How to Become a Freelance Writer with Absolutely NO Experience

This time of year (beginning of year), many are starting new things; eg, diets, exercise programs, quitting smoking … and starting businesses. That’s why I thought now would be a perfect time to go over what you need to do to become a freelance writer — a highly successful one.

FYI, this post was previously entitled, “How to Become a Freelance Writer: Starting from Scratch“. It was updated in 2018.

One night back in 2012, I was watching the Suze Orman show, which is no longer on the air, unfortunately. It was around 1 in the morning and I was sleepily thumbing through channels. I perked right up when I ran across her show (I love personal finance shows!).

I managed to catch the last 15 minutes or so, just in time to hear Suze say that, in her opinion, the economy is not going to be adding jobs in record numbers any time soon. She said that for Americans to get back on their feet, they should look at starting some type of low-cost business. Her exact words were:

If you are not employed, start looking to become an entrepreneur. I don’t care if that means a dog walker, give manicures, do anything like that. Look into what you can do on your own without requiring a lot of capital, but for you to be able to pay the bills.

Now, of course, this was during a time when the American economy was struggling a bit. But becaue all econo0mies are cyclical, it bears keeping in mind if you want to become a freelance writer. And speaking of — freelancing writing fits this bill perfectly as far as a home-based business that’s low-cost to start. If you have a laptop and an internet connection, you’re basically ready to go.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

How to Become a Freelance Writer in 7 Simple Steps

If you’ve been wanting to start a career as a freelance writer – whether it’s part-time or full-time — following is what, in my opinion (and considerable experience), you need to do. How to Become a Freelance Writer with No Experience

I. To Become a Freelance Writer Whose Well Paid, Select a Niche

I’ve discussed on this site ad nauseam why I believe freelance writers should specialize. The most important reason though, especially for newbies, is that you’ll land jobs quicker. Secondarily, especially as you gain more experience, you can earn more.

Read this post on why choosing a niche is so important as a freelance writer.

Related Post: Learn How to Develop a Freelance Writing Niche with No Experience

II. Decide Service Offerings

The best piece of advice I can give here is to start slow, especially if you’re still working a job. For example, when I first started out as a SEO writer I just offered SEO articles.

As clients began to request more things (eg, blog posts, press releases, social media), I added those services – when I felt comfortable and when I knew I could afford to hire help.

It’s easy in certain sectors to get busy quickly as a freelance writer. Even writing a few articles a day can be hard because it’s not JUST the writing, it’s the research, the back and forth with the client, the proofreading, the editing, etc.

So start slow – with one or two services you’re comfortable with. You can always add on services as you grow (and can afford to hire help).

III. Create 3-5 Writing Samples

To become a freelance writer, you need writing samples. And, they don’t have to be for “real” clients. Just sit down and write samples for each type of service you plan to provide.  For example, if you’re going to offer press releases, cases studies and general web articles, write one or two of each type – in your niche —to put on your website. Make sure they’re letter perfect.

Create perfect writing samples every time: Get the ebook  Freelance Writing Samples: 5 Elements Samples that Land Freelance Writing Jobs Must Have.

IV. Set Your Freelance Writing Rates

When most decide to become a freelance writer, one of the things they have the hardest time with is setting their  rates. And that’s because freelance writing rates are all over the place. Following is a series of posts I’ve written about it.

Posts on How to Set Your Freelance Writing Rates

Freelance Writing Rates: What to Charge for Proofreading, Copyediting, Writing, Etc.

Freelance Writing Rates: And the Debate Rages On . . .

Advice for Freelance SEO Writers: How to Negotiate Rates When Clients Want You to Go Lower with the Promise of More Work

SEO Writing Rates: How to Determine What to Charge as an SEO Copywriter

How to Set Freelance Writing Rates for Online Writing Jobs: A Definitive Guide for Setting (and Getting) the Rates You Deserve

5 Types of Freelance Writing Rates

The best advice I can give is to research your niche to find out what the highs and lows are, figure out what you personally need to make to pay your bills, then set your rates accordingly.

Write for Us! This Site Is Always Seeking Quality Guest Posters.

Some will accuse you of being too cheap (newbies tend to go lower than higher). Don’t worry about this. If the rate feels right to you, go with it. Then, adjust accordingly as you settle into being a freelance writer. You’ll learn very quickly if you’re working for peanuts and need to raise your rates.

V. Lay Out a Simple Marketing Strategy

If you don’t have any money, there are a plethora of ways to find clients, eg, social media, email marketing, cold calling, etc. Only you can decide what works for you.

But, the most important thing to keep in mind is to systemize your marketing so that it becomes automatic. For example, if you’re going to use email marketing, reach out to a certain number of contacts each day; if you’re going to make cold calls, do a certain number per day; etc.

Use marketing strategies you can afford to repeat because consistency is what will bring in jobs. If you send out 10 emails and wait two weeks to send out 10 more, it’s going to be slow going building a steady client base.

It’s better to send out 2 emails per day, than 10 in one day, once per week. The reason is, the less frequently you market, the greater your chance of NOT marketing on a consistent basis. But, if you send out just a few emails per day, you increase your chance of making it a “daily habit.”

And the more “touches” you make, the greater your chance of landing clients regularly. See the logic? Good!

Whatever your marketing plan is, write it down, put it in a place where you can see/consult it every day — and follow it.

One final thing about this step — make marketing the first thing you do each day. Why? Because without marketing, soon there won’t be anything else that needs your attention. Consistent marketing is a foundational key of any business; freelance writing is no different.

An Easy Place to Find Tons of Writing Gigs

FYI, freelance marketplaces like Upwork are a great place for newbies to start looking for writing jobs. Why? Because there are so many clients there. And yeah, there are a lot of junk jobs, but gems can be found too. You just have to know how to filter through the listings, which this course teaches.

VI. Get a Website/Blog

To become a freelance writer, you need a website. It’s a must. You can even start with a free site, but I don’t recommend it. Pay the few dollars it costs to get your own hosted site. It’s well worth it, for all the reasons cited in this old guest post I wrote — which is still relevant to this day. Why HostGator is the best web hositing company for freelance writers (IMO)

I recommend hosting your blog/site with HostGator. Here’s why. And, it doesn’t have to be fancy. All you have to do is see my SEO writing company’s website for proof of this. I did this basic site myself.

This one, InkwellEditorial.com, was designed by professionals. Clear difference. But, my SEO writing company’s site has worked well since 2008. Sure, I plan to have it redone someday. But, if I’d waited to get what I really wanted, I probably never would have gotten started as a  SEO writer.

So, do a simple site yourself, or hire someone to do one for you. Affordable web designers can be found all over on sites like Fiverr, Upwork and Craigslist.

Place an ad, look at some portfolios of web designers and when you like what you see, hire them to do a simple freelance writing website for you.

VII. To Become a Freelance Writer, Just Get Started Already!

Many who do all the above still fail to pull the trigger. They will hem, haw, procrastinate, find other stuff they “need” to do, etc. Once you’ve done the above, believe me, you’re more than ready to start your freelance writing career.

There will always, always, always be something else that you could do, should do and/or want to do before you become a freelance writer whose actively marketing for clients.


It can wait. All this is is fear at work. And, fear in this situation mostly stems from the unknown, which brings me to the last thing you need to do to start your freelance writing career . . .

Related Post: How to Become a Freelance Writer in 24 Hours or Less for $0.

One More Thing . .  .  Make Time to Study

As in, to learn this profession. This can be as little as 15 or 20 minutes per day and it doesn’t have to cost a dime (although investing in classes, books and websites by reputable providers is never a waste of time).

Find the blog/website of a few successful freelance writers that appeal to you. Many of them dispense a ton of free information about how to become a freelance writer (and be successful at it), eg, how to set your freelance writing rates, what to put on your website, how to deal with non-paying clients, etc.

The beautiful thing about this type of freelance business is that you can always find an answer to your question because there’s a ton of it freely given by those who’ve been at this for a looonnnnggg time.

How to Become a Freelance Writer with Multiple Income Streams

Hope this info helps, and good luck on your quest to become a freelance writer. It’s a wonderfull career that can take you places you never dreamed, eg:

I do all of this. I can support myself completely from the income I earn via self-publishing books and developing ecourses. It’s what I call my “writing for myself” income.

This means I can charge more as a freelance writer because my livelihood doesn’t depend on client projects. It took some time to get my career to this point, but it’s something any freelance writr can do — and is just one more reason that learning how to make a living writing is such an ideal career.

Did I Miss Anything?

Feel free to share your advice for those who want to learn how to become a freelance writer in the comments section below.


P.S.: Start Your 6-Figure Freelance Writing Business Today!

Learn SEO, then start landing high-paying writing gigs quickly. It truly is the fastest, easiest way to start a high-earning freelance writing career from scratch. BTW, learn how to start now and pay later.

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    1. @Andy:

      Thanks for adding my info to your site. I really appreciate that. And, glad you enjoyed the post. Thought it was an apropos time for info like this.

      @Thanks Lasha. Hope you’re having a good year so far. 🙂

    2. Hi Yuwanda, great info as usual.


    3. Happy new Year again Yuwanda! And – it’s great to read another detailed, fact-filled, common sense Article from you again. I agree, starting a Freelance Writing career in these troubled times makes absolute sense – we also echo that in our ‘Write2Profit’ Site. I also like the fact that you not only talk about relevant areas of Freelancing, in nice logical steps, you also provide Links for further info(good Marketing ploy too, and why not!)in the body of the piece. I look forward to reading many more really useful Articles from your Inkwell Editorial Site during 2012. I’ve already added a short description about you and Inkwell on our updated and re-designed ‘Write2Profit’ Site. Hope you like it!
      Best Wishes, Andy Gage


    1. […] niche will I focus on? Read more about why I think niching it makes it much easier to start landing freelance writing jobs when you first start out (See Step I in this […]