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How to Freelance Write Online, Part One: Attracting Private Online Writing Clients
Have you ever considered making writing your full time career? Do you want to learn how to freelance online and make money from writing website content, articles, reviews, blog posts, press releases, and even fiction and poetry? Keep reading to see how I have gone from working for pennies to working for dollars...hundreds of them a week!
Four years ago something happened that turned me from a fiction and poetry writer into someone seriously considering writing as a career. I was a stay-at-home mother with two small children and a sudden need to earn money...immediately! Working outside of the home and putting my children in daycare was a terrifying thought, so I went online and started searching out ways to make money online.
I found a website titled Get a Freelancer and started learning how to freelance write online. I am writing this hub to help other writers who also aspire to make online writing their full time career. Hopefully you can avoid some of the mistakes I made while trying to learn how to freelance online.
For instance, I worked for a week straight on my first online writing job, and never got paid! I got suckered and almost gave up trying to write online. Thankfully, I continued on but grew smarter. Over the years I learned how to freelance successfully while protecting my own interests.
Today, I support my family with money earned from private clients and money earned through a web content writing service. This guide will help you learn how to freelance write online while avoiding some of the mistakes I made in the beginning. Let’s start with some tips on securing private online clients.
All of these methods come from my own experience writing online. This is how I learned how to freelance write online successfully.
What Does It Take to Write Online?
You can learn how to freelance online if you are willing to do all of the following.
- Work hard to prove your talents and win that first private client.
- Write on a variety of topics without plagiarism.
- Write without a byline as a ghostwriter (most of the time).
- Give up all rights to what you produce once paid by your client.
- Write according to the guidelines of your client.
- Learn the tools of the trade, including how to incorporate keywords into your writing without stuffing or making the text sound unnatural.
If you can do those things, then you can secure private clients who pay you to write online.
Establish an Online Presence
Set up an author’s website that includes pictures, samples of your work, and an attractive resume of your writing experience. You will use this website to market your online writing services, but it will also be useful when handing out business cards to obtain private clients offline.
Consider setting up accounts on social networking sites and maybe starting a blog to further market yourself as an online writer. If you are considering writing as a career option, then you will need a strong online presence.
Make Use of Freelance Bidding Sites
My journey learning how to freelance write online started with a site called Get a Freelancer, which is now just freelancer.com. This is where I initially got ripped off, but I was able to start my online writing career once I learned how to properly use the site to my advantage.
These sites draw attention from a lot of non-U.S. based writers willing to produce (usually low quality) web content for extremely low prices. I am not willing to write around the clock to make twenty bucks, but I have developed this strategy for winning private clients on this particular site:
1. Set up a free account, with a professional picture and well written profile page.
2. Bid on jobs at the lowest price you are willing to take for a one-time job. The key here is a “one time” job, you won’t be writing at this rate more than once per client. Only bid on jobs you feel confident doing well. I usually bid around one to two cent per word, which is considered high for this type of site. Yet, I was able to secure a lot of jobs at this rate once I received a few high ratings from clients.
3. When you get a job, complete it on time to extremely high standards.
4. Turn in the job, sending an email to the client stating that you would love to work with them again at your regular rates. Give them a link to your personal writer’s website or another place where they can reach you. Freelancer.com gives you their email address when you win a job, so send this note there, not through the site.
5. Wait to see if they contact you for further work. Stick to your regular prices. Do not write for the lower price since they have now seen the quality of writing you can produce. Many clients will be willing to pay a bit more if you are reliable and produce high quality work.
I admit that I no longer use this method for securing clients online. I have a steady following of clients and receive regular referrals, so I don’t have to work as hard for my clients anymore. Yet, I wouldn’t be in that position had it not been for securing my first clients in the manner detailed above. You have to start somewhere, right? More importantly, you have to be willing to work hard when learning how to freelance and write for money online.
Establish a Forum Reputation
Find forums related to affiliate marketing and online marketing, such as the warrior forum. These are not forums for writers, but for online marketers making money promoting websites and products through websites they build. Many of these marketers build hundreds of websites, and they have a constant need for high quality web content and blog posts. Many also need short articles to be used for article marketing. I make a lot of my online writing money from these marketers.
Many only want to pay bottom dollar for their web content, but those are not the private clients you want to secure. If you spend time communicating on the forums and getting your name out there as a high quality, creative web content provider, you will find clients willing to pay decent money or even great money for high quality, unique web content.
Most marketing forums have a section where members can post ads looking for writers and other freelancers. Pay attention to that section, but get active in other sections as well. Make sure you are focusing on the busiest forums.
Just be careful securing private clients in this manner. Make sure you are paid at least half upfront for every job with a new client. I have secured clients that now pay me entirely upfront, but it wasn’t that way before I had a solid reputation as a creative web content provider.
Word of Mouth Referrals
Most of the clients that send me regular work today came to me as personal referrals from previous or current clients. This is why you must do your very best work for every single client, even if they are not paying what you would like to be paid eventually. Most website developers and affiliate marketers know many other people in their line of work. If you do a great job for one client, there will be referrals made and higher paying clients coming your way. Learning how to freelance write online requires you to start at the bottom and work your way up (in most cases).Fortunately, it didn't take me long to start getting referrals.
Pitch Established, High Profile Websites
Find established websites on topics you would like to write on, and send pitches through their communications form. Do not go to a website looking for writer’s guidelines. Many of the best sites do not list those guidelines, but will give you some work if you send them a pitch that grabs their interest. It helps if you have a professional writer’s website to refer them to for samples of your writing style.
You have to familiarize yourself with the site. You don’t want to send them a pitch on potty training toddlers if they just ran that story last month.
Try to come up with an idea for something fresh that will speak to the website’s market. Alternatively, find something they have recently covered which you can go more in-depth on or continue the story on. You may even be able to offer a piece covering an alternative view on a topic they have recently covered. If you have a unique slant on an old niche topic, then you can do well with a niche website.
There is money in writing for some websites, but you frequently won’t know what they pay until you grab their interest and get an offer for your idea. If I already have the idea planned out or written, I tend to take every offer I receive because it will often lead to further work. It can even lead to work for affiliated websites which pay more.
When you first learn how to freelance in writing, you will have to learn how to write a concise pitch that grabs attention.
Consider a Specialty – or Two!
Writing as a career online is not limited to writing basic web content or articles for article marketing. Many affiliate marketers maintain massive websites covering website and product reviews within a specific niche. I have become well known as an excellent review writer, and I get tons of referrals for that work. Sometimes it doesn’t pay as well as I would like, but I enjoy writing reviews and the assignments are often never-ending.
New products and websites are always being introduced, so I am hired over and over to add to those review websites. I have found that clients prefer to work with one writer that they know will produce high quality work consistently. If you can get just one client with a high need for content, you can establish your online writing career rather quickly.
If you can write sales letters and landing pages, press releases, or eBooks, you can specialize your online writing career in those directions as well. How long it takes you to come by that first consistent client is up in the air. Who knows! It is different for everyone learning how to freelance write online.
Final Words on Securing Private Writing Clients Online
Writing just for the money can be dangerous. It can turn your love of writing into a chore of writing you hate. It can cause you to get sloppy and you will earn a bad reputation, drying up those lucrative referrals. While I now make a living writing online, I had to learn how to freelance successfully just like everyone else. I worked hard to prove my skill and pull in loyal clients willing to pay decent or even excellent rates.
Treat every client with the same respect, even if some are able to pay less than others. Protect yourself and stand firm on your prices, but be reasonable. I sometimes make concessions on prices for regular clients that I enjoy writing for; especially if they routinely refer me to other clients able to pay more.