You love writing.
You want to work from home. Layoffs by big companies have been massive in 2022, and you’re worried you’re going to be next.
You know that having a freelance writing career can be a great way to make money and replace your day job.
You’ve got tons of ideas on what you can write about and you’ve been checking out writing jobs, even trying to write a few blog posts.
But let’s face it…you have zero experience. You’re wondering if you can ever be a successful freelance writer. You’re giving in to self-doubt.
Fret not! This blog post will guide you on how to become a freelance writer with no experience.
A quick breakdown for you:
Steps on how to become a freelance writer from scratch:
- Get a freelance writing niche
- Invest in a course
- Create a website portfolio
- Start writing blog posts
- Use a social media platform
- Learn search engine optimization (SEO)
- Write guest posts
So, What Are Freelance Writers, And How Much Do They Make?
According to ZipRecruiter, a freelance writer makes an average of $68,000 a year. This figure can be more or less, depending on the number of projects the freelancer takes on.
The more work you put in, the more you earn.
Freelance writers are in high demand. In 2020, there was an estimated 44,000 writers in the United States alone. This number is expected to exceed 50,000 by 2025.
Freelance writers are freelancers who get paid to write articles, blog posts, emails, stories, and even books. They can work for local businesses, digital marketing companies, entrepreneurs, influencers, education brands, and more.
These writers usually have great writing skills they honed over time. They provide writing samples that potential clients can go through before they come to an agreement on how much the rates should be.
They do research and produce high-quality content that helps their prospective clients create an online presence while attracting a target audience. They provide professional writing services. This can be a full-time job or a side hustle. Either way, it can make you significant money.
And you know what? You can totally be one of them too.
How To Become A Freelance Writer With No Experience
Here are the steps to becoming a freelance writer when you are just starting out.
1. Focus On A Freelance Writing Niche.
To avoid being a jack of all trades and master of none, a good writer knows what he or she wants to write about and gets really good at it.
Niches can include:
Health and wellness
And much more!
Pick a niche you’re good at, that you’re familiar with and have confidence in researching and writing about.
2. Invest In A Freelance Writing Course.
This is not entirely necessary, but it is recommended. If you want to skip the mistakes and become a good writer fast, a great first thing to do will be to take an online course from reputable sites and learn as much as you can in the shortest period of time.
The best way to find a good freelance writing course will be to check out writing groups on Facebook, go through reviews on Google, or get affordable ones off of Udemy.
3. 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 are three examples of such awesome portfolio sites:
Clippings.me home page
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.
Clippings.me portfolio set up
The paid plan has more features, such as protecting your online portfolio from spam and also allowing you to use your own custom domain URL.
Check out some of the portfolios you can create on Clippings.me!
Journo Portfolio has helped over 250,000 creatives such as illustrators, designers, bloggers, influencers, artists, copywriters, and journalists create their online portfolios.
It only takes minutes to create with their templates. Just pick a theme that you like, upload your writing samples, and add your social media links from YouTube, Vimeo, Spotify, and more!
Source: Journo Portfolio
The free plan is a great place to start if you’re completely new to freelance writing and do not have many samples to upload. The good news is, if you can afford it (and you most likely can), the Pro Plan is amazingly affordable and offers advanced integrations with other platforms, article backups, and even a password-protected site!
Contently is not only a place where you can create your online portfolio for free. It is also a marketplace that offers content writing services!
Thousands of potential clients go through the site daily to find content writers and once you’ve got your portfolio set up and have at least seven writing samples to show, you’ll be eligible to land new clients!
For the new freelance writer, Contently is an amazing place to build one’s experience, develop a writing style and kickstart their freelance career by landing their first client, and thereafter more writing gigs on a regular basis (yes, totally possible!).
4. Start A Blog
You must be thinking – how do I create portfolios when I absolutely do not have any writing samples?
And you’ll be completely justified in doing so.
Starting a blog means starting to write. You want writing samples to show potential customers, therefore starting your own blog on any of these sites above (plus two more sites I’ll be mentioning below) is a good idea.
Now that you’ve picked your niche, and have roughly set your portfolio (sans writing samples) up, you’re ready!
Pick certain keywords that you think are popular in your niche. If you’re in Personal Finance, keywords such as ‘work from home’, ‘freelance jobs online’, ‘job boards’ may be popular topics that are searched for.
You’re not looking to rank on page 1 of search engines at the moment. You’re looking to develop a writing style, get the hang of doing research, and find out the different ways of creating content that allows you to write good quality content.
Therefore, use these sites (Clippings.me, Journo Portfolio and Contently) as your sandbox to produce several articles that you think you can showcase as published work.
Here are two more places you can write on for free. Why I include these two platforms is because they have so much traffic on them, you’re bound to be discovered within your first year. You can easily build your reputation as a freelance content writer on these two sites.
Medium has an existing traffic of 85 to 100 million monthly users. That’s mind-boggling, isn’t it?
It means writing on Medium gives your work a chance to be seen by anyone across the world!
Medium is awesome in the sense that it’s free to sign up for and you can start writing immediately. Its paid plan only costs $5 a month but that gives you unlimited access to articles you can read on this amazing platform. This may be important if you want to read or access more than 2 articles a month (which the free plan limits you to) so that you can do more research and learn how other people write.
You can treat Medium as your personal blog space. Like a social media platform, Medium allows you to follow other writers and vice versa. You can even comment or ‘clap’ for articles that you like to show your approval.
In the same way, people who read your articles are able to leave comments, follow you and generally give you feedback on your writing.
It’s a great place to start!
My account on Medium allows me to introduce myself briefly on the right.
Medium also has over several hundred publications, many of which have an existing high stream of traffic.
Many of these publications welcome new writers and allow you to write for them, as long as you follow certain guidelines of theirs. The image above shows me writing for Bootcamp, a popular publication on Medium.
Here are more reasons why you should apply to write for these publications:
- Writing for these publications is free
- If your articles are not only accepted but pinned, they get better visibility and the chances of you getting discovered become a lot higher
- Many small business owners are always scouring these publications to find writers they like so they can reach out to them and offer them freelance writing work
- Medium is ranked highly on Google search, so if you use the correct keywords, chances of your article appearing on the first page of Google are incredibly high – that means even more visibility.
A step-by-step guide to writing for publications on Medium.
- Check out publications on Medium that you like and feel that you can write for.
- Read their guidelines on how to apply and what kinds of articles they allow
- Submit your application and wait for a reply
- Start writing, submit your guest posts and wait for the approval.
- Rinse and repeat.
This is one of the best places to gain writing experience and an easy way to get seen.
Readers can comment and clap for your articles.
LinkedIn is one of the world’s most popular platforms for landing jobs and generally talking about work, studies, and achievements. You can talk about your career path, experience, successes, and work insights.
You can find jobs on LinkedIn, as hundreds of thousands of companies list job opportunities on this platform.
You can also optimize your LinkedIn profile to show that you’re a freelance writer. It’s really an easy way to show small businesses (or even larger companies) that you’re the best writer for them.
How do you do this? By writing on the LinkedIn blog. Much like Medium, LinkedIn blogs are highly rated on Google and with the correct search terms or keywords, your blog will easily be highlighted on the first page of search engines.
Writing an article on LinkedIn
Simply go to your profile or home page, click on the ‘write article’ button, and start writing!
There are seriously so many ways for you to start writing online for free, with hard work and perseverance, you can easily have a successful freelance writing business.
Excited? Hold your horses. There’s more!
5. Promote Your Work On A Social Media Platform
Now that you have several articles written, and you know that you can be seen on Medium, LinkedIn, and more, you will still have to promote these writing works on your own so you get more eyeballs on them.
The easiest way will be to share these articles on social media. You can post it in Facebook groups, on your own website (if you have one), on your Instagram posts and stories, on Twitter, and more.
The most important things about posting on social media platforms are to:
- Know what days and times your audiences are most active on those platforms
- Post regularly and consistently
- Create funny or captivating captions so people click over to read your posts
- Get your family members and close friends to comment so your posts stay bumped up and visible
- Continuously put out your best work
6. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The next step after getting several posts up will be to learn SEO.
Freelance writing can be a long term and full-time job, hence it makes sense for you to better yourself and keep learning along the way.
SEO is basically where you make your posts more visible on Google Search and if possible, rank on search engines.
SEO includes things such as:
- Highly targeted keywords
- Easy to read text and format of the blog post
- High-quality writing content
- Fast page load speed (a page that loads slowly affects readability and increases bounce rates)
- Highly optimized landing page on your own website
- User-friendly page without banners or advertisements that affect user experience
SEO sounds daunting, but like all things, once learned it is actually very simple to understand.
A great online course I’d recommend for learning SEO is Stupid Simple SEO. Attend the free masterclass and see if this is for you.
I took this course and was amazed by how detailed and step-by-step it was, especially when I literally knew nothing about search engine optimization at that point. If you want a headstart on SEO, this will be what I’d recommend.
7. Guest Posting
So now you have your portfolio, some writing samples, maybe a client or two, and know some SEO. What’s next?
The next step will be to guest post.
What is guest posting exactly?
Guest posting is when you offer to write a post for a local business, a local newspaper, or other online businesses (from anywhere in the world) in return for backlinks to your site. This means you write them a post, and then include a URL in that post that links back to your site.
This is called a backlink.
The more backlinks you can get over time, the more authority your site will gain in Google’s eyes. This means your domain rating will increase, and eventually, the chances of your own website ranking on search engines becoming highly possible.
When you know SEO and you have a strong domain rating because of the number of backlinks you get, you’re well on your way to a great freelance writing career. Granted, this takes time, but with these tips, you’ll be able to achieve your goal much faster.
Guest posting also helps you to build connections with other entrepreneurs and bloggers that you write for. In return, you get better feedback on your work versus that of Medium and LinkedIn’s, because this post is going to be published on a real business or blog site.
How do you guest post?
- Check out companies, businesses, bloggers and influencers within your niche
- Use the search function ‘niche’ + ‘guest post’ or ‘niche’ + ‘write for us’ to find people who are open to having guest posts written for them and are happy to link back to you.
Example: If your niche is in baking, you can type in the search bar of Google:
Egg tarts + guest post
Egg tarts + write for us
- Once they reply to you and give you the green light, use SEO tools like Ubersuggest or Ahrefs to search for topics that can help them rank, and that hasn’t been written by their competitors yet.
- Remember, guest posts are not about you and what you want to write. It will be about the business you’re writing for and what suits their niche and company brand.
- Propose several topics and write on the one they pick
- Request for writing guidelines because every business or blogger has their own preferred number of words, formatting, and style
- Produce high quality work that links internally to their other posts, while linking back to yours in a natural manner
- Submit and await publishing (they may or may not edit your post)
- Rinse and repeat until you have a good number of backlinks and have reached the domain rating you want or are happy with.
It is worth noting that guest posting requires a certain effort at researching the company you’re interested in writing for, sending a cold email, and doing cold pitching. The main thing is to come across as authentic and link back to your writer website or blog so they can check out your portfolio.
If you’re having trouble deciding to who write to besides the helpline, use Hunter.io, a tool that helps you to find the email address of the person in charge of the blog – which will be the correct person you want to reach out to.
Types Of Writing And Content Marketing
Whew! That was quite the ride!
There are many types of writing you can do, and these include (but are not limited to)
- Technical writing
- Creative writing
- Copy Editing
- Grant Writing
- eCommerce Writing,
And much more.
If you’re wondering how much you should charge, check out this other post of mine that talks about rates. You can charge an hourly rate, a per-word rate, per project rate, and much more. There is also a free resource that you can use to calculate your freelance rates!
There are many ways to start freelance writing. You can follow the steps outlined above, but if you’re in a hurry to make money, check out this blog post for over 20 types of writing jobs you can do in 2022, as well as job boards and hiring platforms you can check out to land a writing gig immediately.
Businesses and companies are always on the lookout for great writers and are willing to pay a lot to get great content written for their sites. Freelance writing, in a nutshell, is something you can do for a long time behind the scenes and a good way to ensure you have consistent income while working from the comfort of your home (or anywhere in the world).
As long as you have your trusty laptop with you and a strong Internet connection, you’re good to go.
While it is certainly not a walk in the park getting started, the ones that make it are the ones that do not give up. Granted, competition is rife and there are many freelance writers out there, but remember that your style is yours, and is unique to you.
If you find clients who like your style and are happy with your work, you’ll only need a few of them to make great money every month!
As with all freelance jobs online, good ethics, consistency, and the intention to always overdeliver will take you far.