Can I Be a Freelance Writer?

If you’re wondering “can I be a freelance writer?” you’ve come to the right place.

A lot of people ask me about how I got started, and if they think that they could also become a freelance writer.

Here’s the absolute truth:

Yes. Absolutely. You can.

And I’m going to tell you why.

Freelance writing can seem like this really difficult club to break into. Maybe you’ve tried content farms or sites where you submit pitches, and you’re just not getting any bites.

Maybe you’ve written a lot in your field, and you have a website and portfolio, but no one is reaching out to you.

Or you’ve even been working as a freelance writer for a while, but the amount of work has dried up.

I’m going to talk about ways to break out of that slump and how you can become a freelance writer – because you can.

You might say, well, I have no degree in writing. Neither do I! A lot of freelance writers never went to school for writing.

What if you struggle with grammar or spelling? That’s okay. Seriously. You might spend more time proofreading and less time brainstorming. Or maybe you’re brilliant at proofreading, but coming up with an idea takes you a while.

That’s fine, too.

You can definitely make it as a freelance writer. You just need to find your niche.

List of how to find your writing niche from can I be a freelance writer? inbriefwriting

What Does “Find Your Niche” Even Mean?

At its most basic, it means:

Find what you’re good at. Or what you’re drawn to. Or what you love! Ideally, all three.

Find where you fit as a writer in the freelance writing space.

Maybe you’re a content creator or editor for websites.

Maybe you’re an awesome proofreader.

Perhaps you’re meant to be writing blogs about the latest tech.

Whatever it is that you’re good at, lean into that. That’s the easiest way to get your first clients – it won’t require a lot of research or time on your part, because you’ll already be using skills you have.

What If I Don’t Have Any Writing Skills?

Well, you’ve probably written an email, right? Possibly an essay? Maybe a thank you note to someone?

Whatever you’ve written in your life counts as experience. Now, you’re not going to put thank you letters on your resume (unless you’re intending to write for a greeting card company), but you might put an essay up, especially if you end up getting a job as a freelance writing tutor –  which can be a lucrative profession.

Experience doesn’t equate to ability. Don’t be afraid of your lack of work – just dive in and start writing.

What If I’ve Never Written [This Type of Work] Before?

What if you’ve never written, say, a bio, and you’re asked to write a brief profile of someone for their website?

Well – start reading other things in that area. Seriously, read up! The best writers are good readers, and like to explore what other writers are doing. Figure out what else is in your field, and read a lot of that.

Don’t plagiarize.

Let me say that again.

Do not plagiarize.

You’ll see a lot of jobs will say they’re going to run your work through a plagiarism check. I have no idea if people actually do that, and I can’t imagine that my sentences are all 100% unique, if only because there aren’t enough words to guarantee 100% unique sentences at all times.

But – a lot of employers do check. And you don’t want to get caught doing it. Plus, it’s not cool, it’s not legal, and it’s not a good way to make an impression.

You want to prove that you have an individual, unique voice. That voice is what’s going to help you.

Maybe that voice is perfect at mimicking a specific tone or style, and that’s totally fine! Ghostwriting is a great way to make money. But that’s still your unique ability. Don’t be afraid to lean in to what you’re good at.

Handshaking Picture - How Can I Get More Clients?

What If I’m Not Getting Jobs?

There are a few things that limit jobs:

1) The amount of jobs available.

2) The amount of other people applying.

3) Your pitch.

4) Your network.

I believe those are the 4 key things. What do they each mean? Let’s break it down.

1) The amount of jobs available.

If there are only 2 jobs in your field and 1000 people want them, it’s going to be hard to land the job! If there are 1000 jobs, you’ll have a better chance.

2) The amount of other people applying.

If you’re competing with 1 other person, it’s easier to land the job than it is if you’re competing with 100 other people.

3) Your pitch.

How are you presenting yourself? Never start an email with “I don’t have any experience.” Talk up what you can do.

Highlight your strengths!

Here’s a story:

I have a friend who’s working on a big art project. She was getting ready to send out a press release and asked me to read it over.

The first paragraph was an apology. It was all about how different and new her work was, but rather than say “original,” “unique,” “exciting,” she was leaning into things like “you may find it unclear, but…” or “though it might seem like a strange combination….” All negative connotations!

Lean into your positives, and accentuate those. Even if you haven’t written in this style before, maybe you have experience in the industry. That helps!

4) Your network.

The more people you know, the more referrals you will get. Referrals will help a lot in the path to becoming a freelance writer. If you haven’t been making new connections in a while, start up that social media account, start attending events, and start getting to know new people! 

And don’t be afraid to cold-apply. If you don’t know the company, it’s fine to drop them a line (a brief email or phone call) indicating your interest in writing for them. You might not hear back, but you won’t be any worse off than if you’d never reached out! 

Start writing wherever and however you can. I’ve talked about using sites like Upwork and Fiverr before, and I think those are great places to begin building client relationships, especially if you’ve never written before. 

Whatever your background, you can become a freelance writer. I believe in you. Believe in yourself – and start writing. And check out our article on tips for how to start freelance writing with no experience

What other basic tips for beginning freelance writers do you recommend? What’s worked for you? What are you still struggling with?

Post in the comments, and let’s discuss it!