Freelance Writing Tips for Beginners
Freelance writers are what keep the internet flowing. They are a necessity in this era. If you want to become a household name while making money at home, you are at the right place. Here are freelance writing tips for beginners that will teach you how to start, where to set your rates, and how to get your first gig.
Picking Your Niche
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to find your niche. A niche is an area (or a few) that you specialize in. Some people believe that being a generalist will open more opportunities for themselves. I urge you to take this scenario into consideration, then see if you agree.
If an investment company is looking for a writer to product two article a week. They can pick between two candidates. Candidate A spends all of their time writing about finances. Candidate B writes about finances, politics, and literature. As a company making a long-term investment, who would you pick? From my survey, Candidate A will nearly always be chosen.
Picking you niche can seem daunting. It is a commitment. This is why I wrote an article dedicated to helping you find the niche just right for you. P.S. – It also contains a free download to help you if your stuck.
Making A Portfolio
When you are starting out your portfolio will most-likely be on the thinner side. This is where you will dive into the depths of your computer to see what you already have on hand to use. It can range from a statistic report you composed to a paper you wrote in school. Whatever you choose, you should be proud of it.
Throw out the mindset of ‘the more the merrier’. Chances are most potential employers will only review one or two of them. You want to show them something they are impressed with and want for themselves. One mistake or poorly executed layout can be the difference between ‘I need this’ and ‘I could do better myself’. Bottom line, don’t put your name on it if you are not proud of it.
When compiling a portfolio, the most effective way is to have your own site online. Don’t be intimidated by this. All you need is a domain, platform, and web hosting.
I cannot be happier with the platform I use. It is WordPress. The plugins and thousands of free themes make it easy and beautifully unique. I use BlueHost as my server. I have never had any issues. Every few months a get a heads-up email that I have to pay a couple buck to renew, but it’s well worth it. I love that they gave me the option of email alerts or auto-renew.
For details on how to create a writing portfolio that acts as a business magnet, click here.
Deciding How To Set Your Rates
New writers typically start at about five cents a word with a limited portfolio. Once the portfolio grows, so you the rates. In a few months, you can progress from $.5 a word to $.25 a word. That is a 400% increase in a matter of months.
No one can tell you exactly how much to charge. There are a few factors to consider when it comes to setting your rates. How much experience do you have? How long will it take? Will the project require research, or can you write from experience? Will you be given credit or be ghostwriting?
The three basic ways to charge are a flat rate, price per word, and hourly. They all have benefits associated. To figure out what works best for you, you can use my spreadsheet. It’s editable and free to download.
If you are wondering how long it will take to start raking in the dough, check this out. It is the story of five writers I interviewed and their money-making journey. It not only tells the tales of the first $100 and $1,000 but also how they did it.
Getting Your First Gig
The best way to get freelance jobs used to be ‘content mills’. A content mill (or content farm) is a company that employs a large number of freelance writers. You create an account and sift through listings posted by companies. You apply to these just like any other job. If the company is interested, they will contact you back through the platform. If not, you will never hear from them.
In the past, for about every five bids you placed, you would at least catch the interest of two of them. But now, the mills are overflowing with freelancers. An experienced writer can submit twenty bids and may only hear back from one or two of them. The worst part of being another writer on the farm? The site you use will take between eight and twenty percent of your money before you can even touch it.
These sites aren’t necessarily ‘bad’. However, they are not the best way to start freelancing. Most new freelancers get their start by networking.
For example, the company you work for has a Facebook page, ask if you could write an article for it. There isn’t any reason for them to say no to free publicity assuming your writing is adequate. This also goes for any family or friends you know that may own or be higher up in a company. Reach out to them. The worst thing they can say is no.
To really get their attention, write the article before you ask. Send it to them. Ask if they like it and if they will put in on the company site. Make sure the article is tailored to the company’s audience. Don’t write about real-estate when targeting a travel website.
Another method that yields more results than a content mill is cold emails. Those of you who have done sales may be familiar with cold calling. If you don’t know, it is where a solicitor calls with their script and asks if you are interested in X, Y, or Z. Typically it results in a voicemail.
Cold emails are the same thing utilizing a different platform. Find a company that fits your niche. Create an email personalized for them. If it is an obvious template, chances are they won’t be interested and mark you as spam. In this email you should include who you are, your reason for contact, and why you are the right choice.
Thanks to these freelance writing tips for beginners, you know what it takes to become a profitable freelance writer. A specialized portfolio that you should be proud of. Rates that will make everyone involved happy. Most importantly, how to get your first client. Have more questions? Ask me in the comments below!
If working from home sounds appealing but freelancing isn’t your thing, I have a whole list of proven ways to make money at home. Making Money From Home.