No, you don’t need a degree to become a freelance writer.
However, for most people, ‘freelance writing’ translates to ‘easy money’ which in turn translates to ‘easy work.’ This is not entirely true.
So what is freelance writing all about?
All writers are storytellers. No matter what industry/ niche you write on (and there are as many niches are there are writers) you’ll have to tell a story. That being said, the difference between good writers and great ones is their ability to deliver content that not only tells a story but also provides value to readers.
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
How to Become a Freelance Writer
Freelance writers learn a lot of skills depending on their industry.
Here are the basic skills you need to land your first gig as a freelance writer:
Good Communication Skills
It’s the storytelling aspect that puts the best writers on the map. Command your language and choose words that deliver the message clearly and directly.
When writing, communicate in simple phrases. Make the content easy to understand; nobody wants to look up the meaning of a word every three seconds. Most people think good writing is all about using big words, but good writing simply has to flow, read well, be informative, and captivating.
And speaking of informative content…
You need outstanding research skills to become a writer
How do you craft unique content?
First, understand that unique content is good in all aspects. Good grammar, good formating, and practical information from credible sources.
Always write from the perspective of your readers. This helps you better identify their pain points, and hence provide appropriate solutions.
There are so many research materials available out there, but not all of them are credible. As a writer, you need to discern any sources you find and use only the ones that are relevant to your research.
The very definition of a freelance writer means you won’t stick to one employer. You’ll need to adapt your style and tone of writing depending on the needs of your current client.
You can write good content, but how will readers find it? This is where SEO comes in. While this is not relevant in all forms of writing, it’s important to know what search engine optimization is.
Once you have the knowledge, you’ll use keywords in your content, craft SEO friendly headings, and descriptions, and therefore allow your content to rank higher on search engines.
It’s advisable to leave your work for at least a few hours before editing it. This is so you can correct any mistakes with a fresh perspective.
Editing is an essential skill that all freelance writers need. Even if your client has an in-house editor, you should never submit work with multiple mistakes. Try your best to refine the article by cutting out the fluff and correcting any grammatical errors.
Finally, freelance writers are their own bosses.
You need the discipline to finish tasks on time, and the ability to focus without being distracted. You’ll most likely be working from home, so prioritize your time so your work doesn’t suffer. It’s easy to get distracted especially if you set your own working hours.
How to Become a Better Writer
The market is full of basic writers, and we don’t need any more. Strive to be better, which means you need to read the content that is already out there, both good and bad.
What are others doing with their blogs? What do the gurus in the industry have to say about the new SEO trends?
One, the greatest freelance writers never stop learning. And two, they go above and beyond for their clients.
A writer serves a very important role in any business; to attract, educate, and inform potential customers. Embrace your purpose and suggest new keywords, opportunities, or content strategies to your client. For instance, if your client only posts on their website once a week, suggest to them (with evidence) that increasing this frequency will, in fact, bring in more leads.
If they say yes, that’s a win-win for everyone.
To become a better writer, consider how your role fits into the bigger picture. You can only do so much to write good content, but the impact of your work is unlimited. Look beyond the content and examine how your articles impact both readers and your client’s business.
Picking a Writing Niche
You don’t have to pick a niche, especially if you are just starting. However, it’s easier to find clients if you can prove your expertise in one or two areas; as opposed to being a general writer.
Think of your freelance writing career as a business, even if it’s barely paying you. Once you have a niche in mind, you can narrow down your ideal clients and start reaching out to them directly.
A niche narrows down your options so you don’t feel so overwhelmed with the writing industry.
If you have existing knowledge on a particular subject, picking a niche is the best way for you to make money off your skills. This also works if there is a topic you are interested in (like personal finance) or a topic you already enjoy writing about.
Again, the niche doesn’t make the writer, it’s just one of the many ways you can navigate your freelance writing career. You can be anything; from something general like an SEO writer, to something as specific as a Medical CV writer.
How To Find Your Niche
It’s not the easiest thing, but you’ll never know until you try.
Start with the major niches out there, for instance:
How to become a technical writer
First, understand what technical writing is about; uniting the fields of technology and writing. Your job will involve creating user manuals or guides that break down the technicalities of the products or services involved.
Acquire deep knowledge of the subject you want to write about (like technology, medicine, engineering). Clients prefer candidates with a degree in the specialized field, but if you have samples that prove your expertise, you can still land writing gigs.
Or you can sign up for a technical writing certificate program. It won’t cost you much and it’s a great way to let clients know right away that you are qualified.
Read technical articles out there and take note of what makes them great. The best part about being a writer is that you have all the resources you need at your fingertips; you just have to know how to pick the best ones.
How to become a freelance grant writer.
Here is another lucrative writing niche. Non-profit organizations need grants to get funding for their projects. As a grant writer, your job is to put together proposals that communicate the value of the project at hand.
You’ll need excellent research and communication skills to make it as a grant writer. You can work for one organization, or as a freelancer for multiple businesses or NGOs.
In your writing journey, you’ll come across multiple clients and will, in turn, be exposed to a lot of different niches.
If you cant find your niche, let it find you.
However, before getting into any niche, or any writing project for that matter, understand what your job description is, and keep it in mind. It’s much easier when you have a complete idea of your role in an organization; you’ll write better and more targeted articles.
Apply for any writing jobs you think you might be suited to, and with time, you will narrow down the topics that pique your interest. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. Sometimes, freelance writers find they can write quality articles that span across multiple niches.
Real Freelance Writers Write
We know it can be overwhelming to start a new career, especially one whose titles include the word ‘freelance.’ If all the steps involved in becoming a writer are too much, simply take a step back, open a blank document, and pen something down.
Start small; write about your day. Or put down your thoughts on a movie you just watched. Write about the things that frustrate you, write about anything.
Beyond their titles and years of experience, real writers write. It’s that simple. You’d be surprised how many people call themselves writers and have nothing to show for it. And no, that blog post you wrote 5 years ago doesn’t count.
You need to write, in the present, to be considered a writer.
Even bad writers write, so there’s no excuse for you not to. People need (and are willing to pay for) superior content.
Beware of the Imposter Syndrome
Almost every writer experiences the imposter syndrome where they feel like their work is not good enough.
The best way to overcome this is to put yourself out there. Allow your work to be judged, its the only way you’ll get better. Besides, you as not as bad a writer as you think, your inner critic is just way too loud.
Don’t be afraid of failure. A freelance writer’s journey never really ends. You may start as a grant writer, and end up as a copywriter for a travel business. Be open to new opportunities as you grow because you won’t tap into your full potential as a writer unless you get out of your comfort zone.
Aim to become the best freelancer there is. To do this, first, start by acquiring the necessary skills, and then keep improving on these abilities. Don’t take criticism personally, just because a client doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean you have failed as a writer and as a human being.
Practice as much as possible. This doesn’t mean you should write every day (unless you can). Just ensure every next piece is better than the last.