Dreaming of being your own boss, working as a Freelance Writer?

Working as a freelance writer is a great option if you want to work from home. Flexible schedule, taking on what you can handle, being in control of your income, balancing work and life—all this is possible.

Choosing to work as a freelance writer can be lucrative if you have what it takes. I started putting out my intention to do freelance writing work in 2003, and started working with a content marketing agency soon after, once I cleared a writing test. I worked with them for more than a decade before I built my own client base.

Of course, as with any type of work, there are several pros and cons. If you plan to launch into a freelance writing career, here’s what you should know to be successful:

·       What it takes

·       How to get started

·       Pitfalls to avoid

What does it take to be a freelance writer?

When I began my freelance writing career, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I didn’t need a writing degree. What I did need was an excellent command over the language, the ability to understand the client’s brief and write in a conversational tone to appeal to the audience that would be reading my work.

The question foremost on your mind is probably this: How much money can you make? This depends on your clients and the type of writing you decide to do. I enjoyed writing articles, long form content, and ebooks specifically but was open to any kind of content and topic. This enabled me to take on a variety of work and kept me busy enough.

How do you decide how much to charge for your writing? There are many resources available online. Depending on the client’s project, your pricing can be per hour or per word. Or you could charge a package cost for the entire project assigned to you. Most projects require research, so you will need to factor that in, along with the time you expect to invest in the work. That said, you could end up making anything from $20 to $1000 a page based on your client’s niche and the deliverables expected by them.

It goes without saying that you must set yourself a schedule based on how much time you can set aside for the writing and for pitching to clients. I prefer to work alone, but I know freelance writers who outsource the writing by hiring writers and editors when they start receiving more work than they can handle alone. It is completely up to you. 

How to Get Started

Once you decide you want to get started as a freelance writer, the first thing you want to do is take stock of your skills. If you want to begin as a basic content writer and know how to research, and write a 500 to1500-word article about the topic required, that can be your starting point.

But for more specialized copy that goes into sales pages, landing pages, press releases, and advertisements, you would need to learn those skills and develop experience. The good news is that specialized copywriting means higher pricing, even though finding clients can be more challenging, at least initially. But as you build your reputation, your referrals will grow and so will your income. 

I remember my first assignment which required me to write ten articles. One of the instructions, besides the usual grammar, punctuation, and language was this: the article must be easy for a seventh-grader to read and understand. Oh, easy, I thought. It took me practice before I could get into that flow!

I’ve found that it is more common for website owners to look for content writers to deliver 30 articles every month consistently. Specialized content such as landing pages or sales pages is rarer. 

My suggestion would be to begin with one type of writing for a client. As you gain experience, add more services to your portfolio. This will help find your footing in the market and prevent overwhelm. Once you figure out what you enjoy writing best, do set up a web page or a website to advertise your skills and your services. Show them samples of your work. Build your presence on social media platforms. One that really worked for me was LinkedIn.

Pitfalls to avoid

As I mentioned earlier, every profession has its dos and don’ts. Here are some things to be wary about:

·   Avoid clients who are not the right fit for you. It can be easy to accept work that you really don’t enjoy doing but take up anyway because of the pay.

·   Avoid clients who try to cut down your rates and underpay you. They will promise consistent work just to negotiate. Be firm.

·   Avoid clients who don’t respect you and your time. The worst kind.

·   Make sure your terms of service are clear to the client, especially when it comes to paying you.

That said, working as a freelance writer can be fulfilling work. It is wonderful to work from home, setting your own hours and enjoying what you do. And remember, it will take time, consistent effort and patience to establish yourself and achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Are you ready?

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