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.
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.
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.