You want to make money from this, and you want to ensure that the time you put into starting a freelance writing business is worth it.
I get you.
It makes sense.
But, there are little things you can do to show that you are a BETTER freelance writer for clients. This will help you become the go-to writer for clients and ensures you recurring freelance writing work.
And trust me when I say that clients are seeking that ONE writer that makes their life soo much easier. It’s the writer that is professional, easy to collaborate with, turns work in before the deadline, and goes above and beyond what is expected of them.
When you show that, clients will hold onto you forever because they know how difficult it is to find that writer.
So, if you want to be THAT writer, learn these little things to help you be the better freelance writer out there
1. Promptly Reply
One of the ways I grow my business is to outsource some aspects of my business.
One thing I look for is how prompt these other freelancers are. If I email an inquiry on Friday, will I not hear from them until Monday?
If so, I probably would have already found a freelancer by then.
Now, I know people work during the day, but if you can promptly respond within 24 hours (or sooner), there’s a good chance that clients will notice. And I also expect my freelance writing clients to promptly respond to my emails.
And they do!
Of course, you have to take into consideration the time zone your client is in (I have some clients in Tel Aviv, UK, Germany, etc..) and also know their schedule.
My Tel Aviv clients’ weekend starts on Friday and their workday week begins on Sunday.
Knowing this helps me know when to email them or submit my content to them promptly.
2. Offer Other Services
An easy way to grow your income as a freelance writer is to offer more services.
But, there’s a catch to that –
Don’t be a jack of all trades.
Clients aren’t seeking a health writer that is also a finance white paper writer who ghostwrites eBooks.
What clients are seeking is a writer that has more skills than other writers. This may mean:
These are extra services on top of your writing services that you can offer to prospects.
So, if you are negotiating with a client about a project, you can sweeten the deal by offering these types of services. For my clients, I always ensure that I provide copywriting when I write and can offer images and screenshots for my posts.
I also recently provided a video tutorial for one of my clients, and he enjoyed it very much!
Clients are looking for a professional writer, so when you submit your content, don’t just paste it into an email entry.
I like to share a MS Word Doc (or Google Doc) + a zip file of the optimized images I provided in the content piece.
This little thing wows clients! It’s these little things that make life easier for your clients. So, if that means you package your content piece all nice and pretty and make it easy for them to upload to their content management system, then you’ll be assured that more work will come to you.
4. Offer Content Ideas When Things Are Slow
Sometimes at the beginning of a new freelance writing job, you’ll get a lot of projects. Maybe for a few months, you write one blog post a week.
Then, things slow down.
One thing you can do during this slow time is to pop in after a while and suggest some content ideas for your client. While not every client needs more content ideas, there a lot of that would benefit from a list of 20 new blog post ideas.
And if a client knows that at the drop of a hat you can provide several content ideas for them, it’s just one other assurance that you are becoming your client’s go-to writer.
5. Share Your Client’s Posts
An easy way to become a part of your client’s marketing strategy is to share your client’s pieces on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
I like to do this and also tag the client or brand when I share their posts. And, if you spent time growing your social media followers, then when a client notices this, they will learn how valuable you can be for their marketing plan.
I’m the LAST person to write this blog post for you.
I’m known to make spelling errors, grammar errors and any other types of errors when I write. So, why am I teaching you the top writing mistakes freelance writers make?
Because, when it comes to my client’s posts, I’m error-free and my posts are properly formatted. I know exactly what types of blog posts my freelance writing clients want.
And it’s soo much more than being error-free.
So, I’ll share six online writing mistakes I often see from freelance writers so that you no longer make these mistakes.
Before I begin, I want to let you know that these ideas are strictly from experience and what I see online. There are other ways to write for freelance writing clients, but I don’t know those ways.
1. Your Content Needs a Structure
Okay, a lot of these tips will come from my knowledge of writing online and, specifically, writing blog posts for clients.
One thing I see a lot of new writers fail to do, is structure their blog posts.
See, an online reader needs to anchor what they are reading. If all you show them is big blocks of text, they won’t be able to decipher what they are reading. They end up scanning and losing motivation to read your post.
So, a structure to a blog post means having anchoring features like:
Numbered lists or bullet lists
These three things can help your content breath and allow the reader to READ your post. Along with having this type of formatting structure, your ideas need a structure.
They need to be cohesive and make sense.
For example, if your article is: 8 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Use Pinterest For Their Marketing, make sure your subheadings are numbered.
1. Use Rich Pins
2. Optimize Your Bio
3. Join Group Boards
I wouldn’t make a list post and not have a list in the post. A lot of freelance writers fail to add numbers to their subheadings when they have a list post.
While we’re on the topic of subheadings, make sure you use H2 or H3 for your subheadings.
In Google Docs:
In Microsoft Word:
So, when coming up with a content idea, outline your idea with a structure that includes subheadings.
2. Your Content Needs to Breathe
One of the things I learned early on was the idea of having a lot of white space surrounding your words. This lets your writing breathe. Content online reads differently than a book or newspaper.
You might notice that the majority of blogs have a short content width than that of a newspaper or book.
This means that one sentence can look like two lines on a short content width. So, if your freelance writing client has you upload your blog post to their WordPress backend, always take a look at the preview mode to see if your content is breathing.
3. Link The Right Way
For your client posts, you want to link to relevant topics as well as stats and facts to back up what you’re writing.
What I see, however, is that many new freelance writers don’t know what words to link to.
Let’s look at this sentence:
Apple is interested in launching a new magazine subscription service.
The incorrect way to link to this in your sentence is to anchor your link to the word “Apple.” This is the brand and not the information the sentence is about. Instead, link to the phrase that talks about what the link is about.
Many new freelance writers think that freelance writing clients want professional content as you would write for a University paper. While there may be some projects that require this type of writing, most online content is conversational and relatable.
Remember, clients are using YOUR content to attract leads and grow their business. This type of writing, therefore, has to be easy to read and understand.
The biggest marketers online write at a 4th-grade level, and many of your clients want you to write at that level. So use simple words and make your connections easy to understand when you write.
5. Provide Examples in Your Writing
A great way to add value to your samples (and your client’s posts) is to provide examples of what you are talking about. This is important in my niche – digital marketing – but can be used for other niches too.
For example, if you are talking about a tip – drinking more green drinks – provide an example of why this is beneficial. Maybe there is an influencer that promotes this lifestyle or a study done showing the effects of drinking green drinks is on weight loss.
By providing examples of what you are talking about, it makes it easier for the reader to understand, and makes your content more engaging and boosts the value of your blog post.
Maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine, but I strongly dislike blog posts that don’t have a conclusion! They list their last list, and that’s it! One sentence of “that’s it folks” and end of the post.
If you started a blog and it’s filled with your posts, that’s okay to do what you want. You can write however you want on your own blog. However, for clients, you are getting paid to write for them – so give them the complete post!
How do you end your post or article then?
I like to have a new subheading with a conclusion phrase like:
Wrapping it Up
Over to You!
There Ya Go!
Then I write a few sentences wrapping up what I wrote. For clients, I may expand on this and summarize key points in my post.
I then turn it around and ask a question to the audience as a way to start a conversation.
Ready to Write?
There ya go! Six writing mistakes I see new freelance writers make. They aren’t grammar mistakes. Instead, I’m focussing on the formatting of your content for online clients.
It’s up to you to set your freelance writing rate and learn how to negotiate a higher rate when the time comes. It’s also up to you to pick the right jobs so that you can turn this into a livable income.
Make sure you grab my resource on how to Accelerate Your Freelance Writing Income in 7 Easy Steps!
I was craving for some grown-up interaction that didn’t involve talking about my twins (since that’s all my hubby and I talked about!).
So, he actually introduced me to freelance writing. I never looked back!
While I made several big mistakes when I first started out as a freelance writer, I quickly recovered, landing my first freelance writing job just a couple months later and in six months replaced my full-time income as a teacher doing this part-time.
It is possible to quit your full-time job and get paid to write as your main hustle!
What Is Freelance Writing?
A freelance writer is someone who works on a self-employed basis. You are considered an independent business owner.
As a freelancer, you typically write for more than one client and are paid per writing assignment or per batch of assignments. I have several high-paying freelance writing clients with recurring projects or ad hoc projects.
There are many names you can call yourself depending on what service you have to highlight:
Freelance Blogger – focus is on blog writing
Content Writer – focus is on different types of content (white paper, blog posts, eBooks…)
SEO Writer – focus on providing highly optimized content for search engines as a way to rank in Google
Content Strategist – focus more on creative and managing content
Freelance Web Content Writer – focus is on providing content for the web
Ghost Writer – focus is on providing ghostwritten (not in your name) for eBooks, blog posts, website pages, email, white papers and more
Professional writer – once you’ve worked as a freelance writer for a while, you can officially call yourself a professional writer
I call myself a professional writer since I’ve been a freelance writer for over three years and am knowledgeable in my niche.
Types of Freelance Writing Services You Can Offer
In the beginning, you may choose to focus your writing on one service such as blog writing. Personally, this is the best and easiest type of freelance writing job a new writer can have.
Blog writing is a short project. Most blog posts are between 700-1500 words (generally. Some of my clients have me write 2000-4000 word blog posts).
Blog writing can also be recurring, rather than a one-off piece you might see as a copywriter or magazine writer.
When I first started, I chose three main services to market: blog writing, article writing, and site content. Since then, I’ve modified my services list.
As a new freelance writer, you can focus on one service or several. Here are a few services you can offer when you start out:
Ghostwriting – the content you write isn’t under your name. For example, a client may want you to ghostwrite an eBook under their name.
Copywriting – you may write copy for the web, press releases, sales pages or use your persuasive skills to update a website.
Social media marketing – many writers, including myself, have started offering social media marketing services. This entails handling a client’s social media accounts and updating them regularly.
Blog management – you may be responsible for managing writers for your client, editing and publishing content on your client’s website.
Types of Writing You Can Offer
As an online freelance writer, I only write content for the web – nothing in print, but I’m always learning new skills.
If all you do is online content, then you’ll be in demand and have no shortage of work. Here’s just a small list of different types of content to get you started:
Blog posts – this is what I mostly write and what most companies online need.
Magazine articles – this type of writing is more formal and journalistic in nature.
Site content – businesses have websites with many pages. As a freelance writer, you might be assigned to write an About page or Products page. This typically falls under copywriting.
eBooks – many businesses use eBooks to attract people to their newsletter. Most eBook writing is ghostwritten, but it’s a great experience to have under your belt.
White papers – These are lead generating professional articles for small businesses.
Figure out what type of writing you’d like to do. Maybe eBook writing is something you enjoy as you wrote an eBook last year. There are many solopreneurs and small business owners that need someone to write an eBook for them.
Finding Your Ideal Freelance Writing Client
From big business to the start-up company, content is needed for any type of business.
I’ve had clients with start-ups, and I’ve had solopreneurs wanting my services. Figuring out your ideal client can take some time. This might mean you take different types of freelance writing jobs in the beginning and work with different clients to see which one you click with.
Here are some other types of clients you might come across in your freelance writing business:
Publications – These are magazines, newspapers or trade magazines.
Agencies – Content agencies often hire freelance writers. Many of them also have a place to have a profile of your writing ability.
Educational establishments – These markets need content for educational courses or e-learning material.
Authors – Many authors seek out ghostwriters for their books.
Blog owners – Niche blogs need a lot of content. Many blog owners own more than one blog and don’t have the time to write for all of them.
How Much Money Do Freelance Writers Make (And How Do You Get Paid?)
What’s great about freelance writing is being able to earn what you want.
But, you’re probably thinking, yeah, but what can I really make?
Content prices vary drastically depending on the business using it. For example, businesses that need hundreds of small posts or need articles that have specific keywords in them will pay a small amount – usually $5 (or less) for a 500-word post.
My first attempt at getting paid to write was on iWriter, a place many people refer to as a content mill. These sites need quick and short posts, and they pay very little.
My first assignment was to write a toy description for $1.62. I hated it. I was spending too much time writing a silly piece and only being paid pennies.
But, I hope you don’t go down that road!
When I escaped the content mills and started to build my own freelance writing business, I was able to land my first real client at $100 for an 800-word blog post.
And I scored this writing gig two months after deciding I wanted to be a freelance writer.
When you land your first freelance writing client, you want assurance that you’ll get paid. Typically it goes like this:
If you have a social work degree, you can be a freelance writer.
If you’re a secretary, you can be a freelance writer.
If you’re in college, you can be a freelance writer.
Anyone can be a freelance writer, BUT, you do need to know how to string words together in a coherent manner. If you have a hard time conveying your meaning on “paper,” then maybe freelance writing isn’t for you.
But, if you find writing fun, you have the passion, motivation, and persistence to really DO THIS, then you will succeed.
If you need help on getting started, here is what I suggest.
4 Steps to Be a Freelance Writer
There are many ways to become a freelance writer. I only know from experience on how I became a freelance writer (and I know “my way” has helped thousands of writers so far).
1. Figure Out Your Writing Niche
The first step is usually the hardest step, and while you can side-step and go to step #2, I highly suggest you take the time to sit and think about your freelance writing niche.
Your niche is what will help you get paid for your writing.
When looking at your niche, I like to think of it like this: what do I like to write about, have experience in or WANT to learn more about?
What’s in the middle is your niche idea.
But, once you find a niche or a couple of niches, I want you to do an extra step that a lot of new freelance writers don’t do.
It’s researching your freelance writing niche.
Google your niche or search for businesses in that niche. For example, here’s a blog post showing the top 25 best selling baby products. Find those products and run another search for the product owner and look at their brand as a whole.
2. Create Samples to Build Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
Businesses won’t hire writers without seeing their…..writing!!
Okay. So, you know you need samples to land a freelance writing job. And you know how to create them, but what should your sample be about?
I suggest you write a blog post to show your writing unless you know your service. For example, if you absolutely know you want to be a press release writer, then don’t write a blog post as your sample. Write a mock press release!
But, for a lot of us, we have no idea about all of this and if we can even make it as a freelance writer, so make it easy on yourself and write a short blog post of about 700 words.
The topic of your blog post should be based on the niche you chose….generally. I’m going to tell you a secret now:
When I landed my first real gig, I did not have any samples in the niche of the job I landed. I landed a job with a newspaper in the automotive section, and my samples were about: cleaning, e-learning, and mental health!
So, while it is POSSIBLE to land a gig with ANY type of sample writing topic, I suggest that it’s much easier if you have a sample in your chosen niche.
I landed my first freelance writing job over 3 years ago. In that time, a lot has changed in how you find a freelance writing job as a beginner.
But, don’t worry! I’m up-to-date with what’s going on in the freelance writing world. I’m still a freelance writer, and I’ve learned to adapt to these new strategies or newer ways to find clients.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this post, let’s go over the pre-requisites you need to become a freelance writer, how to be credible as a writer and what the popular freelance writing jobs there are in 2018.
After that, I will give you some detailed methods to finding your first freelance writing job even if you don’t have experience.
I was able to start as a new mom to twins and with no experience blogging, and I was able to land my first profitable gig in just a couple of months.
But, this doesn’t mean you can start with nothing! Here are some materials and personality traits you need to become a freelance writer.
Laptop – you can get by with any laptop. My house is a Mac user house, and those are the laptops I do most of my writing. Just remember to type approrpitately so you avoid hand issues over time.
Proper seating – invest in a good computer chair. Don’t base your entire freelance writing business on the couch! Big no-no! (or even the kitchen counter).
Paypal account – if you already have one, get a business account when you land clients.
Email address – most of your negotiations will be made via email or….
Skype address – some clients want to talk to you face-to-face, and Skype is a tool most know about.
Aside from the tools you need, here are some personality traits you need to succeed as a freelance writer.
Motivation and Desire – I get a lot of emails from those wanting to start but have a hard time motivating themselves. Freelance writing is a solo job. You have to motivate YOURSELF to do the work and to pitch. You also need the desire to want to CHANGE your life since freelance writing means you can ultimately make money from home.
Putting yourself out there – For a lot of newbies, the thought of putting yourself out there sends them to the hills! But, it’s 2018, and you can’t hide behind a cartoon avatar or without any social media profiles.
How to Show You’re a Freelance Writer (When You Have No Experience)
There are key ways to show that you’re an actual freelance writer when you’ve never freelance wrote in your life!
Starting a blog doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. With my special link, you can get started for under $100. When you think about it, when your parents wanted to start a business, they had to spend a lot of money to get business cards and an ad in the local newspaper.
In 2018, you start a blog, market yourself and can start making money as a freelance writer!
2. Start Guest Posting
Guest posting is when your content is on someone else’s website. You can get paid to guest post or land a free guest post spot.
I chose Artist, Brand or Public Figure. From there use the drop-down menu and choose, writer.
From here you hit get started and fill out your page!
When you have your Facebook page all set up, you need to start following blogs and brands you eventually want to write for.
To gain followers, you have to share valuable content as well as personal content. Some examples might be:
Your latest blog post
Your latest guest post
Your latest client piece
A video that can help your ideal client
An article that can help your ideal client
An update on your freelance writing business
A Facebook live on a topic in your freelance writing nice (Ex: if you’re a food writer, you can do a Facebook Live on your latest blog post on food safety measures and repurpose it as a video – while you cook dinner!)
I learned quickly the best ways to create a blog post for my portfolio. But for many of us, we have a personal blog and then your freelance writing blog.
For me, Twins Mommy is my personal blog, and Elna Cain is my freelance blog. While the topics on this blog are for freelance writers, I have landed jobs from this blog alone.
The thing to remember though, creating a sample is different than creating a blog post for your personal blog.
For example, if you have a personal blog about parenting, a post on YOUR blog could be:
5 Tips To Get Your Baby Sleeping Through the Night
But, if you have a parenting client, a blog post idea might be:
What the Sleep Experts Say About Crying It Out
Do you see the difference? Your post is more personal with examples from your experience sleep training while your client’s post is credible ideas from experts on one idea of crying it out.
So make sure when you create a sample, you think of it as a client post.
If you don’t have a blog, you can use a blogger platform like Medium to create your sample. Medium is a great platform as you can really grow your presence on there and get seen by top editors as well as find freelance writing jobs!
As a new freelance writer, one of the skills you need is researching blog topics for your clients. Understanding which sites to go to or which sources to link to is important to not only wow your clients but to show your credibility as a freelance writer.
So, when you have a brand new freelance writing job and that client doesn’t supply content ideas, what do you do?
Find Blog Post Topics Quickly for Freelance Writing Jobs - YouTube
So after reviewing the video, I hope, now you want to know what’s next?
Here are the steps you should do after you figure out some pitch-worthy blog topics for your freelance writing jobs.
Email the Client Your Blog Post Ideas
I would email several blog post topics to your client. Depending on the client, you may only have to write a couple of headlines or dive deep into each topic. For some of my clients, this is what I do.
Once you email the client, you just wait. Fun times eh?
Get Approval and Do the Research
Once the client approves a topic or gives more suggestions, it’s your turn to turn that outline into a blog post.
How do you do that?
With research. Just like you did for finding blog post topics, you do the same for researching the topic – if you are unfamiliar with the topic.
For example, I don’t know much about Reddit, but if the client approved my Reddit post, I’m going to spend most of my time researching it.
With anything new, there will be different ways to get to the same end goal. For me, I had absolutely no experience writing for businesses or being online. Sure, I went to Facebook or Pinterest, but I did that for personal reasons, not to market something.
I didn’t know what to do or how to do it once I realized I wanted to freelance write.
To me, this is the most professional way to display your portfolio to potential clients.
What Type of Content to Use in Your Freelance Writing Portfolio
So, do you only put blog posts in your writing portfolio?
No. You put the type of content you want to get paid for. This might mean sample emails, mock-ups of white papers, site content for an About page or a blog post.
I typically write blog content, so my portfolio is made up of blog content. I also think this is the easiest type of content to create and to market for your business. You can land regular work as a freelance blog writer.
The best way to create a sample for your freelance portfolio is to guest post.
This means your post is published on someone else’s blog. It can be paid contributions, but more often than not, it’s a free opportunity for you to market your business in front of a brand new targeted audience.
Guest posting also gives you the ‘street cred’ as a professional freelance writer.
My first three samples were not really in my niche, nor were they at all related to each other.
The first was for A Nation of Moms. I wrote about gut health for toddlers. I thought natural health would be a good niche to get into. My second was for Social Media Today.
This post is in my portfolio currently because it has helped me break into the digital marketing niche – the niche I currently write in.
Finally, the third sample was for Psych Central on how to improve your mood. I was ecstatic for this sample as it was on a very prestigious platform, even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to write about mental health.
As you can see, not defining a niche didn’t stop me from writing about things I knew – natural health, mental health and social media (the last one I was learning at the time and wanted to write about it).
So, how do you guest post?
1. Run a Google Search
The easiest is to run a Google search on the niche you want to write for + “write for us.” Here is an example of dog blogs!
You can search for literally anything + write for us to get guest blog opportunities.
2. Read The Guest Blog’s Guidelines
Every place you guest blog will have a different set of guidelines to submit your post. Some may want a Google doc while others want you to send an attachment via email.
There may be strict rules on what types of links to include, who you can mention in your post and how to write your post and the length of the post. Here are Brazen’s guest guidelines.
3. Create Your Guest Blog Pitch
Now comes the fun part – crafting your pitch based on the guidelines you just read!
Again, different blogs want different things. Some want 3-5 topic suggestions while others want an outline of one post idea. Figure out what they want and come up with a great topic or list of topics.
Here is my pitch for A Nation of Moms:
I suggest you research how to craft a pitch for guest blogging. It’s important that your pitch comes off personal and sounds like you know the blogger’s content. Simply using a template for your guest pitch, won’t work in landing any guest posts.
Instead, read the blog you want to guest post and learn about:
This information can help you stand out in your pitch. The blog owner will know you did your research.
4. Write the Guest Post
When you get accepted, it’s time to write the guest post. One thing to note – don’t pitch the SAME topic and outline to multiple guest blogs.
If you pitch the steps to eat paleo to five health blogs and two of them accept your pitch, you can’t write that post. And you can’t swap another idea either.
Instead, think of similar blog topics to pitch. So, for the health example, if you want to guest post on a health site, come up with several ideas that can be similar if you have a hard time coming up with blog topics:
5 Steps to Get Your Family Eating Paleo
Why Paleo Eating Isn’t Just a Fad
25 Easy Paleo Snacks to Take on The Run
5 Easy Ways You Can Start Eating Paleo
5. Craft Your Author Bio
One of the best reasons you want to build your writer portfolio using guest posts is you get an author bio.
A good bio has these components: what you are offering, what type of content you provide, how to reach you and some kind of way to tell your personality.
My author bio has evolved over the years as I’ve grown as a freelance writer. Here is my most current author bio:
6. Submit Your Post And Wait
After you submit your post (via the way the blogger indicated in the guest post guidelines) it’s time to wait. You will probably get a response from the blog owner saying that they received it and give you a timeline of when your post will be published.
Other blogs may want you to edit and revise your content before they publish your post.
A professional website can help you land high-paying freelance writing jobs. It shows your credibility in this fields and it just looks good.
This is probably one of your first investment for your business and it should be. You can get started for less than $100, which is pretty cheap when you think about what your parents had to do to start a business way back when.
If you are clueless about how to start a professional website, check out my course, Writer Website in a Weekend. I walk you step-by-step on everything you need to get your website up and running to attract clients.
One of the questions I get a lot from new writers is whether or not they need an editing tool. I say yes! You do.
PicMonkey is an image editing tool for your graphics. Some clients ask you for a feature graphic or you can offer that service for them if you know how to edit images.
PickMonkey makes it super easy to do that. You can sign up for a free 7 day trial to see if this is for you. What I like PicMonkey over other image editing tools is their font library and their layer application.
First, you pick a template after you sign up.
If you can’t find the right size, pick any template and then resize it:
From here you can add a free stock photo and add a title for your client’s post.
Google Drive is a free storage system that synchronizes all their tools together.
I like using their:
While clients may have a preference on what you submit to them, a lot of them don’t. Lately, I’ve been using more Google Docs to write my client’s posts. I can share my draft or outline easily with them and get immediate feedback on my process.
There Ya Go!
If you are brand new to freelance writing, these tools can help you get started. Do you need all these tools right away? Some you do.
I feel having a website, a Grammar tool and Google drive important for your biz in the beginning.
The other tools can be used once you try to find clients.
Tell me in the comments your favorite tool for your freelance writing business!
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