Research.
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you start a new project. You’re excited, you have lots of ideas and you want to put them into practice ASAP.
Although enthusiasm is great and exactly what is needed for freelancing, just stop for a second and breathe.
Figure out exactly what you need to do to get started as a freelance writer. Research how other writers advertise themselves and their work, and figure out your niche.
A lot of successful freelance writers have personal blogs where they share their experiences in the industry, and offer tips and practical advice on how you can become successful in this field. Some even provide online programs and classes to coach aspiring writers. Lucky for you, we’ve already compiled a list of the most essential blogs for freelancers in 2021, so you don’t have to spend hours doing research yourself.
You also need to determine your rates. There’s no better way to do this than seeing what fellow writers charge for their work.
Of course it is relative. Experienced writers can charge significantly more for their writing compared to those just starting out, so make sure your rates are realistic and work for you. And remember, you can scale higher as your network and portfolio grows.
2. Find your niche
Once you’ve researched what the professionals are doing, it’s time to figure out where you fit in the freelance writing market.
What is your niche?
In other words, what is your area of expertise? What do you like writing about? What are you good at writing about?
There are countless amounts of gigs available for writers that are not limited to the classic blog or article writing:
- Branding: every company needs a clear, distinctive identity. Although agencies offer this service, it is expensive. Why not be an affordable branding specialist for smaller companies that need it most?
- Email Copywriting: in this highly digital world, email marketing is utilised by so many of the biggest brands. If you can write compelling, persuasive emails, maybe this is the niche for you.
- Podcast and radio scripts: behind every great podcast and radio show is a great script, and an even greater writer. Get involved in creating content for the fastest growing media outlet of the last 10 years.
- Content Marketing + Strategy: if you have mastered the art of blogging and article writing then it’s time to take it a step further and learn SEO and the art of creating successful campaigns.
These are just a few examples of the vast array of writing gigs that are available to freelancers. As content creation and online platforms continue to dominate, and people consume information from so many different outlets, this means the opportunities for freelancers are endless. You just need to figure out what suits you best.
3. Check out the best freelance writing websites
Getting started as a freelance writer can be daunting, leaving you wondering where to even start as the blank screen of your computer stares back at you.
Fortunately, there are plenty of websites that are platforms for all sorts of freelancers where you can advertise yourself to potential customers and actively seek jobs.
Choosing the right website is a crucial step in beginning your freelancing journey, and you want to ensure you start on the best website for you and what you are offering.
Websites like Fiverr, Upwork and iWriter provide safe, secure platforms for freelancers with all types of experience, and ensure you are paid and protected, whilst offering numerous job opportunities.
Once again, we have saved you the time and energy of digging through reviews and the endless search results on Google, and have a ready made list of the best freelance websites to start your career.
Click the link and read it thoroughly – this could be the start of your dream career.
4. Get organised
One of the great things about being self-employed is being independent from the structure and bureaucracy of a company and being your own boss.
However, having so much freedom is not always a good thing, and doesn’t work for most people.
Self-discipline and organisation are key skills to master if you want to be a successful freelance writer.
If you miss deadlines or have not researched your client’s brief properly, this can be detrimental and can cause you to lose business.
Luckily, there are more than enough apps and tools at your disposal to be the best freelancer you can be, and get yourself organised:
- Google Drive: we can always rely on Google. The drive means you can keep all documents, sheets, emails and more in one, web-based space that can be accessed on any computer. Perfect if you need to borrow someone else’s computer.
- NowDoThis: sometimes freelancing can get overwhelming, but you don’t have to let it get this way. This is a dream role for so many, so enjoy it! Avoid stress by using NowDoThis. Just enter your to-do-list in the order it needs doing, click ready and one item will appear at a time, instantly minimizing your workload into digestible chunks.
- Quickbooks: becoming self-employed means managing your finances. Quickbooks online acts as an all-in-one accounting solution where you can send invoices, expenses and more, putting all your finances into one space.
Your reputation as a freelancer is everything. So use the tools that are on offer to make your work life easier and master the art of organisation.
5. Build your online presence
No matter how much faith you have in your own ability as a freelance writer, the people that are hiring you have never met you and will need as much information as possible before they take that step.
Remember, you are probably competing against a lot of people who are just as good as you, and your online presence – the way you sell yourself online – could be the deciding factor.
There are numerous ways that you can create your online presence:
- Set up a portfolio of your work: publishing and displaying your work is the best way for potential clients to gain insight into your writing ability. It is also hugely beneficial when pitching to clients, as your work is easily accessible and available for them to assess.
- Create a compelling profile description: first impressions matter, and the first thing a client will see when they find your profile is your description and your profile picture. Being professional is important, but don’t forget about personality. You want to come across as likeable, hard working and dedicated. This is an opportunity to sell yourself, so be creative and highlight your experience.
- Network: even online, networking is crucial to get your name out there and meet new people. The difference is that networking for freelancers tends to take place online instead of at events. Get involved in forums and group chats with writers from the same niche as you, support them and engage with their work.
6. Landing your first client: Be Patient
Do not be disheartened if you don’t receive any emails or work at first. This is normal! You are competing with a huge pool of competitors, all vying for the same job, and some of which may have more experience than you.
Patience and having the right mindset and attitude are key qualities to have as a freelancer.
At times, job opportunities can be few and far between, and clients may initially seem interested but end up not committing. It is a normal part of the job, but be prepared that this instability may not suit you, and make sure that financially you are in a position where this is not an issue for you.
Once you start building your online presence, networking, and gaining reviews from happy customers, your gig will start gaining traction and getting noticed. It can be a slow process, but commitment is key and you will succeed eventually.
7. Manage your expectations
The likelihood of you landing your ideal client from the beginning is unlikely. Not impossible, but the chances are slim.
Remind yourself why you decided to become a freelance writer. Although the initial jobs you do may not be to your taste, you are still doing something you love on your own terms. Embrace it and learn from it. Your dream job will come along one day.
For now, earn your stripes in the industry. Prove that you are committed to the role and put your all into every job you get.
8. Enjoy the process
This is, perhaps, the most important step in becoming a freelance writer.
Taking the step to becoming self-employed is a fun, exciting process which, if done well can result in a successful career.
You get out what you put in, so dedicate yourself to researching and building your portfolio whilst keeping your end goal in mind.
Practice patience, organisation and master your craft as a writer. The process is long and takes time, but it is worth the effort in the end.
Now it’s your turn. The world is in need of more freelance writers, so if you have been considering it but were uncertain about taking the plunge – go for it!
As working from home and being your own boss becomes the new normal, there is no better time to put yourself out there and work independently than now.
It is not impossible to make a career from writing, despite the fact it may seem that way sometimes. It may be tough to become a freelance writer and requires dedication, but the end result couldn’t be better.