Writing is a core skill that drives the success of nearly every business. From menus and flyers to global marketing and business names, great writing is the thing that wins people over. 

As a content writer, you can apply your skills to create those words that draw people in and convince them to buy from a business. 

But branching out on your own can be as challenging as exciting, especially if you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! 

This guide will show you how to become a freelance content writer. We’ll cover:

  • What do you need to become a freelance content writer?

What do you need to become a freelance content writer?

Before considering how to become a freelance content writer, it’s important to determine if it’s the right job for you. To help you along, we’ve compiled some of the key traits and skills you’ll need to become a successful freelance writer. 

For starters, freelancing can be challenging and sometimes it takes time to get the ball rolling. So you’ll need:

  • Patience
  • Resilience
  • A positive attitude

In addition, every freelance content writer needs a knack for:

Do you possess all these qualities? Then a career in content writing is for you! 

So how do you become one?

How to become a freelance content writer

Follow the steps below to kickstart your career and begin your journey as a successful content writer. 

Register as a sole trader

As with all other businesses, you’ll need to register with HMRC and let them know you’ll handle your own taxes. Every year, you’ll need to complete and file a Self Assessment tax return. 

To learn more about this, check out:

Build a portfolio

The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you have a kickass online portfolio to prove to prospective clients that you are as amazing as you say. 

Every great portfolio needs:

  • 5-10 of your best writing examples to demonstrate your style
  • Your contact details to people can get in touch
  • An About Me page where you describe who you are and what you can do, including skills and qualifications

Here’s how you create a solid portfolio as a content writer:

Use a website builder

You don’t need web development or graphic design skills to create a nice portfolio. There are plenty of template-based website builders you can use to create a professional portfolio from scratch. 

Examples:

An even easier option is to use a platform like Journoportfolio

After choosing your design and adding a short description of yourself, you simply attach links to your content. Journo Portfolio then creates a collage of your samples for viewers to click on. 

All these sites have free and premium plans, so you can choose how many functions you want. 

Determine your content focus

You’ll have more luck getting clients if you have a clear focus. For example, you could write:

  • Social media content
  • Blog content
  • Journals and white papers
  • Scripts
  • Email content

You could also specialise in different topics or industries like:

  • Sports
  • Medical and healthcare
  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Hair and beauty

Review what you know and have experience with, then select samples from that pile. If you haven’t done any jobs yet, create your own samples!

Research requirements

Once you know what type of content writer you want to be, make sure you fit the requirements for the job. Many writing jobs don’t require much beyond the ability to adapt to different styles and create compelling content. 

That said, you might need specific certifications, degrees or other qualifications for some areas (like writing medical journals). 

If you don’t meet the requirements, lookup certifications and training you can do to become qualified. 

Start your own blog

An excellent way to get started with your content writing is to start a blog. 

Blogging allows you to work on your craft and create samples to show to clients if you don’t have any published bylines yet. 

Begin pitching to potential clients

The most difficult part about becoming a freelance content writer is to find your first clients. You’ll need to do a lot of outreach and pitch to multiple websites, publications, and companies.

Take some time to consider who your ideal client is. If it helps, you can create an ideal customer profile to figure out how to get their attention and win them over. 

To learn more, take a look at our guide: How to create an ideal customer profile.

It’s important to conduct thorough research to make sure you understand your ideal client and what they might need from you. 

Here are a few tips to help you become more effective when contacting prospects:

  • Keep your pitch emails brief and to the point
  • Include links to one or two of your best writing samples

If you do get turned down (which you will, unfortunately), handle the rejection with grace. You can ask for feedback as to why you weren’t picked and use it to refine your idea to do better next time. 

This is where you’ll need to draw on that patience and resilience we mentioned earlier. The more you practice, the more luck you’ll have landing clients.

BONUS! Track your income with one clever app

Once you begin to build a client base, you’ll need a way to accept payments and manage your income as well as your expenses. Luckily, there’s an app that makes this easy!

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

Start your three-month free trial today. 
Apply now.