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5 Actionable Tips to Become A Freelance Writer in 2017

5 actionable tips to become a freelance writer

A new year gives us the motivation to set new goals and milestones we want to achieve in the coming months. You may have already started putting the wheels in motion to set you on the path to a new career, or maybe you’re thinking about starting a new job.

When I tell people that I’m a freelance writer, the question I get asked most is ‘how did you get into it’? So, if you’re thinking of becoming a freelance writer or want the opportunity to work from home, this post is for you.

Today, I have a few actionable steps to getting started with freelance writing along with my new Facebook group for new writers or those looking to boost their writing career – you can find my group here. In this group, I’ll be sharing some further tips on starting out, answering any questions you may have and sharing job opportunities for you to apply to. To join, click here.

If you’ve been considering starting a freelance writing career or dont know where to start, take a look at my 5 actionable tips to become a freelance writer in 2017.

Consider your niche

One of your main decisions to consider is what niche you want to write about. A niche is the category you have knowledge in and can comfortably write about to form informative articles, blog posts, web copy etc. For those new to freelance writing, I’d say to keep your niche fairly general, rather than super specific. For example, a general niche would be fashion, whereas a specific niche would be women’s equestrian clothing.

Why is choosing a niche important?

Having knowledge in a niche market will make it much easier to write for clients. You’ll know where to find good resources for research, be able to effectively pitch topic ideas and be able to increase your rates as your expertise grows.

You may already be an expert in a niche topic, for instance, you may work in the technology sector and have great knowledge about tech topics.

If you’re not sure what your niche is, think about what topics you enjoy writing about – maybe you already have a blog and write about specific topics. When I started out, my main niche was beauty but my first couple of jobs were actually about education. Writing about different topics when you first start out is a great way to figure out which areas you enjoy writing about.

Why you shouldn’t consider just one niche

I’ve heard many people say that you should just focus on one niche and work on becoming an expert in that niche. I disagree. The problem with having one niche is that you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. If that niche goes kaput or you’re struggling to get work, then you’re stuck.

I currently work in a few niches, including property and health and I’d recommend choosing three or four niches to specialise in.

What about profitable niches?

Certain niches are definitely more profitable than others. Technology and business tend to be two high paying niches but you need to know your shit if you plan on writing in these areas. However, I’ve found that property/real estate, health, education, and finance are all good paying niches. That’s not to say that you won’t find good paying gigs in other areas as you absolutely can. And, if you have an interest in a specific area, you can absolutely learn more to become knowledgeable about that industry.

Get experience to become a freelance writer

Experience is essential when it comes to applying for freelance writing jobs. After all, how are clients meant to know how well you can write if you don’t show them.

Experience doesn’t necessarily mean paid experience. When I started freelance writing, I had no paid experience and used samples from my blog to show prospective clients. However, I would suggest using relevant samples when applying for work. For example, if you’re applying for a freelance writing job in the health sector, send samples of your work in this area.

Do you need to blog to become a freelance writer?

You don’t need to have a blog to become a freelance writer but I do recommend it as you can easily use your blog to create samples of work, as well as having the opportunity to monetise it in the future. If you want to know how to start a blog check out my blog post here.

Whether you have a blog or not, guest posting is a great way to establish authority in your niche as well as gaining connections with others. You can also use guest posts in your portfolio or to use when sending job applications.

Tips to become a freelance writer

Consider your free time and revenue goals

Before you start freelance writing as a career, it’s helpful to build your portfolio. If you’re already working full or part time in another arena, you need to consider how much time you can spend gaining freelance writing experience. If you’re applying for jobs, many may require a short deadline so it’s important to allow enough time to complete the work.

For those ready to take the leap into full-time work, consider how much you want to be earning per month. When I first started writing, this amount covered my outgoings plus a little bit extra. Once you’ve set a monthly goal, it’s easier for you to create a pricing structure for your services.

Related reading: How I Went From $15 to $100 an Hour Freelance Writing

Write a page about yourself

When you apply for writing jobs, you’ll need to send some information about yourself along with a link to your portfolio or samples of work. Writing a page about yourself and what you can offer will make an effective template, thus, you don’t need to spend hours writing an application for each job. Obviously, this should be tailored to the job you’re applying for but the structure is generally the same.

An application structure

Introduce yourself – you may want to include an interesting fact about yourself here to stand out from the crowd

Why are you applying for this position – why is it relevant to you?

Your experience/what you can offer – what are your strengths? Do you have any relevant qualifications? For example, if you’re applying for a writing position on education, maybe you have teaching qualifications you can mention.

Any other details to support your application – do you have examples of successful blog posts in your niche? Maybe you’ve worked on a successful campaign? Have you worked for any established companies?

Make sure you add relevant samples by attaching samples or including links to your portfolio.

If the job advert asks you to include pitches for blog posts then include 4-5 ideas for potential articles, including a heading and a small paragraph on what the post will include.

Make a list of job sites and leads

Once you have some samples of work and a proposal template, its time to start looking for jobs. I have a list of job sites in this post but I also suggest searching on Twitter – search under hashtags. #freelancewritingjobs #writersrequired #lookingforwriter #writersneeded are good ones as are #medicalwriter #legalwriter or whatever your niche is. People Per Hour is also a great site to find jobs. You can supply quotes for work and you can also post an hourlie – a job advert for service which you provide.

Cold emailing

A cold proposal is similar to a regular job application, except no job has been posted. With this technique, you need to find companies in your niche (a google search or linkedIn search are the best places to start) and then finding a relevant contact email. You could also try this for online magazines or blogs.

Once you’ve found a contact email, its time to craft your proposal. In this, you need to be very clear about the service you’re providing and how you can help the client. Remember, they haven’t requested a freelance writer so you need to show exactly how you can help them grow their business. This may be writing sales letters to increase customer revenue, crafting web copy or blog posts to increase readership or revenue.

A cold email template structure can be similar to a regular application. Here’s a sample cold email structure;

Personalise your pitch to your contact

Show what the company is lacking – they might not have a blog, maybe they require more informative product descriptions or web copy, maybe they need to start an email newsletter.

Show how you can help them – how is the client going to benefit from your services. Can you increase sales conversions? Can you gain an increased readership or more shares on social media?

Display examples of your work and results.

End with a call to action – for example, ‘I’d love to be able to contact you to discuss in further detail’.

Where can your potential client find you – Leave links to your website, social media etc.

 

 

How I Went From $15 to $100 an Hour Freelance Writing and Why You Shouldn’t Charge an Hourly Rate

How I went from $15 to $100 per hour as a freelance writer

This isn’t your average case study on freelance writing. In this post, I’ll go over how I went from $15 an hour to $100, why I highly recommend not pricing your fees on an hourly basis and the different types of writing you can do. 

The great thing about freelance writing is that there is no blueprint for pricing your services and for most, $100/around £79 an hour sounds pretty sweet right?

So, how did I get there?

A few months ago, I applied for a job position that required a writer and social media assistant. The fee was only $15 per hour – lower than I would normally apply for, but I wanted the opportunity to tackle some social media work in which I had zero experience, other than running my personal accounts.

Now, I wouldn’t normally advise anyone to work for a low rate, but sometimes taking a lower rate can pay off. As Elna Cain says, lower paying jobs can boost your business, especially if that gig will eventually lead to more work down the line. If you’re learning new skills or writing in a new niche, you can use this to your advantage by applying for higher paid work at a later date – when you have the relevant experience to land you that golden gig.

The $100 gig

As I said at the start, I don’t recommend pricing your services by the hour.

Why?

When it comes to charging for a project per hour, you have a limited ceiling.

Let’s imagine you start charging your clients $20 per hour.

When I first started freelancing, I worked a couple of gigs via Upwork on an hourly rate. These jobs were for blog posts and at the time, I was charging around $20 an hour. For most of these jobs, I completed the work in an hour, which basically meant I was charging $20 per 500 word article. So, while $20 an hour might not sound terrible, when you consider the amount against the project you’re completing, it’s not so great.

Let’s consider another example. Imagine you charge $50 per hour for a copywriting project. For this gig, you’re writing five pages of copy for a new website. If you completed this in 3 hours, you’d earn $150, whereas a copywriter charging a per project rate could earn at least double that amount.

But, didn’t you say that you earned $100 per hour?

A couple of months ago, I landed a job writing a pre-sales page for a beauty company. The fee was $200 and the majority of it had already been written, it just needed completely editing and some additional text. I completed the job in two hours, earning a pretty lush $100 per hour rate.

Charging per hour versus per project

When it comes to freelance writing, clients want high-quality work. Obviously, if they’re paying you on an hourly basis and have a budget then they may limit you to a certain number of hours for the project.

On an hourly rate, the chances are that you’re creating work that is worth a lot more than you are charging for. The great thing about project based pricing is that you have much more earning potential and your fee is linked to the end result of the project. All your client cares about is receiving high-quality content at the end of the project, so they don’t really care how long it took you to complete the work.

As well as limiting your earning potential, setting an hourly rate can cloud a client’s judgement.

Say a client wants you to write a 500 word article on a marketing topic and wants to know your fee. It will take you an hour to write the article, but the client isn’t aware of that.

Imagine the following options

You propose an hourly rate of $100 per hour.

You state that the fee for the article is $100.

Which one sounds more attractive for the client?

Its highly likely that the client would reject a rate of $100 per hour, unless they’re a high paying client. Why? Because it isn’t based on value. $100 for an article sounds much more reasonable and he/she may assume that it will take you longer to complete the article than it actually does.

When you’re pricing your services, consider the value of the content you’re offering rather than time.

Creating rates in relation to the type of writing you’re doing

As a writer, you may decide to charge on a per word basis, which can work well for blog posts and short articles.

For example, if you charge 10 cents per word, an article of 500 words equals $50.

However, this may depend on your niche. In general, certain niches are higher paying than others.

Lucrative niches include;

Technology

Finance

Marketing

B2B or business to business

Marketing

Certain types of writing also pays more, for example, writing content for websites usually pays more than a standard blog post or article. However, this may again depend on the niche and the extent of the content required. Below is a general overview of what you can expect. 

types-of-writing-and-fee

Remember, this is just a basic guide and your pricing will depend on the number of words required and the amount of research needed.

How To Make Money From Freelance Writing Sites

How to make money from freelance writing sites

Many writers will tell you to stay clear of freelance writing sites.

Why?

  • Low paid jobs
  • Clients who don’t value your time
  • You could earn more elsewhere

Guess what? You get that on many job boards.

I’ve seen very low paid jobs on well-known sites, so dont let that put you off.

Want to know something different about freelance sites?

  • There’s well paid jobs out there
  • Clients who value your experience and time
  • An opportunity to build your knowledge in a niche and learn new skills

I’ve managed to earn over $11,000 in a year from just one freelance site – Upwork, from part time work. Some freelancers are even earning this in one month!

This post is to show you that there are good opportunities on freelance sites for new writers and freelancers. Don’t believe me? Check out this guy! He’s killing it!

Let’s take a trip back in time!

I’ve been on Upwork for around 18 months and I’ve worked with several clients in that time. Before joining Upwork, I’d previously used People Per Hour and both sites have worked out fairly well for me. I recommend these two site over others – I’ve used Freelancer before and it was a waste a time, trust me!

Here’s why freelance sites benefit new writers;

  • A chance to gain experience in a new niche
  • Opportunity to build your portfolio
  • You’re paid for your work, rather than writing posts for free
  • You can build your contacts

I’m not saying you should stay on freelance sites forever. I’ve managed to make some good contacts with clients I now work in a direct capacity. If I’d not applied for jobs with those clients on freelance sites, I may never have found them, so its been very lucrative for my business.

These days, I still like to check out the jobs on Upwork and People Per Hour regularly;

  • Its a great place to find work when you have a gap in your schedule
  • You’re guaranteed to be paid – both sites have mediation services
  • You may have the opportunity of repeat work

How I’ve managed to earn a good income from freelance sites and how you can make money too!

Fill out your profile

The first thing you need to do when signing up to Upwork or People Per Hour is to write your profile. You don’t need extensive information in this section. What you need;

  • A profile picture – make sure you use your actual picture because, lets face it, we all know Beyonce isn’t shilling her skills on there. A friendly photo with you smiling works really well – you’ll seem approachable as well as professional.
  • Use your title – this is what is going to stand out to clients. Be specific here and use keywords. You might be a Proofreader, Editor, Facebook Ads Writer or Ebook Writer. You could also tailor this to your specific niche, such as Expert Medical Writer or Fashion Copywriter.
  • Add an overview of your skills and expertise – include your skill set and the services you offer, as well as your experience – for instance, do you have your own website, what type of clients have you previously written for?
  • What can you provide the client – this is IMPORTANT. What can you offer potential clients? Maybe its epic call to actions that will convert to sales, product descriptions that will create a connection with prospective buyers, engaging content that will drive readership numbers…
  • On Upwork, you can add your education and work experience, which I recommend doing, as well as adding at least two snippets of your work for a portfolio.

Grab my free download for examples of profiles, including one that will get you noticed by potential clients!

Search regularly and in your niche

Searching regularly is the key to finding good clients. When you search job listings, use keywords related to your niche. I generally use ‘beauty’, ‘skincare’ or ‘lifestyle’ to find job listings in my genre. Upwork has thousands of job listings, so searching through them all is far too time consuming. There are less listings on People Per Hour, so I tend to search through them all. Ensure that you search the newest jobs first! You can also search for fixed price budget within a certain range, which can help to flush out low paid jobs from your search.

Expert doesn’t always mean expert rates

On both Upwork and People Per Hour, you’ll see that every job listing has a job rate. On PPH, this is either set as a fixed fee or as a £ symbol. One £ symbol relates to a basic fee, ££ equals intermediate and £££ is expert rates. On Upwork, the symbol is shown in $, though some jobs also have a fixed budget.

Lets get real here. Some clients think $5 for an article is an expert rate, so don’t get too frustrated. It happens. Ignore these listings – you’re not going to be working for $2 or whatever per article.

So, how can you find some rockstar clients that will pay what your worth?

Don’t be afraid to bid higher and ask for more money

There’s a little secret to how I apply for jobs on Upwork. When you view a listing, you can see the average amount that the client has payed to past freelancers (obviously, this doesn’t work for new clients to the platform). If I see that a client has only paid a minimum of say $2, its a big warning sign. You can also view previous projects at the bottom of the job listing.

If a client has only paid peanuts to previous freelancers, you can bet that they sure as hell won’t be willing to pay you a good rate, even if you’re the best writer on the planet.

I don’t apply to any of these jobs!It not worth wasting your time.

Let’s take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum!

Recently, I applied for a project that had no set budget. The client messaged me to say he liked my samples and offered me a fee that was lower than my normal rates. I told him I couldn’t accept for this reason and he replied, saying that he thought it was great that I valued my work and asked what my normal rates were.

I asked for 60% more and I got it!!

The moral of the story – don’t undervalue yourself, even on a freelance site!!

You might get less work in the long run, but what’s the better deal here;

Writing 10 articles for $10 each = $100

Writing one article for $100

Makes sense, huh?

Get clients to come back

Once you’ve worked with a client, contact them to ask them if they need any further assistance.

I suggest only sending one message as you don’t want to seem spammy or desperate. You could also promote your additional services.

An example message;

Hi X,

How are you? I loved working on your project and wondered if you’d like to continue working together.

I have some great ideas that I can send over, such as X and X. Let me know if you’d be interested.

Kind regards,

That’s a simple example of a quick message. Alternatively, do you research and see what the client is currently up to – you may want to congratulate them on a recent success, see if there’s a service they could benefit from etc.

Hi X,

How are you? Congratulations on your new website, its looks fantastic! We recently worked together on X and I noticed that your blog hasn’t been updated in some time. I now offer blog writing services that will assist you in improving your websites SEO and increasing conversions. I’d love to discuss the potential of working with you further. Let me know if I can help you in any way!

Best wishes, 

There’s no guarantee that contacting previous clients will be successful, but if a client is looking for assistance, it could be your lucky day!

Factor freelance fees in your pricing

If you want to earn good money on freelance sites, dont forget to factor fees into your pricing.

Upwork recently changed their pricing structure and PPH also take fees from your earnings.

Make sure you add those fees into your rates.

Nail your proposal

If you want to get that freelance job, you need to nail your proposal! Your proposal is your job application and is what you really need to concentrate on. Ideally, you should tweak your proposal on a regular basis as you build your knowledge and experience.

What to include

  • Be personal – use the clients name if you know it!
  • Add portfolio samples – either as an attachment or links
  • Mention your experience – relate it to the job you’re applying for
  • State your background and education, if relevant to the project
  • What clients have you worked with?
  • What can you offer the client?
  • Review the job description and ensure your proposal is tailored to the project- it’s ok to use a template, but the job may ask for specific information, so make sure you’ve read it thoroughly.

The transformation of my pitch process

The first proposal is one of the first I sent and back when I thought £5 per article was amazing – Fuck no! This is one of the reasons why this website exists because you are not going to follow my lead!

“Hi, I am a UK native writer and can write 100% unique articles to a high standard. I have experience of writing product reviews in a casual style and I have experience of writing how to and tips style posts on my own blog. I can work to your budget – £5 per article and turnaround. I look forward to hearing from you.”
This proposal sucks shit for several reasons;

  • No portfolio samples
  • Doesn’t demonstrate my skills
  • No information on my background or experience

After serious tweaking, here’s an example of a more recent proposal;

‘Hi X, I’d like to be considered for your project as I’m an experienced beauty copywriter with the ability to create engaging content that adheres to brand guidelines. I believe my skills will satisfy your requests due to my strong background in copywriting for cosmetic and skincare brands. I have created copy for articles, web pages, and promotional purposes, with brands including X, X, and X among my many clients. You can view samples of my work attached for reference.
I’m extremely passionate about the beauty industry and I offer exceptional attention to detail, high professionalism, and a fast turnaround. Furthermore, I have a degree in English and knowledge of SEO. I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your consideration.’
Why its improved;

  • Shows clients I’ve worked with
  • Links to articles I’ve written
  • Demonstrates my skill set – writing web pages, SEO etc
  • Background – degree and experience in beauty copywriting
  • How the client will benefit – fast turnaround, copy written to brand guidelines, professionalism

Just a few tweaks here and there can make a significant difference to your success via freelance sites.

How have you found working on freelance sites?

Make sure you grab my free download if you want to create an epic profile page!