The freelance writing world is not the easiest place to break into, especially during these uncertain times of COVID-19. It’s competitive, challenging, and the margins can be slim.
With a general understanding of the business, you can drastically improve your chances of getting steady writing gigs and making some money while doing it in 2021.
Freelancing is the way of the future, and with these tips, you’ll learn how to make the most of the opportunities it has to offer.
Begin your new freelance writing career by doing something that enables you to build up experience and confidence.
If you’re currently working at a communications or marketing agency, pick up a few extra projects to go alongside your day job. Provided you’re still delivering high-quality, consistent work, you can move from there to securing more substantial projects.
Once you have an array of experience under your belt, you’ll be able to charge higher rates for your work and take on more clients at the same time.
This is where your freelancing career starts, setting goals for yourself. What is it that you’re trying to achieve? Keep track of daily, monthly, and yearly goals and work towards these.
Example: Set a goal of earning X amount of money a month by the end of the year. Create steps and action plans that help you achieve these goals.
Make sure you can write
To become a successful freelance writer, you must be able to deliver excellent work on time.
If your writing isn’t up to par, you may have difficulty securing assignments.
You may even have trouble getting clients or getting people to pay you for the work you do. It’s important to be able to write well enough that people feel confident in your ability to communicate effectively.
In case you need help, simply sign up for Walter Akolo’s freelance writing course.
Have a focus and find a niche
First and foremost, you must have focus. You can’t be all things to all people (and most freelancers are not).
This means that you need to invest in yourself and find what niche you best fit into. This will help you create a stronger portfolio, attract the right clients, and build an audience.
Every business has a core audience, and the freelance writing industry is no different. Identify your niche and write on it.
Perhaps it’s the corporate world, maybe it’s education, or perhaps you’re a foodie at heart. The point is, concentrate on what works best for you, and you’ll find a lot of joy in your writing.
Note that it’s okay to change a niche or even write on multiple niches.
Once you’ve found your niche, become a master of one thing, this will allow you to become an expert in your field, and provide original ideas that will attract freelance work.
Make yourself unforgettable
It seems evident that you should write a fantastic resume and cover letter before applying for a job, right? That same advice holds just as true with freelance writers as it does for traditional job seekers.
If you want someone to hire you, you have to make yourself interesting enough for them to want to get to know you more.
Apply for freelance writing jobs using unique, catchy, relevant, and valuable proposals or pitches.
Write more than one way
When you start off, it’s good to write several different kinds of content. Don’t just stick to what you know.
Write eBooks. Write SEO content. Write blog posts. Write guest posts. The more types of writing you can do, the more valuable you will be to your clients.
Even if you are writing for the same client, try to experiment with different writing styles and topics in their field but not directly related to their main products or services.
For example, if you are writing for a wedding photography business, write an article about the best places to eat in the town where they live.
Get paid faster
Does it drive you crazy when a client takes forever to pay? It is so frustrating to wait around for your hard-earned money.
As a new freelancer, you may not have any leverage, but you do have options. Here are a few tips to help you get paid faster so you can get back to your life:
- Get contracts signed and reviewed upfront.
- Keep track of the hours you’ve spent working for a client on their project.
- Discourage late payments by using an invoicing tool that tracks hours and automatically emails invoices at a specific time.
- Always email invoices on time even if you haven’t heard from the client yet.
- Don’t settle for partial payments. Do everything in your power to get paid in full at the time of signing the contract.
Don’t undercharge. You’ll hurt your business long-term if you don’t charge a rate that allows you to pay the bills and do what you love to do.
Your future clients will always be prioritized over the ones you have now, and it’s better to start off strong than to leave some money on the table in the name of “not outpricing yourself.”
No one is going to compare rates with you, so don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth and then some.
Network like a pro
Networking can feel time-consuming and challenging at first, but it is an essential part of freelance writing, and the sooner you embrace it the better!
Networking is all about building relationships with people who may one day be able to make a career-changing referral to you.
Create a blog
In addition to sending pitches and establishing relationships with editors/prospects, another effective way to build your freelance writing business is to start a blog about something related to your industry or niche.
You don’t need to have thousands of followers to make this work – in fact, it’s better if you don’t.
Set your own hours
Many freelancers think they’ll set their own hours. This is the exception, not the rule, especially when you’re new.
You probably didn’t know this prior to your first day out as a freelancer, but your hours are dictated by the old-school business hours of your clients (yes, the ones who want to hire you as their own personal employee).
A phone call or email from a client can happen at any hour of the day – even 3am if they have an emergency.
They expect you to be available. It doesn’t matter what your personal schedule is – they’re paying for your help, not your availability on their schedule.
If your client’s working hours fall at night, be prepared to be up at night as well, ready to help with whatever problem they have, and give them a solution by morning.
Freelance writing tips: My parting shot
“All you can is what you can when you can.”
If you want something that pays well, then go out there and create something that people want. Get professional training if you need help.
About the Author
My name is Dan Kihato and I have been offering content marketing services since 2015. I make my living managing, writing, and promoting content assets for small businesses and individuals looking to leverage their website as a sales tool.