How I became a freelancer writer and blogger

how to start freelance writing

Are you wondering how to start freelance writing? Here is inspiring story by Olivia

Hi there. I’m Olivia. 

I’m a freelance content writer, blogger, and aspiring online business strategist.

I spent 12+ years climbing the ladder at a Fortune 20 company. I didn’t hate it, I honestly liked it, but I felt like something was missing. 

It wasn’t until my second baby was born that I knew I had to make a change.

So what did I do? 

Well, I cried my eyes out on the phone with my boss as I pushed send on my resignation email and became a full-time stay home mama, freelance writer, and now blogger. 

How I Started Freelance Writing – let’s rewind to 2018  

In 2018 while I was still working my pretty demanding 9-5 job, I decided to freelance write on the side because I genuinely love writing. 

Let me tell you the secret about starting freelance writing, or anything that you want to pursue for that matter. You have to start. 

That’s it. 

If you want to be a stockbroker, a pastry chef, a zookeeper, a dog shelter founder, figure out the next right step and do it.

So after digging around Google, it seemed to me that Upwork was a good place to start. I created a profile and submitted it to Upwork for approval. 

It got rejected. Ouch. 

I added more to it and tried again (and again) until it got approved a few days later. 

Then I started applying for writing jobs on Upwork. 

Within just a couple of days I landed my first freelance writing job that paid me $60 per 1,000 words.

Let me tell you, the first article I ever sent to my client was terrible. It had walls of text. You know, the kind when you open a page and it’s one giant paragraph. Yikes.

Thankfully my client didn’t immediately drop me. He sent me a lot of feedback and then continued to send me consistent work.

I was getting paid to write. I was officially a freelance writer!  

The Hustle is Real

Once I got into freelance writing, it became apparent to me that making money online as an entrepreneur was a lot easier than I expected. 

Don’t get me wrong, it still requires a lot of actual work, but the barrier for entry is extremely low. 

If you are considering pursuing freelance writing or online entrepreneurship, the time to throw caution to the wind and go for it is now. 

Fast forward to Today

I’m now a full-time mama, a freelance writer with steady clients, and starting a blog as a business.

In fact, I just launched my new blog at the end of October to empower female entrepreneurs with the tools, strategies, and inspiration they need to build a life they love. 

So how about we take this two ways – the main focus of this blog post will be on freelance writing, but I’ll circle back and touch on blogging as a business, sound good? 

Great. Let’s do this. 

How can YOU become a freelance writer? 

Excellent question! 

Everyone says to pick a niche, and I agree…. sort of. 

When you first start, you probably don’t know exactly what your niche will be, and that’s ok! You need some ideas for what your niche will be so you can apply to jobs related to it, but in the beginning what you need is experience writing

Apply to lots of jobs!

The more you write, the better writer you will become, and you will likely hone in on your niche naturally.

How do you really get your first job as a Freelance writer?

I mentioned I started on Upwork. It’s a fine place to start to get some experience, but I don’t recommend staying there because the pay is generally very low and you can get burned out. 

That being said, there are tons of places to land freelance writing jobs. Here are some ideas: 

  • Cold email businesses in the niche you want to write in 
  • Call up local businesses 
  • Check craigslist 
  • Search LinkedIn
  • Post on Facebook that you are a new freelance writer and would love to help someone with XYZ (i.e., content writing, copywriting, etc.)
  • Check online writing job boards like ProBlogger 
  • Join Facebook writing job boards 

Honestly, I wish I would have started in Facebook Groups! I have had leads and landed clients, even as a beginner, by joining Facebook freelance job board groups. 

Just like any job board, the early bird gets the worm. Check these often and apply to lots of jobs.

Also, keep your LinkedIn profile updated. I’ve gotten lots of unsolicited job offers for writing on LinkedIn. 

The tools you need to land a freelance writing job as a beginner

  • 2-3 Writing samples ranging from 800-1,500 words*
  • A resume with any relevant experience  – it doesn’t have to be long
  • A self-hosted website
  • A willingness to learn 
  • Patience

*A writing sample is easy to create. Open a document and write something as if you were writing it for a website in your niche, don’t forget to edit it. BAM! You have a writing sample.

What can you recommend on my resume?

As a beginner, you won’t have much professional writing experience, and that’s expected!  Use any experience you’ve had as a writer. 

Did you write a Christmas newsletter for your mom’s knitting group? Have you ever drafted corporate training guides? I’m sure you have something. 

Most people don’t want to be a writer without any experience. You probably just haven’t gotten paid for it … yet. 

What else?

Find 5-10 people you like on social media who are already doing what you want to be doing and follow them. They will share tons of free knowledge in your space, give you ideas, and inspire you. 

You have a client interview (congrats!), now what?! 

Just like any job interview, all clients treat this a little differently. In general, try to remember that a client wants:

  1. You to write clearly and grammatically correct 
  2. You to write in a way that resonates with their audience 
  3. To get to know your writing style

When it comes to phone interviews with potential clients, do your best to learn what they are looking for in advance. The more information you have about what they need and how you can meet those needs, the better. 

Also, when someone is interviewing you, you are interviewing them too. Here are some high-level items to have in mind. 

  • How is work assigned/managed? 
  • Do they expect you to provide graphics?
  • What are their expectations on turnaround time? 
  • What is their preferred method of communication? 
  • How will payment be handled (This is important, whenever you get a new job, write up a contract with this information) 

Any more advice for someone looking for a freelance job?

Have patience and keep going. 

Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?

Because I used what I learned from each experience and kept applying. I promise you will find a job.

Ok, let’s talk about blogging as a business for a sec.

I won’t spend much time here (even though I could stay here all day). I love blogging. Before having kids, I had several blogs as hobbies. Similar to freelance writing, the barrier for entry is low. 

I started my new blog because I missed having the opportunity to help people map out what they really want to do and how to get there.

Then it hit me. 

Why not start a blog about it? I have experience in online entrepreneurship, plenty of experience blogging, and a lot of experience in people development, so here we are.  

My blog is a judgment-free space for new entrepreneurs to find the tips, tools, and inspiration they need to build a business. 

How can you start a blog? 

All you need to start a blog is to find something you love to write about that also adds value to someone else.

If you want to start a blog, there are tons of resources online to help you, I even created a step-by-step series on my blog about it.

But how does a blog make money?

Lots of ways! 

  • Try Affiliate marketing 
  • Do Product Reviews/Sponsored Posts
  • Offer blogging services to other bloggers 
  • Create digital products (ebooks, digital courses)
  • Use your blog to win freelance contracts 
  • Put ads on your blog 

When you start a blog, it’s important to plan how you want to make money so you can work to get there. But before you make money, it’s more important to remember that consistent valuable content is what will build an audience. 

One Last Thing

If I’ve learned anything from what I have done, or from what I’ve seen people successfully do, it’s that everyone starts as a beginner. 

Don’t get stuck feeling disgruntled when things don’t work out right away. Failure is progress. Learn from it, and then apply those lessons learned to the next right step for you. 

Good luck! 

About Olivia. 

Olivia is a full-time mama, freelance writer, professional blogger, and aspiring online business strategist. She is the founder and CEO of O Ruth Writing and OliviaGabel.com. Want to work together? Contact her at { Olivia at ORuthWriting dot com} or find her hanging around posting new and exciting blog posts on OliviaGabel.com 

Also read How I became a location independent content strategist

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