Small business ideas: Freelance writer

How to start a freelance-writer business

The freelance-writer business is a handsome business venture especially suited to people who want the freedom of where, when and how they work to fit their lifestyle goals.

You see, the internet serves as a great source of entertainment and information and while most of it is presented visually (like via a video) the written word is still a very dominant method of delivering online content.

Every company out there aims to have meaningful connections with their clients through the written word. For this reason, there’s a huge demand for freelance writers.

Editor Note: This is the first in a series of subjects containing new business ideas and entrepreneurship, as experienced by independent business contributors.

The prospect of the freelance-writer business

Given the tremendous growth of blogging, content marketing, and social media adverts it’s pretty clear that the demand for good writers will see even better days in the future.

Writer in peaceful surroundings
You can work from anywhere you want. Finding inspiration is a key ingredient to your success.

However, with all honesty contrary to what you’ll see on most internet posts, starting out as a freelance writer can be intimidating at first as there are vast options and not a single traditional path to follow.

How can you distinguish yourself enough to be able to generate a living while you’re in a global market competition?

Before you dive in, it’s paramount to evaluate your skills and be brutally honest with yourself. How skillful are you as a writer? Are you knowledgeable in particular spheres in a way you can create compelling content? Are you willing to do full-scale customer service all by yourself? -It’s one thing to be a full-time writer and another to manage healthy client relationships.

Your answer is yes? Great! Let’s dive into details.

How to start your freelance-writer business

I. Decide which type of freelance-writer business you want to venture into

There are a variety of writing opportunities out there and the first step to creating a writing business is making a choice on which of these opportunities you prefer to pursue. Your choices you include:

  • Content writing- a content writer produces relevant and valued content intended for a specific audience.
  • Copywriting- they produce content that urges their audience to take action like purchasing, book a consultation etc. this kind of gigs include white papers, landing pages, email marketing and so on.
  • Ghostwriting- a ghostwriter produces content but it’s published under someone else and the writer never gets credit for work save for the payment. This includes articles and blog posts.
  • Journalism – they write about the current information and news. Traditionally, this type of writing includes editorials, Newspaper articles, and Magazine articles, as well as writing Press Releases.

If you’re not sure which type of writing suit you best, you can fetch wide and far by diversifying a mix of jobs and clients to get a feel of what works for you. However, the sooner you begin to work towards expertise the better.

Don’t get stuck as a jack of all trades find your niche as soon as possible and own it!

II. Set reasonable expectations for revenue and timelines

Now, don’t get me wrong, building a freelance business that can support you full-time is totally doable but it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like a traditional business store freelance requires patience before it finally takes off (don’t despair it actually takes off, trust me).

Here is a super tip; don’t quit your 5 to 9 job just yet, have some saved up income to sustain you before you become stable or have a great partner who believes in you (like in my case), just make sure you have a safety net so the bills can be settled while you find your perfect spot.  

III. Create a blog and build your portfolio

Any modern business requires a website or a blog and a freelance writing business is no exception. In addition to being the main medium of marketing your content building, a blog also creates an excellent platform where you can practice your craft.

While waiting for your online presence to grow, you can start out by signing-up in writing platform- this is this also a great way to boost your confidence as you get honest feedback from your clients.

IV. Learn to sell

The ability to write great content is one skill but the ability to sell yourself as a freelance writer is completely a different thing but if you’re going to earn a livelihood in this competitive field then you must learn the art of selling your services.

When you’re starting out, you will need to do some cold and warm pitching, focus on understanding how you can highlight benefits of what you’re offering the clients.

V. Set value-based rates

As a freelance writer, it’s important to determine your rates purely based on the value you deliver instead of the time you spend working on a particular project.

This will help you create favorable rates for your clients without under-selling your services.

VI. Deliver on your promise

Once you get your first client, make sure you deliver pure gold. This way, you can get repeat clients and referrals.

How to create top quality content

Keeping in mind that every article you write has a commercial purpose will help you focus on what really matters. Great content is one which provides the reader with valuable information and easy to read. Avoid flaunting your rich vocabulary less the reader find your content too much to comprehend. Here is how you can create some amazing articles for your clients.

  • Follow your client’s instructions precisely.

Your clients will order content based on pre-thought detailed calculations so if you fail to follow instructions your article may not produce the desired results.

  • Do your research and verify facts before including them in your article.

Fabrication of facts will not only lower your credibility as a writer but once published on a high quality website it might land your clients in trouble (which of course will affect your reviews).

  • Always abide by the deadlines.

Punctuality will indicate professionalism and seriousness in your work. If you can’t manage to deliver on the agreed time (it happens sometimes) at least communicate and explain your situation to the client.

How to manage time for your freelance writer business

The freelance writer freedoms
You should work hard, but also play hard to achieve a balanced life as a writer.

While freelance jobs give you the freedom to compartmentalize and task manage at your own pace it comes with some serious time management challenges. As long as you want to remain afloat on the freelance world though, mastering time management is a must!

It has a huge contribution towards your productivity and you need to keep in mind that you’re not expecting a pay slip at the end of the month.

When correctly done, time management helps you manage/reduce work stress, since you’re able to balance between working hours and breaks throughout the day.

It also influences your attitude positively towards planning and client communication.

Lastly, yet importantly, time management is a great start towards fighting procrastination. Check out the following time management hacks that will help you dictate your schedules, task manage properly and increase the productivity of your freelance-writer business.

I. Stay away from distractions

Clearing a day of distraction should be a mantra to any serious freelance writer. It’s pretty tempting to keep checking your social media handles from time to time especially when you have speedy internet but your productivity at the end of the day is measured by the tiny bits of tasks completed.

II. Select your clients carefully

One of the top reasons why I love freelancing is the fact that I can choose which client to work with and which tasks I want to handle.

Difficult clients might ruin your day so bad that you’ll question why you chose to be a freelancer in the first place!

III. Create your daily schedule

Think of your schedule as a road map and your tasks’ deadline as your destination this will prevent you from being sidetracked by possible distractions. Honoring your work schedule will help you have a healthy balance between work and family time (or fun time).

IV. Break large projects into smaller bits

Large projects are really daunting and most of the freelancers waste hours thinking of how challenging the whole task is than devising techniques of how best to handle the project before the deadline. Break your project into small chunks and work on it part by part. This way, the job seems less intimidating.

 Pros and cons of the freelance writer business

Pros

  • You create your own schedule and work when you want.
  • You can work from anywhere and in different settings.
  • Freedom of when you want to work (not everyone is a morning person).

Cons

  • You don’t have ‘security’ of a pay slip.
  • There are no benefits or compensation like in a traditional job.
  • If you’re a ghostwriter you get no recognition from your work.

How to overcome the writer’s block

Every writer struggle with writer’s block at some point in their career and each victory might come differently. Sadly writer’s block is a gremlin and rarely disappears by itself, at least not as soon as we would wish.

The case is worse for freelance writers- there’s nothing as disappointing as feeling like your brains are frozen in a state of intense panic at a looming deadline. Here are some ways you can arm yourself better to vanquish this enemy. 

  • Free write.
  • Take a break and change your environment.
  • Read a book.
  • Read some inspiring quotes.
  • Do something that will get your mood up like going to the gym.

Small business ideas

There are literally thousands of small business ideas available to us. I think many people love the idea of making money from home. Operating a freelance-writer business, I have all the freedom I ever wanted, doing what I truly enjoy doing the most. To me, this is like getting paid well for enjoying my hobby!

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