How to Start Freelance Writing: 5 Simple Steps

So, you love to write. And even though you see so many others making a living off of this same passion, you’re stuck wondering how to get started. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. This was me early on in my career. I had a burning passion for writing, but no clear path on how to break into the industry and make money doing what I loved. Now, I own my own freelance writing business where I write full-time (and make good money doing it). 

I’m here to tell you that you CAN make money writing online. How? By starting a freelance writing business. Freelance writing is the art of writing for businesses on a project or contract basis for a set fee. 

If you’ve ever considered if freelance writing is right for you, now’s your chance! Read on to learn how to start freelance writing and the best tips for actually starting a freelance writing business. 


1. Choose a Niche

When it comes to copywriting, it’s important to go narrow rather than broad. This is precisely why you need to choose an industry or freelance writing niche you want to work within. A niche is a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of service. Consider what you enjoy writing about. Is it travel, or what about finance? Here is a list of potential niches you can choose from.

  • Beauty
  • Marketing
  • Travel
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Food + Bev
  • Real estate

2. Create a Portfolio

Once you’ve selected the niche you want to focus on, it’s time to showcase your copywriting samples. If you have the opportunity to show examples from the work you’ve been paid for, use that. Otherwise, you can create spec work to build a library of examples, known as a portfolio. 

A portfolio is used to showcase your work to potential clients. You’ll want to create spec work around the niche you chose. For example, if you want to focus on travel, consider writing a couple of sample articles about the best places to visit or what to bring when traveling solo. Put together at least 5 samples of your writing style and package it in a PDF or online showcase.

3. Use a Job Board

Once you put together a portfolio, you can begin prospecting and applying for freelance writing jobs. One of the quickest ways to get experience as an entry-level copywriter is by using job boards like Upwork and Fivver. 

On job boards, you not only have the opportunity to apply for jobs clients post, but clients will also be able to find your profile and reach out to you. This will give you an opportunity to start bringing in money and practice your art. 

4. Pitch Yourself

Along with using job boards to start on your first few freelance writing jobs, you can also start to pitch yourself using LinkedIn and by building a list of ideal clients to cold pitch. Build out and optimize your LinkedIn and social media pages to attract potential clients. You can include links to your published work and grow your contact list to pitch yourself to relevant brands. 

Put together a list of clients in your vertical that you’d like to work with. Then, find their contact information. (Pro tip, use the Hunter Chrome extension to find emails). You can then email the right point of contact and let them know about the work you do. 

5. Use Your Genius

Lastly, and most importantly, once you’ve completed some writing projects, identify your genius. Your genius is the unique thing you can do that no one else can. And no, your genius is not just writing. Think beyond that. Writing might be the channel in which your genius can shine, but what’s the source?

For example, my genius is that I can solve problems by translating solutions through verbal and written communication. Copywriting is just one of the channels my genius shines. Identify your genius and use that to differentiate yourself and sell your unique services to clients. 

Freelance Writing FAQs

Still have questions on how to start freelance writing? We put together some of the most frequently asked questions about freelance writing and starting an online business. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Freelance Writer?

How long it takes to become a freelance writer will depend on your experience, how much time you have to prospect and build a portfolio, and how much you truly want it. For me, I started freelance writing as a side hustle while working a 9-5. I got a coach, put in the work, and in just 5 months I went full-time with my freelance writing business. 

What Does a Freelance Writer Do?

A freelance writer can do various different writing projects, such as article writing, web writing, print writing, social media writing, and SEO writing, to name a few. As you begin to take on projects, you’ll get a feel for which projects you enjoy doing (and which you don’t enjoy). 

How Much Can a Beginner Freelance Writer Earn?

The best part of being a freelance writer is that you name your own price! And this is exactly why how much a freelance writer earns is completely up to you. You get to decide the value of your work. When I was starting out, I charged $50 an hour. That’s a pretty average starting out fee for a freelance writer, but it’s ultimately up to you. 

How Do I Start Working as a Freelance Writer?

Along with the about 5 steps to start freelance writing, it’s helpful to find support along your journey. Working with a copywriting coach was the number one thing that helped me make the leap. A coach can support you by offering tips, advice, and the lessons they learned along the way to help you succeed. 

I highly recommend getting a freelance writing coach when starting to work as a freelance writer. And if you are looking for a coach, you’re in luck because I’m about to launch a new group course on how to start freelance writing. Download the guide below to get a headstart and to sign up for my email list where I’ll be sending out course notifications!

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