One of the most common questions I get asked is — How to become a freelance writer with no experience at all? And honestly, I don’t know how to answer it in a single sentence because there is just so much that goes into freelancing.
The first step towards becoming a freelance writer is understanding what it really entails and if it is truly something that interests you. If you only want to become a freelance writer because it allows you to work remotely, then there are so many other easier work from home jobs that you can consider which can guarantee you a quicker and steadier pay.
But, if writing is your true calling, then becoming a freelance content writer will be the best thing ever. In this article, I cover everything that you would need to know about freelance writing.
Steps to become a freelance writer
Research about freelancing and content writing
Develop content writing skills
Start pitching to clients
Use the right tools
Create a portfolio online
Manage your time and money effectively
Learn from your mistakes and keep pushing forward
I delved into freelance writing over fours years ago and I haven’t looked back. Although, I did learn a lot of lessons during this time. The biggest mistake I made was writing for free. I quickly learned that writing will forever be my hobby if I don’t make money.
[bctt tweet=”The only way to actually make a career out of writing is by getting paid for it” username=”indianscrewup”]
I also made sure to set fixed freelance writing rates and actually stick to them. Taking up two projects where you get properly paid is better than four projects where you are underpaid.
Of course, the biggest change happened when I set up my writer profile, created a portfolio online, and decided on my niche — technical writing. As someone who comes from an IT background, technical writing came easy to me and there was a lot less competition in it which helped me get high paying jobs.
Who is a freelance writer?
Just any writer that works on a project basis with clients, instead of working dedicatedly with a company as a salaried employee. I work with several companies at the same and help them with their content needs.
Is freelancing better than a desk job?
This is a very subjective question, because the answer can be different for different people. Freelancing obviously gives you the freedom to work on the type of projects you want and set your own schedule, but at the same time, it cannot give you the financial security of a desk job.
You don’t get all your invoices cleared at the end of every month. Sometimes it can take weeks or even months to get paid. So, if you are planning to become a full-time freelance writer in 2020, make sure you have enough funds and projects with you.
How do freelance writers get work?
Most freelance writers have to actively contact clients in order to land projects. There are many websites where you can find freelance writing opportunities, or you can also directly contact companies about their content needs.
How much do freelance writers in India make?
This is probably the most asked question. People email me about this ALL THE TIME.
But this is also a very subjective question and there is no right answer. I know freelance writers in India who hardly make INR 2000 and I also know writers who make over 25 lacs per year.
The difference? It all lies in their experience, writing skills, and business acumen.
Do you have to have a degree to become a freelance writer?
No, absolutely not. I actually have a degree in software engineering and that has never been an issue for me.
[bctt tweet=”When you are a freelancer, your portfolio becomes way more important than your CV” username=”indianscrewup”]
What does it mean to be a freelance content writer in India?
It means you work as a freelancer and help create content for clients. This can include creating an entire content strategy from scratch or just writing blogs and articles.
You don’t have to necessarily restrict your work to freelance writing. You can also become a freelance copywriter, freelance editor, or a freelance journalist.
The step by step guide to become a freelance writer in 2020
The first step is to research and understand what it really takes to become a freelance content writer. Get a clear idea about the client requirements and expectations so that you know exactly what needs to be done. You can browse through the content writing projects posted on Upwork to see the usual client requirements.
Here are some freelance writing websites that can help give you a better idea
Learn how to write a blog post and hone your skills as a content writer. While there are many books and online courses that you can refer to, practice is what will make you perfect.
Editing is also a very important part of the process and you should learn how to edit your writing to perfection.
When it comes to content writing, I spend 40% of time researching, 20% writing, and 40% editing. Yes, it’s that important!
Now that you have honed your writing skills, it is time to reach out to clients and get some projects. You can find thousands and thousands of freelance writing opportunities online, it all depends on where you are looking.
You can check out the following resources for freelance writing job opportunities:
Note: When you pitch to clients, make sure you have a good understanding of their requirements and you are only sending them relevant content samples to review.
It is easy for clients to realise that you have just copy/pasted proposals. Instead take your time to convince the clients why you are the best fit for the project
Being a freelance writer means working on your own with no support or colleagues. You are responsible for managing everything — Communicating with clients, planning project deadlines, sending invoices, and tracking payments.
Now all of this can seem incredibly overwhelming, which is why you need to use the right tools and apps to automate and track as many processes as you can. Of course, what works for someone else might not work for you. So, don’t hesitate to try out new tools until you find the perfect ones. Here are some tools that I personally recommended.
Creating an online portfolio doesn’t just help you easily showcase your previous work to clients, but it also builds authority. Your portfolio doesn’t need to have 20-30 clippings in it. Just pick out 4-5 of your favourite articles and add them to your portfolio. There are many tools online that allow you to create custom portfolio links and they even have free freelance portfolio templates.
I know what it feels to love your work so much that money becomes secondary, but that doesn’t mean you should let clients take advantage of you. As a freelance content writer, you should always make sure of the following:
- Be open and honest about your pricing with the clients: Instead of just creating a flat pricing rate card, understand the client’s content requirements first and then analyzes how much time it would take for you to handle the project to provide accurate estimates and timelines
- Get paid for your time: If a client wants you to attend team meetings, conduct interviews, or have long planning phone calls, then you need to be compensated for all the time you are putting into the project
- Create a freelance contract: For every project, make sure you get the contracts signed from the clients. You can use tools like HelloSign or DocuSign to get the contracts signed digitally. Push clients for a 30-50% advance payment as well
- Track all your invoices diligently: Also, make sure you have a late payment clause in your contract
There is a lot that goes into freelancing and you will definitely face a few road bumps in your journey. While it is easy to get disheartened, pushing forward should be the only way to go.
The clients didn’t like your content? Ask them for specific feedback to see how you can make your writing better.
Lost an important project? Analyze why and apply those lessons in your future projects.
Don’t have enough clients? Double your project pitchings. If you were pitching for 3-4 projects a day, start pitching for 6-8 projects a day?
How to become a freelance writer in 2020? Start writing everyday and honing your skills. It is just as simple as that.
Is there anything I missed or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments!