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With an increasing number of people looking to work from home, freelance writing is one of the most attractive options available today. There are opportunities to write in all different industries or niches, so it’s possible to use your existing experience by writing about topics that you already know well.
Another important factor for many people is the fact that it’s a business you can start without spending any money. There aren’t too many businesses that give you the opportunity to earn a six-figure income without the need to invest any money to get started, but freelance writing is one of the few.
While there’s a lot to like about freelance writing and there’s a lot of work available, the rates for those gigs are all over the place. Some writers are paid very well, but there are also a lot of clients who’re looking for freelancers with extremely low rates. If you’ve been searching for freelance writing jobs, you may have come across a number of “content mills” that hire writers to crank out a lot of articles at very low rates (often $0.03 per word or less).
If you hope to build a legit career as a writer, finding these jobs can be really discouraging. You may see the low rates and assume that there’s no way you could support yourself as a freelance writer, but thankfully that’s not true.
There are plenty of clients out there who are willing to pay fair rates for skilled workers, but you need to know how to find those jobs. Let’s take a look at some of your options.
1. Freelancing Websites
I’m mentioning this at the beginning because it’s one of the easiest ways to get started, not because it’s my top recommendation. The fact is, the other methods covered in this article will generally help you to find higher-paying gigs, but if you need to get started quickly, freelancing websites can be a solid option.
There are a lot of freelancing websites like Upwork, Freelancer, and others that exist for the purpose of helping clients find talented workers. Each site functions a little bit differently, but in general, you’ll create a profile and then you can bid on jobs that interest you. Some of the jobs on these sites will be low-paying, but there are also some decent-paying gigs as well. Simply don’t bother bidding on jobs where the budget is too low for your rates.
You’ll face a good bit of competition for these gigs, so you’ll want to give the client a convincing reason to hire you, but the good thing is, there’s always work available on these platforms. People who are looking to hire a writer are right there waiting for you.
Now, after you get some experience, you may prefer to move on to other methods of finding work, but these sites can help you to get started.
2. Choose a Niche
While it’s possible to write about a wide variety of subjects and there are some general freelance writers who’ll write about anything and everything, the better approach is to choose a niche and specialize. This approach will help you to brand yourself as an expert in your field, allow you to charge higher rates, and make you more appealing to the right clients.
Most likely, you’ll want to choose a fairly broad niche at first like business, finance, health & fitness, travel, food & cooking, or some other major niche that could include a lot of different sub-topics. If you go too narrow or too specific, you may have trouble finding opportunities.
Think about your own experience and skills. Maybe you have experience from a previous (or current) job that could be used. Or maybe you’re really knowledgeable about a hobby and you’d like to pursue writing assignments on that topic.
3. Create a Portfolio Website
It’s not 100% necessary to have your own website to make money as a freelance writer, but it certainly is helpful. Your portfolio site will serve as a hub for your business. You can provide information about the services you provide, a bio, testimonials from past clients, and samples of your writing. Of course, you’ll also want to make it very easy for potential clients to contact you through a simple contact form or by listing your email address.
Creating your own website may sound complicated, but it’s actually very easy thanks to WordPress. You can have a professional-looking website for just the cost of web hosting (a few dollars per month) and you don’t need any technical skills to do it.
4. Build Your Network
By far the best thing you can do to grow your freelance writing business (or any other type of freelance business for that matter) is to build your network. You’ll find that many opportunities come through the people you know. Most clients prefer to hire someone they know or someone who is recommended by someone they trust, so your network can be extremely valuable.
When you’re first getting started, you may not have a network at all. Ideally, you’ll want to connect with blog owners and editors in your niche as those are often the type of people who are looking to hire writers. It will take some effort, but building your network is very doable. You can start to connect with people by leaving comments on their blog, sharing their posts through your social profiles, communicating with them on social platforms, and by writing guest posts for other blogs.
Writing guest posts (for free) is often mentioned as a way to grow traffic to your own site, the networking aspect is often overlooked. When you write for other blogs, whether you’re paid or unpaid, it’s a great opportunity to connect with blog owners and editors. Even if you’re not getting paid for the article, you’ll want to provide them with the best quality of writing possible. You can really make a strong impression by submitting an excellent post. And who knows, it may lead to an opportunity to get paid to write for them in the future. I currently have six different clients that I serve on a regular basis as a freelance writer and I was originally connected to three of them by writing an unpaid guest post for their site.
Niche-specific Facebook groups can also be extremely valuable resources for growing your network. Find groups that include people in your niche, particularly bloggers and editors, and get involved.
5. Prove Your Worth
Although there’s a lot of work available for freelance writers, there’s also a lot of freelancers out there. That means that you’ll face competition for most jobs. In order to be the one that clients choose to hire, you need to prove your worth.
When it comes to pitching services or replying to job ads, most freelancers do a really poor job of promoting themselves. Don’t simply tell someone that you’re a writer who specializes in Y and you charge $X per word. Instead, make it about them and show them what you can do and specifically how it will benefit them.
Most clients who are hiring writers are interested in traffic to their websites. One clear way to show what you’re worth is to prove your ability to write content that gets traffic. For example, you could show them an article you’ve written in the niche that’s ranking at the top of the Google search results for its target keyword.
Don’t have any examples that you can show? Writing guest posts can help here too.
Many high-quality websites are open to guest post submissions. You can choose a keyword that you want to target, write an optimized article, and submit it for consideration. Thanks to the strength of the domain and the quality of your article, you may be able to get the article to rank very well for your targeted keyword or phrase. This then becomes a perfect example that you can use when you’re trying to land work. Show it to potential clients so they see you can help them to get more traffic by writing content that gets search engine traffic.
6. Pitch Ideal Customers
While your portfolio website will hopefully make it easier for potential clients to find you and your network will likely lead to some clients, you’ll still need to be proactive at reaching out to potential clients, especially when you’re just getting started.
The two keys are to:
- Find the right people to pitch
- Create a quality pitch that gets their attention
In order to find the ideal customers, you need to have a solid understanding of your niche and exactly the type of clients that you want to work for. Create your portfolio website to mention these specifics so that when your ideal client visits your site they’ll feel like you’re the perfect fit for them.
When it comes to creating a pitch, don’t send the same generic message to lots of people. Take the time to get to know their business and find a way that you can help them. Going back to the previous point, pitch them by showing specifically what you can do for them. Focus on the results that you can get for them, not on the work that you’ll do. They can hire anyone to be a freelance writer, so they probably don’t care about a lot of the details that most freelancers mention in their pitches. But they will definitely care if you can show them solid results that you’re able to get for them.
As you’re managing your current clients and looking for other new clients, time management will be a challenge. You’ll need to prioritize tasks effectively so you can meet your deadlines and still work on landing new clients. You’ll have limited time to write pitches, which is why it’s important to focus on pitching the right clients not just anyone.
Building a freelance writing business takes time and effort, but it’s an outstanding option in 2021. Don’t settle for the low-quality content mill jobs that are easy to find. By following the tips in this article, you can find legit freelance writing jobs that pay well and help you to grow your portfolio.
This post was originally published at Business2Community.com.