So, you want to start making money as a freelance writer, but there’s one thing holding you back: you have ZERO experience.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But, guess what? It’s easier than you think once you cut out all the noise.
When I first started freelance writing in the late 90’s, I just created a simple website that featured some of the content I’d written and with a bit of forum marketing and cold emailing, the clients came to me.
So, why don’t you do the same?
I’m someone who enjoys writing on business topics, like entrepreneurship, Internet marketing, tech guides and things like that. So, early on I positioned myself as someone who writes kick-ass business guides on start-ups, marketing and tech reports.
It’s important that you choose your niche early on so that you can brand yourself as the ‘go-to’ writer for that space.
That also allows you to position yourself as an expert writer in a specific market which means that you’ll be able to charge more for your writing.
Choosing a niche helps you stand out to potential clients and get noticed. Doing that will help you attract higher paying clients who will pay you to write for them even if you don’t have a lot of experience to show. Your branding and writing samples will be your pitch.
Don’t use free domains or even free hosting. Spend a few bucks registering a professional domain that represents you as a writer. Then, choose a cheap hosting plan from a company like HostGator or Bluehost and build a simple website.
WordPress is one of the easiest platforms to build a website on, so download a free copy from http://www.Wordpress.org and install it.
Better yet, most hosting accounts offer the option to auto-install WordPress so you don’t even have to download it yourself.
Keep your website very simple. Minimize navigation so that whenever a potential client lands on your website they are able to access your content samples and then contact you.
Other than a page that features your samples, you should include a brief “About Me” page, and offer a simple and direct way to contact you.
Make sure your website looks clean. It serves as a face for your business so you want it to represent you as a professional and qualified writer.
You’ll want to feature a handful of writing samples on your blog so that potential clients can review your work.
This is where having chosen a niche becomes so important. By deciding early on what niche market you are going to write in you’re able to produce samples that are laser-targeted to what potential clients are looking for.
Also, make sure that you offer content in different formats and styles. For example, include a few articles, but also a short report and a couple of blog posts. Whatever kind of content is in demand in your particular niche market.
Since I wrote techy guides and business articles for online marketers, I wrote a few articles on relevant topics and also a short report on something like “Social Media for Start-Ups”.
I also recommend optimizing all of your content samples. You want to show potential clients that not only are you an awesome writer, but you understand SEO and utilizing keywords effectively.
(And if you don’t, you should spend a few days learning this first.)
Keep your website portfolio very focused. Don’t write articles on topics that aren’t relevant to your niche. Every sample you upload should support your brand.
Get out there and start leaving breadcrumbs that lead potential clients back to your freelance website.
Guest blog on relevant websites in your niche, set up a Linkedin account that links to your website and consider participating in forums that are focused on your niche.
I got my start in freelancing by answering questions on the WarriorForum.
Back then, it was the main marketing hub for start up businesses as well as seasoned entrepreneurs. So by posting in active forum threads I was able to get the attention of businesses that saw a link to my freelance website in my forum signature. Just an idea.
You need to start pitching to potential clients.
Yeah, I know, cold emailing sucks but it’s a fast and easy way to connect with prospects.
Just make sure that when you contact someone, you personalize your email so that it addresses them by name, mentions their business, blog or website, and demonstrates to them that you are familiar with who they are and what they may need from you.
Then, show them what you got! Include a link to your freelance website so they can check out your samples.
I know how badly content mill sites suck, but I disagree with anyone who says that you should avoid them entirely.
They can help you cut your teeth on the process, and as long as you market yourself independently and not use freelance websites as your only platform, you can pick up some quick gigs where the pay doesn’t suck.
They can also give you the capital you need to get your freelance business off the ground.
I know a lot of freelance writers who are paid $80-150 for 4,000 word articles from jobs they’ve secured on Upwork. Just because it’s a bidding site doesn’t mean you have to lower your rates, or work for less than minimum wage.
In fact, as someone who now hires freelancers from Upwork, I can tell you that those writers who come in with higher bids, and are able to show me strong writing samples always get my attention.
Also, most of the businesses in my circle prefer to hire native speaking writers so don’t think that you’ll be forced to compete against freelance writers from countries where they’re happy with a few bucks per gig.
So even if you use freelance hubs like Upwork to secure work, don’t price yourself down.
There are a ton of high paying freelance writing job offers on places like eLance.com, and ProBlogger. Create a profile and start applying!
Here are a few to help you get started:
Created by popular blogger Darren Rowse over 10 years ago, the problogger job board was one of the first dedicated exclusively to freelance writers. And since sites like Problogger charge potential employers $70 to post a job, you’re far more likely to find quality job offers there.
The BloggingPro Job Board is updated daily with fresh paid blogging jobs, blog writing jobs, freelance writing jobs and more.
FlexJobs is an innovative, professional job service to help you find the best flexible jobs available, safely and easily. Every job is hand-screened and legitimate.
You should already have a Linkedin profile (right?!), so don’t let it go to waste! Use it to connect with potential clients, and check out the jobs section where you can sign up to receive email-based alerts of new freelance opportunities.
Do not accept failure because you really can do this.
I know how easy it is to second guess yourself, or start to compare yourself to super experienced writers, but let me tell you, you have what it takes.
How the hell do I know this when I don’t know your background?
Because you are here, on my website, reading an article from start to finish about how to make money in freelance writing.
That tells me that you have the drive, determination and focus. So, you’re basically ahead of half the freelance population who don’t invest their time in learning and researching ways to make money in this business.
I come from a shaky background. I don’t have a B.A. in English. I’m a high school drop out, totally self taught, and started with nothing more than fierce determination.
And hey, I quit my last shitty job in the late 90’s to build a career online in the same way you are doing now. I’m now a New York freaking Times Bestselling romance author, and dammit, I can hustle my ass off.
And so can you.
So, go do it. <3