Elna Cain has been making the rounds in the blogverse sharing her awesome freelance writing tips. And now, she is gracing Not Now Mom’s Busy and sharing her tips with us.
If you’re ready to launch a freelance writing career like I am, there is no better person than Elna because she has definitely walked in our foot steps. So grab your cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy this great post!
Are you a stay-at-home parent wanting to work from home?
That was me a little over a year ago. My maternity leave had ended, and I knew that going back to work wasn’t an option (daycare costs for twins…ouch!).
I stumbled into freelance writing and within six months was able to replace my full-time income as a teacher only working part-time hours.
I quickly became a sought after freelance writer and blog owners and influencers reach out to me regularly.
This didn’t happen overnight.
I don’t even have a journalist background (my background is Psychology). I built my freelance writing business from scratch.
And what’s great about freelance writing is the freedom to choose your hours, set your rate and pick and choose the clients you want to work with. I easily make a living from writing and now I’m exploring other ways of diversifying my income.
But, you have to work at it in the beginning. If you’re seriously thinking about being a freelance writer, here are six incredibly easy steps – these are the steps I took – to start freelancing writing from scratch.
1. Figure Out Your Writing Niche
Before getting paid to write, you need to choose what topics you want to write about. Typically you can pick two or three niches (health, WordPress, entrepreneurship for example), but to be really successful, you’ll want to hone your skills and excel in one niche.
When I first started, I picked two writing topics I wanted to write about: parenting and psychology. I didn’t land any clients in those spaces at first.
The parenting niche isn’t the highest paying, and I didn’t come across many psychology based writing gigs (it was just recently that I landed a personal development writing gig that ties in nicely with my psychology background).
A few months into freelance writing I became interested in digital marketing. I wanted to learn everything about it since I wanted to grow my business and my email list.
This quickly became my niche, and now I predominantly write in the digital marketing space.
When deciding on your niche consider:
- Your employment background – what did you do prior to staying at home? What training did you take that might work well for writing topics?
- Your life experiences – using aspects of your life can benefit your writing career. For example, if you were or are an avid traveler, you can write about travel online.
- Your passions or hobbies – look at what you enjoy doing during your spare time. There are many blogs that cater to the leisure and hobby space. For example, gardening is a viable writing niche.
2. Create Sample Pieces
As a new freelance writer, you’re going to have to create sample writing pieces for prospective clients that are interested in your services.
Entrepreneurs and small businesses need the assurance that they are hiring a legit freelance writer. Not a hobby writer that enjoys writing in her spare time.
They want a writer that has pieces of content published online. So, how do you get these samples if you’re just starting out?
The easiest way is to have a blog. When I first started, I put up a blog and wrote a few blog posts to serve as samples. While this isn’t the best type of sample to show prospects (it might be too personal or more like a diary), it’s something that you may already have, and you can use.
If you don’t have a blog, then you can quickly create samples on Medium or on the Pulse. They’re free to use, and it’s super easy to create a sample on these platforms.
You can also start guest posting to build your sample portfolio. This is by far the best way to not only land clients, but also to grow your freelance writing business.
Why? Because it shows prospects that someone else thought your writing was good enough for their blog. Prospects see this and think, well she’s good enough for my blog.
Just remember, when creating sample pieces, write in the niche (or niches) you want to get paid in.
3. Have a Professional Website
Can you really land clients without a professional website? Sure, you can.
But, to make this a solid business, you need to treat it as a solid business. Give your freelance writing a home base. This is where you can explain your services, house your portfolio, collect testimonials and have a blog.
It’s easy for prospects to check out your site and make a quick decision whether or not they want to hire you.
Here are some tips to use on your website to attract high-paying clients:
- Have a professional headshot on your homepage – this immediately personalizes you and shows that you’re not some content agency with 20 writers. You’re one person who will treat each piece of content with the utmost attention.
- Have a title – what do you want to call yourself? Freelance writer, content writer, copywriter, blog writer, online writer? The more specific you are, the better you’ll be at attracting your ideal client.
- Make it easy to contact you – have a contact page on your site and link to your social media profiles. You might also put your phone number just as another way to reach you.
- Advertise where you are writing – put the logos of sites you wrote for on your homepage or on a sidebar. This tells prospects you have written on many blogs and that it appears you are sought
4. Build Your Social Media Profiles
You know, when I first started all I had was a Pinterest page and a personal Facebook page.
I never used Twitter or Google+, and I certainly didn’t use LinkedIn. But, I knew if I wanted to grow my business and land more clients, I had to make a presence online.
So, I opened up a Twitter account, Google+ account, LinkedIn profile and Facebook fan page. I started promoting my blog content, guest posts and eventually my client pieces on my social media profiles.
When you actively grow your following on social media, prospects will get wind of you. It’s not unusual to land clients on Twitter or LinkedIn. It happened to me and can happen to you.
Recommended Reading: A How-To Guide for First-Time Freelancers
5. Source Writing Jobs
Clients aren’t going to approach you right off the bat when you open up shop as a freelance writer. You’re going to have to find the jobs first.
But, where do you find freelance writing jobs that don’t suck? You know, ones that don’t offer a lousy $25 for a 1,000-word blog post. Uh, no thanks!
Your best bet is to look on job boards. There are many job boards to source jobs, but the ones I’ve had the most success with are:
- Blogging Pro
- Media Bistro
- All Indie Writers
- Be a Freelance Blogger
- Blog Expose
- Freelance Writing
If you want a little less competition, you can opt for a paid job board like Paid to Blog Jobs. The job ads on this board aren’t high paying, but it’s a place where you can easily pick up paid gigs and build your portfolio and credibility as a writer.
One other way you can source jobs is locally. A few months into freelance writing I looked up web design and printing companies in my hometown and met with each company. I let them know there was a freelance writer in town and to call me with any ad hoc pieces. I left them a rates list, and I occasionally get work from these clients.
6. Get Out There and Pitch
Now is the time to put yourself out there and try to land some paid writing gigs. For many starting out, this is the most nerve-racking part of the process.
You don’t feel like you’re a real writer – impostor syndrome – and you don’t think your writing is good enough.
I know, I was in your shoes when I first started. But, I had to muster up the courage to just send my pitch even though I knew I didn’t have strong samples yet, and even though it wasn’t perfect.
Because I knew, the more you pitch, the better chance you have at landing a gig. So, when you’re new, your job is to pitch and keep on pitching.
I sent around 25-50 pitches before I landed my first gig at $.12/word.
Here are some best practices to help you pitch and land that first client:
- Look at the job boards late at night and first thing in the morning.
- Try to be one of the first to apply to the job ad.
- Create a plan to pitch daily and be consistent with
- Do your research on the company advertising for a writing gig.
Wrapping it Up
Freelance writing can be the perfect gig for a stay-at-home mom, blogger or someone who just wants a change from their 9-5 job.
It’s possible to make a living from freelance writing and have the stability to do this long term.
You can become a freelance writer on your own. But, if you feel you need a bit more guidance, I have a new course for bloggers and aspiring writers called Write Your Way to Your First $1k. It will teach you how to be a sought after online writer and give you the tools to make your first $1,000 and more.
Over to you – have you thought about freelance writing? What’s been holding you back?
I hope you enjoyed Elna’s post as much as I did. Don’t forget to check out her freelance writing website and coaching services. Also, take advantage of her free course called Get Paid to Write Online to find out if freelance writing is for you.