You’re a new freelance writer, hoping to start your own freelance writing business, but you’re totally overwhelmed by all the advice out there:
Build a website.
Start a blog.
Create a portfolio
Get on social media.
Check job boards.
Work for free.
The number of tips out there to “help” you start your freelance writing career is endless, but here’s the deal: if you’re a new freelance writer, you don’t have to do all of these things.
In fact, I would argue you don’t have to do any of these things if you don’t want to.
There’s a simplified approach to becoming a freelance writer, and it’s one that I often don’t see people talk about.
Today, I’m going to share with you one of the easiest (most underrated) methods for getting your first freelance writing client quickly and relatively easily, even if you’re a new freelance writer.
Because, trust me, as someone who has been freelance writing for close to three years now, I’ve been in your shoes, and I know what it feels like to wonder how you’re going to make money as a new freelance writer, especially if you can’t even seem to land that first client.
Let’s dive in, and start your freelance writing career off on the right foot, shall we?
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Where can I find freelance writing jobs as a new freelance writer?
I’ll admit this right off the bat: my approach to freelance writing is not popular.
Having said that, it’s the way I started my writing career without any experience writing professionally.
How did I do it?
I created an account on Upwork.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Upwork, it is an online platform that allows freelancers and clients to connect. Clients post jobs, and freelancers apply to those jobs, stating why they think they’re the best candidate for the job. The freelancer also “bids” on the job, with their chosen rate. The client then picks the candidate who they think has the most suitable skills and price point for their needs.
So why do people take issue with Upwork for new freelance writers? There are two primary reasons:
1) Too much competition/low paying
2) Upwork takes a percentage of your pay
In the name of being upfront, I wanted to tell you these things right off the bat.
Having said that, while both these things can be true, I strongly believe that when you’re just starting out as a new freelance writer, there are so many more positive aspects of Upwork.
Why should a new freelance writer use Upwork? There are two primary reasons:
1) Upwork allows you to start building your portfolio from Day One, while simultaneously making legit online income (you don’t have to spend months building a website/blog/brand).
2) Your level of risk with building your freelance writing business on Upwork is basically zero.
These are two very important points, so let me address each of them separately.
Building Your Writing Portfolio With Upwork
If you’ve done any research at all about starting a freelance writing career, you’re likely already aware how important a portfolio is to a freelance writer.
Your portfolio is essentially your body of work that proves to potential clients that you have what it takes to take on their project. It shows off your writing style, and acts as the representation of you as a writer.
But, I know when I was a new freelance writer, I had no idea how I was going to prove to potential clients I was worth hiring if I didn’t have any experience.
Sure, I could work for free to build up my portfolio, but even with that idea, I had no idea where to start when looking for non-paying freelance writing jobs.
And yeah, I could have started a blog in order to show off my writing skills, but neither of those ideas was going to help me in making money any time soon.
And, as someone who had given herself a two month deadline to figure out how to make online income, I didn’t have the time, money, or energy to put into building any of those things if there was no guarantee they would work.
RELATED: Do Freelance Writers Need A Website?
I needed something that would give me immediate reassurance that I could make it as a freelance writer.
With Upwork, because there are so many available jobs, I could quickly and easily apply to multiple without having to jump around from job board to job board.
Sure, I wasn’t chosen for a lot of the jobs I applied to. And yeah, there was some time wasted crafting proposals that were ultimately rejected, but, in the end, the time I saved going this route, rather than time marketing myself a new freelance writer was worth it to me.
The Slow and Steady Portfolio Method
Let me be real: you can build your portfolio in many ways, and I honestly believe that none of the ways is better than the other.
If you’re the kind of person who needs some type of reward in order to be motivated to keep going, I highly recommend building your portfolio through Upwork. Or, in other words, “the slow and steady method.”
With this method, you’re not going to make thousands of dollars right off the bat.
You’re not going to have clients begging to work with you.
But, if you can find just a handful of clients who are willing to pay you something, this has the potential to be freelance writing gold.
Because if you deliver outstanding work that impresses a client, this has the potential to earn you a positive testimonial for your portfolio, and, in my experienced opinion, testimonials are one of the key factors in building a successful freelance writing career.
And the best part is, as your gaining all these positive testimonials, you’re also making money! It might not be thousands of dollars, but I earned $453 in my first month as a new freelance writer, and that was with no prior professional writing experience.
Again, this isn’t about landing the most high-end client right off the bat. It’s about slowly building up your profile, while also simultaneously giving you some online income. Not to mention, confidence within your new freelance writing career.
I talk more about how to find the right jobs, and screen for clients in my ebook, which I’ll talk about more at the end of the post.
Why Upwork is a zero risk business for new freelance writers
In the online business world, there’s often a lot of talk about risk, and how taking a chance on yourself is necessary to be rewarded.
And, while I certainly think this can be true in some cases, I also think, sometimes, playing it safe is the way to go.
As someone who has invested thousands into a business prior to discovering freelance writing, I know firsthand that it doesn’t always work out.
But, when building your freelance writing career on Upwork, you’re risking nothing (except possibly your time).
There’s no money to invest. Nothing.
You can try out freelance writing as a side hustle, and risk nothing to do so. Then, if you decide you enjoy writing, perhaps you’ll want to invest some money to help you further your career.
But, having said that, I’ve been freelance writing for close to three years now, and I’ve never invested a single penny into my freelance writing business.
If you’re a new freelance writer, and you’re unsure about freelance writing, I highly recommend finding your first clients through Upwork.
What if you don’t have time to waste?
Trust me, I get it: your time is valuable.
For some, when they hear me say that all your risking is time rather than money, they’re already rejecting my freelance writing method.
And guess what?
This method to freelance writing is not for everyone.
If time is your biggest priority right now, this method might not be for you.
However, on the other hand, if money is more of an issue for you, and you have time to spare to figure yourself out as a freelance writer, then this likely is a method to freelance writing that will work for you.
How much time you put into it will impact the results that you get. Put in the time, and Upwork will reward you. Write Upwork off as illegitimate and a waste of time, and you’re unlikely to have success.
NOTE: I just want to point out that while this method can take some time to build, there’s no method to freelance writing out there that I’m aware of that doesn’t take some time investment. In fact, in comparison to most methods, this method to freelance writing will allow you to start making money online in the fastest way possible. Just something to keep in mind.
Does Upwork pay well? What about the percentage cut?
Earlier I mentioned the two key objections most people have to Upwork: high competition/low pay, and the percentage cut.
Let me address both…
High competition/low pay on Upwork
There’s no way around it, there certainly are some low paying jobs on Upwork.
And yes, there is competition on Upwork.
Having said that, this article is targeted at those who are looking to land their first client as a new freelance writer.
If this is you, I honestly wouldn’t worry too much about the money at this point.
What you should be focusing on is obtaining positive testimonials so you can build your trustworthiness for future clients.
Sure, you might only make $10 on an article, but in my opinion, that positive testimonial for your profile is worth so much than $10.
Take me, for example. Because I have so many positive testimonials on my Upwork profile, I’m now considered a Top Rated Freelancer on Upwork.
Clients now come to me looking to hire me, rather than me having to go and seek them.
As I’ve said, you might not start your freelance writing career making thousands of dollars, but if you work at it, and build your testimonials, you’ll get there.
What about the pay cut?
Yes, Upwork takes 20% of whatever you’re paid.
This is not ideal, and it’s not something I take lightly. That’s a lot of money.
Having said that, when I price myself, I factor in that 20% into whatever rate I quote.
In addition, if you bill over $500 with a client, that cut will eventually drop down to 10%
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to stay on Upwork forever. You can use the platform to gain your first clients as a new freelance writer, and then you can branch out on your own, if you so choose.
And again, probably most importantly, this post is addressed at those looking to land their first freelance writing client. Like I’ve said, in my opinion, at this stage in the game, money shouldn’t be your primary concern. Gaining experience, testimonials, and confidence in your writing should be.
How do I get my Upwork profile approved?
It’s important for me to note that not everyone who signs up to use Upwork will be approved to do so.
Because of competition, especially in the freelance writing field, Upwork had to start screening applicants before allowing them to use the platform.
Having said that, I have a “secret” method to getting your profile approved, and I talk about it in my ebook.
If you’re not interested in my ebook and you’d rather learn for yourself, I completely understand, so here’s some of my more basic tips for getting your Upwork profile approved:
1) Make sure you upload a photo of yourself. It doesn’t have to be a professional headshot, but it should be of your face. This helps Upwork detect spam accounts
2) Take your time filling out the application. You might be tempted to fill it out as quickly as possible so you can get started, but I know people who have been rejected by the platform. Upwork is thorough when screening applicants, so provide as much detail as possible.
3) Having said that, don’t be so thorough that important details get lost. Remember, somebody actually has to read through your application. If important details are buried amongst fluff, there’s a chance it will be missed, and you’ll be rejected.
Do I have to use Upwork to land my first client as a new freelance writer?
If you’ve read this entire post, the answer to this question will likely be obvious, but no, you don’t have to use Upwork to land your first client as a new freelance writer.
As mentioned, there are so many ways to start freelance writing.
And again, as mentioned, I don’t think any one method is better than the other.
Having said that, I do think some methods are better suited for different people.
If you’re someone who needs positive reinforcement to keep going with a pursuit, I think my Upwork method is probably a good fit for you. It will show you that making money online as a new freelance writer is possible.
It will also help you build your experience as a writer. Not to mention, if you’re new, it will help you refine your writing skills.
Trust me, while Upwork might not have the best reputation in the freelance writing world, for me, I don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t stumbled upon Upwork, and I strongly believe that it is the best platform for new freelance writers.
If you’re a new freelance writer, and you want to learn more about getting your freelance writing career started through Upwork, feel free to check out my ebook on the topic.
Titled, “Freelance Writing Simplified,” this is a 100 page, no BS approach to building a freelance writing business through Upwork.
I’ve kept the price low for the book ($25) intentionally, so that more aspiring freelance writers can have access to the resource.
I know how it feels to be tempted to buy a $200 course just so you can get some answers, but with my ebook, I’ll give you all the answers you’re looking for in an easy-to-read format that will allow you to start your freelance writing career ASAP.
For more on “Freelance Writing Simplified”, and what’s included in the ebook, check it out here.
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