With all of the chaos happening in the world at any given time, it’s understandable for people to wonder about their job security. Fortunately, freelance writing is a career that can be done remotely from anywhere in the world, so it’s a business model that has withstood a lot of the turbulence that many industries are facing.
However, with such a strangely behaving job market and so many businesses cutting costs and still recovering from the Covid-19 shutdowns, is it even possible to make money as a freelance writer in the current economy?
The answer is yes. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. People are still buying things and spending money.
Although many businesses are struggling right now, life hasn’t come to a complete halt. People are still shopping, whether for necessities or just for fun! Online shopping is at an all-time high and many online retailers are seeing boosts in their business now that people are staying home.
In addition, the US sent a number of stimulus checks in 2020 to help restart the economy, giving many people the opportunity to invest that money back into their favorite businesses. Because of this, many companies are looking to increase their online presence, and they need freelancers to do it.
2. The demand for online content is higher than ever.
The internet is now the face of all businesses. Any business without a website in 2020 and beyond doesn’t stand much of a chance for long-term survival with very few exceptions. People are spending more time online than ever before in history: for work, shopping, and everything in between. This has greatly increased the need for solid copy written by talented freelance writers.
Many businesses that could have gotten by without a website in the past are now scrambling to develop their digital footprint and most of them don’t have the budget to hire in-house copywriters to do the job. Freelancers are still the most popular choice for many businesses looking for copywriters, bloggers, social media managers, and more.
3. Many businesses are either unaffected by the economic climate or thriving because of it.
There are certain types of businesses, such as law offices or medical suppliers, whose goods and services are more in-demand now than ever. While many small businesses may experience declines based on the state of the economy, there are other industries that are evergreen due to the necessary services they provide.
A few examples include:
- Repair services
- Public works
- Many types of retailers
- Information technology
While individual companies within these spheres might be feeling the effects of the recent crisis, these industries as a whole are a great place to look if you want to find stable freelance work, regardless of the global climate.
4. There's a need for highly-specialized writing.
With people spending more time online, there's a higher need for writers who specialize in specific forms of writing. This could mean developing a focus on one type of content, such as landing pages, case studies, product descriptions, social media captions, or long-form blog posts.
It can also mean narrowing your focus to a specific niche industry, such as asphalt paving or industrial automation. While it’s hard to break into an entirely new niche, it can be worthwhile to have a specialty that you can consider yourself an expert in – it could be the difference that helps you consistently make money as a freelance writer.
5. There is always a need for good freelance writers.
There are lots of people out there who fancy themselves writers, but they simply don't have the talent for it. Worse, there are people trying to write who have terrible habits – their work is full of grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation, or other mistakes.
If you’re a detail-oriented freelancer with great time management and communication skills, there are businesses out there that would love to work with you. Good talent is hard to find in any economy, but especially now that more people than ever are looking to make a living online. Set yourself apart by being a joy to work with and you’ll be surprised how far you can go and how much money you can make as a freelancer.
Getting Started and Make Money as a Freelance Writer
If you’re considering a career as a freelance writer, now is a great time to start. You’ll need to have writing samples prepared when you apply to freelance jobs, so be sure to have some on hand that are relevant to your chosen niche.
It helps to create a website in order to organize your portfolio and show clients you know your stuff. I have a whole blog post about how to make your own blog or website.
Not sure where to start or even how to be a freelance writer? Check out my freelance writing course, The Write Hustle. I’ll teach you how to get started and at the end of 6 weeks, you’ll be ready to sprout your own wings and fly off into the freelancing sunset.
Overall, freelance writing is a great way to build a skill set that you can utilize from anywhere in the world, whether you’re writing for a local business or a client halfway across the globe. No matter how the economy shifts, you’ll have an adaptable career that can grow and change along with you.
This article contains several affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
As a business owner, you have to market yourself as a freelance writer and be your own advocate if you want to see success. With so many qualified professionals across a variety of industries, the best way to find new clients is to put yourself out there and stand out from the crowd.
It can be intimidating to market yourself when you have no budget, but it can be done! Here are 5 great ways to promote your writing and secure new clients – and best of all, they’re all completely free.
1. Have a Professional Email Signature
Whether you’re pitching articles or corresponding with contacts in your industry, the life of a writer involves a lot of emails. Having a professional email signature is a low-stakes way to boost your image and promote your online presence.
Whether you want to link to your social media profiles, plug your website, or add a line advertising your skills, taking the time to craft an attractive signature will show that you know what you’re doing and that you’re serious about your services.
Make a point to include your picture, too, to further personalize your message. People like being able to put a face with a name.
2. Create a Website
A website is the best way to showcase your work, tell potential clients a little about yourself, and boost your search engine optimization through site content and blog posts. A professional-looking website builds trust between you and your client and gives them a taste of what you can do.
(I wrote a bit about why you should have a personal website here if you still need convincing.)
While a custom domain and hosting services cost money, there are plenty of free website builders out there to help you get started no matter your skill level. That said, I recommend you set up shop with WordPress.com as a beginner. While there is a free option, I recommend purchasing your own domain for $18 USD annually (this looks more professional than the free option which includes “.wordpress.com” in your URL) and choosing one of the paid packages, either the Personal or Professional options.
While WordPress.com is a great place for beginners, your capabilities are very limited. For example, you can’t add “plugins” (apps that give you more robust functions like collecting email addresses or checking your SEO strength) unless you pay for WordPress’s Business option, which is quite expensive.
If you’re looking for more functionality, I recommend hosting a WordPress website with SiteGround and creating your site with the very user-friendly Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. Divi is a drag-and-drop theme that is incredibly versatile and easy to use. You don’t need any experience building websites or need to know any code. There are lots of informative video tutorials to help you learn the system and make the different templates your own.
You’ll also want to create a portfolio, whether it lives on your site or on an external platform like Contently. Clients almost always want to see an example of your writing before they agree to work with you, so make sure this space is organized and easy to find.
All that said, if you do choose to start out with WordPress.com, once you start seeing more success as a writer, I do recommend that you make the switch and pay for your own domain and hosting. At that point, you might even want to invest in a custom logo or web design to help curate your client’s experience. For your very first website, however, a site with WordPress.com is more than enough to make a difference.
I teach newbie freelance writers how to set up their own websites – both on WordPress and via SiteGround hosting with the Divi Theme – in my Start Freelance Writing course. If you’re feeling apprehensive about getting started, sign up to get help and support.
3. Get Published on Other Sites
Guest posting for high-traffic websites is a great way to get your name out there and help build your reputation. You can pitch guest post ideas to big names in your niche or offer to swap posts with another writer to put your work in front of new eyes.
If you don’t yet have any connections in your niche of choice, no worries! Websites like Medium allow writers to post blogs and maintain an author profile while occasionally promoting articles within the platform, potentially netting a lot of views.
LinkedIn is another great place to market yourself as a freelance writer and posting your content. If the right person shares your post, you could be looking at a significant boost in views. Not to mention, LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to network with other writers and potential clients.
4. Be Present on Social Media
Social media is one of the best marketing tools to have in your arsenal. A consistent social media presence is free to maintain and allows you to meet potential clients and other writers alike. You never know what social media friendships will turn into business opportunities later down the line.
When it comes to social media success, there are two things to remember: Consistency and engagement. You need to post regularly in order to stay relevant in the eyes of the social media algorithms and you need to interact with other users in order to forge meaningful connections.
Most people can tell when someone is only on social media to promote their own agenda and it’s not interesting to follow someone who only talks about themselves. By making your posts meaningful, liking and commenting on other profiles, and delivering consistent, relevant content, you’ll have a social media presence that others will want to keep up with.
5. Nail Your Pitch
As a writer, your pitch is often your first impression with a potential client. You might have the best website out there but no one will visit it if your pitch letter is underwhelming.
If you have writer friends, ask them to look over your pitch letter before sending it out. Look at examples of real pitch letters online that have seen success. Plenty of writers are willing to share what worked for them in order to help others in their industry.
Trying to market yourself as a freelance writer can feel scary, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to find new clients. By using these free tips, you’ll be well on your way to reaching new heights in your freelance writing career.
Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur selling a physical product or service, a blogger, or hoping to become an internet influencer sensation, you’ve got to build an audience.
There’s no question that it takes time to develop an engaged following and there’s more than one way to do it, but the fact remains: it’s a crucial part of earning money online.
Without followers, no one will buy from you because you have no one to sell to.
It’s that simple. Seems simple, right?
In theory, it is. But building an audience online takes a lot of work and consistency. The beginning stages are oftentimes the hardest because you may not see much return for all the elbow grease you’re putting into the work. But with time and dedication, you’ll soon have your systems running practically on autopilot and bringing in more and more fans to your audience.
So, how do you do it?
5 Ways to Build an Audience
Like I said, there’s more than one way to build an audience. If you want to maximize your reach, your best bet is to utilize a mix of social media, email newsletters, and online content.
No matter how you go about it, you’ll have to do a little research to see what will get your people to engage with you. This might mean testing a few things at once (not everything at once!) or trying one thing at a time for a few weeks to see what works well and what doesn’t.
The main ingredient here is to determine who your ideal audience actually is and where they spend the most time online. If you can figure that out, then you’ll know where you focus your efforts.
Here are the X main areas to focus on when building your audience.
1. The Social Media “Big 4”: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
Social media is a huge, HUGE part of building an audience – there’s no doubt about it. As of 2019, people around the globe spend an average of nearly 2.5 hours scrolling through their social feeds every day. That’s a lot of social time.
It makes sense that every business and brand wants to have a strong social media presence. But, like everything else, it doesn’t make sense for every brand to have a profile on every platform available.
Sure, massive companies like Nike, Apple, Starbucks, and others probably have social media accounts and followers on every conceivable platform out there, but they also have massive staff and advertising budgets that allow them to give multiple people the responsibility of keeping those profiles updated consistently.
As a solopreneur (meaning you’re doing everything yourself, girl!), you don’t have that luxury. Instead, you need to focus on where your ideal buyers are spending the most time.
The safest bets are Facebook, Instagram, and maybe Twitter.
Facebook is a no-brainer. Since its debut all the way back in 2004, it’s remained the largest social media platform on the internet. Everyone who is anyone (ahem, all the peoples) spend at least some time on Facebook every week if not every day.
Facebook has created some great ways to communicate with your followers. While Facebook pages have lost their luster over the years, Facebook groups are a fantastic way to offer value to your fans and build trust so they’ll eventually buy from you.
Build your Facebook audience by engaging in other groups, inviting friends from your personal circle of relationships and acquaintances, and talking up your page or group when you’re engaging with new people both on and off the internet.
Instagram isn’t technically in the “top 3” most popular social media sites, but when we hear the term “social media,” tell me Instagram isn’t one of the main platforms you think of. (It ranks in your head with Facebook, doesn’t it?)
Instagram is, obviously, image-driven. Increasingly, videos are becoming more popular on the platform, too, but it remains a mostly still image site. It’s harder to share links here (you can only do that well in your profile bio) and there’s no such thing as “Instagram groups,” but as humans, we love looking at pretty, interesting photos.
Instagram isn’t the best place to focus for everyone and it can be tougher to engage with your audience on this platform. On the flip side, it’s a great place to be for many entrepreneurs.
Build an Instagram following by researching hashtags that correlate to what you do or who you’re trying to reach. Start small here – look for hashtags that have 1,000 or fewer images linked to them. It’s easier to be found with these by new followers who are also searching the same hashtags; it’s a lot harder to be found as a newbie entrepreneur with a still-small following using hashtags that have hundreds of thousands of images linked to them.
Twitter, in my personal opinion, is a dying breed. Yes, the US president likes to air his grievances there at all hours of the day and night and yes, there are plenty of celebs that have great Twitter accounts that are very entertaining… but it’s a hard place to gather a following that will buy from you.
Twitter can, however, be a good place to interact with fans. In that sense, it’s not fair to completely shut it out of the “social media for business” running. After all, if we look at some big brands like Wendy’s (a US-based fast food restaurant) or Netflix, it’s clear that a dash of humor can go a long way in attracting an audience and engaging with them.
Build your Twitter following by following like-minded and -centered brands and influencers, big and small. Search for and use relevant hashtags in your tweets. Engage with others who have similar interests by commenting or retweeting their tweets. To make the most of Twitter, you’ll need to spend a significantly larger amount of time there than you might on Facebook or Instagram – you should be tweeting an average of 7-10 times in a single day.
LinkedIn is different than the other social platforms because it’s specifically a place for professional social relationships. It’s not a “bad” place, per se, for Twitter-like funny quips every now and then, but the tone is quite different than all the other social platforms.
This is a better place to be if you’re selling a “professional” product or service. In fact, professional services do the best here. LinkedIn gives its users some special tools, like groups, that are reminiscent of Facebook, but it also has some extra tricks up its sleeve.
LinkedIn is a great place to show the world you’re an expert at what you do because you can create a sort of mini-blog there. Writing and publishing articles on topics of interest to your ideal audience is a great way to help yourself stand out from the crowd and gain a following or potential customers or clients.
Build your LinkedIn audience by seeking out others in your field or similarly-aligned fields and connect with them. Search and use hashtags like you would on Instagram or Twitter and engage with folks often on their posts. Write articles to publish on your LinkedIn account that are native only to LinkedIn and not on your website.
Other Social Platforms to Consider
While the “big 4” should be on your radar, there are a few others you might not want to ignore.
For example, TikTok has become all the rage in the last year or so. In my mind, it’s the new Snapchat. Both of these platforms are places where a mostly younger crowd spends time. In essence, unless your ideal audience or client is under the age of 25, it’s likely not worth worrying about these platforms.
That said, if you enjoy them and think they may be beneficial to your business, by all means, use them!
Technically, YouTube could be classified as both a social media platform and a search engine.
As videos are open to consumption for anyone surfing the web (assuming the account owner has left them open), viewers can leave comments and interact with the person who uploaded the videos. This makes the platform social. YouTube also gives channels with large subscriber followings the option to do “stories,” something that originated on Facebook and Instagram.
As it’s owned and operated by Google, the search engine side of it makes a lot of sense. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you type a search question into Google that the results will come back with a few video options on YouTube? It’s pretty cool, right?
YouTube is a powerful tool and if you’re comfortable being in front of the camera, it can be an awesome place to build a following.
Build your YouTube following by using a few strategic keywords in your video titles. Also, make a point to comment on your own video and ask questions to engage viewers to respond. Make sure to invite viewers to subscribe to your channel often.
Your blog is a major place for you to build a following for a few reasons:
- It plays a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.
- It gives you a place to demonstrate and showcase your expertise.
- It shows your audience that your business is alive and kicking.
- It offers a place for your audience to gain free value and ultimately helps you build trust with your followers.
Personally, as a content creator and marketer, I think every business should have a blog. I’m not kidding. Every. Freaking. Business. Needs a blog.
To make the most of your blog and grow your following, you need to write articles that
A) Are on topics that your audience finds interesting or answers frequent questions they may have, and
B) Are consistently offering value.
Here’s the thing, buttercup: No one wants to read a blog article about how you added a new team member to your company. Or about how you’ve gained a new customer. Or spotlighting something that’s about only you or your company.
People will come to your blog because you have something of value to offer them – information, tutorials, tips and suggestions, and so on. Don’t make it about you because ain’t nobody care about you. We’re all selfish (and that’s okay sometimes!), so make it a point to keep your topics focused on your followers’ interest.
4. Online Advertisements
You certainly can “pay to play” on social media or search engines and drive traffic to your website. While I don’t recommend this for entrepreneurs just starting to build an audience and are still getting the swing of things, paid advertising can be a powerful tool.
If this is something you want to start considering, I would recommend beginning with Facebook/Instagram or LinkedIn advertising. All of these platforms are very affordable and have robust options to set up ads that, with research and practice, are fairly easy to use.
I would also recommend that you drive traffic to a landing page to download a free tool or product, like an ebook or Trello board or spreadsheet you’ve designed. This way, you can add those folks to your email list, which brings us to my last point…
Unlike social media, email newsletters are the only guaranteed way you have to connect with your audience. Why?
Because you don’t own your social profiles, social media platforms do. You could get locked out of your Facebook or LinkedIn group at any time and if you don’t have a backup list of all those people in your group (because let’s face it, who does that?!), then you’re screwed. How are you going to connect with your people?
Also, none of us have control over social media algorithms. We simply can’t compete and “organic reach” – meaning the number of people who see your posts in their news feeds without you paying advertising dollars to get your posts front and center – isn’t what it used to be.
By sending consistent email newsletters, though, we can be certain all our followers have an opportunity to hear what we have to say. Sure, we can’t guarantee that all those people will open our emails, but we can be sure it lands in their inbox and they at least see it there.
Build your email list by offering freebies like I mentioned above – ebooks, spreadsheets or worksheets you create, Trello boards, or other tools you can develop or set up and share. Set up shop with an email service provider like Mailerlite to keep everything under one proverbial roof and stay organized.
Building an audience takes work, yes. But it can also be a ton of fun and as time wears on, it’s well worth the effort you put in. If you’re hoping to make money online in any capacity, you need a flock of fans who are excited about what you have to offer.