5 Crucial Things to Focus on as a New Freelance Writer

If you’re just starting out as a new freelance writer online (or maybe returning to the freelance world after a break) you may feel your lack of experience, contacts and recent clips is a serious drawback.

The answer is to leverage what you have, while building what you need, and to do this you’ll need to focus on a few specific areas.

>> I went from full-time worker to full-time writer online – from scratch. Find out how you can do the same in this FREE eBook.

What to focus on as a new freelancer writer:

1. Your non-writing experience

Whether you’re a student entrepreneur, a parent with an autistic child or a teacher in an inner city school, you are the best person to write about your situation, the issues and challenges you face, and the solutions you’ve found. You can write a more authentic and detailed piece than an experienced freelance writer who has had to research it from scratch.

Emphasize your personal experiences when pitching ideas for articles. Find a niche market that covers your topic and pitch them with a unique story only you can tell. Put the focus on your life experience, not your (lack of) writing experience.

2. Learning your craft

If you’re not a fan of lifelong learning, freelance writing online is probably not for you.  Things change rapidly in the online world and we writers have to keep stretching ourselves and adapting to keep up.

Dedicate time to learning the craft of writing for an online market, focusing on both developing your writing style and understanding technicalities such as SEO techniques.

>> Get step-by step instructions on how to earn a living from freelance writing online, including pitching templates and proven strategies to attract writing clients, in the Complete Freelance Writing Online Course: Beginner to Pro.

A mixture of formal and informal study will help you learn quickly and efficiently.  The best way to study the craft of writing online is to read lots of online articles and get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. If you can afford a freelance writing online course to accelerate the learning curve, that’s even better.

3. Getting feedback

Feedback is your friend. We can’t improve when we don’t know what we’re doing wrong. In writing, as in everything else, we simply don’t know what we don’t know.

You can get feedback on your writing from writing instructors, from a critique group, or by writing a blog (your readers will soon let you know which posts they like by sharing and commenting).

You should also embrace feedback from every editor or blogger who rejects you and is kind enough to give you a reason. Most won’t. If they do, they may have taken the time to do so because they love your writing but want to warn you that you’re making easy-to-fix, rookie mistakes. Read their feedback, thank them for it, and incorporate it into future work.

4. Building a portfolio

A body of work you can link to when pitching ideas is a great asset. Make building a portfolio a high priority when you start out.  It’s not a good idea to work for rock-bottom rates long-term, but sometimes it’s worth taking a few gigs that pay a little less if they give you high quality clips on professional looking websites.

You can start building a portfolio from day one as a freelancer, even if you don’t have your own website set up yet. Download this free eBook to learn how.

5. Making connections

When it comes to freelancing it’s a mixture of what you know, who you know, who knows you – and what they think of you. It’s never too early to set up social media profiles or attend offline events to start making connections in the industries you want to work in.

Use social media platforms and other online forums to build relationships with potential clients and publications that use freelance writers. Get your name known at the websites you want to write for by sharing and commenting on their articles. If you take a little time to build relationships, you can even find freelance writing work via social media.

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By choosing to focus on these few areas you’ll be putting your energies into activities that will reap the biggest benefits as you build your freelance writing business.

Perhaps you’ve been doing this a while now? What did you focus on when you first started freelance writing online? What would you tell new freelance writers? Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below.

[feature_box style=”18″ title=”About%20the%20Author%3A” alignment=”center”]

Karen Banes is a freelance writer, indie author and editor. Find out more at her website KarenBanes.com.


Image courtesy of Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr.

>> Note from Kirsty: This is a guest post by another successful freelance writer. I went from full-time worker to full-time writer online – from scratch. Find out how you can do the same RIGHT HERE.

7 thoughts on “5 Crucial Things to Focus on as a New Freelance Writer

  1. Hi Karen,

    Great post!

    I completely understand know exactly what you are emphasizing here.

    I remember when I first embarked on the journey of becoming a freelance writer…

    I carefully assessed each of these points that you have made. In fact, here is the one article that started it all:

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233788 “Semper FI! How the Marine Corps Prepared Me for Entrepreneurship

    You see, I am a former Marine, network marketing professional, and I even worked for some time in the security industry (and not just your typical mall cop ether). In short, I had several bits of expertise in many different areas. When I decided to take the plunge and become a freelance writer I took what I know from experience and pitched an article idea to Entrepreneur and the unthinkable happened – they liked my idea and wanted to publish it!

    Anyone can become a freelance writer because everyone has lived a life full of experiences and discoveries. There is absolutely no reason for someone not be successful in this industry.

    Thanks again for such a valuable post!

    1. Hi William

      That is such an excellent example of what I’m talking about here. You chose a market that is highly competitive and not easy to break into (a lot of entrepreneurs who might be pitching ideas would also be experienced writers) but you found a unique angle based on your own personal experience. Great way to break in! Wishing you lots of luck with your writing career.

      1. Karen,

        Thank you for your kinds words. I greatly appreciate them.

        As mentioned before, there truly is no reason why someone could not be successful in this industry.

        Everyone has exactly what they need to be effective as a freelance writer (our own personal experiences). The major issue is fear. And the only way to overcome that fear is with courage.

        This is something I mention in great detail in my book, The True Writer’s Life”, which can found at the following link:


  2. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for compiling the article. The points about feedback and growing a network are the ones I can relate to most. I didn’t put as much time in as I should have at the start with networking, which I felt i suffered as a result of. Feedback’s a brilliant one! I have a client at the moment who really give me great feedback; consequently I feel I’m improving as a result.


  3. Hi Matthew

    That’s good to hear. Feedback is definitely the key to improving, and if an editor bothers to let you know what’s wrong with a piece it is basically a free critique. Bearing in mind how much it costs to get a professional critique of your writing you should never worry about a rejection if you get a little feedback with it.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Hi Karen
    Great post!
    I focussed on all of those things when I first started. I would also add, building your brand. It’s important, online, to have a brand that conveys exactly who you are and what your services are.

  5. Hi Elna

    Yes, people keep telling me I’m a brand, causing me to declare in one of my books ‘I don’t feel like a brand, I feel like a writer!” But you’re right, of course, branding is important. It can be as simple as keeping things consistent and cohesive with your website, social media profiles and your online presence in general, so people understand who you are and what you do.

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