How To Become A Freelance Writer With No Experience:

  1. Take a freelance writing course
  2. Publish your work for free on Contently
  3. Publish your work for free on Medium
  4. Create a writers website and display your samples
  5. Create writing samples on Google Docs
  6. Publish your work for free on Linkedin
  7. Guest Post
  8. Publish your work for free on Journoportfolio
  9. Publish your work for free on
  10. Apply and write for content mills

Is Freelance Writing Right for You? (Pros and Cons)

If you want to get into freelance writing, then you should do it! I don’t want to discourage anyone. But I do want you to understand what this work is really like.

Lots of travel and lifestyle bloggers portray freelance writing (and freelance work in general) as sitting on the beach sipping tropical drinks.

While you can work in those conditions, the glitzy Instagram photos don’t convey the turmoil, b.s., and stress that can accompany a lot of this work.

So below, I want to present a balanced, realistic look at both the pros and the cons of being a freelance writer.

Freelance Writing Pros

Let’s start with the fun, sexy parts of the job. Here are some of the benefits of being a freelance writer:

Flexible schedule

No one cares when you do your work, as long as you get it done on time. So whether you want to work early in the morning, late at night, or any time in between, freelance writing will let you do it.

Flexible location

Just as no one cares when you do your work, few companies care about where you do it. While it’s helpful to be in the same general time zone as your clients, it’s far from necessary (as long as you’re a good communicator).

Flexible amount of work

If you want to make an extra $1,000 per month to help out with bills, there’s freelance writing work for that. On the other hand, there’s the option to work 50 hours per week and earn more than most of the people you know.

Get paid to learn new things

Freelance writing means constantly researching and learning about new subjects. If you enjoy this process of discovery, then you’ll likely enjoy this job.

Networking opportunities

Freelance writing can bring you into contact with everyone from startup founders to seasoned CEOs, especially as you gain more experience.

Creative and challenging work

Freelance writing often means figuring out how to make a boring topic interesting, or how to convey a huge amount of information in a few hundred words. This creative challenge keeps things varied.

Credentials (rarely) matter

Unless you’re writing about something very specialized or technical, no one cares about your credentials. All you need are writing skills. I have a B.A. in English, but none of my clients have ever asked or cared about my degree.

Freelance Writing Cons

Lest you think freelance writing is all tropical islands and charcuterie boards, let’s take a look at some of the cons:

Income can be inconsistent

While you can make very good money freelance writing, clients and projects come and go.

If you’re not careful, you can find yourself with a month where you make little to no money. Proper budgeting and planning can mitigate these fluctuations, but they’re still a reality of the job.

You have to manage yourself

All of the flexibility and freedom that come with freelance writing can be a double-edged sword.

There’s no boss breathing down your neck to make sure you do your work. You need to be able to manage your time and your business, or you’re not going to last.

You go from one boss to many

If you dislike having one boss, then beware. Freelance writing means having many bosses (clients). And each likely has different preferences for how you submit work, how they pay you, etc. Managing all of these relationships can be stressful.

Getting paid can be a pain

If you’re used to getting a paycheck direct-deposited every two weeks, then you’ll need to adjust your expectations.

Freelance writing usually means getting paid monthly, and there’s no guarantee that clients will pay on-time (or in extreme cases, at all). Plus, you’ll need to pay taxes on your earnings each quarter, as there’s no employer to take care of that for you.

It can get boring and repetitive

Freelance writing can be creative and exciting, but sometimes it means writing a dozen articles that say more or less the same thing in different ways.

Writing about succulent gardening might be fun the first time, but do you have the professionalism to still write about it well the 50th time?

Burnout can happen quickly

The flexible, open-ended nature of freelance writing means that it’s easy to take on more work than you can (healthily) manage. If you’re a compulsive workaholic, then this may not be the field for you.

It can get lonely

Freelance writing means sitting alone for long periods of time while you stare at a computer screen. As an introvert, this work suits me. But if you need a job where you’re constantly interacting with people, then this is not the work for you.

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3. Set up your business

Q: Do I need to register my business?

A: No one can make you, but it’s a real good idea. If you want to write off your business expenses, being registered with state and city tax authorities helps convince the IRS (or your national tax body) you’re a real business.

Q: What should I name my business?

A: Just starting out, your own name is fine. You can always choose another name later, or ‘do business as’ another name. For instance, TiceWrites is my business name, but I do business as Make a Living Writing, Freelance Writers Den, and more.

If you want to be fancy and have serious branding for your freelance writing biz, I recommend choosing a name with keywords that would help clients find you, like: “Healthcare Writer Dana.” Avoid meaningless words and phrases such as ‘communications’ or ‘solutions,’ that don’t really say what you do.

Q: Can I use a fake name in freelance writing?

A: Not usually, no. Noms de plume are for fiction authors. You’ll need to reveal your real name when you get paid to write, anyway — and having a fake identity will make editors wonder what you’re hiding. There’s a legit exception to this if you’re a woman with a stalker…I’ve known people in that sitch, and editors do understand. But otherwise, no.

Q: Do I need a separate checking account for my business?

A: Yes. Just get one. You can thank me later for sparing you endless hours trying to keep your business and personal expenses/income separate.

Q: Do I need to become an LLC or corporation to be a freelance writer?

A: No. I operated as a sole proprietor for many years. An LLC does provide a layer of liability protection between your personal assets such as a home or car, and your business. If you don’t lie or make stuff up, you’ll likely never be sued, so it’s not a big concern, especially just starting out.

Q: What tools do I need for running my business?

A: Beyond a computer and the Internet, the rest is optional. I kept a paper income/expenses ledger for years — but if you want to be more pro, choose a solution such as Freshbooks (which I use and recommend) or Harvest. As I mentioned in the Big Tips, most would-be freelance writers spend way too much time wondering if they need a grammar app, and not enough time trying to find clients.

Q: What do I need to know about taxes?

A: Not much, the first year. You’ll just pay what you owe, end of the year. Set aside a portion of your freelance income for taxes that’s similar to the tax bracket you had last year, as a guesstimate. In the U.S., once you hit the level of owing $1,000 or more in annual tax as a self-employed person, you’ll make estimated quarterly tax payments, based on the previous year’s income.

Q: What about health insurance?

A: If you’re leaving a job and taking the plunge into freelancing, you’ll want to make sure you have health insurance. The good news is there are numerous viable self-employed health insurance plans available for freelancers.

How much money do freelance writers make?

Earlier, we touched on the fact that freelance writing is lucrative, and you can make a lot of money by taking freelance writing jobs online.

But how much do they actually earn? And how do they make money writing?

The short answer is: it all depends on the type of content you’re writing, and how many freelance jobs you take on each month. Let’s use blog posts as an example.

As a new freelance writer, you can expect to earn between $100-$150 for a blog post. If each spent you 5 hours to write from start to finish, and you took on 4 blog posts per week, that’d be around $1,600 and $2,400 per month.

Experienced freelance writers can demand higher rates, especially if they make a name for themselves in a particular industry. Those top-level writers can earn over $1,000 for a blog post–hence why it’s possible to make six figures as a freelance writer.  

7- Guestpost

Guest posting is essentially where you write for other websites for free. It helps you get your writing published, if you want to know how to become a freelance writer with no experience.

It is normally unpaid but some may pay! I have secured new clients that pay well this way.

A  really easy way to find guest posts is to google your niche + guest posts.

So for example, if you like to write about vegan food:

Vegan food + guest posts

Write for us + vegan food

Here are some sites that accept guest posts :

Red Tricycle– Parenting niche

GoMadNomad– Travel niche (Paid!)

Buzzfeed-Entertainment and Viral content

TODAY– Parenting and Food niche

If you want to know how I pitch my guest posts to these sites, read this.

What Do You Need to Become a Freelance Writer?

Besides patience, tenacity, and a knack for budgeting, successful freelance writers need three things: a portfolio of writing samples, great ideas, and a network. Knowing the right people opens doors to new project opportunities and assignments and allows you to do the same for others down the road, but meeting those people can be challenging. At the beginning of your freelance writing career, you may have to rely on cold-pitching to get the ball rolling. Reach out to your favorite writers locally and meet up for coffee, or join an online freelance writer’s group, where editor contacts and resources are swapped freely.

A good writer also has the ability to work outside of their usual writing niche, and your portfolio should highlight this crucial skill set. If you have a specialty, drill down into it—but don’t discount assignments that might feel like more of a challenge.

Why NOT to Start Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is great and all, but the reality is, it’s not for everyone.

Maybe we should have listed this video first as if any of these are dealbreakers for you, then we shouldn’t waste any more time.

Still think freelance writing is for you?

Let’s get to it.

4. Create a Writing Portfolio of Your Work

Most job ads you’ll apply for will ask to se

Most job ads you’ll apply for will ask to see your work. They want to see samples of published work.

If you’re new, you won’t have any published work – unless you already have a blog.

So, when you become a freelance writer from home, how do you show prospects you can actually write

Besides starting a blog, you can create writing samples.

Draft up a few pieces and either upload them as a Google Doc or publish them on Medium.

Check out this post on how to create samples from scratch.

Another way to create writing samples is with guest posting. These are blogs that accept guest writers. Get posted on these blogs means you will have a link to show prospects someone thought your writing was good enough to be published.

You can quickly Google your writing niche + write for us to get blogs that accept contributors.

Here’s the result for spiritual blogs that accept guest writers.

Example of guest post opportunities
Example of guest post opportunities

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6. Build your network

Q: This is all great — but how do I actually get freelance writing clients?

A: One great way is to start building a big referral network, and letting people know what sort of writing client you want. Don’t have a network? Build one! You can do that through in-person networking in your town, or virtually, through online groups such as the interest groups on LinkedIn.

Q: Who do I want in my network?

A: A mix of other writers, related service providers such as designers, editors, and photographers, as well as prospective clients, or people who would know your prospects.

Q: What do I say at in-person networking events?

A: Ask people to tell you about what they do, and who their ideal client is, so you can refer them. They’ll probably ask you the same. Have a little ‘me’ speech prepared to introduce your freelance writing services.

Q: What if I’m really shy and don’t like big groups?

A: You can do one-on-one meetups for coffee or after work, or hop on short phone or video calls. Doesn’t have to be big meetings!

Q: How do I ask for referrals?

A: Big tip: Make it mutual. Ask contacts if they are looking for referrals, and if so who’s their ideal client. Then, tell them yours, and that you’d appreciate their keeping an ear out for anyone who needs your type of writer.

Q: How do I build my network online?

A: I love LinkedIn for that — you can import your rolodex, send connection invites to people who Viewed My Profile, or join Groups and then invite group members to connect. You can look for LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) who connect to all comers, and use LinkedIn’s ‘Discover’ listings to find more people who might be good contacts.

Once you’ve connected, ask how you can help. Share and comment on their content. Send them articles that might interest them. Hop on a Skype call. See what you can do to get to know your connections better. The more you stay on their radar, the more likely they’ll remember to refer you when they hear about a writing need.

Want to Learn More About Writing?

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How Much Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?

One of the beauties of freelance writing is the freedom to set your rates and strive for a salary that fits your lifestyle. Of course, these rates are driven by market demand, which can vary quite a bit by industry. The rate you can reasonably charge also depends on your experience. If you're starting from scratch, expect to do some work for free and then build up your rates as you improve your skills and deepen your knowledge within a specific niche.

According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, typical rates for freelance writing range from $40 to $100 per hour, or between 20 cents and 95 cents per word. In general, copywriting and subjects or genres that require more in-depth or technical knowledge will command higher rates.

One of the biggest challenges for a new freelance writer is figuring out how to charge for their work. Jobs are usually charged by the word, by the hour, or on a per-project basis. The best choice may depend on your own style and experience, the type of work, and the client relationship.

Is freelance writing a good career?

Have you read this post and realised that you have the skills to become a freelance writer, but wondering whether it’s worth trying?

Our answer is simple: yes!

We’ve built multi-six-figure businesses just through freelance writing. And we created Peak Freelance to help you do the same.

Peak Freelance is the ultimate membership community for freelancers. We’ll teach you every tip, strategy, and technique we used to start (and grow) our freelance writing careers.

Your membership includes access to our high-paying clients who hire other writers regularly, along with the email templates we use to deal with clients, find work, and network.

And, the icing on the cake: you’ll also get access to a private group of writers just like you, who’re trying to become successful freelance writers–newbies and seasoned experts, included.

Sound good? Come join us.

10 Ways to break into freelance writing without experience

Wondering how to get into writing? To help you land your first paid articles, we’ve put together the following ten steps. If you stick to these, you’re sure to find interesting freelance opportunities even if you’ve never written more than a couple hundred words before.

1. Write samples

Whenever I’m asked about how to get started freelance writing, I always recommend putting together a portfolio of writing samples. You can fill this with any writing you have to hand, such as academic essays, but, especially if you haven’t written professionally before, the best thing to do is to write a handful of samples in a similar format to the pieces you intend to pitch. 

Even if they only take a cursory glance, a potential client might be won over by the very fact that you send them a portfolio. Having a selection of samples immediately demonstrates that you are capable of following through on any work you pitch.

2. Find a writing agency to support you

As a freelance writer, the best decision I made was to start working through an agency—this enabled me to skip a lot of the growing pains that new writers typically put up with when launching their careers. One of the most difficult parts of a freelance writing career is finding work. With an agency like Eleven Writing, client outreach is largely handled for you — the only conversations you need to take part in are those related to the content you’ve been asked to write. You don’t have to waste valuable time bidding for work or pitching stories.

The other great thing about working through a writing agency is that you’ll collaborate with experienced editors who can help you level up your writing skills over time. Even if you’re confident in your ability to turn out a good essay, professional writing requires you to adapt to an entirely new writing style, so collaborating with someone who's been in the business for a while is an invaluable opportunity.

3. Launch a blog

A straightforward way to get your writing online is to launch a blog. This is a great opportunity to hone your knowledge and opinions about a certain topic that you’d like to write about professionally. What’s more, if you gain enough of a following, you can consider monetizing your work through ads.

Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of having to build a website by yourself. These days, with extremely affordable web hosting and easy-to-use website building packages, anyone can create a professional-looking website or WordPress blog on a very restrictive budget. Alternatively, you can dive straight in by publishing articles on your LinkedIn profile.

4. Write for friends and family

Practice makes perfect, and all writing experience is worth something. One of the easiest ways to improve your written communication skills is to start creating content for the people around you. Try to canvas any business owners you know and offer to create content for them at a discount rate, or write about something more personal—what you’ve been up to, your thoughts on current events, or a more specialized subject. 

Starting with a small and familiar audience will help you to feel more comfortable when drafting your pieces, and it’s a great way to get feedback on your work.

5. Network with other freelance writers

As they say, it’s not about what you know but who you know. According to some studies, up to 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Using your connections is just as important in the freelance writing industry as any other. 

Reaching out to any contact who works as a freelance writer is a great way to find new opportunities — a more experienced writer will be able to point you to useful resources they’ve used in the past and give you feedback on your portfolio, and they may even be able to pass clients off to you if they’ve got too much on their plate.

If you don’t know any freelance writers in the real world, you might be able to make connections through social media instead. In just a few minutes of Facebook searching, you'll find thousands of regularly updated job board groups. Don’t feel like reaching out directly? Then add some content marketers to your network and get a feel for the type of content they’re putting out.

6. Get your start with a content network

In recent years, one of the biggest internet media revolutions we’ve seen is the propagation of content networks. In short, these are enormous networks of websites that require large volumes of content on a diverse range of subjects. Also known as “content mills,” three of the best known content networks are Demand Studios, VeryWell, and Writing Bunny.

Content networks and content mills often produce revenue through ads or affiliate links, and they require a mind-boggling volume of original words and articles to operate. Consequently, they’re one of the most consistent sources of work for freelance writers and a great place to begin your search for clients in need of new writers.

7. Revise and refresh your grammar

As a freelance writer, you’ll need to write with a clarity and precision that isn’t needed in the majority of text-based conversations you have day-to-day online. Therefore, if you’re trying to work out how to get started freelance writing, one of the first things you should do is brush up on your grammar and make sure you don’t make any obvious blunders in your portfolio or when pitching to clients. In the Eleven Writing Knowledge Base, you can find guides to help you improve the tone, accuracy, and content of your work.

8. Learn about SEO

In 2020, one of the most marketable attributes you can have as a freelance writer is a working knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is, in essence, the art of getting any articles you write to the number one spot on Google search pages.

At Eleven, we’re experts at doing exactly that, and we’ve even published a few handy pointers to help you advance your SEO skills. If you’ve never heard of SEO before, have a search for a full video course on the topic—there are plenty of great guides out there.

9. Cold pitch larger sites

You can take your freelance writing career to the next level by reaching out to organizations you’ve never worked with before and pitching them stories, even when they aren’t advertising any freelance writing positions.

This is known as cold pitching. Although it might seem more intimidating than using a freelance marketplace such as Upwork, what do you have to lose if you’re turned down by a media organization or company you don’t have a prior connection with?

Cold pitching successfully takes a good understanding of a company’s content requirements; do your research first, and this could lead to lucrative and exciting opportunities.

10. Find a stable place to work

Everyone responds differently to distractions, but there’s no question that writing requires focus. Another core component of successful freelance writing is finding the kind of environment and equipment that boost your productivity.

This could be as simple as noise-canceling headphones or as grandiose as an expensive coworking location membership. With a good office chair and a quiet environment, you’ll likely be far more productive than on the couch.

Becoming a freelance writer: Savannah’s story

The only downside to having so many opportunities is that it can make getting started as a freelance writer feel somewhat overwhelming.

One of the biggest initial challenges people face is trying to picture what the process of becoming a freelance writer actually looks like.

While the origin story of every freelance writer can—and does—look a little different, it’s helpful to ask around in person and look at stories online to visualize the process and get some inspiration.

To illustrate the process, I asked my friend Savannah how she got started as a freelance writer, and here’s what she shared:

“Like many people, I wasn’t too sure what to do with my life as a college student. Despite being an English Literature major, I ended up going down the path of becoming a digital marketer because it felt ‘safer,’ and I decided to pursue my love of writing in my free time by creating a lifestyle blog.

While I really enjoyed the analytical side of things with digital marketing (and those skills certainly came in handy later), I found myself longing for more creativity and a better schedule.

I started to travel a lot and grow my blog more as I went along, and I realized that I didn’t want to give those things up.

Basically, the freedom of working wherever I wanted and doing what I loved as a freelance writer grew more and more appealing.

I had no idea how to be a freelance writer, though, so I turned to a friend who was already working as one and asked her for advice. She led me to a freelancing platform called Upwork and was kind enough to give me some tips and share her profile to reference.

Soon after talking with her and putting in some solid market research, I started pitching myself to a ton of potential clients on the platform.

Nerve-racking as it was to put myself out there (and rejections are an inevitable part of the process), it wasn’t long before I found someone who wanted to work with me.

Since then, I’ve continued to grow my own blog and have worked with multiple clients across industries, writing blog articles, social media posts, web pages, and much, much more. As of today, I’ve happily been a freelance writer for the past three and a half years.”

Now, with an idea of the process in mind, are you ready to create your own freelance writing story?

How Freelance Writing Works

Freelance writers typically work for a company or individual on a contractual basis. These contractual positions don’t necessarily need to have a formal contract in place (although that’s probably in your best interest as a writer). Occasionally, you may be able to land a large contract with one client—writing a marketing campaign full-time for three months for one company, for instance. More often, though, freelancers will work with many clients or publications at once.

What these positions (often called gigs) do have in common is that they are project-based work. The assignment is for a piece (or batch of pieces) of writing that must be completed by a previously set time and an assignment that has a clearly set goal. Once the project is complete, the freelance operative either moves on to the next project in the queue or has to wait for their next assignment.

As a self-employed writer, you also have to become adept at running your business. That means tracking your work (whether in hours or on a project basis), billing clients, collecting payments, tracking expenses, and setting aside money to pay taxes.

What Is Freelance Writing?

Let’s take a step back. I’ve been talking about freelance writing for around a dozen paragraphs, but I’ve yet to explain what it is.

It may seem obvious: you write things, and people pay you for them. That’s true, but the details are a bit more nuanced.

It’s can be difficult to define freelance writing because it’s such a vast, diverse field. It can range from writing one article per month for a small blog to penning dozens of articles per week for an agency hired by a Fortune 500 company (and everything in between).

When I talk about freelance writing, however, I’m specifically talking about:

Online work

While you can still make good money writing for print magazines, I’m going to focus on online work. All of my freelance experience is in this area, and online writing tends to be easier to get into than freelance print work.

Nonfiction

There are publications that will pay you for your fiction submissions, but most of the money is still in writing nonfiction (such as this article).

Writing for business purposes

Companies pay freelance writers because they want writing that serves their business goals. This could be directly (such as writing sales copy for a product) or indirectly (writing an article that gets people to visit a website).

But regardless of the specific goals, we’re going to focus on writing for businesses. And don’t worry if you never took “Business Writing” or didn’t study business in college. That doesn’t matter.

Why You Need to Think Like a Business

It took me a long time to get into the right mindset about running a six-figure freelance writing business. I paid a bunch of my hard-earned freelancer dollars to an excellent business coach who helped me get out of my head and take action.

This is what you need to do, too — except you don’t have to pay me anything (except maybe your eternal gratitude when you become a successful writer).

One of the biggest keys to success in growing your business is to stop thinking of yourself as ‘just’ a blogger and instead as a small business owner.

When you think like a business, you start to run your shit like a business. And that means getting a focus, attracting the right clients in that area, and getting them to pay you real dollars (not $.03 a word) for the content you create.

In reality, becoming a paid freelance writer is not rocket science. It just takes focus and consistency

Once you start making money from freelance writing, it helps you shift your mindset.

The me who was making $.05 a word and the me who makes $1+ a word are in two very different mental places. A big part of that hinged on building the confidence that I could be a writer and make real money.

To do that, I had to bust out of my shell, get focused, and start marketing myself as a serious business owner.

To make it in this business, you need to do the same.

Step 3: Write a simple proposal

Next, it’s time to apply for your first freelance writing job.

On Upwork, this is known as “submitting a proposal.” Don’t let the jargon fool you; once again, you don’t need to do or say anything fancy.

The trick is to keep the focus off of yourself. Instead, put the spotlight on the writing sample you created in Step 2. Remember, you’ve tailored it to the client’s specific needs, so it will do most of the selling for you.

Here are some simple but effective guidelines to help you:

• Keep your proposal to just a few short sentences
. • Demonstrate that you’ve read the client’s job description
. • Be personable and friendly
. • Call attention to your writing sample and explain how it relates to the client’s needs
. • And of course, don’t forget to include your writing sample along with your proposal 
.

You already have everything you need

Most people assume that becoming a freelance writer is about having the right degree, the right experience, or the right connections.

But when you think about it, we’ve all been writing since grade school! And thanks to sites like Upwork, there’s never been a better or easier time to get started.

If I can do it — with no college education, no network, and no previous experience — then you can, too. Just follow the steps I’ve laid out for you, keep it simple, and have fun. You’ll be on your way in no time.

Danny Margulies is the founder of Freelance To Win, where he shows aspiring freelance writers how to succeed using Upwork. You can get his best hacks for making money on Upwork here.

Danny Margulies

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