Ahh! The one question EVERY person is interested in when thinking about starting freelance writing:
How do you make money freelance writing?
Many successful freelance writers are full-time writers (like me). They are making a stable income (or a growing income) and have no challenge finding clients or getting projects.
But, there are even more writers that barely make enough money to replace their sucky dead-end job. They are struggling, and they have no idea how to get away from crappy freelance writing projects.
Let me tell you – I was one of those writers.
I was stuck.
I had no idea what I was doing and ended up landing a content mill gig. Yes, I was one of those writers…..
But, I changed all that and discovered a whole new world of freelance writers. I found that there are writers that attracted clients. Writers that landed gigs all the time and writers that demanded a high paying rate.
OMG…I had to be one of those writers.
And you know what? I AM one of those successful writers. I don’t worry any more about my monthly income. My husband and I can take off any day out of the week to go on a mini road trip.
If you want that too, here’s how you can make money as a freelance writer.
1. Start a Blog
Yes. You need a blog if you want to be a wealthy freelance writer. A blog can serve so many things besides a portfolio.
- A way to practice your writing
- Create a lead generation strategy (that means attracting clients to you)
- Help you earn money by monetization strategies
- Build your credibility in your niche
- Give you confidence as a writer
- Have an outlet for your creativity (cuz, we are creatives!!)
A blog is perfect for anyone wanting to start a business. Whether it’s a coaching business or graphic designing or writing, a blog can serve as a platform for your business.
And you know what? It’s not hard to start a blog these days. I personally use and love SiteGround. They are reputable, helpful and time-saving. If you need more help, check out this post about content mills. I have a mini tutorial in that post.
When you have your freelance writing blog, you can set up your site to be a service-based site. This means having certain pages on your site (your menu items).
I suggest having:
- Hire Me page – tells prospects what you do and why they should hire you
- Portfolio page – list your samples and your work
- About Me page – give a blurb about you and give more information about how you can help your client
- Testimonials page – this is optional. You can place your testimonials on other pages.
- Contact page – have a way to contact you via a contact form or links to your social media profiles, Skype and/or email.
- Blog – link to your blog roll.
Here’s what my freelance writing website looks like:
When you have a blog, you can start monetizing it. This means you can have ads, sponsored posts or do affiliate marketing.
I suggest affiliate marketing if your site is new. The other ways need more traffic and connections.
I monetize this blog with some affiliate links, and for me, it’s a nice side hustle.
To get started monetizing your blog, I suggest you pick a tool or service that you are using or know about. You can also choose to promote a course if they offer an affiliate program.
You can search on Google if a product or service has an affiliate program.
So, while you’re building up your portfolio with samples from your blog, you can also try to earn a couple of bucks by placing affiliate links in your posts. I suggest, however, to create a tutorial based post based on your affiliate product. This has a much higher conversion rate.
On the flipside, your blog can attract prospects when it’s part of your writer website. I use my website as a lead generation tactic to attract writing gigs!
Prospects go to my About page and Hire Me page and read all about my service. Then they contact me! Some even visit my blog to see what I’m up to and if I’m an engaging writer or have followers.
So, if you’re debating whether to have a blog or not, I say do! Start a blog today!
2. Find a Profitable Niche or Writing Service
Okay, here’s the honest truth:
Not every niche is a high-paying niche and not every writing service you offer is high-paying. But, there are a lot of niches out there that pay well.
For example, the parenting niche CAN pay well (even though it’s an over-saturated niche). You just need to know where to look. Carrie Madormo is a freelance writer for parenting magazines (and medical publications) and makes a living from it!! Check out her lead magnet about 20 Parenting Publications for New Writers!
She found a way to write about being a parent on magazines that pay very well.
Finding that high-paying niche takes time. You need to think about what products are out there based on a niche topic.
For example, let’s look at religious studies.
It’s hard for me to see a thriving business around this topic with products and services. But, this is not to say that you can’t be a writer for educational institutions about religious studies.
Here’s another example: equine studies.
This is mostly a hobby based topic, but there are a lot of products for horses and learning to ride. From this, I can determine that this is a profitable niche.
So when determining your niche, not only think about what you enjoy writing about or your passions or hobby, but also think about how it can be monetized.
For more help check out my video on finding a profitable niche:
3. Figure Out Your Ideal Client
Now, this goes hand in hand with your profitable niche. Your client can determine whether your niche will be high-paying.
Let me help you see this.
When I first started out as a freelance writer, I marketed myself as a health writer and parent writer. I landed a health writing gig for $25 a post.
Since I was new, I took the gig. It was bylined, and I was able to keep building my portfolio. A few months later, I was able to land another health gig. I earned $85 a post.
Both of these posts were the same word count (500-700 words). Both posts were about health related topics. So, why did the latter project get me more money?
The first gig was for a start-up business. It was a brand new company and focused more on their product and marketing material for local businesses than it really did on their blog content and lead generation tactics for online customers.
The second client’s entire business was online. They had a health product that they created and needed help getting their product in front of more eyes.
This meant they understood the importance of blogs as a way to create an inbound marketing strategy. This also meant that my content was much more valuable to their bottom line than my first health client.
And this equated to more money.
It’s up to you to understand your ideal client. Do you want to work with:
- Tech companies
- B2B companies
- Small businesses
- Online businesses
- Non profits
For me, I try to stick with digitally native brands in the B2B market.
4. Create Samples Around Your Niche Topics
I have to preface this tip by saying that when I first started my samples did not relate to my niche topics. I was still able to land gigs.
So, even though I was able to land gigs, I still feel that it would’ve been a helluva lot easier if I had samples based on my niche topics.
Quality freelance writing jobs nowadays really want a writer experienced in one niche topic. But, you’re a new writer, and that means you really don’t know your niche.
That’s why I also tell new writers to pick a few niche topics to help you discover your paying niche. As I mentioned before, I chose health and parenting as my niche topics. But, what’s my paying niche? Digital marketing.
I had to discover this niche. For me, I enjoyed learning about marketing for my own freelance writing business. I was then approached to write about social media marketing, and I was hooked.
From there, I landed a blogging gig about…blogging.
And then email marketing.
Then lead generation.
I love this niche so much that I ended up pivoting my mom blog Twins Mommy from blogging about being a work at home mom to helping mom bloggers become mompreneurs. My topics went from the challenges to working from home to how to make money using Pinterest or how to promote your new Facebook group.
Once you find your niche, start creating samples around that niche topic. Since it took me a while to figure out my paying niche, it took me a while to create samples in my niche topic!
So, the sooner you can figure that out, the sooner you can make more money!
5. Grow Your Social Media Presence
I get a lot of emails from my subscribers telling me that they aren’t on social media. Or that, social media scares them.
I’ve been a freelance writer for three years, and I can see how powerful it is to be on social media. The more “you” are online, the more opportunities your future clients will see you.
They may see your social media post on Twitter or check out your LinkedIn profile. Maybe an editor saw your Pin and wants to hire you for their content (that happened to me).
Being on social media helped me grow my freelance writing income, and I can’t say enough about being on social media.
So, how do you get started if you don’t know much about it or are scared?
Step 1: Start Small
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to be on all the social media platforms. Start small and pick only two. I suggest Twitter and LinkedIn.
Those two platforms have yielded me the most work.
Go to Twitter.com and LinkedIn.com and create an account.
Step 2: Work on Your Copy
Fill out your bio and description and make your copy good. Remember, you are trying to market your freelance writing business and attract clients.
So, you need to use keywords like “freelance writer,” “copywriter” or “white paper writer.”
If you are specific, businesses can find you. For example, here’s my search for “b2b writer” on Twitter.
Step 3: Find a Nice Headshot to Represent Your Brand
On social media, your image can sell you. Pick a professional image or create a headshot (you can use your iPhone) with a plain background and good lighting.
Use this image on your blog and all your social media profiles. When I first started, I used an image I took on my birthday with my twins.
A year or a bit later I took more professional pictures outside with a natural theme.
I’m able to use these for a while since they are part of my brand.
So, when you build your freelance writing business, you need to look at your how you want to portray yourself. Do you want to be the fun and creative one or the serious one? Discover how you want to be seen online and show that in your headshot.
Step 4: Be a Bit Personal and Share That
One of the hardest things new freelance writers have is sharing some personal things online. They are afraid that someone will track them down and steal sensitive information. While this can happen, it’s highly (highly) unlikely.
You can protect yourself online to stay safe.
But there are thousands and probably millions of bloggers online that share their face and their story. You should be no different. If you want to build a connection with your clients you have to let them know you and see you.
This means telling a story about you and your skill level. It’s also showing another side of you that isn’t all about writing.
For me, I add some fun facts about me on my About page.
You can also show your personality with your blog, your writing voice, and your images.
Step 5: Create Your Brand and Online Identity
Showing who you are and how you write can be represented in your images and brand. From the colors you use to the font you use to the images you use, your freelance writer website or your blog or your blog images should represent you as a writer.
I spend a lot of time growing my brand and figuring it all out. So, it’s okay if you don’t have a brand image in the beginning. You can start with your voice.
How do you stamp your content with your personality and vibe?
Do you end in prepositions?
Are you really meta?
Do you stick to certain words or style of writing?
All of these represent you as a writer, and if a client reads your content and enjoys this aspect of your content, then they may very well hire you for their content.
Step 6: Start Following Others in Your Niche
On social media, start following other writers in your niche. Also follow brands, businesses, and influencers that you admire, follow or want to write for.
It’s important to network in this business. Why? Because it’s who you know, that can help you be successful. A lot of my work comes from referrals. My clients refer me to their friends and colleagues. Even writers refer me too!
A pro-tip: Start linking to blogs of those bloggers you follow in your blogs. For example, if you follow Pam Neely you can find a content she wrote and link to that on your blog.
Those bloggers will find out you mentioned them or you can tag them on Twitter.
Step 7: Start Sharing
Once you start following others, it’s now time to share their content. Whether it’s on Twitter or LinkedIn, share other blogger’s content.
Personally, what I do is comment on these posts first and then share them with my social media followers. I only share content that I’ve read and feel it will help my followers.
The more connected you are to others, the more likely you will get referred and found out from people that need a content writer.
All of this leads to work and money 🙂
6. Pitch to the Right Jobs and Companies
It’s been awhile since I’ve actively pitched to jobs, but I do know one thing: you need to find the right jobs to pitch to. This might mean researching the company first. Or, it might mean looking at the ad and figuring out if it represents a good gig.
For example, he’s a recent job ad on ProBlogger. And, here are the “red flags” I noted, making this an unsuitable gig to apply to (well for me at least).
When a gig wants you to churn out content fast and a lot in a week (for my high-paying clients, I do a post a week or one a month for bigger posts), then it’s going to be low paying.
If you decide to do cold pitching instead, then you need to figure out the right companies to pitch to.
For example, you can go to Angel List and search jobs based on your niche topics.
You first have to create your profile based on your social media profile (so make sure you use those keywords).
From there, Angel List will populate jobs based on what they know from your social media profile.
From here I can click I’m interested and write a little elevator pitch on why I’m interested in this gig.
Before I created my Angel List profile, I was asked to download my LinkedIn profile as a PDF. This can be used for these companies to see if I’m a good fit.
There are many other ways to find gigs to pitch to, so make sure you spend the bulk of your time finding these places or companies to pitch to.
7. Diversify Your Income
I started this post talking about starting a blog and monetizing it by doing affiliate marketing. This is one way to diversify your income. You’re going to want to do this step as freelance writing can be a roller coaster. There are slow seasons online, which means less content for you to get paid for.
When this happens, your income dips. To avoid this, I suggest you try some other ways to create money online. For example:
- Offer a new service (image graphics, VA, social media management)
- Bundle your services (make it look like a “deal”)
- Do affiliate marketing on your blog
- Create a product like an eBook or course
As a freelance writer and mom, I’ve built a consistent business with my blogs and my income.
Have a Plan
The one takeaway from all this is that you need a plan. If you’re working full-time you need a plan of action. You’ll have limited time, but you’re new and no one knows you yet.
So, I feel your limited time should be:
- Creating samples of the niche you want to be paid for
- Pitching to job boards (and companies)
That’s it. Your job is to find a freelance writing job 🙂 And when you do, your job is to raise your rate and continue building your business.
Let me know in the comments what you are doing or did to make money freelancing writing!