Freelance writing is an increasingly popular career choice.
The flexibility of freelance writing as a job means that writers can work from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection.
Given a rough couple of years in the midst of the pandemic, more and more of us are thinking about new or different careers that offer more flexibility.
So, how do you get started with freelance writing? What is involved in a successful freelance writing career, and is it possible to find work without experience?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of freelance writing – going from zero experience and no job to getting paid for your first post, article, or blog.
How to become a freelance writer with no experience?
Getting work as a freelance writer for the first time can be challenging. Many jobs found on writing job boards and freelance sites require at least some writing experience. Starting with no freelance writing experience, it can seem impossible to get hired.
1. Practice writing
To become a freelance writer, practice writing by finding a topic of personal interest and writing a short blog about it. This blog can be between 500 and 1500 words.
Writing in such a way will familiarize you with a standard blog post length and how to convey your ideas or refresh in that limited word count.
Read blogs, webpages, landing pages, articles, and social media content that you like, which falls under the niche for which you’d like to write.
If you don’t have a preferred niche just yet because you’re trying to find your voice, start by simply reading whatever content or work you find engaging.
2. Try a freelance writing course
A writing course is one of the most effective ways to find work in the freelance writing business.
As mentioned, many jobs require at least some experience. A professionally-led writing course looks great on your CV and teaches you the variety of writing skills necessary to start freelance writing as a career.
You may feel reluctant to spend the money on a writing course, especially if you’re looking to make money as a writer. You may think that you want to make money, not spend it.
However, you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. Investing in your skills is more than worth it, given the skills you’ll acquire in a writing course will help you find paid work later.
If you do decide to take a course, make sure to do diligent research on the course beforehand. Find out as much information as possible about the course by reading about it and considering reviews and opinions if the course will help you become a freelance writer.
3. Create your own website
Create a blog or freelance writing website to showcase your work and market yourself to potential clients.
This is a space for you to upload writing samples that can be read and enjoyed by your fans, followers, and potential clients looking for someone who can write well in your niche.
In addition to your site, it’s wise to cultivate awareness of your freelance writer work through social media. Use Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social sites to establish your name as a freelance writer and share links to your site and snippets or full versions of your work.
On these sites, you can advertise your freelance writing services.
4. Try Upwork, Fiverr, and other freelance job sites
Several job boards online allow members to see job openings for freelance work, including freelance writing jobs.
Many agencies and companies seeking a freelance writer will be happy to hire applicants without experience, as long as you can submit a writing sample or a piece about a topic they ask for.
Still, many of these employers also require at least some level of writing experience. Training a new freelance writer not only to align with one’s brand values or themes but also to learn how to write in the first place can be costly and time-consuming.
Some content agencies are happy to take on fresh writers as long as they can take feedback and change their style if necessary.
5. Identify your niche (but don’t limit yourself)
Most have a freelance writing niche – an area or topic in which a writer is skilled and most adept at writing engaging and compelling content.
Cultivating a particular niche is a great way to find higher-paying work. At the same time, it’s essential to be open and adaptable when going after freelance writing jobs.
You may not always find work in your preferred niche, especially in the early days, so practice and cultivate excellent research skills in addition to honing your writing skills.
6. Publish your work for free in online publications
There are several online publications such as Medium, Contently, and LinkedIn Articles to which you can upload your work for free and significantly boost your exposure.
Even the most successful freelance writers publish work for free on these sites to gain more public awareness and followers.
Medium, in particular, is an excellent choice for new writers. You can upload your work at no extra cost; many writers earn through the site.
Those who subscribe to a Medium membership pay a monthly fee to read articles hidden behind a paywall. If a reader likes your work and chooses to pass the paywall, you’ll earn a small percentage of their monthly membership fee.
Remember that significant earnings come from great work; the opposite is true for low-quality work.
7. Try guest posting
You probably have a niche if you already have a blog site. Perhaps your writing is broad, whereby you write under several niches, or maybe you focus on one.
If you’re particularly adept at writing in a given niche, consider guest posting on other websites. Guest posts are often unpaid, but some do pay.
For example, if you cook and love to write about it, consider submitting work to food blogs and recipe sites.
If you’re a parent skilled at teaching other parents how to cope with challenging aspects of parenting, approach parenting websites.
Paid or unpaid, getting your name and work on a site that’s yours is a good start for any new writer.
Just make sure to consider your host’s credibility and reputation.
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you don’t want to be associated with a site, company, or person with harmful or uninformed views.
8. Apply to content marketing agencies
Content marketing agencies hire writers to craft compelling, engaging, and search-engine-optimized content for brands and websites. Such agencies are a great introduction to the freelance writing industry for writers with no experience.
A brand, product, or service needs engaging content on its site and social media to boost awareness and attract potential customers. As such, much of the work is short.
You may be tasked with a one to two-thousand-word blog post, but many writers find work writing short social media posts or 500-word email newsletters about products, services, or company updates.
If you work for a marketing agency or other company, you will be considered a staff writer rather than a freelance writer. Still, gaining such experience is a powerful springboard for a lucrative freelance writing career.
9. Link to your work on forums
One effective way to boost your visibility as a freelance writer and gain a fanbase is to publish links to your work on relevant online forums.
For example, engage in forums if you write non-fiction articles on topics such as politics, economics, or climate change. Get involved in discussions, make your points, and then link to your site or publications where a reader can find your work.
10. Find work with a content network
A content network, also known as a content mill, is a network of sites that need masses of content on various topics.
These ‘mills’ work by gaining profit from ad revenue and affiliate links. They require original content, but topics and ideas are gathered based on the top-performing blogs and articles under a given theme.
Given the large number of writers required to keep a content mill running, this is one of the best opportunities to find work.
The drawback with such work is that pay rates are often low. You may stumble across a well-paid job, but it’s best to avoid expectations.
If you’re a new writer, working with a content network is a great way to make your first paycheck while also improving your skills.
What does a freelance writer do?
In this digital age, there are many tools available to become a freelance writer. Freelance writers create written content, such as blogs, articles, social media posts, web copy, and email newsletters. They write for clients who need a writer to create website content or boost a social media page’s visibility with SEO content.
A freelance writer may also find paid work by submitting creative work to clients, such as a short story or writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
A website or company contracts freelance writers to create effective and engaging content. Many freelance writers work with several clients as opposed to one.
A given writer may offer their services under a particular niche, or they may be able to write in several niches. Success can be found either way – a broad array of topics creates more opportunities to find work, while aptitude in a particular niche may help you find a higher-paid job.
As such, there are some crucial skills to hone and develop to succeed in the industry.
You need to take the initiative and reach out; otherwise, you won’t find freelance writing clients.
You also need to possess or cultivate good time management skills. Most freelance work involves deadlines, and if you miss those deadlines, your clients are unlikely to continue working with you.
Some companies, particularly content marketing agencies, hire staff to edit and proofread your submitted work.
Editing and proofreading are crucial. Content that does not look appealing or is full of errors and mistakes is a fast track to a bad reputation for your employer and you as a writer.
Such is why some companies give your work to editors and proofreaders before submitting it to their clients.
However, not all companies have such staff, so editing and proofreading will be up to you.
Accurate and effective proofreading is even more critical if you’re a complete freelancer and not working as a staff writer.
Your reputation is important as a freelance writer, and careless mistakes are the fastest way to damage it.
Finding freelance writing jobs without experience isn’t easy. If you want to become a freelance writer despite lack of experience, you must be ready to face challenges and learn along the way.
You may get lucky and find an employer willing to give you a chance, offer constructive criticism in the early days of your career, and help you improve your skills. However, without much luck, you may feel frustrated with rejections.
The best way to get well-paid work is to establish yourself online as a freelance writer.
You may think that your lack of experience means you can’t do freelance writing jobs, but you don’t need experience and employment to make a name for yourself.
Now more than ever, individuals can establish themselves in online spaces, share their work, and cultivate a following all on their own.
With the steps and advice outlined above, you should find it much easier to find your first freelance writing job.
Those who want to pursue freelance writing must combine diligent research and well-written content with persistence, discipline, and genuine passion and interest for what you’re writing about.
A freelance writing career can be incredibly lucrative, especially if you end up starting your own freelance writing business, so it’s essential to cultivate discipline and be the best you can be.
Don’t give up if you’ve just started freelance writing and get rejected numerous times. You’ll catch a break, sooner or later.