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If you’re checking this page out and you’re a freelancer looking to make some extra money, you’re in the right place. Here is a complete guide on how to become a freelance grant writer from scratch!
Grant writing is a job that is in high demand, and not enough people are offering to do it. Therefore, it can be extremely lucrative to be a freelance grant writer, especially with so many nonprofit organizations and businesses looking for fund-raising and sponsorship.
This blog post will you through:
- What grant writing is
- How much grant writers make
- Skills you need to be successful at grant writing
- The different types of grant writing jobs
- Where to find grant-writing jobs, and
- Tips to help you land more grant writing jobs
- And the pros and cons of grant writing
Let’s dive right in!
What Is A Grant Writer?
You’ve probably written several articles and guest posts and maybe even done email marketing for your clients before. So what makes a grant writer different?
Let’s start from the beginning. What is a grant?
A grant is a non-repayable fund or donation given by the federal government, big corporations or private foundations to nonprofit organizations to help fund their work.
In order to secure a grant, a non-profit organization has to go through a rigorous application. Most of the time, these non-profits do not have the time or resources to go through the steps of the application, so they usually hire freelance grant writers to complete the application process for them.
In short, a grant writer is someone who specializes in submitting grant proposals on behalf of small businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to request funding.
Grant writers can come from any background, but in the United States, having a background in English will be extremely helpful. Experienced grant writers are typically more able to come up with a successful proposal to secure funding and hence can command higher pay rates.
This brings us to the next big question: How much money does a professional grant writer earn?
How Much Does A Freelance Grant Writer Make?
According to Glassdoor, a freelance grant writer can make an average of $28 per hour, and earn a median salary of $52,716 a year. Depending on location, the salary ranges between $36,000 and $90,000 annually.
Of course, this number can fluctuate depending on the number of grant writing services you take on monthly.
The salary of a grant writer also depends on the type of grant you do and the years of experience you have.
Most smaller nonprofits and businesses prefer to keep a freelance writer on a retainer basis, so new proposals can be submitted every quarter or every year. The grant writer will also be responsible for looking out for new grant opportunities and ensuring a grant submission fulfills all necessary requirements in order to be approved.
If you’re new to freelancing, here is a comprehensive guide to setting your rates as a freelance writer and editor.
Skills Required to Become A Successful Grant Writer
What skills do you need to be able to come up with a successful grant proposal eventually?
For one, you’ll need strong writing and editing skills. You should have great attention to detail because every piece of information and fact is crucial to secure funding and getting that grant money. On top of excellent writing skills, you’ll also need effective communication skills. Ask your client for all the information you need. One of the best ways to ensure your client is happy with your work is to ask for feedback and criticism.
Grant writing requires you to be persuasive yet factual. Hence, people with technical writing experience may find this an easier transition than those used to creative writing or blogging.
If you’re a new grant writer, taking up a grant writing course so you know what the structure, style, best practices and research requirements are like will be a great way to start.
Being grammatically correct is also incredibly important. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can cause your grant applications to look less than professional causing them to be rejected.
Different Types Of Grants
The three main types of grants include:
Federal grants – highly competitive and typically awarded to huge or professional organizations that have a proven track record of carrying out their projects successfully and using the money correctly. It is also part of a government grant (where a grant is given out by the federal, state or local government).
State and private foundation grants – are better potential funding sources for newer projects and a less rigid application process.
How To Become A Freelance Grant Writer In Six Simple Steps
Step 1: Take Up A Grant Writing Course
This step is particularly important, because instead of trying to figure out everything yourself on YouTube or on Google, a good course will show you the best practices behind writing a professional grant that gives you higher chances of success.
It shows you how to put together a successful proposal, what to look out for, the figures involved as well as what information exactly to get from your client.
On top of that, a course usually covers different types of grant funding requests so you’re ready for whatever questions potential clients may bandy at you.
A course will also typically show you the types of grants you can expect to get – be it from government agencies or professional associations, and how the application process is likely to be. Some courses even furnish you with certificate programs and this cements your clients’ trust in your abilities a lot more.
Step 2: Join A Professional Association
This not only gives you more credibility but allows you to network and meet more grant writers. You’ll have great resources to turn to when you have questions or doubts.
Associations include the American Grant Writers Association, Grant Professionals Association and Association of Fundraising Professionals, to name a few.
Step 3: Volunteer At Local Nonprofits
You’ve got yourself a certificate and you’re now professionally associated with a grant-writing association. Well done!
What do employers typically look for next? Experience.
Whether you’re a student looking to get some experience or hold a full-time job, interning or volunteering at a local nonprofit sector is going to give you a general idea of how things work behind the scenes.
While you may not necessarily be asked to do grant writing, you’ll be most likely called to manage fundraisers and help to organize other similar events. All these actually help give you an edge and extra information to use when writing your grant proposals. Even if it’s your first-ever official grant application, with the experience you’ve been gaining, you’ll be able to draft out a much better one versus people who have not managed fundraisers before.
Step 4: Build A Network
Take opportunities while you’re volunteering or interning to foster relationships and get to know professional grant writers and people in the related field who can help you and even recommend you to potential clients.
Step 5: Create A Freelance Writing Portfolio
There are multiple ways to create a portfolio for yourself. If the thought of having your own writer website gets too daunting for you, there are several places you can create a portfolio for free.
These sites offer you plug-and-play templates where you only need to add your own copy and stories. Most of them are free and allow you to upload up to ten writing samples. There are also paid plans for those who have more than ten samples to upload.
Here is an example of an awesome portfolio site:
Clippings.me has two plans.
One is a free-for-life plan that allows you to upload up to 10 writing samples, and another paid plan that requires you to pay $9.99 per month, which allows unlimited samples.
It offers multiple templates you can use to design your portfolio easily, without having to have any technical or design skills. Simply include the link to the article (if you have it published elsewhere) or upload it from your computer. Your title, date, and time will be automatically populated.
Clippings.me also allows you to categorize your writing into different niches (if you are writing several different niches) for better organization.
For more resources to online portfolio creations, check out this article!
Step 6: Get Some Proposals Under Your Belt
It goes without saying that if someone wants to hire you, they’ll also want to see what work you’ve done in the past.
If you’re not averse to letting them know that you’re new, chances of being hired may drop, or you may get hired at a very low rate.
A good idea will be to drum up several proposals. Have your coach from the course vet them. If possible, have someone from your professional association give feedback or even better, endorse or recommend you.
Get letters of recommendation and references from the relationships that you’ve built and from the local nonprofit organization you’ve been interning at.
Once you have all these in hand, it’s time to get land that first job!
Step 7: Look For Jobs
In essence, employers want grant writers to be certified, know what they’re doing, have great attention to detail, and have some experience under their belts.
Pro tip: If you have a degree or an advanced degree in this field, do not hesitate to flaunt it to the employer. If you do not, having a bachelor’s degree in any field will be helpful – especially in Journalism, Marketing, or Communications.
If you’ve done freelance work doing content writing, remember to add that inside your resume as well.
Places Where You Can Get Hired:
- Job Boards
Job boards are popular sources of work. Most job boards take the time to allow you to upload a resume so you have it on hand. Some also ask you to fill out questionnaires so they can filter the type of job shown on your dashboard based on your preferences.
Job boards are also great in the sense that they send you regular updates on job openings via email. Some like Solidgigs and Flexjobs also offer weekly training on how to answer interviews or word your resumes.
- Hiring Sites
Hiring sites differ from job boards in the sense that they can be more focused on their job listings.
For example, sites like Constant Content focus solely on writing gigs. As such, your chances of coming across more than one grant writer job description are much higher.
Constant Content also gives you the opportunity to partner with huge brands. Because this site focuses on content creation, big brands typically post writing requirements there versus job boards.
Another popular hiring site is Textbroker.
Textbroker is a content writing service and has had over 80,000 ready clients and 10 million content orders on its platform. You sign up for free and instantly get access to thousands of writing jobs!
For a full list of over 20 hiring sites and platforms, check out this article!
Pros Of Becoming A Grant Writer
The role of a grant writer, while requiring organizational skills, patience and the talent of persuasion, can also be imminently freeing.
You can work at your own schedule (before the deadline) and at your preferred location. As a freelancer, you are not tied down by any company’s rules and regulations, are able to set your own hours and make as much (or as little) money as you want.
You also get to make a difference. You’re able to help small businesses in your community who are on a tight budget execute their projects and ideas when you successfully obtain for them grant money. Examples include community development projects, animal welfare projects, medical research programs, and more of such similar projects.
As your reputation as a good grant writer grows, more opportunities and offers will come your way.
Cons Of Becoming A Grant Writer
The cons are pretty much what any freelancer would expect – difficulty in landing clients, to begin with (which is why interning and networking are SO important), and not being paid the amount you want.
However, it is important to note that if you’re relatively new and trying to obtain more experience, the amount you earn should be a secondary consideration. Once you’ve gotten several success stories under your belt, you can start increasing your hourly rates (or project rates).
Wrapping Up: How To Become A Freelance Grant Writer
Grant writing is an important job, but not many people are able to execute it well.
However, if you have the patience, determination and willingness to learn, you’ll be writing grant proposals that are good and successful. If you have a proven track record, you could be easily make $8,000 to $10,000 per month. All you have to do is to sign up for a course now, create your proposal, join an association, and start reaching out to potential clients!