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Freelance Writing For Beginners: No Investment Needed!
Want to start freelance writing? Freelance writing for beginners does not need to cost you a bomb.
You do not necessarily need to invest in the most expensive writing course out there or a new Macbook Air.
With the new working norm we live in, there are tons of ways to make money online and from the comfort of your home – freelance writing is one of them.
I have been freelance writing for almost two years and now I have landed a corporate job, where I am a Senior Copywriter for one of Asia’s leading companies.
I have put together this COMPLETELY FREE guide that consists of freelance writing tips for beginners.
This step-by-step guide has helped me make a living from writing and I hope this helps you too.
Disclaimer: This guide is completely free! However there may be affiliate links in this blog post. They are of NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for supporting this blog and I hope this free guide helps you!
A Guide To Freelance Writing For Beginners
1. Pick A Profitable Niche
Types of Writing
There are many types of writing you can dive into as a freelance writer.
So it is important to understand which one interests you most and where your strength lies.
Here are a few types of writing you may be interested in:
- Blog Post
Blog posts are everywhere!
Whenever you google to find the answer to something, you are most likely reading a blog post.
This means there is a ton of demand for this and you can be the supply of it.
A great skill to have would be SEO as it helps these blog posts rank and companies are willing to pay more for SEO optimised articles.
However, as a beginner you might not know SEO and that’s okay!
You can still write blog posts without knowing SEO as most companies, agencies or even bloggers who hire freelance writers for articles will give them the keywords and outline to write on.
Writing tip: Blog posts range from 1500-2000 words because long form content is a good SEO practice. Be sure to notify your client on this so you seem like a pro!
E-book can range from 20-200 pages and sometimes, even more! If you don’t mind committing to a long-term project, then E-book writing is for you.
E-book writing tends to be higher paying for two reasons:
1) It has a higher word count so you get paid more,
2) As a ghost writer, you can’t include this in your portfolio. Therefore you can charge higher.
- Website Copy
Website copywriting is also freelance writing on a project basis.
This means you will have to write almost everything on a company’s website.
Some pages you will have to work on are – home page content, about us, services, products and more.
Website copy can often bring you reoccurring work because most websites have a “blog” or “explore” section where you can later on write blog posts.
- Social Media Copy
Social media copy is a great way to get paid to write for beginners.
This is something really easy to start off with and it also pays well.
Social media copywriting includes – instagram captions, tweets, facebook posts and Linkedin posts.
Two years ago, when I was a beginner I made $72 (RM300) per month only on social media copy (this does not include other types of freelance writing gigs).
Now, I make $772 a month (RM3000) only from social media copies (does not include social media design, purely writing).
- Email Marketing
Email marketing is essential to almost any business. It is one of the best ways to increase lead generation.
Not every brand, business owner, or solopreneur has the time to write their own weekly emails.
From campaign announcements to helpful tips for readers, email marketing consists of many things a business may want to write about.
Pick A Niched Industry
What would you want to write about?
Most writers write about what they know best.
Look at your educational background and past work experiences.
- If you are a medical student, you may be able to ghost write for a professional medical blog.
- An accountant or a finance graduate may have the upper hand when writing about low risk investments when compared to an arts graduate.
- As a food lover, you might know a lot about food and may contribute articles for a food blogger or even write social media copy for a cafe’s instagram.
You get the point, right?
Here are some niches you can consider (note that there are a ton of niches out there to pick from):
- Personal Finance – investments, savings, making money, frugal living and everything related to one’s money management.
- Technology – review gadgets, write on coding, computer science and everything revolving around tech.
- Health and Fitness – this includes medical expert advice, exercise routines, nutrition and even mental health.
- Digital Marketing – experiment with social media, e-mail marketing, copywriting.
- Entertainment – you can contribute pieces to book review websites, movie websites or even write news articles.
- Lifestyle – this includes travel, food, home decor, pets and more.
- Parenting – write for mommy blogs, or companies that offer products and services for new mothers and fathers.
When you are first starting out, you should be open to more than one niche.
I have written for the health niche digital marketing, and lifestyle (travel and food).
You don’t need to immediately select a niche, experiment to see which one you are good at.
2. Prepare What You Need To Start
Note that you should prepare what you need and not what you want.
You need to prepare a few essential things to start writing.
Here’s a simple list of things you need:
You don’t need a professional email address, get a basic gmail.
Gmail is good because you can write, store and share links via Google drive.
If your client really wants to video call you, Google meet is free.
You don’t need the best laptop in the market. Just something functional will do.
When I first started, I used my 7-year-old laptop and only upgraded my laptop when I could afford it.
If you don’t have a functional laptop, you can use your phone.
This is not the best way to work and I do not recommend it.
But if you are in a tough spot, you can most definitely use the notes app or even a Google doc on your phone to write.
You don’t need a home or rented office, your dining table and a chair will do.
If your home is distracting you, try going to a cafe.
Most clients are going to pay you in USD and if you are not in the US, you will have to arrange a way for them to pay you.
Paypal is free but the conversion rates aren’t the best.
Wise is a better option in my opinion to receive funds and it is free!
3. Create A Free Website For Samples
DO NOT immediately pay for a self-hosted website and domain.
If you are a beginner, you want to keep the cost as low as possible.
If there’s anything I learned from my Economics degree – minimize cost, maximise profits.
Create a free website using wordpress or wix and start creating writing samples.
You can write about any of the above niches and you do not need any technical skills to set a website up.
Have a basic about me page and post 3-5 freelance article writing samples.
Why is creating writing samples important?
As a beginner freelance writer, you most likely have no published work. You need to write and publish your own work first.
This is a tip i’ve shared with other beginner writers and they have definitely benefited from it.
Having samples on a website is a great idea for when hiring managers or clients ask for your writing samples. You can just send them the link to your blog!
4. Start Guest Posting
So now before you get paid, offer your work for free.
Sounds crazy? Not really.
My first article ever was a guest post and it landed me a few paid freelance writing opportunities (see the above image)
A guest post is when you write an article on someone else’s blog or website without charging them. You are a guest writer and you will get credited for that piece of content.
Why is guest posting important in freelance writing for beginners?
- You get to use the write-up as a portfolio piece
- Your name is credited and linked to your blog or social media accounts
- You appear to be a professional and “trust-worthy” writer who knows what they are writing about.
If you only have work on your own site, you need to get your writings on other sites for FREE before other clients trust that you can write valuable content for them.
Gentle reminder – if you’re not willing to work for free or work for less when you first start it is not going to be easy for you to progress in this freelance writing field.
In a way, it is like expecting to be paid a CEO salary right after your college degree. #harshtruth
Where do you find guest post opportunities?
To find websites that are looking for guest post writers, just google “[your niche] write for us”.
There are tons of opportunities out there, all you need to do is apply for it.
5. Apply To Freelance Writing Websites
Now that you have your samples and a portfolio of guest posts, it is time for you to get paid!
To get entry level freelance writing jobs, the easiest way would be to apply to freelance writing websites.
You will have to sign up and create a profile.
Some websites for beginner freelance writers are:
Now you might be thinking that famous sites like Upwork and Fiverr are too competitive.
That’s where you’re wrong. Most people don’t even try because of that exact mindset.
Click the above banner for a free Fiver eBook to help you learn more.
Did you know that – writing is the third biggest demanded skill on Upwork. There are thousands of writing jobs being posted everyday.
Some tips on applying for freelance writing gigs as a beginner:
- Personalize your application – talk about their brand not just about yourself.
- Complete your profile (make sure you have a picture so it does not look scammy)
- Don’t price your rates too high, increase your rates with experience.
6. Actively Pitch
A writing guru once told me, don’t cry over getting rejected once. Cry only when you’ve been rejected 100 times.
This gave me something to hold onto when applying for freelance writing roles in the beginning. I did get rejected multiple times by different clients.
But I did not give up as I did not send in 100 applications. I only sent in 10-20 and never heard back or got rejected by most of them.
You need to put yourself out there and actively pitch to clients on freelance writing websites.
7. Display Your Paid Work
By the time you’ve reached this step, you have most likely got some paid writing opportunities.
Now all you have to do is to publicly display them.
This step is important because you want freelance writing opportunities to come to you instead of you going to look for them.
One very important platform to display your work would be LinkedIn.
Attach your written work in the featured section of your profile.
Also, you need to learn how to optimise your LinkedIn profile so that you are easily found by hiring managers or recruiters.
70% of my writing income comes from LinkedIn. This itself is a whole topic to write about.
If you want to know how you can use LinkedIn to get freelance writing clients, comment on this article or reach out to me on Instagram.
Another unconventional way to display your work would be to make use of INSTAGRAM.
Yes, you read it right – Instagram.
Although Instagram is a visual platform, it is still a search engine where people can find you if you know how to optimise your profile
But how? Instagram only has space for one link in your bio.
If you really want to grow your freelance writing career, I really recommend Contently as a tool to keep track of all your published work.
Instagram brings me $250 (RM1000) of potential freelance writing income every month.
Note that this amount is based on people reaching out to me, not me actively looking for clients on the platform.
The secret is to optimise your Instagram profile by including the keyword “writer” so people can find you.
Best part – you don’t need a big following! I barely have 2K followers!
Social media can be a vanity metrics, or it can be a tool for your business.
You decide what is more important to you.
8. Network With Writers
Last but very important tip – NETWORK.
Network with people in your industry – writers, bloggers, journalist, social media copywriters.
Why Network With Competitors?
Yes, these writers are your competitors and they may be more experienced than you.
However, these connections may open doors for you to gain more freelance writing opportunities.
There will be times where these connections are fully booked and they might recommend you as they do not have the capacity to take on more work.
I have recommended my writer friends to clients and they have done the same for me and we are very thankful for each other.
So if you’re a writer and you are reading this, let’s network!
Where To Find Writers To Network?
- LinkedIn – search for writers, drop them a personalized message and network.
- Facebook Groups – great way to network with writers from all over the world.
- Discord Groups – this helps with accountability and a also support group.
- Social Media Accounts – comment, interact and DM writers you want to be friends with (eg: @freelancingfemales)
- Join Paid Courses – most paid courses have a support group (eg: private facebook group) or you can make friends when you join live courses.
9. Get Recurring Work
You are at a point where you are able to get paid writing gigs, but how do you sustain them?
It can be stressful to sustain a full time income if clients keep leaving.
So here is what I have done and you can do too to sustain these clients:
If the required word count is 1500 words, I will never write the required word count.
I will write more than that.
100-200 words to make the content more insightful.
Unless, the objective is to specifically keep it short then do obey the word count.
Make The Editor’s Life Easier
If you want to get recurring work, make the editor happy.
Ways to do this are:
- Format the content so that the Editor does not have to (eg: headline, subheadings – clear flow)
- Add and label images (if required) – this saves the Editor’s time.
- Use Grammarly – a free tool that will check your grammar so that your work is grammar error free.
- Deliver before the deadline – BEFORE! Not on the deadline. This proves you are efficient.
Pitch For Recurring Work
Sometimes, even if you over deliver and please the editor, they just don’t email you for more writing opportunities.
If you have done all the above steps and you trust that your work is of quality, there is no shame in emailing them for recurring work.
Most of the time people are afraid and they don’t do this, sadly they lose a paid opportunity.
Here is some sentences to add into your email to ask for recurring work:
- Feel free to assign me to more writing tasks if you need more assistance in _____.
- Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you. Can’t wait to write you more SEO blog posts in [month].
- Thank you for the opportunity! I really enjoyed writing for [company or blog name]. Do let me know if you’d like to assign me to more articles for your site.
- Just wanted to let you know that I’m almost fully booked for articles in [month]. But if you’re able to get back to me within the next week, I’ll book a slot for your project.
FAQ: Freelance Writing For Beginners
Can I Freelance Write For Clients In The US Although I’m Not Based In The US?
Yes you can. Just make sure you deliver the work on time by keeping track of the timezones. Also make sure you arrange a payment method for your clients. Easy payment methods are Paypal and Transferwise.
What Are The Best Freelance Writing Courses?
Personally I took this freelance writing course which was eventually made into an e-book.
The best part is that you get a to guest post on one of her websites and if you are a good writer, she will most likely refer you to future clients.
This is the way I started freelance writing and I would definitely recommend it.
Besides just freelance writing, learning SEO is important and this SEO course really helped me.
Do You Need Qualifications To Be A Freelance Writer?
The basic requirement is for you to be well-versed in the language you are writing and that you are able to do extensive research.
If you have educational background in the niche you are writing for or work experience, that will be an asset.
If you don’t. That’s okay, a good writer will always be able to do good research.
There you go! Freelance writing for beginners does not have to be difficult or costly. Just use this free guide to help you get started.
The world is abundant with writing opportunities, you just need to start!
If you get rejected before your 100th time of applying, do not give up.
One last thing – if this information was useful to you, I would appreciate it if you let me know in the comments and share this with people who need it.