How to start a freelance writing business from home

How to Start a Freelance Writing Business from Home

There’s a crazy demand for content all over the world and the need for quality content writers continues to grow every day. Starting a freelance writing business from home is one of the most viable ways to create an easy work from home strategy without having to incur a startup cost.

We are in the near cliché “digital age,” and content is everyone’s way of passing their message. Interestingly, it’s almost impossible for any online business to thrive online, without a content strategy.

And this is why starting a freelance writing business from home should be a great priority for you, especially if you’ve got great grammar and a keen eye for research.

Having been a freelance writer for the last six years, written thousands of articles, and satisfied hundreds of online business owners. Running a freelance business has been a reality for me, I’ve been able to establish a stable income source online, and I plan to continue.

What is Freelance Writing?

Freelance writing involves creating online content that is published on websites, and e-magazines, mainly.

It involves researching for information that your clients need and developing an informative piece of content that appeals to their readers.

There are many types of content that you can find yourself writing as you start. From product user-guide content, product review content, product description content…etc. There are many types of content that you can write for money and you’ll figure that out once you dip your toes in.

You can either choose to write within a specific niche that you’re passionate about, or you could take a general approach while you figure out where your interest lies. The good thing is, both ways have a bunch of advantages and benefits that you can tap.

A freelance writer creates a formidable freelance writing business to rival agencies
freelance writer

As a general writer, your skills are not confined to any specific topic and you can write on diverse subjects. As a specialized writer, you confine yourself to writing on specific topics on particular subjects.

Types of Freelance Writers

Freelance writing is a vast discipline and has various forms of content that are in demand. You could opt to stand out either as a generalist or as a specialist.

You can choose to become either one of the following:

1. Article Writer

This type of writing involves creating content that goes on print magazines, journals, and newspapers. It’s more difficult to get into article writing than other types of online writing but, the remuneration is better.

Freelancers can always pitch article ideas to magazines and newspapers. The print company will pay you if they accept or print your article.

2. Web Content Writer

Web content writing is the most popular field in content writing. Every website owner who’s actively working to increase their traffic is always looking for content that engages and entertains their readers.

Web content falls under the marketing department for most companies and therefore requires you to have some basic knowledge of SEO.

Since most websites have regular publishing schedules, a web content writer is required to frequently provide the needed content.

3. Medical Writer

Medical and pharmaceutical content requires technical content writers who are knowledgeable about medicine and other requirements from regulatory authorities.

This field of writing is difficult for new content writers to penetrate but is equally rewarding for those already writing medical content.

4. Technical Writer

For the people who can talk all day about tech, computers, robots, gadgets, innovations, et.c…technical writing is the best field for you. Most technical writers may have an engineering background. Others love to tear things down and build them back up.

5. Marketing and Advertising Copywriter

Copywriting is creating written material (known as copy,) and which is used for promotional purposes. It’s what you see on brochures, ads, taglines, sales letters, and product descriptions.

Unlike other types of writing, copywriting requires some level of knowledge on the use of language that entices and inspires people into responding to a promotion of a product or service.

Copywriting requires some knowledge in sales psychology and involves persuasive writing. There are some excellent courses and reading material on how to write copy that you can always find online.

6. Blogger

Similar to web content writers, bloggers make content for blogs that specialize in a particular topic. Often, a blogger creates their own content, or they can create content for someone else’s blog.

7. Resume Writer

A resume writer’s job description is straightforward- writing resumes.

Job seekers are always looking to have a high-quality resume that will help them land a job opportunity.

Resume writing requires that you be skilled and knowledgeable on how to best present a job seeker in an attractive way to their prospective employer.

8. Business Plan Writer

There’s a huge need for knowledgeable business plan writers. However, you need to be business savvy and write clearly to create business plans that will help your prospects in getting results.

9. Ghostwriter

A ghostwriter writes ebooks, books, articles, or other materials on behalf of someone else.

It’s tough to get into this field because people hardly hire new ghostwriters, and will want to see a proven track record of success.

You will need to have deep knowledge of the media and publishing industry.

You’ll also need to be comfortable that your client will take all the credit and a great deal of income from the content.

Extra Services A Freelance Writer Can  Offer

Create your own freelance writing business from scratch
Freelance Business

Freelance writing is a vast subject that boils down to multiple categories. These categories of freelance writing involve extra services that you can offer as a freelance writer. You can focus on either one or several of these services.

1. Editing

Every freelance writer has the capacity to read, review, and correct written material as a service that publishing clients may need. Editing requires you to be well- informed on the written and spoken grammatical principles of English.

Your mandate as an editor also revolves around proofreading and correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes.

2. Copywriting

There’s a huge difference between content writers and copywriters. A content writer’s mandate is to create high-quality content that informs and engages a reader on a particular topic.

However, copywriting is totally different. It involves creating advertorial scripts, (known as copy), with the purpose of selling products, services, or subscriptions. Copywriting has it’s different forms and is used on brochures, taglines, catalogs, web sales pages, and ads.

3. Blog Management

A newly established freelance writer has to know how to publish content on a blog’s website. Every blog is managed through a CMS, (Content Management System), the most popular being WordPress.

4. Social Media Marketing

Many businesses incorporate the use of social media as one of their marketing strategies.  When starting a freelance writing business, you could offer social media content creation services for the content your clients will use for marketing.

How Do You Start a Freelance Writing Business from Home?

Freelance writing is a business and if treated as one, it could easily change your life. One big problem, however, is that most people treat freelance writing as a secondary hustle and they never get to invest properly in creating systems that will help them reach their full potential.

Please take note that I’m using the term freelance business, and not freelance hustle. There’s a huge difference between the two and I have laid out a clear difference between a freelance writing hustle and freelance writing business here.

Starting as an unknown freelance writer, there are various things that you should know.

  • You have lower chances of getting a content writing assignment compared to experienced writers
  • You may have to do some low paying jobs first, (not free), while you build a portfolio for yourself.

Here are steps that you can take to get started on your writing career.

1. Seek Professional Training

Here’s a quick story about how I started freelance writing.

 “One chilly morning in February of 2014, I was listening to the radio while prepping for class. It was one of my favorite local stations and a freelance writer who had massive success working online was on air. He talked about how starting a freelance writing business had changed his life, and mentioned a few job sites that offered jobs for new freelance writers.

 That same day, I went to our school computer library and signed up as a freelance writer.

I thought that I was going to start having clients immediately but that never happened. I tried pitching myself to clients for more than 4 months straight and I never got close to getting hired..

 After the long period of frustration, one of my friends heard about it, and introduced me to a content writer.

 Fast forward, the guy put me on some form of training and I quickly understood why I hadn’t secured a single job for more than 4 months.

 I had been doing many things the wrong way, but the training I received was quick to set me up for success in less than a month. I had wasted so much time avoiding the average $40-$60 training that I knew most people offered and that cost me more than 4 months of frustration.

If I had been wise enough at the start, I would have gone for that training from the word go. Rather, in a bid to save $40 or something, I had wasted more than 4 months and put myself in immense frustration because I didn’t want to get trained. I could never insist enough about training.

2. Pick Your Freelance Writing Niche

Unlike building a freelance writing hustle, building a freelance writing business will require that you pick a niche from the get-go.

Asking why? Creating niche content gives you more leverage to build your portfolio fast and gain specialization within that niche.

Rather than writing for a thousand niches and being an expert at none,  picking a niche helps you to gain all the knowledge, there is in that niche. That way, you fast become a master, and finding clients becomes easier.

You can always change niches as you progress though. Your passion, interest, and experience will always open you up to other niches that you may want to discover.

How To Identify the Ideal Niche For Your Freelance Writing Business?

Identifying a niche is as easy as finding what you are truly passionate about in life. If you are a makeup artist, you could easily talk about make up all day without stopping, right?. A beginner freelancer knowledgeable about makeup would, therefore, best be placed in writing about makeup and cosmetics.

If you have no idea about what you’re passionate about, the following two questions can help you find out.

  1. What areas do I have average knowledge about?
  2. What do I know the most about these areas?

Identify what you are passionate about- Passion is key in freelance writing as it gives you a driving force from within you. When you write about something you are passionate about, it is easier to research about it and speak about it with more confidence.

Following the example above, you may have been working in a makeup parlor as a salesperson, but your passion is doing makeup. You can write about makeup with more zeal.

Identify gaps in the market- After knowing your passion/expertise, what you need to do next is to research and see what is in the market. What jobs are available in line with your area of interest?

You might find various businesses that will pay you to write in that area. If you do not find any opportunities available, take a step back, and see how you can expand your niche to increase your opportunities.

Identifying your niche should not restrict you. You can always pick up a task from other niches that come across as interesting to you.

3. Set Up A Website/ Blog Portfolio

Hey, remember that you are working to start a freelance writing business from home, not a freelance writing hustle.

A website is your online presence. You’ll send your prospective clients to your website where you’ll have your sample content posted. Also, you’ll showcase the clients you’ve worked with on your website.

Your website can also act as your blogging space, where you talk about topics that are relevant to your freelance writing business. This will boost your portfolio in a huge way.

Your portfolio needs to represent your brand and the type of tasks you want to handle. In the portfolio, include your best recent works, those that are straightforward, and reflect your uniqueness as a writer.

Remember that your portfolio is, in a sense, your brag. It should therefore only hold the type of content that you are proud to showcase.

Benefits of Having a Freelance Writer’s Website

Your website is just a utility to help you showcase your work, in a professional way. You can always share samples to prospective clients through Google Docs before you get to work on your website.

  • It will make you look professional. clients will pay more attention to you when you have a website to use when pitching to them.
  • A website will help you organize your work and show the services you can offer. This will help you increase your chances of being hired.
  • You can use it to catalog your sample works
  • It helps you display your abilities and does a better job convincing clients to hire you. Since your works are already available, they can be able to see your brand through your pieces of work

How to Create a Great Freelance Portfolio Website

  • Get a domain name and hosting for your website

Sounds techie? Trust me, it’s something you can handle. I never paid a web developer to make my website. It was all DIY. Use our DIY Outline for creating a website from scratch.

  • Create a simple and clear design

After hosting your website, the next thing is to create the interface for your website. Many sites offer templates that you can use with no need for code. Look for a simple and beautiful template that you can use. An example of such a site is WordPress.

  • Work on Your About Page

Set up your “about” section to be as clear as possible. Your potential clients would like to know who you are and if you are reliable.

The “about” page is one of the most visited pages on a website and should be therefore created in a way that’ll help you communicate your abilities and unique skills.

If you have past working experience that can show you understand your niche more, you can include it.

Also include an image of yourself. Images have a profound way of building trust in a split-second. So, yeah. Go for a professional image that is clean, clear, and captures your smiley face.

  • Highlight your Services Throughout your Website

When your potential clients land on your website, you would like them to know that you are a freelance writer and you are available for hire.

  • Create a Portfolio Page

This page will help you display samples of the original works that you have written. Remember your portfolio shows your brand. Thus, include your very best works.

  • Have a Contact Page

Include a way for your potential clients to reach you. The end goal of the website is to present your work and get you hired. Ensure that you have a contact page with possibly a direct email, phone number, or any other way that your potential clients can reach you.

4. Write Great Sample Work- Write Several Samples To Post On Your Website

To get hired, your potential clients will desire to see the work you have done to tell if you have what they are looking for. Your writings are your greatest selling point because they show the writer you are.

A portfolio as above is the best way to showcase your best writing samples. You can get these samples through guest posts, starting your blog, or creating them yourself.

If you are yet to have any samples that you can use to market yourself, writing a blog post might be a brilliant way to start. Write a blog post as your sample. Use a topic for your post that is within the niche you identified.

5. Pitching Yourself To the World

Having identified your niche, created your portfolio, and written your sample works, the next step is to find work. How do you do that? Pitching. A pitch is a writer’s way to tell someone about who you are, what you can do, and what service you can offer. It should be short and carry only the significant things that you would like to share about. You can share your pitch with the editor by sending it via email.

A Freelancer’s Guide to Writing a Great Pitch

  • Research and find the best person to pitch to. You can find this information on the publications “About’’ page. You are looking for someone in the editing team such as the managing editor. In some sites, they will have included the names. This way, you know whom to address regarding your pitch.
  • Have a great and capturing subject line that will grab the attention of the editor. The subject line should be short
  • Keep the pitch precise. Editors are busy. When you send your pitch through email, ensure that you keep it short.
  • Customize every pitch. Organizations may differ in needs, meaning you would need to tweak your pitch to address their needs and how you would help them meet them.
  • Last, ensure that you check the spelling and grammar in your text.

 

 Apart from publications, you can contact companies you love and offer to write content for their blog or create sponsored content about their products on your blog. Pitching requires patience.

You can land your first writing job immediately or it could take time. However, you should not stop pitching. Keep your social media such as LinkedIn and your website up to date and constantly review your pitch.

There are specialist job boards where you can get more high profile and paid writing works. In these job boards, communities of writers may share information regarding sites, blogs, and magazines that you can plug into.

Job boards are one of the fastest ways to get writing jobs as a newbie. They have fresh jobs every day or even every hour; they have a low entry point and they do not limit you to the number of ads you can apply using a single job board.

Examples of job boards are Contena, BloggingPro, The Writer Finder, ProBlogger, and many other sites.

6. Collect Testimonials From Your Clients

As you start a freelance writing business from home, ensure that you collect as much feedback and testimonials from your clients as possible.

Testimonials create confidence in your potential clients because they offer honest opinions and reviews about the work you provide. Think of testimonials as product reviews. Only in this case, your work and brand is the product.

Before purchasing a product you are not familiar with online, one often goes to the product review section to see what people have said about it. Often, the reviews guide the buyer on whether to make a purchase. This is the same case for testimonials and writers.

Tips for Starting a Successful Freelance Writing Business from Home

  1. Research thoroughly on tips and ideas that make a successful freelance writer. To become a great freelance writer, you need to research and learn everything you can in the freelance writing industry. Information is power. Take your time to know more about the niche you would like to write in. Know everything you can about freelancing best practices. Also, know more about the pit stops that could hinder your freelance writing business.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the tools and skills that will help you sharpen your writing craft. Some skills that you will find useful include:
  • Organizational skills– As a freelance writer, you are your own boss. You’ll be doing nearly everything by yourself. Develop a routine to organize your blog posts and keep track of all your writing projects, client information, and even pitches that you make.
  • Blogging Skills– Reading tons and tons of blogs will help you develop your blogging skills. Pay keen attention to how blog posts are formatted and how to captivate the reader with your headline and introduction. Include subheadings in your work.
  • Image Editing – Knowing how to add texts to images is important. Some clients may want you to include images in their content. There are several free editing programs such as, PicMonkey or Photoshop, that you can explore. You can also get copyright-free image sourcing from various sites such as Unsplash.
  • Editing – Before submitting any content to your client, it is important to proofread your work and correct any grammatical mistakes, misspelled words, etc. There are available tools such as Grammarly or Hemmingway that can make your work easier.
  1. Always continue sharpening your writing craft. One way to grow in your craft is to keep writing and reading content that will help you. Read on how to create different types of sentences, for the easy conveyance of your message. Practice writing and learn how to eliminate filler words in your content. Even experienced freelance writers can get better.
  1. Create an eye-catching portfolio. Your portfolio is your resume. This is where you highlight your recent works and capabilities. Your clients sometimes will want to see what you have written in the past and this is an impressive way to show you writing skills. As you grow in your writing career, you need to keep your portfolio up to date.
  1. Pitch for jobs. Pitching is work and requires patience. However, it is worth investing your time in. Keep your pitches short.
  1. Put in the effort. New endeavors are often frustrating at the beginning. As a newbie writer, your greatest interest will be to put your name out there.

It’ll definitely take time before you start seeing the result…but,… The plan is to stick to the process.

Make sure that you network on social media. Join Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and start following other writers or companies that you would like to write for.

I’m great at using Facebook for networking. One of my friends is great at networking on Reddit. One of my other friends who specializes in affiliate marketing in Kenya has his networks through mainstream media.

The idea is to find what type of networking works best for you.

You can also use guest posts to get your name out there and equally build your portfolio.

Benefits of Starting a Freelance Writing Business

  • The flexibility of your working hours. You decide what hours to dedicate to your work and you choose the time of day to work.
  • Financial independence as you decide how much you will charge your clients. This means you get paid more based on your services and skill set.
  • You are your own boss. This means that success depends on the effort you put. You learn to develop and nurture a sense of direction and purpose.
  • Location independence- you can work from anywhere, including the coffee shop, library, and kitchen counter.
  • You get an array of exposure from working with different clients to working on distinct types of content writing projects.
  • It offers you a chance to grow your niche business skill set. You can experiment and broaden your skillset by stretching your versatility in various services in your niche as a freelancer. For example, most writers progress to become editors, digital marketers, affiliate marketers, etc.

Conclusion

To start a successful business from home, you need to plan accordingly to make it work. My advice is that you should start with the end in mind. Visualize your destination and work backward to where you should start. This is crucial in ensuring that you don’t get lost in starting your freelance writing business.

Feel free to ask your burning questions down below and I’ll be happy to respond to you.

Otherwise, happy freelancing!

Samuel Mutahi
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