**Disclaimer:** I am a freelance content writer and direct response copywriter myself. I’ve been at this for around 5 years now. This is how I was able to build my business and make a full-time income working from home, and in 5 other countries so far. I have nothing to sell and will not include any of my links. Hopefully, this can help out anyone who needs it, especially during these times.
**The Freelance Writing Dream – is it Real?**
I’ve seen several posts on this sub asking about freelance writing, I’ve seen countless posts on other subs asking about freelance writing, and I’ve had friends and family asking me about freelance writing.
Everyone wants to know:
1. Can I actually make a “living” freelance writing?
2. Can I do this if I’m not a “good” writer?
3. How the hell do I make it happen?
And if there’s any subreddit I’m going to share this all with, it’s r/Entrepreneur. Because I think a lot of people here probably have a really good chance of succeeding at this.
It’s and mindset and offered value thing, not a “literary ability” thing.
**Can I Actually Make a Living?**
My short answer is: if you’re a native English speaker, then you have a good chance of making a full-time income freelance writing, period. Even many non-native speakers make a full-time income writing. And yes, making an *actual income* to support yourself anywhere – not just making $15,000 a year and moving to the cheapest country you can find in order to live comfortably.
I do it, I have friends that do it, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world do it, if not way more.
**Do I Have to be a “Good” Writer?**
The best part is, you don’t have to be a “good” writer either. I mean this in a literary and academic sense. I can’t count how many people have posted on forums or reached out to me with something along the lines of “I won a writing award in high school, and I got A’s on all my essays, so I’m a pretty good writer. How do I make this my career? I’ve tried/want to try but it seems so difficult.”
Well, for those that think their stellar research papers and award-winning poetry they’ve written correlates with their chances of succeeding in a freelance writing career…
But that’s good news for the majority of people.
When clients are looking for you to write valuable articles, keep readers engaged, get their posts to the front page of Google, and sell their products, they don’t care that you write like Shakespeare.
In fact, writing like Shakespeare is a bad thing.
I’m not sh*tting on academic or literary writing. It’s an incredible skill in its own right. And I’m in awe of how talented people who are focused on this writing niche are. But let’s face it, 99% of people aren’t reading academic essays or Shakespeare.
And it’s because *they find it boring*. It doesn’t matter why they find it boring. All that matters is that they do.
If you can write like you speak instead of trying to write like a best-selling author, you can succeed.
That’s why 99% of fiction writers are “starving artists” while copywriters who never went to college but make 6-figures isn’t even a big deal.
Case-in-point: You don’t have to be a good writer in a literary sense. If you have fluent/native knowledge of English and can write like you talk, you can succeed.
**Ok Great – So How Do I Make This Happen?**
Trust me, it is easy – but it takes persistence.
Thankfully writing for clients and their businesses isn’t a logical mind-f*ck like quantum physics. You don’t have to spend 8 hours a day studying and honing your craft.
As you take on more work, you’ll naturally get better. And all you need to know is a few easy things to get you ahead before you get started. Content writing and copywriting are some of the fastest skills you can learn, honestly. Going from 0 to full-time in 3 – 6 months is easily doable for those who focus on it.
Anyway, there are TONS of different freelance writing niches for you to choose. I’m only going to talk about the two which I’m most familiar with: copywriting and content writing.
**Why Copywriting and/or Content Writing?**
1. **Copywriting** is pretty much universally considered to be the most surefire way to making a great living as a writer (more specifically direct response copywriting). If you have proven results of writing sales letters or landing pages that convert traffic, clients will pay you *thousands* of $$$ to write sales pages for them. Why? Because they can justify the rate. They know it’s worth the cost because they’ll get their money back and then 10x – 20x more if you walk the walk.
2. **Content writing** is quite polarizing in the freelance writing world. Many writers think content writing (blogging, article writing, ghostwriting) is a race to the bottom of the barrel…too much competition, low pay etc. While the other half love content writing. Usually, I find the people complaining that content writing sucks are usually working for peanuts for months/years and have no idea how to break out of it. I find content writing to be the most consistent and steady source of income. But you need to be able to offer value equal to the rates you command. As for competition, it’s negligible. There are ALWAYS an unlimited supply of businesses and individuals looking for writers.
**What You Need to Know About Copywriting**
I’m not going to go in-depth on these, as there are quite literally hundreds of books offering great info on the topic. But in short, you should know this…
In copywriting, your goal is to get traffic on a web page to buy a product. No one cares about the quality of your writing, no one cares what training you have, no one cares how you do it (as long as it’s ethical). All that any client you work with cares about is how many people your writing converts. THAT is what matters.
Direct response copywriting is probably the most lucrative field of freelance writing. This is writing long-form sales letters and landing pages that slowly warm-up leads to the idea of buying your client’s product so they actually do buy the product.
I’m not going to go into any more depth about it here. If you’re interested, search Google for “How to Become a Direct Response Copywriter?” If you want to buy a course, AWAI’s Accelerated 6-Figure course is great. There are also courses on Udemy.
In addition, there’s plenty of free blogs to read with all the information you need. Plus a myriad of wonderful books on direct response copywriting. Simply search Reddit for threads on direct response copywriting books. You’ll find some good ones.
**What You Need to Know About Content Writing (or Ghostwriting)**
Content writing is simply writing content for websites – mostly articles and blog posts. Ghostwriting can be content writing. Ghostwriting is just doing any kind of writing without getting credit for the work. Sounds like that sucks? It doesn’t.
People pay more if they can claim the rights to the work and you can make them look amazing. You may not get the credit, but your payoff is good financially. If you give someone value, you receive monetary rewards back. Because clients know when what you do for them is worth the price.
If you’re curious about learning how to write blogs and articles, simply look up “how to write good blog posts.” There are some easy best practices to abide by. Some are breaking your content up with headlines, keeping short paragraphs, and ensuring your writing is easy to read.
No one cares about all the fancy words you know. Write like a well-spoken 5th grader so that as many people can understand and follow your work as possible. And give your writing “character” – don’t be bland…make it engaging!
To get better at this, simply keep writing articles on various topics. Make mistakes, try different things, and keep learning.
Also, content writing is steady and more consistent than copywriting. DR copywriting is usually comprised of lots of massive financial income blasts followed by no work in between. Content writing isn’t thousands of dollars per article, but it’s long-term, steady work where you have the opportunity to build a real relationship with a client.
*BONUS TIP:* Learn on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I’m not going to go in-depth on this. But your writing becomes more valuable if you can implement SEO into it. This will improve the likelihood of getting your client’s articles ranked well on Google. And any business or individual who actually understands the value of this will pay well for the value they receive from you.
**How to Get Paid What You Deserve**
There are countless writers who’ve been being paid ridiculously low rates like $0.01 – $0.02 per word for their entire careers. Many writers with 10 years of experience are only able to charge up to $0.05 per word before the client decides that’s “too expensive” for them.
And honestly, that might be the case. As I’ve mentioned before, you need to provide real value to clients so they can justify what they pay you. There are many long-term freelance writers who don’t actually get results or provide value (these are often the ones who “got A’s on all their essays”) because they’re stuck in that way of writing.
Once again, learn how article & blog writing and copywriting work, and if you provide value you will be paid well.
Most clients I work with pay $0.10 – $0.20 per word depending on the project (or even more than that in some cases) for content writing because I’m able to provide that worth in value *to them.* And sales letters/landing pages are even more lucrative. I have friends at similar rates (or higher). With one guy I know being a mental health “expert” charging $0.50 per word for a blog post. But he’s worth it to the rehab clinics and other facilities that hire him. Value for value.
People aren’t stupid. They know you want to make money. Just like you know they want to make money from your work too. But freelance writing is a value-based economy. If your writing is worth $0.10, $0.20, $0.30 per word, you will find people who will pay that. And it’s worth it to them.
Any client who tells you that’s “too much” doesn’t value their own business. These are often the people posting a “software writing job for writer with expert experience in kubernetes, looking to pay $0.03 per word.” These people are a joke, and do not care (or understand) what good content writing/copywriting actually does for their business.
But on the flip side, if your writing is only worth $0.03 per word, that’s what you’re going to be paid. PROVIDE VALUE.
**How to Actually Find Clients**
This is going to be short and to the point. Because the answer is pretty simple, it just takes consistency. Also, my arms are getting tired and I’m hungry – so I’m going to wrap this up.
But first, here is the “Big Secret” and “Best Platform” for getting clients…
It’s your email!
Whaaaat? Yepp. Don’t use freelance platforms. Upwork sucks for writers. People per hour sucks. Fiverr sucks. They all suck. Upwork used to be good 4 years ago (I actually started on Upwork), but now it’s just full of a bunch of people who don’t actually care about their business who look for the absolute cheapest writers they can find. I do still work on Upwork, but rarely, and only when I get invites from good clients.
Instead, reach out to potential clients through email. Make a custom email for each person you reach out to (don’t do some pre-written email blast BS – people will be able to tell). Instead, find some websites you think you can actually help, find out who runs it, and reach out and tell them how you can help.
Every now and then, you’ll get a positive response and a great relationship will sprout.
Other fantastic platforms for find clients are:
– annnnd… freakin’ REDDIT
Yepp, these are all great. And Reddit has actually been a goldmine for finding clients for me. But if someone’s going to work with you off of any of these platforms – especially Reddit – you need to be able to send proof of what you’ve done.
Have a website, have a portfolio, have a fleshed-out LinkedIn, get as many testimonials and recommendations from past/current clients as you can, and you’re set to go.
This is it. It is really not difficult. Almost every other business is so much harder to get going. But this does take work. However, when you can actually provide value, you will be able to earn a full-time income no problem.
Unfortunately I’m not in the mood to write a novel, so I haven’t gone as possibly in-depth in each section as I could have. But there’s so much info out there, it’s near impossible for a mere mortal like myself to give it all in one shot.
For each of these sections, if you’d like to learn more about what I’ve said then Google is your best friend. I’ll also answer questions anyone has.
Hopefully this has helped and provided value to you. Especially with the whole pandemic, the amount of layoffs and loss of income has shown that a normal 9-5 is not as secure as many think.
If you have a genuine skill and can provide value to clients through writing, you will always be in demand, and you’ll never have to worry about being laid off.
You’re in control.