Have you ever wondered if it was possible for you to make money by freelance writing? I’m here to show you how, and why, you can start your own profitable freelance writing business.
Freelance writing is appealing for a number of reasons. It gives you an opportunity to earn money while working from home on your own time. It pays well and if you enjoy writing like me, it only makes sense to get paid to do it!
I started TLB the summer of 2015, but it wasn’t until March of 2016 that I actually committed to blogging regularly. I started the blog simply to blog. I never thought it could ever lead to me making money, especially in such a short amount of time!
Since March of 2016, I have gone from making 1 cent from this blog to making a few hundreds of dollars a month – and my business is still growing.
I couldn’t have gained freelancing clients if it weren’t for my blog, so I consider my freelancing income as part of my blog profit.
While I have zero intentions of turning my freelance writing business into a full-time job as of now, it’s extremely comforting and exciting to know that I could fairly easily turn this into something more if I wanted to. In the meantime, however, I am too excited about where my day-time career is going, so freelancing will remain a fun side hustle.
If you aren’t yet convinced, here are more reasons why you should start freelance writing:
- Extremely low startup cost – pretty much just need a computer and internet!
- Work in the comfort of your own home
- You choose your projects and work
- Strengthens your writing skills
- Writing skills are extremely transferable to any job
- Make money!
- Create a business on the side for more job and income security
So did I sell ya? Here’s my guide on how to start your own successful freelance writing business.
Decide on your niche
If you’re considering freelance writing, it is assumed you have strong writing skills. While you may think you have the ability to write about any topic under the sun, I caution you against that.
Clients want to hire experts in their field. They want to hire people who are just as passionate about the topic at hand as they are. By choosing a few niches, you are automatically making yourself look more skilled.
Obviously, my niche is personal finance and career. I also have experience in travel writing and legal press releases (from my full-time job…more fun than it sounds!) While I mention my experience in travel and legal writing to those interested, I will continue to primarily advertise myself as a personal finance writer.
Create a business plan
To be honest, the opportunity to get paid to write kind of fell in my lap. I didn’t have a business plan, but since I’ve gotten more writing gigs, I’ve started working on mine. Learn from my mistake and start your business plan “write” off the bat (ok sorry for the pun. It was TOO good.)
Like I mentioned above, the best part of freelance writing is that there is extremely little overhead. You probably don’t need to rent office space, buy a brand new computer, or pay for much inventory. So don’t be intimidated by writing a business plan, even if you’ve never written one in your life. Freelance writing will start off as a one-person show. You won’t have investors or anyone to present your business plan to, so it’s okay to be extremely simple. But you should write a business plan to create a clear picture of your company to yourself and your clients.
A simple business plan for freelance writing could include:
- What is your company and what does it aim to do?
- What services will it provide and to whom?
- How will you market your services?
- How will you charge and collect money for your services?
Having a business plan will save you a ton of time and confusion. Once you understand your business, you’ll set yourself up for success when finding clients to hire you.
Start a blog or website
I can’t stress this enough. My clients have even said they wouldn’t hire anyone without a blog or website and it makes total sense.
Clients want to be able to see living examples of your work and they want to know that you are technologically savvy enough to put up with the demands of virtual writing.
Having a blog in your niche shows that you have current knowledge of your topic and that you understand how to write articles that people want to read! It helps potential clients understand your style of writing and who you are as a person.
If you aren’t sure about the whole blog thing, at least consider starting your own professional website. Make sure the design is aesthetically pleasing and that it is accessible and easy to navigate. You’ll want to include examples of your work and provide potential clients with an easy way to contact you.
Reach out to clients
With millions of websites and blogs out there, you can’t just sit back and wait for people to stumble upon your freelance writing business. You really need to work for those first few clients.
Think of who might need your services. Are they companies? Bloggers? Make a master list of potential clients and their contact info.
If you are regularly commenting on blogs you would like to write for, it’s easy to just shoot the blogger an email saying you enjoy their work and to keep you in mind if they are looking to hire writers. Having natural relationships with other writers is incredibly helpful for more reasons than finding work!
If you’re reaching out to large companies and websites, however, you likely do not have a direct contact. These are big-time businesses, so keep it professional. Simply find a contact form and send a professional email, stating that you are a follower of their work and that you would like to be considered as a contributor and why they should accept you. If you have links to any work, include a few.
If you’re not feeling super confident with reaching out to larger companies, focus first on scoring some smaller clients. They are more likely to work with you and teach you a few things and give you references to other clients.
But whoever you are emailing, make sure it is written well and always err on the side of professional. Even as a small blogger, I get emails from writers that start with “Hey,” and have a ton of spelling errors. Not a good look!
Keep in mind that you will face rejection a lot. It isn’t fun, but not everyone is always hiring freelance writers, or they may have a different budget. You have to keep trying and once you score one, the rest come easier!
Have a service mindset
Freelancing is NOT EASY. There are strict deadlines and it’s up to you to create contact. If you’re not an organized person, it can be challenging to cater to multiple projects and deadlines.
So above all, remember to only take on what you can provide exceptional service for, and make sure the client is a good fit for you. One of the best parts about being a freelancer is that you can choose who you want to work with.
It might be tempting to take on a ton of jobs and clients who either aren’t writing about a subject you are knowledgeable in or who are very demanding to work for. Don’t chase the money! Only take on what feels right and what you can do well. For example – I personally would never, ever take on a sports freelance writing project. Because I. Know. NOTHING about sports! I would waste my time trying to research the topic and be disappointing to the client. I wouldn’t be delivering exceptional service and my career would suffer.
As you gain more clients, keep in tune with their needs and wants. Some clients may want you to check in often, while others may want you to charge ahead with little direction. If you’re not sure what they prefer – ask! Ask all your questions ahead of time so they are out of the way. You will want to ensure you both are on the same page moving forward.
Understand the business side
Freelancing should be run like a business. You need to dedicate time to the financial side of your business, the marketing, and customer service.
You’ll need to develop a process. How will you organize conflicting deadlines? How will you invoice clients? How will you deliver your writing?
As far as the financial side goes, keep in mind – you likely are not paying taxes on whatever you earn, so you will be responsible for your own quarterly taxes! This means you will have to pay money in taxes every quarter, so it’s important to save your earnings. The last thing you want as a freelancer is a hefty tax bill!
DC over at Young Adult Money wrote this amazingly helpful article about freelance taxes – check it out!
To keep track of my freelance finances, I personally have my own Capital One 360 savings account, where I put all of my freelance earnings. I also put my travel fund, wedding fund, and emergency fund all within my Capital One 360 savings account, which is why I love it so much! Use my referral code and get $25 when you open an account with at least $250 in it.
My personal experience with freelance writing has been amazing. I honestly had no idea I could grow the beginnings of a business from home so quickly.
The fact that I can pick my own clients, make money from home, and create my own schedule while having almost no overhead makes freelancing a fun and profitable business. I love that I can grow it as much as I want…it’s very empowering!