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Freelance Writing as a Beginner: A Guide to Landing a Job Without Experience

Eddie Carrillo
Eddie Carrillo

You’re probably here because you want to start freelance writing, but without experience, you don’t quite know how to get your foot in the door. How can you get someone to pay you for something you haven’t done yet?

We’ve got good news: this is how all freelancers start. So, whether you’re looking for supplemental income or you want to drop that nine-to-five altogether, here are our suggestions to becoming a freelance writer with no experience.

6 Tips to Landing Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners

1.   Start a website or a blog

Writing – like so many other things – can work like a cycle. The more pieces of work you publish, the more writing opportunities you’ll probably get. So how does a beginner break into that cycle? 

They write! All potential clients will want to see your portfolio prior to hiring you for a paid gig, so you have some work to do before you start selling your services. Create a blog or website, and begin writing blog posts or articles that showcase your ability. By taking the time to write for yourself, you slowly build valuable content that you can send to a potential client when they ask to see your previous work. And while you won’t get paid for what you put on your new website (at least at the start), you’re building the groundwork so that your future freelancing self will get paid.

As you start initially, you don’t necessarily need a fancy website (that can be built as your career builds). WordPress, Wix and Weebly have free options, and platforms like Medium allow you to create free blog accounts. Once you have 3 or 4 published pieces, you’ve got enough content to make an introduction to a potential client.

2.   Pick your niche topic

When looking for freelance writer jobs for beginners, you’re naturally inclined to take any and every paying opportunity that comes your way. And this is great – you’re getting paid! But if you pick a niche, and continue to build your knowledge in that area, you become an expert.

Let’s say I’m a relatively established generalist writer (no niche, but I have my hands in different areas). I might get a lot of opportunities to write. But let’s say you’re a tech writer – you come from a tech background, and you’ve spent two years writing articles specifically in the technology space. I might be able to write a solid tech article, but who would a potential client be willing to pay more: Me, the writer with some surface-knowledge, or you, the subject matter expert? 

Think of a topic you want to invest your writing career in, and run with it. Today you might be looking for freelance jobs for people with no experience, but that story will change quite quickly the more you show you clients how much you know about one specific topic.

3.   Let your network in the loop

When companies and publications look for freelancers, they often ask the people they already know for recommendations. Getting a quick, reliable referral bodes better for all parties than posting on an online job portal.

Don’t be afraid to tell your friends, old colleagues, or old classmates that you’ve made your move into freelance writing. Begin posting on LinkedIn and join a Facebook freelance writing group. It’s 2020, and if you’re looking to become a freelance writer online, a clear and thought-out online presence will help you attract clients.

Reminder: Don’t forget to have those writing samples ready before you publish these posts!

4.   Determine your rates

There’s no correct answer here when it comes to rates, but if you want to be taken seriously by clients, you should have these numbers prepared in advance. You can charge by word, by hour, or by post, depending on what the type of project is. Research what common rates are in the location that your client is based and determine yours accordingly (think of experience, niche, length, and time).

5.   Don’t stop learning

Becoming a freelance writer online isn’t just one magic moment where everything comes together. It’s continuous. With how fast technology moves and how quickly companies modernize, you have to stay on your toes to understand what’s happening in the industry and what that means in terms of staying valuable. 

20 years ago, most people had never heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Now as a freelance writer, it’s a must-know. What will the next in-demand skill be? Luckily today, there’s a plethora of online tools and resources for beginner freelancers. Check out Udemy, Skillshare and Coursera for thousands of courses that might come in handy on your learning journey.

6.   Embrace feedback

As you enter the freelance writing world, it’s important to understand that with it comes feedback, criticism, and rejection. You might pitch to 25 different publications before one decides to take you on. And then that one might have you make some heavy edits to your first draft. 

Maybe you pitch an idea and the editor tells you it’s too broad. Maybe you submit your draft and the editor cuts a chunk out because they didn’t think it would resonate with the audience. But don’t take this type of feedback personally—it’s advice! And the more advice you get, the more you’ll develop and improve as a freelance writer, and the bigger clients and better projects you’ll receive.

A Freelancing Future

There are plenty of freelance writer jobs for beginners out there. What it really comes down to is writing, planning, and pitching—and understanding that things won’t always go how you thought they would. Building a sustainable freelance writing business might sound daunting, but if you follow these six tips, you’re well on your way to making it happen!  

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