Have you been considering taking the leap to become a freelance writer?
There are many reasons someone would want to become a freelance writer, such as:
- Dreaming of writing for a living
- A desire to be their own boss
- Craving the freedom to work from anywhere
- Wanting to have an extra income stream
Whatever the reason, freelancing is a very rewarding experience. However, getting started as a freelance writer with no experience can be intimidating.
When I first started freelance writing, I felt lost, frustrated, and unsure of how to begin. It took me some time but I eventually figured out the only way to get started was to jump right in, so I did.
How I Found Success as a Freelance Writer
Like a lot of college graduates, I left college with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt. While I don't regret getting a college degree, it's safe to say my loan balance was a big source of anxiety. As graduation loomed closer, I got more and more anxious.
So, I started trying to think of online side hustles I could start to make extra money.
It took a lot of brainstorming and a few failed attempts before I finally found the perfect solution: freelance writing! There was just one problem; I didn't know how to start freelance writing with no experience.
I wasn't going to let that deter me though. The first thing I did was research freelance writing.
Google provided a wealth of information from freelance writers who also began with little to no experience. From freelance writing blogs to online courses, there was plenty of information to help me get started.
Still, it wasn't easy.
Sure, writing experience isn't a requirement to become a freelance writer but it sure makes finding freelance writing jobs much easier!
Finding quality clients required me to work hard and send countless cold emails and pitches. It also took some trial and error. I quickly learned the woes of bidding for work on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.
Despite some setbacks and a few bouts of imposter syndrome, I eventually found success. In fact, just six months after I started freelance writing part-time, I was making an extra $800-1,200 a month! After another six months, I was able to quit my job to become a full-time freelance writer.
Now, I'm sharing everything I've learned over the last year and a half with you. So, if you've wondered how to become a freelance writer, you're not going to want to miss this!
Keep reading for all my best tips on how to start freelance writing with no experience.
How to Start Freelance Writing With No Experience
Writing encompasses so many different genres, fields, and niches. To say you want to be a freelance writer is great, but there is a lot more thought that goes into it. While you might think the broad term “freelance writer” means more flexibility, more jobs, and more money, it’s actually not that simple.
So what can you do as a freelance writer? The options are endless, but there are a few steps you need to tackle to get started.
Pick Your Writing Niche
By narrowing down what you want to write about, you can define your niche. This is extremely important for finding high-paying jobs for two reasons.
- It positions you as an industry expert.
- It helps to build credibility as a freelance writer
Defining a niche is difficult for a lot of freelance writers. When you start freelance writing with no experience, it's tempting to take on whatever job comes your way, regardless of the content or pay. Doing so can cause you to lose your passion for what you do because you're a) not making very much money and b) not excited about the content.
Niching down lets you be intentional about the work you take on and prevents burnout. The best part? You don't have to be experienced in your chosen niche. You just have to be willing to dig in and tackle the research that comes along with it.
The key is to pick a profitable niche that you're genuinely interested in like real estate or marketing.
Decide What You Want to Write
Once you've settled on a niche, you need to decide what you want to write. Are you going to focus solely on website copy? Or do you prefer to write blog posts and articles?
Some popular writing styles include:
- Blog posts
- Research articles
- Case studies
- White papers
- Website copy
- Press releases
Narrowing down the type of writing services you'll offer helps to define your freelance writing niche even more. It also makes it easier to create a pricing guide and market your services to potential clients. In addition, this helps to create a “title” for yourself like “Digital Marketing Copywriter,” which helps with marketing.
Keep in mind you can select multiple writing styles here. I personally offer copywriting as well as blog and social media content. Just don't offer more than you can handle.
Create Writing Samples
Becoming a freelance writer with no experience often means starting without any writing samples. Despite what you may think, this isn't a huge disadvantage. In fact, it gives you the opportunity to be intentional about the samples you create.
Brainstorm 2-3 topics related to your niche and write a short article or blog post. Once you've got your samples created, you can self-publish them on LinkedIn, Medium, or even your own blog. This will give you a link to include on your freelance writing portfolio and when you start pitching potential clients.
Make sure your writing samples showcase your best work! Before publishing, verify they're free of errors. If needed, ask a friend or peer to copyedit your work.
Create Your Writer's Website and Portfolio
Once you've created your samples, it's time to create a writer's website and portfolio. This is one of the most important aspects of becoming a freelance writer. Your website gives you an online presence and acts as a hub for clients to connect with you and view your work.
Whether you build your website yourself or hire a web designer, the goal is to create a well-designed, professional website.
If done correctly, your website will:
- Show potential clients you are a business owner looking to start a business relationship.
- Build credibility as a freelance writer.
- Win high-paying, quality clients.
For a step-by-step guide to creating your freelance writer's website and portfolio, click here.
Determine Your Freelance Writing Rates
Setting your freelance writing rates can be difficult, especially when you're just starting out. If you have no writing experience, you may be tempted to set your freelance writing rates lower than more experienced writers.
It's an understandable conclusion to draw but it can hurt you in the long run. The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to never undervalue yourself.
Just because you're starting freelance writing with no experience doesn't mean your work is worth less than a more experienced writer.
Find Freelance Writing Jobs
When looking for freelance writing jobs, it may be tempting to use platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. This is especially true for those newbies looking to start freelance writing with no experience.
While there are a lot of jobs posted on these sites, I don't recommend using them. I wasted a lot of time sending proposals for jobs and doing work that would pay less than $.01 per word. Yes, there are some high-paying clients/jobs but in my experience, relying on Fiverr or Upwork is not worth the hassle.
Instead, I recommend looking at freelance writing job boards like ProBlogger and Blogging Pro. Companies posting writing jobs on these sites typically understand the value of good content and are willing to pay for it.
Here are some other ways to find freelance writing jobs:
- Networking Events
- Freelance Writing Sites
- Social Media
- Word of Mouth/Other Freelance Writers
- Job Boards like Monster, Indeed, and Zip Recruiter
Pitch Potential Clients
Another way to find freelance writing jobs is by cold emailing. What's cold emailing? Rather than replying to a posted ad (a warm lead), you're making the first contact (a cold lead). When this occurs, the company may not necessarily be looking for writing services. The goal is to sell your services so they hire you.
Regardless of whether or not the target hires you, cold emailing is beneficial to your business.
1. It's a great way to make industry contacts. Even if they don't hire you, your cold email gives you exposure and puts you on their radar for the future. You can't find clients if they don't know about you! Plus, if they don't have work for you, they may know someone who does.
2. The prospect may hire you in the future. Not every potential client you email may be in the position to hire a freelance writer at that moment. That doesn't mean your cold email was a waste of time, though. Again, it puts you on their radar and they may reach out once they have the money in their budget.
3. It's excellent practice for fine-tuning your pitch. Not every pitch is going to work. It may take some trial and error to find what potential clients will respond to. Think of it as A/B testing. Try out different copy in each batch of emails and see which gets the better response. Eventually, you may see a pattern and can tweak your emails to increase response rates.
Keep Learning and Growing
Successful freelance writers know there's always room for improvement. With that in mind, it's important to keep learning and growing as a freelance writer and business owner.
- Take courses
- Get certified
- Read personal development and business books
- Invest in writing and business tools
- Join a Facebook group for freelance writers
- Ask questions
Whatever will help your business grow, do it.
In the meantime, I've put together a list of my other blog posts on freelance writing.
- How To Create a Freelance Writer Website & Portfolio
- 5 Tips to Create a Professional and Feminine Website
- The Secret to Choosing a Freelance Writing Niche (+ a Freebie!)
- What to Charge as a Freelance Writer (+ a Freebie!)
- Where to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
- How to Create a Killer Freelance Writing Pitch & Win Clients (+ a Freebie!)
- How to Create a Freelance Writing Routine That Works
- Why Freelance Writers Should Have a Blog
- 3 Ways to Get Your Freelance Business Noticed Online
- 4 Simple Tips for Marketing Your Online Business
- How to Impress a Freelance Writing Client (And Keep Them Coming Back for More)
Freelancing and Business Tips
- How to Balance Freelance Writing with a Full-Time Job
- How to Quit Your Job and Freelance Full-Time
- 7 Lessons I’ve Learned From a Year of Freelance Writing
- The Importance of Self-Care for Freelance Writers
- 3 Habits of Successful Freelance Writers
- How to Grow Your Side Hustle With This Simple Habit
- Make More Money as a Freelancer With This Simple Trick
- 5 Mistakes Freelance Writers Make in Their First Year
- The Secret to a Successful Side Hustle
- 8 Things Successful Freelance Writers Do
- Building Credibility as a Freelance Writer
- 10 Ways for Freelancers to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
- 7 Lessons I’ve Learned From a Year of Freelance Writing
- Best Personal Development and Business Books for Freelancers to Read in 2020
- 10 Warning Signs of a Bad Freelance Client & How to Fix Them
- How to Fire a Freelance Client the Right Way
Freelance Writing Resources
- 5 of the Best Books for Freelance Writers
- 4 (More) Books for Freelance Writers
- 7 Must-Have Tools for Freelance Writers
- 5 Must-Have Tools For Running a Freelance Writing Business
- The FREE Financial Software Every Freelancer Needs
- 5 of the Best Freelance Writing Blogs
Productivity and Organization
- How to Have the Most Productive Day Working from Home
- 10 Ways For Freelance Writers To Be More Productive While Working From Home
- 5 Ways to Get Motivated as a Freelancer After Time Off
- How to Start Outsourcing Work as a Freelancer
- Free Up More Time as a Freelancer With These 5 Tips
- 3 Habits of Successful Freelance Writers
No Time Like the Present
Freelance writing with no experience doesn't have to be intimidating. Even the most successful freelance writers had to start somewhere and I'm willing to bet they had their fair share of hiccups along the way. With the right processes, tools, and mindset, you can find your own success as a freelance writer. Using this guide will put you in a good place for getting started.
It may not always be easy but it's worth it!
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