When starting a business online, especially an affiliate marketing business, the first few months are brutal because they involve a lot of work for zero pay. However, you can start to trade your time for money and get the flowing money sooner if you become a freelance writer in the beginning. This article will show you how to become a freelance writer with no prior experience.
Why Should You Become a Freelance Writer?
First off, why should you consider becoming a freelance writer? Freelance writing can become a lucrative career in itself if that’s how far you decide to take it. However, I got into freelance writing because it allowed me to start making some money early on in my online business. My content wasn’t generating any income yet and this was an easy way to trade my time for dollars and start making a paycheck right away.
The Problem With Blogging For Profit
My most comfortable method of publishing is blogging and SEO, but unfortunately it’s the slowest method of growth. It can take months or even years for a piece of content to start ranking in Google and start generating sales and revenue. However, if you sell writing as a service you can realize an almost immediate return on your time investment. How much you can make is directly related to the type and level of writing you can produce.
Your Reasons May Be Different
You may choose to become a freelance writer for an entirely different reason than I did. You may simply enjoy writing and are looking to make a little extra money on the side in your spare time. You may be pursuing a full-time staff writing position and you’re trying to use freelancing as a way to get your name out there and a foot in the door. Regardless of the reason, becoming a freelance writer is something anyone can do at any time for any reason regardless of experience.
Flexibility Is King Here
That’s the beauty of freelance writing. It allows for almost total flexibility in your schedule and anyone can start when they choose. If you have some time, apply for a gig. If not, then no worries. Keep in mind though, the amount of exposure you’ll get and the amount of income you receive will be directly proportionate to the amount of content you produce. Freelance writing may offer flexibility, but it has no leverage. You need to keep writing to keep earning. As soon as you stop writing and producing content, the money and exposure stop along with it.
Now, let’s talk about how to become a freelance writer with no experience:
Prepare Your Writing Sample
When someone is looking to hire a freelance writer, they want to get an idea of who they’re hiring first. In order to do that, they need to see some things that you’ve written and that’s what’s called a writing sample. A few emails and messages back and forth is not a writing sample. You need a decent-sized body of work in a specific niche so your potential employer can see what you’re capable of. Before this is completed, you have exactly zero chances of becoming a freelancer if you have zero experience. Your potential employer needs to know you can produce before they hire you.
This Means Communication As Well
Keep in mind that literally everything you write will be analyzed when applying for a writing job, especially online. This includes emails and texts. Be sure to use proper grammar and keep things tight when communicating. When applying for a writing gig online, the employer has never met or talked to you before. All they have to go on is what they’ve seen you write.
I’m not saying you need to be William Shakespeare in every email, just don’t get lazy and forget capitalization or punctuation. Leave the “gonna’s,” “wanna’s,” and “lol’s” in the texts to your friends.
What Constitutes a Writing Sample?
If you’re a blogger, your blog can serve as a writing sample. I use this site as my writing sample when talking to people I want to hire me. It’s very easy to say “check out the 75,000 words on my blog site to get a feel for my writing sample.” By having such a large body of work, it demonstrates the level of work that I can deliver on a consistent basis, especially if I’m posting regularly.
Why Do I Need A Blog?
If you simply have one essay that you give out as a writing sample, it won’t carry as much weight with the employer. What if you really polished this one piece for the interview and the rest of your writing is sub-par? In order to be considered for a productive role (such as content or copywriting), you need to first demonstrate that you can produce. There’s no way around that.
How Much Should I Write?
Spend the time and create about 15,000 words of original content on a public blog, preferably your own. That’ll translate to about 10-15 blog posts. Write about something that’s relevant to the niche you want to freelance in and just get it done.
15,000 Words? Really?
If 15,000 words seem like too much for you, stop right now because you don’t have what it takes to be a freelance writer. A single blog post will average about 1500 words and you should be producing 1-2 posts a week if you’re serious about writing. At this pace, you’ll knock out your writing sample in about a month.
Determine Your Rate
Unfortunately, there is no “standard rate” in freelance writing, at least none that I’ve come across. Ultimately, it’s whatever you decide to charge your customers. However, don’t think that you can just charge whatever you want. You need to be competitive in your rates or no one will hire you.
What Determines Rates?
Level of English (Or The Language You’re Writing In)
If you’re going to write in English, make sure you’re at least fluent or on a native speaking level. This will allow you to charge the highest rates. Use idioms, sarcasm, figures of speech, and metaphors in your writing sample to demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of the English language. Correct grammar and punctuation will further drive the point home.
Speaking of grammar and tone, these two things will also determine your level of skill as a writer. If you can communicate your point clearly and effectively, it will lead to fewer edits needed. Fewer edits needed means your employer can produce content faster and spend less time double-checking your work. This will lead to a better relationship and ultimately, higher pay.
Not Just Being Fancy
Writing skill is not just about how many big words you can use in a sentence. In fact, the use of big words can actually harm your writing sample. As a freelance writer, you want to write to your audience in a way that’s easy for them to understand. Because your audience can change frequently as a freelancer, you need to write to the reading level of the general public.
In America, this is about an 8th-grade reading level. Writing at that level will maximize the number of people who can understand what you’re talking about. It’s not too advanced for those with a lower reading level and those with a higher reading level will enjoy the low-stress nature of reading your stuff.
Appeal To The Masses
The more people that can understand and connect with your content easily, the better. For your employer, this will lead to higher on-page time and a lower bounce rate. That will then lead your employer to either making more sales from the content you’ve written or their reader becoming more comfortable with their business. Both things will solidify your place as their go-to writer.
The type of sites you write for can also have an impact on what you can charge. For example, a single blogger reviewing Amazon products can’t pay as well as a larger blog that reviews SaaS (Software as a Service) products. This is because of the different amounts each website earns. Most sites that hire freelancers make their money via affiliate marketing or e-commerce, and generally, the more money an article is expected to make, the more the site is willing to pay for it.
Physical Products vs. Software
Amazon products have a notoriously low commission (only a few dollars) and therefore bloggers arent willing to pay much for content. SaaS, on the other hand, has much higher commissions and can pay much more. SaaS commissions, such as ClickFunnels, pay as much as $118 a month for 6 months or more. What commission would you pay more for? $5 on a single sale or $700 spread over 6 months?
Make Sure You’re Qualified First
Try to write for a niche that has profitable commissions, but is also something you know about and are comfortable writing in. Nothing hurts your reputation faster than a crap article. If you are simply writing about software because it pays well, you probably won’t be writing about it long. Word will get around that you have no idea what you’re talking about and the job offers will dry up.
Type Of Writing
There are generally two types of writing that websites will hire for, content and copy. Content writing is what you’re reading now. It is meant to be informative and meant to make the reader feel at ease. Good content builds a relationship with the reader and keeps them on the page for as long as possible. This style of writing pays a lower rate than copywriting because it’s easier to get good at.
Copy is a totally different type of writing altogether. It is more commonly referred to as Sales Copy and its main goal is to create strong emotions in the reader and drive them to take immediate action. This is a more aggressive style of writing meant to sell products right now. It’s VERY hard to get good at writing sales copy, and in order to be considered for a copywriting position, you need a proven track record of converting readers to buyers on a sales page.
How Much Does Copywriting Pay?
Because of the aggressive selling nature of sales copy and where it’s placed, this is where writers make big bucks. How big? It’s not outlandish for a company to pay a good copywriter $5,000 for a single sales page! This is because good copy can make the company 10 times that amount in a couple of days if presented to enough people. It’s best to forget about copywriting though if you have no experience writing sales copy.
So, What Do I Charge?
If you have a native grasp of English, good grammar, write for a profitable niche, and are writing content, 10 cents a word is a good place to start. That’s what I charged in the beginning and that’s what I still charge for my services.
No Experience Doesn’t Mean “No Experience”
This is because while you have no experience content writing, you have experience WRITING. This simple fact will put you ahead of someone who is just learning English and has trouble communicating a clear message to an audience. If you go look on a site like Fiverr, you will see a lot of Asian content writers offering their services for about 5 cents a word, maybe less.
Can I Really Charge Double As A Beginner?
Now, you may ask, “but they have more experience than me, won’t they get hired instead if I’m twice the price?” Maybe, but the quality of their content will not be as good as yours even though you have “no experience.” You’re a native English speaker with good grammar, they probably will not be. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Content writing is all about communicating a clear message to your audience and if you can do that, you can charge decent rates. Remember, what you can charge is based on your writing skills & track record, not how long you’ve been writing.
SEO Content Pays More
You can start to charge more than 10 cents a word if you can do some basic SEO practices and provide a track record that your content gets found in Google quickly. Optimizing a post for Google is as simple as using a plugin like Rank Math to read your work and follow the suggestions it makes. Just make sure you enter the correct keywords you want to be found for. It just takes time to see the results and provide the track record.
Get Paid Easily and Quickly
There are two things to worry about in this section. How to structure your payments and how to accept payments.
Split Risk Evenly
When hiring a freelancer for the first time, a company is taking a risk on you. Likewise, the first time you write for a company you’re taking a risk with them. There is always the chance that either you won’t get paid by them or they will get a crap article from you.
To spread this risk evenly and fairly, insist that you get paid half up front and half on completion. This way, if the company disappears after you send the finished article, you aren’t 100% out of luck, at least you got paid half.
On the other hand, the company can rest easy because if the article you turned in is complete garbage (not likely, I have faith in you) they aren’t out the full amount either.
Make It Easy For Your Employer To Pay You
My career in sales has taught me that if you make it easy for the customer to give you money, they will. Think about the Disney Magic Band. It’s a bracelet that you wear on your wrist that’s hooked up to your credit card.
To make a purchase, all you have to do is tap the bracelet to a pad at the register and you’re done. Even if your hands are full, like they want them to be, you don’t have to put anything down to pay! I’ve always said that the real magic of Disney is making money disappear at an alarming rate.
Ask your customer what the easiest way to pay you is and do whatever it takes to get paid that way. Most people are comfortable paying electronically with PayPal, CashApp, or Venmo. It’s unlikely, but some will feel more comfortable mailing a check or money order.
When someone agrees to pay you, say “Thank You” and move forward. Don’t quibble over how you get paid, it’s irrelevant.
Find Writing Gigs
This is the part I bet you all want to know. I hid it on the bottom so you’d read the whole post. To get started as a freelance writer, there are a number of places to find work. Over time, you’ll start to develop a book of business and start getting referrals, but here are a few places to get started if you have zero experience.
Reddit is a social network that almost exclusively splits itself into neat little groups called subreddits. Content is posted anonymously and because of this anonymity, people tend to have a little less of a filter. However, this scares a lot of people off so there’s less competition. There are two subreddits I find work in:
Just Start is a great place to hang out if you’re looking to make money online, but it’s not for the faint of heart. In order to not get roasted on just start, you need to have started a website of your own. They HATE posts like “I dunno where to start, can someone help me?” However, if you have your writing sample complete and post something like “I’ve taken the steps to start content writing, here they are, is anyone looking for a content writer?” you’ll get a much better response.
Hire A Writer is much more laid back. Here, posts are split into two main categories, Hiring and Hire Me. If you make a Hire Me Post, put the content you’re looking to write, your rate, and a link to your writing sample and wait for replies. For Hiring posts, comment that you’re interested and include a link to your sample or follow the instructions laid out in the posts. It’ pretty simple
General Freelancing Sites
There are sites out there dedicated to general freelancing where you can find freelance work in just about any field. These may not pay as well as writing specific sites, but the competition may be lower.
Here is where you’ll probably get the easiest work, but it will also pay the lowest because of the competition. This is because just about anyone can post any skill they have on Fiverr and wait for an order. Make sure your profile is well written and your pictures are on point. This will put you ahead of the crowd.
UpWork is a great site for freelancers. While it is still a general freelance site, it focuses more on the quality of the work provided rather than how cheap the labor is. Here you’ll find more experienced writers, but that means you’ll be one of the lowest-priced if you hop on here. Being the lowest price on Upwork may still make you one of the most expensive on Fiverr. This site pays pretty well.
Writing Specific Freelance Sites
These sites are similar to the ones above, but they focus solely on finding writers and therefore pay the best.
Here you can start a profile and start writing for publishers that need content writers. You create a profile and your content is rated on a star system. If you have more stars, you get paid more for your work.
This is a really good way of finding out how your writing style compares to others.
iwriter is a platform where publishers post what content they need, and freelancers can choose to accept it or not. The star system applies here as well, but this site doesn’t pay quite as well as some of the others.
ProBlogger is where more contract and full-time writers come to get found rather than pure freelancers. If you’re looking for something more long-term, check out ProBlogger’s website.
Your Own Site
People are going to end up on your website over time. Why not tell them that you’re willing to write for hire? A simple “Hire Me” Page will go a long way and once it’s set up, you don’t have to do anything.
The beauty of taking on clients directly is that you get to keep 100% of what they pay and you don’t have to deal with a third party site like the ones listed above. I use this as a way to build up backlinks to my own site as well because I require a backlink on most of my projects.
Freelance writing is a great way to make a little extra money either on the side or while you’re building another business. It allows for almost total flexibility and can be used as a way to get your name out into the world.
There is a fairly well-beaten path to success and even if you have no formal experience, you can still start above entry-level rates if you have good writing skills to begin with. Freelance writing can be very rewarding if you’re willing to put in a little work. I hope you got something out of this read. Please, share it with a friend if you did.