How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer

So you wanna be a freelance writer? Awesome!

Chances are, you have no idea where to start. But that’s OK, because that’s where everyone starts out. Generally speaking you have a few options if you’re starting out freelance.

You can:

  • Build your brand up and hope clients come to you
  • Seek clients via traditional job postings (although these tend to want people on board full time or on a contracted basis)
  • Seek clients via remote work positions
  • Seek clients via agencies
  • Send off hopeful submissions to websites in the hope you get a publishing credit

So let’s look at these one by one and break them down.

Building up your brand and hoping clients come to you

This will 100% be the slowest way of attaining business, so if earning money in the short-term is important for you (as I would imagine it probably is) I definitely don’t recommend this.

Brand building requires a few different balls to be in the air at once and it takes time to build up yourself, your audience and then convert that engagement into clients willing to pay money.

It also requires a lot of time and input commitment on your part – as you will need to be online, present and selling yourself regularly to maintain the footholds you’ve clawed out for yourself.

Seek clients via traditional job postings

This is possibly the easiest way of getting some work initially, even though the application processes this way tend to be more time consuming for you, as you’re effectively applying for a job each time you’re bidding for work.

It’s a good idea to set up alerts on a few different websites, so that you can have a steady stream of options coming into your inbox (e.g. Reed, Indeed.) You can upload your CV and pre-write a covering letter on both of these, so they save you a bit of time.

Seek clients via remote work positions

Remote working gives you the same flexibility as freelance, as often they’ll contract you on a part time or project by project basis. You need to check each position before you apply, but some great sites for job hunting this way are Remotive,

Seek clients via agencies

Be careful with agencies. They take a cut of your earnings, so you’re never realising your full earning potential. However, they can be a good stop-gap to make sure you’ve got some money coming in while you get your ducks in a row applying for longer-term positions or trying to attract more clients.

You also need to see whether there’s a subscription fee, because this can often outweigh the potential benefit. Some examples include Contena, and Fiverr.

With agencies you need to make sure that it makes sense money wise. Sometimes the quantity of content you’d need to produce to be earning sufficiently versus the time it would take you to produce all that content doesn’t balance out.

Send off hopeful submissions

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this:


You might get published

You might get paid


You might not get published

You might not get paid

You’ve still invested the time in producing a piece of content

If you need to build your portfolio then it’s definitely a good idea to send them work you’ve already invested your time in, perhaps work you’ve already self-published somewhere like LinkedIn or Medium. Don’t invest in new work unless you’re able to self-publish it as well. Your time is your money, so make sure you’re balancing the spending and earning in both senses.

Finally, here’s something extra that sounds obvious but that you should definitely do:

Tell your friends and family you’re going freelance

Mention it to them. Reach out to anyone that you think it would be relevant to.

In the words of Tesco: every little helps.

Penguin in the Room @prartsmarketing is a group of creatives with an arts marketing dream: penguin stepping our way into the arts industry and helping other creatives flourish! Specialising in online marketing, social media, branding, copy writing, media coaching and web design for actors, artists, casting directors, agents, production companies, theatre companies and creative individuals.

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