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Have you ever been told that you’d make a good writer? Do you have a way with words? If so, you’ve probably wondered “How can I make money writing?”
In the past, there has been a stigma around being a writer. People have always said that you can’t make money writing. You will live in poverty and be a starving artist.
Not true! These days it’s completely possible to earn a good living from writing. People have an insatiable thirst for content, so companies are scrambling to put out fresh content all the time.
They need help from freelance writers, and that could be you!
If you’ve ever wondered how to become a freelance writer, keep reading to find out!
What does a freelance writer do?
A freelance writer gets paid to write blog posts, articles, white papers, newsletters, emails, press releases, speeches, video scripts, etc. for their clients. They are self-employed and can work with several different clients at once.
What skills do you need to become a freelance writer?
You might be wondering, “Do I need a degree to be a freelance writer?” You absolutely do not need a degree to be a writer. Writing is something you can improve on with practice. Although it’s a huge plus if you have a knack for it to begin with.
If you can express yourself in a clear and engaging manner through written word, you can be a writer.
You also do not need to have excellent grammar skills. That’s what proofreaders are for! However, if you don’t have the funds to hire a proofreader, you should have a good working knowledge of basic grammar and punctuation rules.
Although not perfect, tools like Grammarly can be helpful if you have reasonably good grammar skills and can tell when it’s suggesting something that doesn’t sound quite right. (It’s a robot, after all.)
You must also be willing to research if you want to be a successful writer. Usually, your clients will want to receive well-written, in-depth articles, so you won’t be able to write them off the top of your head. You need to be able to source relevant facts and statistics to back up the article.
Why do companies hire freelance writers?
Many business owners recognize the importance of publishing content on a regular basis, whether that’s on their website, social media platforms, newsletters to their subscribers, etc. Publishing content that’s targeted toward their ideal clients helps them build relationships with potential clients and stay top of mind.
However, they don’t all have the writing skills or the time to produce this content themselves. They hire freelance writers to help them stay ahead of their competition.
In order to rank on Google, they need long-form, quality blog posts. They’ve wised up to the fact that they can’t get away with short, keyword-stuffed posts that are pure fluff, and they’re looking for writers who are going to provide quality content.
Other businesses might only have one-off projects that they need help with and don’t want to hire a full-time employee just for this one project. Hiring a freelance writer can help them reduce costs.
Does freelance writing pay well?
I know the number one question on your mind: “Can you really make money as a freelance writer?” In short, the answer is a huge YES! I’m living proof because I have made up to $7K a month as a freelance writer.
Your next question: “How much can I make as a freelance writer?”
According to ZipRecruiter, freelance writers can make an average of $63,213 per year. Some earn less, and some earn over $100K. It depends on your niche, your experience level, and your determination to succeed.
Rates per blog post can start as low as $25, but you can achieve $100–$150, depending on the length of the piece. Once you have a bit of experience, it’s possible to earn $200–$300 per article, and it can even go up to as much as $1,000 per article. Elna Cain earned $1,200 from just one article!!
Certain niches pay more than others; for example, finance and other technical niches pay the most.
How do you get paid as a freelance writer?
You can invoice your clients and get paid through apps like PayPal and TransferWise. You can also get paid by check or directly into your bank account.
Some of these methods may result in fees being charged, but these are business expenses you can offset against your taxes. Yes, taxes! As a freelancer, you will be expected to file tax returns and pay taxes.
It may be wise to ask for a deposit upfront to weed out any potential scammers.
How to become a freelance writer with no experience
Time to get into the nitty-gritty now. Let me preempt your next question: “How do I start as a freelance writer?”
You can follow the below tips to become a freelance writer, but in my opinion, it’s always better to learn from someone who has done it. They’ve made mistakes and learned lessons they can share with you so you don’t waste time making the same mistakes.
So step one for me when learning a new way to make money from home is always to take a course.
Take a course
Remember how I mentioned that Elna Cain earned $1,200 from one blog post? Elna is exactly the kind of person you want to learn how to be a successful freelance writer from.
She started writing after her twins were born. She wanted to stay home with them, but she still needed to bring in an income. Her husband introduced her to making money online from writing, and she decided to give it a go. Initially she was earning peanuts! But then she niched down and improved her pitch strategy, and she was able to replace her full-time income by writing part-time from home!
Elna shares the exact method she used to earn her first $1K from freelance writing in her course Write Your Way to Your First $1K.
This is a self-paced online course that includes 50+ lessons over 7 modules.
Here’s what you’ll learn from Write Your Way to Your First $1K:
- How to find a profitable niche and what services you can offer
- How to write a highly engaging, high-paying blog post for your clients
- Step-by-step instructions on how to find clients through job boards, social media, cold pitching, local clients, boutique content marketing agencies, and other unusual ways (plus a huge list of 95+ ways to find clients)
- How to set your rates
- How to build a platform that makes clients come to you (get Elna’s Kickstart Copywriting guide and Landing Clients on Social Media resource)
Not only that but you’ll also get access to the following:
- Email swipe copy (the exact pitches that landed clients for Elna), ready-to-use templates, tracking sheets, and more
- Personalized Pitch Review – Elna will review your first pitch and give suggestions on how to improve conversions.
- Private Facebook group for students
If you want to kickstart your freelance writing career, check out Elna Cain’s Write Your Way to Your First $1K course.
Not sure if freelance writing is for you yet? Check out Elna’s free Get Paid to Write Online email course to get 6 action steps you can do right now and be on your way to getting paid to write online.
Choose a niche
Not every writing niche is profitable, so you need to spend some time researching to find a niche that will be worth your time.
You don’t have to be an expert in your niche, but having an interest in the topic will help. Writing about something you couldn’t care less about will make working feel like torture. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid when we start a work-from-home business!
Look to your hobbies to find your niche. Not all of them will be winners. If your hobby involves purchasing a lot of products to be able to do it, then that’s a sign it could be a good writing niche. For example, people who are into gardening purchase lots of different tools to help them, so this could be a good niche to write about.
When you write about only a select few topics, you start to be seen as an expert in those topics. This will help you command higher fees and attract a better type of client.
Identify your ideal clients
When deciding who your ideal client will be, it’s important to consider how much you want to earn. Some clients will have a bigger budget and so will be more willing to pay for content.
Here are some clients you could work with:
- Small business owners
- Well-known brands
- Government agencies
- Local businesses
- Online businesses
I could go on. Pretty much anyone who needs to create online content could hire a freelance writer.
You may also want to consider what you want your freelance life to be like. Are you looking for complete freedom to set your own hours and take on as much or as little work as you like? Working with new clients on one-off projects may suit you better.
Are you looking for consistent income and to build a relationship with your client? Working on retainer and agreeing to write a certain number of blog posts per month might be a good fit for you.
There are pros and cons to both arrangements.
Create writing samples/portfolio
Once you have decided what your niche will be and the type of clients you want to attract, it’s time to create your writing samples.
Your writing samples should be targeted to your ideal clients. They should be able to get a good idea of your skills and the kind of content you could write for them from your samples.
Your samples could be made up of different types of blog posts; for example, list posts, pillar posts, reviews, etc.
Publish your samples on your own website or create a Medium account and publish them there. Medium is a free blogging platform where writers can get paid to publish content.
How many writing samples should you have? Three posts is enough. Try not to waste too much time creating samples at the expense of looking for paying clients.
Start a blog
Starting a blog is a great way to showcase your writing skills. You can use your blog as your portfolio. As a result, it’s a good idea to blog about your niche so potential clients can get a good picture of what you could produce for them.
Blogging is also good writing practice if you are a beginner. To become a better writer, you need to write regularly!
You can set up a blog very cheaply these days. To get started, you need to find a reliable web host. I’m with Lyrical Host, and I love them! It’s very easy to get in contact with them if you have a problem and they can’t do enough to help you. You can get 10% off Lyrical Host with the code TP10.
Don’t forget to include a Hire Me page on your blog so your readers know that you’re available to hire!
Although you usually don’t get paid to write guest posts, it is a great way to grow your authority in your niche.
To make guest posting a successful strategy for you, don’t just target any website that will accept you, target websites in your niche. This way, potential clients can see that you have proven expertise in your niche.
When you do guest posts, make sure you link to your website in your byline. This will drive relevant traffic to your own website and build your reputation as an authority in the niche.
Market your business on social media
Being active on social media is one of the best ways to attract potential clients.
It can be overwhelming to constantly be posting on several social media platforms though. You can feel like a hamster on a wheel! Choose one or two social media platforms based on where your ideal client hangs out and post relevant content on these platforms consistently.
Don’t forget to add keywords to your social media bios so that people can find you if they’re actively searching for a writer.
Start following businesses in your niche and engage with their content. They’ll start to become aware of who you are, and you’ll be top of mind if they’re looking for a writer.
This is the part all newbie writers dread! Pitching is time-consuming and you can face a lot of rejection, but it is an effective way to get clients.
When you start pitching, try to only pitch to people in your niche. If you pitch a company that sells luxury two-seater sports cars and all your writing samples are about raising kids, they aren’t likely to hire you to write about sports cars!
The trick to getting chosen when you apply for these jobs is to tailor your response to each individual job. If the company name is given in the advertisement, research the company, see what kind of content it has on its blog, and make sure your samples show that you will be a good fit for that company.
Make sure you follow all the requests in the job ad. If they ask you to include “purple elephant” in your subject line, do it no matter how silly it makes you feel. They’re testing how well you follow instructions!
You can also cold pitch businesses that aren’t advertising for writers. It will take longer to find work this way, but you could end up with some great clients if you target businesses you really want to work with.
You could start on freelancer websites like Upwork and Fiverr just to get some experience, but you don’t want to waste too much time on these websites as the pay is low and they attract clients who don’t want to pay for quality.
Always be on the lookout for scams. Unfortunately there are people out there who are more than willing to take your content but not pay you. That’s why it’s wise to charge a deposit upfront before you start working.
Gather testimonials from your first clients
One way to get more clients is to showcase testimonials on your writer website. As soon as you’ve completed your first writing jobs, ask your clients for a testimonial that you can add to your website and social media platforms.
A written testimonial including a photo of your client and their job title is great, but a video testimonial is even better! Potential clients love to get recommendations from real people.
Your testimonials will pack an even bigger punch if you can show the results your clients achieved because of the content you wrote for them.
These will be easier to get if you have an ongoing relationship with this client and access to their Google Analytics or other data. If you have access to this information, you could create a case study of how you got results for your client and include screenshots of the pageviews or the money your blog post brought in. It might take some time to get results as it takes time for posts to get ranked on Google.
Improve your skills so you can earn more money writing
If you want to earn more money as a writer, you can branch out into other areas.
SEO writing is a lucrative niche to get into. Companies are willing to pay a bit extra for someone who understands SEO and how to get content to rank in search engines. After all, there’s very little point in publishing content that no one will see!
You can also get into other types of writing like copywriting and ghostwriting.
Copywriting involves writing persuasive and engaging copy for landing pages, sales pages, email funnels, blog posts, articles, social media posts, white papers, case studies, and more.
A good copywriter writes in a way that makes people tick and knows the right words to use to convert their target audience.
A ghostwriter writes on behalf of someone else and doesn’t get the credit for it (i.e., their name doesn’t appear on the byline). They will do extensive research on the topic in order to be able to write about it convincingly.
Ghostwriters often write books or blog posts on behalf of someone else including celebrities! Ghostwriting is the niche I’ve had success with. I wrote blog posts and emails on behalf of a blogger and online course creator on a retainer basis as well as on behalf of a number of other brick-and-mortar businesses.
I cover ten types of writing you can do to make money in this blog post.
Final thoughts on how to make money writing
If you’re looking for a flexible work-from-home job and you love to write, working as a self-employed writer could be the perfect job for you.
Don’t forget to sign up for Elna’s FREE Get Paid to Write Online email course to get 6 action steps you can do right now and be on your way to getting paid to write online!
Writing not your thing and still looking for more home-based business ideas? Check out this epic list of 33 small business ideas and find out how much you can earn from each!