Congratulations on choosing freelance writing as your entrepreneurial venture. Being a freelance writer is akin to being a business owner. You are responsible for every aspect of your work – from strategizing how to market yourself, to creating and delivering the actual product (i.e. content) and ensuring that your customers are happy.
You have a fair understanding of the risks of being self-employed and are determined to make a go of it. Now it’s time to create your writing business.
Here are three steps to get started as a freelance business writer.
Step 1: Understand how to write content for the internet
Since you are mostly going to be writing content for the internet, it’s important to understand an important differentiation – how writing for the internet is different from writing content for a print publication.
The internet has an abundance of information on any topic, which means that the average internet reader spends only a few seconds on any website, before deciding to continue reading or clicking the back arrow to move on to another website. Because you have very little time in which to make an impression, you need to ensure that the content is both easy to read and engaging. This means choosing the right article header, presenting content in succinct blocks of information ( with subheadings and bullet points), and ensuring that each section moves seamlessly on to the next.
In contrast, a person who picks up a magazine is more likely to be doing so at leisure and is willing to spend more time reading what you have to say.
Then there is the SEO (Search engine optimization) aspect of writing content for the internet. SEO techniques improve the likelihood of search engines finding your content when someone types the relevant phrase on search engines such as Google and Bing. Including keywords, tags, and a metadescription are basic SEO techniques.
Learning how to write for the internet is an art in itself. So here’s what I want you to do. Go to your preferred online shopping website and order this ultimate guide for writing online content. It’s called – The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World. Priced around 12 USD, this book is the best upfront investment to kick-start your freelance writing career
Step 2: Build Your Writing Portfolio
You know you can write, but to bag your first writing project you need to prove that to your future clients. So before you start looking for work, write at least 5 articles/ blogs. These articles and blogs then become your writing portfolio, which you will submit as writing samples along with each writing project that you bid for on freelance job portals.
Write on topics that you are comfortable with. For instance, if you have worked as a banker, you could write tips on money savings tips or improving your credit score. If you are a new mom, write about your recent pregnancy experience. If you know a lot about keeping dogs as pets, write about that.
Remember to keep the writing style easy. Use words that you would normally use when speaking to someone. Avoid jargons.
Writing your first five articles shouldn’t take more than 7-10 days.
Step 3: Start Bidding for Writing Assignments on Freelance Job Portals
Now it’s time to put your writing skills to the test by bidding for paid writing assignments.
Freelance job portals like Upwork (formerly Odesk), Elance, Freelancer, and Guru, have clients from all over the world posting their content writing requirements. Here’s how you can start sources writing assignments through freelance job portals:
- Develop your contractor profile – Write a brief about yourself, services you offer, take skill tests available on the website, and update your writing portfolio
- Select a contractor membership plan – Depending on your membership plan, your account is credited with ‘connects’ on a monthly basis. You need to have connects to apply for any job.
- Set up a payment withdrawal method – You can withdraw the money you have earned on the freelance portal through PayPal or a direct transfer to your bank.
- Start bidding for projects
The cost of using these websites to source work has two components – a monthly membership fee and project commission (deducted as a fixed percentage of your earnings on that project). To circumvent this fee, add the website commission to your article fee rate. So if you want to earn $10 per article, bid at $12 for each article.
Starting something new is often the hardest part. Yes, there are scores of more experienced writers than you, which means that bagging your first project won’t be easy. But don’t give up. Keep sending in those project proposals, tailoring how you sell your writing skills as per the requirement of the project.
There will be a lot of questions as you start writing for clients.
- How do I improve my project proposal acceptance rate?
- How do I write faster
- What additional skills should I acquire?
- Am I pricing myself right?
- How do I promote my writing services?
- Where do I find quality copyright free images for my articles?
This is the beauty of freelance writing – you are always finding ways for improving yourself as a writer.
Write as much as you can. When you don’t have writing assignments, write for yourself. Every piece of writing will make you a better writer.
And the better you get at your craft, the better you get paid.
All the best!
Image1 credit: Anusorn P, freedigitalphotos.net
Image2 credit: Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net