Free Ebook: Starting Your Online Freelance (Writing) Business from Scratch

Starting an Online Business: Free Ebook of Advice from Online Entrepreneuers

Want some great, first-hand advice on what it takes to start up – and make a success of – an online business? Well, e-Junkie just published Starting Your Online Freelance Business from Scratch. It’s free and contains info from 11 online entrepreneurs (including moi!) on everything from marketing to accounting.

FYI, I threw the word “Writing” in the title of this post because although it’s advice pertinent to any type of online freelance business you want to start, you have to put it into context of how it can best be utilized by you as a freelance writer.

BTW, following is my take on some of the contributor’s advice as it relates to making a success of your freelance writing business.

I. Why Listening to Credible People Is Costing You

By Kenneth Vogt of Vera Claritas

Basically, Kenneth’s article pounds home the message of “be careful who you listen to when it comes to getting ‘expert’ advice.” He points out that:

• Credibility has limits.

• Credibility has a shelf life.

• Credibility requires context.

How to Apply Ken’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

While most would look askance on, for example, advice from a web designer about health, freelance writing is one of those professions where anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves an “expert.”

Starting an Online Business: Free Ebook of Advice from Online EntrepreneuersAnd this is one of the appeals of this career; it can be started – quite easily and successfully – by anyone with a computer and some elbow grease.

But learning how to deal with clients takes time; learning how to price jobs takes time; learning when to say no to a client takes time.

In short, just because you have a website and call yourself a freelance writer, it doesn’t mean that you’re an expert and qualified to give advice to others; not yet (although you can certainly relay your personal experiences and let others decide for themselves whether your advice is valid).

So when you’re surfing the web looking for advice on how to become a freelance writer, look at the source of the info and ask, “how long have they been in business and what type of writing do they do” (ie, is it the same thing I want to pursue).

You want someone who has enough experience under their belt – and is in the same niche as you (so you’re comparing apples to apples), so you can put the advice in context, as Kenneth so wisely points out.

II. Why Your Blog Needs a Business Plan to Make Money

By Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen and Prosper

In her contribution, Jennifer lays out brilliantly why you need a business plan if you want to really make money from your blogging efforts, writing:

A business plan is a decision making tool. It helps you to approach blogging from a professional perspective that forces you to identify your short and long term goals and your ideal “customer”. By putting it in writing, you break through your “blog fog” and become more focused and forward thinking.

How to Apply Jennifer’s Advice about Blogging as a Freelance Writer

In my opinion, too many freelance writers don’t think about blogging this way. I know I didn’t when I first started back in 2005. It took me years to develop a business plan for my blog.

I think part of the reason is, it’s so easy to just throw up a blog (you can get started on free on sites like blogspot.com or wordpress.org in minutes). So we throw one up and start posting – most times irregularly. This is no way to run a freelance business.

These days as a freelance writer, your blog is not only your voice to the world, it also serves as an example of your freelance writing skill.

In fact, just yesterday I had a prospect contact me about doing a press release. She asked for writing samples. I pointed her to all of my blogs, eg, this one, SeoWritingJobs.com, my personal article directory and my SEO writing company’s site, for which I wrote all of the content.

So before you start blogging, create a business plan and answer important questions like who will you be talking to (ie, clients/prospects, other freelance writers), how often will you blog, will you monetize your blog, etc.

FYI, here are 33 blogging tips for freelance writers that I’ve learned over the years. I hope they help. And, here’s a great post on ProBlogger about how to create a blog business plan.

III. Secrets of Big Breaks, Myths of Instant Success

By Gary Korisko of Reboot Authentic

Gary’s post kicks you right in the teeth, debunking the myth of instant success when you start an online business. He reminds us that success takes time and even though “that guy over there” seems to have experienced success right out of the box, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he was an overnight success.

Gary reminds us that most of us don’t see the work that goes into becoming an overnight success.

How Long Does It Take to Achieve Success: A Little Story

Years ago, I dibbled and dabbled in acting when I lived in New York City. I loved it; it’s still the one thing I’d do for free if I had enough money to support myself. But, I digress.

One night, my boyfriend at the time (he was an actor) and I were walking up by Central Park and who do we run into? Sam Jackson as my boyfriend knew him (that would be the now infamous Samuel L. Jackson).

Well Sam hadn’t hit the big time yet. My boyfriend had known him for years; they’d acted in theatre together back in Arizona I think he said.

I forgot about this until Jungle Fever came out. Then I was like, “That’s the guy I met walking with my boyfriend up by Central Park one evening.” By that time, Sam had been acting for well over two decades. It took him that long to become an “overnight” success.

So, how do you go about achieving success?

Gary put it brilliantly, writing:

You need to learn how to do right work. When you build a strong foundation rooted in right work, you attract opportunities and big breaks. In fact, they begin to appear seemingly out of nowhere.

I’d add, do the right work — consistently.

FYI, Gary explains what “right work” is in his article, and gives a checklist so you can see if you’re on the path of doing the right work.

How to Apply Gary’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

Create a business plan for your freelance business. This will force you to think in concrete specifics about how you’re going to grow your business, how much you need to charge to make a real living, will you specialize in a niche as a freelance writer, will you quit your day job, when, etc.

And, keep the principles of the “right work” in mind as you work your plan.

IV. Should You Officially Register Your Online Business?

By moi (me)

I lay out the pros and cons of officially registering your online business. In the beginning, I don’t think freelance writers should. In fact, you may never have to.

How to Apply My Advice as a Freelance Writer

I’ve had four types of businesses registered in my name in my entrepreneurial career — a sole proprietorship, a Sub-Chapter S Corp, a Sub-Chapter C Corp and an LLC (Limited Liability Corp). I’m primarily a freelance writer and web entrepreneur. And, my online ventures these days are not registered at all. I accept payment in my own name. It makes filing taxes so much easier.

In my opinion, there is hardly ever a need for freelance writers to formally register a business. Be sure to read the article though to see if this works for you. It starts on Page 27 of the ebook.

V. 6 Timely Tips to Warm Up to Cold Calling!

By Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen and Prosper

Another great entry by Jennifer.

When you say the words, “Cold calling,” most of us freeze like deer in headlights.

I used to be terrified of this practice, but Jennifer reminds us that in this technologically advanced age, cold calling can increase an entrepreneur’s client base, confidence and bottom line.” She explains why, writing:

. . . many will discover that in this technological world, a small gesture like a phone call can make a big difference. Why? It provides a personal touch, can help establish immediate rapport, and increases efficiency.

For those who believe coldcalling [sic] puts them in the same category as “pesky telemarketers,” it‘s time for a paradigm shift. In today’s tough economic climate, one must employ every advantage to stay in the game and stay in the black.

How to Apply Jennifer’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

One freelance writer went on a cold-calling campaign after having a hard time landing clients and emailed me to let me know she had her first $400 day because of it. That post was so popular that it turned into a series.

I dubbed her “Cold Calling Carol.”  Read about her success landing freelance writing clients using cold calling.

Many freelance writers are shy about marketing their services, and so they hide behind a keyboard. This is understandable. But integrating cold calling into your marketing arsenal can truly be the difference between landing gigs, or not.

In this entry, Jennifer gives 6 tips on how to make cold calling easier – and more profitable.

VI. Start As You Mean To Go On: Online Accounting For Your Online Business

By Lucy Godwin of Xero

Boy oh boy, if this isn’t a topic too many freelancers avoid. I was so guilty of this when I first started my entrepreneurial career it ain’t even funny. It took me years – and a 17,000 tax bill – to get my butt in gear about my finances and accounting.

In this article, Lucy goes through the advantages of using online financial accounting software (eg, cost, accessibility, scalability, security). She ends by reminding us that . . .

You can have the most amazing online business in the history of the internet, but if you haven’t got your financial systems running smoothly, you’re likely to end up out of your depth.

My $17,000 tax debacle is a testament to this!

How to Apply Lucy’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

Get your accounting / financial house in order from the very beginning. Set it up as if you have 100 clients, instead of 0 or 1 or 2.

This is where choosing the right software can come in handy. There are so many on the market now that are very cost effective. And, they’ll do a lot of the work for you, eg, generate 1099s if your freelance writing business grows to the point where it outsources work to others; allow you to organize expenses; calculate profit and losses (this should be a standard offering); etc.

If you do this from the beginning, you’ll be so glad you did come tax time – and it’ll allow you to see in black and white where you’re spending money, where you can cut back, where you need to invest more, etc.

VII. How To Choose The Best Platform For Your Online Business

By Ejunkie.info

This is quite frankly one of the most important decisions you will ever make as an online business owner. Choose wrong, and the price to be paid can be enormous in terms of lost sales, loss of site traffic and just all-around headaches.

This post explains why it’s important to have control over your website, and how to go about choosing the right platform.

How to Apply e-Junkie’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer, it’s critical that you at least learn the basics, eg, how to update your website. As I explain in the post, Answers to 11 Frequently Asked Questions by New Freelance Writers:

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.

While learning new technology can be scary, it’s usually not as difficult as you think. And, you only have to learn enough to be able to update – not become a professional web designer.

For example, I know how to create and manage simple sites in HTML – from beginning to end. But, my main site (this one) is in WordPress. I can’t figure out how to do a WordPress install to save my life. But, I did learn enough to know how to update it (eg, publish posts).

And, in the last couple of years, I’ve even learned how to make some design changes. So again, learn the basics – at least how to update it so you can get your info out there. You can pay someone to do the other stuff (eg, change the design). And, you can have this done for little to nothing via sites like Craigslist (where I found my web designer).

VIII. What Is The Best Platform For An Online Business?

By Andrew Rondeau of We Build Your Blog

When phrases like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla start being thrown around, your eyes may glaze over and you wonder, “What the heck does that even mean?!”

In his contribution, Andrew explains why WordPress is the most popular platform for online businesses. And it’s true. Most websites use this platform these days (ie, this site does).

How to Apply Andrew’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

One thing I want to point out here is NOT to use a free wordpress site. And the reason is, you don’t have control over it.  I learned this lesson the real hard way when wordpress shut down my freelance writing blog – and I was never able to get them to put it back up. I recounted this all in the post, 7 Things You Must Know Before Moving Your Blog.

And I’m not picking on wordpress. A friend of my who used blogger (blogspot.com) in the past lost OVER TWO YEARS worth of content when they shut down her blog – again, for ostensibly violating their Terms of Service.

Just remember, free is not “free” if you log on one day to find your life’s work gone. And, when you consider that web hosting is so cheap, it’s simply no excuse – if you want to be perceived as a legitimate online business owner – to use free platforms.

IX. Understanding The Very Basics Of Marketing For Small Businesses

By Ryan Barton of The Smart Marketing Blog

Ryan takes us – brilliantly – back to what marketing is really all about, ie:

. . . at its core, marketing is an exercise of repetition, fueling message resonation.

The more your prospects hear your message, the more likely they’ll take notice of it, and the more likely they are to act on it.

So many entrepreneurs forget this simple message. And, it’s not just newbies.

If you ever watch shows like Shark Tank, you’d be amazed and just how many business owners don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to marketing, ie, what’s working, what’s not, how much it’s costing them to acquire a new customer, retention rate of customers acquired, how much each customer adds to their bottom line, etc.

All of this starts with building a consistent message, being true to your brand’s core and then tweaking to get desired results.

How to Apply Ryan’s Advice as a Freelance Writer

When you do your business plan (I hope you notice that this is a running theme for starting any type of business), figure out what your business is all about. What type of brand do you want to have; what type of marketing are you going to do to get that message out – consistently.

FYI, one of the marketing metrics I use is: Can I afford to repeat this form of marketing/advertising?

Because marketing is about consistency, if you can’t afford to repeat a method, then don’t invest in it — yet. This is why I like free methods like social media, guest posting, press releases, email marketing and article marketing.

All they cost is time – and they can yield some of the best, long-term results. Proof?

An article I wrote back in 2010 and posted to the free press release site, PRLog.com is in the number one position (as of this writing) for the highly targeted keyword phrase “SEO writing.”

I’ve written several ebooks on SEO content writing, own an SEO writing company and have developed (and teach) an on- and off-line SEO copywriting course. Think being on the first page of Google has helped?



There’s a lot more first-hand info in this free ebook from e-Junkie. It’s broken down into 4 categories, ie:

  • Ideas
  • Finance
  • Platform
  • Promotion

So download it and give it a read. Ask follow-up questions of the contributors if you have them. I’m sure they’ll be only too happy to respond. And good luck as you start your online freelance (writing) business journey.

FYI, get the other ebook I contributed to for e-Junkie, Publishing Your First eBook. It’s free too!


P.S.: Did you know that you can now order any of our products (like the SEO copywriting course which is currently 50% off) and take up to 6 months to pay? You can.



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    1. […] few weeks ago, I told you about a free ebook I contributed to entitled Starting Your Online Freelance Business from Scratch. Eleven entrepreneurs (including moi!) contributed to this work, which contained valuable […]