It’s 2018, and you want to be a freelance writer.
What are the new things you need to know?
I landed my first freelance writing job over 3 years ago. In that time, a lot has changed in how you find a freelance writing job as a beginner.
But, don’t worry! I’m up-to-date with what’s going on in the freelance writing world. I’m still a freelance writer, and I’ve learned to adapt to these new strategies or newer ways to find clients.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this post, let’s go over the pre-requisites you need to become a freelance writer, how to be credible as a writer and what the popular freelance writing jobs there are in 2018.
After that, I will give you some detailed methods to finding your first freelance writing job even if you don’t have experience.
What Do You Need to Be a Freelance Writer?
The great thing about starting freelance writing is that you don’t need any experience!
I was able to start as a new mom to twins and with no experience blogging, and I was able to land my first profitable gig in just a couple of months.
But, this doesn’t mean you can start with nothing! Here are some materials and personality traits you need to become a freelance writer.
- Laptop – you can get by with any laptop. My house is a Mac user house, and those are the laptops I do most of my writing. Just remember to type appropriately so you avoid hand issues over time.
- Proper seating – invest in a good computer chair. Don’t base your entire freelance writing business on the couch! Big no-no! (or even the kitchen counter).
- Paypal account – if you already have one, get a business account when you land clients.
- Email address – most of your negotiations will be made via email or….
- Skype address – some clients want to talk to you face-to-face, and Skype is a tool most know about.
Aside from the tools you need, here are some personality traits you need to succeed as a freelance writer.
- Motivation and Desire – I get a lot of emails from those wanting to start but have a hard time motivating themselves. Freelance writing is a solo job. You have to motivate YOURSELF to do the work and to pitch. You also need the desire to want to CHANGE your life since freelance writing means you can ultimately make money from home.
- Putting yourself out there – For a lot of newbies, the thought of putting yourself out there sends them to the hills! But, it’s 2018, and you can’t hide behind a cartoon avatar or without any social media profiles.
How to Show You’re a Freelance Writer (When You Have No Experience)
There are key ways to show that you’re an actual freelance writer when you’ve never freelance wrote in your life!
1. Start a Blog
This is the simplest way to get your writing online and one that can help you land freelance writing work.
Check out my post on how to start a blog for your service-based business and make sure to watch the video tutorial! Even the non-tech person can do this (trust me, I did it, and I’m soooo not techy).
Starting a blog doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. With my special link, you can get started for under $100. When you think about it, when your parents wanted to start a business, they had to spend a lot of money to get business cards and an ad in the local newspaper.
In 2018, you start a blog, market yourself and can start making money as a freelance writer!
2. Start Guest Posting
Guest posting is when your content is on someone else’s website. You can get paid to guest post or land a free guest post spot.
When I started guest posting to build my freelance writing portfolio, I relied on free guest spots with high authority like Psych Central for example.
To find places to guest post, you can run a quick Google search on your niche and “write for us.” For example, here’s the result for pet guest blogs.
It’s that easy.
Click on a link and read the requirements. Some blogs want the whole draft, while others want several topics.
3. Sign Up for a Contently Portfolio
Contently is a content marketing blog, but also has a platform to showcase your portfolio. Here is what mine looks like:
When you register, you fill out your information. They ask where you’ve been published, but you can skip that and upload your guest post or sample (which I will talk about in a bit).
If you have a sample, Contently will populate the title (most of the time) and information, but will not populate an image. It’s up to you to grab the image and upload to Contently.
If you are a Mac user, you can get Skitch and take screenshots easily.
4. Start a Facebook Page
Now, I’ll be the first to say that my Facebook page doesn’t create freelance writing jobs. But that’s because my target audience is you – future freelance writers.
My page isn’t for promoting my freelance writing services.
But, you can create a Facebook page for that purpose. Many solopreneurs have a Facebook page to promote their freelance service.
Go here to create your page. You’ll be asked to niche down your business.
I chose Artist, Brand or Public Figure. From there use the drop-down menu and choose, writer.
From here you hit get started and fill out your page!
When you have your Facebook page all set up, you need to start following blogs and brands you eventually want to write for.
To gain followers, you have to share valuable content as well as personal content. Some examples might be:
- Your latest blog post
- Your latest guest post
- Your latest client piece
- A video that can help your ideal client
- An article that can help your ideal client
- An update on your freelance writing business
- A Facebook live on a topic in your freelance writing nice (Ex: if you’re a food writer, you can do a Facebook Live on your latest blog post on food safety measures and repurpose it as a video – while you cook dinner!)
5. Create a Sample
There are some easy and obscure ways you can create samples. The easiest is to draft a blog post.
I learned quickly the best ways to create a blog post for my portfolio. But for many of us, we have a personal blog and then your freelance writing blog.
For me, Twins Mommy is my personal blog, and Elna Cain is my freelance blog. While the topics on this blog are for freelance writers, I have landed jobs from this blog alone.
The thing to remember though, creating a sample is different than creating a blog post for your personal blog.
For example, if you have a personal blog about parenting, a post on YOUR blog could be:
5 Tips To Get Your Baby Sleeping Through the Night
But, if you have a parenting client, a blog post idea might be:
What the Sleep Experts Say About Crying It Out
Do you see the difference? Your post is more personal with examples from your experience sleep training while your client’s post is credible ideas from experts on one idea of crying it out.
So make sure when you create a sample, you think of it as a client post.
If you don’t have a blog, you can use a blogger platform like Medium to create your sample. Medium is a great platform as you can really grow your presence on there and get seen by top editors as well as find freelance writing jobs!
For example, Serious Eats pays $100 per essay submission.
When you have a sample, make sure it’s on your website. You can have a portfolio page or a blog (if you created a blog post as your first sample).
I would then go and upload it to Contently and share it on Facebook!
Get the word out that you’re a freelance writer now!!
6. Network With Other Writers
Finally, the last way to show that you’re a legit freelance writer is to network with other writers. This is what I did when I was learning about freelance writing jobs.
I emailed a few top writers and asked questions like how to set my rate or some ways to guest post. A lot of freelance writers are helpful and want to offer their tips.
I get a lot of emails from new writers, and I do my best to answer every single email.
You can also visit freelance writer websites and learn how they market themselves, where they’ve been published and what they write about.
Freelance Writing Jobs in 2018
Do you want to know the secret about finding freelance writing jobs in 2018?
It’s finding a profitable and recurring freelance writing job.
What are the top profitable niches for freelance writers in 2018?
According to Oberlo speech writing and CV writing will be big this year.
One type of speechwriting is trying to convince an audience of one idea or concept. The other type is more general like with commencement speeches or those you hear at conferences.
When looking at freelance jobs in 2018, you also have to look at the top eCommerce industries.
Small Business Writing
Top eCommerce niches include – organic beauty products, baby equipment, matcha, and pet supplies.
What this tells you is that more small businesses will cater to these niches online, making more projects for content and lead generation. That’s where you come in.
This is great for mom bloggers!
The baby equipment niche! Sign me up.
As a new freelance writer, go offline and check out magazines, shop at stores that cater to these niches like Baby R Us or PetSmart.
See what types of products are out there and then do your research online to find those eCommerce sites that cater to those niches.
Yes, I know that sounds like A LOT for a BRAND NEW FREELANCE WRITER, but this is 2018.
You have to be a better writer than everyone out there, and that means upping your business savviness!
What are other popular freelance writing jobs there for 2018?
Video Script Writing
I strongly believe that video marketing will get bigger this year.
With Facebook Live being so popular now, more and more apps and tools are being created to leverage this new niche.
As a freelance writer, you can market video script writing, or you can blog or do more content marketing writing for new apps that cater to video marketing.
One of my long-time freelance writing clients asked me to do an ultimate guide for email marketing. I jumped at this opportunity because I LOVE digital marketing.
I decided to up my freelance writing game and created a video for that post! And you know what?
I far exceeded my client’s expectation.
If you can start offering more than just freelance writing – like video script writing or videos – you will generate buzz and income.
But, you’re brand new – how do you do this?
That’s okay. Start as a video scriptwriter. Then when you’re comfortable – for me, that was 3 years! – dabble in Facebook Live’s for a while.
For writers that have been at it for at least a year, I can bet you can offer video tutorials with your blog post and suddenly became your client’s #1 writer for the rest of his or her life!
Email Marketing Writing
Another freelance writing niche for 2018 is email marketing.
Email marketing is HUGE for small businesses, big brands, and the solopreneur.
From onboarding series’ to sales funnels to launch emails, there is no shortage of this type of content.
And it’s high paying.
As a copywriter, I would suggest getting to know various email service providers like MailChimp, ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign.
I would also sign up for businesses emails like Grammarly for example.
Learn the type of emails they send and how they engage with their customers or leads.
Ghostwrite for Small Businesses
Finally, digital products will take a huge surge this year.
This is anything from an online course to eBooks to printables or guides. You can market yourself as the ghostwriter for those eBooks or lead magnets.
You can even ghostwrite courses. Here is an inquiry from a client of mine that requested coursework writing.
These projects usually take months to do and are very lucrative, and something new freelance writers should embark upon!
As a freelance writer, you have to be up-to-date with what is happening online in 2018.
How to Find Your First Freelance Writing Job
The time has come.
How to find land that first freelance writing client in 2018. I’m going to share with you four main ways to find freelance writing jobs.
There are many, many other ways to find an online writing gig, but for this post, I don’t want overwhelm you with all your options.
If you stick with these core strategies, you’ll have no shortage of finding recurring work.
1. Look at Freelance Writing Jobs
One of the first things I used to find jobs was a freelance writing job board.
My top free job board is ProBlogger.
ProBlogger’s job board is updated all the time with fresh new leads. You can quickly scroll down the list for new job listings or use the search function to find relevant jobs in your niche.
How can you tell if a freelance writing job is legit or good quality?
- The ad shows that they value content
- The project isn’t mass articles like 20 articles a week
- The pay is adequate ($50 or a post)
- You can research the company (mostly)
- They don’t pay pennies for pillar type of content as seen on QuickSprout
- They don’t ask you to draft a sample just for THEM.
Most good quality jobs ask for recurring content and understand that freelance writers have different skill sets.
You can also look at markets for paid submissions. All Freelance Writing has a directory of paid markets.
Finally, you can look at LinkedIn Jobs to see what is available.
With LinkedIn jobs, it is based on your location. For me, LinkedIn is finding gigs in the Vancouver area, which is cool. I don’t mind working with Canadian companies!
If you want more freelance writing jobs, check out this post with my best 5 freelance writing job boards.
2. Use Your Website
Your freelance writing website can be a strong marketing tool and can help you land amazing and high-paying freelance writing jobs.
You don’t need a fancy website with an expensive theme. You can get started with a free theme.
Make sure, though, to have these pages on your site:
- Services page – tell your ideal client what your services are and how that can help THEM with growing their business
- About page – show them how YOU can help THEM with their business. Don’t write about how you grew up loving writing or that you went to college to be a writer. Businesses want to know how YOUR writing can help THEM.
- Portfolio page – share all your content on this page. There are many ways you can display your portfolio.
- Contact page – make sure you list any social media profiles and/or your Skype ID. Make it easy for leads to contact you.
If you need more help starting a freelance writer website, check out this!
Once you have your writer website, it’s time to optimize it to drive more inquiries. You do this effectively by promoting your website in your emails and guest posts.
You’ll know if your writer website is working for you when leads come to your site and fill out your contact form.
3. Cold Pitching
Cold pitching is when you pitch to companies that aren’t readily seeking a freelance writer. Sounds scary, right?
But, it totally works. Here’s a Writeto1k student’s success with cold pitching.
But, how do you cold pitch?
First, you need to understand and know your ideal client.
Who is your client?
This can take some time to decide, but it’s essential to cold pitching. Think of clients that have products or tools. You know that they can pay a freelance writer.
For example, my ideal client is B2B digitally native brands.
Maybe your ideal freelance writing client is medical equipment companies. Or, female financial authors.
Once you find your ideal client, you can start finding those companies.
From there you do your search. Read their about page, mission statement, blog, and any other pages. Find out who to email (usually editors or those in charge of marketing).
Then craft your email.
To find clients to cold email, go to Angel List and scroll to the bottom.
Click on, marketing jobs. This section shows writing jobs.
From here, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Job Roles.
Then click on More Marketing Roles.
Then on Content writing
From here you can see the roles and companies and pitch to.
Another place to find companies to cold pitch to is Manta. Manta is a small business directory. Scroll to the bottom to get a list of businesses.
Click on a niche and see the businesses to pitch to.
4. Guest Posting
I’ve talked about guest posting already, but now let’s talk about how to do guest posting right.
The best places to guest post on are high authority sites. These are sites that everyone knows about or sites that rank in Google when you search a term.
When you land a guest post on such a site, it will open the doors for freelance writing clients. Writeto1k student landed a guest spot on Lifehack! Nice!
Take the time to scout big publications and websites and when you’re ready, pitch to them.
Another strategy for guest posting is to guest post on niche blogs. These aren’t popular with the masses but are related to your freelance writing niche.
This can show your credibility and give you social proof that you’re the expert in your niche.
When I first started freelance writing, I decided one of my niches would be autism behavioral therapy. Since this is in my background and I have extensive training in this application, I thought a guest post in that niche could help me in the future.
So figure out your strategy. For brand new writers, try the niche guest posting strategy first.
This is what I did.
Time to Pitch
Your pitch is the way you’re going to land freelance writing jobs. Whether you pitch a guest spot or a content job, you need a strong pitch.
I suggest you develop your own pitch that shows your credibility in your niche. But, you can use a template.
In your pitch, state who you are, what you do and how you can help them. A simple pitch can be:
My name is Elna and I’m a freelance writer in the digital marketing niche. Your ad on ProBlogger caught my immediate attention.
I exclusively write in the digital marketing niche by providing content on email marketing, content marketing and social media marketing.
Please check out my portfolio for samples.
I would love to discuss some content ideas. I look forward to hearing from you.
Send out your pitches and wait.
If you hear back from some of those pitches, congratulations! Now comes the negotiation part.
Read the email and see what the prospect wants.
Many will come back with more information about what they are seeking. It’s up to you to reply with your experience and credibility accurately and persuasively.
Become a Freelance Writer in 2018
This is a great year to become a freelance writer! More and more businesses are starting online, more digital native brands are popping up and more and more opportunities are here!
Don’t think that there aren’t freelance writing jobs for you. If there is the internet and if there are businesses, you will be in demand.
I encourage you to become a highly-paid writer today and enroll in Write Your Way to Your First $1k.