I tried getting started with freelancing (specially Freelance Writer) in January 2019, but it didn’t work out. I reached out to brands, but without having any recent articles to add to my portfolio, I was out of luck.
Finally, in February 2019, I got my act together and made $2,000 as a freelance writer.
And here’s how I did it in just 30 days and how you can do it too.…
NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume that you have a professional website and know how to create good content. This guide is more about the business side of things rather than the creative side.
My client work came from several different sources. I think it’s important that I tell you this so that you know the value of pitching yourself to multiple brands.
Client #1: A financial information company ($1,340)
Client #2: A sports management teacher who I edit for ($600)
Client #3: A digital marketing agency retainer contract ($250)
Each of them pays me a different amount for a different set of services.
Some clients pay me more per word than others, and some tasks from a client pay me more than others. There is no standard fee that I charge; rather, it depends on the task and quantity of work given.
1. Study brands & write 5 high-quality posts to pitch to them
I’ve been making content for about 6 months now, and I only recently made the transition to making content that I know specific brands I want to work with will like.
I write mostly in the digital marketing, make money online, and career niches, so I know that to best prepare myself to pitch to a brand in any of those niches, I have to write articles that they will want their viewers to read.
You want to tailor your articles to match the needs of your future clients before you even meet with them.
For example, I’ve been reading The Post-Grad Survival Guide publication for a long time, and when I decided to pitch an article to them, I knew it would make a good case because I had already seen similar articles in their publication.
The difference between a good freelancer and a great freelancer is that a great freelancer understands what her client wants before her client has a chance to explain it to them.
On top of doing this, you also have to start writing high-quality articles. To be more specific, the characteristics of a high-quality article are:
- They’re long-form (1,000 – 2,000 words)
- They have graphics (relevant pictures & infographics at the bottom)
- They are extremely personal (lots of examples showing your voice & tone)
- They give good, practical advice
Create a set of 5 blog posts that you know will blow your potential employer out of the water, and make sure that they include the above characteristics.
2. Start pitching clients consistently
To preface, I will say that I am by no means an expert at being consistent with brand pitching; in fact, I don’t think I do enough of it.
I received one of my clients because a friend of mine found my blog and pushed it to them (word of mouth marketing, yay!), and I received my other two clients through Upwork.
I apply to many jobs on Upwork every week. But for the number of pitches I send (and for the work being asked of me), I don’t love the results.
In my opinion, you want to be cold emailing as many companies as possible or applying to jobs on more blog-oriented job boards like ProBlogger. Not only will this help you gain visibility, but it will also show you the right types of people; people who want to work with freelance writers.
I’ve pitched to over 100 brands on Upwork and received a 25–30% response rate, which is great, but most jobs end up falling through.
What I recommend, from my experience, is to pitch 5–10 companies per week and to be ridiculously picky with who you pitch.
While you pitch, you will certainly find yourself getting rejected (a lot). Understand this — getting rejected doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer; it just means you didn’t find the right client.
If you manage to secure a client (first of all, congratulations!), make sure to remember how you pitched them and save your pitch to a Google Doc. That will now be your “winning pitch” and should work for several more similar pitches in the future.
Be consistent at pitching brands on both job boards and via cold emails, and once you secure a client, make sure to reuse that winning pitch on similar pitches in the future.
3. Gather leads on Instagram and started connecting with them
The third client that I work with is one that I found from hashtag research on Instagram. In the past, I used to write for my friend at a digital marketing agency, so I had previous experience before pitching this new agency.
Instagram can be a very interesting platform to secure leads, especially as a freelance writer because you can see opportunities to freelance not just for a brand’s website but also for their social media.
Always keep in mind that the content you post on social media can directly affect which brands you reach out to (or which brands reach out to you), even as a writer.
When searching for clients, I typically look up hashtags related to my niches that include the word “blog” to find other bloggers or brands with blogs. From this, I can find blogs to guest post to or potential clients to reach out to.
Some examples of hashtags include:
Summary: Be active on social media and don’t underestimate the power of hashtag research on Instagram to help you find new ways to gain visibility and exposure.
The bottom line as Freelance Writer
I made my first $2,000 as a freelance writer because I was consistent, and I adapted to change quickly. When a pitch wouldn’t work out, I wouldn’t reuse it; rather, I’d look it over, make changes to it, and ship off a few more to similar clients.
If you have a solid plan, stay positive, and be consistent, I can’t imagine you not having the success I had and even more.