Becoming a freelance writer is a dream of many people. The good thing is that getting started as a freelance writer has never been easier or more in demand.
If you want to freelance as a writer, you’ll need to understand the different ways a freelance writer can earn money, plus whether it’s the right choice for you as a career. You also need to know how to get better at doing it so that you can grow your income and maintain it long term.
What Is a Freelance Writer?
A freelance writer is a solopreneur or business owner that sells the service of writing. They may write either for themselves or as a contractor writing on spec for other business owners or authors, or for themselves as a self-published writer. As a freelancer, you’re on your own. You’ll have no boss, and you won’t have to sign in at a specific time.
However, as a freelance writer, you will have specific deliverables due at particular times. You’ll have to be self-motivated enough to stick to your timelines with your clients, as well as to continue marketing for new jobs to have any hope of getting paid enough.
Making a Full-Time Living
As you think about this process, you may be wondering whether you can make a full-time living as a freelance writer or not, and the answer is yes.
You can earn as much money as you want to as a freelance writer. Many freelance writers earn multiple six figures writing from home (or the beach), while some like to keep it part-time and make “grocery money.” How much you make will be determined by many factors – from the genre you choose to work in, to your skill level, and how fast you can produce deliverables that are acceptable to your clients.
As a freelance writer, you can work for a large company that likes to hire out their copywriting or produce content writing, such as ClearVoice.com, or you can work for a large publishing house that hires freelancers to ghostwrite part or all of a series that they’ve already planned and outlined. Alternatively, you can work for yourself and self-publish the writing that you make up and plan on your own and sell it directly to your customers.
Honestly, any type of writing that you are good at doing can be done on a freelance basis, and you can earn a full-time living doing it. The main thing is to work out how much you need to earn and only do things that make that possible.
The options are many. Your job is to figure out how much you need to earn, what type of writing you do best, who needs the kind of writing you do, and then the know-how and ability to put yourself in front of your audience so that they can take your offers when you make them.
As a freelancer, you’ll be doing this on your own, with no boss to tell you when, where, what, why, or even how. Are you ready to be a freelancer? Do you have the temperament to quickly write the copy you’ve been hired to write, while also marketing your services?
Signs That Freelance Writing Is Right for You
To become a freelancer of any kind, including being a freelance writer, you need to have specific characteristics in your personality that you are willing to display or learn. Characteristics such as self-reliance and practical writing skills are essential, not to mention a willingness to find your own customers and audience without needing someone to tell you what to do at every moment of the day.
You Are Self-Motivated
You don’t always have to be the cheerleader in the room, but you do need to have the ability to tell yourself to get to work and complete a certain amount of work each day so that you can get paid regularly.
You’re not going to be able to rely on motivation that doesn’t exist. If in the past, you’ve had a hard time sticking to doing something without someone telling you to do it, evaluate this about yourself before you start.
You Have the Time
If you already have a job and other responsibilities, you’ll need to dedicate some of your time regularly to not only the writing process but also on the marketing process so that you can find clients.
Even if you have only an hour a day, you can still become a freelance writer, but this limitation will inform what type of writing you can do, and for whom. A lot of other factors will come into play too, and as you make a choice of the kind of writing you’ll do as a freelancer, all these issues make a difference.
You’re Confident about Your Skills
You need to be sure that you can write at least to the level you need to write for the projects you want to work on. You don’t need to write at a PhD. level if you’re writing young adult fiction as a freelancer, for example. You only need to write at the level the audience is reading at. Most of the time, writing at about an 8th-grade level is good enough.
You don’t even need to be the best at grammar if you’re writing copy to sell someone’s widgets. Poor grammar is often used in copywriting because it’s about how it looks and how it persuades – not how the English teacher wants it to look. Each skill set is slightly different for the various writing genres, but you only need what you need. Don’t make it harder than it must be.
You Are Flexible
If you’re willing to start in one place because you know that you can work toward the place where you want to be, then you’re flexible enough for freelance writing. For example, you may want to freelance as a recipe creator for a famous chef, but right now, the best work you can find is writing recipes for an unknown blogger. This is perfectly fine and probably the best thing for you, because you’ll learn how to develop your process to be faster and better over time.
You Have the Financial Resources to Get Started
As a freelance writer, it will likely take you some time to get paid. It takes time to perform the service and finish the project as well as time to get clients. Even if you choose to write for yourself, publishing your own work on a blog or publishing print on demand books or digital books, it takes some time to get a product ready to sell and to start earning income. Therefore, you need to be able to support yourself in the meantime.
You Have Received Positive Feedback Regarding Your Skills as a Writer
If you’ve ever written at any level before, freelance writing might work for you. If you’ve written correspondence as a secretary or receptionist (or the PTA president), if you’ve updated blogs or websites, or if you’ve written a paper in school and someone told you that you’re a good writer or complimented your work, then you may have the skill to be a writer. If you’re not sure, write something right now in the field you want to work in, ask someone to read it and see what they say.
You Have the Education to Become a Writer
Even if you’ve done nothing other than writing to get your degree, it’s essential to understand that you can become a writer. You just need to figure out which genre you want to write and get started. You already know the skill now. It’s time to put it into practice. While there are differences between learning to do it and doing it, you will be able to proceed.
You Have Writing Experience
If you have any writing experience, then you already know more about the process of writing as a freelancer than most. Use your experience to help steer you in getting started working for yourself. Even if you have no experience yet, you can begin gaining experience right now just by starting your own blog or writing in your journal.
You Have Business Experience and Knowledge
If you have any type of business experience, life experience, or knowledge about something that you’re passionate about, you can write about it. Whether you can turn that into a freelance writing career or not depends on the niche, of course, but it’s always possible.
If you can write about it and someone’s interested, it can usually be monetized. But do remember that a freelance writing career is still a business, and all rules of business apply.
If you are willing to work on your writing skills, learn about marketing, and deliver clients the work you promised on time and on spec, you can become a popular freelance writer. As mentioned, many freelance writers earn six figures and more. How much you make will depend entirely on the genre you choose and how hard you want to work.