How to Start a Freelance Writing Business
A great way for any stay at home mom to make money is by offering a freelance writing business. Love to write? Then this is going to be the perfect opportunity for you. You can write around your kid’s schedule and you can decide what clients to take on and what projects. It really is a flexible way to have the best of best worlds.
What is Freelance Writing Business?
A freelance writer does not work for any company, they offer a service – writing to others. You are your own boss, you set your own hours, rates and you choose your clients. Plus, you don’t need any special tools or software to launch your freelance writing business. Which is why it’s a great choice for stay at home moms who like to write, and would like to have a business that they can grow as their children get older.
You may be asked to write on a variety of topics such as:
- Blogging – writing blog posts
- Copywriting – writing copy for sales pages & marketing material
- Editing – editing and proofreading other writers’ work
- Fiction writing – creating fiction books
- Ghost writing – writing reports, books or articles that will be attributed to others
- Journalism – writing news stories
- Marketing – creating press releases
- Print Publications – writing for magazines and newspapers
- Technical Writing – convey technical information to a non-technical audience
- Web content – creating content for websites
Within these you could be writing about dog training, infant care, diets and weight loss or money management.
You may want to decide if you wish to write for a certain niche or industry. You can always specialize later on. I started off with a variety of topics and then found that I wrote a ton of health related articles.
Why Start A Freelance Writing Business?
Of course, my number 1 reason for starting my own, freelance writing business, was that I had always enjoyed writing at school. It was the one subject I could get good grades in. So why not do something you are good at?
Writing can be learned, not sure about your writing ability? Then start keeping a journal every day. The more you write the better you become at it.
My next reason was that I could write in short spurts during the day. This was super important to me, being a mom. I could easily write while the boys were sleeping. My husband left early for work, so I got into the habit of getting up with him, and after seeing him off would start writing. Look at your schedule and see where you can squeeze in some writing.
It’s amazing that when you know you only have an hour or so to write, how focused you become, and how much writing you can achieve.
Then there was the fact, of just having a small income of my own. You don’t always want to have to ask your hubby for $20 to get your hair cut or buy a new pair of jeans. How can you buy him a birthday gift when you have to ask for the money first?
Just having that small income at first, solved so many issues for me, and made me feel more confident and independent. And you can feel the same way too!
How to Get Started with Your Freelance Writing Business
So now that you are excited about setting up a freelance writing business for yourself, how do you go about it? This is where you can benefit from my experience. I’m going to show you how to avoid mistakes that I made, and get making some money of your own.
I am going to discuss basic ways for you to get started, without spending too much money at first. Once you start earning money then put some aside so you can invest in helpful tools for your freelance writing business.
You will need the following before setting up your freelance writing business:
- Internet access
- Email account
- Word-processing software – Office 365, Google Docs, Open Office
- Phone – I use Skype for long distance and international calls
Social Media Platforms
As you know social media is huge, so why not take advantage of this and use it to promote your writing business? The first thing you want to do is to set up your own Freelance Writing Business page on Facebook. You can just use your own name or come up with a name related to freelance writing.
Next create a new Gmail account with the name that you used for your Facebook page. You want to keep your name the same across all the media sites, so right from the beginning you are branding yourself. To set up Gmail you will have to open a Google account, this gives you access to places such as Google+ and YouTube. Plus you get access to all the Google Doc tools!
Search Facebook for some writing related groups and join those. You want to start networking with fellow writers and get your name out there as a writer. What often happens is a writer will be fully booked and still receive requests from new, potential clients. They will often look for someone to refer them too. Or they may look to hire a writer to help them out.
I still get requests for writers and am always happy to pass on a referral! Hint, hint!
Start Posting Content to Your Page
It’s important now to start posting content to your freelance writing page. You can post writing tips, favorite quotes and books and more. Just get your page populated with several posts.
You will be posting about your availability, but we are not quite there yet.
Getting Ready to Write
Before you can take on your first client, you will want to create some examples and have them ready. Take the time to write four or five articles or blog posts on different topics.
Now, you may want to write on a specialized topic such as health or marketing. Or you may prefer to take on any topic at first. I suggest keeping your options open. It’s a great experience to write on different topics. This way you can discover which topics you prefer to write about.
Setting Your Prices
The one thing I can tell you from my experience is to not set your prices too low at first. Yes, you want clients, but remember you can only write so much in a week, and you want to get paid what you are worth.
What I suggest you do is time yourself how long it takes you to write 500 words. That’s an average word length that customers request. Then figure out how much you want to earn per hour, and then set your prices accordingly.
You can still offer specials and give introductory offers to attract clients. But you want to have a stable, bottom price in place, right from the beginning.
Important Extras to Include
Again, you are going to benefit from my experience! There are certain extras that you want to allow for when setting your prices.
Research time – if you will be writing on a topic that you are not familiar with you must set aside a few hours for research. This will affect your bottom line, as it will cut into the number of hours you have to actually ‘write’ your content.
Add in costs such as having to use the phone for research, extra internet usage, any software or books you may need to purchase to get the project completed. These are all known as Overhead costs and while they are tax deductible you still need to allow for them in your rates.
Communication – if the project is going to involve Skype calls or meetings with your client, then allow for this too. If it’s just one initial 20-minute call to discuss the project then I don’t normally charge for this. But if you are required to connect with them every day for updates, add this to your final fees.
Get everything in writing this way if there is a misunderstanding you can both back track it.
Set up a client list and start keeping track of the work you did, payment, type of project etc. This is a great way to ask for references later on. Plus, it will help you see how your freelance writing business is growing and how much repeat work you get.
Payment Per Project or By Word
I have done this both ways and usually it depends upon the project. For things like a report you may wish to charge per word. This also allows you to add in time for research into the price. Plus, it’s good if an exact word count hasn’t been given. For example, you are just asked to write a 10-page report of the benefits of walking for health.
I know several writers that have a set amount per word as well. It’s really a matter of choice. For now, I suggest having an amount per 500 word article, and a per word rate. You can then see what works best for you. You may find that the majority of your clients want articles, so a set price would be the better option.
Decide on a Payment Method
You will be working online and dealing with clients around the world so you want to set up your PayPal account first.
Next you want to decide on when you get paid. Do you want payment upfront, or are you happy to wait until the content is ready to be delivered? There are pros and cons to both – and you need to look at it from the side of you as the writer, and from the client’s point of view.
Here’s what I mean. A new client just contacted you and wants to order a set of articles and is happy to pay your price of $50. This client doesn’t know you so it can be hard for them to agree to pay you the full price upfront. How do they know you will deliver on time, if deliver at all?
From your point of view, as the writer, if you write and deliver the content, how do you know they will send the payment over?
This is how I would handle this. Ask for a deposit upfront, for a new client say 25%. Then you will write the content and contact them when the articles are ready to be delivered. They send the payment and you deliver the work. I always offer to make small changes to the final version.
If a client wants to pay upon completion of the work you can then do the work and then invoice them. It’s very easy to create and send invoices with PayPal. I have done this many times with my clients.
Getting Clear Instructions from Your Client
Of course, you want your client to be happy with your freelance work, and you need to make sure that you understand exactly what they want. Communication is key to the success of your freelance writing business.
When a potential client contacts you make sure you get all the details of the project. The exact topics to be covered, expected work count, whether they want certain keywords to be used. Even ask them what format they would like the work in.
I would send the client one of your writing samples and tell them that this is the style, format etc all the work will be delivered in. They will either agree, or ask you to use a different font size, layout etc. They may even send you their own template to use.
- Keep all email communications as references
- Get contact information from your client, so you can ask questions quickly. This might be a phone number, skype, Facebook connection or email.
- Type up your understanding of the contract and email it to the client. Include expected delivery date as well. You may want to set the delivery date, as 10 days from client confirmation. So if they take a few days to get back to you, you still have 10 days to write the content.
- If the project is complicated, don’t start on it until you have confirmation.
Basic Tools & Software to Get You Started
As your freelance writing business grows you can add paid tools and software, but for now these are the bare minimum I would suggest you have in place.
One of the easiest ways to deliver content to your client is by using Dropbox. Click to get a free account here.
Plus, you can save all your work into your Dropbox folder and have it as a backup. There’s nothing worse, then finishing up a report or project and having your hard-drive crash and lose all of your hard work. You don’t want to be scrambling around having to re-write content. As a busy mom, you just don’t have time for that.
Office 365 – this contains the Microsoft suite of tools. You may have this on your computer all ready. But if not you can actually pay monthly for it. This gives you access to the latest version. Plus, you will have Powerpoint and Excel as well. You could offer creating a Powerpoint slideshow of the articles to your clients, at an extra price!
If you can’t manage that then you can use the free Open Office version which is very similar. Or you can just use Google Docs, this will work well if your client uses this format too. You can share your documents and files with them.
Skype: Install skype on your computer so you can connect with clients.
Getting Your First Client
You are now ready to start your freelance writing business and take on your first client. If you have been posting to your Facebook page regularly you can now announce your new business is open.
If you can post in some of the writing groups you joined as well. In one of my groups I allow everyone to post a service or product for sale once a week. It’s a great way for members to connect and I have even hired writer’s that way too.
Ask for referrals from family and friends. You never know who knows who and where this can lead too. I wrote content for a huge internet marketer after being introduced by a mutual friend!
Announcing Your Offer
One mistake that you want to avoid is offering to write for a really low price. This usually attracts the wrong type of client. Your ideal client is someone who will be happy to pay your prices, and become a repeat customer.
Instead what you can do is offer an Introductory Special for new clients. For example, if your normal rate for a 500-word article is $15, state that you will give them 700 words for the same price. You can run your special for a certain number of days, or clients.
Get 700 words for the price of 500 – first 5 clients only
Another idea is offer to give them 5 articles for the price of 4. Or offer a short blog post of 250 words to every customer who gives you a review or testimonial.
Additional Ways to Get Clients
There are numerous job boards and forums online. You can search out some of these and create a profile and join them. Upwork and PeoplePerHour are two good ones. Basically you join and then have to bid on writing projects.
Something else I did when I first started out was to set up a gig on a site, that was similar to what we now know as Fiverr. Because the rate here is only $5 you don’t want to be writing 500 words for that price. After Fiverr takes their cut you are left with around $4.
What you can do is offer 200 words for that price. If someone wants a 400-word article, they would send you $10 for it. This can be a good way to get some potential clients under your belt, but I don’t suggest it long term.
Offer to Guest Post – many bloggers are always looking for someone to write a guest post for them. You can search out blogs in a niche that you feel comfortable writing and ask if you can guest post. Normally you are allowed to have an author bio, so you can mention your freelance writing business here along with your email address. While you won’t get paid, you will get exposure, and can then use your post as a reference.
Growing Your Freelance Writing Business
As I mentioned earlier we covered getting started with the basics. Now I want to cover additional resources and tools that will enhance your freelance writing business and help it grow.
Setting Up Your Own Website
Today it is important to have your own business website, it gives you a professional appearance, and it gives you a place to showcase your writing skills.
All you need to get started is a domain name [think address of your site] and a hosting company [where your business sits]. You can get this set up for under $20, and then it will only cost you each month for the hosting company. Again around $5 -$8 each month. So it is affordable. Your domain name is good for one year when you will need to renew it. Try to get a good domain name, do some research and look for suitable freelance writing business names for your new site.
Once you have these two things in place you can install WordPress on your site. This provides you with a theme – the look and feel of your site. WordPress is easy to use and set up. You can literally have your website set up very quickly.
What to Include
Home Page – this is the page your potential clients will first see, and it will describe your freelance writing business.
About Page – this is where you write about being a stay at home mom, your kids, your dreams and plans for the future. You want to really connect with your readers so they get to know you.
Blog – including a blog allows you to showcase your work and provide writing tips, information, favorite books and quotes. Pretty much anything about writing that you want to share.
Contact Page – include ways for clients to connect with you. It’s very easy to install a Contact form on your site with WordPress.
Portfolio – this is a page that links to some of your articles that you have written. Make sure you get permission from your clients before linking to any of their work. Some may prefer you not too. You can also link to your own examples from here too.
Watch this video for detailed instructions on how to set up your new website: If you have any questions feel free to connect with me for help.
An autoresponder is a way for you to email your clients and potential clients with news about your offers and availability. Another benefit of using this tool is that it is basically building you a mailing list. Having a mailing list can be extremely profitable to your business. But for now, setting this up means you can offer visitors to your website a gift. For example – How to Choose a Freelance Writer. In order for them to download it, they need to enter their email address into a form. Bingo, you now have their name on your list.
Both places offer free trials and then the price per month varies, around $20-$30. The price increases as you list grows larger.
This is one of my most valuable tools I have in place, and honestly can’t stress enough how important it will be for you to have in place for your own business.
There are free alternatives for these options as well but there is one problem with using a free service or platform. The main one is that you don’t own it, and you could wake up one morning and find that your website has disappeared. This happened to me once with a Blogger account I had, it had tons of posts on it, and one it was gone without any warning.
Another issue is that quite often the company will add advertising in return for giving you the website or service for free. That definitely doesn’t look professional.
Services such as Mailchimp have restrictions on who you can send emails to and the type of offers you are including. I suggest going with the paid versions as soon as you can.
It’s Your Turn
You are now armed with all the information you need to get your freelance writing business up and running quickly. It’s up to you now, to take action.
Here’s what I suggest you do:
- Look at your daily mom’s schedule and set aside some time each day that you can write. I used to get up early with my husband and write until it was time to get the boys up. Then I would try and write while they were having their afternoon naps whenever possible.
- Determine how long it takes you to write 500 words. Then compare this to how much time you realistically have each week. This allows you to take on the right amount of work. You don’t want to overbook yourself and then deliver work late.
- Get your Facebook page set up for your business and start posting content to it. Once per day is good.
- Join writer’s groups on Facebook and start adding comments to posts. Also Like and Share content. Just be helpful and answer questions and offer writing tips. You can even share writing quote posters.
- Look for any online writer’s forums and join a couple of those. Again answer questions and give advice.
- Set up your business tools – paypal account and gmail account.
- Get your website going – if you are going to do this right away.
- Create your writing samples.
- Set your rates.
- Announce your Special Offer
- Attract new clients
- Keep track of your income – great way to stay motivated when you see those numbers increasing!
My Freelance Writing Tips
From my own experience you are going to have to network with other writers if you want to run a successful freelance writing business. You can do this my joining forums, writer and mom related communities and by being on social media.
Don’t be afraid to offer to write guest posts for someone, or ask another writer if they ever need help. You never know what their answer might be. My one small Fiverr type gig led me to writing for one client for over 3 years!
Also, don’t be afraid to say no! This can be really hard to do, but if you have worked for a really picky client get up the courage to say no to their next assignment. It can actually make you feel empowered when you do this the first time. The thing about having a freelance writing business is that you have the final say in who you do or do not write for!
Still unsure of your ability to become a freelance writer and start your own freelance writing business? Then pick up my Top Writing Tips below. I cover 36 writing tips that will help you improve your self-confidence and write better content, all of which your clients will love!