This is a guest post from Ruth at Ruth Makes Money. She has some fantastic ideas about how you can use your writing talents to make extra money as a freelance writer.
During my eight years of working from home, I’ve tried my hand at plenty of different income streams. From reselling vintage clothes on eBay, to matched betting, to creating and selling my own online courses, all of these things have supported my commitment to never going back to the 9-5.
Freelance writing is where I started though, and it has a special place in my heart. It’s what allowed me to replace my corporate income within a few months of self-employment. Almost a decade later, it’s something that I still love and something that earns me a great chunk of money each month. Now I am here to tell you how you can make money as a freelance writer.
If you’ve ever considered freelance writing yourself, online research might have put you off the idea completely. Maybe you have heard that there’s too much competition. You might be worried about your lack of relevant qualifications or experience. You might believe that you could perhaps earn a few quid here and there, but not a generous and sustainable income.
I can tell you that you absolutely can make extra money as a freelance writer, even if you only have limited time available to commit. Here are six of my top tips for getting started, and increasing your earning potential…
Avoid being a Jack of All Trades by choosing your niche
When many people first think about how to make extra money as a freelance writer, they assume that if they’re willing to write about anything and everything, they’ve got a better chance of landing work. In reality though, the opposite is true. If you end up looking like a generalist, you won’t be giving anyone a really compelling reason to work with you.
Make life easier for yourself straight out the gate by committing to a niche. Maybe you want to write about pets, personal finance, or beauty. There are hundreds of options, but the key is choosing something and sticking with it. Ideally, you’ll find a middle ground between a topic that you’re madly passionate about, and something that you already have a great knowledge of.
Create a portfolio to show off your writing style
Anyone can say that they’re a great writer and can create killer content for business owners. Your clients will want to see proof though, and get a taste for the kind of pieces that you can create, and this is why you need to put together a small portfolio.
Don’t panic if you’ve never had a writing client before, because there are plenty of ways around this, and you can realistically pull something together within just a few days. I’ve even created a guide to creating an awesome portfolio if you have zero professional experience. This is absolutely key to attracting the best (and highest paying) clients, so don’t skip this step!
Find clients where they’re already searching for you
There are dozens and dozens of ways to find clients. When you’re getting started, I firmly believe in choosing the path of least resistance. The good news here is that there are tons of freelance writing job boards out there where people are looking for writers just like you. They already know they need your skills. The fact that they’re advertising the project means that they’re ready to make a decision and get started. All you need to do is show them why you’re the person for the job by sending across a pitch.
I will mention here that freelance writing job boards sometimes get a bit of criticism. Yes, there are lots of low-paid opportunities out there that you’ll want to avoid. But during my first year as a freelancer, these spaces were my sole source of work. I managed to find plenty of clients who were happy to pay decent rates.
Don’t work for free if you want to make extra money as a freelance writer
Okay, so this one is the source of much debate amongst freelance writers. Should you ever work for free, to get a foot on the ladder and build up your portfolio? My view is that no, you shouldn’t. Mainly because it’s completely unnecessary, but also because you want to get paid for this, right?
When you see so-called opportunities that offer you ‘exposure’, or claim that they ‘may lead to paid work in the future’, avoid them like the plague. If you’ve created a portfolio of your work and you’re committed to the pitching process, you absolutely can find paying clients. This is the case even if you’re completely new.
Make a daily commitment to pitching
When you’re using a freelance job board site, the biggest struggle is landing your first gig. You won’t have any feed back from previous clients on your profile, and you won’t have worked your way up the search algorithm by being active on the platform. So yes, it’s a challenge and you’ll have to put in the legwork.
The best advice that I can possibly give here is to make sure that you’re pitching daily. Even if you can only dedicate half an hour. To a certain extent, pitching is a numbers game and you just have to get your applications out there. As well, make sure that you’re following up around seven days later with any potential clients who haven’t got back to you. Most freelancers don’t do this, so it’ll definitely give you an edge!
Treat your side hustle like a business
If you want your freelancing side hustle to become a generous and sustainable income stream, then you need to treat it like a business from day one. Otherwise, you end up dipping your toes in the water and never really gaining any momentum.
This means setting a schedule and sticking to it. It means pitching daily and delivering a professional service to your clients. It means pitching with confidence. Eventually, it means cultivating an online presence as a writer and investing some of your profits back into your own development and your business.
Some of these things you’ll work out along the way, and you don’t have to do everything at once. Treating your freelance work like it’s a business – before you’ve even bagged that first client – is going to play a big part in putting you on the fast track to great earnings and success.
If you’ve got a passion for writing and you’d love to earn some extra money on a part-time basis, freelance writing could be perfect for you. Have you thought about giving it a go? And what’s stopping you from getting out there and finding your first clients? With a bit of hard work, you can make extra money as a freelance writer!
Ruth is a freelance writer and blogs at RuthMakesMoney.com about genuine ways to make money online, including freelancing, eBay selling, and matched betting.