“Content is king.”
How many times have you heard that phrase in the past year?
But the fact remains – great writing, from social media posts to blogging, is the cornerstone of most companies’ marketing strategy these days. The truth is though, that most companies have neither the time nor the know-how to get it done.
And that means big bucks for upstart freelancers like you. Small mom n’ pop shops and big-time corporations alike are looking for freelancers to keep their blogs fresh, sometimes to the tune of $75 or more per post.
And while those rates might not sound like much, many freelancers are able to make a complete living off it, and sometimes more than $100,000 per year.
Want in on the action? Let’s go over how you can make your writing dreams a reality.
Naturally, if you’d like to succeed as a freelance writer, there are a few important things to understand first. I’d say that the foremost thing to consider, the one thing that will determine whether you knock it out of the park or peter out, is choosing a niche.
It’s not enough to be a generalist.
This might seem like a counter-intuitive statement; wouldn’t choosing a narrower niche turn some customers away?
But more importantly, it’ll attract more and higher quality clients. When you choose a highly specific niche and wear it proudly, those that are in that market will be infinitely more attracted to you than that competitor who might be able to help them because they’re a generalist. Jack of all trades, master of none, ya know?
So how do you choose your niche?
Your ideal niche will be in the sweet spot between what you care about, what pays well and consistently, and what you know about (or are willing to research, at least). This isn’t something you have to choose immediately, so be sure to take some time to think and research.
And just because I want to make this as easy for you as possible, I’ve made some handy-dandy worksheets to help you work it out. 🙂
This post includes affiliate links. For more information, check here.
Now that you’ve got your niche picked out, it’s time to get the word out. While you could just stick to having a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, having your own site is the real secret to getting high-paying, valuable clients.
But not just any ol’ site. You’ve got to get your own domain. Getting something like mywritingsite.blogger.com or mysite.wix.com will take away from the professional image you want to give to your clients. If you want to be a big-time business owner, you need to present yourself as one. But the good thing is that it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds!
Basically, it comes down to this.
- Get your own domain and hosting. (Fancy way of saying that you need to buy your website address. It’s not hard, promise!)
- Get WordPress, or another way to power your website.
- Pick and install a theme.
- Add content.
If all this has you feeling a little anxious, not to worry. We’re going to go over how you can get your website up today in a virtually painless, easy way – even if you know zero about computers. I’m a complete computer dunce, so if I could do it then I know you can too. 🙂
So, without further ado, let’s get this show on the road!
Getting your domain and hosting
Before you can get your website set up, you need a place to put it.
Bluehost will let you get your site set up for only $3.95 a month if you use my link (less than a cup of coffee), and offers a free domain and 1-step WordPress (which would be a pain to install on your own, in my opinion).
So after you click here, you’ll be guided towards the front page, which looks like this:
You’re going to want to click on the big green button saying “get started now”.
Here’s where you can pick out your plan, which currently looks like this:
So as you can see, the basic plan is for an easy-peasy $3.95 per month. It looks like right now you pay the same for prime as for plus, only prime gets you over $80 a year in free extras and free domain privacy and site backup. Might not be a bad idea for only an extra $2 a month.
At the end of the day, just pick whichever one you know is right for you. 🙂
Now on to the most exciting part – picking out your name!
Since you get one free domain with your plan, go ahead and pick one out on this screen. Try to think long and hard about it, and maybe do a quick SEO research to make sure your potential URL will be at the top of Google’s search results.
From there, you’ll just need to enter in your account information and pay for the whole shebang. Usually it’ll come out to about $80-$100, depending on what extra features you might want to include.
Now I know what you’re thinking.
What?! I have to pay that much just to get started on the dang thing? I’m going back to Blogger!
Hey, this is a business you’re starting, isn’t it? Isn’t your freedom from that awful boss, 2-hour commute, and mountain of bills worth $100?
The truth is that if you get even just one decent client, you’ll make multiple times more than this in one go.
So now that you’ve got the site, it’s time to turn it into something useful.
For this, I’d recommend WordPress. You can do just about everything with WordPress, like add a blog, create a landing page, and add in all the regular pages a business would need. Plus WordPress has the advantage over a traditional HTML site in that you can update it seamlessly without much effort.
Check out this quick little video on how to install WordPress on your new site.
Now that you’ve got your site officially set up, it’s time to get it lookin’ good with a professional-looking theme.
Usually it’s best to go with a paid theme, but if you’re wanting to save a bit there are some free themes you can work with to start. I personally use Sydney for mine, which I recommend as a completely free option. Here‘s a fantastic little tutorial on how to set up a site using this theme to save you a headache. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask me and I’ll give it my best shot. 🙂
If you combine that with a page-builder like Elementor (and other WordPress plugins I mentioned here), you’ll have a powerful website in no time.
Setting your site up
Whew, got a lot done already! Now one last thing: getting your site set up to be found by clients. Time to create pages!
What pages should you include in your site?
Well, you don’t want to overwhelm your potential clients with too much information, but you also want to give them enough to learn about (and choose!) you.
With that in mind, consider including just these pages into your site:
- Services and Rates
- Hire Me
For your “Services and Rates” page, I would highly recommend actually putting in your rates (not sure what your rates should be? Try this calculator.) This gets rid of low-ballers and time-wasters right off the bat. And don’t ever let anyone push you around on your prices!
Be sure to take the time to make sure your site conveys your professionalism and value. You want your clients to know you mean business and are worth every penny that you charge.
Now your site is up and lookin’ good. Time to line up your first few clients.
There area few popular ways to go about finding new clients, with various pros and cons:
- Job boards
- Bidding sites such as Upwork
- Cold pitching
Let’s go over how to approach each of these.
As the title might imply, job boards are where the individual hiring posts a job that invites freelancers to apply. These can be a fantastic way to land your first big gig, although you might have a fair bit competition. When you’re first starting off, remember that it is a numbers game and that checking and applying frequently will be your best bet.
Some good places to check:
While bidding sites get a lot of flack, they have their place. They’re great for those just getting their feet wet, who need to build up a portfolio and get the whole process down pat. While I might not recommend staying on them for long, since it can typically be a race to the bottom on price, here are some you might want to take a look into if you find them useful.
What’s cold pitching? Well, unlike the previous two options, cold pitching involves approaching a prospect who has no idea who you are or what your services are. But don’t worry, you don’t have to feel salesy or worry about wasting time. In fact, some of the most surefire way to make big money is to cold pitch clients.
So how do you find clients to cold pitch?
I’d look over your ideal client profile (if you don’t have one, this exercise can be used), and start thinking of places in your local area who might need your services. Who fits in your ideal client persona and could benefit from better web copy, social media outreach, or content marketing in your area?
Oftentimes, local clients (especially those you already buy from) are easier to pitch because you’re more “real” to them than some rando from “somewhere”. The stronger you can make the relationship and the warmer you can appear, the more likely you are to succeed.
After that, try hitting up a few of these sites, depending on who your ideal client is:
- Thumbtack (great for creative, home repair, and tutoring industries)
- Angie’s List (great for home and lawn services)
- Angel Co (great for startups in just about every industry)
- LinkedIn (great for getting to know professionals in just about every industry)
- Craigslist (with caution!)
Already you’re well on your way to a life as a paid writer! If all this seems a little overwhelming, know that it’s okay and that the path of an entrepreneur is never easy, but also that you’re strong enough to make it. Winning your first client is no doubt the hardest, but once you’ve earned their business, it’s all uphill from there (especially if you’re asking for referrals – which you should!).
Good luck out there, and happy hunting!
Do you have any questions about the process of becoming a freelance writer? Be sure to let me know so I can clear them up below!