I’ll begin with a story…
Adventures of A Young Copywriter
“There’s a lot of copyright issues in music, you should try them!”
I had raked in a ton of cash and visited one of these investment companies to invest my money. I alight from a van and instantly see a blue gate. I look around. The area is well developed, with skyscrapers. The weather is awesome. The grass is green. The sky is blue. The sun is shining like never before. The area isn’t crowded like the CBD. I see men and ladies dressed like they’re selling insurance.
I walk past the gate, to the lobby. Before I even finish saying what I’m looking for, a financial advisor grabs my arm. I’m 19 years old. And she knows I want to invest. So she asks me a lot of questions. Tea or coffee, milk or hot water, biscuits or bread. When I was once looking for an internship, I’d say no I’m fine. But I wasn’t looking for a job. So I took em all. Just kidding. We did the boring stuff, signed some papers.
She looked at my year of birth, and then realized she’s talking to a teen. “You’re young how will you afford to pay for premiums?” I said that’s for me to worry about. Not you. “What do you do?” She added. “I don’t want some money from drugs or dirty stuff. If it’s gambling we’ve a plan for that.” “I’m a copywriter.” I answered.
“There’s a lot of copyright issues in music, you should try them!” She exclaimed. I recalled when my mentor once said, when you say copywriting, people imagined it’s you, seated in a locked board room, on an 8th floor, with a bunch of lawyers.” I imagined this joke just became reality. I smiled. The rest is history.
So you want to be a freelance writer? Welcome to the club. We’ve got T-shirts. I’ll show exactly how to become a freelance writer. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing content, SEO or sales copy. I’ve shared one of my many adventures as a “copyrighter.” To show you it’s real and possible.
Freelance writing, as you know it, is writing for businesses. Most beginners make a mistake of writing as a hobby. If I were to do writing as a hobby I’d rather be a poet.
When you write for businesses, you can hope from one client to another. You can hire clients and you can fire some. It gives you freedom, hence the term freelance writing.
You’ll see many writers in the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, Canada, US, and other third world countries. Yes, for the first time, we are seeing a definition that didn’t come from Greece.
As a freelance content writer, you can write:
- The news you read everyday.
- The How-to articles you read every day.
- Youtube scripts and stories for teens.
- Sponsored blog posts for New York times, Wall Street journal and Forbes.
- Product reviews to help people choose “the best gaming laptops”
And so on. You can write about any product, services, information, and entertainment. There’s a huge demand and market for you.
So how do you get started?
How to become a freelance writer
Start and never give up. Simple. You become a writer by writing. You have to learn writing by…
- Taking a free writing course.
- Reading books on writing.
- Reading starter-guides from freelance platforms.
I won’t recommend any resource. Do your own research because everyone’s path is different.
Let’s say you’ve read 2 starter guides. You’ve taken a freelance writing course. You’ve read a recommended book and hopefully…
You’ve done some exercises, got feedback and have samples.
It’s time to look for clients.
Entry level freelance writing jobs
The reality is, no client wants to work with beginners. They’ll say apply for our entry level job. But they’ll need expert quality from you.
There’s a trade-off…”I can’t get a client without a portfolio.” “And I need a client to get a portfolio.”
Worry no more. All experts you see out here (like me) started from somewhere.
Your first pieces of writing will probably suck. So if a client asks you for samples, you have 2 options:
- Look him in the eye and ask him for samples: I mean ask him examples of his writing style. He’ll send you links saying I want this style, tone, etc. Then tell him you can write in that style. Ask him for a test job. Explain you’ll write the first article for free, let him be the judge. This works 101% FYI.
- Give him look-a-like samples: Option 2 is to find examples of writing you liked. And you know you can strive to achieve the same style. It shows the client you know what good writing is. Chat “Are you looking for something like this? (Insert 3 links)” He’ll say YES. That’s what you want. Compliance.
And if you want to be an expert in no time, specialize in any of the following areas.
- Freelance SEO Writer: They write articles that rank on google. Learn writing. Learn SEO. Combine the knowledge and offer it to clients. With billions of articles published everyday, people want to rank on the 1st page of google. And if you can do it for them, you’ll never be out of work.
- Freelance Content Writer: In most cases, they write blog posts. You can get you career started by pitching digital marketing agencies. They’ll flood you with more work than you can handle.
- Freelance Copy Writer: They produce writing to sell stuff. The writing is more persuasive and encourages people to buy, order, subscribe, book a free trial etc. You can be a freelance copywriter by following this guide.
- Freelance eBook Writer: They either write fiction, for example novels, or nonfiction for example Food recipes. An eBook is typically 5k-20k words. You just do your research and write. Stick to deadlines. And do a lot of editing and proofing before submitting.
- Freelance Business Writer: They write grants and proposals. They help businesses get scholarships, charity, and deals.
- Freelance Niche Writer: They specialize in a certain niche. Either they are an expert in that niche, had a degree in that niche, or they have passion for the industry. Examples of specialties include science, legal, medical/health, travel, technology, real estate, blockchain and so on.
- Freelance Technical Writer: They write technical documentation on technical topics. Such as software, manufacturing, etc. The intention is to make a normal reader understand complex stuff. You may write user manuals, user guides, catalogs, How to use software, etc.
As can be seen, there are many options for you. The market is huge. You’re writing for businesses not as a hobby. For this reason, you must invest your time in learning about your specialty. Learning about quality writing. Learning how to find clients. Learning how to negotiate. You’ll have a flexible schedule. Busy months, and sometimes dry months.
Good luck as you get started.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Guru Lwanga is a Freelance writer for hire. He’s a freelance software copy writer. He’s done Technical writing for Microsoft. And worked with more fortune 500 companies like eBay. He can help you sell more software to clients.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
Writing is a talent? I’ve answered this question a lot. Writing isn’t talent. Nobody is born with a pen and paper. I wasn’t born with a laptop in my hand.
I’m A Non-Native English Speaker: So what? Nobody cares. People care that you put practice and never repeat grammar mistakes you make. In 1 year, you’ll make a lot of progress in terms of good english. Invest your time in editing, proofreading, using grammar software.
I don't have money: You don’t need money to get started. There are a lot of free resources like this article. Focus on what you have, There’s always something you can do. Ask for help in relevant forums. Write emails to experts.
I can't get clients: What have you done to get clients? Most people don’t do anything to get clients and complain they can’t get clients. Well, clients don’t come to you. You go for them. Learn to market yourself as a writer.
What do I need to get started? You need a laptop or a smartphone, or a cybercafe or a pen and paper. I started with a phone, using Microsoft word. The writing just flows smoothly. Only editing was a problem. You’ll also need the Internet. We’ve got free Wi-Fi. There you go.