7 Steps To Freelance Writing Success
“When your livelihood depends on self-imposed productivity, you either get good at it or you find yourself in mounds of debt.” ― Nancie Carson
Working as an independent contractor is a great way to earn money while enjoying flexible hours.
Another attractive benefit of freelancing is being able to work wherever you want, whether it’s at home or your local coffee shop.
And for a lot of people, see freelancing is a way to break away from the rigid structure of a corporate environment.
In recent years, more and more people have jumped ship and gone over to the freelancing side to enjoy a better work-life balance.
After the U.S. economy took a serious hit during the recession, a lot of companies have found that hiring specialized workers is a better business model than employing full-time staff.
In fact, a Harvard study in 2016 shows that the number of freelance workers in North America alone has skyrocketed from about 14 million to almost 24 million between 2005 and 2015.
As of today, this number is still growing and will continue to do so in the next decade.
With developments in technology and a rapidly expanding freelance job market, it’s become easier than ever to get a piece of the action.
Freelance writing: Legit or not?
With freelance writing, in particular, some people are worried about getting ripped off for their hard time or getting scammed by a shady employer.
But freelancing sites like Upwork and Elance have made it possible for aspiring freelance writers to get fair-paying jobs and get compensated on time.
Furthermore, you don’t need to have an academic background in language to land your first assignment.
On the contrary, most companies are probably looking for someone who can write in a relaxed, casual tone to connect to readers.
As you’ll learn, a lot of these online writing jobs specifically avoid words and phrases that might sound too stiff or formal which would alienate their target market.
So you don’t have to worry about writing like a professor just to get started with your freelance career.
The best part is that there’s ALWAYS work to be done, which means you’ll have a stable cash flow even without punching a clock at the office.
If you’re ready to try this exciting, new venture, check out these 7 Tips To Becoming an Awesome Freelance Writer:
#1: Have a system in place
This is the most essential part of finding steady freelance work.
Once you’ve done your due diligence, you’ll have no trouble getting clients and keeping them.
Better yet, you’ll have the advantage of working around a schedule that works for YOU.
As I said, it’s easy to earn from online writing for the simple reason that demand for this type of work is high.
You’ll find that just about any industry has an online presence, and that means they need someone to provide them with content to increase their market reach.
They likely have a blog, a social media page, and an email campaign – all of which need to be updated regularly. Some might even need freelancers to help them out with writing brochures and other marketing-related materials.
That’s where you come in.
The truth is that you just need a step-by-step system for sniffing out potential customers, pitching to them, and writing the content they want. After that, the rest will take care of itself.
I’ll show how to do that in a bit, but first, let’s move on to the next step…
#2: Play to your strengths
Some freelance writers are better at handling large-scale assignments, like a sales report or PDF book. Others are more comfortable with an arrangement where they can quickly bang out short articles or free reports.
Obviously, the bigger jobs pay more but require a lot of lead time, ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
Meanwhile, short articles may take anywhere from half an hour to two hours, but you’ll get paid sooner.
In most cases, I’d suggest doing shorter assignments first to get a feel of how things go.
In the long run, however, try to figure out which one option works better so you can narrow down the niche you want to write for.
#3: Know thyself
This is an important step that most freelance writers skip. I don’t recommend glossing over this one.
Experience has taught me that a little self-evaluation and soul-searching are CRUCIAL before getting into this line of work.
This gives you a better idea of which types of clients you’re best suited for, and which content you’ll be good at writing.
A good way to do this is by having a more seasoned writer go over your sample work and give you an honest assessment. They can tell you what you’re good at and what you can improve about your craft.
Also, try looking up examples of what constitutes as good writing in your intended niche.
It’s as easy as looking at a potential client’s website and quickly browse their content. This will give you a better idea of what they want in a writer.
Remember, knowledge is power, so doing this will help you step up your game.
#4: Hammer out the details
Now that you’ve done some of the general groundwork, it’s time to get into the specifics.
As you learned, your clients will want a particular kind of content you want to do.
I mentioned some earlier, but here are the other possible types of content you could see yourself writing:
– Annual sales reports
– Slide presentations (like PowerPoint or Keynote)
– Free reports (usually in PDF format and less than a hundred pages to promote a certain product)
– Full-length ebooks
– Newsletters (often sent through email)
– Sales copy (which may include a detailed product description, its benefits, testimonials, pricing, etc.)
– Blog posts (anywhere between 500-1500 words)
– Articles (could be 500-3000 words depending on the purpose of the content)
Aside from this, it helps to check out the particular industry you want to write for.
As I pointed out, sites like Upwork and Elance are great places where you can search for jobs under specific categories.
This will help you find out which ones in your chosen industry are in demand for writers, and what kind of content they require.
#5: Find the right price
Of course, the idea is to sustain yourself with a healthy income stream, so you need to approach this the right way.
Basically, you’ll want to work for lower-paying jobs in the beginning until you can build up your game, then increase your fees later on.
You’ll probably bill your first few clients a little less than you’d like, but charge this to experience and get the job done anyway.
In the bigger picture, it’s better to be classy about it and act professionally.
So as you go along, you’ll get a better idea of the standard rate in your chosen niche.
In particular, you’ll learn how much other writers in your industry are charging on average. Depending on how long you’ve been in the game, you can decide if you should charge higher or lower than that.
As you start growing your client portfolio and get referrals, you’ll have more leverage to charge more for your writing services.
#6: Establish a routine
Whether you’re a freelancer or not, it’s always important to have a solid work ethic no matter what.
Find a rhythm you’re comfortable with, and stick with it. Figure out early on how you’d like to tackle a writing task.
You might want to do a little homework before getting down to it, or maybe you’d prefer going straight into writing than adding the missing gaps later on.
Whatever approach you choose, you need to cultivate the discipline to efficiently work on writing jobs and submit them on time.
Cal Newport, author of the book “Deep Work” has a great deal to say about this – I’ll leave this here:
“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration.”
#7: Educate yourself
Since you’re reading this now, you’re well aware that you can’t do it alone.
As talented or driven as you are when it comes to writing, it will never hurt to learn as much as you can. That goes for BOTH newbies and veterans.
Remember, the freelance writing game is always changing, so you’d best keep up with the times and adapt.
So if you’re just starting on this journey, I don’t recommend taking the self-taught route.
It’s better to take advantage of the many resources out there so you can hit the ground running and not make the typical “rookie mistakes” that a lot of newcomers make.
Earn five to six digits a MONTH from freelance writing?
Yes, it’s possible. You can go from one-off assignments to big-time gigs in the neighborhood of a few thousand dollars.
That’s how I did it, and I can teach you how.
Like I said in the beginning, all it takes is a system to help you find employers regularly. After that, you’ll be rolling in the dough from your hard work.
I probably made every mistake possible when I started. But thanks to my experience, I finally cut the umbilical and left the 9-to-5 world for good.
It took over a year to finally refine my system, but now it’s like I’m earning six figures on auto-pilot.
Here’s a video I made about my personal journey in freelance writing – and how you can do the same: