How to make it as a freelancer – 8 tips for new writers

January 1, 2023   The writing business 🕑 5 minutes read

Want to conquer the world of freelance writing? You may need a little help. Not to worry! We’ve got the tips you need to get ahead in this competitive sector.

Working as a freelance writer is often the dream. And it’s a dream that you can bring to life if you have the right tools. Many people may think that writing for a living is easy or that freelancing simply involves penning whatever you think people want to read and getting paid for it.

Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Making it as a freelance writer requires quite an impressive skill set. So, we’re going to explain how you can boost your chances of success by following these eight tips.

8 tips to make it as a freelance writer

Pick a topic you’re passionate about (but that’s also profitable)

Finding a niche to operate in is a great way to let clients know what you do best. While many new freelancers may be tempted to make themselves available for any and every job they lay their eyes on, picking one or two specialized areas of interest can actually attract more clients in the long run.

Think about it: If you wanted to hire someone to ghostwrite your book, would you choose the writer who specializes in ghostwriting or the jack-of-all-trades? Niche wins (almost) every time.

As you embark on your freelance writing journey, choose your niches wisely before making yourself available for work. That way, you can have more control over your career path and cultivate a client base that centers on your natural strengths and capabilities.

Start with smaller jobs

Smaller jobs obviously don’t pay as well as big ones. But they will provide you with the practical experience needed to build up your skill set and prepare you for tackling higher-stakes projects.

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t actually want to take on big jobs in the beginning. Smaller, more manageable projects will allow you to become more familiar with the freelancing industry and provide a more comfortable context for you to flex your skills. Once you and your clients have greater faith in your abilities, you can confidently move on to bigger things.

Make research and learning a daily habit

Guided largely by passing trends, the freelance industry can be prone to sudden changeability. To stop this from throwing you off your game, it’s important to stay up to date on current themes, skills and forecasts for the freelance climate.

Follow reliable online news channels, research current trends, watch webinars, and be open to continuously learning about the industry you now work in. It will make you a much more formidable candidate for future jobs.

Write every day (even if it’s not for a client)

The best way to get better at any skill is to commit to it fully and consistently. Even if you don’t have any projects underway, continuing to write every day will keep your skills sharp and teach you the all-important skill of self-discipline. For independent freelancers, self-discipline is crucial.

What should you write about if you’ve got no clients?

Well, anything you like, really.

There are many different ways to practice your writing skills, some of which include comprehensive journaling, news commentary, or picking a random subject to write about.

When it comes to writing as practice, the action of writing itself is far more important than the subject you write about. However, choosing something that fits into your category of interest may help you stay motivated to keep writing.

Build your portfolio and keep updating it

For freelancers, portfolios are everything. It’s the one thing every freelancer needs to have to succeed.  It is even more important than experience or a pre-existing client base. Your portfolio will be the deciding factor for all clients on your radar, so make sure it looks good and shows the full breadth of your talent.

Work on your career skills

Career skills are skills you need outside of writing for better communication and growth within your career. For freelance writers, some career skills might include verbal communication, team collaboration and research. Not to mention, the ability to get excited about your clients’ projects.

These skills will come in handy throughout your career as a means to solidify your position in freelancing and make you a more attractive hire to potential clients.

Think of yourself as a brand

The idea makes some people cringe. But at the end of the day, all freelancers can benefit from treating their career as a brand. All that means is you should consider the tone, essence and personality of yourself as a professional and connect those aspects of who you are into one cohesive identity.

For example, if your writing is focused on sustainability, you might want to incorporate colors, fonts, and visuals that are associated with that theme in your profile. This will make you appear more unified and self-aware as a writer and give you a better shot at luring the clients you want.

Run your freelance career like a business

This is an aspect of freelancing that many people find challenging. However, if you can get it right, your career is far more likely to thrive. Make sure to keep a strong grip on the administrative side of your profession, such as keeping an accounting record and constantly searching for new trends to adopt.

Unlike employees in a business, freelancers are 100% responsible for everything that happens in their careers. From using a self-employed invoice template correctly to maintaining client communication, all freelancers need to understand how to manage their own affairs efficiently. If you feel unprepared, take a crash course or do research to feel more secure.

Final thoughts

When it comes to being a successful freelancer, there’s certainly more to it than what meets the eye.

From establishing yourself as a writer with niche capabilities to staying in the loop about current trends and in-demand skill sets, it takes time and dedication to set your independent career into full swing.

Fortunately, the rise of popularity in freelance work, particularly in the writing field, means that resources are all around. And clients are easier to pull than ever before.

With these eight tips, anyone can start their journey as a successful freelance writer.

About David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt is President of The Happy Guy Marketing, a published author, a "Distinguished Toastmaster", a former consumer advocate, a social media addict and experienced with media relations and government reports.

Read more about David Leonhardt


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