How To Start Your Freelance Writing Career: If I Had to Start Freelance Writing Career from Scratch, I Would…
“Denzil helped me to get my first client as a newbie freelance writer. I made 150 dollars in my first 2 weeks of freelance writing. Thanks to his advice and freelance coaching. If you are a newbie writer struggling to get clients, then it is time you worked with Denzil. He will guide you till you get stable clients who pay well.”
“Thank you for the mentorship. I landed a client and bagged $700 from the project. Once again, thanks.”
You must have read tons of such testimonials all over, but you are not even close to succeeding with your freelance writing career.
It hurts. Really hurts to read testimonials of others succeed while you are stuck at one point.
The two testimonials you read above are from two dedicated students who took my free freelance mini-course seriously and landed their first clients.
How I wish I could get people to show me exactly where to get freelance writing jobs or tell me some of the popular freelance writing job sites like I did to those trainees above (Yvonne and Vincent).
I did not just show them where to get jobs but also connected them with real clients.
So why did I ‘spoon-feed’ them?
Well, I reward dedicated trainees with whatever I have. At that time, I had two clients who needed more freelance writers, and I had to refer my best trainees.
Who Is Denzil Really?
Denzil is a Kenyan Procurement graduate (in less than a year), a Christian, founder of Denzil Freelance Kenya, freelance writer, and a son.
My passion was to be a lawyer until the disappointment came when I missed it by 2 points going by the KUCCPS selection process.
That was the end. I lost the passion and opted to pursue Procurement. I’m not regretting. I love it.
My Freelance Writing Journey
Have you heard people say how they’ve failed with their freelance writing?
I never have.
Most people fear to share their failure stories, but that’s what I’m about to share with you.
When I started my freelance writing career, I had no idea what freelancing was. I never knew the meaning of freelancing.
In short, I was green.
Another humiliating experience was just how I was bullied in several Facebook groups.
I was called names. I recall one person called me a lizard. Thanks for that because I know I’m a human being, not a lizard. (no hard feelings).
Because I couldn’t take the insults and intimidations, I had to hit back at several people within those groups.
Finally, I was kicked out in all the Facebook Groups.
Let me be honest with you. It’s not that I hate Facebook groups. I love them so much. That’s why I created my own Facebook group.
If you subscribe to my free freelance mini-course, the first lesson will point to you some of the Facebook groups I recommend (I have suggested even some of the groups that I was kicked out from).
I have a lot of challenges that I came across when starting as a freelance writer, but I can’t share them all at once.
If you want to know more about them, there are a couple of posts I have written about my challenges like this guest blog post on my trainer’s website. Check it out.
What I’d Do If I Started Freelance Writing from Scratch
The advantage with freelancing is that there are a lot of freelance writing careers that you could venture in like web content writing, blog writing, copywriting among others.
I was totally new to freelancing when I started. I’m from a country where freelancing is at its roots at the moment – not many people have known this better way of making money.
But I’m more than confident that if I had to start freelance writing from scratch, I would do everything totally different and way much better.
I wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes I made when I started.
Have a look at what I would do differently. It’s unique:
1) Select Reasonable Freelance Writing Courses
Many people will say you don’t need any training to succeed with your freelance writing, but I have a different opinion when it comes to such a debate, why?
A series of freelance writing courses made me: not just one or two, but many of them.
I come from a country where freelance writing is still at its roots. It’s just freaking hard to find your feet all alone.
I found my feet through the help of a reputable freelance trainer, top-rated Upworker, and the owner of the best blog in Kenya (talking about making money online), Walter Akolo.
After Walter’s paid freelance writing course, I took a series of paid mini-courses like Writing with flair by Shani Raja, Building Credibility by Jon Morrow, SEO 101 by Jon Morrow and Pitching 101 by Carol Tice.
These are all good courses that I recommend you take if you have the cash. And if you’re wondering how much they cost, surprise! Surprise!
None of them cost above $50.
That’s less than 5,000 Kenyan shillings. The two courses by Jon Morrow costs Unbelievably just $7 each (though that’s when you purchase them on discount).
All the same, I’m not limiting you from choosing other courses. It’s your prerequisite to select a course that’ll give you results.
Have you decided on which course you’re going to purchase? If yes, we can move to the next step:
2) Choose a Niche
This is the stage with a lot of controversies. I don’t know why and I wish I knew.
Tons of people have different opinions about how to select a niche, and I respect their opinions.
But, Heck! The noise is just too much – you can’t know who to take seriously and who not to. You end up getting confused. But you need to start your freelance writing career. What should you do?
How about if I gave you a peace of mind by reducing all the noise you have been hearing and show you the proven way?
I know that’s something you’d be interested in.
Think of it this way. Since you became an internet user, what topics have you been searching the most on Google?
The answer should be your niche! As simple as that!
Still not satisfied?
Well, let me ask you a simple question. What do you want the most in your life?
If it’s not money, it’s a relationship or to stay healthy. And the truth? Those are the most profitable niches online.
Everyone wants to know how to make money online. Tons of people are lonely and want to have company. Lastly, millions are struggling with health conditions like obesity.
If you think that’s a lie. Let’s prove it. Check out for the most shared blogs if they’ll not fall in one of those niches above.
Another way is to check out for the innovations. What’s new? What seems technical and people are perceiving as the new techie in town?
That’s where you jump in. Make your writing simpler to digest and on point. Make even things that sound so technically easy to interpret.
That way, clients are going to come to you instead of you looking for them. Decided on your niche? Let’s jump into the next step:
3) Create Writing Samples
According to me, writing samples is confusing. You always feel like what you’re writing isn’t what clients want, and you could be right.
But remember, you had selected a niche. So, it will be super easy to find topics for your writing samples.
If you don’t have an idea of what to write about as your writing sample, let me help you.
There is a free tool called BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo gives you insight about topics that have been shared several times on social media. Grab your topic from there!
After all, “the best writers are the best thieves,” one English professor once said. “Shakespeare stole his plots from Greek and Roman plays. Thomas Jefferson plagiarized the Declaration of independence from John Locke. Oscar Wilde stole from everyone, and so should you.”
I was impressed when I downloaded Jon Morrow’s free pdf about “Headline Hacks.” His defence about stealing ideas was convincing. So, go ahead and use BuzzSumo.
Once you have stolen an idea from BuzzSumo, have a plot of how you want your article to flow. Doing that will save you a lot of time when you finally get down to write.
The next thing you should now do is to write without paying attention to any spelling errors. Just write. There will be time to go through everything you wrote. So, don’t worry about the red marks.
When you complete, take a break. Close your laptop and cool your brain. You can watch a movie, read an article from one of your best mentors or go for a walk (I’d prefer reading an article from either SmartBlogger or Neil Patel Blog). These two sites keep me motivated.
Once you’re fresh, return to your article and start proofreading and editing it. Read it aloud so that you can hear the mistakes as you read them. That way, you will quickly realize small mistakes and correct them instantly.
And there you have Your writing sample!
4) Create a Writer Website – the Jon Morrow Way
“Anyone can create a blog, but the real test is getting readers,” says Jon Morrow. That’s completely true.
I love how most people take risks to invest in something – like a blog. It just shows how willing you are ready to sacrifice and get something in return.
Sadly, starting a blog is not all about taking investment risk. It’s all about whether or not you can get loyal readers who’ll love, comment, and share your posts.
Sure, if you can achieve that, trust me, you’re all set to create your website. If that’s still a dream to you, please don’t. Instead, follow the guide I’m going to give you right here, right now.
First things first. Have you heard about Medium? If not, Medium is a platform that gives you the freedom to post your blog posts and exposes them to thousands of readers for FREE!
If you are not sure whether the niche you selected will attract readers, then Medium is where you can test that. So, what must you do?
Simple! Craft at least three posts and keep track of how they’re performing. If it gets noticed and get tons of claps and comments, then that’s your perfect match.
If your post performs poorly, please go back to the drawing board and check out some of the profitable niches that people love.
Secondly, create your website. Decide on the domain you are going to use. It shouldn’t be so technical. Make it simpler so that people can easily remember it.
Once you have settled on your domain, go ahead and choose a hosting company. There are tons of hosting companies you can choose from. There’s SiteGround, HostGator, Bluehost, and many more. If I were you, I’d instead choose from the three. They are some of the best people love.
Usually, it should cost you roughly $60 to set up a basic site. The problem? It will look unprofessional because you will be forced to use a lot of free stuff like the themes, plugins, etc.
Instead of creating a basic site, you can purchase the Divi theme, which goes for $89 and buy some plugins that will ensure your website runs smoothly like Akismet, that will get rid of spam messages.
But, the choice is yours. And maybe, if you have a fixed budget, go ahead and create a basic website, then when you finally find your feet, you can purchase some of the best themes like Divi.
For someone serious about starting his or her freelance writing career, it would be best if you followed the procedure above.
5) Craft Your Blog Posts
You have created your website, and all things are set up. Probably, you’re super excited. Please, don’t let your guard down just yet. There is still a long way to go.
You must have heard this phrase, “content is king.” Well, to some extent, that’s true, but on one end, it will be a big lie if you take it literally like that. Why?
Look, some years ago, bloggers would create tons of 300-word blog posts and publish them. Surprise! Surprise! – they would go viral.
The truth is that by then, a few people were writing and publishing. So, it was super easy to get ranked on Google and get traffic.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen anymore. Google has become more advanced, and therefore, you need to craft an informative and actionable content that your readers will love.
But how do you create an informative and actionable content? I would still refer you to the free tool, BuzzSumo. Search for some of the most shared posts in your niche, then come out with what you’re going to write.
Wait! I’m not saying you copy and paste. No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, read some of those viral posts and identify what the authors left out, then come up with a more detailed post – that addresses what the authors left out.
One final thing. Below your post, please offer a freebie, then have a form where your readers will get the freebie in exchange for their email addresses. The email list will help you monetize your blog once it’s popular.
6) Pitch Clients Like the Big Guy
You have taken some of the best freelancing courses, settled on a niche, created writing samples, created your website, and added some viral posts on it, SWEET! I bet you are in the climax of succeeding with your freelance writing career.
But there’s something you need to do so that you start earning what you deserve – pitching clients so that they can hire you.
The reason why I love pitching is that most of the people you pitch are top influencers who are ready to pay you for your expertise.
I don’t want to even talk about bidding sites or content mills – they’re a waste of time because you’ll be forced to write numerous articles while the pay is low.
I’d advice you to pitch clients directly and ask them if they need your services. I know it’s a challenge to get influencer’s email addresses, but don’t worry I’ll give you some hack. Hopefully, they’ll help you succeed with your freelance writing career.
Here we go:
- Search on Google – “your niche+companies.” For example, credit card companies
- Next, sweep through their website and check the “About Us” page if there is anybody in charge of content marketing. Have they provided their email address?
- If not, go back to Google search and enter this phrase, “company+editor+email address. For example, Aweber editor email address
- If that doesn’t work, search the company you’re targeting on LinkedIn. Browse through some of their employees and check out if there’s anybody in charge of their marketing
- Let’s assume you get someone in charge of content marketing. That’s whom you want to pitch. So, check the person’s Twitter account if they have a website or if they used their email address to sign up
- Another hack is to enter the first and second name of the person you are targeting on an email permutator. Email permutator will give suggestions of the email addresses the person could be using
- Once you get the list, copy the list and assume you want to send an email. Paste the list of email addresses there. At this point, Full contact will help you identify the email address the person used in any of his or her social accounts
- Maybe you haven’t integrated Full Contact with your Gmail account. Please search on how to integrate Full Contact with a Gmail account and get started.
Once you have your list, craft an excellent pitch that will trigger a response. Don’t be too wordy in your first pitch. The first pitch is meant to start a conversation.
You can check out how to write a pitch that wins clients here.
7) Do Your First Projects
You have sent many pitches, and one or two clients have accepted your pitches. Congratulations!
Now it’s time to do your first project and give the client pure gold. Yes, pure gold. Don’t get me wrong. The first projects you handle will either make or break your freelance writing career.
If you choose to deliver precisely what the client asked, then the client might not consider you for future projects.
But what if you surpass the expectations of your client? Sure, he or she will be more than willing to consider you for future projects. If he or she is not sure of future projects, he or she can refer you to other awesome clients.
Key issues to note:
- Do your research thoroughly and come up with informative content
- Do not spin the content – spinning is rewriting a content that’s already published
- Do not use fluffy words like in fact, really, etc
- Don’t be too professional. Readers want to be entertained. So, include a story or a case study that’ll wake up your readers
- Thoroughly proofread and edit your work. Clients hate petty mistakes like spelling and punctuation errors
8) Learn from the Gurus
Want to know some of the people that have helped me set up my freelance writing career the right way? I bet you should be interested because they’ll also help you out.
When I started, I followed and subscribed to many blogs. I can’t even remember how many they were.
Unfortunately, I had to unsubscribe from some of the blogs because they were no longer of use to me. I can’t say whose blog I unsubscribed from, but I’ll tell you who have remained my choice up to now.
Here is the list…
My Gurus are:
- Jon Morrow, the founder of SmartBlogger
- Neil Patel, the founder of www.neilpatel.com
- Danny Margulies, the founder of www.freelancetowin.com , and the excellent sales copywriter
- Walter Akolo, founder of www.freelancerkenya.com , and my freelance trainer
Familiar with the list? Oh My God! If not, run and subscribe to those blogs. They have the secrets you are looking for to succeed with your freelance writing career.
9) Increase Your Freelance Writing Rates
You’re close to succeeding with your freelance writing career, but there are two things you haven’t done yet – increasing your rates and teaching what you know for some cash.
For now, let’s talk about how you can increase your freelance writing rates and still secure the high paying clients of your dream.
Let me be honest with you. You can never increase your rates when your writing is still weak. Therefore, you need to up your game if you must raise your rates, but how do I do that Denzil?
There are tons of approaches you can take. I knew my writing wasn’t on point. So, I purchased Shani Raja’s course, “How to Become an Exceptional Writer.”
How to Become an Exceptional Writer by Shani Raja helped me know how to proofread and edit my work.
Then I purchased Jon Morrow’s mini-course, “Creating Credibility” that taught me how to write posts that go viral. After completing this course, I tested the hacks with one post, and it went viral. For the first time, my post got 174 social shares.
It depends on your weakness. If you are weak in editing, then take an editing course. If you feel you don’t know how to craft posts that go viral, then Jon Morrow should be your guy. If you think SEO is a nightmare, kindly read from Neil Patel’s blog.
10) Teach What You Know
If you almost forgot that you have a website, it’s time to remember because we want to finalize the whole process of succeeding with your freelance writing career.
Succeeding with your freelance writing career can be challenging, especially if you only depend on writing for clients. So, is there another way I can make more money?
Yes, there is another sure-fire way to earn passive income from your freelance writing career experience – teaching what you know.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Once you have become popular, clients are knocking at your door regularly, and you have built an email list with loyal subscribers, it’s time to teach people what you know.
Gather all the experiences you have come across into a course. Please don’t lie. Just put down in writing or video clips everything that worked for you.
Some people talk about things they haven’t even achieved or done themselves. That’s wrong and unethical. Soon, your subscribers are going to realize and unsubscribe, then your downfall begins.
I’m sure that’s not what you want. So, go and teach exactly what you know, and that has worked well for you.
The tactical way of doing this is by starting with a FREE mini-course, then when people like it, you can create a paid course.
I bet this was a long post, but you must have got tons of actionable pieces of advice – I hope so.
I must congratulate you for staying up to the end. As a result, I want to give you an offer.
What if I back this post up with a real FREE freelance mini-course? Is that something you’d be interested in?
If yes, kindly join my FREE freelance mini-course here and get started with your freelance writing career today.
No tomorrow, it’s now. If you subscribe today, you’ll receive your first lesson right now and the next lesson tomorrow until lesson 5.
If others have succeeded with their freelance writing career, I bet you can. Please take this challenge and once you succeed, kindly shoot me an email telling me how you did it. I’ll be very happy to read from your success story.