With increasing numbers of graduates entering the job market and economic uncertainty within the UK, going freelance is proving to be an attractive option for some. Not only can freelance writers gain experience quickly within their chosen field, but there are plenty of temporary and contract positions where writers can earn more than they would in a full-time position.
Freelance writing has plenty of advantages, from being able to use your creativity to make your own hours, but it can provide unstable income. If you’ve been thinking about embarking upon a freelance writing career, then it pays to know the steps required in order for you to turn your ambition into reality. To help you along the way, we’ve put together a guide on what to do so you have an answer to the question of how to become a freelance writer.
1. Show off your experience
If you’re just starting out then it may pay to take on some work for free or for little pay. This may involve providing some copy for a friend’s website or simply starting your own blog. Not only will this help to familiarise you with the world of web content, but it will mean you start to build up a portfolio. In most sectors, it’s unlikely that a client is going to take a chance on someone without seeing their past work, and copywriting is no different.
As you gain experience, you may find that your work becomes indexed in search engines. That means potential clients will search for your name and review some of your more successful articles. The best way of showing off your experience, however, is on your own website. On your own site, you can control the content. A well put together online portfolio is the best way to introduce potential clients to your work, and whilst copywriting doesn’t necessarily lend itself to portfolios the same way graphic design does, it’s still important to have a body of work you can show off.
2. Refine your writing skills and stay ahead of the trends
One of the tips that is often overlooked when you’re searching how to become a freelance writer is how refining your writing skills can make you stand out from the crowd. As someone with aspirations to be a professional writer, it’s a good idea to take time out every week to refine your skills and study your industry.
Due to the ever-changing world of SEO, the freelance writing market can change quickly, so you’ll need to be adaptable. Top influencers such as Dave Chaffey, the man behind the market-leading Smart Insights, publishes articles on the top marketing trends for the year. These are well worth reading because they indicate how content marketing may evolve over the coming weeks and months.
If you know the trends, it’s far more likely that you’re going to produce SEO friendly content for your clients. Quite often it’s not merely about keywords, but about how you communicate with the client’s core audience. Read Smart Insight’s guide on marketing trends for 2018 here.
3. Find clients
Having good copywriting skills is all well and good, but you need clients in order to pay the bills. It’s a very crowded marketplace, so you’ll have to do everything you can to grab the attention of potential clients. When you start out creating your portfolio, try and get as much feedback from your clients as possible. It’s one thing to have some impressive clients, but showing potential clients that your previous clients were satisfied with your work is much more likely to gain you some work.
Finding work organically is tricky, but a public portfolio and a decent website is the best way to go about it. It’s also a good idea to start networking via social media. Utilising the power of social media can lead to you becoming an authority as a copywriter, meaning clients will look to you next time they need web content. You may want to consider coming up with a sales pitch too. As you grow your reputation, you may find yourself pitching or interviewing for contracts. Be sure to do your research so you can show how good content can help increase the visibility of your potential clients.
Whilst finding work organically is rewarding, clients can be few and far between at different points throughout the year. At Copify, we find the clients for you and allow you to build up a reputation as a reliable and talented freelance writer. Start your writer application here.
4. Secure repeat business
The best way to become a successful freelance writer is to earn yourself repeat customers. What you want is a handful of clients who rely on you to grow their digital presence. If you provide successful content, you can almost guarantee the client will be back to give you more work.
Aside from creating good quality work, the best way to secure repeat business is being reliable. If you are prompt and responsive to your customers, you will start to build trust, which is essential to gaining business time and time again. Being prompt means you will need excellent time management skills. If you are particularly talented, you may even find yourself in the position of turning down work. Before you start out, think about how much time you’re willing to devote to your business. Try and find a quiet space to do your work. This may involve renting desk space or creating a home office.
The whole point of going freelance is to give yourself a better work-life balance. It’s important that you don’t overstretch yourself and miss out on prior engagements because you constantly find yourself working late on a project. Mastering time management will make everything much smoother, and you’ll have happy clients because they know their work will be delivered on time.
Ultimately it’s your business, and the more you put into becoming a freelance writer, the more you will get out of it. Standing out from the crowd and securing yourself a healthy amount of clients isn’t easy, but if you have the required skills, stay on top of the trends and are persistent in your efforts, it can be a very rewarding career.