It can be daunting starting out as a new freelance writer on the scene. It’s often overwhelming for new writers to know where to start, what advice they should listen to, and who to trust. I have created this post in order to help you succeed on all fronts as you undertake your new journey into the world of freelance writing.
These tips are sure to give you a guide you can refer back to and use in a way that benefits you in a way that isn’t daunting but clear and actionable. If there is any advice I can pass on, it would be to try to do one thing and one thing only at a time until it’s complete. Lay the foundations so that you have a solid base to return to when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
You have taken the right step in choosing to read and improve yourself before you step out into the unknown. Hopefully these tips will be your guiding light as you begin your business of freelance writing.
1. Have a Blog
Blogs serve your clients as a peek into what kind of style you posses as a writer, the quality of work you produce, and how often you create new content.
Keeping a blog as a freelance writer is important to show others what you are writing about currently and is a reliable way to improve your chances of being accepted by an editor or client for new work.
Why is regularly updating your blog important?
1.Its your portfolio of work, a representation of who you are as a writer.
If you don’t yet have a blog, make one now! and write two or three blog posts in any area of interest to you.
These blog posts now serve as handy samples to include whenever your pitching a publication editor or client and are great to link to!
2.Serves you as a writer
Writing as a skill only improves with repetition and consistency. The more you write, the more you will improve.
This rings true for any blogger online today, you look at their earlier pieces and compare them to their current work, no doubt you will see an improvement in their content quality and style.
3.It works like a new client magnet
This won’t happen after posting a few blog posts. However as your blog is populated with more content, clients will find you instead other way around.
Inquiries from clients will start to fill your inbox after time, instead of you doing all the work having to formulate new pitches over and over again.
This is one of the benefits that comes with consistency, writing new posts every day and putting your best work out there for others to see.
2. Invest in a Course
Save yourself some time in learning a framework that enables your success faster in the industry of freelance writing.
The learn the most effective way to pitch your work, where to find the best writing jobs and you skip a big hurdle known as “time wasting”.
This is a message to all aspiring writers out there, invest in yourself first before you delve into the world of freelance writing.
One of the biggest benefits of time is that it can show the next generations of writers a better way of doing things so that they may learn from the mistakes of others.
This is why I believe in improving your ability as a writer and taking a course. There are many course providers out there, you don’t have to break the bank taking all of them or unreasonably priced courses.
Select one or two at a reasonable price and that have man glowing reviews and invest in yourself. It’s as simple as that.
Udemy is well known for its quality courses and I suggest you start here if you’re unsure where to find courses that possess a high quality and value offering.
3. Find your Niche
Answer this question. What would you love to learn more about? What are you most interested in? Write about these things in depth. Construct articles to capture the attention of your readers and let your passion shine through you writing for clients and editors visiting your blog to enjoy your work.
Having a focused niche makes you stand out amongst the thousands of other freelancers out there, it gives you power and sets you apart from the other candidates by coming across as an “expert” authority on the topic you chose to write about.
Sometimes you will need to write out of your comfort zone (topics that don’t interest you), and that’s ok. It just means you will be open to researching other topics to write about while still holding the professionalism required to form a quality piece of writing.
Do your homework
Seek out editors of quality publications online within your niche. Twitter is great for this, just use twitters search bar, you could search “Figaro Digital Magazine” editor.”
This will give you a list of accounts that match those search terms. Many results will include contact info listed on their bios for you to reach out to them.
Once you have successfully located the editors contact details address them by name in your email (make sure you spell their name correctly! Spelling their name correctly is paramount here, so make sure you get that right!)
Read through some of the content on their website and ensure they will be interested in the topic of content you want them to publish. Example Figaro Digital Magazine would have zero interest in publishing “10 ways to cook an egg” or “top 10 holiday destinations this summer”.
Peak Their interest, Hold their Attention
Think click bait when constructing your subject line for your email, it must be short sharp and pack a punch. Enough for it to shout “open me and publish this story!”
The subject line doesn’t need to reflect your heading in your final piece but it does need to grab the editors attention. If you need to look at magazine covers within your niche, they spend a lot of man hours testing, figuring out which headlines make people pick them up and read them or click on that subscribe button to read more.
Be short and Sharp
Your email pitch should be “to the point” keep it around two to three paragraphs. Editors are busy people. Try not to ramble on too much.
Pitch Must Include:
Your suggested headline. Helpful to provide one, Editors can and will change it though if they think it could be improved.
Your position on the article. For example: If you’re writing about Googles recent algorithm changes, are you changing the way you write because the change?
Or is your strategy still holding true despite the changes? What are your views and position?
WHY. This is crucial to your pitch – Why does your position matter? Why should anyone care? Tell the editor why your story deserves to be read. Explain the stories perceived value and why it should be published. This step is quite often overlooked and forgotten in making a quality pitch.
- Stories that engage the human element are often successful
- Interesting and quirky stories about events or people do well
- Stories that involve social issues receive attention
- Stories that teach or offer benefit to their audience work well (how to articles or “expert” advice pieces especially)
What is it in your article that will make the connection to the publications readers, tailor this to the publication in a way they can relate to.
Include a few points you will make within your article as well that you think are relevant. If you believe you have written about a topic of high importance, give an explanation as to why you think so within your summary of the piece.
This leads the readers to agree with you most of the time if they can relate to the articles importance too.
Make it simple, easy to understand, and to the point.
Why is it newsworthy, why does it deserve a place in their publication. This should be no longer than a paragraph or two.
What to include:
Format of article. Let the editor know if you article is an interview? blog post? How to? List? They should know what to expect.
Key research Sources. Be clear on where you researched the information for your article. News outlets, blogs, interviews let the editor know the details.
Provide Deadline. Write a straightforward statement letting the editor know how long they have until you pitch your article to other sources. For example you could write “ If interested, please respond within 24 hours. If I don’t receive a response within this time, the story will be pitched elsewhere. Thank you.”
Editors are busy people, and a lot will not take the time to respond to your pitch if they are not interested.
If you don’t receive a message within your 24 hour window, you can send them a gentle reminder just to ensure your pitch didn’t get lost in the depths of their inbox.
Failing this attempt, if you still don’t receive your response, assume they have declined and move onto the next publication to pitch your article to.
Link to your portfolio. This should be located at the bottom of your pitch. Link to other articles you have written, so they can see your individual style of writing.
Provide Contact Info. Editors will need information from you to get in touch if they like your work. Make sure you provide all your contact information so they can ask any you any questions they have.
Most importantly check your Grammar, Tone, Fact Checking, Spelling!
Contacting editors via email is your best bet if you’re looking to earn a place in their publication. Include a top line that is clear and short, summing up the article or story you are pitching.
Back this up with 100-150 words of background information that supports the story.
[Subject Line/Headline] Pitch : What impact does social signals have on SEO
[Stance] This essay will outline the ways that social signals have a direct effect on
content published online due to how much interaction it has with users from social media platforms like twitter, facebook, and instagram. The word “impact” should be perceived as what weight a piece of content holds within the huge scale of data that is published online everyday and how it affects how many eyes will see the content online. Through extensive research and study, this piece will explore the reasons social signals are impacting how well content is received online.
Resources: ZadroWeb, BigCommerce, DigitalMarketingInstitute, Moz, OptinMonster
As you can see within the sample above writing 100 words of context need to support your opening line and reinforce why you story is worthy of publication.
Next, Include your bio: Introduce yourself, including any prior publications with other sources. Link to any previous work you have made if available, so you are painting a picture for the editor to get a sense of your writing style and competency.
But wait I have no previous work? Thats Fine. Show your work by sending the completed article. This ensures the editor can see what you have written and how much attention it requires before publishing.
Time to twiddle your thumbs? NO!
Don’t sit there hitting refresh on your inbox waiting for a response. Be hungry, follow up with them, see if they had a chance to read your pitch. Showing incentive and courtesy will add to your probability of success. The harder you work, the luckier you will get.
Stay consistent with…
- Sculpting your pitches. Find the right editors and publications that are a suitable match for your article.
- Writing headlines that convey your article clearly without doubt.
- Always including your contact information and bio at the end of every pitch.
- Pitch publications that aren’t related to your stories/style of writing.
- Giving up to easily! If you don’t receive replies, follow up. If still you receive no correspondence just move onto the next publication. This will keep your momentum up and not slow you down.
Stay consistent with the above tips, don’t let up easily.
The more you construct these well-formed pitches the more effective they will become. Practice makes perfect… Always.
5. Define your Failures, Embrace your Wins
Failure and rejection plague every occupation not just writers, in a lot of ways writing is a personal creative way of expressing yourself.
When you receive criticism or failure, it can be interpreted as “they must not like me as a person”. This is far from the truth and should instead be a motivating “tell” for you to improve in the future.
Not everyone is going to love your writing, it’s something you need to come to terms with quickly in order to move on.
Freelance writing should be seen as a business and not a hobby. If you treat it as such, there will be know problems in filtering out criticism and perceived personal attacks.
It’s not those things at all, instead it’s just one opinion in a sea of millions that should not sway your mission to succeed.
Similarly to editors not responding to your pitches, if a brand or website doesn’t get back to you or they do and simply say you’re not a great fit for them, don’t take it personally. Acknowledge it, and move onward.
Fear of rejection is a very real thing, just don’t let it affect your work as a freelance writer, holding you back from taking consistent action.
Back yourself, and stick to what you set out to do.
6. Network, Network and Network some more!
Not sure what to charge when you first start out? Can’t find anyone to “talk shop” with about freelancing? This is your opportunity to find similar people in the same business who can relate and offer guidance and helpful advice, in order to make your journey a little smoother in the long run.
Most networking can be done on social media or other freelance writing websites such as The Write Life, Be a Freelance Blogger, Online Business BFFS, The Copy Writer Club. Freelance to Freedom Project Community, Creative Freelancers Unite, and Freelance B2B Writers.
It’s a huge benefit, having people to brainstorm ideas with, generate different opinions and talk about blogging/writing with like-minded people who are on the same path as you.
7. Develop a Marketing Plan
After landing your first writing job, the most important thing is to land the next one, and then the next one in order to keep you in business. This is why a marketing plan is so important for freelance writers.
Marketing yourself is a skill that has to be acquired. So where do you start?
The most helpful ways to get started is:
- Create an account for Twitter and LinkedIn
- Use social media to connect with businesses
- Make sure you have a website advertising your services as a writer
- Guest posting will create your very own author bio which will help your name get noticed.
- What are your favourite blogs? Start commenting on them if you wish to write content for them some time in the near future.
8. Work Harder Stay Nimble
At first glance you must be thinking, right! Thats easier said than done, but it is so very crucial to your success. You have to work hard to acquire clients, don’t expect them to just fall from the sky.
There will be an initial stage that requires you to really work hard but after some time, if you market yourself well, new clients and prospects will start finding you instead of you having to do all of the legwork.
If you have a client that is paying all of your expenses and is enough to live comfortably, just keep in mind that nothing is forever and they can up and leave at any point in time.
This is why you are always on the front foot, seeking out more clients to keep the stream of work constant and more secure for your business. Have your contingency plan in place, it’s better to have too much work than not enough.
9. Develop Your Online Presence
For a beginner, your online presence is something to be improved upon daily.
This includes tasks such as regularly posting new content on your blog and contributing to Facebook groups in your niche.
Additionally you can begin answering peoples questions on forums that could be asking questions you have the answers to.
The more you do this, the more trust you gain from readers on those forums and they will end up recommending you or even seeking out your writing services for themselves or their very own businesses or website.
Don’t underestimate the power of offering value in the form of answering peoples questions, it definitely does not go unnoticed.
10. Regular Pitching To Acquire More Work
Here a few places you can start practicing your pitches. Please do you due diligence before contacting these editors and make sure that your content matches their readers interests and follow the guide as laid out in Tip 1.
Splinter News: “longer essays and narrative features from progressive writers.”
Vox : The Big Idea: Outside contributors’ opinions and analysis of the most important issues in polotives, science, and culture.
Longreads: Blog posts / Reading Lists / Short Interviews. Personal Essays and Memoir. Reported, Researched, and Critical Essays. Features / Long-form Journalism / Investigative Projects. The list continues on, you are likely to find something to publish on Longreads they are a great resource for freelance writers. They do run a small team of editors, make sure you include in your submission a deadline as I suggested in Tip 1 to give them time to review your work before posting elsewhere.
Electric Lit: categories include Essays, Novel Gazing, Recommended Reading, The Commuter. All categories are expanded upon on in their article submissions page.
11. Speed Up
The more you write the quicker you become at transferring your thoughts into writing. For people who can create ideas in their head faster than what they can write and feel more comfortable talking about it rather than writing, you can use speech to text to help you transfer these ideas quickly and edit it later on.
Google Docs speech to text function is the resource I have found to be the most accurate for this process. However it’s not perfect and changes will need to be made after the bulk of your writing is completed.
I hope these 11 tips have served you will if you received any value and know someone who could benefit from it as well please share it on your socials!