Are you a writer? Did you know that writing non-fiction blog posts or articles is a viable way to earn a part or full-time income via the web?
I didn’t a year ago either. After allowing myself to come to terms that my career as a financial advisor wasn’t really my “dream job” last April, I started looking into alternative options. My search brought me to online freelance writing and I haven’t looked back since.
I started my freelance writing business as a side hustle. As of the first of the year, this is now my full-time gig. I’m the breadwinner for our family of four (my husband is a SAHD to our two toddlers), so I’m very motivated to ensure that I’m successful in my online business pursuits.
If you’re a fellow writer and looking to boost your monthly income, you should consider giving it a try too. Here are five steps that you can take starting today to get you on the freelance writing track. Are you ready?
1. Decide on a Niche (or Two)
Figuring out what you want to write about is a great first step. How do you do this? By brainstorming what you have experience or expertise with.
What do you have career experience in? Management, IT, marketing or sales? All of these are viable niches. How about your hobbies or daily life? Parenting, crafting and travel are all niches I’ve seen on job boards too.
Action step: Brainstorm a list of up to five niches that you have some experience or interest in. Then rank your list in order of what you’d like to pursue first.
2. Gather Samples
This catches a lot of people up out of the gate. What if you don’t have any samples? Create some. Don’t let the lack of samples hold you back from pursuing a career in freelance writing. Samples are in your control.
You can write samples on your own blog, by guest posting on someone else’s or even in a Word or Google doc if you have to. The point is, that you need to have samples to verify you can write and display your unique voice and style.
Action step: Have 3-5 pieces ready in the niches that you want to write in to be prepared for pitching jobs.
3. Figure out Where You’ll Display Your Work
You don’t have to have your own website to start freelance writing. Would most people (including myself) recommend it? Yes! But it’s not absolutely necessary. There are other ways to display your portfolio instead.
I have two portfolios; one on my website and another on Pinterest. Pinterest is an easy and free way to display your portfolio. The only prereq is that each post needs to have a photo to go along with it, in order to pin it.
Action step: Decide if you want to display your portfolio on your own website or start a Pinterest board to display your samples instead. Contently is another free option.
4) Source Job Leads
One of the easiest ways to source writing job leads is job boards. It’s how I got started and built up my career in the beginning and it’s great practice for communicating with potential clients. It’s not the only (or maybe even the best) way long-term, but it’s a great place to start.
Action step: Start looking for jobs to pitch. Use the list I gave you above, reach out to companies and websites individually or network with friends and family to see who might be in need of a writer.
5) Start Pitching
Last, but not least you need to start pitching! This might be the scariest step, but it’s imperative to launching your career and building up clientele.
My best advice here, is to pitch for anything remotely interesting or that you’re only a little bit qualified for (you’re a fast learner, right?). Women tend to only apply for jobs they’re 90%+ qualified for, whereas with men it’s closer to ~60%. You need to start thinking and pitching like a man!
Action step: Set a goal for how many pitches you plan to send per week and then go after it with gusto. Chalk up each rejection (or non-reply) as a win. Each No is getting you closer to a Yes!
Although launching a new freelance writing career can be intimidating, it’s not impossible. If you’re a decent writer, there is work to be had online.
Start by determining a niche or two that you can write in, gathering a few samples and figuring out where you want to display them. Then start sourcing jobs and pitching them.
Use these five steps to get start today. What do you have to lose?
Gina Horkey is a writer for hire, with a background in personal finance. She also offers business coaching services and recently launched a course, called 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success for aspiring writers for the web.