FAQ: How Do I Become a Freelance Writer?

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4480056969_1f07d980bfThe number one question I receive is “How do I start freelance writing?” People want to experience the convenience of working from home, writing in their pajamas at 2 am. It sounds like the dream life, whether they’re willing to write full-time or supplement their income with part-time writing jobs.

Rather than try to halfheartedly explain the process, I’d rather have separate business cards that point to this blog post! After all, I’m a writer, not a talker.

The process itself is simple, but not easy. Step #0 is to have the motivation needed to commit to the freelance writing life. If you only put in a small amount of effort, you will receive lackluster results.

  1. Create a website. This will be your home base on the internet. Your domain name should be your name, with or without writer tacked on the end (depending upon availability). Here you will tell people about yourself and the writing services you offer. You will also show your writing resume/clips so people can decide if they like your writing style. Here is my writer’s website to give you an idea; if you need more examples, Google the names of your favorite writers.
  2. Organize your writing clips. But wait! What if you don’t have any clips? Now would be a good time to write some. Ideally, they would be related to your chosen niche – your favorite topics to write about. Over time, you will learn how to refine your niche to meet the needs of the market (aka the collective of potential clients you’d like to write for), but for now just choose a topic that you enjoy and are knowledgeable about. Where do you publish these clips? On your blog! If you already have some nice online clips, you can use a service like a Contently profile to organize your clips visually.
  3. Create a blog. Your blog can be on your writer’s website, or hosted separately on WordPress or Blogger. Your blog is a great place to post examples of your writing style, but will also serve an additional purpose. The more you post, and promote your posts on social media, the more people will get to know you and seek you out for writing jobs! (This process can be very slow, so don’t get discouraged. Just look forward to clients seeking you as a future pleasant surprise.)
  4. Search the job boards. In the meantime, your task is to find freelance writing jobs that you’d like to write for. Problogger, Freelance Writing Jobs, and FreelanceWriting.com are my favorite places to check daily. You’ll likely find quite a few jobs to apply to! Begin writing query letters to each job, explaining who you are, how your writing can help them meet their goals, and links to your website and clips. Follow the instructions in the listing exactly, as a mistake can put you in the rejection pile.

You are now on your way to becoming a freelance writer! Of course, there are lots more things involved, but this will put you on the right track to start writing for clients and bringing in some income. At first, you’ll likely only get low-paying gigs, but they will be good stepping stones to jumpstart your freelance writing career.

Image credit: 50 Watts

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