Freelance Writing: Easy Tips For Absolute Beginners

If you’re stuck at home and can’t work, you may be considering a side hustle like freelance writing.

The freelance writers in our writers’ group have received lots of questions. The most popular question is: how do you get started?

Freelance writing: start with what you know and who you know

One veteran freelancer suggested: “start with what you know and who you know.”

You’ll be fascinated that when you start making lists, it turns out that you know a lot. It’s OK if your knowledge is general. You don’t need to be an expert.

In fact, it helps if you’re not an expert. Experts write for other experts. In freelance writing, 99% per cent of the time you’ll be writing for non-experts: for a general audience.

What do you know?

Make a list. What do you know? Perhaps you work in a real estate agent’s office. Maybe your sister works in a jewelry store. A friend’s brother works in finance.

How well do you know those fields? You may not know them very well; that’s fine. You’ve got contacts—people of whom you can ask questions.

Choose an area about which you can write. The only proviso about your area (niche) is this: you’re interested in it and you’d like to learn more about it.

Who do you know?

Now you’ve chosen a niche, it’s time to make a list of who you know in this niche.

Let’s say that you’ve chosen the real estate/ property market niche. Divide the “who you know” people into two groups:

  • The people who work for companies which might hire you;
  • Your resources: knowledgeable people you can ask questions when you get a gig.

It’s OK if these people are acquaintances, or people you’ve never met. You’ll find that most people are happy to help if you call or email them and say: “I’m a freelance writer. I have some questions about (anything you need to know.) Could you give me ten minutes of your time?”

What could you write?

Visit one of the freelance marketplaces, like Upwork, or to get up to speed on what kinds of writing gigs are on offer.

Perhaps you’ve written some social media posts or web content.

Develop a list of what you could offer:

  • Website content;
  • Blog posts;
  • Social media content…

Create a rates sheet

Now you know what services you’re offering, it’s time to price those services.

Be brave. Start by deciding how much you’d like to be paid per hour, then work out how long each service might take.

For example, perhaps you decide that you’ll charge $50 an hour. How long would it take to research and write a 400 word webpage? Two hours? Three? If you decide on three hours, add “$150 for a standard webpage” to your rates sheet.

Essential: your terms of service and agreement (contract)

I’ve done a lot of freelance marketing work over the years. Here’s what I know: always, always, always, ensure that a client signs your agreement.

My agreement’s short: it’s only 100 words, combined with an itemized list of what the project entails. You’ll find many sites online which offer wording for your agreement.

Also essential: itemize every task on the agreement your client signs. It prevents scope creep.

An example of scope creep. You’ve agreed to write four pages of content for a new website. Unfortunately, you didn’t itemize the work in your agreement, so the client asks you to:

  • Research keywords;
  • Identify the keywords his competitors are using;
  • Develop a mailing sequence…

Before you know it, you’ve done 25 hours of work on a project and are only paid for five hours.

To emphasize:

  1. Create an agreement and get the client to sign it (an e-signature is fine);
  2. Remember to itemize each task in the project before you offer the agreement for the client’s signature.

The one essential rule of freelance writing

Here it is: SHOW UP.

That’s it. That’s the one essential rule of all freelancing, including freelance writing. Set goals and market your services: show up so that prospective clients know that you’re offering freelance services and what those services are.

When you get hired, show up again: honor your commitments.

Freelance writing is a fun gig. Writers are always needed, so you’ll find work plentiful. Enjoy your new career. 🙂


Freelance Writing Zero To Hero: Turbo-charge your career

Want to get started freelance writing… the right way? That is, with a business mindset and self-confidence that you can help your clients?

You can do it. I’ve been freelancing for almost 40 years. You can benefit from what I’ve learned to shortcut your way to freelance success.

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