Learn how to start out making good money as a freelance writer without having to work for a content mill. I started out making $50 per article as a new freelancer and you can too!
Are you trying to learn how to start freelance writing WITH NO EXPERIENCE and you have no idea where to begin? Or maybe you’ve been at it a while, and you’re just not getting anywhere. If so, I understand!
When I first decided to freelance, I was overwhelmed with all the information out there, and I didn’t know what to do first!
Luckily, I found some direction and jumped in!
I began freelance writing with absolutely NO EXPERIENCE. But, I was still able to skip the “working for next to nothing” stage and get my first job writing for $50/article.
Here’s how I did it, and you can too!
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How to Start Freelance Writing from Scratch
1. Pick a Niche
To start freelance writing, you need to pick a niche so you can market yourself as a specialist!
When I began freelancing, picking a niche felt super overwhelming—I had no idea what to choose, and I stressed big time about it. THEN, I realized that I could change my niche at ANY TIME, and it wasn’t a big deal.
I finally picked a niche that I had some interest and experience in (okay, more interest than experience if we’re being real). I decided to market myself as a health and wellness writer.
Having a niche allowed me to market myself as a specialist, land a job quickly, and get paid a decent wage.
2. Create a Website
Once I chose a niche, I started a writer’s website—this is essential if you want to be a freelance writer.
Your writer’s website becomes your online resume, and it’s a great way for clients to get to know you (because you won’t ever meet most of your clients face to face).
Free VS Paid Hosting
While there are lots of ways to create a free website, if you’re planning to make writing your career you should pay for a self-hosted site.
Clients want to know that you’re invested and that you take writing seriously, especially if you want to attract high-paying clients. Having a self-hosted website is a big signal to potential clients that you’re a professional.
Choose Platform and Hosting
There are lots of platforms and hosting providers out there, but I’ll save you some time: choose WordPress and Bluehost. They’re both reliable and haven’t let me down.
WordPress is the most common platform, and most of your clients will use it to blog, so by using WordPress, you’ll become familiar with it and be able to tell clients that you’re an expert.
*Tip: I’m talking about wordpress.org—NOT wordpress.com. There’s a big difference, and I learned the hard way (you can’t access plugins if you are hosted at wordpress.com. Huge PAIN).
As for hosting, Bluehosthas been great for me. And it’s only $2.95/month!
- Just click start
- Choose a plan
- And pick your domain
Once you sign up for Bluehost, they make it easy to download WordPress to your website.
Pages to Include
When starting your websites, you just need a few pages: a landing page or homepage, an about page, a portfolio page, and a contact page. It’s pretty basic, but it worked for me!
A landing page and about page should focus on the value you provide for your client—in fact, don’t mention anything “about you” (not even how much you love writing) unless you am going explain how that quality will help clients improve their businesses.
Your portfolio page should be full of samples; they can even be ones you’ve made and things you’ve self-published on Linkedin.
The contact page should have an easy method for clients to get in touch. it’s nice to have a contact form, so it’s super simple for clients to send you a message! You don’t want clients to pass you over just because someone else is easier to contact.
3. Create Samples
Another super important step when you’re learning how to start freelance writing from scratch is creating writing samples.
Because I had ABSOLUTELY NO EXPERIENCE when I started, this was important. I knew nobody would want to hire me without knowing what my writing looked like.
So, I created some samples. I made two samples in a niche that I felt comfortable writing in (health and wellness) and I created two samples in a niche that I wanted to eventually move into (case study writing).
Then, I asked a local company to let me do a free case study for them to beef up my portfolio. I interviewed one of their clients about their experience with the company, and I ended up with a great piece to showcase on my website.
I also published two of my articles on Linkedin Pulse, and I put them up on my website.
Every potential employer wanted to see writing samples; my new portfolio meant I had something solid to show them what an awesome writer I am!
4. Get on Social Media
If you’re serious about getting your name out there, it’s a good idea to establish a presence on social platforms (admittedly, I haven’t been awesome at this).
I’m not on all social platforms, but if you can manage to do that in a quality way then go for it!
For myself, I chose Linkedin and Twitter to network and create an online presence.
5. Apply for Tons of Jobs
To finally get hired, I applied to TONS of jobs. It can get a little discouraging, but it’s a numbers game. Put yourself out there again and again and eventually somebody will say yes.
The first method I tried was cold pitching (emailing companies who didn’t have job postings). I found newish companies on Google and AngelList.
Then I emailed these companies with some amazing stats about how effective blogging is for marketing a business and offered my services.
Cold pitching resulted in some good conversations for me, but no jobs. BUT, I don’t say that to discourage you from cold pitching. Other people have had awesome success with it, and I think that if I’d stuck with it, I would have been successful too. It’s something I’ll be doing in the future for sure.
After cold pitching, I moved on to free job boards (there are some amazing paid ones like Contenta, but I was strapped for cash). I applied to take on topics that I felt comfortable writing about, or that I thought I could learn about. BUT, I did NOT apply for jobs that wanted to pay me $2/article (more on that below).
Here are the FREE job boards that where I found the best jobs:
6. Create Samples for Specific Postings
Because I was applying for tons of jobs, it was tempting to skip the ones that wanted me to create a specific sample for their job posting. I figured that would take WAY too long and possibly not pay off—I thought wrong!
Luckily, I gave in and decided to write a sample for one of those job postings. It took me an entire day to write it (I was a REALLY slow writer when I started). But, soon after submitting that article, the company hired me and the starting pay was $50/article.
Because I was new and didn’t have a huge portfolio, writing that sample got me in the door! Don’t be afraid to put in a bit of extra work when applying for a job if it looks like a good one.
7. Don’t Write for Pennies
I knew that if I wanted to start freelance writing from scratch, I might end up writing for less than my ideal wage. BUT, I set myself a minimum wage that I wasn’t willing to go below and I stuck with it. For me, that number was $20/article. Luckily, I didn’t even have to stoop that low!
$2.00 Articles Slow You Down
I understand that you may feel you can only get super low-paying jobs at first. I think it’s okay to write 2-3 articles for this price if you’re being credited as the author (it’ll look good in your portfolio) but if you AREN’T getting credit, or if you’ve already written a few then there is NO EXCUSE to write for that wage. Here’s why:
If you fill up your day with these jobs, you’ll literally be making $0.75/hour OR LESS. You’ll be working your butt off all day, AND you’ll have little time left to:
- Create better portfolio samples
- Pitch to better clients
- Get published as a guest poster
- Write on your own blog
- Improve your social media presence
All of those things are helpful for becoming a profitable freelance writer, and are a way better use of your time than writing for $2 an article.
7. Take THIS Freelance Writing Course
If you’re new to the freelancing game, all of that information might sound pretty overwhelming. It sure did for me!
In the beginning, I looked at tons of websites for information on how to become a freelance writer. I found so much good info, but I just didn’t know where to start.
Then I found Elna Cain’s Write Your Way to Your First 1K. It was life changing! I can’t say enough good about this course.
Elna makes a full-time income working from home as a freelance writer and her course taught me everything I needed to know and gave me CONFIDENCE (cuz I was seriously lacking).
Write Your Way to Your First 1Ktaught me how to start freelance writingfrom scratch (Elna started out with ZERO EXPERIENCE too).
I learned to market myself so I didn’t have to start writing for pennies. And 1 month after starting as a writer I had 2 well-paying, long-term clients!
Without this course, it would have taken 3x as long to learn the ropes and to get well-paying work.
If you’re looking for an awesome way to make money from home, freelance writing could be it! So keep my tips in mind, head over to Elna’s course, and start freelance writing already!