How to: Getting started as a freelance writer
Freelance writing has never been in more demand. At first glance, it doesn’t take a lot of resources (a laptop will do) and makes for the perfect side gig. But don’t let it trick you, because becoming a successful freelance writer involves lots of patience and hard work. Here are six strategies that will help you get started:
Choose the right niche
Ditch the idea of writing about everything or you’ll find yourself spending more time on research than writing. Identify one or two topic areas in which you have some expertise. Be certain that they are of interest to you, in demand, and current. The most highly sought niches currently are medicine, high tech, and finance.
Get a website
It’s not that hard, everything is done for you these days (use WordPress or Tilda). Design a site that speaks to your niche, explains your background and showcases your portfolio. And don’t set pricing. That is something you will negotiate based on your skills, goals and market average.
Write killer samples
It’s always nice to have a link to your writing that is out there – it lends credibility to your talents/skills. Put samples on your portfolio page, LinkedIn, Medium or other blogs as guest posts.
Start pitching – everywhere
There are several things you can do here:
- Send out personal emails: Find individuals or companies in your niche that might be interested. Tell them what you write about, link to a great post of yours and to your website, and ask for a reply. Prepare yourself for rejections or no replies at all. J.K. Rowling got over 200 rejections before a publisher took a chance on Harry Potter.
- Develop an elevator pitch: This is a 30-second verbal blurb about you and what you do. Don’t just say, “I am a content writer in the real estate niche.” Say, “I make real estate websites shine with great blog posts that their visitors love.” Wherever you are, when someone asks you what you do, you have your pitch and a business card to boot.
- Get a LinkedIn account and write an amazing profile: Join groups in your niche and start networking.
- Join a local networking group or a niche-related organization and get to every meeting: Ask members if you can send them a sample of your writing to review.
Check out job boards and platforms
There are dozens of reputable job boards to find writing work, including Humans.net. They are especially helpful for beginners and are also great places to get your testimonials from, which brings us to the next point.
Get feedback from clients
Ask your clients to write a quick review of their satisfaction with your writing – reviews that you can publish on your site. You want to use their name, affiliation and, if possible, photo for credibility – but make sure you get an explicit consent from them before you do that.