How to Start a Freelance Writing Business & Become a Writer!
If writing comes naturally and you just seem to have a way with words, have you considered freelance writing as a business venture?
Freelance writing gives writers the opportunity to take on a diverse range of projects from a variety of different clients.
Whether you are looking for a side hobby that makes some extra cash or a full-time career – this is definitely a viable option.
Some freelance writers choose to focus on specific topics or niches while others like to select topics based off what interests them in the moment.
This is what makes freelance writing such a great business venture – it is both creative and flexible.
You can decide what and when to write.
Examples of freelance work include writing content for local business websites, writing for online or print magazines, perhaps guest blogging on different sites, or maybe even writing out a campaign for an upcoming conference or show – the possibilities are endless.
If you’ve been looking for a way to turn your writing talent into more than a random hobby, you’ve come to the right place!
Today we are going to go over the steps to starting a successful freelance writing business!
If you love writing, working from home, being your own boss, and a flexible schedule, let’s get started!
1. Find your Niche(s)
While you don’t have to stick to one niche, it is good to at least identify the ones that you are most interested or perhaps most knowledgeable in.
By choosing a niche that you are already familiar with, you will save time on research and can generate some really awesome and quick content.
Here are a few popular niches that freelance copywriters meddle in:
- Family and Parenting
- Health and well-being
- Diet and Fitness
- Cooking and Baking
- Technology and Software
- Creative hobbies
- Home Decor
This list doesn’t include everything, but it includes many of the popular niches and topics you may come across.
2. Create a Website
Successful freelance writers almost always have a website or blog where potential clients can see their portfolio.
Writing your own blog is one way to show your writing style and talent, or simply having a website as your portfolio to showcase your best work works too.
You can setup a blog or website for free via WordPress and they have a lot of pretty awesome themes that you can purchase and personalize.
3. Create your Portfolio
If you don’t already have a portfolio of writing pieces, you will need to create sample work to share with potential clients.
Many freelance artists publish new content on a blog either daily or weekly or perhaps they write for other blogs and online publications.
To develop a reader base, share your work with your family and friends and look for any feedback and suggestions.
Spend some time writing different pieces that showcase your talent and potential.
When you start taking on clients, you will have a solid portfolio to share and shine.
4. Officially Form your Business
Write a Business Plan
Often time small business owners don’t spend time developing a business plan but writing a business plan has many benefits.
Starting a freelance writing business isn’t too complex, so your business plan can be simple and doesn’t need to be super elaborate.
Here are a few things that a good business plan will include:
- Long and Short term Goals – these can be milestones or tasks like when your website will be completed, or how many new clients you want to reach out to each week.
- How to you plan on making money? – this is your business strategy.
- Target Market – who are your potential clients and who do you plan to reach out to?
- Analyze your competition – this will help you know who you are up against and you can gain insight into what is working well for others.
- Define your Services – what type of freelance writing do you plan on doing?
- Establish your Rates
Writing out these few key aspects of your business will help you identify your strength, challenges, and any areas that need more improvement or development.
A business plan maps out the specifics of your business and can shed light on unknown factors that could negatively impact your business down the road.
Choose a Business Name
Choosing a business name is important because it is what people will remember you by!
For that reason, your business name should be easy to remember and easy to spell.
Some freelance writers choose to use their first and last name and that is ok as well.
Once you decide on a name, if you aren’t ready to form your business right away, you should consider reserving your business name so that it doesn’t get taken by someone else.
Reserving your business name is simple and can be done online via your local secretary of state website.
It is usually called a “Name Reservation Request” and the filing fee is between $10 – $25 per name reservation.
You will also want to make sure your name is available as a domain so that your website and business name are the same.
You can check domain names here:
A Name Reservation Request will give you name exclusivity for up to 90 days.
Form Your Business Entity
Now that you have a name, you can decide on your business structure or better known as your business entity.
The most common business entity types are sole proprietorship, limited liability companies (LLC), partnerships, or corporations.
If you are not sure which business entity to choose, you can consult an attorney or use a business formation service, which will be much cheaper than hiring an attorney.
However, most small business owners choose to form their business as a limited liability company.
LLCs provide limited liability protection to you as the owner which means that should your freelance writing business be sued, your personal assets are protected.
LLCs are easy to form and easy to maintain and are the most popular choice of business entity type.
Checklist to Complete to Form Your Business:
- Select a business entity type: Sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, etc.
- Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS – once your online application is complete, you will receive an EIN instantly.
- Register your business locally in the State in which you will be conducting business. This is done with the Secretary of State in the State in which you will be doing business.
- Obtain any business licenses or permits required in your State to operate a freelance writing business. These can also be found at your local Secretary of State website or by simply doing a Google search.
Set up the Business
The following things will help you finish setting up your business:
- Open a business checking account (you will need an EIN to do this)
- Setup a way to manage your accounting whether it be a software program or spreadsheet to begin. This will help you track your income and expenses as well as invoice clients.
- Create a “media kit” that outlines your freelance writing services.
- If you plan on having employees work for you, setup a payroll system or a way to pay your 1099 writers.
You can learn more about setting up a business in our step-by-step guide here.
5. Create a Legal Contract
As a freelance writer, you will want to create some sort of contract that clients will need to complete and sign when engaging in work with you.
This document can be like a Scope of Work that clearly outlines the work your client will receive from you.
A contract outlines the services you’ll provide, the timelines for completing the work and the amount your client will pay you for your services.
It also should include any rights to your work and whether of not your work can be reproduced or copied.
In order to build a client base, you are going to have to market yourself.
Spend some time building your website, portfolio, business cards and perhaps flyers that you can hand out.
In addition, you will want an e-mail address and easy way for clients to contact you.
Attending business and marketing events and conferences is another great way to build relationships and gain new clients.
Your marketing materials should provide pricing and a service list so customers know what you offer and how much it will cost.
7. Customer Reviews and Referrals
Customer reviews are an excellent way to build credibility and grow faster.
Encourage your customers to leave you a Google or Yelp review or leave a review on your website.
You can incentivize them by offering a discount on their next project for sending you referrals.
8. Build a Great Reputation
The best way to do this is by providing an excellent service at a fair price.
Showing up on time, meeting deadlines, and following through on your promises is also part of building a great reputation.
Happy customers will be returning customers and they will also be the ones that send you referrals by word of mouth.
Tips on becoming a Successful Freelance Writer
Freelance writing is a great way to make extra money or make a living.
It provides flexibility and the growth potential is huge.
Here are some tips to make being a freelance writer successful and profitable:
Avoid writing mills or content mills
Writing and content mills offer work like blog writing on content marketing materials to freelance writers at very low rates.
Not only do these companies pay very little for your work, they expect a quick turnaround time.
Many new freelance writers use this method thinking it will lead to more clients, but it rarely does.
Content mills have a ton of turnovers, mostly because of the low rates, and so these jobs are rarely worthwhile and rarely lead to higher paying gigs.
Writing and content mills are not a realistic way to make a living.
Instead focus on creating solid writing pieces and a solid portfolio to convince potential clients that you are worth charging a higher rate.
We aren’t saying to stay away from writing mills and content mills completely, in fact, you can do a few here and there to help build your portfolio.
We are just saying that you shouldn’t expect it to lead you to a lucrative writing career, think of it as more of a stepping stone.
Keep track of your time
As we mentioned before, freelance writing give you control over your schedule.
This also means that you need to be more intentional about your time.
Track how long client projects take you so that you can make sure you are charging enough to be worth your time.
Tracking your time can also help you see ways that you can be more productive, focused, and on track.
After all, time is money and you want to make sure you get the most of your time.
Never stop marketing yourself
While yes, word of mouth is an awesome way to get new clients, you should never stop actively marketing yourself.
A great way to do this is to allocate a certain amount of time each week or month to reach out to new clients or perhaps showcase your work on forums or social sites.
The wonderful thing about freelance writing is that you can literally reach clients from all over the world.
Don’t limit yourself to just your region.
If you live in the United States, start looking into other English speaking countries such as the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
Many other countries all over the world are also on the lookout for solid English writers.
Clients may ask you to write about topics you are not familiar with.
Make sure to thoroughly research the topics and only use factual information.
The last thing you want to do it turn in a writing piece that isn’t accurate.
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