It may seem as though the freelance writing niche is saturated. Just take a look online and it seems as though almost everyone is touting their services as a content writer or a blogger.
Freelance writing is a profession in which writers work as independent contractors, rather than being employed by a company or organization. Freelance writers may work on a project-by-project basis, or they may have ongoing relationships with clients. Writing projects can cover a broad range including -
- Blog posts
- Press releases
- Technical documents
However, freelance writing is far from saturated, as more businesses and individuals seek writers to create content for their websites, social media, and other digital marketing materials. Demand for quality writers remains high and that means plenty of opportunities for skilled writers who want to start their own freelance service.
A freelance writing business is an attractive proposition that comes with a number of benefits. Freelance writers have the flexibility to choose the type of clients they want to work with and the projects they work on, allowing them to focus on their area of interest or expertise.
Freelance writing can also offer financial benefits, as writers can set their own rates and potentially earn more than they would in a traditional job. In addition, freelance writing is a business that has the potential to scale if desired into a full-blown content agency and, if you are a person that likes to travel, freelance writing for a living can be done from almost anywhere in the world.
How to start a freelance writing business
There are some writers who operate as a generalist, writing for any type of business about any topic that is needed, many writers start out this way when they first set up in business. Over time, more specialised writing skills may be developed and writers may niche down to focus their writing services on one particular industry or business sector.
Other writers start with a laser focus on a specific area, knowing that their skills and experience fit well and that their talents are well suited to one type of business or industry. For example, there are writers that specialise in marketing, recruitment, or martech.
If you fall into the latter category then identifying your niche is a crucial step in starting a successful writing business. Going this route will involve researching potential markets and assessing the competition to identify a gap in the market or a specific area of expertise where you can provide services.
Defining a target audience will help you tailor your writing style to your client’s needs, and identifying your unique value proposition will set you apart from the competition. Researching potential markets involves identifying the types of clients and industries that you want to target.
Areas that are growing and have a demand for content, such as technology, health and wellness, and finance can provide new freelance writers with a lot of opportunities.
Setting up Your Business
Setting up your freelance writing business will require you to jump through some regulatory and legal hurdles such as establishing a legal business entity. If you are going to be operating a sole trader the registration process isn’t too complicated. But if you are going to be working as a limited company or a partnership the requirements are much more detailed in terms of legislations and taxes so you may need some assistance to get set up.
A limited company can help you to protected your personal assets and establish credibility, but there are some accounting and tax laws to look out for. It is wise to have an accountant to help with tracking expenditure and outgoings, and to file taxes at the end of the trading year.
Creating a business plan and portfolio
Whether your freelance business is large or small, creating a business plan can help to establish your goals, determine your target audience, and outline any marketing or sales strategies you are thinking of using. If you are seeking a business partnership or hoping to attract funding, a business plan can very helpful.
To showcase skills and demonstrate your capabilities, building a portfolio is one of the best ways to attract potential clients. It should include samples of your best work and highlight your areas of expertise. Portfolios can come in all forms and can be made digitally as a one-page or multi-page website, or your work can be housed on dedicated writing platforms like Medium or Substack.
As with most new businesses, the challenge for freelance writer is finding clients and its one of the biggest barriers to overcome when building a business. There are countless articles online about how to find and keep good paying clients, but usually when starting out you might have to deal with some not so well paid work or clients who are a bit demanding. As you progress you will be able to determine the clients that are the right fit for your services.
Look for work in places like -
- Social media groups
- Job boards
- Freelance marketplaces
Once clients are coming in regularly you will likely start to gain more work by referrals and word of mouth which means you have to spend less time searching or sending out cold emails to prospect for work. Building your network can also be helped by colleagues, or business associates and it can be a good idea to attend industry events and conferences to meet possible future clients and other professionals who could benefit from your writing services.
How freelancers find work
Managing your workload
Managing a successful freelance writing business involves more than just creating and delivering content, there is time management, setting rates and negotiating contracts, and maintaining good relationships with your clients. Depending on how big your workload is, you might need to invest in software to help with things like time management, project tracking, and maintaining a schedule.
Time management can be a knotty problem for freelancers, it can be easy to get distracted or overwhelmed. Creating a schedule with deadlines and managing work using productivity tools like Trello or Monday can help freelance writers to keep track of tasks. If you have so much work that you need to outsource, then having management software means that you can ensure work is produced and delivered to agreed deadlines.
Setting rates and handling clients
Setting rates and negotiating terms is one of those things that can throw many new freelancers into a whirlwind of self doubt. ‘Am I charging too much?’ or ‘Am I charging too little?’ can be a constant worry especially when starting out. Get familiar with what other freelance writers are charging. Research industry rates and match to your level of experience and expertise to make setting rates less of a stab in the dark. Pay averages can be affected by many things, industry, the size of business you are working with, available budget, urgency and even your age.
Once you are securly armed with your rates, keep them in mind when negotiating contracts, be clear about your expectations and deliverables, like edits or turnaround times, and always have a written agreement.
When dealing with clients the goal is to maintain a positive and productive relationship that benefits both parties. With so many writers in the market, one of the ways you can differentiate yourself is with quality of service. Be responsive, communicate clearly, and be open to incorporating client feedback. Strong relationships with clients can lead to repeat business and more work from referrals.
How much do freelance writers earn?
Perhaps the biggest question that freelance writers have when starting their business is ‘How much can I earn?’ The truth is that earnings will fluctuate based on your own rates, whether you are working full or part time and the kind of content you are creating. Complex and in depth articles will command higher rates then less detailed pieces.
Writers charge by hour, per word, and per project depending on the work involved, but by word tends to be the most common.
Many freelance writers never look back once they have started their business, when the initial challenges of finding clients and juggling workloads have been addressed, many find it to be a rewarding and lucrative career. With flexibility, high potential earnings, and a relatively low barrier to entry, it can be a career thats open to anyone with an appropriate level of writing skill.
- Starting a freelance business can be a path to financial freedom
- Work can be performed from any location
- Software and productivity tools can be helpful for work management
- A freelance writing business can be grown into an agency
- Rates vary by work complexity, industry, and writer experience