How to Start a Thriving Freelance Writing Career in 2021?

Stranger: So, what do you do lately?

Me: I am a freelance writer.

Stranger: Huh? Is that even a career?

Me: Sigh! (Replying in my thoughts) do you read anything? Perhaps, a newspaper, magazine, or books, anything? (Drum rolls) that’s precisely what a writer does, either freelance or hired! So yes, it’s a career, a big one for that matter.

As a freelance writer, the most challenging thing is convincing people that it’s a career worth every sweat and blood. Many people see it as a fancy way to give your idle stay at home a name. But that couldn’t be any far from the truth.

For freelance writers, we all know the drill. From the early mornings to cold late nights, the struggle is real, trying to do research and deliver nothing but pure gold to a client. There’s so much effort put into freelance writing that non-freelance people don’t want to grasp. (Hugs and cheers to my fellow freelancers)

So You Are A Freelance Writer, What Next?

Just like every business or career, all you want is success at the end of the day. I mean, the cold early mornings and late nights have to pay up somehow, right? Wait, how do you measure or establish success in freelance writing?

Is it the money you earn, the clients you get, or the personal growth in the career? My take is all of it! 

Everybody decides on a career path for a change that comes from financial stability and personal development. So yes, it’s okay to say that you are in this for the money! You pitch to get a client who will pay you. That’s all it takes, but one thing is not common in all writers, growth! Read on.

I had a huge problem with passive voice and product descriptions right up to my first few local clients in my training. I couldn’t work my way around these two things. I mean, a passive voice seemed okay to me. Besides, it’s still English, right? But in all the articles I wrote, I kept getting red lines on the passive voice phrases. As if that’s not enough, my trainer and clients complained though they encouraged me to fix it.

Product descriptions? Sigh! I developed a phobia for writing them because they were a significant challenge. Well, I could sell a product very well but verbally. (Experience I had from some promotions after high school). Writing down the features of the product and its benefits was a nightmare. And even worse, over 2000 words!

Funny enough, by good or bad luck, my clients would give me product description gigs. I couldn’t turn them down even though the struggle was so real. At some point, I had to tell a client who’s also a friend how I hated doing the reviews. Luckily he had the same experience and grew from it. Hey, are you still with me? Yes? Good!

What’s my point exactly? Besides the paper chase, growth is essential. 

What are the challenges you are facing in your career? Is there someone you can share with and perhaps get insights on how to change and grow? 

Find a growing point in every task you get. Luckily, writing is vast, and you end up writing on topics you never imagined. That’s the growth of knowledge. But be sure to grow your skills and tricks as well since the market is fast growing. Indulge in new skills, not just what you learned from your training.

Did I overcome the passive voice and fear for product descriptions? Of course, I did! You should see my work samples. :p

So, let’s talk about money!

How Do You Get Clients? Right?

You are through with your training, what next?

One common question from freelancers, especially trainees, is, where do you find freelancing jobs? Well, not just any jobs but the excellent quality gigs.

When I first started writing, actually from training, I would obsess about landing my first client. I was a late-night writer who decided to jump into freelance writing full time, well part-time with full force (if there’s anything like that) from nothing.

So, after my training, I would stalk my trainer and other known writers on their Facebook and other platforms. Along the way, I bumped into other new, and great writers hence would pick up a fresh trail of follow-ups. Please, don’t do this! I ended up confused and frustrated at the end.

However, there are better and working ways of getting clients. Bear in mind these ways are not only for new writers but also for experts who want to try other approaches. Besides, it’s always a learning curve in these streets.

 So let’s dive right in.

1. Cold Pitching

With cold pitching, you are sure of recurring clients. There’s less competition, and also, you have the freedom of dealing with your client directly.

So, what is cold pitching? This is when you directly contact organizations, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses. You inform them how your skills as a freelance writer can help their business grow.

Sounds hard, doesn’t it? For a ‘newbie,’ I would understand your fears and worries with this approach to clients. But relax! It’s not as hard as you think.

First, locate a business may be within your niche. Locate the one you feel is struggling to pass a message out to its target audience and don’t have a blog. Also, the business may not have any online presence hence may require one. That’s your cue. What’s more?

The next step is drafting a cold pitch to send out to the right person. This is a challenging step for many people, as coming up with a good pitch can be challenging. This pitch should act as a groundbreaking tool to convincing your client to consider and look your way hence hiring you.

Here’s what you should include in your pitch;

  • Who you are
  • How you found out about them
  • How you can help

2. Job Boards

Job Boards are online websites that show job vacancies. Companies and recruiters post on job boards to advertise open positions. There are many writing job board platforms, like social media, Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru.

As a freelancer, you should pitch on job boards. First, get to follow several of them and be keen on their job postings. Responding to many job ads makes you stand a high chance of landing at least one job.

Job boards are also a way of getting consistent clients and jobs. Always make sure you are pitching to a job you clearly understand and can handle. You don’t want to get a job and fail to deliver as per the client’s expectations and instructions. Some job boards can ban you if a client complains of your incompetence. Yes, it’s that serious.

Conversely, there are paid job boards. For starters, I would recommend free job boards as there are plenty of jobs as well. As you advance deep into your career, you can join the paid job boards for a better experience.

3. Use Your Website

As a freelance writer, you should own a website. Set up a website on a profitable niche and earn from it. Owning a website, however, should not be a priority if you are just starting. But if you want a thriving freelance writing business, invest in a self-hosted word press site to have a professional-looking website. For the last few months, I’m helping my readers to set up their own blog. So, if you wish, you can contact me for setting up your own blog. The best part is, it is a free service.

So if you want to be your boss, this is the way to go. See, earning a mere amount for a ridiculous number of words can be discouraging. With time you will find yourself also hiring writers for your website. Find ways of how to earn money from your website before deciding to own one.

4. Write For Free!

‘Wait; what? How can I earn by writing for free?’ they ask.

My answer is, try guest posting for free. If you believe in your writing skills, then free guest posting should be an open platform to advertise yourself. Many people from all over the world will notice and appreciate your writing; hence want to reach you out. What’s more?

Pitching is great, but if you don’t have published samples, especially those posted on people’s websites, it becomes a challenge. Don’t get me wrong if you are pitching without published samples. Nothing is impossible, in the end!

So, where do you start with free guest posts? Do a quick Google search like “your niche + write for us” and see the results.

Pitch your ideas to the guest post results from your search. But first, draft an author’s bio. With an author’s bio, you will easily convince your readers to come to your site for more. Preferably, have different author bios for other guest post platforms.

5. Network with Fellow Freelance Writers

The best investment for your freelance business is networking with other freelance writers. Always remember that we are not competing.

While I was starting, I reached out to a few writers who had more experience. Others were glad to help and endured my endless questions, while others left me to learn the hard way. I am still thankful to all of them, though. Several months down the road, I can proudly say that most of my clients were from my freelance writers’ referrals. Imagine that!

I often find myself swamped with tasks that I have to hire for assistance or kindly turn down offers. Thanks to the network I created with other freelance writers. With networking, it’s always a win-win situation. Please don’t be shy; reach out to any freelance writer you idolize and have been following (including me). Chances are, you will get hired for a gig.

How Much Can You Earn As A Freelance Writer?

The good thing about freelance writing is that you can choose to do it full-time or part-time. But my advice to most writers is if you have enough time on your hands, become a full-time writer. The efforts are worth the benefits you will reap. I don’t mean that there are efforts and benefits of a part-time writer; I’m also a part-time blogger.

As a full-time freelance writer, you will give your all, time, money, and energy to growing your business. Your success and failures are entirely on you. So you have the liberty to decide on what you want. Is this enough to convince you to be a full-time freelance writer yet? Read on.

Do you know people quit high ranking jobs, I mean teachers, doctors, and bankers? Yes, to sit in the house with the internet and a computer. Believe it or not, a full-time freelance writer earns way more than most high-end jobs offer to their employees.

And the best part of it all is that this is your business you are running. 

As much as you can have clients hiring you, you set your terms and conditions on rates and deliverables. Well, you agree with your client. This is way better than having a boss on your neck, breathing fire on meeting deadlines, and absenteeism.

According to statistics, an average freelance writer earns (drum rolls please) $63,488 annually as of 2019! Are you impressed yet?

However, note that global average numbers and a freelancer’s pay vary greatly on effort, industry, billing method and whether you are full-time or part-time.

Take Away

I just shared a few ways of landing clients as a freelance writer and getting quality jobs. However, the ball is entirely on your court henceforth.

Oh, in case you are probably wondering, I have 2 years of experience in this field. Not so long, but I continue to practice and learn more hacks. So join me, and let’s keep chasing this paper!

Keep grinding!

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