Thinking about how to start as a freelance writer? Here are some simple steps to take to get you on your way:
Choose your niche
Picking what you want to write about is an important first step. By choosing a niche you’re enthusiastic about, you’ll find you can write well without needing to spend hours on research — and your energy will shine through in your work. You could choose one of these popular niches, or pick a favourite hobby or interest of your own:
- Fitness and diet
- Health and wellbeing
- Family, relationships and parenting
- Yoga and meditation
- Cooking and nutrition
- Finance and budgeting
- Leadership and careers
- Crafting, knitting or other creative hobbies
Set up a website or blog
Having an online presence is essential if you want to become a freelance writer. Writing your own blog is a simple way to achieve this, and gives a space to write, share, and get feedback on your work. You can get a blog for free from Wordpress, or post on an outlet like Medium. Alternatively you may want to set up your own website to serve both as a space for blogging and an online resume and portfolio to share with prospective customers.
Write great sample work
Before you can progress any further you’ll need to create sample work which becomes your portfolio. Many writers publish online on their own blogs, or as guest writers for other blogs and online magazines. Share your work with family and friends at this stage, to start to get feedback and develop a reader base. When you start to send out pitches for paid work, you can use your sample work as a resume to show what you’re capable of.
Pitch yourself everywhere
You’ve now put together your portfolio and started to build your readership in your chosen subject. It’s time to start to pitch for more work. You’ll find that online and print magazines and other outlets may offer one off paid projects, guest opportunities, or ongoing writing jobs. Some of these may not be paid – or may pay only a token amount. However, for many new freelance writers, they’re a neat way to build your portfolio further and reach a broader audience — so well worth considering.
You can also pitch companies and websites you love, to offer your services. Here are a few great ways to get your name out there:
- Develop a short, effective ‘elevator pitch’ so you’re always ready to tell someone what you do. You never know who you’ll run into who may need a writer
- Contact companies you love and offer to either write for their blog or create sponsored posts about their products for your own blog
- Join networking groups online and in person to build connections among other freelance writers. It’s common for available jobs to be shared in these communities
- Pitch online and print magazines directly, contacting the editors with ideas for specific articles you may provide
- Look at freelance marketplace sites like Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer.com — there are often writing opportunities here, although they may not be the highest paid out there. Pick the jobs that appeal and use it as a springboard to bigger things if you need to
- If you love to blog, read and comment on other blogs in your niche. You’ll quickly get to know other writers, and may find opportunities to collaborate and share ideas
- Keep your LinkedIn and other social media pages up to date and include links to your published work for employers to see
Check writing job boards
Specialist job boards are a perfect source of leads if you’re looking for more high profile and paid writing work.** Communities of writers may share ideas and information about sites, magazines and blogs you can connect with.** Take a look at these job boards and resources as a great starting point:
Collect testimonials from your clients
As you start to build a reputation, it can really help to have testimonials from previous clients. Ask for a few words about working with you, either by email after you’ve completed a job, or using the testimonial function on LinkedIn. Publish great client reviews on your website so new customers can see what you do best.
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Need more ideas?
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