Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business
eBook - ePub

Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business

The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch

The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc., Laura Pennington Briggs

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eBook - ePub

Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business

The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch

The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc., Laura Pennington Briggs

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About This Book

Write Your Own Success Story

Breaking into freelance writing has gotten much easier for word-savvy entrepreneurs like you. But even in the golden age of content creation, you still need to know what it takes to launch and consistently pitch your services so you can grow and scale your freelance writing side hustle into a full-fledged career you really love.

Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business is an easy-to-understand, introductory, and nontechnical approach to the world of freelance writing. This book teaches you how to leverage the fast-changing pace of technology to grow a business that gives you the freedom and flexibility you want. You'll learn how to:

  • Assess your freelancing skillset
  • Determine the best way to position your business to clients
  • Research the most profitable freelance writing opportunities
  • Create a series of pitches that convert to profitable client relationships
  • Use freelance job sites to build a strong client base
  • Master the art of time management so you don't miss a single deadline
  • Market your business in multiple channels to grow and scale your business

You'll also get an inside look at a freelance writing business and related tips and strategies from a multi-six figure online freelance writer. So what are you waiting for? The time is "write" to start today!

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Freelance Writing Today
Have you always loved writing and reading? Perhaps as a child you dreamed of becoming a professional writer but somewhere along the way lacked the tools or the confidence to pursue this as a career.
There’s good news for you—the digital freelance economy has made it easier than ever to launch a career as a freelance writer with little risk involved. Using this book, you’ll get a better understanding of what it looks like to be a freelance writer online today and whether this might be a fit for you.
Even if you ultimately decide that freelance writing is not for you, your time and financial investment will be minimal. Compared to the massive costs associated with launching a more traditional business, freelance writing carries little risk if you have a source of full-time income. In short, it’s the perfect side hustle.
Because this startup is low-risk, it’s a good idea for prospective writers to initially dip their toes into the freelance waters and not rely on it for a full-time source of income. While many freelancers do write full time, others spend years testing the freelance writing business model and charting their monthly income before they feel comfortable making the leap. We’ve approached this book with these concepts in mind to help you get a good look at what it’s like to be a part- or full-time freelance writer. Using the business know-how from the staff of Entrepreneur and the personal stories, tips, and tricks from my own freelance life, you will get a holistic look at the business from the inside out. If you view this as your chance to explore freelance writing and try it part time, you will either be inspired to grow your venture further or decide it’s not for you. Both decisions are powerful going forward.
As for me, Laura Pennington Briggs, I started my freelance writing career out of necessity. I had burned out of my teaching job and knew I didn’t want to work in education any longer. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) had been placed on leave without pay by the military until his new position opened. There were many different avenues out there to earn extra money. As a person in graduate school at the time, however, I’d received a lot of feedback on my writing in the months before launching my freelance career. I figured this was the existing skillset I could build upon the most quickly, so I began my hunt for advice with a Google search: “how to become a freelance writer.” There were so few tools, and many of the things I found were extremely dated and not related to the online freelancing market. Many things I learned were trial by fire as I moved from building a part-time freelance writing business to scaling it full time.
Think about why you want to become a freelance writer. As you go through this book, determine whether the benefits and challenges of working as a freelance writer line up with your expectations.
Those lessons have been incorporated into this book so you’ll be able to hopefully skip some of the more painful ones, learn from common successes and mistakes, and get a perspective on the pros and cons of working as a freelancer.
Freelance writing is not for everyone. But for those who fall in love with it, it can be an excellent and creative way to make a living. Thanks to the internet, you can manage your freelance writing business from anywhere in the world and grow it to the point you want, whether that’s a part-time gig to help you accomplish some financial goals or as a full-time career.
Demand for Writing
It might seem like a dream come true to work as a freelance writer; you’ve always been good with words, and you’d love to be a paid professional wordsmith. The good news is that breaking into this career has gotten much easier for potential freelancers in recent years, but you’ll still need to have a good grip on what’s required and have a lot of stamina to consistently pitch your services. If you’re willing to push through your launch, you might discover that you’ve found a side hustle or career you really love.
According to the 2018 “Upwork Freelancing in America Report” freelancing is on the rise across many categories ( Freelancers can be virtual assistants, translators, transcriptionists, graphic and web designers, web developers, marketing experts, writers, editors, and more.
Each year, Upwork (the biggest job board site in the world for connecting clients with possible freelancers) conducts a study to better understand how many people are opting out of the traditional workforce either to freelance as a side hustle or to create a full-time career.
While Upwork considers the experiences of freelancers overall, the news is good for writers as well. According to the report, key statistics about the state of the freelance market include:
Freelancers contribute an estimated $1.2 trillion to the economy.
More than 57.3 million people freelance.
The majority of workers in the U.S. will be freelance by 2027.
Other studies show the same promise:
The “HubStaff 2017 Freelancing Trends” ( study found that freelance writers make up over 12 percent of the online freelance market.
According to the 2016 McKinsey Global Institute study, “Independent Work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy” ( up to 70 percent of freelancers are independent contractors “by choice.”
Twenty-one percent of full-time independent contractors make over $100,000, and that number is expected to grow, according to the 2018 “State of Independence in America” ( study.
Clearly, the freelance writing market is popular right now, so don’t wait too long to get started!
What Is Freelance Writing?
No how-to guide about freelance writing would be complete without a good explanation of what freelance writing is and what makes it different from other pursuits.
In general, freelancers are independent contractors who work with companies or individuals on a retainer or as-needed basis. In the U.S., contractors are treated quite differently from employees. There are a good mix of freelance writers in the U.S. who might work on numerous projects at the same time as a contractor as well as writers who are “on staff” workers, meaning they function day-to-day as a regular employee but get paid as an independent contractor.
This book covers how to land freelance, contract-based assignments, not a full-time job as a staff writer. During your time working as a freelancer, you might have companies offer you a full-time position as a W-2 employee, but this means you are not a “freelance” writer.
If you’ve ever had an image in your head of a starving artist who can’t make ends meet on one end of the spectrum or the fictional Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw somehow making enough to afford a private apartment in NYC writing one column a week for a newspaper, know that reality is somewhere in the middle for freelance writers. Since there’s so much flexibility afforded to freelance writers, you’ll find these contractors working many different business models that are best suited for their individual needs and style.
Freelancers are hired by clients to do specific work. Under U.S. laws this means that the freelancer maintains control of their schedule and how the work is completed. A client might give a contractor some directions, but a true “freelancer” most likely wouldn’t report to an office from 9 to 5. The freelancer would maintain control over their working environment but would have a contractual obligation to meet the specs of a particular job. Some of these jobs might be “one and done,” but others will involve ongoing retainer work.
Simply put, a freelancer has a responsibility to review instructions, sign a contract, then complete a requested piece of writing work. Once the terms of that contract are complete, the freelancer is paid by submitting an invoice.
Try to find some online resources about companies that have chosen to outsource to freelancers. Once you get a better perspective on why they’d consider freelancers, you’ll find it easier to speak directly to their needs and concerns.
While some of the specifics of working as a freelancer will be explored later in this book, it’s important to know upfront that freelance writers are not employees. This means that your clients don’t have a legal responsibility to pay you a salary, provide you office space, or give you benefits. This can actually be used as a way to convince clients who planned to hire full-time workers that they should work with you instead.
Clients like to work with freelancers because they have specific or short-term needs for which it wouldn’t make sense to hire an employee. In other cases, they know they can save money by working directly with an outside contractor expert. They won’t have to spend time training this person on the writing craft because freelance writers come prepared and experienced. The client gets the benefit of working with a true professional without having a legal obligation to this contractor as an employer would an employee.
Freelancing is not for everyone. The very ebb-and-flow nature of freelance writing means that you should come to the table hungry. You must be ready to market yourself, prepared for the ups and downs of owning a business because you are an entrepreneur and willing to live with the pros as well as the cons of freelance life.
Before you launch your freelance career, it’s important to know the ways you can earn money as a freelance writer. Having a realistic perspective of the kind of writing that sells will help you narrow your focus and choose a handful of project types that appeal to you.
Types of Writing People Will Hire for Most Often
If you take a random sample of freelancers, you will find that you likely have a relatively even split of generalists, or those who work on a few different types of projects in different industries, and those who are specialized or operate within a particular niche.
There is truly something for every writing interest in this business. You might be drawn to a particular type of writing, or you might want to think it over as you read through the rest of this book.
You don’t have to commit to one industry or type of writing as you launch. One of the best things to do is see what you gravitate toward, then get some experience to decide whether that writing is a fit for you.
There’s no rush to pick something and stick with it now, but another section of the book will introduce you to some of the most in-demand writing types. Check out Chapter 2 to learn more about the various types of freelance writing.
Why People Struggle with Writing Things on Their Own
Many people struggle with writing the kinds of copy they need for personal or professional reasons. You’ll find clients who have different motivations for hiring a freelance writer and plenty of clients who don’t realize the benefits of working with a freelancer until you explain it to them.
The sooner you can understand these different motivations and pinpoint them, the easier your sales conversations will be because you can directly speak to client concerns. These people are your prospective clients, and it’s well worth considering why they might be in the market for a freelance writer.
There are three reasons why most clients consider working with a freelancer: lack of confidence in their own writing, lack of time, or an interest in partnering with an expert. You’ll find clients who have a mix of primary motivations, but understanding where the client comes from helps you direct the conversation in your favor.
The first reason why a prospective client would hire a freelancer has to do with lack of confidence on the client’s part. While clients might be hesitant to state this outright, many people are not confident that their writing style or ability will match up to what’s required for success today, especially in the online space.
Identify a Client’s Pain Points
Most clients will give you ...

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