How to Become a Freelance Writer: 7 Tips for Bloggers
Wondering how to become a freelance writer?
You’re not alone.
That’s a question I get from a lot of bloggers.
While there are many ways to make money from blogging, using your blog to break into freelance writing seems to attract the most interest.
Becoming a full-time freelance writer (or even adding it to your other side hustles) is a great way to work from home, control your own schedule, and be your own boss.
In fact, 79% of all freelancers say that they’re happier than they were at their 9-5 jobs.
Luckily, it’s not as complicated as you might think.
One of the best things about blogging is that you can easily use it as a springboard to score well-paying freelance writing jobs.
In this post, I’ll show you how to become a freelance writer by leveraging your own blog to get high paying writing jobs.
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #1: Use your blogging skills to get freelance writing jobs:
Whenever a fellow blog owner emails me about ways to make money through their blog, I always mention freelance writing.
But the next question I usually get is “ Isn’t freelance writing tough to break into?”.
I’m going to be real with you: Yes…and no.
Yes, if you’re just hopping onto writing job boards and sending pitches to brands willy-nilly, without properly showing them WHY they should hire you, you’re probably going to have a tough time.
On the flip side, if you’re strategically using your blog to show prospective freelance clients how you can help them, you’ll likely end up with more offers than you can even handle.
You see, a lot of bloggers make the mistake of applying to freelancing jobs as just “writers”.
And while being a writer is great (I love it myself!), it’s not enough these days.
There are hundreds of other writers out there vying for the same gigs, and guess what?
Most of them have roughly about the same skills to offer a client.
This makes it really difficult to differentiate yourself and stand out when sending a pitch.
But here’s the thing:
If you run a blog, no matter how small or large, new or established, you’ve got WAY more to offer than writing alone.
Because you know how to:
*identify your target audience,
*write content that speaks to and helps them on a regular basis
* market your content to get more shares, followers, subscribers, and leads
That’s EXACTLY what brands big and small are desperately looking for in a freelance writer right now.
Which means you’re already ahead of the freelance writing game!
These days, freelance writing is not just about writing.
It’s also about these valuable marketing skills that every consistent blogger already has under their belt.
So if you want to become a freelance writer, highlight these special skills.
Instead of a generic freelance writing pitch, let clients know that you run your own blog.
Then tell them about any marketing successes you’ve had while running your blog.
-Do you have thousands of monthly views on Pinterest?
-Did a recent post of yours get tons of Facebook shares?
-Got experience in creating viral content?
-Have you managed to build up and maintain an email list?(Don’t worry if it’s a tiny list. Size doesn’t matter as much as engagement.)
Tell them about it.
These are the things that will have prospective freelance writing clients rushing to hire you.
Because they don’t just want pretty words on a website.
They want social shares, subscribers, and leads too.
That’s what will help their business make money.
And that, my friend, is how you’ll end up being their first pick when they hire a freelance writer!
Even better, when clients know you run your own blog and know your stuff, they’ll be less likely to treat you like “just” another freelancer.
That means fewer offers of insultingly low content mill-style pay.
Sure, employers who are just looking for a cheap content mill writer will move on.
But the ones who DO reach out to you will do so with the understanding that you’re a true professional.
And they’re going to pay you like one.
I’ve experienced this myself.
I noticed that when I sent out pitches highlighting my own blogging and marketing successes, I was never asked to renegotiate my prices. In fact, I was often offered even MORE work at higher prices than the original job description stated.
Convinced and want to start sending freelancing writing pitches the right way? Awesome!
But there are a couple of things to keep in mind to ensure your success when making the leap from blogger to freelance writer:
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #2: Focus on your successes…but keep it real
Don’t think you have to be the owner of the biggest, most profitable blog out there to get hired.
Clients don’t necessarily expect or need that.
They’re more interested in how your experience and skills can help them.
So don’t stress if you feel like your blog is too small or too new to impress.
Instead, highlight what you’ve been able to do DESPITE your size or your newbie status.
For example, if you only have a handful of subscribers, which do you think sounds better?
“I currently have an email list of about 200 subscribers.”
“I built a highly engaged list of 200 subscribers in only one month, with above-average open, reply, and social sharing rates.”
The second option, right?
What this does is it allows prospective freelance writing clients to see you as a “doer”. Someone who knows how to create marketing success with limited resources.
While they may already have a larger list than yours, they’ll likely be interested to see how you can help them increase their engagement rates.
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #3: Have a professional-looking blog
If you want to become a freelance writer, your own blog is one of your most important assets.
Your blog can totally help you land profitable freelance writing jobs…if it’s set up correctly.
-Make sure you have a self-hosted blog:
There are plenty of free blogging platforms out there, and they’re great for personal blogs. But when you’re trying to become a freelance writer, you need to show clients that you’re a serious business.
People tend to trust you with their business, if they see you’ve invested in your own.
A free blogging platform can send the wrong message — that you’re an amateur or that freelance writing is just a side hobby for you.
-Write clean copy:
The writing on your blog can make or break your chances of becoming a freelance writer and landing paying clients.
We’re all only human and when you’re blogging regularly, it’s easy to let the occasional typo or awkward sentence slip in.
But it’s super important to try to keep all grammatical errors, typos, and other writing mistakes to a minimum.
Potential freelance writing clients will be scouring your writing for any warning signs, so make sure you put out your best.
Go over your blog content with a sharp eye and ask friends or family to give it a once over as well.
Pay special attention to the content on your “services” or “hire me” page, as these are often where a client heads before deciding to contact you.
You definitely don’t need to be a grammar geek or the best writer out there to become a freelance writer.
Paying clients are far more interested in your ability to create engaging, easy-to-read content that solves their target audience’s problems.
But it is important to give the best first impression possible on your blog.
-Keep your blog’s design scheme cohesive:
I know what it’s like: You start out with a clear idea of what you want your blog to look like.
Then you stumble upon a totally different scheme you love. And then another.
Before you know it, your blog is a mish-mash of all the sites you admire and has no brand personality of its own.
While this isn’t necessarily a problem for a personal blog, it screams unprofessional to potential writing clients.
That’s because 90% of consumers expect a consistent brand experience from businesses.
This makes sense.
A strong consistent brand signals to potential clients that you’re competent, established, and confident about your services.
So if your blog’s branding is a little all over the place, it may be holding you back from landing high-paying freelance writing gigs.
While professional web design is one way to go, you don’t necessarily have to fork out tons of cash when you’re just starting out.
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #4 : Set up your blog to win you clients
The biggest mistake I see most wannabe freelancers making on their blogs?
They don’t clearly state that they’re for hire.
Your blog readers could be business owners looking for the kind of content you create.
But unless you specifically state that you’re available for work, they’ll probably hire elsewhere.
Back when I was just starting out, I didn’t have a “services” section on my blog.
So I would sometimes get really hesitant emails from potential clients, saying they loved my content and asking if I could recommend any good writers.
Now that I have a “services” page, they get in touch to ask whether I’m available for work.
The fact is, plenty of business owners are looking for a freelance writer. But most will be too shy or unsure to get in touch, if you don’t clearly state that you’re available for work.
Let clients know what you do, how it can help them, and how they can work with you.
Have an area on your blog that prominently states “hire me” “services” or “work with me”.
Make sure you focus on the potential benefits of your services to clients, rather than just listing out what you do.
-Don’t just state that you offer content marketing. Instead, add a little blurb explaining that you cross-promote content to get the highest number of shares, clicks, and leads for your clients.
-Are you a pro at writing blog posts? Let potential clients know by explaining that your posts are clear, engaging, and always optimized for both readers and SEO.
Remember, clients are always wondering “how can you help me?”.
Make sure your website copy directly answers that question for them.
And most importantly, have an easy to find and use contact page or form.
No one likes having to hunt around for a contact form.
Even a genuinely interested potential client will likely move on and you’ll have missed out on a great way to make money with your blog.
Now, there are lots of premium contact form options out there.
But Contact Form 7 is an awesome plugin that allows you to add an effective contact form to any WordPress site — for free!
Make sure you place your contact form on several of your blog pages. Letting people know they can always get in touch makes it easier for you to turn casual readers into paying clients!
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #5: Create the kind of blog posts your target clients want
One surefire way of getting freelance writing jobs through your own blog is to create the kind of blog posts clients are looking for.
This means rich, in-depth blog posts packed with helpful information. Most businesses are looking for bloggers who know how to create this kind of actionable content.
So show off your writing chops and get hired by crafting the kind of valuable posts clients would be willing to pay for.
Make sure you regularly create long-form posts on your blog that help the reader, contain useful examples, and are engaging to read.
Always aim for quality because you never know who could be reading.
When businesses are looking for freelance writers, they usually head to Google before job boards.
I’ve had clients who found me by simply Googling the kind of blog post topics they needed covered. When they found my posts, they ended up reaching out to ask if I could create similar content for them.
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #6: Have a targeted freelance writing portfolio section or page
You’re probably wondering, “isn’t my blog basically a freelance writing portfolio”?
But if you want to make money with your blog by freelancing, a great portfolio is an absolute must-have.
Because while potential clients will be drawn in by your awesome blog content, most will still ask for samples.
So skip ahead and make it easier to hire you by creating a freelance writing portfolio on your blog.
Depending on your preference, your portfolio could be an entire page or just a section on your blog.
The trick here is to be very strategic about what you include in your portfolio.
Don’t add in every piece you’ve ever worked on.
That will just overwhelm and turn off prospective clients.
Instead, highlight pieces that are most similar to the specific type of writing jobs you want to be hired for.
So if you want to create blog and email marketing content for health and wellness brands, don’t include that ad you wrote for a lawn care company.
Remember, quality always beats quantity.
You want clients to see your portfolio and instantly be able to imagine what you can do for their business.
The more specific your portfolio pieces are, the better your chances of landing a high-paying freelance writing job.
How to Become a Freelance Writer, Tip #7: Start guest posting to build your portfolio
Wondering how to become a freelance writer without any freelance writing samples? No worries!
If you’re just starting out, you can still totally create a killer portfolio and start landing clients.
The secret is guest posting.
Writing a guest post for another more established website gives you three essential things:
- Freelance writing experience and authority: You can show off your track record of published guest posts to potential clients. This instantly makes it much,much easier to get hired. Knowing another business was willing to trust you to create content for them convinces clients that you’re a pro.
- Samples:Guest posts are the ultimate way to beef up an empty freelance writing portfolio. Once you’ve got a few published posts under your belt, it’s easy to make the transition from newbie to established freelance writer.
- Leads: If you’re careful to only write guest posts for websites in your freelance writing niche, they can help you score tons of leads. Your potential clients will be on those very same sites, often looking for a writer for their own blogs and businesses. And guess what happens when they read your awesome post and author bio? That’s right! They’re very likely to click through to your blog and contact you about doing some work for them.
Most guest posting opportunities are unpaid, but they make up for this by giving your freelance writing career a major boost.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to become a freelance writer with no experience. In fact, I’d be willing to say it’s really one of the few ways to do so. There are plenty of freelance writing success stories out there, but at some stage, almost all of these journeys included guest posting for high authority sites.
So we’ve established that guest posting is pretty much a non-negotiable.
But how do you go about finding these elusive posting opportunities?
Before you do anything else, focus on finding mid to high authority blogs in your specific niche. (Unfortunately, guest posting outside of your chosen field won’t really impress potential clients.)
Think about the places that the kinds of clients you would like to write for might head for information.
So let’s say you want to write for digital marketing businesses. You would head to Google and type in “best digital marketing blogs”, “most influential digital marketing sites”, or even “most popular digital marketing blogs”.
You’ll find tons of roundup posts listing the most influential blogs in your niche this way. Pick a couple of these lists and read through them. Make a list of potential blogs to guest post for. Then head to each of these blogs and look around. Check out their guest posting policies (usually found under “write for us” or submissions”).
While many blogs are open to receiving guest post pitches from newbies, others insist on seeing previous published posts. Most blogs are also pretty generous about providing a link back to your blog but a few might not be.
So narrow down your list to blogs that:
-accept newbie guest post pitches
-provide author bios and a link back to your blog
-are most relevant to your specific freelance writing niche
Guest Posting Tips:
Once you’ve got your narrowed down list, browse through each blog and read some of the content they publish.
This will help you get a feel for their preferences and what kind of content you should pitch to them. It will also allow you to see if any of the specific topics you want to pitch have already been covered.
Read their guest posting policies carefully and be sure to apply in exactly the way they ask you to. This is really important. According to an editor friend of mine, nearly half of all guest post pitches he receives end up in the “no” pile because they clearly didn’t read the pitching instructions.
I know, sounds pretty harsh, right?
But editors and blog owners get tons of pitches and want to provide guest posting opportunities to those who care enough to actually follow the process correctly.
So you can get out ahead of half of your competitors just by following pitching requirements!
And while it’s okay to have a general outline for your guest post pitches, make sure to tailor each one to the specific blog you’re pitching to.
Include the contact person’s name in your email, if provided. This works much better than a generic “hello” and starts your pitch off on friendly footing.
Finally, (and most importantly) be persistent. Not every blog is going to accept your guest post pitch. And the higher authority blogs may even ask you to revise or completely re-write your submission to match their guidelines.
But whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep sending out pitches, be flexible about re-writes, and you’re sure to land some extremely valuable guest posts.
And once you do, you’ll have taken a HUGE step towards becoming a successful freelance writer.
If you’ve always wondered how to become a freelance writer and land paying gigs, your blog can help.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that profitable freelance writing gigs are beyond your reach because you’re a newbie.
As a blog owner, you have plenty of valuable skills that freelance writing clients are actively looking for right now.
All you have to do is effectively highlight your abilities on your blog and in your freelance writing pitches.
Leveraging your blogging experience ensures that you stand out and get more freelance writing jobs.
So don’t be afraid to jump in. Use these 7 tips to grab potential clients’ attention and start freelance writing successfully!
Have any tips of your own, or questions about how to become a freelance writer? Share with us below!