There are a lot of appealing things about freelancing, such as no boss, you get to set your own schedule, and you can work wherever you want. Want to know how to become a freelance writer with no experience? There’s a lot to know, but you’ll find all the steps you need to get started here.
Table of contents
- What does a freelance writer do?
- How to become a freelance writer with no experience: 15 Steps to take
- Expert tip: Leverage marketing agencies to find work
- How do I get freelance writing work?
- Can I make $1,000 a month freelancing?
- What do freelance writers get paid on average?
- How much should a beginner freelance writer charge?
- How do freelance writers get paid?
- Articles related to becoming a freelance writer without experience
- Knowing how to become a freelance writer with no experience is a marathon, not a sprint!
Of course, some people don’t want to give up the stability of a regular paycheck and health benefits. But more and more people are jumping ship to join freelance life.
According to Zippia, 36% of the U.S. workforce now does freelance work.
Do you have strong writing skills? Are you independent, organized, and motivated? Then freelance writing could be a side hustle or career for you!
I’ll discuss how to become a freelance writer in 15 simple steps. But first, let’s discuss what a freelance writer does.
What does a freelance writer do?
First of all, a freelance writer is simply a self-employed person who makes a living from writing. That can be writing content like articles, blog posts, white papers, web copy, or anything else that requires text.
Rather than working as full-time employees, freelance writers work as independent contractors. In other words, they work WITH clients instead of FOR companies.
More simply, freelance writers write content for clients, but they must first learn how to find clients as a freelancer.
Freelance writers often have to work at managing clients and typically work from cafes or coworking offices. It’s also a popular career among digital nomads.
It’s a job that you can do from anywhere there is an internet connection.
How to become a freelance writer with no experience: 15 Steps to take
If you want to figure out how to become a freelance writer, there are a lot of different ways to make it work.
For example, some people become a beginner freelance writer after having worked in public relations or marketing. Meanwhile, others begin working as fashion freelance writers or technical freelance writers after having worked in the respective industry for years.
But if you don’t have an established career (or if you want to change your career!), you can still learn how to freelance and how to become a content writer with no experience.
Undoubtedly, you need writing skills to become a freelance writer—but you can gain the experience over time. Here are the steps you should take to start freelance writing:
1. Learn what freelance writing is about
First, learn what freelance writing is really about. Look at the websites, LinkedIn profiles, and social media pages of well-established freelance writers.
Ask yourself: What do they write about? What kind of content do they write? Review their bios and writing samples.
There are also a lot of blogs that talk about how to become a freelance writer with no experience. So be sure to leverage those resources to learn tips on looking for jobs, pitching, networking, etc.
Above all, you must read about the industry every day in order to fully understand the ins and outs of what it takes to be a freelance writer.
2. Pick a writing niche
Most successful freelance writers will tell you that you need to choose a niche. What’s less popularly discussed is that this niche can be a subject or a medium.
For example, you can specialize in climate change. Specializing in a topic means you would write lots of different kinds of content (e.g., articles, white papers, social media content, etc.) all about climate change.
Conversely, you can specialize in email newsletters. Specializing in a type of writing means you write exclusively email newsletters for different clients about many different subjects.
If you don’t know where to start at first, that’s okay. Most freelancers start out broadly, covering about three niches, and then streamline and evolve their services as they continue their careers.
However, it’s essential to have some sort of plan for topics to write about before you start applying for freelance writing jobs for beginners with no experience.
3. Make sure you have the right tools
If you want to know how to become a freelance writer with no experience, you’ll first need to be sure you have the right tools for writers.
For the most part, you’ll just need a laptop, email, and internet connection. Some clients may ask you to communicate with them through apps like Slack, Asana, or Trello. You’ll need to open accounts with them and know how to use them.
Different clients will have different requirements for invoicing as well. So you may need to set up an account with their accounting software to ensure you’re paid on time.
4. Create a writer’s website
A website is one of the most important steps in how to become a freelance writer. Think of your writer’s website or author website as the face of your freelance writing business.
It’s where you will list your services, your writing samples, and your rates (if you so choose). It’s also where you’ll direct potential clients to review your work and get in touch with you. So make sure it’s polished and as close to perfection as possible!
If you’re not a tech whiz, don’t worry. Your website should be professional, attractive, and easy to read, but it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Just one to three pages with a bio, samples, and your service listing will do!
5. Make a portfolio of your writing samples
Next, you need to get some writing samples up on your website! You can include relevant professional writing you’ve done in the past if you have experience as a writer.
Note, however, that you shouldn’t include academic writing on your freelance writing website. For businesses looking to work with professional writers, college essays don’t quite cut it!
If you don’t have any professional writing clips, you can start by just writing a few pieces of your own to publish on your website.
As you learn how to become a freelance writer with no experience, you’ll want to include every clip you get in your portfolio. Then, as you gain more experience, whittle down your portfolio to only show your very best work that’s relevant to your desired niche.
6. Consider starting a blog
If you’re trying to figure out how to become a freelance writer with no experience, then starting a blog or even full-time blogging is a great way to beef up your portfolio if you’re light on clips. It also allows you to practice your skills on specific topics that you want to get paid to write. And if you grow a decent following, you can even monetize your work through ads.
Moreover, it’s a great way to hold yourself accountable to a daily writing routine to keep working on your skills!
You can start a blog about anything you want. However, it’s best if the subject is at least slightly related to your niche.
For example, if you want to write about interior design, consider starting a blog about home decor with pieces about renovating your own house.
You can easily use a site like WordPress to create a professional-looking site, even if you have a limited budget. The great part is that you can then send these clips to prospective clients as examples of your writing style.
7. Set up accounts on content writing sites
Sometimes, you can learn how to get a writing job with no experience by setting up an account on a content writing site like Fiverr or Upwork. You can also set up a portfolio on sites like Contently. These sites let you post your example content and get clients from a variety of different niches.
If you’re just starting out, then it’s best to set a lower rate. Once you move past content writing for beginners, you can increase your rates.
8. Head to the job boards
Now that your website and your portfolio are prepped, it’s time to start looking for work!
Unfortunately, job boards tend to get a bad rap, but they’re actually a great source for finding work if you want to figure out how to become a freelance writer.
By simply typing in “freelance writer,” “copywriter,” “content writer,” and other similar keywords, you can find plenty of good-quality, reputable companies looking to collaborate with freelancers. Be sure to look up the companies before you apply, though, as there are scams on some job listings.
Good job boards that can help you find freelance writing jobs for beginners with no experience:
9. Pitch! Pitch! And pitch some more!
Besides applying for freelance gigs on job boards, another approach for how to find clients as a freelancer is to reach out to magazines and companies and pitch them directly.
A lot of freelancers (especially newbies) are afraid to pitch editors and content managers. But if you want to work as a freelancer, you have to be willing to put yourself out there.
At the end of the day, it’s all a numbers game. You have to get used to accepting rejection, learning from feedback, and trying again.
Particularly you need to be prepared to pitch every day—especially at the beginning of your career.
When you’re getting ready to pitch, take the time to research both the outlet and the editor. Don’t just blindly send the same pitch to everyone!
Instead, focus on making it personal, i.e., quality over quantity. Try to identify ways that you can help them by either suggesting a few blog posts or making some SEO suggestions. Then, reach out to them by email and see if they respond.
Also, it’s important to be brief with your pitches. Whether you’re pitching editors at magazines or content managers at companies, nobody wants to read through a pitch that’s three paragraphs long. Being clear and succinct is the name of the game!
10. Join Facebook groups
Figuring out how to become a content writer with no experience can be difficult. This is why I highly suggest looking for freelance writing Facebook groups. It’s the perfect way to network with other freelancers and get advice on things like contracts and rates.
Many of these groups often post listings for freelancers. Some freelancers will pass on clients if they are too busy or if it’s for a niche they don’t have the expertise for.
11. Write guest posts
Another way to learn how to become a freelance writer with no experience is to write guest posts on other blogs. While some might pay you to write for them, others will allow you to write for free in exchange for building up your portfolio.
Finding a high-authority site can help you build your portfolio and give you more experience to hone your craft. To find places where you can guest post, do a Google search of your niche with the phrase “write for us.” Then find out the requirements and send an inquiry!
12. Market yourself
Like it or not, you have to market yourself all the time if you want to be a freelancer.
A professional website is a great place to start. Creating (and staying active on!) different social media profiles or being part of online writing groups is also important for building your reputation as a freelancer.
Particularly, LinkedIn is a very useful place for finding work and networking with editors, business owners, and other writers in the industry.
Fortunately, many freelancers also believe in sticking together and are happy to pass on work to other freelancers when their schedules are booked, so make sure you connect with other freelancers on social media to grow your network.
13. Think like a business owner
Above all, you must remember that when learning how to become a freelance writer with no experience, you are not just a writer. You are also a business owner.
To be a successful solo business owner, you must be independent, organized, and resilient. Besides your writing duties, you also need to be managing clients, keeping track of invoices, organizing your expenses, tracking your income, and paying your own taxes.
This is a whole other learning curve in and of itself. As you learn how to become a freelancer writer, remember that there is much more to freelance writing than just writing!
14. Gain SEO knowledge
Another way to learn how to get a writing job with no experience is to learn search engine optimization or SEO editing. SEO is often the bread and butter of a good blog or website. It helps companies rank on Google and, in turn, get customers.
While companies might have an SEO manager who tackles the ins and outs of how to rank on Google, having an understanding of SEO can help you stand out from others. You can take free courses on Hubspot or also with a site like Udemy.
15. Keep developing your writing skills
Everyone likes to think that they can write. (After all, we all write emails and text messages every day, right?) But regular, day-to-day writing (or even the academic writing we all did in school) is not the same as professional writing for businesses or publications.
In order to succeed as a freelancer and learn how to become a content writer with no experience, you must continuously work on honing your writing skills. For starters, read every day! Read books, read newspapers, read magazines.
You can further work on your writing skills by signing up for professional development courses and joining different online writing groups and online communities.
Expert tip: Leverage marketing agencies to find workA little-known secret among freelance writers is to turn to public relations and marketing agencies. This is a great place to find freelance writing work.
Agencies usually have a steady stream of work coming from their own clients and are often looking for freelance writers with whom to collaborate. In other words, agencies can be a great source for ongoing, repeat assignments.
Above all, stay away from the content mills. It can be tempting when looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners with no experience. But content mills are just a competition for the lowest pay.
How do I get freelance writing work?
To get freelance writing work, search job boards often. It’s hard to believe, but word of mouth really goes a long way when you’re an independent contractor—if you have the reputation of providing good work! But no matter how good of a writer you are, it takes time to build a reputation.
That’s why new freelance writers should make it a daily practice to surf the job boards for entry level writing jobs. You should also make it a regular habit to cold-pitch publications and companies.
Most importantly, you must remind yourself to keep going and not give up when you get rejected, ghosted, or ignored—because you will be. But if you keep at it and don’t give up after a month of pitching, you’ll eventually gain some traction and start getting results.
Can I make $1,000 a month freelancing?
Absolutely, you can make $1,000 a month freelancing! Remember: You won’t make $1,000 as a freelance writer overnight, but this is certainly a very attainable goal.
The best way to make $1,000 a month freelancing is to just get started and don’t spend too much time overthinking it.
After all, you can read about freelancing forever, but unless you start applying to jobs or pitching your services, you’ll never get a gig and start making money.
The secret is simple: Just create a portfolio and start pitching! Making $1,000 a month as a freelance writer is totally possible, but it takes consistent, daily hard work and a writing routine.
What do freelance writers get paid on average?
So let’s say you work five days a week without ever taking a vacation … that equals about $60,000 per year. Realistically, let’s say you work five days a week but also take five weeks of vacation, holiday, and sick time – that equals around $55,000 per year.
Pay depends on several factors, including what you’re writing about, how much writing experience you have, and the budget of your clients.
The other thing to note is that as you gain experience, it will take you less time to complete articles. So, while it might take you an hour to write 200 words when you first start out, after a few months, you could be hitting 500 words an hour or even more.
And since many places pay per article or word, your overall hourly rate will increase over time, and you’ll be able to take on more work.
How much should a beginner freelance writer charge?
As you learn how to become a freelance writer with no experience, knowing what to charge is crucial. If you charge too much, you won’t get clients. Meanwhile, if you don’t charge enough, it could be a waste of your time.
You can start off with a lower amount, and as you gain experience, it will be easier to charge more.
How do freelance writers get paid?
Freelance writers can be paid in a variety of ways, including PayPal, direct deposit, or check. It depends on the company you’re working with or the payment system you prefer.
You can decide in advance what system you like best for payment and let your clients know that is your preferred method. But you may want to be flexible with, say, receiving a check versus direct deposit, as your clients will appreciate you working with whatever system they already use.
Articles related to becoming a freelance writer without experience
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Knowing how to become a freelance writer with no experience is a marathon, not a sprint!
A lot of stuff on the internet makes freelance writing look like a dream to get rich quickly. Or it makes it look like a scam.
The truth is that freelance writing is a completely viable career—and you can make good money doing it. But it’s also true that not everyone will make over $60,000 per year as a freelance writer—and they certainly won’t do it overnight.
With how to get a writing job with no experience, work slowly and steadily. If you have the writing chops, work hard, and remain persistent, you can certainly build a career as a freelance writer. For more tips on how to make writing your full-time job and achieve your writing goals, subscribe to the Clever Girl Author newsletter.