How to Become a Freelance Writer with No Experience (7 Steps) PLUS 3 Websites That Pay You to Write for Them

March 19, 2024

How to become a freelance writer with no experience:

  1. Invest in a freelance writing course or self-study to learn the fundamentals
  2. Select a freelance writing niche that aligns with your interests and expertise
  3. Create your freelance writing portfolio
  4. Establish a unique brand for your freelance writing services
  5. Find clients and market your freelance writing services
  6. Continuously improve your freelance writing skills
  7. Learn how to run a freelance writing business

Freelance writing is where you offer writing services to various clients. It is on a contract basis rather than working for a single company. This practice allows you to work on many topics, choose your hours, and often work remotely. You also can earn more, especially as you become more skilled. Based on industry research by Upwork, freelance writers make an average hourly rate of $20. They also have an average annual income of around $42,000. But you can earn as much as $100 per hour, depending on your experience and specialization.

However, freelancing is very competitive. According to  Demand Sage, the US alone has approximately 73.3 million freelancers as of 2023. Their projections also suggest that this number will reach 90.1 million by 2028. As a new freelance writer, achieving financial freedom through freelancing can be challenging. With determination and a strategic approach, this is possible. You can turn your passion for writing into a lucrative income source. This guide will walk you through all the steps for becoming a freelance writer. Plus, a list of the best websites offering paid writing opportunities for beginners.

1. Invest in a Freelance Writing Course or Self-Study to Learn the Fundamentals

The first step is to invest in a freelance writing course with a structured program. You can improve your freelance writing skills by focusing on grammar, style, and tone. You'll also learn more about the different forms of writing. This includes descriptive, expository, narrative, and persuasive writing. These courses can also teach you business skills. Some topics could include marketing, setting rates, and negotiating contracts. Other topics can also be about invoicing and managing client relationships. One of the best freelance writing courses is “Earn More Writing” by Holly Johnson. Another is Knowadays’ $599 freelance writing program.

However, you don’t have to invest in any online program to become a professional writer. Many successful freelancers built their careers through self-directed learning and continuous improvement. There's plenty of freelance writing blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts. You can also go to the library for books on how to write. This option takes longer since you’re not guided by modules like in mentorship programs. 

There are various types of freelance writing that you can specialize in. It's best to base on your interests and skills. Here are examples of different freelance writing services:

  • Content Writing: This involves creating informative and engaging content. Examples are articles, blog posts, product descriptions, and website content. It often requires SEO knowledge to enhance website traffic and sales. According to Salary.com, the average annual income for a freelance content writer is $57,115, as of October 2023. They add that it ranges between $47,253 and $65,606.
  • Copywriting: This persuasive writing skill focuses on content marketing materials. It includes brochures, email campaigns, newsletters, PPC ads, website copy, and white papers. Pete Boyle from Growth Models says freelance writers can earn anywhere from under $10,000 to over $250,000 a year. The income potential can be higher than that of an employed copywriter. The Editorial Freelancers Association says the average hourly rate is between $61 and $70.
  • Technical Writing: This involves creating manuals, instructions, and other documentation. It often requires knowledge of a specific field. You should also explain complex concepts thoroughly. ZipRecruiter reports that the average hourly pay for a freelance technical writer in the United States is $38.77. They add that the annual average wage is $70,191.
  • Creative Writing: This includes fiction, poetry, scriptwriting, and narrative non-fiction. You may work on novels, short stories, plays, or screenplays. Creative writing is often characterized by its emphasis on storytelling and artistic expression. According to Jooble, the average salary for a freelance creative writer in the USA as of November 2023 is $81,595. This amount breaks down to a monthly pay rate of $6,800, a weekly rate of $1,569, or an hourly rate of $40.64.

2. Select a Freelance Writing Niche that Aligns with Your Interests and Expertise

A niche is a specialized area in which you offer your writing services. Choosing the right niche will help you get better-paying freelance work. Yes, you can be a freelance writer in different niches. However, you won’t make as much money as you would if you focused on one industry. Beauty copywriter Colleen Welsch says that a generalist may attract more business but will struggle to scale rates. Clients who value specialized expertise seek after professionals with in-depth knowledge in specific areas. 

When determining your niche, consider both your personal interests and professional background. Passion for your niche ensures sustainability because you'll likely do it for years. A niche that leverages your existing knowledge also gives you a competitive edge.

The best freelance writing niches in 2024 are:

  • Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: This niche explains the complexities of crypto and blockchain technology. It’s a large market with millions of users worldwide. According to Demand Sage, there are over 25,000 cryptocurrencies as of 2023. They add that the market value is around $1.27 trillion. This niche offers a fertile ground for specialized content creation.
  • Healthcare and Medical Writing: This niche includes writing for medical institutions and clinics. You can also write for pharmaceutical companies and health-related blogs. It often requires some knowledge of medical terminology. Grand View Research states that 80% of people in the US use the internet to look up health information. 60% of social media users trust the info shared on these platforms. This has increased the demand for high-quality medical writing on digital platforms.
  • Green Energy and Sustainability: Writers in this niche create content about renewable energy sources. It also includes eco-friendly practices and sustainable living. Natalia Olynec says that firms have focused more on sustainability. They are developing eco-friendly products and services. Firms have also been applying supply chain practices that enhance their environmental impact. So, if you’re an aspiring freelance writer, you can look for opportunities in this niche.
  • Personal Finance: You’ll write about budgeting, investing, retirement planning, and taxation. According to Sara Small, many people worry and even lose sleep over personal finances. About 71% of people making under $50,000 yearly worry about money daily. A professional freelance writer must have a good grasp of financial principles. They tell readers about improving their financial health.
  • Education: Education is a recession-proof niche, according to full-time freelancer Elna Cain. There will always be a need for curriculums and lessons. Marketing materials are also crucial for educational products. You can be a B2B writer for products that sell to schools. It’s a great freelancing niche if you’re a teacher. You can help with companies selling educational tools.
  • E-commerce Writing: This niche involves writing content for online retailers. It includes product descriptions, blog posts, and promotional material. Noah Brandt discovered that there are about 32.7 million e-commerce stores worldwide. The US hosts 39%, which equals approximately 12.7 million stores. That means you’ll never run out of business to pitch to.
  • Digital Marketing: This field covers writing about various online marketing strategies. This involves SEO, content marketing, and email marketing.  The Global Industry Analysts report shows the global digital advertising market was worth $350 billion in 2020. It's also expected to grow to $786.2 billion by 2026. This growth underscores the expanding opportunities for content creation within digital marketing.
  • Alternative Health: This niche includes writing about non-conventional health topics. Some topics include the cannabis market and CBD oils. Other topics include wellness practices like yoga, bodybuilding, chiropractic care, and herbal remedies. Media One Marketing says that the pay rates for alternative health writing range from $0.10 to $1.00 per word. A 1,000-word article can earn between $100 and $1,000.

Sean Ogle, freelance writing instructor, advises researching your niche after selecting one. Ogle found out that PGA Tour was looking for freelance golf writers after doing so. He wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t looked. Researching will give you great freelance writing opportunities. Next, list all blogs, magazines, trade publications, and other outlets within your chosen industry. You’ll be making relationships with these businesses throughout your freelancing journey.

3. Create Your Freelance Writing Portfolio

New freelance writers can get hired even without writing experience. They can show their ability by having quality writing samples in their portfolios. Pieces that show your writing style, grasp of language, and ability to engage an audience can attract prospective clients. With a great portfolio, you don’t need any qualifications to become a freelance writer. Here are some freelance writing tips for building your portfolio:

Here are some freelance writing tips for building your portfolio:

  • Include various pieces that reflect your niche and writing style. You can write sample articles, blog posts, and other relevant content for your niche.
  • Show your best writing samples only. A few well-written pieces are more effective than an extensive collection of mediocre work.
  • Your portfolio should be accessible and online. You can create a personal website through platforms like WordPress and Contently.
  • Ensure your portfolio is well-organized, professional, and up-to-date. This often serves as the first impression for potential clients.

4. Establish a Unique Brand for Your Freelance Writing Services

Your brand is how you present yourself to the world. It differentiates you from other writers, highlights your writing style, and shows your area of expertise. A good brand shapes how potential clients will perceive your work.

  • Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Determine what sets you apart from other writers. This could be specialized credentials or a unique style or quality of work. It could also be specific experience with certain clients or extra services offered. Business writer Jennifer Mattern notes that you shouldn’t compete on price. While it may attract clients, it’s unsustainable in the long run. It can pigeonhole you into a “cheap” reputation that’s hard to shake off.
  • Create Consistent Visuals and Messaging: Use consistent logos, color schemes, and writing tones. Apply this across all your platforms. This includes your website, social media, and business cards. This consistency helps in building brand recognition. Demand Metric research says brands with consistent visual elements are 3.5 times more visible.
  • Engage on Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram can help showcase your expertise. You can also use it to share content and connect with potential clients. According to Alisa Markovic, social media is an excellent networking tool. You can use it to connect with other professionals in the freelance writing industry. Joining relevant groups can be a strategic way to find job opportunities. You should also engage with followers through comments, answers, and feedback. This increases your authority and attracts more clients.

5. Find Clients and Market Your Freelance Writing Services

Marketing your freelance writing services is key to attracting clients and securing projects. Here are strategies to find clients and promote your freelance writing services:

  • Explore Job Boards and Freelance Marketplaces: You can search on FlexJobs, Smart Blogger, and Upwork. Checking these websites will give you a steady stream of opportunities.
  • Work with Writing Agencies: Creative Circle and Tundra Technical connect you with clients. Research each agency to understand their clientele. Learn the types of writing they focus on. For example, Scripted specializes in the SaaS, account-based marketing (ABM), and e-commerce industries. This knowledge enables you to tailor your pitch and improves your chances of securing a job.
  • Network with Other Freelancers: Building a network can lead to referrals and insider information. Start by participating in online communities. You can look into Reddit’s r/writing, Absolute Write, or WritersCafe. Offer advice, ask questions, and share your experiences. This helps you build rapport with fellow freelancers. You can also attend in-person workshops, conferences, and seminars.
  • Cold Pitch to Clients: Get more freelance writing job opportunities by pitching your services to businesses in your niche. Your email’s subject line should be catchy yet professional. It should hint at what you offer without being promotional. Also, avoid generic messages. Tailor each pitch to the client, showing that you’ve done your homework. Mention something specific about their company or content strategy to show genuine interest.
  • Write Guest Posts: Put yourself in front of potential clients. Write for publications in your specialty. Google “[niche] + write for us” to find blogs looking for writers and submit a guest post for them.

6. Continuously Improve Your Freelance Writing Skills

Even if you’re already a good writer, you should never stop improving your craft. Integrate the following practices into your routine to upgrade your skills:

  • Use Tools: Writing apps like Grammarly and Hemingway can streamline your workflow. Don’t just stick with writing-specific tools, either. Learn project management software, scheduling tools, and even photo editing apps.
  • Keep Practicing: Regular practice is crucial in honing your writing muscles. Consider writing for friends and family. This allows you to experiment and receive feedback. It will also help refine your style and voice. Starting a blog is a fantastic way to practice your writing skills. Aim to write a blog post daily. This not only helps in building a writing habit but also in creating a portfolio of your work.
  • Occasionally Review the Fundamentals: The basics of grammar are essential. Even experienced writers can enjoy refreshing their knowledge of grammar.
  • Read a Lot: A broad reading habit exposes you to various ideas and vocabulary. The more you read, the more you understand different perspectives. This is beneficial in crafting engaging content for a diverse audience.

7. Learn How to Run a Freelance Writing Business

A freelance writing career requires a solid business management skillset. That means being adept at budgeting, invoicing, tracking expenses, and managing taxes. You’ll also have to consider pricing strategy and client acquisition. You'll also have to learn more about customer relationship management.

Top 3 Freelance Writing Sites for Beginners

Freelance writing sites for beginners balance ease of access, fair compensation, and various writing jobs. Here are 3 sites to consider:

  • Contently: It connects freelancers with major clients for content creation and marketing services. They also offer filmmaking, designing, and editing opportunities. They have a network exceeding 160,000 freelancers and over 10 years in operation. Contently has attracted significant global clients. Niche Pursuits showed that payment for a short article (500-700 words) starts at $300. Longer, more complex pieces like white papers or e-books can start at $0.85 per word.
  • ClearVoice: This talent network of vetted freelancers encompasses over 200 business categories. It also includes basic B2C writing and technical content creation. Their network includes more than 4,000 professionals. They have writers, editors, and designers. ClearVoice writers set up a CB profile and determine their rates. Payments are made via PayPal upon assignment approval. Average earnings range from $0.10 to $0.20 per word.
  • Longreads: Longreads accepts pitches for original non-fiction work. It’s an attractive option for beginner freelance writers. They pay $500 for personal, researched, and critical essays. Longreads also pays $350 for curated reading lists. It includes an essay-style introduction followed by links to related long-form stories. The platform doesn’t accept submissions created with generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

What Are Some Income-Boosting Strategies for Freelance Writers?

Choosing the right niche, having a brand voice, and generating traffic on multiple channels are some income-boosting strategies for freelance writers. Specializing in a specific area allows you to build expertise and get higher-paying assignments. A niche focus also reduces competition and makes it easier to market yourself.

By targeting a specific audience, you’ll attract more clients. A distinct brand voice is another crucial factor in increasing your income.  It helps you stand out in a crowded market and makes you more memorable to potential clients. A unique voice leads to increased engagement and conversion rates. You’ll build a loyal client base that seeks out your particular style. It can result in longer-term contracts and referrals.

Leveraging social media and SEO (search engine optimization) is critical for generating traffic. Being active on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram helps you showcase your work. You can connect with clients and build a professional network. Applying SEO principles also enhances your online presence.

How to Earn Money by Writing Stories

To earn money by writing stories, first identify your preferred style or genre. It could be poetry, short stories, novels, mystery, or science fiction. Next, explore suitable platforms for your type of writing. For instance, Wattpad is great for creative content. Amazon Kindle Publishing is great for ebooks. Finally, monetize your work.  You can join in competitions or earn ad revenue through a blog. You can also submit to online publishers like Duotrope and Reedsy.

From Freelance to Financial Freedom: Why Local Lead Generation Is the Smart Choice for Writers

A freelance writer’s journey to financial independence has countless challenges. There is high competition and pressure to secure clients.  There is also the threat of AI writing software. It’s difficult to establish a steady career in this environment. You can start getting clients as a part-time freelancer within 1-2 months. But, it takes an average of 2-4 years to become a freelance writer and earn a full-time income.

conclusion-lead-gen-maps

Local lead generation is better if you want greater control and income potential. It only takes 3-6 months to build a local lead generation site that can passively generate $2,000 to $5,000 monthly. Unlike freelancing, this approach doesn’t involve working for clients. With local lead generation, you create websites that rank well on search engines. These then attract potential customers (leads) for specific local services. You then sell these leads to local businesses that can benefit from them. This then becomes an online revenue stream. Essentially, you're connecting people searching for services with businesses that offer those services. You profit from the introduction. Local lead generation is also less susceptible to market saturation and technological displacement. 

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