Many people are already writers. If you recently wrote an email, well, you already are a writer. So, the question is not how to become a writer, but how do you become a better writer? And what’s more, how do you make a career out of writing?
The path to becoming a freelance writer isn’t a straight one and many roads can lead to success. If you ask several different authors about how they became successful, you will likely get several completely different answers.
While there are many different ways to start a career as a freelance writer, there is one specific requirement to be successful: dedication. Building your own writing career will take hard work, perseverance, and a passion for your craft. So, what else does it take? Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to becoming a freelance writer.
What is a freelance writer?
A freelancer, or freelance writer, is someone who is self-employed and works with clients to produce their desired written content. Those with a full-time freelance writing career typically work from home and are not contractually obligated to any specific company.
A writing client will pay freelancers per article or sometimes in batches of work. These assignments can be one-off, or they can be recurring depending on the client. Professional writers can focus on numerous differentiating projects, including blogs, web content, SEO, etc.
Freelance writing work can come in many forms or services. Some of those can include editing, ghostwriting, copywriting, social media marketing, and blog management. If you are just starting in online writing, choosing a specific service or several services is recommended.
Blog writing is typically a great area to begin building a portfolio in since many of these projects are shorter in length, usually 700 to 2,000 words, so you can write a lot of them and build your portfolio quicker.
Let’s learn what it takes to become a successful freelance writer with these steps.
How to Become a Writer: A Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Become a better reader
The first step to becoming a writer is to become a better reader. The more you read, the more you will be exposed to high-quality writing. Without even realizing it, you will be learning the elements of the text and will slowly begin using those elements in your writing.
Not only will reading constantly improve your writing skills, but it will give you new and fresh ideas. The more ideas you have, the easier it will be to write them down on paper. One great place to find diverse books is at GoodReads. Goodreads is a social network dedicated to finding books, seeing reviews, and seeing what your friends are reading.
Step 2: Enjoy what you write; figure out your niche.
Finding a niche as a freelance writer can be beneficial when first starting. Writing what you love means spending less time researching and more time writing. It also will make the writing process more manageable when it is a subject that you are incredibly passionate about.
Some common niches in the freelance writing business can include travel, fitness and dieting, health and well-being, cooking and nutrition, finance and budgeting, leadership, careers, hobbies, creative writing such as the arts, and many more.
As with any skill, it is important to continually practice, as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” A good writer knows that writing every day is key to honing their craft. Writing every day will also help you learn the process and even begin to notice the process becoming easier.
You will also start to enjoy writing more by practicing. A great way to work on writing every day is by sticking to a certain number of words and committing to getting that many words done per day. You may start with 500 words a day, then eventually move to 1,000 words a day. The more you write, the better you will become.
Step 3: Create a writing portfolio
To be successful as a writer and attract potential clients, you must have a portfolio with writing samples. If you are starting in your career and haven’t secured a writing gig yet, then build a starter portfolio or a few pieces of work that you can share with clients that will reflect your writing style.
Another way to build a portfolio is by creating a blog. Starting a blog has been a catalyst for many professional writers. It may be challenging at first to decide what to write about in your blog, but you can practically write about anything. Try starting with short stories about what you are interested in, and then over time, the topics will begin to become clearer.
These blog posts can be used as an example of your work to clients, but that’s not the only benefit of starting a blog. Starting a blog can also be an outlet for practicing your writing, building credibility in your specific niche, and helping you to earn money in the long run.
Additionally, if you are looking for writing work, you can reach out to other blogs and online magazines to secure a guest post spot. This is typically unpaid work, but these examples can help you in building your portfolio.
Step 4: Pitch your ideas
Now that you have created your portfolio, you can get out there and market yourself. Pitching your writing and your ideas will help you to secure new and recurring work.
You can pitch your work and ideas to online and print magazines, companies, and websites, to name a few. There are many different ways to find new work. A few of those include:
- Reach out to companies offering to write for their blog or creating sponsored posts
- Join networking groups online
- Develop your elevator pitch
- Browse freelance marketplaces
- Keep your social media such as LinkedIn up to date
Where can I find freelance writing jobs?
- Job boards: Freelance writing job boards are an excellent resource for writers. There are numerous boards online in several different niches and industries where you can find and bid on prospective jobs
- Google: You can find online writing jobs by searching your specific niche into google. This will help you find reputable companies that you can pitch your writing ideas to
- Magazines: You can pitch your ideas to magazines and secure work
- Blogs: You can secure writing work through blogs either by starting your own, guest posts, or writing for companies
- Write a book or an e-book
Step 5: Write a book or e-book
Starting a blog isn’t the only way to make money as a writer. You can also choose the route of writing a book or an e-book. Writing an actual book can seem like a colossal feat; however, it is doable. Some advice for writing your first book is to:
- Break your big idea into smaller pieces. Start with one sentence about what you want your book’s topic to be. The book can stem from this one sentence and grow into a more significant manuscript.
- Start with a great idea. Make sure that this idea is something that you are passionate about; after all, you will have to write about it day in and day out.
- Construct an outline of the book.
- Stick to a specific writing schedule and establish a deadline for yourself.
E-books are another route for creating monetary gains from your writing. Typically these are around 10,000 words or so and can be on any topic that interests you.
Step 6: Practice what you preach; keep learning.
The thing about writing is there is always room for improvement. Even the most experienced freelance and professional writers continue to hone their craft. You can continue developing as a professional by reading the work of others in your niche, following writers on social media, and taking writing courses.
Step 7: Collect testimonials from previous clients
After you complete each job or contract, be sure to ask for feedback. If you have a particularly outstanding review, you can highlight it on your website or portfolio. This is a great way to attract new clients and secure future business.
Step 8: Invest in yourself and your work
If you’re looking for an easy way to earn a quick buck, then a career as a freelance writer isn’t for you. Those who pursue writing are essentially creating a career out of thin air. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication.
Building a strong writing portfolio can take years. However, those who are committed enough will see the immediate pay-off of a writing career. The flexibility of determining your hours and the potential to earn as much as you can write are a few of the many benefits of a career in writing.
The best way to start your writing career is simply by beginning. Start writing your future today with these steps.