Some of us come to freelance writing with years of experience.
We spent time at newspapers, magazines and in marketing, or maybe we were even journalism or English students back in the day.
But not all freelancers fall into this category. For many, freelance writing is a career to move into when you need a little more freedom in your life.
You could be a mom looking to work from home while caring for the kids, or you might be a retired teacher looking to make a little extra cash on the side. You could even be a college student with hopes of paying off your tuition bill.
Regardless, you don’t need to be an expert to get started in freelance writing online.
What you do need though…is a WEBSITE.
It’s Okay to Start with Nothing!
While we experienced writers might have whole books full of clips and samples we’ve written, you newbies don’t have all that.
As a new writer, you simply have a clean slate, some big ideas and a lot of drive to succeed – and that’s okay! That’s exactly how I started.
Still, many new freelance writers come to me concerned. They wonder … “How can I get clients without samples?” or, more often, “How do I even get started in this career?”
The first thing I always tell new writers is that they NEED a website.
Remember, one of my five pillars to becoming a successful freelance writer is “The Right Branding,” and your website plays a big role in that. It’s your virtual face for the world, and it’s vital you have one from the very beginning.
New freelance writers sometimes balk at this recommendation. They ask: “How can I have a website if I don’t have any experience yet?” To many, it seems like putting the cart before the horse.
I get that.
But let me tell you a secret: You don’t need a whole lot of clips to build a great freelance writing website.
While your website should certainly show off your best work, that’s not the only thing to showcase. Also include a well-written bio about yourself, a resume, information about your qualifications, and plenty of other personal details clients might find useful or interesting.
Your website can also be a great place to create content, too.
If you’re worried about your lack of clips, samples and experience, once you have your website up, it can actually offer you a great opportunity to hone your writing chops. You can:
1. Start a blog
A blog is one of the best ways to not only show off your writing talents, but also to hone your skills through regular, daily practice.
Use your blog to write about things that interest you, industry news your clients could use, or just about anything you can think of.
If you’re hoping to specialize in a certain niche as a writer, which I hope you are, a blog can also give you a great place to show off your expertise. Dedicate your posts to content in your specific niche and industry, and show clients just how well you really know your stuff.
2. Share personal stories or creative writing
Stumped on what content to write? Start easy.
Use your site to share personal stories – experiences from your last 9-to-5, the trials and tribulations of being a stay-at-home mom, or even stories you made up on the fly. They may not be the items your clients will hire you to write, but at least it will give you a chance to flex your writing muscles and show off your talents.
3. Write news items
Use your website to cover the biggest headlines in your area, your state or even the country.
It doesn’t matter if it’s already been covered by the local paper, as long as you’re offering a fresh take on it and you’re showing off your writing skills. Bonus points if you can stick to news in a specific industry or niche. That will help you become more of a content expert – and content experts can command much higher rates than those who aren’t!
4. Create sample pieces
Create sample content specifically aimed to impress potential clients.
Want to offer blogs and article writing? Create a few sample blogs that show off your writing style and tone. You can even write them for a made-up client if you don’t have any actual clients yet.
Want to write eBooks, web content or magazine articles? Create sample pieces of those, too. Show clients you can create exactly what they’re looking for.
A Website is the First Step Not The Last
The moral of the story is it doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. Your website can give you the experience you need!
In addition, a personal website is a vital marketing tool in our industry. The majority of clients will search for freelance writers online, and if you don’t have a website, you may as well not exist!
Potential clients will also use your site to gauge whether you’re a good fit for their needs and budget. They’ll consider its look and layout, the content housed on it, and your qualifications and bio, and ultimately, it will play a huge role in their final decision.
So if you don’t have a personal website, get on that today. Whether you have decades of experience or you’re completely new, I promise it will help take your career to the income you’re hoping for.
If you are concerned that starting a website is too difficult and time-consuming, don’t be. Crate a simple portfolio website to start. You can find out more information on that here.