How to Become a Freelance Writer (from 0 to $20,000 per month)

Joseph Meyer
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Starting at Ground Zero

Chapter 2: Your First Clients

Chapter 3: Generating Ideas

Chapter 4: Finding Blogs to Contribute To

Chapter 5: Finding Clients at Blogger’s Paradise Conference

Chapter 6: Building Relationships with Key Bloggers and Website Owners

Chapter 7: Pitching Clients and Nailing the Interview

Chapter 8: Starting Your Freelance Writing Business

Chapter 9: Understanding Taxes and Expenses

Chapter 10: Growth Opportunities

How I Became an Online Freelance Writer

Ever since I was a kid, I loved reading and writing. I’d read for hours and wanted to share my knowledge with others, so I started writing. As a teenager, I thought that I might become a writer in the future, but I quickly got convinced that the way into becoming a writer was to study English Literature or some other literature subject in college. So I got accepted to the university of my choice and started studying.

After 3 years, I graduated and was still no clue where or how to become a writer. I was lucky to find a job, but I wasn’t free to write the way I wanted to, and I felt like it wasn’t the right place for me. So I tried freelancing as a copywriter, which was pretty much what I studied in college, only online (because the words were translated from English into Spanish).

Being a freelance writer was much different than studying literature. It was online, and it wasn’t a 9 to 5 job, but it was writing and sharing my knowledge with others. It was endless work but it was also completely flexible to my schedule.

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Step 1: Know who you are.

You’ve probably heard it before: you need to know who you are. And by that they meant: you need to work on YOU.

I know, that sounds obvious. Unfortunately, it means that you need to change who you are a bit. And that’s difficult for most people. It’s easier to keep doing what you’re doing, even if you know it’s wrong. That’s why most people put this off forever.

If you listen to what I’m saying closely, I’m not telling you that you can’t change. I’m just telling you that it’s hard, that’s all. It isn’t easy to get out of the bubble that you’re in, especially if you’re in a misinformed one. However, once you find yourself and take a better look at things, you’ll notice that the world is full of opportunities. And you can do whatever you want as long as you want.

Step 2: Build a “starter” portfolio.

Step 2 is basically creating a portfolio of your writing samples.

Before you solicit your first clients, you should have at least a few pieces that you’re proud of.

You want them to be unencumbered by tight deadlines and to be as original as possible. Having samples that you can edit is also important, but you can spend extra time perfecting pieces for your portfolio afterwards.

But where do you get ideas? Lots of places.

Use your interests, your hobbies, and your volunteer work as work for the portfolio. Focus on producing lots of quality samples and a few pieces will still prove to be profitable even if the topic doesn’t appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.

So where do you put your portfolio so that editors and gatekeepers can find it?

First you need a gmail account that’s exclusively yours. Hotmail accounts are a no-no. Then create a password and use it.

Now open an email account for yourself under your gmail address (for example [email protected]). CALL THIS YOUR WORK EMAIL ACCOUNT”not your personal email account.

Step 3: Become a better writer.

This is probably the hardest part of your journey. Most of the successful writing careers out there required years of practice before their authors break out. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to become a better writer, and many of them are free or cheap.

Write. Write constantly. That’s the best advice you can follow. There’s also plenty of resources you can use to learn. Aside from the classic, read the writing of your favorite authors and learn from their styles. You can also learn valuable writing techniques from books and magazines and online writing courses.

There’s also nothing wrong with trying to join a writing group. Writing groups have the potential to accelerate your writing improvement. They’re also proven to help with your editing, research, and even mindset. Additionally, you will be working alongside fellow writers, which will help you build your self-confidence and your personal brand.

Understand the market. You’re in the right field, no doubt about it. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s not competition. If there’s a demand for freelance writing, there will always be other writers trying to satisfy that demand. This means you’ll need to really focus on your marketing if you want to get ahead of the competition.

Step 4: Invest in yourself.

If you are a regular reader or subscriber to post topics that interest you, it can take a little longer to get the ball rolling.

However, if you narrow your focus and know exactly what you’re going to be writing about and who you are writing for, it can be a fast process. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel exactly, but if you are niche down to what you will write about, it may be easier because your audience is more defined.

In the beginning, you will want to focus on quality and content. Start getting your articles published on different websites.

Step 5: Learn the art of the pitch.

Pitching is the art of getting your freelance business off the ground. You may be wondering, why you have to 'pitch' your freelance business when it's a product or service you already know something about. The short answer is that you are selling YOU.

Step 6: Network, network, network.

Networking is a great way to build up your freelancer business. Out of all the options, I believe networking is the best one. There’s no limit to how many people you can network with.

I’ve found good deals for my clients from people I met in real life on several occasions. It’s a far better way of finding deals than waiting for people to find you.

Another benefit of networking is that it’s easier to keep in touch with people in real life than it is online. This can be a problem when you’re dealing with long-term projects, as it’s easy to lose contact and forget who you’re working with.

In my experience, I’ve found that it’s easier to start getting new gigs from your own network than from elsewhere. A quick chat with a friend or family member can lead to a long-term project.

Networking is about being friendly and helpful. Don’t always expect to get work out of networking. Instead, just enjoy building relationships with other people and helping each other out.

Step 7: Track your earnings and set new goals.

According to a study done by the Freelancers Union in 2015, 53 million Americans were freelancers, and by 2027, that number is expected to double. If you are one of the 53 million Americans who are freelancing or the double who are going to be freelancing, it is very important that you keep track of your earnings.

There is one good reason why you should track your freelance earnings: It gives you a way to prove to your boss, your spouse (if you have one), your kids, your friends, and your accountant that you are indeed making all this money. Believe me, it's really important that you constantly remind them because there will be times when they will not believe you and it is critical that you remain a "proven-worthy freelancer" in their eyes.

Though there is no right or wrong way to track your freelance earnings, most freelancers prefer using a small notebook, spreadsheet, or software program to keep track of their earnings. Here’s a few tips on how you can excel in the tracking process:

Always keep your tracking record very visible and up to date because EVERYONE, and I swear I mean EVERYONE, will ask you how much you made today. Your accounting system is only valuable if you can keep it up to date.

Step 8: Never give up.

The Bottom Line

If you aren’t afraid of writing and you’re ready to put in the work, becoming a freelance writer can be an incredibly rewarding career path. If you’re even remotely interested, I encourage you to give it a shot. You really have nothing to lose. The worst-case scenario is that you get a nice learning experience. The best-case scenario is that you put in the work, starting small and eventually establishing a lucrative freelance writing career.

I started with nothing, and I’m now earning a full-time living as a freelance writer. All it took was a lot of hard work and persistence. If you’re willing to work hard, you can definitely do it too.

Interested in building a freelance career on your own terms? Check out .

Freelance writing allows you to work wherever and whenever you want. You get to pick your own portfolio of clients, set your own hours and make your own rules. However, most writers find it difficult to get started, mainly because of all the conflicting information online. It seems like there is a different way to make money writing for every possible website. Yet, there is only one truth and that is: You have to write great content that is useful and unique in order to make money.

If you want to start freelancing as a part-time or full-time job, it pays to be realistic. Freelance writing can be very profitable, but your income will directly reflect your skills and commitment. In other words, anyone can do it, but few actually do.

About the Author

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