What Is Freelance Writing? [The Ultimate Guide for 2022]

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Freelancing has become a fast-growing means of generating income, with most journalists and writers opting for a flexible work schedule over the traditional nine to five. You may have wondered, what is freelance writing? Well, this article has all the answers you need—we’ll provide you with definitions, tips and answers to some frequently asked questions to get you started on your freelance journey.

What Is Freelance Writing?

What is a freelance writer, and what do they do? Simply put, writing as a freelancer means writing as an independent writer for a client based on a contractual agreement between the parties. The agreement can be for a specific one-off written task, or a series of written texts over a specified period of time, and maybe automatically terminated upon delivery or extended, depending on the respective contractual terms and conditions.

DID YOU KNOW: 36% of the US workforce perform freelance work, equating to more than a third of the working population. Freelancers contributed up to $1.3 trillion to the US economy in annual earnings during the 2020/21 period.

Types of Freelance Writing 

There are different kinds of freelance writing to choose from, you just have to find one that tickles your fancy. Here’s a list of some popular choices:

1. Site Content 

Website developers and managers are constantly looking for content writers to write high-quality site content. Topics can vary depending on the client’s products and target audience, but the content should be direct, engaging, and informative. Freelance copywriting for websites requires sufficient SEO skills to increase traffic to the site, which entails using specific keywords and catchphrases for optimal search results.

2. Blog Posts

Blogs are the perfect platform when it comes to freelance writing for beginners because they allow freelancers the freedom to write and publish their work whenever they feel it’s ready. If you’re new to freelancing and looking to build your portfolio, starting a blog can be an excellent way to gain writing experience, improve your freelance writing skills, and grow your portfolio of the published content. Bloggers may contract a freelancer to write blog posts for their sites, and that’s how blog posts form part of freelance writing.

3. Magazine Articles

Most magazines enlist the services of freelance writers to populate their pages with articles on various topics. Writing for magazines can be very lucrative once you’ve identified freelance writing niches with larger audiences. Pitching stories or articles to magazine editors is also a great way to secure gigs, so you don’t always have to wait for a job ad as a content writer.

4. Email Writing

Freelance writers get paid to write emails! If formal written communication is something you’re good at, you may consider becoming a content writer for businesses. Some companies and corporations hire copywriters to write copy for their emails which can range from company communication to marketing emails. Freelance copywriting entails understanding the client’s brief as well as the target audience in order to write copy that’s direct and relevant. Content writers may be paid per word or per project, depending on the terms of the contractual agreement.

5. White Papers

White papers require technical freelance writing skills because they’re used to analyze a specific topic in-depth by providing well-researched information accompanied by statistical data. Not all writers know how to put together white papers, so it’s a great skill to acquire.

These documents are usually directed at industry experts and professionals and written in a highly specialized format from the perspective of an expert on a specific topic. Freelancers can choose from a variety of niches to specialize on and attract more clients.

6. E-books

Thousands of e-books are written by freelance ghostwriters. If you love creative writing, you might want to explore this avenue. Writing e-books is also a great way to generate freelance writing income since authors and publishers are always looking for writers. Whether you prefer writing fiction or nonfiction, e-books can be very lucrative. Freelancers usually charge per word and can take on multiple projects simultaneously since they’re independent contractors, so they can enjoy multiple streams of income.

DID YOU KNOW: 10 million Americans are considering becoming freelancers, with 73% of them citing flexibility and the pleasure of working remotely as their reason.

How to Become a Freelance Writer?

If you’re considering venturing into freelance writing, there are some processes you have to go through to build a lucrative freelancing career or hobby. We’ve compiled a list of some useful steps to serve as a roadmap.

1. Do Your Research

There are different types of writing for freelancers. Let’s go through some of the information you’ll have to research prior to joining thousands of freelancers earning a decent living from writing.

  • Identify Your Skill Set

What do you bring to the table? This question is an essential part of your checklist when deciding on the type of writing to pursue. You probably already know what you’re capable of, but you should decide which of your freelance writing skills are worth selling. These can range between creating content, blog posts, or simply writing features. After all, freelancers are independent service providers who know what skills best fit specific demands.

  • Find Out What’s On Demand

It’s important to conduct market research to find out what’s on demand as part of the initial process towards becoming a freelance writer. As a freelance writer, you want to provide a writing service that will attract multiple clients and generate income. Getting familiar with the market needs will help you decide on a suitable niche to start with, as well the type of writing style potential clients are looking for.

  • Use Writing Tools

To create flawless content, freelance writers make use of useful writing tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway App, which are great for identifying grammatical errors and correcting mistakes to make your writing more concise and give it a clear flow.

  • Learn SEO Skills

The internet has millions of articles and blog posts across thousands of websites, and as a content writer, you don’t want your hard work going unnoticed—you want it to stand out and appear in a simple internet search. That’s why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the mandatory freelance writer skills to have. Among other aspects, it entails incorporating SEO keywords and phrases to your writing to ensure it filters through the plethora of similar site content on the internet.

  • Try Yourself at Best Online Freelancing Platforms

How to get into freelance writing? With numerous online freelancing platforms connecting clients to freelancers and vice versa, freelance gigs are just a click away! Signing up for basic membership is usually free, and you can browse through long lists of gig ads and start pitching for gigs that catch your eye. This is the best way to get into freelance writing.

2. Choose Your Freelance Writing Niche

What is my freelance writing niche? This is an important question freelancer should ask themselves when starting out. As a beginner, you should not only identify niches on demand but also consider what areas of interest you’re passionate about. It’s advisable to choose a market segment that you enjoy, especially if you’re planning on making a career out of freelance writing.

You might not always have the luxury of getting projects that tickle your fancy, so it may be best to explore types of freelance writing before deciding on an area of specialization. Once you’ve established yourself as a freelance writer and written extensively on specific topics, you can choose some of those areas of interest as your niche.

Popular  include:

  • Finance
  • Cryptocurrency / Blockchain
  • Technology
  • Digital Marketing
  • CBD Products
  • SaaS
  • Real Estate.

Choosing a niche as a freelance writer has some great benefits. Let’s explore some of them:

  • You’re Considered an Expert

As an expert on a specific topic, your work is highly regarded, and you are considered the go-to person for assignments on that niche. Expert status attracts more freelance work and increases your rates, because clients are always seeking high quality content and overall value for their money.

  • Ongoing Client Relationships & Referrals

In the world of freelance writing, reputation is everything! Maintaining good client relations can be beneficial to your business. Once you’ve answered the “What is my freelance writing niche” question and identified a niche to specialize in, it’s important to make a good first impression on new clients by rendering an exceptional service so they keep coming back and refer other clients to you.

Becoming an outstanding freelance writer is about more than just producing high quality work—it also requires the maintenance of sustainable client relationships, as well as being able to provide other services like press releases or documentation formulation.

  • Less Competition

When you know which clients to service, it narrows down your list of recruiters to pitch to from scratch. Being a specialist in a specific area makes you the ideal freelancer on certain topics, giving you an added advantage.

3. Build a Writing Portfolio

A writing portfolio is how you sell yourself to new clients. Potential clients need to see previous freelance writing examples to get a sense of your writing style and determine whether you’ll be the perfect fit for their projects. Every freelancer must have a body of work, so if you don’t have one already, it’s time to get cracking.

A blog is an excellent way to build your portfolio and self-publish. There are no restrictions on what you may write, so you can simply decide on topics at your own discretion. Blogs are the perfect gateway to becoming a freelance writer because they’re easy to set up, which means you don’t have to wait for assignments from clients to start writing—you can do so on your own terms.

It’s important to write on topics you like and have sound knowledge of to make your writing process easier. You might also want to write more content on a niche you intend to pursue, so you can have a rich archive of articles and blog posts for potential clients to refer to when considering your pitch for their projects.

4. Share Your Writing

You may have wondered how to start freelance writing with no experience—well, the trick is to simply start writing and sharing your work. Most freelancers are skeptical to publish their work during the early stages of their writing career due to concern it may not be as flawless as they’d like it to be, but it’s always best to share your writing with the world. This is the only way to find out how effective your writing is and receive feedback to improve your freelance writer skills.

Potential clients want to know if you’ve published any work when considering enlisting your services for assignments, so sharing your writing is crucial. Besides meeting this requirement, as a content writer, sharing your writing is a great way to get your name out there. Sometimes freelance writers get gigs through referrals, which is only possible when people are familiar with your work.

5. Start Looking For Freelance Writing Jobs

To earn income as a freelance writer, you have to start looking for freelance writing jobs—and they’re just a click away! In case you’ve wondered, is freelance writing profitable? The answer is yes, you just have to find work to start generating income.

We’ve already shared the top 5 best freelancing platforms connecting freelance writers to clients, so all that’s left is to simply sign up and start pitching for gigs.

Here are some tips for a winning pitch:

  • Keep it short and simple
  • Use attention grabbers
  • Tell the client what you’re bringing to the table
  • Make your qualities and skills clear
  • Avoid generic cover letters.

Best Online Freelancing Platforms in 2022

Here are the top 5 online freelancing platforms to check out:

1. Upwork

Upwork is a very large freelance talent marketplace hosting a variety of online jobs that primarily connects professionals and agencies around the globe. If you’re wondering how to become a freelance writer with no experience, Upwork proves a great solution for beginners.

The platform charges a service fee starting at 20% with a decline to 5% once you reach $10,001 in earnings from a client.

Pros
  • Great for beginners
  • High-quality agencies, professionals, and clients
  • Income protection
  • Excellent customer service and communication
Cons
  •  High service fees
  •  Charges connect to apply for jobs

2. Fiverr

Fiverr connects freelancers with clients with a wide range of jobs, providing mostly low-cost services from professionals all over the world, starting at $5. However, that’s one of its downsides, as freelance writing definition gets a different meaning with writers charging very low prices for good quality work.

Depending on the gig fee, Fiverr will take between 5%–20% in service fees.

Pros
  •  Easy to sign up
  •  Very large marketplace
  •  Anyone can enroll
Cons
  •  Extremely competitive

3. Toptal

Toptal is an elite global network that finds the top talent in different niches. Freelancers have to go through a screening process before they’re approved to be featured on the platform. So, if you’re asking “Is freelance writing profitable?”, Toptal proves it definitely can be, because top talents can charge higher prices than on other freelance platforms.

Pros
  • Has a 95% trial-to-hire success rate
  • $0 recruiting fee
  • Freelancers can charge higher fees
Cons
  • Not beginner-friendly
  • Strict screen process and eligibility to feature

4. People Per Hour

Perfect for freelancers who want to get paid for their time, People Per Hour helps companies outsource specific projects to remote workers and pay them per hour. The platform provides free access, making it perfect for freelance writing for beginners, and a service fee of 20% is charged on all projects.

Pros
  • Pays per hour
  • Long-term work over GBP 5,000 has only a 3.5% service fee
  • Easy to enroll
Cons
  •  Competitive platform

5. Freelancer

More than 59 million professionals use Freelancer to find or provide services, so if you’re wondering how to get into freelance writing, this is a great platform to start with. Unlike most freelance platforms, Freelancer only charges a 10% fee.

Even though this is a great platform to start out on and build a portfolio, Freelancer has had some bad reviews, with freelance writers who outsource with low-pay jobs and copy/paste job offers.

Pros
  •  Good for beginners
  •  Low service fees at 10%
  •  Secure payment tools
Cons
  • Overcrowded
  • Low-quality clients
  • Not a long-term solution

What Are the Benefits of Freelance Writing?

Working from home has become a trend recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic that forced most people out of their nine to five jobs. If you’re wondering is freelance writing worth it, let’s take a look at some freelance writing benefits:

1. You’re In Charge

As a freelancer, you’re your own boss! This means you work as an independent contractor on projects you choose to pitch for, having the freedom to write on topics you prefer as opposed to working for an organization where assignments are allocated to you. Freelance writing also gives you the choice to reject project offers as you please.

Freelancers set their own rates based on experience and expertise, so you can decide how much to charge clients for your services. As freelancing affords you the freedom to manage your finances, you can set monthly goals based on your financial needs and work towards reaching your target monthly income.

2. Flexible Working Hours

Freelancing provides the best work and life balance due to flexible hours of work. You can decide when to work and when to call it a day, which allows you to plan your schedule properly and free up time for your personal commitments.

The fact that you can work from anywhere in the world at any given time means you can enjoy a life of travel, work on your projects on the go, and get your freelance writing salary.

3. You Can Earn Good Money

Freelance writing can be very profitable when you start securing high paying jobs and long term projects. On average, freelancers earn between $250 to $399 for an article or blog post of 1,500 words. Freelancer experience and expertise as well as the client’s budget are some of the main determining factors.

How Does a Freelancer Get Paid?

Freelancers use various forms of payment, from simple EFT to other online payment systems such as PayPal, Stripe and Square. Online freelancing platforms such as Upwork have incorporated payment technology systems on their sites to facilitate payments, making the process of claiming your freelance writing salary seamless. Freelancers simply have to provide their banking details and verify their identity to get paid by clients upon completing their work.

Online freelancing platforms take a percentage of funds for admin purposes. Some freelancers prefer communicating with clients directly to avoid additional charges, so they send invoices to clients once the work is complete. The rates are set at the freelancer’s discretion, and freelance writers may charge:

  • Per Project

This means that a freelancer will work on the project, and receive payment when the complete work is delivered to the client. Larger projects can be split into different milestones, so can the payment. This means that freelancers can receive freelance writing income each time a milestone is completed.

  • Per Hour

Freelance writers may decide to charge a fee for each hour spent working on a project. A timesheet is used to keep track of time spent on the project, and an invoice is then sent to the client with hours and rates included.

  • Per Word

Some freelancers find it easier to charge per word written. On average, freelance writers charge between $0.02 and $1 per word, which can be ideal for short assignments like features and blog posts.

Key Takeaways

Do plenty of research on how to become a freelancer.
Find out what’s on-demand.
Identify your skills.
Choose an online freelancing platform.
Start pitching for jobs.

A Few Tips Before You Go

Here are some useful tips to help you kickstart your freelancing career:

1. Constantly Search For a New Freelance Writing Job

There are thousands of freelancing jobs posted across various online platforms daily, so you should constantly be on the lookout in order not to miss out on lucrative opportunities for freelancers.

2. Start Pitching Your Stories

Have a topic idea? Pitch it. You don’t have to wait for job adverts to pitch to potential clients—you can develop and pursue your own story ideas, and pitch them to clients along with your freelance writing examples for reference purposes.

3. Proofread and Self-edit Your Stories

It’s very important to deliver flawlessly written work free of grammatical and typographical errors. So, you should always proofread and edit your work at least twice before submitting it to clients. Alternatively, you can use a good grammar checker.

4. Learn Some Basic SEO Skills

SEO skills are an essential part of every freelance writer’s toolbox. As a freelance writer, you want your work to appear in the search results, so it’s important to learn how to incorporate SEO keywords and phrases in your writing so your work doesn’t get lost among millions of articles and blog posts on the internet. Understanding SEO is vital, especially if you want to make a living from blogging.

DID YOU KNOW: If you earn $400 or more from a single client as a freelancer per year, you’re required to disclose this income in your annual tax return. Freelancers who anticipate making $1000 or more are required by the IRS to pay estimated taxes quarterly.

Conclusion

Freelance writing can be a lucrative way to earn a living. Freelancers get to choose which projects to pitch for and take on, aside from enjoying flexible working hours and great work and life balance. If you’re looking to get into freelance writing, you should decide which skills you can offer to potential clients, do thorough research on the different types of writing, and start pitching!

FAQ

How to start freelance writing?

Do thorough research about freelance writing—find out what types of writing styles are on demand, and identify the skills you can offer as a freelance writer. You should then choose the right online freelancing platform and start pitching for gigs.

How to find freelance writing jobs?

The best way to find freelance writing jobs is to create a profile on popular freelance writing or job search sites with your skills, qualifications, and experience. Once you set it up, you should start searching for the most relevant jobs and pitch to potential clients.

How does freelance writing work?

Freelance writing is straightforward and simple. What is freelance writing about? Freelance writers provide a writing service to clients as independent contractors, and they’re paid upon delivery of completed assignments. Freelancers can either pitch to clients for jobs or be commissioned by clients for writing projects.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I am curiosity-driven and detail-oriented so you will often find me researching the latest trends, experimenting with search engine optimization, or testing software. As a keen observer of content, my teammates often like to joke that "noting escapes the eye of Beti."

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