How to become a freelance writer

Use this guide to take your passion for writing and turn it into a career where you set your hours. Learn how to become a freelance writer.

freelancer writer
Are you a whiz when it comes to writing? A wordsmith looking to turn your skill with the pen into profit? If so, you may be interested in freelance writing. You don’t need any specialized training to get started, just a way with words and an ability to understand your clients’ needs. However, as with any new business venture, it can be tricky to find those first few clients.

Wondering how to get started as a freelance writer? Take the following steps:

Choose a specialization Develop writing samples Build a website Take out insurance for writers

Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to get into freelance writing.

Choose a (writing) specialization

So you want to be a freelance writer. But what kind of writing do you want to do? First, assess your skills. In general, a freelance writer should be:

  • Creative
  • A clear communicator
  • Able to turn around articles quickly
  • A strong proofreader

If you have all of these skills, just about any field of writing could be a good fit. However, some may require more self-direction, while others come with more guidance from your clients. Before you apply to your first writing job and start your freelance writing career, learn about the different kinds of writing so you can decide which best suits your skills and interests.

Fields of freelance writing include:

Journalism – Journalism includes writing articles on world and local news, culture, technology, and other subjects. As a freelance journalist, you’ll need to develop unique pitches for your articles, and then directly contact magazines, newspapers, and websites to place them.

Copywriting – Support brands by developing blog posts, web copy, white papers, newsletters, Instagram captions, and more through content writing. As a freelance copywriter, you might work directly with a brand, or get work through a copywriting agency. Either way, it’s all about understanding the client’s brand voice.

Grant writing – Help nonprofits apply for funding from government agencies and other charitable organizations. Grant writing requires some of the same skills as copywriting: understanding an organization’s goals and spelling them out for an audience.

Ghostwriting – Write articles, blog posts, or even book manuscripts for other authors. This kind of writing usually means more one-on-one work with your client. You might have phone calls or regular chats to get down their vision before putting it into words.

Blogging – Work for yourself as a blogger. Develop an interesting topic, post regularly, and make money by working with advertisers. You can also do guest posting for other blogs to expand your freelance writing work.

Did you find a freelance writing job that sounds up your ally? If you’re not sure yet, don’t worry. Many freelance writers try two or three of these methods at first to see which freelance work is the best fit.

Curate your writing samples

If you studied journalism in college, took a recent writing course, or have a little experience, you may already have writing samples you can send to potential employers. But if you’re wondering how to become a freelance writer with no experience, the first step is creating some clips. As a freelance writer, your potential clients will often ask you for 1-3 writing samples, and you want to have those on hand.

Once you’ve chosen a field (or two) to concentrate your writing, get to work on those writing samples. Use the following guidelines:

  1. Create writing samples between 300-1000 words (depending on your chosen concentration).
  2. Show variety in terms of genre, tone, and length. If one writing sample is an 800 word blog post for a makeup brand, try writing a shorter piece of web copy for a totally different industry, too.
  3. Be sure to carefully proofread your writing samples. Any mistakes here could give a potential employer pause about your ability to follow through on clean, readable pieces.

Once you have your writing samples, you can start contacting potential employers directly. You can also gather them on a website for easy access.

Build a website

As you get started freelance writing, a website is a great place to introduce yourself, collect your writing samples, and advertise your rates. Luckily, smart web builders make it easy to create an attractive website. From there, it’s up to you to fill it out with writing that shows your voice and skill.

Be sure to include the following on your page:

  • A bio An online resume
  • A list of services
  • Contact information
  • Links to writing samples

When you’ve built up your business, you can start to include additional information, including links to published pieces (with the client’s permission), client testimonials, and more.

Insure your writing business

Now you’ve learned how to start freelance writing. But if you want to keep writing, it’s important to protect your business from risk.

What risks could you run into as a writer?

There are inherent risks in every line of work. Should you fail to deliver a piece by an agreed-upon deadline, you could be liable for your client’s financial loss. Even if you turn in every piece on time, you could be accused of copyright infringement by another writer. Likewise, you could be accused of libel by one of your client’s competitors. Without insurance, you’ll be liable for claims filed against you, and for your own legal costs (should a case go to court). That’s why all freelance writers should consider the following policies:

  • General liability insurance to provide coverage against client and third-party claims of personal injury, advertising injury, bodily injury, and property damage related to your writing services.
  • Professional liability insurance to provide coverage against claims of errors and negligence related to your work.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but that doesn’t mean it can strike back against costly claims. For that, you need insurance.

If you’re just getting started as a writer, you may want insurance only while you work on your first piece—not for a year. An annual policy might cost more than your fee. That’s why we created on-demand writer insurance.

What is on-demand insurance? With Thimble, you can take out insurance by the hour, day, or month. Even better, it takes less than 60 seconds to get insured. Enter a few details about your business along with your desired coverage length, and you’ll receive an instant quote. Purchase with a click, and voila–you have insurance.

We make insurance fast, flexible, and easy so that entrepreneurs like yourself can focus on what matters—growing their business.

Start putting pen to paper

Now you know how to get freelance writing jobs and protect yourself from the risks you take on as a freelancer. All you have to do is:

  • Choose a field
  • Assemble your samples
  • Create a website Insure your business

Becoming a full-time freelancer can take time and perseverance, as well as a little creativity. But as long as you follow your outline, you know you’re writing toward a happy ending.

Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.

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DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this page is intended to provide general information only. For specific legal advice, please contact an attorney. For advice regarding your particular insurance needs, you should speak with your broker or agent to ensure that you have the appropriate coverages and limits.