So, you’ve had a great idea, you want to become a freelance writer. Whether it’s to earn extra cash on top of your full-time job, or you plan on making it your full-time job, you think it’s a great idea. Maybe you think becoming a freelance writer is easy, and in theory, it is.
I hate to be the Debbie Downer of the internet, but saying freelance writing is easy is not the full truth. You need patience, resilience, and strength to continue, especially at the very beginning. The steps to start freelancing is easy; the process of becoming a successful freelancer is arduous.
In my first year of freelancing, I was writing 500-word articles for five dollars. I kid you not. I was making 25 dollars a day for some of the most complicated pieces of my life. Many bloggers will give you “secrets” on how to start making ‘bank’ right out of the gate, and those people are fakers. It’s not true. So, here is how you can start and what will work if you have the guts to stick with it.
Is Freelance Writing Easy?
Anyone can say they are a writer, but not many people can get clients, or continue to be a writer. You may read those stories on how someone went from 0 clients to 70+ clients a week through Upwork or some other website, and think “I can do that.” It is possible to do this, I know I have done it before, but it took years to do that.
Writing is not an easy career. It is the worst career to choose if you want fame. It’s bad if you want to prove your worth to your family. Explaining what you write about to other people will grow exhausting. You will start to loathe the people who ask you why you chose this career and what your next steps in life are.
If you are looking for an easy career with no twists and turns, you should go into programming or computer science.
How to Start Freelancing
The first thing you need to do is to start writing in one niche. This was my biggest mistake in writing. When I first started this blog, I had no direction. I didn’t know what I was good at. School never taught me to find one niche and zone in on those skills. Even when I went to school for one specific thing, it was so all over the place. I had no idea where to start. I barely knew who I was.
Pick one area, and start writing. You can have a personal blog, but no one will hire you after reading how depressing your love life is. Keep business and personal writing completely separate.
You don’t need to pay for a business account through WordPress, but you do need to show off your skills. One of the things a journalism major never taught me was to own your skills and show them off. Create a portfolio and link it everywhere.
What to do After You’ve Created a Portfolio
Once you have solid pieces down and a link to show off, you need to start pitching people. This is one of the hardest things to do. You will need to get on Indeed, Upwork, Writers Work, or Problogger to find work. You will need to sell yourself better than all of the freelancers who have been doing this for longer than you, and that takes an enormous amount of work.
From the very beginning, you need to set yourself goals. Send out 10 pitches per day. Try to get 5 interviews per week. Get one stable client per month. You will notice that a lot of people through Upwork may not hire you because of the lack of portfolio and experience. This can make it exceptionally difficult to find one client.
After six months of searching, I finally found one client. She gave me a lowball offer to start with because most freelancers do not stick with the lifestyle. She would give me challenging things to write, and I made less than 1 cent per word. Every month she gave me a raise and good reviews.
Now, we have been working together for three years, and she is one of my most loyal clients.
Do I make enough money to pay bills thanks to her? Yes. Can I afford a mortgage next year because of her? Yes! Was it easy to start freelance writing for her? Absolutely not.
Is it an Easy Job for Easy Money?
Every single day I questioned whether or not I should continue. That is something no other writer will tell you about writing. Every day of not making money feels like the end of the world. You will feel like a failure constantly. You will question whether or not you should go back to school.
Freelance writing is not a physical career. It is a mental game full of ups and downs that will keep you on the edge of your seat until you finally have somewhat made something of yourself. Is becoming a freelance writer easy? Yes, but to continue and commit is the most challenging aspect. Writing is not for the weak-minded and is not suitable for those people looking for a quick buck.