06 May How to Launch a Lucrative Freelance Writing Side Hustle
It may seem that the freelance writing market is oversaturated with talented writers everywhere. As a beginner, this can be daunting. The good news is that you can still launch a lucrative freelance writing side hustle…with the right strategy.
According to HubSpot:
- 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.
- 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.
- Businesses that use content marketing rather than paid search get 3 times more leads.
Without a doubt, there is a huge demand for valuable, well-written content. In the age of online marketing, business success depends on it!
The truth is that many business owners and marketers aren’t effective writers. It’s time-consuming and often isn’t a priority on their long to-do list.
After all, having sales conversations to bring in $$ will always take precedence over writing marketing copy.
An easier option is to hire freelance writers. For this reason alone, cultivating your freelance writing side hustle could very well help you achieve your financial goals. And fast.
#1 Know Thyself, So to Speak
One of the first things you need to do to launch a lucrative freelance writing side hustle is to get in touch with yourself. This may sound hoaky, but it’s the key to your success.
To gain clarity on what you want to write about, ask yourself:
- What gets me excited? Are you passionate about wellness, or are you a tech geek?
- Define the type of writing you want to do. Do you prefer direct sales copy or writing marketing emails? Website copy or blog articles?
- What am I already reading about? Chances are these topics peak your interest.
- Are there skills I already use that can translate into a freelance writing career? For example, maybe you’re a natural editor or have solid communication skills; these are crucial in writing.
Answer these questions, and you will be one step closer to your freelance writing niche.
Once you identify what you want to write about, you need to look at your schedule, and then figure out how many hours you can dedicate to freelance writing. Be realistic about it.
The last thing you want to do is miss deadlines for taking on too much or have your full- time job suffer.
Finally, set financial goals–yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly.
While freelance writing gigs vary greatly and often depend on industry, type of work, and experience levels, if you do your research, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much money you can make.
According to a 2018 survey done by ClearVoice.com, most intermediate to advanced freelance writers charge between 10 cents and $1 per word, depending on the type of article written.
Glassdoor says the average a freelance writer makes is $42,120 yearly.
Do the math on how many freelance writing gigs it would take to meet your goals. Write down your goals and keep them visible.
#2 Build an Online Portfolio
Every freelance writer needs to create an online portfolio.
Clients will want to see samples–or “clips” as they are called in the industry–to gauge if your style and skills are a good fit.
Set up your website
Now, this doesn’t have to be a mind-blowing website. It just needs to include your bio, contact information, and, of course, your clips.
When creating your site, remember that simple is best…
- Use professional fonts that are clear and crisp.
- Select colors that don’t distract from the purpose of your site: your work.
- Keep the navigation simple and labeled clearly so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.
- Register a domain name that works with your personal brand.
There are plenty of options to choose from to manage and host your site. We recommend Bluehost. Not only can you purchase your domain name through Bluehost, but they also offer various hosting levels, including WordPress hosting.
And hosting prices are very inexpensive–starting at $3.95/month.
Select your clips
Your portfolio needs to represent your personal brand.
For example, if you’re marketing yourself as a finance writer who explains complicated ideas in an energetic and engaging way, include your best pieces that illustrate your unique voice and level of expertise.
You do not have to include every piece you’ve ever written. Be selective and have the very best of your recent work—nothing older than two years.
The best portfolios are focused, lean, and representative of writing skills in your specialty/field.
Have no paid samples to show? No problem.
There are a number of ways to beef up your portfolio options such as…
- Guest blogging for free in order to get samples.
- Writing articles for your own blog.
- Pitching local businesses with article/blog ideas that will benefit them at a low fee to start.
Include a bio
Include a biography on your site to share your personality, and sell why clients should hire you.
Make sure to include a professional pen name, job title (e.g., Freelance Writer, Content Marketing Specialist, etc.), and a short description that explains what you do.
Feel free to use either first or third person here and make sure to show off your writer’s voice.
Be creative and don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.
If you have social media links, use them—whatever lends to your personal brand and is appropriate to share with potential employers.
#3 Get Listed
With a slick online portfolio to share, the next thing needed to launch a lucrative freelance writing side hustle is to get found.
The following are some of the best websites to find writing gigs:
Upwork is one of the best websites to look for freelance work of all types. You can set up a profile fairly quickly and charge an hourly rate, or have a set price for each individual project.
Writer Access is a website where companies can commission content. Writers must reside in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, or the United Kingdom. You can start by creating a profile and taking a writing test. Once experts verify your expertise and proficiency, you’ll soon be connected with potential writing gigs.
iWriter is a content marketplace for content writers and content marketers.To join as a writer, you’ll need to fill out a form and complete two short 250-word writing prompts. Your results will determine the pool of writing jobs you’ll have access to. Most writers start as Standard writers and work their way up, making more money per project.
#4 Learn How to Pitch
It goes without saying that in order for your freelance writing to pay the bills, you need to find and land new clients.
Most freelance writers do this by “pitching” clients who might pay them for work.
A big part of launching a lucrative freelance writing side hustle is knowing how to pitch …and to pitch often.
When perfecting your writing pitch there are a few things to consider:
- Research first. Get familiar with the publication that you’re pitching to and make sure there is an interest in the story you’d like published.
- Be catchy. The 65 characters of a subject headline make the biggest first impression. Make sure it grabs your potential client’s attention.
- Keep it brief. Keep your pitch to 2-3 paragraphs. Make sure to include a headline, your position, and why it matters. The main thing is to explain why your piece is relevant and how it will connect with readers.
- Be clear. Indicate your writing format (essay, interview, top list, etc.), and share your sources. Offer a deadline letting them know you will pitch elsewhere if you don’t hear from them by a certain date. Don’t forget to attach your portfolio and contact information.
- Review, review, review. Before sending your pitch, look over grammar and spelling, fact-check, and ensure your tone is on point.
- Follow up. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back immediately. Be persistent, and send a follow-up email or call.
Don’t be discouraged if your pitch is not accepted or addressed.
The key is frequency.
Pitch as often as 3 – 4 times a week. Your chances of having a pitch picked up increase the more you put yourself and ideas out there.
For direct training, join a local Toastmasters, and learn pitching and public speaking skills.
#5 Search for and Apply to Writing Gigs
Along with setting up profiles on the freelancing websites shared above, your gig search can extend into other venues.
FreelanceWriting.com has been publishing the “Morning Coffee” e-newsletter featuring new and updated freelance writing jobs for over 20 years.
The weekly digest contains 8 of the best new writing jobs for freelancers.
The site researches and handpicks jobs from popular job sites like Indeed, CraigsList, ProBlogger, and others as well.
Where to Pitch not only offers a newsletter with freelance writing advice, but it also has a directory of publications to pitch to according to your niche.
FlexJobs is a job board that enables professional writers to find potential clients and writing gigs.
Freelance job listings here are screened and verified. That means you don’t have to worry about scams or low-paying gigs.
You’ll need to sign up for a paid subscription to use the platform and get access to the job details.
BloggingPro is dedicated mainly to bloggers.
The site does offer postings for editing and publishing jobs in addition to freelance writing gigs. Unlike FlexJobs, this job board does not have a screening process so you’ll need to vet potential opportunities yourself to avoid scams.
Freelancers can use the site to search and apply for positions for free.
#6 Network & Connect
So maybe being an online freelance writer doesn’t require in-person networking.
But, making connections with other writers and marketers, websites in your niche, and your local business community can increase possible job options.
Never underestimate the power of people.
Remember, opportunity always comes through people.
Get out there and network. Here’s how:
- Make a list of every business owner you know, including friends and family. Write a short email letting people know what you do, how you can help, and ask for referrals. Add a link to your portfolio site.
- Send your email individually and take the time to personalize it. This effort goes a long way.
- Make phone calls instead of emailing or do both.
- Join community platforms like Meetups or Creative Mornings as a way to share with others what you do.
- Find local business events to meet and greet others in your community. Networking in this way may result in a freelance writing lead.
There are several Facebook groups that focus on supporting the freelance writer.
Whether you are sharing your own posts or learning new strategies, these groups encourage networking with other freelancers and connecting with prospects.
A LinkedIn profile is also a great networking tool where common connections may lead to paid work.
Make sure to check out the Jobs section, and sign up for email alerts when jobs are posted that match your interests.
Although many will be location-based, you can still approach employers with a proposal for freelance writing services.
#7 Invest in Professional Development
Growth as a writer will only help you in launching a lucrative freelance writing side hustle.
It’s simple. Improve your skills, become a better writer, and you can command more pay.
Along with receiving and applying feedback, you can also invest in your own professional development.
Here are some ways to invest in your freelance writing side hustle:
- Take SEO classes. Knowing SEO helps make you more money as a writer, and you’ll produce better work. Yoast offers both free and paid training for SEO beginners. Have the basics down? Digital Marketer offers a course to become a traffic master and get more organic traffic to your business.
- Learn about digital marketing. SEMrush Academy offers several free online courses that make learning about digital marketing feasible.
- Polish your writing skills. There are a number of online freelance writing courses at various price points that can propel your writing skills to the next level. Udemy has an ecourse on successful copywriting for as low as $45, for example. If wanting something on a monthly basis, Freelance Writers Den is a membership site of $25/month that offers bootcamp classes, webinars, podcasts, and a job board for freelance writing.
- Read books. Whether it’s freelance writing itself, on sales, running a business, or success mindset, reading is a small investment that adds to your professional growth.
- Follow the masters. Get inspired by the masters. Search for respected freelance writers and follow them on social media or study their websites. There is much to be learned from those we admire.
Sure, it’s an investment that may seem like a lot to start, but if you apply the information and stay disciplined and passionate about writing, the return can lead to an incredible increase in income.
#8 Track Your Finances
In order to launch a lucrative freelance writing side hustle you need to keep your eye on the numbers.
Creating income goals that span across daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly timelines is the place to start.
Having these goals in sight makes it easier to attain them than just flying by the seat of your pants.
Make a commitment to track your finances.
Break down your income into gross income and net profit.
Income is what you bring in. Profit is what you keep.
Track every expense related to your freelance writing side hustle. This will help you see how close you are to meeting your income goals and also what your tax liability will be.
For example, if you bring in $1,000 a month and you spend $50 on subscriptions or education, $20 on transcription services, $80 for phone, $45 for internet, etc.– take all those expenses and subtract from income. That’s how much you keep.
With this information, you can determine where you need to spend more energy.
You may need to take on more work, promote yourself more, or increase your rate in order to meet your financial goals.
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