Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Jordan Alexo
Freelancing is expected to increase by 14% in the next six years. There are more than 1 billion freelancers around the world, which is about 34% of all people working.
Besides, 60% of freelance writers earn about $50 or more per hour. So, the demand for freelance writers has never been higher. The potential income and flexibility are fantastic.
But can you become a freelance writer without experience? The answer is YES!
In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know from: what skills you need to develop, the pros and cons, the necessary tools, and, more importantly – the five steps to start your career as one today.
- Freelance writing is a job that allows individuals to write for various clients and publications on an as-needed basis.
- Freelance writers create content for different purposes, including articles, marketing copy, social media posts, press releases, thought leadership pieces, and editing.
- It is essential to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to become a freelance writer; pros include flexibility and high potential income, while cons include lack of benefits and instability.
- To become a successful freelance writer without experience, it is necessary to create a blog, decide if you want to be a generalist or niche writer, create an effective Linkedin profile, send cold emails with personalized messages, follow up on emails, and remain professional when corresponding with potential clients.
What Is A Freelance Writer?
A freelance writer is a self-employed individual who writes for various clients and publications as needed.
In a way, freelance writers work outside the traditional relationships between an employer and an employee. For instance, they may work with publishers, magazines, websites, marketing firms, or other clients on a project or contract basis.
What Does A Freelance Writer Do?
Freelance writers create written content for different purposes depending on the needs of their clients. For instance:
- Writing articles or blog posts for websites, magazines, or other publications
- Crafting marketing copy for products, services, or businesses
- Writing social media posts, press releases, or other promotional materials
- Developing technical or instructional manuals or documentation
- Creating thought leadership pieces, whitepapers, or case studies
- Ghostwriting for clients who need written material for speeches, biographies, or other purposes
- Editing, proofreading, or providing feedback on written content for clients.
So, freelance writers help individuals and businesses.
Ultimately, freelance writers help individuals and businesses develop clear, concise, and effective written material that achieves their goals and resonates with their desired audiences.
Pros And Cons Of Freelance Writing
Before you decide to leave your job and become a freelance writer, it’s essential to consider both the pros and cons. Not everything is easy, like you may think.
- Flexibility: You can set your schedules and work from home or anywhere as long as you have an internet connection and computer. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to have more time for their family, travel, or pursue other interests.
- High-Demand: Someone will always be looking for written content for their blog or another purpose. So, you’ll never run out of work.
- Income Potential: You can make a good living as a freelance writer. As you improve your skills and gain a reputation, you can charge more for your services and increase your income.
- Isolation: One of the problems with freelance writing is that you become a hermit. If you’re a social person, you must find ways to combat loneliness and isolation when working from home. I subscribed to a gym and joined dance classes. Also, I take a walk outdoors during my work breaks every day to get some fresh air and interact with people.
- Lack Of Benefits: As a freelance writer, you don’t receive the same benefits as someone who works for a company. For instance, you’re responsible for providing your health insurance, paid time off, and retirement savings plan.
- Instability: Often, a good writer will always have work. However, there will be periods, especially at the beginning, when work may be scarce, and you’ll have to hustle to find clients.
What Is A Freelance Writer’s Salary?
The salary for a freelance writer can significantly vary on your experience, level of expertise, and the company or individual who hires you. Also, it depends if you charge by the hour, word count, or project.
- $300 or less – 35.7%
- $300 to $600 – 37.5%
- $600 to $1000 – 21.4%
- $1000+ 5.4%
When charged per hour based on Ashley Cummings’s study:
- Over 60% of freelance writers request more than $50 per hour.
Tip: Often, when people start, they are afraid to ask for what they’re worth. But remember, it’s better to ask for a bit more and negotiate down than to sell yourself short and regret it later.
Do You Need A Degree To Be A Freelance Writer?
No, you don’t need a degree to be a freelance writer. Nearly everyone writes so it’s not a profession that necessarily requires specialized education. However, having a writing degree or related education can always help.
Also, you have many tools, which I’ll mention later in this guide, to improve your writing skills if you need to.
And just because everyone writes, that doesn’t make them good writers. The difference between an amateur and a professional freelance writer is the ability to deliver high-quality content consistently.
Furthermore, when you start, most likely, your work won’t pay as much. But as you gain experience and improve your skills, you can charge more for your work.
How Hard Is It To Be A Freelance Writer?
When most people start, they think every freelance writer must write Hemingway-level copy, but that’s not true. Initially, it has mostly to do with your skill to market yourself and find clients.
Once you have clients, then it’s about communicating effectively with them and delivering content that meets their needs.
Also, the other hard part is staying motivated and disciplined with your work. If you’re used to working for someone else, having a boss give you tasks, and following someone else’s schedule, then freelancing is another ball game.
You won’t have anyone holding your hand, yelling at you to meet a deadline, or checking your work.
In fact, it’s essential to have several mechanisms to cut distractions and even create your schedule to stay on track.
Is a Freelance Writer The Same As A Copywriter?
Copywriting is one of the highest-paying writing specializations, but it’s not the same as being a freelance writer.
- Copywriter is someone who writes marketing material to persuade readers to take a specific action, such as buying a product or signing up for a service. Their copy is usually designed to sell something, and it requires a different skill set than general freelance writing.
- A freelance writer often creates informative or educational content, such as blog posts, reports, etc., for different types of clients.
So, if you want to specialize in copywriting, you need to learn a different skill set than that of a general freelance writer.
A few months ago, I wanted to learn more about copywriting and found some excellent online courses at Udemy. So, consider taking a course or two if you’re interested in pursuing that path.
Even basic copywriting knowledge can help you stand out as a freelance writer and give you a competitive edge.
For example, knowing how to have enticing headlines or crafting compelling call-to-action can make your content more effective.
How Do I Start Freelance Writing Without Experience (5 Easy Steps)
Now you have some understanding of what freelance writing is, but where do you start if you have no experience? Here are five easy steps to get started in freelance writing:
1 – Create a Freelance Writing Blog
When you start, you don’t have any work to display to your potential clients. So, the first step is to create a blog where you can showcase your writing skills.
But not only for that reason:
- Potential Future Business: Your blog can become an online business where you promote your services, products, or affiliate marketing.
- Personal Growth: Writing blog posts on specific topics can help you grow as a writer and develop your writing skills.
- Establish a Niche: Creating a blog can also help you clarify what type of writing you want to focus on and establish your niche.
So, there are a lot of benefits to creating a blog. One of the problems with a blog is that it takes time and effort to gain traction from Google and other search engines.
Therefore, it’s crucial to start freelancing while building your blog. This way, you can begin to earn money and experience simultaneously.
2 – Should You Be a Generalist or Niche Writer?
When starting as a freelance writer, one of the first decisions you must make is whether to focus on a specific niche or write about anything under the sun.
While having a niche can make you stand out and make more money in the long run, being a generalist can give you more opportunities to find work initially.
So, how do you choose? Ask yourself the following question…
- Am I already specialized in a particular area? Or would I like to become an expert in a specific niche?
- Is there a high demand for a particular topic?
- What am I passionate about writing?
If you don’t know about a niche, it’s okay! You may start as a generalist writer and gradually discover what topics you enjoy writing about the most.
In fact, being a generalist is a skill in itself. Being able to spend an hour or two researching and writing a high-quality post isn’t for everyone. For instance, I struggle with writing about things I don’t find interesting.
But some writers thrive on the challenge and enjoy learning new things.
Anyway, try to learn as much as possible once you find your niche. Read books, subscribe to newsletters, take online courses, etc.
3 – How To Get Writing Clients On Linkedin?
Once you have your blog and niche established, it’s time to create a professional online presence through a Linkedin profile.
A good Linkedin profile can eventually attract potential clients.
Here are five important elements to include on your profile:
- Professional Headshot: If you have a mobile phone with a good camera, you can take a professional-looking headshot yourself. In my case, I went to a professional photographer and got some high-quality photos taken for about $30.
- A Headline That Describes Your Writing Services: Your headline should be clear and describe what you do as a freelance writer; it should grab someone’s attention immediately.
- Use Your Real Name: Include your real name on Linkedin rather than a nickname or pseudonym, which is essential.
- List Your Skills: Add skills that are relevant to your writing expertise.
- Custom URL: Remember to customize your URL to make it easier for potential clients to find you on Linkedin.
- Join Groups: You can also join groups related to your niche. Also, through these groups, you can find potential clients who need someone with your writing skills.
- Publish Content: You can publish content on your Linkedin profile to showcase your expertise and writing skills.
- Write a Strong Intro Section: Your intro section should be well-written and highlight your writing expertise, experience, and qualifications.
Spend time perfecting your Linkedin profile. You may also find plenty of video tutorials on YouTube explaining all the steps needed to create a powerful profile. But
4 – Send Cold Emails
Now that you have your blog and Linkedin profile set, it’s time to start reaching out to potential clients. One of the best ways to find high-paying jobs is through cold emailing.
In other words, you email a business or individual asking if they need writing services.
However, it’s important to remember these tips:
- Personalize Your Emails: You should research the business or individual and customize your email as much as possible. In a way, you don’t want to look like you’re just sending out mass emails. Also, you have a better chance if you directly contact the person in charge of hiring writers.
- Keep It Short and Sweet: People are busy, so keep your email brief and to the point. You don’t want to overload them with unnecessary information.
- Provide Examples: You may provide three examples of your writing work. If you still haven’t been hired, you can use samples published on your blog or Linkedin profile.
- Follow Up: Yes, follow… follow up! Most people only send one email and then give up. But there’s a high chance that your first email won’t be read for whatever reason. Perhaps, the other person is busy or forgot to reply. Or if he receives hundreds of emails daily, it’s possible that yours got lost in the mix.
- Be Professional: You must find a fine balance between being friendly and professional. You don’t want to talk to your future employer like you were at a bar with friends.
- Be Patient: This process can take time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a reply or if you receive rejections. If you keep sending emails, eventually, you’ll find someone who wants your writing services.
I’d say don’t let the fear of rejection stop you. As I said, this is one of the best ways to land high-paying jobs. And most people are too afraid to reach out or easily get discouraged after a few rejections.
Although cold emailing may seem intimidating, it is a very effective strategy.
5 – Subscribe To Writing Platforms
You have several platforms where you can find writing opportunities. But let’s first crash the myths!
Say “No” to Upwork And Fiverr
Seriously, if you plan on making money as a writer, avoid these platforms like the plague. Most people who go there either have to work for peanuts or compete with mountains of other writers for low-paying clients.
Besides, these platforms charge a percentage of your earnings, which can add up quickly.
Best Freelance Writing Websites
Anyway, you should consider subscribing to some of the best freelance writer websites out there, such as:
Of course, cold outreach should still be your primary approach. But it never hurts to have more options available. So, head over to these websites and subscribe to them.
How Can I Improve My Freelance Writing Skills? (5 Practices)
As a freelance writer, you want to improve the quality of your work continuously. The better you write, the higher your chances of landing a high-paying job.
Here are five essential practices to help you improve your freelance writing skills
1 – Learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
If you write blog posts and other online content, you must learn SEO. This consists of understanding how search engines like Google work, what keywords to use, and how to optimize your content for better search engine rankings.
In other words, content that ranks well on search engines will help bring more visitors to your client’s websites.
So, what can you do to learn more about SEO?
- Read articles and guides on SEO basics.
- You have fantastic YouTube video tutorials on SEO. My favorites are from Matt Diggity, Brian Dean, Kyle Roof, and Niche Pursuits.
- Take online courses on platforms like Udemy and Coursera.
In the beginning, SEO may seem scary! You may wonder, “What the heck are all these terms?” But keep at it, and you’ll soon realize that SEO isn’t that complicated.
2 – Write Every Day
One of the best ways to improve your skills is to write every day simply. For this reason, I told you to build a blog. You can use your blog to write about topics you’re passionate about or a niche where you want to specialize.
Believe me, your first posts will seem like you are pulling teeth, but don’t worry! After a few weeks of consistently writing, everything will start flowing more naturally.
Also, take note of feedback readers give you and see what they didn’t or did like about your content.
3 – Read, read, and read more…
You want to spend your time constantly reading other writers’ work. This will help you learn new writing skills, gain inspiration and deepen your understanding of a niche or topic you like.
Choose several reputable bloggers and read their content. But you should proactively see what they’re doing to have a group of raging fans eating their content.
4 – Constantly Improve
You should constantly ask yourself the following questions:
- How can I improve my introductions?
- How can I improve my headlines?
- How can I simplify my writing?
Always looking for ways to improve your writing will make you stand out. As a content creator, you don’t want to be stuck at the same level forever.
At least for me, I either go all in or not at all. You have high-paying writers because they constantly ask themselves where they can improve and are always seeking to learn new skills.
Sometimes it may not be directly correlated with the content you produce. But finding more effective ways to send cold emails, building relationships with clients, or learning how to pitch ideas can make a massive difference between making a few dollars to five or six figures.
5 – Networking With Other Similar People
You want to find other like-minded people to create connections. Networking is an important part of building a successful career as a writer.
As I mentioned, you can join LinkedIn groups, look for local writing groups in your area, or attend writing conferences.
What Tools Does A Freelance Writer Need?
Like any other work, having the necessary tools is crucial for success. As a freelance writer, you will need a reliable laptop or desktop computer, word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or WordPress.
However, some other useful tools include:
- Grammarly: You can start using this tool for free. As the name states, it helps you with grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Neuronwriter: I love this AI SEO tool! It provides suggestions on how to optimize your content for search engines. For instance, what search terms to use and how frequently they should appear in your content.
- Jasper AI: This AI writer can help you produce content more quickly. However, you want to use it as a tool to assist your writing process.
You don’t need to go out and purchase all of them immediately. However, at least Grammarly is a must-have for all writers. It easily boosts the quality of your content.
Freelance writing is a great opportunity for writers to work from home or at a co-working space and to use their skills to produce written content for clients on a project-by-project basis.
You can specialize in a specific niche like SEO, healthy, or finance. Or start as a generalist and work your way towards specialization as you gain experience.
Also, remember to network with like-minded writers, read from other bloggers, and keep improving your skills to be successful. One of the best ways to find work is to send cold emails and build client relationships.
However, you can also subscribe to freelance websites such as Contently, Skyword, Clear Voice, and nDash. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will appear.
Another thing to consider is to use Grammarly, Neurontwriter, and Jasper to make your work better and more efficient.
Lastly, learn how to optimize your content for search engines and never give up!
If you have any questions or tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.
FAQ About Becoming a Freelance Writer
Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions.
1 – Can I Make $1000 a Month Freelance Writing?
Yes, if you put effort into cold outreach and pitching your services, you can quickly make $1,000 a month of freelance writing.
2 – How Much Should I Charge For a 500 Word Article?
The amount you can charge for 500 words depends on your experience and the complexity of the content. But freelance writers average charge about $50 for that word count.
3 – What Niches Are More Lucrative For Freelance Writing?
Although you can write about anything as a freelance writer, some niches tend to be more profitable than others. This includes finance, cryptocurrency, digital marketing, SaaS, real estate, and health.
Freelancing is expected to increase by 14% in the next six years. There are more than 1 billion freelancers around the world, which is about 34% of all people working.
The demand for freelance writers is constantly increasing. But how can you become a freelance writer without experience?