Having an English or journalism degree may make it a little bit easier to break into the freelance writing business – but is it absolutely necessary to joining the ranks?
I don’t have either of those things, and look at me now! I’m a former chemist, making a six-figure salary as a freelance writer.
So if you’re wondering how to become a freelance writer without a degree, I can help. I’m proof that it can be done – and I can show you how.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Start writing – however you can.
You may not have a column in a nationally renowned magazine, but there are ways to start writing and to get that writing out to the world. The best place to start? Your own blog.
Years ago, blogs were just a place where teens went to vent, sharing their innermost thoughts and ramblings. Now, blogging is a bona fide business venture that can bring in leads, convert visitors and improve SEO.
So if you’re new to freelance writing, go ahead and start a blog. Write about the latest industry news (in whatever writing niche you want to focus on), share a short story or two, or just recap the day’s happenings. The main goal is to start writing – however possible. That way, potential clients can get a glimpse at your skills and consider hiring you.
2. Practice, practice, practice.
Once you start writing, don’t stop. Keep at that blog daily (or at least weekly), and start creating samples of the content you’d like to create for customers. You can even use some online writing prompts to help get your mind going if you’re feeling a little stuck.
Consider joining a content mill or bidding site just to get your feet wet, and take on smaller jobs to get a feel for how professional freelance writing works. They may not pay a lot up front, but at least they’ll get you practice – and a few samples you can show off to future client.
3. Create a website.
This is a major piece of the puzzle. In the freelance writing biz, you basically don’t exist if you don’t have a website. After all, most of our work is done remotely – over the web. It only makes sense that most of our clients find us that way, too.
If you want to learn how to become a freelance writer without a degree, creating a portfolio site is one of the first steps you should take. Use a platform like WordPress to create a customized one, or try any one of these portfolio sites. They’re all great, easy ways to get started.
Just be sure to include your bio, samples of your work and anything else you want to show off to potential customers. You can even try a little SEO to make your site easier to find.
4. Market your skills.
Now I don’t mean you have to take out a billboard or advertisement, but spend a little time marketing yourself on the web. Create social media accounts under your professional moniker, and start sharing industry info, promoting your work and connecting with potential clients. Add your name to directories, and attend networking events where you can meet business owners and other decision makers who may be in need of content help. You never know where a new opportunity might lie.
You’ll also want to get active on LinkedIn. I can’t tell you how many clients and projects I’ve gotten through LinkedIn. Some I contact (I see that they got a new job or position, and ask how I can help), and some contact me (my name came up in search or we have a connection in common.) Both are great options. Just make sure your profile is filled all the way out, that you have some samples on your page, and that you’ve included a link to your portfolio site.
5. Follow in the footsteps of those before you.
Find other freelance writers and pros in the writing industry that you like, admire and want to emulate. Learn about their stories, heed their advice and try to follow in their footsteps. There’s no need to blaze a completely new path; after all, there’s room for all of us! Every business needs content, so use their tales to guide your way along this professional journey. (i.e., visit this blog often!)
6. Keep improving – and raising your rates.
A successful freelance writer is never static. They’re always trying to improve their skills, get bigger, better projects, and make more money. As you get further and further into your career, strive for this. Raise your rates. Start applying for more competitive, higher-paying gigs. Reach out to companies you never would have in the past. Put yourself out on a limb, get out of your comfort zone and do something new. You never know what you can do until you try!
7. Carve out a niche.
No writers make more than those who specialize in specific industry or niche. Their unique expertise allows them to command much higher rates than more general writers, and their names are often in high demand among industry pros. If you can establish yourself as a niche writer, you’ll have an even easier road to success as a writer.
Some tips? Choose something you’re passionate about or already have knowledge in. Were you an accounting major in school? Focus on finance writing. Did you use to work at a bakery? Make food writing your thing. The more you know about and enjoy your specialty, the better your writing will be – and the more people will want it.
You CAN Become a Freelance Writer Without a Degree
You don’t need a fancy English degree to succeed as a freelance writer. All you need are these tips, a little guidance and some good old hard work, and a six-figure career is well within reach. I promise.