I’ve said this before when it comes to freelancing, ie, we are primed to make change at this time of year. So, I thought I’d answer the 11 most frequently asked questions for those who are thinking about starting a freelance writing business – whether it’s part-time or full-time.
1. How Much Should I Charge as a New Freelance Writer?
If there’s one thing that stumps many new freelance writers it’s how to set their freelance writing rates. Most (understandably) have no idea.
I’ve addressed this question numerous times over the years. Here are some links to in-depth posts on how to set your freelance writing rates just below. I just want to remind you to do a couple of things before you set your freelance rates:
a) Know what you need to live on: Namely, run your personal finance numbers. The reason is, no matter what you decide to charge, if it’s not enough to meet your obligations, you’ll become discouraged and frustrated (and likely quit) freelancing altogether if you’re not making enough to cover your bills. This is particularly important if you’re jumping into freelancing full-time.
The second thing is to . . .
b) Assess the competition: This is to gain an idea of what others are charging so you can know if you’re “in the ballpark” with your rates. I set my firm’s freelance / SEO writing rates somewhere in the middle. Why? Primarily because it makes it easier to bring in new clients.
One thing you’ll learn is that the higher you price your freelance services, the harder it will be to bring in clients (not hard, just not as easy as someone who charges bottom-of-the-barrel rates).
2. Should I Get a Freelance Writing Website or Blog?
In general, I advise most freelance writers to get a blog. But, in order to determine which one is right for you, see this post, which explains the difference between a blog and a website.
3. How Do I Get a Website (or Blog)?
If you know absolutely nothing about web design or how to build a website, you have two options here. You can: (i) hire a web designer; or (ii) get or get one of the easy-to-set-up packages offered by your web hosting company (one of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting an online biz by the way).
I advise going the do-it-yourself route because in the end, it will cost you much less.
Because you’re going to need to know how to update your website/blog – ie, to add testimonials, change your freelance rates, add/update service offerings, etc.
Imagine paying a web designer every time you have to add/delete something from your site. Even the “cheap” ones charge $25-$35/hour (usually with a one-hour minimum). So, learn how to do it yourself from jump – and take control of your freelance writer online presence – from jump.
4. What Should I Put on My Freelance Writing Website (or Blog)?
This can be confusing, especially for new freelance writers. Just know, there are no hard and fast rules. But – as I talked about in the post, How to Start a Freelance Writing Career in Less than 24 Hours for $0, following is some basic info I think every freelance writer should have on their website – newbie or not.
What to List On Your Website/Blog
On your website/blog, you will list your:
(i) writing samples;
(ii) a short bio; and if you want
(iii) your rates (some do, some don’t).
For some more info, read A New Freelance Writer Asks, “What Should I Put on a Website to Attract More Clients?”
5. What If I Have No Freelance Writing Experience (ie, No Writing Samples)?
This really stumps really new freelancers because they think that they can’t get work without writing samples.
This is one of the easiest problems to solve for newbies, which was explained in the aforementioned post, How to Start a Freelance Writing Career in Less than 24 Hours for $0, where I outlined what to do, writing:
If your writing cubbard is dry, sit down and write three articles (400-600 words each, no longer). This is enough to start.
If you want to be a health writer, then write health articles to use as samples. If you want to be a technology writer, then write on technology issues; a finance writer, then write on finance (the current economy should give you more than enough to pull from here).
It really is that simple, especially if you’re pursuing online writing jobs. Why? Because all most prospective clients want to see is proof that you CAN write on a subject; not that you’ve been published before (ie, done writing for another client).
FYI, learn the 5 elements that every freelance writing sample should have.
Since I started writing SEO content in 2007, I can count on one hand the number of times clients have asked me where a sample has been published. Really, I don’t think anyone has asked. What they usually ask is, can you write on X subject; or does your firm do Y type of writing.
Don’t believe you can land freelance writing jobs by going this route (or not having any writing samples)? See the post, How to Get Freelance Writing Jobs Advice: How a New Freelance Writer Landed a $150 Gig with No Experience, No Samples & No Website – 4 Things She Did Right for some inspiration.
6. What Services Should I Offer?
See the post, Starting an SEO Writing Company? A Newbie Asks, “How Do You Decide Which Services to Offer and/or Not Offer?”, on SeoWritingJobs.com. Although the answered is geared for SEO writers, the thought process is the same – no matter what kind of freelance writing you do.
7. How Do I Find Clients When I First Start My Freelance Writing Business?
There are many ways to market for writing jobs. One of my favorite ways is e-mail marketing. You can also find them:
Via free classified ad sites like Craigslist;
At your local Chamber of Commerce;
On social media (many writers have touted how well Facebook has worked for them);
Learn more about the Opportunities in Freelance Writing (Where the Jobs Are & Specific Advice On How to Get Them).
8. How Much Can I Expect to Earn as a Freelance Writer?
As stated in the post, Opportunities in Freelance Writing: Realistically, How Much Should You Expect to Earn as a FT Freelance Writer Your First Year, $30,000 is very feasible. The post explained why, stating:
How much you can realistically expect to earn depends on a lot of factors, eg, niche, experience, freelance writing rates, marketing ability, etc. However, in my opinion, even a complete novice should be able to earn between $30,000 and $50,000 their first year freelancing. Now, this means getting up, putting in a solid 8-10 hours per day (mostly marketing in the beginning) and charging a decent rate; but this is a very realistic ballpark figure. . . .
One of the main reasons it’s so easy is because of a wave of opportunities ushered in by the web.
9. Should I Develop a Niche as a Freelance Writer?
I’m a big believer in what I call “niching it to success.” The reasons for this are numerous, ie:
4 Reasons to “Niche It” as a Freelance Writer
It’s easy to find prospects to target;
It’s easier to develop a marketing message;
It’s easier to assess the competition; and
It’s easier to come up with your freelance writing rates, to name a few.
Learn more about should you niche it or not as a freelance writer in the posts below.
10. What Am I Doing Wrong?
When many freelance writers first start out, they will inevitably get to a point where they doubt themselves. This usually happens within the first six months or so. They hit a (marketing) wall where they can’t seem to land clients – no matter how hard they try.
And, this is when many lament, “What am I doing wrong?”
I addressed this in a post a couple of years ago. As many of the posts on this site are, it was inspired by a freelancer who emailed me. She wrote, in part:
I’m doing everything I can to get clients with a 0 budget (I’m still unemployed). I don’t know if there’s a missing link in marketing from my end. I see my fellow writers who I correspond with on Facebook, and all of them are making six-figures or pretty darn close to it. . . .
I’m trying all I can to get more revenue, however, it seems like no matter what I do, no one is buying.(Or they want my services for $ 5 bucks, and that’s not going to happen). . . . I guess, the real question is, “When you are giving your business everything you got and you are still not seeing the results you desire, what do you do? Or what steps have you personally taken if this situation has happened to you, Yuwanda?
Read what I told her. Just know, it’s probably NOT you.
11. How Can I Become a Freelance Writer (ie, How do I get started)?
I’ve received this question probably a few hundred times in my career. It’s asked in many different ways; the following question from a newbie sums up what most want to know. She wrote, in part:
I am a good student, so know I can learn it, however I am overwhelmed by the amount of [info out there] . . . Help! I want to take the leap, but am unsure of which direction to jump.
Gain More Insight into How to Become a Freelance Writer
12. Why Didn’t I Start Sooner?
Keeping the spirit of the graphic to this post in mind, on the 12th day of Christmas, new freelance writers wondered, “Why the heck didn’t I start my freelance writing career earlier?!”
Conclusion: Frequently Asked Questions from New Freelance Writers
I know this is a lot of information to digest and want to caution against letting “information overload” stop you. Don’t procrastinate. Of all the links in this post, if you follow the advice given in How to Start a Freelance Writing Career in Less than 24 Hours for $0, you should be up and running in no time.
You’re going to make mistakes as a freelancer; so don’t try to wait until everything is “perfect” to start. It’s never going to be. All you can do is get started, learn from the mistakes you make – and keep going.
FYI . . . the holiday discounts have been extended. Because a few people emailed me saying they were glad to see the discounts (and wanted more time to take advantage of them), I decided to extend them for the rest of this month – until 12/31/2012 midnight (U.S. EST).
Have a great week.
P.S.: Wanna join me in Jamaica and learn how to start a high-paying career as an SEO writer so you can travel also?
Learn about the SEO writer who just signed a $24,000 contract, then register for the SEO copywriter training class. A nominal deposit reserves your spot. Learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about changing (taking control of) your life! Proof? See average salary of SEO writers in graphic just below.
P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer. How? Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.
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