freelance writing online for beginners

Freelance Writing for Beginners: An 8 Step Guide

Do you like to write? Do you want to get paid for your writing? Freelance writing for beginners is tough. You don’t know where to start, what to charge and how to find clients.

I was in the same boat!

But, I finally figured it out and want to show you an 8-step process I followed. The simple process  helped me go from clueless, to a healthy pipeline of paid writing clients.

If you are interested in work from home jobs, read these articles first :

Best Work From Home Jobs

How to Become a Well-Paid Online Editor

How to Become an Online Teacher (I made $6,000 per month!) 

How to Become a Virtual Assistant With No Experience

How to Get Paid While You Travel 

 

Freelance Writing for Beginners: 8 Steps

1.Decide on the TYPE of writing you want to write about

2.Choose a niche

3.Create 3-4 Samples

4.Create a writers website

5. How to find paid clients

6.Decide what to charge

7.Get paid

8.Get recurring work

1. Decide on the TYPE of writing you want to write about

There are many types of content you can write about. Think about all the things you read online, e-books, blogs, websites, magazines.. someone was paid to write this stuff!

Here are some examples of writing you can do :

  • Blogs

These are typically 800-1200 words long, although I’ve noticed that companies are now favoring ‘long-form’ content. This is content that exceeds 2000 words.

Why?

Because it makes them rank higher and easier to find on Google.

The style of the content is normally conversational and written for a specific blog audience.

Blogs consistently need to be updated, so it’s a great opportunity to get recurring work.

Examples :

freelance writing jobs for beginners on a food blog
  • Online Magazines

Magazines require more in-depth articles with more research, but they pay better.

Some magazines publish monthly or quarterly, rather than weekly, some work won’t be as consistent and recurring like blog posts.

  • E-books

It seems everyone and their dog has an autobiography, and often, they will hire someone to write it for them as they are busy.

Ghost-writing e-books is a popular writing career, because you can charge more.

Example:

The Art of the Deal- Donald Trump– written by Tony Schwartz

ghost-writing e-books
  • Websites

Every company should have a website so they can advertise their products and services to their existing and potential customers.

Someone needs to write product descriptions, update the website content and the company home page.

Examples:

A healthy drinks company

A stationary company

2. Choose a Niche

You need to decide on a specific area you are going to write on.

Why?

Because it allows you to build authority and become an expert. This will increase your chances of getting hired and help you increase your rate.

For example:

If you have a chronic back issue, do you go to a general doctor or a back specialist to fix it? Who would you pay more?

You go to the back specialist because they have the skills and expertise to fix your specific problem.

Same with writing, if a client needs someone to write about a finance topic.

They will hire a finance writer, who has the skills and expertise to write about finance topics properly.

So how do you decide your niche?

  • Education

You could write about topics related to your educational background.

For example, I know a girl who writes for agriculture magazines because she has a degree in agriculture.

  • Work Experience

You could also write on topics related to your work experience.

For example, I worked in banking for over 8 years, so I am a personal finance writer 🙂

  • Passion and Personal Experience

You could also write about things that interest you. Your hobbies or your passion.

I have a friend who writes about health and wellness and another who writes specifically about sport.

3- Create 3-4 Samples

When you apply for writing jobs, they will want to see examples of your writing.

But how can you show examples if no one has hired you yet? it’s like the chicken and egg argument.

There are a few solutions :

  • Guestposting

Several websites are open to receiving guest posts. These are normally unpaid but it’s a great way to start freelance writing for beginnersand get your writing on a platform.

A really easy way to find guest posts is to google your niche + guest posts.

So for me :

Personal finance + guest posts

Write for us + personal finance

Here are some sites that accept guest posts :

Buzzfeed-Entertainment and Viral content

TODAY– Parenting and Food niche

Red Tricycle– Parenting niche

GoMadNomad– Travel niche (Paid!)

guest post on gomadnomad
  • Google Docs

You can just fire up google and start to write samples!

Create 3-4 well researched, easy to read writing samples and you can send the Google Docs link on as your portfolio when you apply for a job

  • Linkedin

Linkedin allows you to write an article and display a portfolio on it.

The added benefit of this is, your potential clients can have a look at your writing and hire you.

  • Medium

Medium is also a platform that allows you to submit and display your writing. If your post is popular, you can get paid for your writing!

Click here for more platforms linked to Medium you can write for

  • Contently

You can upload your portfolio of writing on Contently. You can add images and it looks professional. Here is an example of mine here:

writing online and showing portfolio using contently
  • Own blog

You could set up your own blog and display some of your writing here. Just like OutandBeyond is doing!

Now I have my own writers website, but when I began, I just had this blog and used the writing here as my portfolio 🙂

4-Create a Writers website

Like any business, once you invest time, money and effort into it…. it is more likely to succeed.

You can read my Step-by- step Guide on How To Create A Writer’s Website and then set one up yourself if you follow the 8 steps!

It is important to make your life as simple as possible when you are a beginner freelance writer, so reading a guide or doing a course will be immensely helpful.

These are the pages you should have on your writer’s website:

  • Homepage
  • Services/Hire Me Page
  • Portfolio
  • Blog
  • Contact Page
writing online website

 

5-How to Find Paid Clients

Now let’s get to the real question. HOW to how to get your first freelance writing job?

That was the biggest question I had when I started because let’s be honest, we all have bills to pay and things to save for!

(I am saving for a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro… any sponsors?!)

Also, I am all for chasing your passions but there is nothing glamorous about sleeping at a bus stop!

You can find freelance writing jobs for beginnerson Job Boards, FB groups, Content Marketing Agencies or by cold pitching.

Job Boards

FB Groups

Content Marketing Agencies

What is cold pitching?

Cold pitching involves finding potential writing clients and pitching a writing opportunity to them. It is a great way to find freelance writing jobs online for beginners.fre

But if they haven’t advertised it, they don’t need you right?

WRONG.

Sometimes they may need you, but they have had the time or budget to advertise a writing opportunity.

OR

They may not need you now, but they will contact you in the future when an opportunity arises

This has happened to me many times.

The best part is, you aren’t competing with hundreds of other writers applying to the job boards.

How do I pitch? 

Quite simply, you find the company you want to write for and send them a prospect email!

Here is an example :

writing pitch for online writing jobs

To be quite honest, the only way I managed to create my own writer’s website, learn how to pitch and build a pipeline of clients was because I took this amazing freelance writing course.

It is called Write Your Way to Your First $1k, by Elna Cain.

She also teaches you how to get your $1000 writing by sharing her pitches and tips.

Within one month of taking her course, I had three new clients. I am only suggesting this as I took the course myself.

That is somehow you would spend on a nice meal! Spend it instead, on building a platform for your future savings 🙂

She shows you step by step using videos on how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and land high paying clients.

I think it is essential for anyone looking to start a freelance writing career, secure writing jobs from home and get paid well for it.

  • Content Mills

Content mills advertise online article writing jobs for beginners.

But, I would like to add a word of caution, these don’t pay well and I have never written for any of them.

Your best bet is to try the alternatives above HOWEVER, I also understand the fear of having no money.

If you are writing for free to get experience, then you may as well get paid.

So your last option is content mills.

 

6-What do I charge?

You don’t want to undervalue yourself but you also don’t want to scare the client away

I get it. I was the same

My advice is to start on the lower end when you are beginning to build value and reputation

You can quickly increase your rate once you have written for a few clients,

I started by charging less but now my rate is no less than $0.10 per word, for new clients.

I try and stick with this minimum rate, UNLESS there is a potential for a lot of future work, it’s an area that is easy for me to write on and I genuinely enjoy writing about it.

7-How do I get paid?

get paid writing online with transferwise

Generally, most of my clients pay me via Paypal. Although, some prefer bank account details.

So, I set up a TransferWise account, which provides me with bank details for different parts of the world.

Should I expect an upfront payment?

This is a hard one. Generally, I get paid at the end of each month once I submit an invoice.

You need to clarify the terms of payment i.e. payment upon invoice submitted? Payment upon publication? Ask the questions before you start writing.

8-How to Get Recurring Work

Ideally, you want to try and get as much recurring work as possible so you don’t spend all your time pitching for work.

The best way to get recurring freelance writing jobs online is to do this:

Here is what I do :

  • Deliver a well-researched article ahead of schedule, with images, grammar checked and sources quoted. Go above and beyond and spend extra time trying to wow the new client.
  • Once they receive it, ask them for feedback
  • If they give good feedback, ask them:

 ‘Would you like me to send a list of other potential headlines for you to review?’

or

 ‘What areas is your content thin? Would you like me to fill those gaps by sending a list of potential headlines?’

  • Have a dance-off with your laptop when you discover you have a robust pipeline of freelance work!

#thatshow

 

Freelance Writing for Beginners Tips:

1.Optimize your LinkedIn Profile and Twitter

Once you approach a company, 9/10 times they will check your LinkedIn to see what you are about.

I know this because I have seen editors check my LinkedIn profile after I send them a new pitch.

Make your profile look legitimate and professional

You can copy mine here and while you are at it, ADD ME on LinkedIn!

linkedin profile

2.Email Signature

I only realized how professional this looked until I received an email from a reputable well-known freelance writer and noticed she had a sleek email signature.

You have an email signature for an office job, this is no different.

Once you start treating your freelance writing like a business, you will start earning money like a business.

You can copy mine here :

email signature for writing online

 

3.Have a Pitch Spreadsheet and Follow Up

It’s always good to keep track of your pitches, email addresses, titles and most importantly, ALWAYS follow up.

I have received numerous writing opportunities after following up. However, leave a week before you follow up.

Example follow up email :

get paid writing jobs by following up

 

4. Scams

Unfortunately, there are scammers out there looking to take advantage of writers.

Some companies will ask you to write a free sample of 1,200 words and then you never hear from them again.

When I was starting out, I was naive and wrote a 1,200 ‘Test sample’. I saw my article on their website but I never received any recognition or payment from them. Grrrr!

A rule of thumb is, don’t write anything more than 300-500 words as an unpaid test sample.

 

Writing Tips

1. Write a good headline

A headline that hooks a reader and draws them in to read an article is almost as important as the article itself.

Here are some tools to help you came up with a good headline:

headline helper to help you with your writing career

2. Grammarly

ALWAYS use Grammarly to check the grammar, it’s free and easy to use,

3.Bullets or Numbered Lists

Bullets or numbered lists make an article easy to read.

Make sure you break your text up into easy to read points and numbers (like I did for you in  this article !)

4. Keep Your Paragraphs Short

Keep your paragraphs short and sweet. I know I violate this rule sometimes, but try and keep it no more than 3-4 sentences per paragraph.

5.Use Sources and Statistics

Always try and use external sources to back up any statements, it makes your writing more credible and professional,

Example, in this article,I quote The Huffington Post to back up my statement

6-Use Images

Have you ever read an article and its block of text after text?

I don’t know about you , but I have a short attention span and I like to be entertained when I read.

So, bullet points and images are great to keep a readers interested.

You can source FREE images from these websites:

use pixabay to help you find free images

Freelance writing for beginners is entirely possible.

You don’t need a fancy journalism degree or contacts (although that helps!). But I had neither and I still earn a full-time income that helps me pay my bills and save.

Do you have any other tips, please share them with us!

Ps; If you are looking for some extra ways to save while hunt for freelance writing jobs, here are a few articles which will help you save:

25 Quick Ways to Make Extra Money

21 Frugal Living Tips To Payoff Your Debt

How to Reduce Credit Card Debt (5 Effective Methods)

How to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Mortgage

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Hi there. My name is Aisha Preece. Founder and owner of OutandBeyond.

Being able to earn and save from any location in the world transformed my life.

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