Let’s not pretend that I’m a terrific writer. I’m not. In fact, I could barely write anything beyond 300 words a few years ago. But that did not prevent me from ditching my engineering profession to living a digital nomad lifestyle.
Today, I’m making enough money online by freelance writing. Well, it’s a far cry from having millions of dollars in the bank, but it’s sufficient to keep the expenses in check and with savings to spare. To be realistic, writing is not the best way to riches.
If you’re trying to kickstart your career as a freelance writer, you’ll find this article a great help. I will show you what I’ve done to put myself at an advantage despite not being a natural and native English writer. And most importantly, how I created a steady income from every word I’ve written.
1. Set Up Your Online Profile
Before you pitch to your first client, you’ll want to have an online profile ready. That’s because it helps the client understand who you are, what you’ve worked on and helps them in making a decision. Sometimes, it’s not that you’re a bad writer, but you have a different writing style than those required by the client.
While it feels good handing out fancy name cards at networking events, you’ll want something less physical such as a blog, website or at the very least, a social media profile. Having a nice pic of yours is great, but it’ll be more helpful if you have samples of your writing contents.
Personally, I prefer starting a blog. It’s the perfect platform to turn ideas into words. It’s also easier to send potential clients your links than attaching a few files of your writing. Some writers have a personal blog where they write about writing.
But you don’t need to write about writing in order to have a solid reference.
You could write about travels, pets, cars, gadgets, or anything that you’re passionate about. That’s how your flair truly shines and impresses clients who are reading your blog.
It’s easy to create a blog. You can start one at Blogger (formerly Blogspot) for free. Or get a self-hosted domain that looks more professional. I did the latter with my website, which I blog about social anxiety.
If you’re not into setting up a blog, you should have some samples of your writing ready. You’ll never know when the first client comes knocking.
2. Outbid Your Competitors For Jobs
If you want to start earning online writing for clients, you’ll have to start looking for them. Stop expecting that you’ll land jobs just because you have a pretty website with your best writings. They help, but you’ll have to start hunting.
Make no mistake. Freelancing is not for the faint-hearted. If you can’t handle the cut-throat competition, it’ll be better to so start sending resume and look for permanent employment. It’s going to be very tough, especially if you have a clean portfolio to start with.
To earn your first $1 as a freelance writer, you’ll want to start bidding for jobs. Generally, there are two routes you can take. Start pitching to marketing or publishing firms, or head over to freelance sites. I prefer the latter.
The reason is simple. Not all marketing firms are in need of a freelance writer. You could be spending too much time sending emails and getting no reply in return. That can be discouraging for new writers.
Therefore, freelance portals seem to be the better option as they are filled with clients that are seeking, well, freelancers. Here are a few top freelancing portals that are great to launch your writing career online:
I’ve tried all of them and Upwork is my favorite. It is arguably the largest freelance portal and that means the most opportunities to land your first gig. Expect stiff competition from fellow writers around the world, but if you have what it takes, you’ll have no problem in landing your first contract.
3. Write For Sites That Pay
Building your career as a freelance writer online is a patience game. Even with the abundance of opportunities at freelance portals, jobs can be scarce in the first few months. You’ll need to start creative because there are bills to be paid.
Instead of praying of hitting the next big contract, you’ll want to try searching for websites that pay for article submissions. These websites offer payment for each article that is published. They usually have high editorial standards, which gives you a chance to test your writing flair and getting paid in the process.
Here are a few of the popular pay-to-write sites.
- The Penny Hoarder – is where you’ll want to head to if you’re savvy about earning and saving money. While the compensation rate is not stated, there are claims that it pays up to $800 if your article is a hit.
- The Dollar Stretcher – Another major publication that has been around for 2 decades, offering tips in saving time and money. Get paid at $0.10 per word.
- WOW! Women On Writing – If you’re a female writer, you’ll want to check this out. It pays $50-$75 per piece.
- Listverse – List verse pays $100 for approved submission of a ‘Top 10″ list of anything under the sun.
- Back To College -Are you heading back to school? Well, you can make $55 per article writing related contents to your re-entry experience.
These are but just the tip of the iceberg of websites that are happy to pay you for submitting engaging articles for their readers. You’ll find hundreds of them if you do a search on Google.
4. Self-Publishing On Amazon Kindle
You don’t have to be the next J.K. Rowling to start publishing a book. Not when Amazon Kindle is concerned. You don’t have to be a best-selling author not write a dystopian novel. While these are a hit on Amazon Kindle, you’ll also find other bite-size e-books that are doing well.
How’s that possible?
The people that are reading Fifty Shades on Kindle may also be interested in teaching their dogs to dance. If you have trained your dog to dance to pop music, you can turn that know-how into an e-book. It doesn’t have to be a full 300 page full of contents, as bite-sized e-books are a hit with Kindle readers.
Bite-sized e-books are more about relevance and getting straight to the point. Of course, it helps if you have a knack of playing with words and getting your readers engaged.
As for turning your e-book into Kindle format, you’ll find that the tools provided by Amazon a time saver. The Kindle Create helps you to turn pages of text into a professionally arranged e-book. You get to choose the themes and style that matches the niche you’re writing.
But words alone don’t sell on Kindle. You’ll need a captivating e-book cover to stands out from competing e-books. If designing an e-book cover is not your forte, you can get help by sourcing to freelance graphic designers at Fiverr.
Once you’re done, you’re ready to upload your e-book, cover and fill up the descriptions. You get to set your pricing and choose the commission structure. Once you’re happy, you can submit the e-book for publishing.
And your e-book starts selling like hotcakes? NO.
You need to promote and market your e-book to the relevance audience. That means connecting with people who are looking for the information covered in your e-book in social media or forums. Or pay for your e-book to pop up on Amazon search.
5. Diversify Income With Affiliate Marketing
There are ups and downs as a freelancer and you ought to know that. You could have a good run where clients are desperately trying to get a piece of your time. But there are periods where you will stare at your screen if there’s something amiss with your email.
Or if you’re a stay-at-home writer juggling writing and parenting, you may have to take a few days off when your child fell sick. Your income will suffer and you got stressed up.
It’s always wise to diversify your income, and affiliate marketing is what freelance writers could take up naturally. When you’re already publishing regularly on a blog, what’s stopping you from leveraging it to generate online passive income?
If you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, it’s a process where you generate a commission when visitors visit the respective vendors through affiliate links and made a purchase. There are various ways to go about it, but I believe the best method for affiliate marketing is to build a brandable website that becomes an authority in the niche.
Besides writing, I’ve been working on my affiliate website for 3 years and it has made a significant difference to my earnings. But what’s more important is, I could afford to take a couple of weeks off in a month without feeling stressed out.
Writing has been more enjoyable than ever as it’s no longer about paying the bills, thanks to this affiliate marketing program that I stumbled on in 2016. If you want to make more money without trading more time as a freelance writer, you’ll want to consider affiliate marketing.
6. Network With Fellow Freelancers
A little human touch goes a long way, even if you’re getting your freelance jobs online. You’ll want to connect not only with potential clients but also with your peers in the freelance community. Make friends with fellow freelance writers, web developers, graphic designers, and marketers.
Be the first to reach out if you’ve heard of opportunities that suit them. You’ll never know how a favor from you could result in consistent job orders without having to do the hard work of pitching. So, be nice, genuine and start making friends.
You’ll want to be smart when it comes to making money online for living as a freelance writer. It doesn’t hurt to try out various avenues to maximize your earning. With that said, you’ll want to be focused on what you’re doing and not dabble in dozens of stuff at a time.
Are you a new freelance writer who’s starting your career online? Or are you an established writer who’s making a great living from freelancing. Either way, I’ll like to hear your thoughts and tips about being a freelance writer.