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How to Become a Wildly Successful Freelance Writer

Profile photo of Elvis Michael Submitted by Elvis Michael October 6, 2015

Freelance Writing Jobs On Steroids

Many of you go through it everyday…

You wake up, inspect a few gigs posted on various job boards and immediately contact them one by one. You don’t care how much they pay; you are just happy to have $5 or $10 deposited into your bank account by the end of the week.

After all, the money does add up and helps you survive another month, right?

While the above scenario may help you pay the bills, there is one undeniable fact you can’t ignore: You are not happy with your current situation.

You see your friends and family earning a respectable living through conventional jobs, and you are secretly hoping to make just as much money – if not more. The problem is that you are not comfortable with the 9-to-5 routine; therefore you are desperately trying to find a golden client that would make your freelance writing dreams come true.

Sadly, months or years go by and you are still scraping by, accepting the occasional gig that puts some gas money in your pocket this week, but not much more than that.

In a sense, you feel like you’re not living, but merely existing.

What can you do to get out of this never-ending lifestyle? You have seen the occasional freelance writer talk about his admirable monthly earnings, but you don’t quite know how in the world he or she got there…

It’s time to change all that.

The following tips will get you started in the freelance writing world and ultimately turn you into an unstoppable, word-cranking machine.

Oh, and there is plenty of money, too, without working any harder than you are working now.

These strategies apply both to online and offline businesses. Additionally, most tips are listed in no particular order — though you should start with the very first one below and then proceed freely.

1: Be Presentable

kropekk_pl / Pixabay

kropekk_pl / Pixabay

The biggest mistake you could make is coming off as an amateur freelancer, which will undoubtedly hinder your efforts from the start.

Buy a decent web hosting package and construct a simple, yet professional website to show prospects you mean business. Your website should show off some of your best work, especially if published on reputable sources.

Focus heavily on its navigational structure by providing self-explanatory categories or menus; these would ideally contain your bio, portfolio, testimonials (if any), your social media page(s) and at least two direct ways to contact you.

Speaking of contact information…

2: Be Widely Available

geralt / Pixabay

geralt / Pixabay

While most of us merely provide a standard contact form on our website, why not go for that extra mile to ensure clients get a hold of you right away?

Install one of many live chat plugins and be available to answer questions instantly during the day or evenings.

Your homepage should clearly state your availability in big, easy-to-read font, ensuring that this is the very first detail everyone sees upon landing on your website.

For example, compose a static message that says, “Available to Chat and Answer Questions Between 12pm – 5pm.” Your prospects will be able to see the chat session with a “Live” status as provided by most website plugins.

Thankfully, building and managing a website with such features no longer requires programming knowledge, as Content Management Systems like WordPress make this process extremely easy and efficient.

Want to take your contact information to the next level? Provide people with your telephone number and/or make yourself available on Skype. Again, state your availability so that people know when to best reach you.

3: Step Up Your Game: Contact Local Businesses

Life-Of-Pix / Pixabay

We all like to establish relationships the comfortable way: We reach out to clients when they post a gig on the internet.

Sure, this works quite well considering the thousands of online writing jobs posted every day. However, did you know that you can get better-paying gigs by contacting local or otherwise offline businesses?

Step out of your comfort zone; spend a few days every week visiting businesses in your area (as well as those not so close to you). Naturally, you will find places such as:

Clothing stores
Restaurants
Barbershops
Jewelry stores
Self-storage facilities
Hardware stores
Computing stores

These places all have one thing in common: They need promotion and clients, just like you.

Therefore, most of these actually have a website, but they are often largely outdated or could use a makeover from a copywriting standpoint.

This is where your skills come into play.

Depending on the business in question, some may need your writing services just once while others will have endless freelance writing jobs available.

A medium-sized restaurant, for example, may require you to update the company blog on a daily or weekly basis by summarizing special meals or offers. Considering how close you are to them, you could visit them and take a professional photo of a given meal, if applicable, then write an eye-catching blog post about it.

Now, imagine this type of recurring work with five or more clients. Remember, a town or city normally has multiple competitors; why not write for them all?

4: Speak Your Prospect’s Lingo

Emailing or pitching to potential clients is perhaps the step that will make or break you. This is the part that truly exposes you and makes you vulnerable, as the recipient will take action based on what he sees and the way you present yourself.

I am all for professionalism, and it goes without saying that your email/pitch should always represent the very best of you.

That being said, your message does not always need to be dry and boring – or better known as “100% professional.”

Let’s say that you spotted an online ad from a pop culture website dedicated to all things funny. The ad listing is filled with obvious signs that the client is approachable and down to earth: You see exclamation points, smiley faces, an overly-conversational tone, and even the occasional joke…

In this case, you should adapt to their way of writing and get on the same level when sending that golden pitch.

Write in the same way they presented themselves to begin with. Start your message with something among the lines of…

“How is your week treating you guys so far? It’s actually been quite windy here in Boston!”

Focus heavily on a conversational style while sprinkling some professionalism throughout the email.

By the end of the message you should still provide all necessary details (skills, portfolio, availability, and so on) while maintaining that casual approach the client so clearly enjoys.

Case in point: Talk to the client like a human being, or “a friend” if he implied his desires to be treated this way.

This approach builds such a huge sense of chemistry that he will likely pick you over everyone else, as mentioned by Carol Tice in this kick-ass post. I have tried this countless times and have gotten plenty of positive responses.

5: Compose a Memorable Subject Line

HebiPics / Pixabay

As you know, the subject line needs to make a strong impression to prevent the client from deleting your email without even opening it. This much is obvious…

I have personally posted many “Writers Wanted” ads in the past for various projects and have come to know many great applicants.

Yet, I have noticed that most replies are sent with the same headline that my original job posting had.

Do you know what the employer’s inbox looks like as a result?

Something like this:

Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog
Re: Content Writers Wanted for Blog

Every line belongs to an interested writer…

Now, multiply that times a few dozen emails, and you’ll know just how little you stand out from the crowd.

So, what do you do? Not only should you change the subject line to something unique, but actually create something that will blow people away.

Sometimes this is the only way to land freelance writing jobs in a highly competitive field.

Get to know the job poster however you can. For instance, take his name or the topics he is looking for into consideration, which are often disclosed in the job listing’s body:

Is he looking for movie news and reviews, for example? In this case, why not compose a subject line that reads something like…

“Hi John, I am an Avid Movie Enthusiast!”

Going back to our casual approach, this tip works especially well if the client gives you a down-to-earth and friendly vibe (or a “buddy” vibe, as I sometimes call it).

You should ideally get to know his website as well, especially one of its main sections or categories. This would allow you to craft a simple, catchy subject line that reads…

“Hi John, I Absolutely LOVE Your Website!” (or one of their site’s popular sections).

There is always enough information about the client for you to hack a boring subject line and turn it into a head-turning pot of gold. Don’t be afraid to get creative with this.

6: Aim High

geralt / Pixabay

It’s pretty common for freelancers to start at the bottom and slowly work their way up. We all want to build a varied portfolio and ultimately show it to potential clients.

The problem with this is that many people tend to stay at the bottom indefinitely. People feel that there are more opportunities with lower-paying clients or simply believe they’re not good enough to go after the big guys.

Do not sell yourself short.

You know what you can do. You know you can brainstorm, research and compose excellent content. You know all the rules and can handle any task that a client throws your way. So what’s stopping you from catching the big fish?

Here’s the thing, and I am sure you have noticed it as well: Take a look at large sources such as Digital Trends, TMZ, CNET, The Verge and other outlets.

Compare their articles to the ones you have been writing for small-time clients. Do you see a difference between them?

Me neither.

Whether you’re writing for a one-cent-per-word client or a $100-per-article website, your content will be virtually identical in detail, quality and style.

The only difference here is that the higher-paying client actually respects you and the work you do.

As The Renegade Writer’s Linda Formichelli says, you are providing so much more than mere words and components to the client. Everything from your extensive education to your uncanny creativity play a crucial role, thus making the client’s business much more successful.

Never go for the low-hanging fruit. You are much better than that. You are a winner.

Granted, large websites and organizations often require a few clips and samples, so you should still start somewhere when creating that shiny portfolio.

However, the point here is to never settle for writing a 500-word masterpiece in exchange for $5.

Here’s what to do instead:

1: Contact semi-established blogs and build a relationship with the owner; leave useful comments on their articles, help them by pointing out a way to fix or make one of their articles better, and send them a personal note thanking them for providing valuable content on their website.

2: These blogs should ideally cover niche subjects that you are passionate about if you are primarily looking to make money with topics that interest you.

3: Repeat this with some of your favorite outlets over the course of several weeks.

4: When the time is right, contact the blogs in question and politely ask if you could contribute a free guest post. Lay out the benefits guaranteed for their readers and humbly remind them who you are (bring up the previous contributions you had made to their site, as mentioned earlier).

Sure, you’re not getting paid for a guest contribution, However, a guest post on a few prominent websites can be much more powerful than working for random, low-paying, unknown clients:

– It ensures you get a byline.
– Your name is now officially attached to a reputable source.
– It helps you establish a long-term relationship with the blog owner. The sky is the limit once this happens.

From this point forward, you can confidently contact a big website related to the niche you worked on. As you can clearly write the type of content they love, you should have absolutely no trouble landing a gig.

Even if a client does not cover your preferred subject matter, they will feel comfortable giving you a shot because your name is attached to a decent, reputable source. More importantly, they can clearly see your top-notch quality and the value you would provide.

7: Go All Out: Contact Websites Like a Mad Man

JESHOOTS / Pixabay

This final step can get you an unlimited amount of freelance writing jobs, but consistency is key.

Let’s put it this way: Every website needs content. Every website needs someone to research, publish regularly, maintain their social network accounts, among many other things…

Do you think every website under the sun is all set and doesn’t need help?

Not a chance…

A quick Google search for “Entertainment blogs” returned 472,000,000 results as of this writing. This translates to an indefinite amount of potential clients for you to contact.

You shouldn’t just contact every website you come across, of course. Look for signs of “mild authority” first: How well known are they? Do they have any press releases or have been featured elsewhere? What’s the engagement like? These signs help narrow down the list, leaving you with the ones that are more likely to hire you.

Here’s what you should do once ready:

Type your preferred niche topic into a search engine near you, such as “Food blogs” or “Sports website.”

Most reputable websites have an easy-to-find contact page or email address. Copy and paste these details into an Excel spreadsheet or your default word processing program. Include the website owner’s name whenever possible, or at least some key members.

Pro tip: Visit Google News and search for a list of websites based on your topic of interest. These sources obviously need news-based content on a daily basis. Trust me, many of them could use a freelance writer or two.

Compile a minimum of 50 authoritative websites, but I highly suggest you aim for several hundreds on a weekly basis.

Now, contact each and every one of them – even if you don’t know whether they’re hiring.

The secret here is that you won’t always know that they need assistance. They won’t always advertise a job listing on your favorite job board and sometimes they won’t advertise at all.

Some of these simply expect contributors to contact them at will, pitching article ideas or asking for more information about hiring.

Believe it or not, even more shocking is that sometimes these places don’t even know they could use some help until you bring it up.

For this reason, contact them and ask if they need some assistance. Mention the possibility of contributing in the following areas:

Regular content writing
Social media assistance(maintaining their social pages and answering comments)
Answering emails (works especially well with service-based or membership websites)

To make your pitch stand out a bit more, let them know that you are not necessarily looking for full-time work.

Many companies and websites will be more than happy to pay you for one monthly article, as it takes some of the load off while also not spending much money. This is a win-win.

Again, even if they weren’t initially looking for help, some will assess their current situation and let you contribute now that you have opened their eyes to the overall benefits.

Lastly, send a follow-up email to those websites that never responded while continuously searching and writing down new ones. Make this a weekly habit and take it seriously, for your income largely depends on it.

Conclusion:

It’s always best to practice several of these tips at once. With persistence, it’s only a matter of time before you have three to five great clients, all earning you the exact amount you need to live comfortably and to the fullest.

What methods have you personally tried that led you to become a successful freelance writer? Can you share some of your success stories and failures?

– Elvis Michael


This post was originally published in http://writertown.com/how-to-become-a-wildly-successful-freelance-writer/ by Elvis Michael

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Online entrepreneur, avid blogger and freelance writer. Looking to connect with like-minded individuals. What can I do for you? Don't hesitate to send me a message or stop by http://writertown.com

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24 Responses to “How to Become a Wildly Successful Freelance Writer” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Metz Profile

    It’s easy to understand. Be presentable, be widely available, and step up your game and so on.

    If you want to be successful in your freelance writing job, it’s self-explanatory, you have to spice up everything and be more professional.

    Pretty sure if you’ll round up your works, or your brilliant works in your website, you can attract clients and it could empress them, if you’ll do so.

    Additionally, building connections and strong relationship with your previous clients and blog owners is smart and an all-time effective line of attack.

    Well, there are lots of ways to be fruitful. Passion, time management, enthusiasm, knowledge and skills are all vital to make your dream possible.
    Metz recently posted…MUST SEE: Kingged.com Gets Your Post Read By CNN, Mashable, HuffingtonPost, & Other Big Sites’ Readers!My Profile

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hi Elvis,
    Yes, I agree with all your tips. They are spot-on! Becoming a successful freelance writer requires one to create and practice strategies that are geared towards helping clients get value for hiring.

    If a service helps to solve problem for the client always then the freelancer would be more likely to win great gigs.

    For short, if one want to become a great freelance writer then he definitely should up his game by creating more valuable post, surpassing expected delivery time and improving communication access with clients.

    I guess writers should start employing the points you have made! Thanks for the details!
    Sunday William recently posted…“Ask or Discuss” Function Now Accessible On Kingged.comMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Elvis Michael Profile

      You just brought up many good points. In addition (and this is probably the most common issue) is that many writers tend to sell themselves short.

      It’s quite common to not charge what you’re worth simply because you fear the client will walk away and get someone else in your place.

      We must realize that there’s always someone out there willing to pay for quality and not merely quantity. Let the bad clients go and the good ones will eventually come and pay what you deserve.

      Elvis
      Elvis Michael recently posted…Sound Words Of Advice On Article MarketingMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Sherman Smith Profile

    Hey Elvis,

    Although I’m not a freelance writer, the tips you mentioned here are quite similar to growing a blog.

    I really like 3, 4, and 5 especially.

    One tip I read about growing your blog is doing outreach. You want to contact other bloggers to get them into their scope so then down the line you can collaborate with them. This helps you, them, and their audience. There’s always a win/win.

    Also with number 4 this reminds me of an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) technique used. And I tell you that it works quite well. People in general are attracted to those that are “similar” to them and this is a great way to get their attention and build rapport.

    On number 5 this is similar to writing good copy for headlines. In this case it’s the subject line. There’s quite a few formulas you can use to instantly engage the reader so that they’ll open your email. You definitely want to use the specific verbage that highly relates to their request in order to stand out to them.

    Thanks for sharing Elvis! Have a great rest of the week!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Blogging Strategies: 6 Extremely Powerful Fail-Proof TipsMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Elvis Michael Profile

      You’re right — a lot of techniques resemble something else, whether it’s copywriting, growing a blog or any other task you may be familiar with. That’s what makes finding clients so effective once you get the hang of things :)

      Outreach is quickly starting to catch on with bloggers. Most people always practiced some sort of outreach (such as blog commenting and linking) but no that’s not quite enough. You must truly connect with fellow bloggers on a more intimate level for long-term success (similarly to connecting with clients, in this case).

      Thanks!
      Elvis
      Elvis Michael recently posted…Sound Words Of Advice On Article MarketingMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Matt A Profile

    This is a very relateable post because as Sherman said, it’s similar to other fields. The one thing I’ve never understood about content writers is, as you mentioned, writing subject lines.

    I get emails from content writing applicants with subjects like

    “applying for content role” and
    “My application for the content writer position.”

    You’re a writer. If “I’m applying for the job opening” is the best you can do, you’re probably not hired … it’s fairly self-evident to me that you should have a modicum of creativity to get that particular role and you’ve displayed none so far.

    Anyhoo – that’s slightly off topic. Appreciate the article and will definitely apply some of these ideas to my own work outside freelance writing.
    Matt A recently posted…The Problem with Cheap SEO PackagesMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Hassaan Zeb Profile
    -2

    Hey Elvis i am new to blogging and i must say. Pretty much i learned here from your blog. Keep up with writing the basics and helping new comers like me. Good luck with it :)

    It would be really nice of you if you can take some time out and view and comment on a few blogs on mine to help me improve at [Link removed by Kingged.com moderators – please don’t put links to your blog in the comments, to prevent getting banned from Kingged.com.]

    Thanks :)

  • Profile photo of Hassaan Zeb Profile

    Hey Ajay thanks for warning me. As i am new to Kingged so i did not knew about it. I even read the rules but maybe i missed it. Thank you for correcting me. Thanks :)

    You Rock !
    Hassaan Zeb recently posted…Assassins Creed Syndicate File Size RevealedMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Mi Muba Profile

    Hi Elvis

    Highly appreciate your covering the every detail of the topic and for making this post super fabulous by putting a lot of value into it.

    In freelance business of any kind one has to do monumental hard work to build his base and let the people know he is something and not just another freelancer in the industry.

    If it relates to any online field then the task becomes more challenging because a person does not have to offer any tangible proofs and just on the basis of his previous performance and credentials he has to get the new clients.

    Many thanks for sharing this super beneficial post
    Mi Muba recently posted…What to sell and what to offer free to your blog visitors?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Jay Busa Profile

    Hi Elvis,

    Nicely written and all the points you have mentioned here are great. Freelance business requires lots of hard work and you have to market yourself for that. To do that you have covered all the related points. As I am also related with this field this is very useful for me, so thanks for sharing such useful post.
    Jay Busa recently posted…How to find right Web Hosting for WordPressMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Eugene Zavarzin Profile

    Hi Elvis,

    Highly appreciate the article. You have covered the topic widely. I have been a freelance writer and know the hurdles we have to face in this type of field. Contacting for work and always staying online to reply to emails of clients is a huge task. Plus I feel as a freelance writer, staying online is distracting and lowers the quality o the writing. So, I feel freelance writing is not such an easy task. It requires lots of patience and huge amount of connectivity to get a regular flow of work.

    Thanks,
    Eugene
    Eugene Zavarzin recently posted…Is Mobe A Scam?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Alex Birkett Profile

    Love it! And once the clients start rolling in, use the momentum. Referrals are the way to go :)

  • Profile photo of Deborah Anderson Profile

    Great tips! I really like your idea of creating a chat box on the site. I have been making myself available on Skype. The problem is, it gives the impression of 24/7. God forbid I leave a quick message, intended for the next day, on the way to the ladies room in the middle of the night.

    I have had clients want to call me in the middle of the night (i.e. they are in the other part of the globe). Uh, not so conducive to my family (and especially hubby) sleeping at that time.

    Your idea of creating office hours as a part of that chat box makes a lot of sense! Thanks. (Maybe Skype will have to take a back seat or only be available to those who respect the midnight hour.)
    Deborah Anderson recently posted…GetResponse: The eMail Marketing Solution of ChoiceMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Sachitra Profile

    Great article.
    There is a lot to take to every person who aims to be a freelance writer. It’s all about being passionate of what you do. Be unique and pour your heart out when writing.
    I’ve come across many writers who don’t write much (content wise), but their style of writing could attract a lot of readers. At the end of each article, try to give a message, if not many ideas, so as to give a satisfactory feeling for the readers.

    Yes, the market is highly competitive nowadays. You can definitely survive if you could be more creative.

  • Profile photo of Nikhil Kumar Saini Profile

    Hi Elwis,

    You are really a master in freelance writing. You got us great tips buddy. I have never tried sending email while I am a freelance writer along with a blogger. I going to bookmark this and will share on facebook. Would you like to have a guest post on my blog?

    I would love to have you on my blog.

    Thanks
    Nikhil
    Nikhil Kumar Saini recently posted…Should I be Invisible or Reveal My True Identity as a Blogger?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hey Elvis,
    Its true that many don’t get the most from their freelance writing ventures.

    There are many reasons that could be attributable to this but most importantly I think it is the function of how the writer presents himself.

    If a freelance writer sells himself short, then it becomes obvious that clients will see them as such.

    Therefore, for improved gigs and income, the freelance writer must re-brand himself and create real value for improved income!
    Sarah John recently posted…Submit 100% Unique Content on Kingged & Enjoy Massive-ExposureMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hi Elvis,
    Contacting local businesses for freelance gigs is often neglected by budding freelance writers.

    If only they can make the most of this advice and start contacting local business, they are sure grow strong as a writer and attract high-paying gig.

    The best successful freelance writers started from somewhere and building portfolios from local business can give a lot of credibility.

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