How to Be a Freelance Writer and land your first client
If you’re reading this post chances are, you’re interested in how to be a freelance writer. I don’t blame you, becoming a freelance writer affords you a ton of luxuries:
- The freedom to travel whilst working
- Be your own boss and work on the projects you want to
- Manage your own time without limitations
However, for many of us, it will be just a dream. Realistically, only very few of you reading this article will be able to take the necessary action to turn your dreams into a reality.
What’s holding everyone else back?
Fear and doubt.
Luckily, this article is here to diminish all fear and banish doubt from your mind. It’s here to show you that even without any prior experience, qualifications or previous work experience, you can learn how to be a freelance writer.
I’ll give you an article without any sales links, or affiliate products I’m recommending you. Just an honest account of exactly what happened to me.
Why I Shouldn’t Have Said I Was a Freelancer
I’ve been on the road now for around seven weeks. In that time, I’ve said to people I meet, and also to myself, ‘Hey, I’m Jamie, I’m a freelance writer.’
But you know what? If I’m honest…I wasn’t. Yes, I wanted to learn how to be a freelance writer, but when I said I was a writer, I hadn’t had a single paid job.
By talking to people about being a freelance writer, I was enforcing the idea in my own mind that I was already getting paid for work. Right then, I wasn’t.
By telling people, I was cheating myself. Delaying in my own mind the need to get paid work.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve saved up for this trip for a while. I can travel for a while without working, but I still wanted to get started straight away.
By pretending, I was saying to myself… ‘Don’t worry; you’re a writer’. What I needed was a kick in the ass, and to get started.
Stop faffing, take action.
It was time to stop faffing and take action. Yes, after 15 days in Croatia, one week on the road in Germany and nearly three weeks in New York, I hadn’t once worked on getting a paid writing gig.
This needed to change.
So, I set some time aside to look for a paying client. I decided to take action.
How to Start Looking for Clients
The first step for how to be a freelance writer was something I should have done a long time ago. Look for clients.
You see, one day, a very talented pair invented this fantastic website which you can go to and any problem or query you have you can put into the site and it will give you the answer to your questions. Somehow I had overlooked the simplest way to get the answer’s needed.
Welcome to Google!
I typed in ‘How to get a freelance writing client.’ The first page that came up was a slightly dated site – the site wrote most of the content in 2011, and the last post was in July 2017. However, it proved to be evergreen (meaning the content will always be relevant and hasn’t dated)
The post explained some of the best sites to visit to get paid, recurring freelance work.
That last part was important; initially, a lot of freelancing gigs can be a one-off job. Although they sometimes pay well, once you have done the work, you have to get back online searching for your next post.
You end up spending more time looking for work than actually doing it.
The post advised me to head to the Pro Blogger job board. It’s a place where people go to look for serious writers, who do a good job and often pay for recurring work. These employers know the value of a good writer and are happy to pay for it. Perfect!
How to Select the Right Job for You
So, again, time to be honest. I had seen this post before when Googling the same topic a few months earlier. What had I done?
I’d looked through the available job listings, digested it, researched it and moved onto another site. I hadn’t applied for a single job.
What was different this time? I decided to apply for some jobs listed.
I decided in my mind that the best way to learn how to be a freelance writer was to just do it. I needed to get my first client so that I could call myself a writer. I scrolled through the different listings and came across a few various websites.
The one I applied for was asking for an author who could write men’s dating advice for their site. The site has a 200,000 strong male email list, which the owner wanted us to write for.
I thought, what the hell. I’ve been single for a couple of years, I know how Tinder works, I’ll give it a go.
I wrote out a sample article to send, titled ‘The one big secret that nobody is telling you about Tinder.’ (If you’re interested in reading it, let me know in the comments, and I might share the link with you)
Steps to Take to Get the Job
To apply for the job, and to give me the best chance of getting it, I decided to follow the same approach as if I were applying for a regular job. Here are the steps I took.
I Read the Job Description at Least Five Times
I wanted to fully understand what the editor was looking for, to feel for the tone of his writing and to make sure I was applying correctly.
From this, I could see the editor was asking for someone with exposure and understanding of ‘modern dating elements’ such as dating apps; this was why I wrote my application article on Tinder.
I Researched the Client’s Site to Gain a Feel for Their Writing Style
Just the same as researching a regular job, I looked at the client’s site. The editor had written a lot of posts on the site.
I carefully studied around 10 of his articles to get a feel for his writing style. I then made sure to adapt my writing to emulate that style, whilst still keeping my own voice.
I Made Sure to Apply Within 24 Hours of Reading the Application
Often editors can fill writing positions quickly. Taking to long might have meant missing out on the job.
I Researched My Topic to Make Sure the Information I Was Writing About Was Factual and Exciting
I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just writing a fluff piece I had come up with off the top of my head. I took to Reddit dating forums, Google, and even Facebook groups to find out what people were talking about in the dating world.
If you want a real laugh, head over to https://www.reddit.com/r/Tinder/ – it’s a lot of fun.
After Applying for the Job, I Followed up with the Editor
I’d probably say this was what landed me the gig. After applying, I wrote a separate email to the editor. I gave him different reasons to my initial application as to why I’d be a good fit for his team, and I sent this two days after my initial request.
I think this is important because sometimes, your application can get lost in the noise. In fact, a recent study showed that when applying for jobs,” 37% of applications got rejected because they weren’t followed up.
You can send a follow-up to show interest in working with that company; it also works as a subtle and polite reminder.
What Happened After I Landed That Gig
I have some great news: after following the above approach, I landed my first freelance client! I jumped onto The Paradise Pack Facebook group to celebrate my success and tell others how to be a freelance writer using the same approach as me.
With the fire of victory in my belly… guess what happened?
I applied for a second freelance job, and within 48 hours of the company accepting me for my first position, I got my second freelance gig.
I’m sharing this success story with you today to inspire you. I know many of you reading this post will have dreams of how to be a freelance writer. Some of you may even become artists, online entrepreneurs, and incredible business owners.
Action, with intent towards your goals, will bring you what you desire.
Why Action Is the Most Important Success Factor to Getting Started
Article update! I’m uploading and finalising this blog post having written the content 3 weeks ago. In those three weeks I’ve now been contributing to both freelance clients regularly.
In my first 3 weeks of freelance writing I have earned around $600, which for my first few clients I am over the moon with! Going forward I will be sharing much more content on freelance writing and how it’s changing my blogging journey.
The steps I took above were fundamental in helping me acquire my first freelance customer and gave me the boost of confidence I needed to start writing for money.
To Clarify, My Best Advice for the Steps to Take for How to Be a Freelance Writer Are:
- Take action and start looking for jobs – The ProBlogger job boards are a great place to start.
- Select the best jobs to apply for based on your knowledge and experience.
- Fully research the job listing as if it was a real-life job application.
- Make sure to follow through with the above steps and apply, the worst they can say is no!
Let me know in the comments what your big dreams are for the future. What do you want to become? What kind of work would you love to get paid for online? What are you wanting to do, but haven’t been able to muster up the courage to get started?
Is Freelance Writing Something You’d like to Hear More About?
Let Me Know.
If you take away just one thing from this blog post, remember: dreaming and planning big, is still only dreaming. It’s action that creates progress. Take action today.
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