How to Become a Freelance Writer
Things you should know to become a good freelance writer.
In today’s digital age, freelance writing is becoming increasingly popular. For this topic, we will look at how to become a freelance writer, from its benefits and challenges, basic requirements, and attracting clients.
Why do you want to become a freelance writer?
Before you question yourself on how to become a freelance writer, ask first why. As basic as it sounds, understanding why you want to become a freelance writer becomes an important aspect of driving you to persevere throughout this journey. It dictates the path and approach to becoming a freelance writer. Is it because of money, experience, freedom, and control of life? Do you choose it because you think it’s easy, a quick way to get rich, or because of passion?
By understanding what motivates you to become a freelance writer, you won’t be discouraged from taking on this alternative career path. More so, with this guide, you can manage successfully with the right preparation and tools in place.
If you are still wondering, below are some benefits and challenges that you can take into consideration before embarking on this career path.
Benefits of being a freelance writer
Freelance writing is an increasingly popular career option that offers many benefits. Having the freedom to work from anywhere at any time and not be bound by a traditional 9-to-5 job can be a major attraction. This allows you to choose when and where you will work and can be beneficial for those with family commitments or who require flexible hours due to other responsibilities, such as dual-income families where one needs to work from home.
Furthermore, freelancers benefit from more control over their workloads as they can choose which types of projects suit them best. It also helps build self-confidence and independence within individuals who may feel stagnant in their current positions elsewhere.
With all these advantages in mind, it could be worth considering this alternative career route if you are looking for increased autonomy and financial rewards.
Challenges when becoming a freelance writer
As with any career, there are various challenges that freelance writers must face when pursuing this type of work. What it provides in growth, it lacks in stability. It can be difficult to secure consistent and reliable sources of income as the number of available projects can fluctuate from month to month.
We mentioned stagnancy in traditional positions in the benefits section above, but freelancers may also face it when they do not receive regular feedback or recognition for their efforts. This can lead to an increased feeling of isolation compared with those in traditional employment roles.
Stress and pressure are also abundant in freelance writing. Depending on clients’ preferences some projects may require quick turnaround times leading to pressure and stress if deadlines are not met efficiently. (If you ever face this, read How to Avoid Getting Burnt Out for some tips and tricks to overcome it)
And the biggest nightmare for any budding freelance writer is having to constantly market oneself to attract new customers. This is important as it gives the semblance of stability to what can be considered a volatile career.
Having gone through the benefits and challenges of becoming one, let’s delve into how to become a freelance writer.
How to get started with freelance writing
No one jumps into a new venture without preparing themselves beforehand. Proclaiming that you are a new and passionate freelance writer would not help you gain projects to work on and get paid. When thinking about how to start, see through the client’s perspective: What should a freelance writer have to convince me to hire them?
What are the basic requirements to become a freelance writer?
Create a portfolio
Before you start on anything else, start with building a portfolio. A common mistake new freelance writers make is to wait until they have a client to build a portfolio. A portfolio doesn’t necessarily need to be paid or published work. It can also be made from personal projects. For some, this is called a mock portfolio.
Try to create at least 5 writing samples that can prove how well you write. A bonus is if they are related to a unique niche.
Have a default contact and payment method
Raise your hand if you have at least an email address and a mobile number. That should be the basic requirement for anyone intending to have a job that can be done online. Next, have an international payment account that can be connected to your local account. Among those you can open with are PayPal, Payoneer, and Wise, which works with multiple countries that your potential clients may come from.
Last but not least, open up accounts on freelance platforms (like Revolancer). This is highly encouraged for new freelance writers, as they can learn on how to bid on projects, communicate with clients, and see examples of invoices, all in the safety and security of having an intermediary for any disputes or injustice.
Basic cover letter or proposal template
While seeming diminutive and insignificant at the start, an effective proposal template matters in making successful pitches. It is encouraged to create a basic proposal template that you can alter and customise later on, rather than writing proposals from scratch each time.
The most basic template should cover a polite greeting, an introduction on who you are, why you are reaching out, what you can do, what your experiences that make you confident that you can do it, questions you have (if any), and if you are open to being reached out.
I saw your project on writing an article about Japanese culture and think I’m a good fit for the task.
I’m Gary, a freelance writer who is passionate about travel, culture, and arts. You can see my portfolio here (link), where I’ve written two articles on travelling in Asia. I’ll be great for the job as I’ve travelled to Japan recently and would love to pour on what I’ve experienced there for your project.
Please let me know if you’d be willing to discuss this further. I’m available any time between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm EST for a quick response, and at least within 24 hours off the clock.
How to become a freelance writer that attracts clients
We’ve covered how to become a freelance writer, and that is already a good head start for you to take action on. Let’s go to another level and look at how to become a freelance writer that attracts (and retains) clients.
If you have expertise in niches outside of “writing”, then that is a leverage you can use. It means that you probably have a good understanding of the topics you are writing about as well as show initiative when researching new materials. Of course, as a freelance writer, you can diversify your skills and specialise in any niche.
The easiest example is this: you binge-watch drama series almost religiously, sharing your critiques and feedback in public forums that help others in deciding whether they should watch it or not. That itself will attract entertainment companies to get your review write-ups for their recent productions.
Skills and Experience
The misconception on how to become a freelance writer with no experience is that you can jump in with no experience in any skill whatsoever. What actually helps is having experience and skills in other fields that can be translated to being able to create content that is both engaging and informative for your intended audience.
Even if you have no working experience, you should at least have good grammar, research skills, comprehension of the language you’ll be writing in, and experience in the niches you want to write in.
Aside from that, attending courses and workshops related to writing matters as well. There are many tips and tricks provided by seasoned writers that would help new freelance writers sharpen their craft.
Effective communication with clients will also be necessary. The golden range is within 90 minutes, but it suffices if you are capable of responding within 24 hours, taking into account different time zones and commitments. If you are on vacation, inform them beforehand and set an out-of-office (OOO) reply so that your clients will be aware. Responding promptly where possible. Being open-minded about feedback goes a long way towards building up a successful relationship between both parties which could lead to further work opportunities in the future.
Clear, concise, and actively communicating with your clients would make working on the projects easier and less frustrating, reducing the discontent and stress on both sides.
When talking about credibility, one tends to consider only recommendations and ratings. While true, that’s not the only component of credibility. It also factors in reliability.
A freelance writer is accountable for ensuring the work is done as valuable as the client is paying for it. Good time management and organisational skills are crucial when it comes to meeting deadlines and managing multiple projects simultaneously, and the ability to create compelling copy whilst adhering to any specific instructions provided by clients.
Read How to Organise Your Time as a Freelancer to learn more about how to manage your time effectively.
No good freelance writer acts like a bump on a log. Just because you build a portfolio, have a way of contact, and build a template, doesn’t make clients knock on your proverbial door. Pitch, pitch, pitch. From 100 pitches, there’s bound to be one or two that are accepted. Being a freelancer in general is a game of perseverance.
To wrap things up, there’s flexibility on how to become a freelance writer, even if you are not majoring in it from college. With the right strategies, you have the opportunity to be successful at something you love doing. What is important is to create an achievable plan on how to become a freelance writer, manage your time and commitments, and include a contingency plan as a backup. It may take some practice before reaching success but with hard work and dedication, it will be worth it.
Before you go
Don’t know where to put your portfolio up and be reachable by potential clients? Revolancer provides a plus.page that uses a compact and sleek design and features all your samples and social networks. Just like an online resume, your clients can discover you and have easy access whenever they are interested.
Haven’t joined Revolancer yet? Start your freelance writing career, commission-free, with us!
Freelance marketplace: Revolancer