Freelance Writing 101: Who is a Freelance Writer?

A freelance writer is a self employed professional who writes for a living. They can work for magazines, publications, or websites. Most freelance writers are paid per article, per word, or per project, depending on the kind of work they handle.

Wondering how to become a freelance writer and find high paying jobs? You have reached the right place. I have been into freelance writing for over 6+ years (even before work from home was considered cool), and throughout this time, I have learned a lot about what it takes to be a good content writer and find high paying writing jobs.

If you are someone like me who has a love for writing and want to turn your hobby into an actual career that can pay your bills freelance writing is one the best options.

When I started out as a freelance content writer in 2015, I had little to no knowledge about the whole thing. I had been managing my personal blog for sometime, so I knew I liked it, but I had no idea how to get paid to write So, I did what any normal person would do: I researched, asked around, and googled everything related to content writing.

I checked freelance job websites, stalked other freelance writers online, read a lot about content writing, and five years later, I can proudly say that I made it. It is possible to become a full-time freelance writer and work from home — if you follow the right path and strategies.

Who is a freelance writer?

A freelance writer is a self employed professional who writes for a living. They can work for magazines, publications, or websites. Most freelance writers are paid per article, per word, or per project, depending on the kind of work they handle.

While some freelance writers majorly create thought pieces and creative essays for magazines, others (like me) take the marketing phase and become a freelance content writer. As a content writer, you develop targeted content marketing strategies that help brands improve their organic traffic, search engine rankings, conversions, and overall brand awareness.

What is freelance writing?

Freelance writing means when you are paid for your writing services by companies or clients without officially being employed by them. Working as a freelance writer gives you the option to work at your leisure, from wherever you want — whether its your home, a cafe, or a rented workspace. While offering your writing services, you can either have a single client or multiple clients simultaneously. The workload also varies and can be either short term or a steady and ongoing project. Moreover, freelance writing gives you the scope of writing in a niche like culinary or picking up topics as diverse as automobiles and architectural design. A specialization or niche while being a freelance writer, however, tends to bring more assignments and income as compared to a generalist.

How to become a freelance writer?

Starting out as a freelance content writer seems like a natural option for many. However, from my experience, most of the writers who start freelancing enthusiastically burn down in just a few weeks because they realize it isn’t as fun and great as they thought.

If you want to write freelance you would require more discipline that you would see in a conventional office space. There is also very little room for errors – You mess things once with a client by delivering late or plagiarized work and chances are, they won’t be assigning you any more work.

Put together a small portfolio

Clients are doubtful about hiring new freelance writers and hence they often ask you to share your portfolio to get an idea about your style of writing. The best way would be to offer a sample (paid, not free) to the client instead. That way, they would be willing to hire you if they liked your work, and even if they didn’t, you would have a sample to add to your portfolio.

Portfolio is an important aspect to working as a Freelance Writer

Start pitching for jobs, excessively

Nobody and I mean nobody is going to offer you jobs directly. If you wish to begin as a content writer in India you should be ready to pitch for jobs excessively and email prospective clients. When I started out, I spent two hours every day looking for new clients and contacting them. So, when you are beginning to write freelance even and you are sending out 20 emails a day, you could rejoice even if one of them reverts.

However, if you are cribbing about not getting jobs as a writer, then you are either not looking in the right places or not being proactive enough because there are truly ample freelance writing jobs out there in the market.

However, while working as a freelancer for content writing, you never know when a client might dump you. Hence you need to constantly look for newer ones.

Opt for digital instead of print publications

While seeing your name in print might sound alluring, it doesn’t have enough jobs or money to pay writers. Not to mention, many print publications may want you to travel to their offices.

Hence, for a content writer in India, the best bet would be to stick to digital publications and websites that have a large number of content requirements and would allow you to work remotely as well when you decide to write freelance.

Decide on your writing rates

Before you start pitching to clients, you need to decide your freelance writing rates. While it can be tempting to charge less than what the other writers are charging, I recommend you not do that. Assess your work and quality of writing to make sure you are getting paid for all the time you are putting in.

How to find freelance writing jobs

Finding reliable jobs is one of the most difficult and important things that you will have to do as a freelance writer in India. Nailing this part and finding a steady stream of revenue through freelance writing opportunities can make all the difference.

But, have you ever wondered what is freelancing? Freelancing is a business because you are your own boss. And to be successful at it, you need business acumen, otherwise, you may not be able to reach the right clients and get the right projects — no matter how talented you are.

Here are seven effective strategies to find opportunities as a content writer in India:

Word of mouth publicity

The best way to quickly find freelance writing opportunities from home is by leveraging your network. Connecting with other writers or firms through email or posting on LinkedIn regarding your availability to take freelance work as a writer are the two best options.

Send cold pitches

Don’t wait for clients to reach out to you – instead, email them about your writing services even before they start looking for a freelance writer.

Cold pitches can be scary and in most cases, you might not hear back, but even if you are able to score one project from sending 20 emails, then it’s all worth it. Here are a few tips for successfully sending cold pitches while looking for jobs in freelance writing:

  • Do not send copy/paste emails to every client. Research about their company, what kind of content they may want, and attach relevant samples only. It’s very easy for people to detect copy/paste emails and it will only put them off.
  • Use a tool like Mailtrack to check if your emails have been read or not.
  • Send only one followup email, a week after your first email.
  • Try to schedule your cold pitch emails for early mornings around 10 AM when most offices open and send them during the first half of the week.
  • Offer discounts to clients if they confirm a project within a stipulated period of time.

Get in touch with other writers

Often writers are contacted by clients for jobs for freelance writing which the latter may either not be interested in or they may not have the bandwidth to take up a new project. In such situations, most freelance writers, including me, try to connect clients to other freelancers who might be available.

Remember, what goes around always comes around. Hence, I actively try to help other freelancers for content writing to get projects because there have been many freelancers in the past who recommended me to their clients.

Update your LinkedIn

The best way to let clients know that you are looking for work from home jobs is by updating your LinkedIn profile. You can make changes to your LinkedIn status and current work status. You should also include links to your previously published articles on LinkedIn to help clients refer to those samples before connecting you regarding freelance writing opportunities.

Having a LinkedIn Profile as a freelance writer helps you make a network and explore opportunities.

Use your website

It is vital to maintain a personal brand and an online presence, especially when you are looking for online freelance writing jobs. You can use your personal website to provide information about yourself, your past clients, and your portfolio.

A writer website doesn’t just increase your credibility for your clients and makes you look more professional, but it also saves you time. Instead of copy-pasting the same information to clients over and over again–you can simply share the link to your website.

Maintaining a website as a Freelance writer helps clients access your work in one place rather than you sending them various links as samples.

Find a niche that can get you more jobs

Instead of selecting a niche on your own, find out what kind of niches generate the most jobs for a writer.

You can search on websites like Upwork or Freelancer which specifically offer online freelance writing jobs, to browse through the various opportunities the clients are usually posting. The more popular niches in freelance writing that also pay more than the standard prices include technology and finance.

Upwork is a great platform to find ample opportunities as a freelance writer.

Scourge the job boards

There are many online boards with jobs for freelance writing where clients actively post about their writing requirements.

There are also many Facebook groups where you might be able to find work from home jobs. Though I wouldn’t recommend those because most serious companies wouldn’t post their requirements on Facebook groups.

Problogger is another great platform with ample opportunities for browsing through Freelance Writer Jobs as per your niche.

Pursue recurring long-term projects

For freelancers for content writing, a well-paid long term project is worth more than a one-off high paying project because the former guarantees long term revenue.

If you are a new freelance writer in India then you should focus more on long-term projects with recurring requirements. You can offer clients a small discount if they guarantee work for the coming months (Make sure you get a freelance work agreement for long term projects so that clients don’t take advantage of your discounted rates and stop the project without any notice).

Use Twitter

Twitter is also a powerful platform that can help you connect with clients. Hashtags like #writingjobs or keywords like ‘looking for a writer’ can help you browse through various opportunities.

Twitter is a good platform for finding opportunities for freelance writers

Guest post on websites

A great way to build your resume as a freelancer for content writing is by guest posting on other websites. While some websites pay writers, others do not. Either way, it’s a great way to add some clippings to your portfolio, especially if you haven’t officially worked on too many projects.

Best practices and tips for a new freelance writer

Whether you are a newbie just dipping your toes in freelance writing or you have been at it for quite some time, and you just can’t manage to find a continuous stream of clients to take freelancing full-time.

Then stop what you are doing and get a notepad and pen, and write down your goals. Speak them into existence and let them out. When you are done, sketch a plan on how to make your goals a reality.

But remember to make realistic goals. You cannot write ‘I want to get published by the end of 2018’ if you don’t even have a book idea. Here are some freelance writing goals you can take up and plan ahead:

Pitch to that magazine/newspaper you have always loved

Every Indian content writer has that one magazine or newspaper they want to see their article published in, and I am sure you do too. So, instead of sighing every time you read that magazine, take a bold step and pitch an article to the editor. You could get the editor’s email address either through Twitter or LinkedIn. There might be a lot of reasons to not send that email, but remember – You have got nothing to lose.

In 2017, I finally overcame my fears and sent my article pitch to a newspaper I had always admired. The editor responded within an hour, and my article was published within two weeks. All because I took the courage to hit ‘Send’ on that email.

Ask more than your standard price

You might come across situations when despite your experience as a freelance writer you would be offered a low price for your services. That is, clients might belittle you about how you don’t deserve higher compensation. But, you might never reach a higher pay level until you ask for it.

Believe in yourself and your work. Ask for higher pay from new clients. Some may decline, but there will be some who agree with your rates.

However, while the most common goal of a freelance writer is to raise their pricing, I recommend you to raise your value as a writer first and then your rates.

It is quite unfair to the client when you ask for higher compensation but deliver the exact same quality of content. It doesn’t fiscally make sense for them.

Treat your work as your business

The thing about freelance writers is, they think too much from the heart. Writing and getting published means more to them than getting paid. But, you have to remember if you don’t get paid for writing, it’s just a hobby and not a career.

Freelance meaning, you can work from anywhere you want and on your own terms. But, you need to make a vow to treat your work as a business. Work as a professional, make timely deliveries, send invoices on time, and expect the same professionalism from others.

Create contracts for clients before starting projects and make sure they sign them. Invest in yourself and your freelancing career as much as you can. Remember, money makes money.

Send out formal invoices with proper templates. Value your time and your clients’ time as well.

Expand your portfolio by going beyond your comfort zone

While working as a freelance writer you might be comfortable with handling only travel and wedding-related articles. And, you don’t sign up for new projects which diverge from your niche. However, closing yourself as an Indian content writer off will only limit your work and as well as your income.

Instead, go beyond your comfort zone and expect new types of projects with confidence. It might look difficult initially and also require a lot of research at your end, but when you finally nail that project, you’ll be more proud of yourself than ever.

Having a niche is important. But expanding your writing skills and providing a variety of samples to your clients talks a lot about a freelance writer.

No submitting average work

Turns out, you underestimated the enormity of the project, and you don’t have enough time to submit it by the deadline. So, you quickly take an article off the internet, rewrite it exactly the same, and send over the article without even proofreading it properly.

The situation will only lead two scenarios – Either the client will completely reject your work or they will still pay you, but they won’t ever work with you again.

Submitting less than perfect work may seem like a great shortcut that gets your work done quickly and doesn’t make you stay up all night, but it isn’t helpful in the long term. Not to mention, when a client is paying you from their hard-earned money, they expect perfect work.

So, when you are nearing a deadline and you feel like submitting average work, remind yourself that you are better than that and get better time management skills.

Create a marketing plan to advertise your skills

If you have just been hoping for jobs for freelance writers to land in your lap without marketing your skills, then you will never be able to get a continuous stream of work that you want.

Create an online identity for yourself so that prospective clients can get a glimpse into your skills. You can start by creating your own online portfolio or launching an entire website of your own. Creating dedicated social media profiles to showcase and share your writing works as an add on.

Create a marketing plan to talk about your expertise as Freelance Writer.

Stop writing stuff that you hate

You probably started as a freelance writer in India because you love writing. But somewhere down the line, you started taking projects that required you to write stuff which doesn’t interest you even a bit. Why?

Nobody gets into writing for money, because it’s not such a lucrative business. So, why not take those jobs for freelance writers that make you sleep better at the end of the day?

I once refused to work with a tobacco company because of my principles, even though they were willing to pay me a lot. I have absolutely no regrets about that decision and I would probably do the same thing again, even if I was struggling to pay my rent.

Organize your work

Being a new freelance writer we tend to miss out on a lot of deadlines. Hence, I recommend you start using a project management tool like Trello or Asana to keep track of all your projects. You can also use time management tools and calendars to ensure you are on top of every deadline and you have enough time to finish every project.

Remember, finishing your work on time and organizing everything also means you are able to send invoices and get paid faster.

Top Apps for a Freelance Writer

These best apps won’t just make you a better writer, but they will also help you stay productive in your writers jobs from home and meet every deadline.

Writing

Grammarly

One of my personal favorites, Grammarly makes editing a breeze. I use it after I have already proofread the content because it helps me track down errors that I missed. Though it’s not a perfect tool, I would say, it’s 70% there. Also, it’s a freemium tool. You only get access to limited features for free. For the rest, you need to pay up.

Grammarly is a great tool for freelance writers. It helps check errors you might have overlooked despite proofreading.

Hemingway

Hemingway is like a ‘lite’ and a free version of Grammarly. It cannot pick out grammar or spelling mistakes, but it can help make your content more readable and easy to understand. It picks out the complicated sentences and marks them in red.

Hemmingway comes quite handy for Freelance Writers helping them create a more readable content.

yWriter

yWriter is one of the best apps for writing a book because it helps you write one scene at a time. If the standard text editors are making you go crazy with editing, word account, and innumerable chapters, then I highly recommend yWriter.

Whether a freelance writer or an author. If you need a simple tool for writing, choose yWriter.

Dropbox Paper

A rather new entry, Dropbox Paper was launched hardly 6 months ago and it has already stolen my heart. It’s perfectly minimal and distraction-free interface means you can concentrate on your thoughts and pour them out without getting interrupted.

Dropbox paper works wonders for freelance writers, for writing distraction free.

Google Docs

Dropbox Paper might be distraction-free but it’s more like a note-taking tool and less like a text editor. There is no way to add subheadings, indenting, or spell check on it.

That is the reason why Google Docs is truly a boon for freelance writers. It is an all-in-one suite and its real-time saving feature means you never have to worry about losing your files.

Google Docs has proved a boon for Freelance writers. You never have to worry about losing your work.

Productivity

Mailtrack

Mailtrack is a Google Chrome extension that lets you know if the recipient has read your sent email or not. Similar to Whatsapp, sent emails have a single tick on them and once the mails have been read, they get a double click.

The best part – you can also see which device the recipient used to read your email. Very handy for a freelancer writer.

As a Freelance Writer if you constantly worried if your email was read or not, get Mailtrack.

Google Calendar

If I had to choose the best productivity apps for writers, it would be Google Calendar. It’s simple, effective, and integrates well with other apps as well. So, if I have a deadline on Trello or Asana, it instantly gets added to my calendar and I can see my entire schedule together.

Google calendar is one of the must-have tools for freelance writers to organize their work and manage deadlines.

Coffitivity

Here’s why I cannot write most of the time:

  • It’s too noisy around me
  • It’s too quiet

Coffitivity helps solve both of those problems with white noise, and not just any white noise, it has office and cafeteria sounds.

If you are a freelance writer who cannot work in absolute silence, then Coffitivity is your tool for all sorts of background noises.

Project Management


Wave apps

Wave is an all-in-one tool which helps you with invoicing and keeping track of your expenses. You can also connect it with your bank account to automatically check your monthly income and expenditure. I use it consistently for quick invoices and it never disappoints.

Freelance writing means number of invoices for your work. Wave App helps you get organized.

Dragon Dictation

Got struck by inspiration but you can’t write it down? You can use Dragon Dictation to convert your thoughts directly into words and send them to your email!

Every freelance writer gets stuck with writing once in a while. You know what to write but words fail you. Dragon Dictation is your tool.


Audio recorder

I write for some newspapers, which means, I often have to interview people. Now I can type fast, but there are times when I often forget an important point. And that is why I use a sound recorder app for that. This app, Audio recorder, is easy to use and free.

Working as a freelance writer we have to interview people. Audio recorder is your key to save everything they talk about..

 

Common FAQs about being a freelance writer

A freelance writer provides content as per their client’s requirements, specific to a topic. The work mainly entails researching on the given topic and delivering the work within the stipulated time frame.

Start with deciding a niche and creating an online portfolio of your work. Make a goal to send a specific number of pitches to prospective clients in your niche. You may also browse through the various online freelance writing websites like Upwork and Problogger for freelance writing jobs.

A person who is not officially employed by a company or an organisation, but gets paid for their services to them. A freelance content writer can work from home or anywhere they are comfortable from.

Salary of a freelance writer varies on their niche and their experience in the content writing industry. For a beginner it could range from INR 5000 to INR 25,000 per month while for an experienced writer it could go as high as INR 2,00,000 per month.

Freelance content writing means when you are not bound by an official contract while working for a client. You undertake online projects as per your interests, do sufficient research on the given topic, and deliver content as per the client’s requirements within the given deadline.

The compensation for a 500 word article depends on a number of factors. The time frame decided for the article, the amount of research required, does the topic fall in your niche, etc.. However, for a 500 word article you may charge from INR 500 to INR 5000

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