The Ultimate Financial and Practical Guide for Successful Freelance Writers

You made the decision to write for a living, which is amazing, but scary at the same time. Many writers are on a freelance mode, which comes without the safety net of a monthly paycheck.

To get started right, there are many aspects of this decision you need to analyze and explore that will help you to make your action plan a reality.

Our ultimate guide will share with you important tips on how to break into the industry, what to avoid, and how to capitalize on your writing consistently. And just to be clear, writing a book is not the only way to make it as a writer.

Let’s dive in.

General Tips

Before we give you the outlines to get started, we believe it is important to keep these tips in mind.

1.   Stop Doubting Yourself

In life we have the freedom to make choices. Our choices are either taken out of love or fear. This is a powerful rule to keep in mind for everything you do.  When you choose to act because of love we receive positive results.

When we choose to act based on fear, then we live in regret and disappointment. Do not let fear stop you from writing. Clearly, if you feel the calling, you have something to share with the world.

2. Just Do it

Stop over analyzing your level of expertise and your ability to deliver.

Even if you have not booked a gig yet, go ahead and start writing. Make it a point to write 1000 words a day. Train yourself on speed, on editing your own content and meeting your own deadlines. This will be a crucial skill to have in place for when you eventually book a writing gig.

3. Adjust Your Expectations

Having a career as a writer is possible, and can be very lucrative. However, part of the reason many fail is that their expectations are not set properly.

You are not likely to strike gold on your first go.

We’ve all heard the stories of the countless rejection letters J.K Rowling received for the Harry Potter series. Most good things in life take time and endurance.

It is as if life itself is testing you to make sure this is what you want to do.

We hope that you are the exception to the rule and that you make it on your first attempt, but regardless how many tries it takes, keep at it.

4. Join Writer Communities and Update your Social Media  

Find and join writer communities on social media. These communities are filled with people starting the same journey with you, and people who have already been through the growing pains.

We cannot stress how important it is for you to have access to communities of like-minded people to ask questions, seek opportunities, and collaborate with in order to grow.

On the same note, if there are any workshops in your area, join and meet in-person other writers.

Do Not Forget: Before you join, make sure that your social profiles reflect the fact that you are a writer.

Extra Tip: Sometimes in order to be given an opportunity you can ask for a free trial. Show them what you are capable to do before asking for money.

Financial Tips to Help You Get Started

Getting your financials in place while you begin your new journey as a writer will help you feel less stressed and better equipped to cope with the transition.

1.   Start While you Have a Job

Although most of us are itching to just quit our 9 to 5 job and completely focus on writing, we need to make sure we have an income stream coming in to pay the monthly bills.

Otherwise the stress will be too much for us to enjoy writing. An alternative is to take a part-time position to free up some extra time to focus on writing.

    2.  Prioritize

Every time we make a fresh start, we have an opportunity to make adjustments all around.

For example, switching to a career as a writer might take some sacrificing. Many writers we know, decided to quit their jobs, and in order to balance the financial risk, they also downgraded their living situation.

Smaller house / apartment, cut out excessive spending, and learning how to budget and manage your time accordingly can all help balance out the financial challenges you might meet at the start of your new adventure.

Being a writer requires high levels of self-discipline, so until it comes naturally to you, write down your daily schedule and adhere to it.

Do Not Forget: Evaluate your monthly expenses, learn to buy cheap, cook at home more, and create a rainy day fund.

Extra Tip: Many new writers find other small projects to help them offset the cost of transitioning to a new career. Remember that when pursuing freelance writing and you decide to quit your full time job, it is good to consider setting up other streams of revenue.

Ways to Break into the Industry

We have put together for you a list of way to get you started.

1.   Look for Content Agencies

A simple search online will yield many results. Do not spend too much time searching. Instead we suggest taking one by one all the agencies and sending an introductory email. A valuable resource when looking for agencies are the social media communities you’ve joined.

Ask people for a referral or if they know anyone who is hiring. Take a look at what the particular agency focuses on, and make sure you can deliver content on those subjects.

In the email include your CV, a writing sample / samples, introduce yourself and why you believe you will be a good addition to their team of writers.

Do Not Forget: If you are just getting started and you do not have a portfolio you can showcase, ask for an opportunity to cover an article for free to show them what you can do.

Extra Tip: Do your research before approaching any agency.

2. Do Not Place Huge Efforts Bidding for Jobs

Although bidding for a writing job is okay, it will not be the long term solution you are looking for. Considering the jobs you can get through bidding as “extra bonus” and not your main channel for income.

If you do want to bid for a few jobs to get your portfolio going that is okay.

Do not Forget:

  1. Write a statement of work which will tell the client what you will do and proposals that is primarily focused on how the client will benefit from what you do.

  2. Research the topic and do not be vague in your communication.

  3. Answer quickly and respectfully to any inquiries the client has.

  4. Only bid on subjects you know you can deliver, and eventually you will be able to take on bigger, better paid projects.

Extra Tip: Speaking from experience, editing is harder than you think. It is sometimes hard for the same person who writes an article to edit the article. Your brain is predisposed to see what you mean and not what you write. If you can, ask for a friend to take a look at the article and give editing suggestions.

3. Approach Big Companies

Many companies are looking for content writers for their social media, marketing campaigns, email campaigns, and general marketing content.

Also, do not be afraid to go big, but choose an industry you are familiar with.

Some examples include:

  1. Medical Companies

  2. Education Services

  3. Food Industry

  4. Financial Companies

  5. Entertainment Venues

  6. Event Planners

  7. Gaming Industry

Pick any of the above, or any other industry you are familiar with and you trust that you can deliver high quality content for. Remember that content is king.

Do not Forget: Do your research on any company you are about to approach and have suggestions at hand on how you can help them achieve better results with high-quality content.

Make sure you have your pricing in place. Your pricing is best presented in packages, where you suggest taking care of their blog, or blog and social media, etc.

Extra Tip: If you are just getting started, keeping your prices low will make it easier for companies to give you a chance.

4. Focus on Creating Something Completely Unique

This is not going to yield results immediately, but it will be fun and it can ultimately set you apart from so many other writers. You can go out and interview local celebrities, political figures, show owners etc.

Then you can sell this content to relevant publications, websites, magazines or even content management agencies.

This is an incredible opportunity to also network and create a name for yourself.

Do Not Forget: Make the approach and the interview fun for them. Let them know that this is intended for specific websites or publications you already have in mind. Share this information with them to show you are serious about your work.

Extra Tip: Celebrities and politicians are busy people, so you can always offer the option to send them the questions for them to answer and email them back to you.

5. Promote Yourself and Let Others Find you

Regardless of what approach you decide to take, it is best if you also let people know you are available. You never know who is looking.

You can run short, targeted social media advertisements promoting your content to local companies.

You can build a simple website to include your pricing and a general question submission form, and advertise that via social media.

You can offer editing services too, if you can a keen eye for detail. Writing an eBook and releasing it on the various free-of-charge portals will also give you credibility.

Do Not Forget: Update your LinkedIn and other social media to reflect what you are doing.

Extra Tip: Put together a free workshop, inviting business owners in your area to join you where you will discuss the power of content and how it can improve their performance. From there you can offer your services.

6. Donate your Writing Services

This is an incredible portfolio building technique, and you are also doing a good deed.

Find charities that need help to improve their content online and offer your services for free.

Do Not Forget: You can use this content as a sample when you are looking for paid jobs.

Extra Tip: When you write for charities, make sure you always keep in mind that you need a clear call to action to help those guys achieve their goals.

7. Bid on Government Contracts

Governments pay well and pay on time. This can be your best client if you manage to close the deal. We believe this is worth exploring but it should not be your single focus because it is extremely complex and competitive.

For more information on how to bid on government contract check out an American Express article on the subject.

Other Valuable Tips to Try Out

Many more ideas will show up once you get started. But here are some more valuable tips to keep in mind:

  1. Write as a guest for other blogs

  2. Consider developing a Youtube channel to brand yourself

  3. Start your own blog (eventually you can capitalize on selling ad space or doing reviews)

  4. Ask for recommendations

  5. Give marketplaces (such as Fiverr) a chance

  6. When picking up a new client always have a contract in place. For agencies they will usually present you with a contract

  7. Consider using co-working spaces, they are a treasure when it comes to networking.

  8. Always follow up on any unanswered emails, under the assumption that the prospect client might have not received it in the first place

We hope this list has given you some guidelines and ideas on how to successfully develop as a freelance writer.

Being a freelance writer can yield you anywhere between $10,000 and $250,000 a year.

General data shows the freelance workforce growth rate is three times higher than the overall U.S. workforce growth rate. This means that people are doing this, and the freelance market is thriving. Go ahead, and follow your dream.