These 5 tips are for freelance writers who want to quickly start getting more clients and earning more money.
Most freelance writers struggle to make a living because they are easily replaceable. There are thousands of other writers who can write just as well as them.
If you follow the five tips in this post, you will become irreplaceable to your clients. They will want to keep paying you to write for them because it would be too hard to replace you.
I have been on both sides of freelance writing. In the past, I have been on the freelancer side. I wrote content for clients on sites like Upwork.
Now, I’m on the client side. I hire freelance writers to write for me. And having been on both sides, I have a pretty good perspective on what it takes to be successful in freelance writing.
1. Find Clients Wanting Ongoing Work
When you get started with freelance writing, much of your time will be spent applying for jobs and finding clients.
This can be extremely time consuming and you’re not compensated for that work.
Ideally, you want to be spending more time writing for clients and less time applying for jobs. So it makes sense to find clients who are looking for ongoing work, rather than one-time projects.
Try to find clients who are looking for someone to write at least 1 blog post per week. These will generally be larger businesses or big, established blogs. If the client is someone just starting a new blog, they’re unlikely to be able to provide ongoing work.
If you’re using a platform like Upwork, the job description will generally indicate whether it’s an ongoing project. But if you’re not sure, you can always ask the client.
You’re more likely to get ongoing work from a client who has an active blog. Many active blogs will post 10+ posts per week and they would prefer to keep giving work to the same writers.
In the next four tips, you will learn how to become a better writer so these clients want to keep giving you work.
2. Study The Principles of Copywriting
Even if you’re not writing traditional sales letters, knowing the principles of copywriting will give you a huge advantage as a freelance writer.
Copywriting teaches you how to write in a way that’s engaging. It teaches you how to keep the reader’s attention.
If you’re able to write in a way that holds the reader’s attention, it will make you invaluable to your clients.
I have worked with a lot of freelance writers in the past and very few of them (even the experienced ones) apply copywriting principles in their writing. Most write like they were taught to write in high school English class.
But the style of writing you’re taught at school is generally not very engaging. It doesn’t hold a reader’s attention. Copywriting teaches you to forget about all the rules you learn in English class. And instead, just write content that people actually want to read.
From studying copywriting, you also learn to write persuasively…
Let’s say your client has a travel blog. They want you to write an article on ‘The Top 10 Travel Destinations in Spain.’ You might wonder why you would need to write persuasively for an article like this.
No matter what subject you’re writing about, you’re always trying to persuade the reader to do something. Firstly, you want the reader to actually read the full article. To get them to read the full article, you need to be persuasive.
Bonus Tip: Always Run Your Work Through Hemingway Editor before submitting. It will help you make your writing a lot easier to read.
Copywriting will teach you to write a compelling introduction to your article, that makes the reader want to continue reading.
Most freelance writers don’t know how to do that. Because they haven’t studied copywriting. If you can do it, you’re going to have a huge edge over other writers. And your client will want you to continue writing for them.
I highly recommend the book Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman. Also look at material from some of the great copywriters like David Ogilvy, Joseph Sugarman and Eugene Schwartz.
3. Learn From Other Blogs
One of the best ways to improve your writing skills is by reading a lot yourself.
Start by using Google to find blogs that write about topics that interest you. It’s worth subscribing to these blogs when you find a good one.
Try to observe which blog posts capture your attention and which ones don’t. Then consider the reasons why you enjoyed some posts more than others.
Perhaps the writer wrote a great introduction, which made you curious to read the rest of the article. Maybe the content was easy to read because it was broken up with subheadings, bullet points and images. Start an Evernote or Google Docs file where you can write down your observations and include links to the blog posts.
If you have spent some time studying copywriting principles, it will be a lot easier to recognize what makes some blog posts more readable than others.
It’s just as important to review bad examples of writing as well. This will teach you what to avoid in your writing. If you click on a blog post in Google, and then you’re wanting to leave that article within 30 seconds, stop and consider what went wrong.
Why didn’t you want to read the full article?
Maybe the content in the article looked too generic and didn’t give you any reason to continue reading. Or perhaps the paragraphs were too long and difficult to read.
The more you do this, the more aware you will become of what makes good writing. Ultimately, that will make you a much more effective writer yourself.
Understanding reader psychology will also make it a lot easier to identify what makes certain articles more compelling. I have written a lot of content on this blog about the psychology behind sales letters, which I recommend reading. Start with the two articles below.
4. Create Your Own Blog
Creating your own blog is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills as a writer.
It could even become another source of income for you in the future to supplement your writing income. In another article, I talk about how Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents is making $100,000+ per month from her blog.
When you create your own blog, you will also start learning about other aspects of blogging like search engine optimization (SEO). If you understand SEO and how to write SEO optimized content, it will make you even more valuable to clients.
Starting a blog is very simple and won’t cost you much. You can even start blogging for free within the next hour on a platform like Medium.
But I would recommend creating a blog on your own website through WordPress. WordPress is a content management system used by websites and bloggers. It’s likely that a lot of your clients will be using WordPress so it will be helpful to understand the platform yourself.
This article from WP Beginner explains exactly how to start a WordPress blog step by step.
5. Hire A Writer For Your Own Blog
If you want to be successful with freelance writing, you need to be able to make your clients happy. They won’t keep paying you if they’re not happy.
When you’re using a freelance website like Upwork where you apply for jobs, you also need to be good at writing applications.
To keep your clients happy and write good applications, you need to be able to put yourself in the client’s position. The best way to do that is to become a client yourself.
Once you’ve started your own blog, go through the process of hiring one or two writers for your blog. Even if you only get them to write a few articles, it will give you a completely new perspective.
You will see how freelancers write their applications for your job and what appeals to you as a client. When you’re writing your applications as a freelancer you try to guess what the client wants to hear. But when you’ve gone through the process of reviewing applications yourself, it’s much easier to understand what clients really look for in applications.
This process will also teach you a lot about what makes a good freelance writer after they have been hired for the job. You will see how the freelancer communicates with you about the job and you can look at their work from a client perspective.
By doing this, you’re going the extra mile that 99% of freelance writers will never do. Yes, it will cost you some money to hire a freelance writer yourself. But it will be money well spent.
Summary & Next Steps
With freelance writing being a highly competitive space, you need to put in the extra work to succeed.
Most other freelance writers won’t be willing to follow through with these tips (especially 2, 4 and 5). But those who do will become invaluable to their clients and never run out of work.
If you’re able to find clients who give you continuous, ongoing work and keep them happy then freelance writing becomes a lot easier and more enjoyable. Your clients will be willing to pay you more money and they will give you more work.
As a bonus tip, I also recommend doing everything you can to ensure your English is near-perfect. This particularly applies to writers from non-English speaking countries.
But even writers in English speaking countries like the US, Australia and UK need to be aware of this. As a client, there is nothing more frustrating than reading an article from a writer that is full of grammatical errors.
It will be extremely difficult to attract high paying clients if your English is not up to a high standard. Always use Grammarly when writing for clients. Even if you are a native speaker.
And most importantly, get started! The faster you start implementing these tips, the sooner you will see the results.