But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s answer the age-old question: What does a freelancer even do?

Well, this is essentially when a self-employed person contracts their services out to individuals or companies, usually on a short-term basis. 

So, if you’re fed up with the corporate grind and want to try venturing out on your own, freelancing may be the avenue for you! And if you're considering taking this route, you already possess one of the essential skills to make it in this industry: Courage

But what else does it take to be your own boss and write amazing content?  

Let’s find out: 

1. Explore freelancing opportunities 

Before you can become a freelancer, you need to know what opportunities are available to you in this employment structure. 

You could scour LinkedIn or explore different freelancing marketplaces like Upwork, Contently or Contena.

By kicking your career off on one of these industry-specific sites, you will build connections with the right people and get paid to write content straight off the bat. 

Whichever freelance marketplace option you choose, you should pay attention to what clients are looking for in a writer and how you can hone your skills (or tailor your CV) to fit what they want. 

When browsing different freelance job opportunities, take note of: 
  • popular industries that require freelancers
  • different job types, such as copywriting or blogging
  • popular niches 
  • desired skills
  • rates, and
  • different objectives for each respective role.

2. Define your niche

Once you have a clear idea of the type of opportunities that are out there, you will be able to make an informed decision on what your niche will be. 

It is crucial that you define your niche so that you have an idea of what you want to write about. Ensure that you pick something that piques your interest, like your favourite hobby, as this will help you write with passion and purpose

According to Elna Cain, a niche is an area that you are experienced in and knowledgeable of writing about

Examples of popular, high-paying content niche’s are: 
  • Finance: Writing on topics like accounting, personal finance or cryptocurrency are in high demand.
  • Travel: This includes topics like restaurant and hotel reviews, travel guides or lifestyle pieces. 
  • Digital marketing: More brands are looking for guides or tutorial content on topics like social media, e-commerce or affiliate marketing.
  • Alternative health: This industry is booming right now and topics relating to yoga, CBD, metal health and supplements can offer a pretty penny.

These examples are just a drop in the bucket of the different niches available for you to explore, so play around and do your research — you’re sure to find the right fit!

3. Ready, set, write! 

Now that you know what you want to write about, it's time to actually start writing. And what better way to practise than by setting up your own blog? Getting started is a breeze with free blogging platforms like Wix, Wordpress and Medium. Even LinkedIn has a dedicated space where you can publish articles.

If you're wondering why you should start a blog instead of jumping straight into applying for freelancing positions, the answer is simple — practice, practice and more practice!

It is no secret that the more you do something, the better you become. This is particularly true in writing. As you write and share more work on these platforms, you can receive feedback, which will help you improve in the long run. 

Additionally, your blog will help you establish an online presence and would make a great portfolio of work for you to include in your CV. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

4. Perfect your pitch

So now that you know more about the freelancing industry and you’re actively practising your writing, you need to know how to sell your work to clients. 

Where you want to pitch is up to you. Luckily, there’s a variety of options available. 

You could send your content to print or online publications, which tend to offer guest writing gigs or paid projects. Although these opportunities may be unpaid or offer minimal payment, it is a great way to get your name out there. 

Alternatively, you could be bold and pitch your services to some of your favourite websites or brands — you might just get lucky! 

Now, if you have no idea how to pitch your content, follow these tips to get you started:

Be concise 

Nobody likes a pitch that is all fluff. In your email, ensure that you keep your article description focused and as brief as possible. Also, ensure you include your article’s title in your email’s subject line. 

Do your research

Don’t waste yours or a publication’s time by submitting content that doesn’t align with their brand or niche. 

Instead, do your research into the publication’s audience and style guide so you are able to target your pitches to the companies that will be most receptive. 

Ensure your writing is high-quality

It is crucial that your pitch is clear and concise, while still grabbing the editor’s attention. Don’t be afraid to be creative and show your personality. 

Additionally, make sure you proofread your work and pitch so that it is free of typos and spelling errors. Nothing looks as unprofessional as a writer that neglects to read through their work.  

Be respectful

Not every pitch you submit is going to be successful, and that’s okay. But ensure that you remain respectful and professional no matter what

Doing so will keep you in the good books with these publications and will help you build a rapport with them over time. 

Don’t be shy to follow up

If you haven’t heard back from a publication, don’t be discouraged. These companies likely deal with hundreds of pitches weekly, and yours may have gotten lost in the bunch. 

But don’t fret, rather send a respectful follow-up email asking if they’ve reviewed your work. 

5. Never stop learning

Last, but certainly not least: If you want to be the best freelance writer out there, never stop trying to expand your skill set.  

Luckily we live in the digital age so any course, resource or tutorial is only a few clicks away. 

Websites like Elna Cain or ProBlogger offer solid writing advice, while online communities like Freelance Writers Den can help you engage and learn from like-minded individuals. 

Want to learn even more? Consider taking an online course or furthering your studies in this field. Going this extra mile will only benefit your freelancing career. 

For example, if you want to venture into writing for digital publications, a sure-fire way to make yourself a top candidate is by doing a course on SEO writing. Websites like Udemy or Skillshare offer courses on anything and everything

Remember knowledge is power, after all

Do you have any tips for making it as a freelance writer? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Do you want to know more about the freelancing industry? Then be sure to check out The South African freelancer conundrum: How much do I charge? 
*Image courtesy of Unsplash