Do you dream of a becoming a freelance writer? Would you like to earn your living by writing full-time, working from anywhere and at a time that suits you? Those are the three main benefits of freelance writing and why people often ask me how they can become a freelance writer too.
How I Became a Freelance Writer
I was a magazine journalist in Paris, France and I’ve been writing web copy since 1995 when I studied my MA in Design for Interactive Media. But it was years later I became a freelance writer and started charging people for my copywriting work.
Being a freelance writer is the perfect job for me because I like to live by the beach 90 minutes away from the big city of Brisbane. I’m lucky to be able to work from my hometown even though it’s a small holiday resort so jobs are scarce.
Freelance writing offers potential to earn a good living from writing and escape the trap of being the proverbial poor writer. Freelance writing hourly rates range from US$30-150 with a reasonable rate for an experienced freelance writer around $125 per hour.
As well as allowing me to get well paid for my writing, today I’m lucky that I get to pick and choose jobs.
Much of my work comes from web copywriting but blogging has allowed me to diversify into paid blog writing and travel writing including one sweet job where I had to get a massage or go stand up paddleboarding and write about it.
Sounds good? But before we get carried away let’s look into downsides of becoming a freelance writer.
Do You Really Want to Become a Freelance Writer?
These are the drawbacks which you need to consider before you rush into your new freelance writing career:
1. If you set up your own freelance writing business and work for yourself it will take time to get your business started. You may earn very little for six to twelve months. You need to have either a financial cushion to keep you going to begin with, or a full or part-time job that you can maintain while you become a full time freelance writer.
2. Even when your freelance writing business has been established 12 months or more when you’re self-employed you often have an irregular income. Some months you may earn only $2,000, the next month $10,000.
3. It can be lonely working from home. No more chats around the water cooler or after work drinks with your colleagues. Of course we have Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ to help fill that gap but social media can never replace face to face meets ups.
4. You need to be self-motivated, create your own deadlines and work on growing your business even when you don’t have any paid work.
5. Like any job there are boring parts to being a freelance writer. You might have to write sales copy about something uninspiring like air-conditioning units and you’ll have to get systems in place to organize invoicing and pay your own taxes.
Still up for becoming a freelance writer? Great. Then let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Freelance Writing Training, Skills and Qualifications
You don’t need to have any special qualifications to become a freelance writer, just a love of writing. The more you write the better your writing skills will become but a stint in a paid writing job where you write daily and stick to deadlines will help you improve fast.
This is the route I took to become a freelance writer. Think about how you can build up the writing and communication skills you need to become a good freelance writer.
- I have a degree in French and English so have a strong background in writing, grammar and communications.
- I’ve worked as a journalist which helped improve my writing skills and taught me how to write faster and more accurately.
- I have an MA in Design for Interactive Media which allowed me to specialize in web copywriting.
- I set up my own web and blog design business and started writing copy for my clients free of charge.
- When demand picked up I was able to start charging for web copywriting and that’s still a big part of my business.
- I started writing about travel on my travel blog then pitched print travel publications as a freelance writer. I’ve been published in print but it’s not as lucrative as other work and I sometimes get paid to write for other travel blogs like Gadling.
- I’ve done editing and writing jobs on reports and guides for local businesses and government organisations.
How Can You Become a Freelance Writer?
1. Practice your writing skills regularly
My advice to anyone who wants to become a freelance writer is to write. Start practicing and improving your writing skills now.
2. Start a blog
Create a showcase of your writing skills by starting your own blog. Make sure your blog looks good and presents you as the professional, well paid freelance writer you want to be. A sloppy looking blog or website will make you look sloppy.
Think about what other content you want to share and keep your about, contact and services page relevant and up to date.
In time you can add a portfolio or testimonials page.
Choose a blogging niche and stick to it then update your blog regularly – at least once a week to begin with.
Branch out into guest blogging for other blogs to grow your own blog and boost your portfolio.
You can find more information about how to get started in my ebook Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps.
3. Get some freelance writing experience under your belt
Become a member of freelance writers group The Freelance Writers Den with support from experienced freelance writers Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli teaching you how to get freelance writing jobs, where to look for them and how to make your freelance writing pay.
For a small monthly fee The Freelance Writers Den gives you learning materials galore, access to a supportive community, and the chance to ask great freelance minds for help becoming a freelance writer and growing your writing income.
Carol Tice is a dynamic writer who still works as a freelance writer and started teaching other people how to become well paid freelance writers because she hated seeing writers working for peanuts. I’ve had a look inside The Freelance Writers Den and led webinars with Carol and am affiliate for The Freelance Writers Den because I’m so impressed by her and what’s on offer.
The support and community will motivate you to stick with it but you also get to:
- Attend a live monthly Webinar;
- Join weekly live Den Meeting Q&A sessions;
- Enjoy unlimited, on-demand access to more than 200 articles, Webinars, teleclasses, and podcasts, organized into handy theme courses for your convenience — so you can learn what you need when you want;
- Get questions answered privately during weekly Den Mother’s office hours;
- Chat with other serious freelance writers 24/7 in the Den forums.
Click here to find out more about The Freelance Writers Den. The doors are only open from now until April 24th this month and spaces are limited so you can’t sign up right now make sure you register so you don’t miss out next time.
4. Get your first paid job
Accept that to begin with, when you don’t have much experience you’ll need to charge a lower rate but as time goes on and your experience increases along with demand you should be able to slowly increase your rate.
There are plenty of places you can look for work like Elance but I recommend business networking groups for face to face meet ups and online networking on Twitter. Other copywriters may also be happy to refer you work if they have too much on.
You can network online but do also get out of the house and go to local business groups or even social events. If you have an area of expertise organizing your own events can be an effective marketing tool.
6. Be versatile
Be prepared to write anything from reports to ebooks and website copy to magazine articles. There may be one area you prefer but to make your career as a freelance writer work you should be willing and able to take on almost any type of writing job.
That’s all I have to say about how to become a freelance writer. I love freelance writing so I’m happy to help you start your own freelance writing career and become a professional freelance writer if it sounds good to you.
The main key is to stick with freelance writing because no business is built overnight but in time you will gain the experience you need to make a success of it.
Resources to Help You Become a Freelance Writer
Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps is a timeless resource that will help you set up your own business and market it effectively. I wrote it specially to help small business owners and writers tap into the power of blogging.
The book demystifies blogging and is designed as a self-study course with checklists and activities so you don’t miss anything. It covers everything from blog planning and design to content writing and blog promotion.
There’s also a chapter on guest posting and a bonus chapter on motivation to make sure you stick with blogging long enough to reap the benefits. Click here to find out more here.
Mentoring Programs and Courses
The Freelance Writers Den is a membership site with a difference because it’s run by freelance writers for freelance writers. For a small monthly fee you get access to courses and forums as well as individual help from experienced freelance writers who know exactly what you need to do to make your freelance writing business work.
Click here to find out more about The Freelance Writers Den or register your interest in joining now. The doors are usually only open for a few days each month so be sure to leave your email address to stay in the loop.
Are you a freelance writer or would you like to be? Share your questions or tips in the comments.