Becoming a freelance content creator is a great career move for someone who has a passion and impulse for finding the best words that fit together but who wants the flexibility of managing their own time.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know where to start. Our guide shares some insight on how to become a freelance content creator.
How to become a freelance content creator
It helps if you have some experience
Any study, on-the-job training or work you’ve undertaken in journalism, marketing, sales or business is a great starting point. However, if you really are starting out at the bottom and you’re looking to move into a content career that you could take freelance, then look for administrative positions in these departments, particulary if they’re in a company or sector you’d like to start content writing for in future.
If you already have some background with in-house positions, then now is the time to start creating content on your own terms, so consider starting a blog, website or volunteering your content skills to a community platform or other website.
Tip: try to get a byline out of this to build up your authority on the internet. After all, most freelance hirings come off the credibility of your online persona.
Get your skills recognised
One of the best ways of standing out from the crowd while also honing your content writing skills is to take a writing course. There are many available online, making it much easier to fit around existing responsibilities, but make sure you look for one that offers the depth you need.
For instance, many content courses on Udemy or Alison are great overviews for new starters, but if you have some experience already then you don’t need a general introduction that’s pitched way below your level; you want your skills and abilities to be stretched with a variety of assignments to practise on.
If you do have more experience, then you may want to consider paying for a copywriting course that’s a bit more established and will offer you a certificate, feedback on assessments, an accreditation logo you can put on your website and help with getting started in freelancing. You might also want to consider joining a professional body such as the The Professional Copywriters’ Network or the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.
Build your presence
To get found you need to put yourself out there so build a web-based portfolio for writing or start your own blog or website which is kept up to date with regular content you’ve created (ideally part promotional and part highlighting your knowledge in specialist areas you’d like to write for). You can get your own domain and email address for a few pounds a year and basic web hosting plans on great deals. This is definitely worth the money since that sign of credibility might be the difference between converting a new client and not.
Engage with the outside world
Whether it’s your local world or the online world, make sure you get your content read and shared and your skills heard about. Follow industry news and share articles on social media; promote your own content on various platforms (including social media like LinkedIn and publishing sites like Medium) to increase inbound traffic and exposure; and promote your services in your local area by putting out business cards and press releases and joining local business networking groups.
Optimise your content
The internet is a vast space filled with potential clients in every corner of the globe. But trying to market to all those can be hard work, so don’t neglect the fact that there will be businesses on your doorstep who are looking to work with a copywriter in their locale. That means you need to optimise your content with geographical SEO. Since you’re a pro writer, the better you optimise the content on your website or portfolio, the better job you’ll do of bringing those clients in and evidencing your skills.
Case studies & testimonials
As soon as you bag a client, make sure you have a plan for how you can use them to bolster your freelance presence. Once the project is complete, contact them and ask if you can create a case study and request a testimonial (or write one for them to approve) which you can use on your website. Make sure they know you’ll link back to their site.
Reviews and directories
There are tons of professional directories out there where you can list your services both to online and offline clients. As above, these also provide opportunities for clients to leave reviews and feedback. You might want to cast your net wide to begin with and then focus your efforts on those sites you have a higher success with. Some examples include Copify, Contently, AllFreelanceWriting, ProCopywriters and FreelanceUK.
Approach on spec
If there’s a particular business that you feel sits within your niche and who you could create great content for, why not approach them directly? Find out who the go-to person is and send a short but compelling email outlining your experience and what you could bring to their business’ online presence (emphasising the monetary value of your services is key). Link to your portfolio or include sample copy you’ve written specifically for them.
Just like a good SEO strategy, building up your own authority online is easier and quicker if you can get your name featured on a number of different (reputable) sites. So if you want to guest post to a specific site, look at their ‘submissions’ or ‘write for us’ pages and see what their requirements are before pitching.
Establish who your audience is
Perhaps you want to be a ghost writer for several businesses, perhaps you want to write editorial content, or maybe you want to write for businesses in a certain industry. Regardless, you need to know who your audience is – i.e. who you’re pitching at when looking for jobs, and what their readers/customers want. The clearer a picture you have of the demographic reading your words (e.g. their age, location, gender, job status, interests etc), the easier it will be to develop your writing.
Make sure you’re ready to go pro
By which we mean:
– Is your web design slick, clean and secure, free of typos and does it offer the client a clear way to see what your services are and make an enquiry?
– If someone contacts you on Twitter or via email about your copywriting services, do you have a set process and professional response?
– How will you work out your rates (by the word or by the hour?), what are your payment terms, how will clients pay and will you require payment in full or a deposit?
– And what about the other administrative and financial side of starting your own business, such as putting together contracts and briefs, doing your taxes and having public indemnity insurance?
All of these aspects should be considered before you launch yourself into a new venture to ensure you aren’t blind-sided.
Apply for content creation jobs!
With content creation more in demand than ever before, you’ll be surprised how many companies are looking to partner with a copywriter whether on a part-time or freelance basis. The usual jobs sites like Indeed are good places to check but so are job listings on Google, Facebook, Twitter and jobs boards such as Problogger and BloggingPro.
Or if you want access to available paid writing jobs that don’t require any bidding, register to join a content agency like Copify to gain new clients and build your skills base.