You want to become a professional paid writer. Maybe it’s been your childhood dream. But whether you dream of becoming the most viewed blogger in the world, or just earning a decent salary by writing website content, there’s a journey to take.
In this article, find out all the steps you need to take to go from writing as a hobby, to writing for a living. With a little hard work and perseverance, there’s no reason you cannot be a star with your writing career.
Some people are born with a talent, others aren’t. But one thing all writers have in common is that we aren’t amazing at everything. For example, a writer for the Financial Times would struggle with creating articles for the delicious GodtNoe food blog.
So, pick a niche. Here are a few examples:
- Journalism for news and current events sites,
- Sales copy for converting landing pages,
- Blog content for various brands,
- Original recipes and food articles,
- Lifestyle, beauty and fashion trends,
- Marketing content (e.g. emails, social media).
Practice makes perfect
The more you do something, the better you get at it. Practice writing whenever you can. Even when you are between jobs, you can still practice writing, write for free (for exposure), and take courses to sharpen your skills.
Get qualified to become a writer
If you want to instantly beat the competition, get a qualification. Typically, this would be an English Literature or Creative Writing degree at university. But not always. Marketing courses are very popular with online commercial writers.
You could also gain a qualification in a specific area. For example, if you want to write for National Geographic, a wildlife-related degree would be appropriate. There are many courses and qualifications available online too.
You need to spread the word that you are a writer and make some connections. First, make sure your profiles are professional and ready to be shared. LinkedIn is a good place to start. You can also find freelance and writing communities online, where you can set up a profile and gain experience.
Networking is hard at first, but over time there is a snowball effect. The more word-of-mouth spreads, the more work will come to you and the less time you’ll need to spend hunting for it.
Know your value as a writer
This is especially important if you are planning to become a freelance writer online. Your potential clients will haggle on price. So, know your worth! Set a lower limit that you won’t go under, no matter what. You do not need to say “yes” to all your clients.
This prevents you working at unprofitable rates – a recipe for business failure.
Over time, you will find that you build up a book of clients that you get on with and who know your worth. These are the clients that are not only ecstatic to work with you but are willing to pay for your expertise too.
Set reasonable terms
Make a list of rules and don’t bend them. For example, you might want to offer free trials for clients to test your writing skills. So, your rule may be that you will only write 300 words as a trial.
You should always be upfront with your terms. If you won’t edit or revise your work for free, make sure the client knows that beforehand. This will limit misunderstandings.
Ask clients to leave reviews
In the online world of freelance writing, few companies check references or will call up your previous employers. Instead, they judge based on your profile and the public feedback you have from existing clients.
Ask your customers to leave a few words as a review and publish them publicly. If you are on a freelance platform, there may be a dedicated area for customer reviews. If not, then set up a Facebook page for your services so clients can leave reviews there. You could also use LinkedIn to gather client feedback and stay in touch.
Build a portfolio
Just like any other industry, employers prefer to hire professionals with experience. So, ask your clients if you can add some of the work you did for them to a portfolio. If you are just starting out, write 3 to 5 articles on a topic you would love to be paid to write about. Even if you have no real-world experience, you can still attach a work sample to your application this way.