Hey everyone! It’s been such a long time. I’ll be posting another life update soon because A LOT has changed, but I know so many of you that I’ve connected with through this blog are really great and consistent (something I need to work on) writers. That’s why I wanted to share with you all my journey in being a freelance content writer. This is gonna read like a How To because that’s just what makes the most sense to me, but this is just the way that I became a content writer and started actually making money with it. So with that said, let’s jump in!
First things first, I should tell you that freelance CONTENT writing is very different from general freelance writing. There are soooooo many blog posts that talk about freelance writing and they’re often talking about writing for magazines or list websites. These are creative pieces where you’re expected to pitch a topic or write about a topic with very little direction. I’ve personally never ventured into this realm of writing because it doesn’t interest me, but I did want to let you know this is not that.
Content writing is writing that pretty much primarily exists for search engines. Content writers are the ones who write those blogs you never read on companies’ websites until one day you need to know how to change the setting on your water heater and suddenly a small business you’ve never heard of is the first result on Google. Those blogs help search engines pull information from websites to see what they’re about. Small businesses in particular use them to get closer to the top of the first page of Google when you search certain terms. For instance, a local Italian restaurant may want to come up when you search “Italian restaurants near me” so they would have content writers write blogs with that phrase. The Google algorithm then reads through the website, finds that phrase, and suggests it as a result when you search for “Italian restaurants near me.”
It gets way more technical than that, but that’s the general guidelines. As content writers, you usually only have to know the bare minimum. Most clients will provide you with everything you need to know to write the blog.
SO! To the steps.
1. Find a Content Writing Website
I’ll admit, my first step as a content writer was working for an agency. However, they paid poorly and the amount of money that I was paid per hour was crazy for how much I could write in an hour. It made way more sense for me to be paid per piece than per hour. So I made the decision to go freelance and I started with a little website called Textbroker.
Textbroker is pretty well-known in the content writing community. They use a star system from one to five to rank their writers. The higher your star count, the higher your pay per piece. When I first applied, I was designated as a three-star author. I wrote a couple of pieces, which a Textbroker editor reviewed, and I was bumped up to a four-star author. To become a five-star author, you have to pass a very detailed editing and grammar test and then write a couple more pieces. Mind you, your writing has to be flawless to be a five-star author. It is very hard.
Sites like Textbroker are marketplaces. That means that you get to select what pieces you’d like to write and set your own schedule. It also means that there could be a point where there are too many writers and not enough writing to go around. That’s why it’s best to be a part of a couple of these sites.
Another one I’ve used in the past is Crowd Content. This one is MUCH better paying than Textbroker but their pieces are generally shorter and there are so many authors on the platform that you really have to be on top of it to get a piece before someone else snatches it up.
2. Work with an SEO Agency
This might seem counterintuitive given what I said about how poorly my first job paid but SEO and digital marketing can pay well if you’re a freelancer. My wife and I worked at the same digital marketing agency and she knew a former employee of the agency who went on to start his own agency. It was just him and he had finally reached the point where it was a hassle for him to write all the blogs for his clients himself. My wife connected me with him and I negotiated a rate with him that was higher than any of the ones I’d been paid before.
Working with an agency is great because you get consistent work and you get paid for the work you do which is generally a much better deal than getting paid per hour. But it can be a challenge finding an agency to begin with. You can start with a Google search for freelance content writers as there are agencies who prefer to pay for freelancers rather than have someone on staff.
3. Build a Portfolio!
All good writers need a portfolio, even if all you write is blogs. This is basically an advertisement for your writing, so make it look pretty and invest in a domain if nothing else. There are plenty of free templates and lots of different hosting platforms (including WordPress) that make building a portfolio easy, but I feel like a domain is a non-negotiable. When you’re a writer for a living, your name is pretty much your brand so your URL should basically be your name. The last thing you want is to refer a client to your portfolio and have the URL be some lengthy, confusing thing. Google Domains is where I bought my domain for this blog and it is way cheaper than other websites. I pay $12 a year consistently which is a great deal.
I HATE those posts that are like “Learn how I make $20,000 a month!!!” because they’re straight up bullshit. Like, they just are. Typically, the only reason those people are making that much money is because their only topics are how to make money as a writer. Which means (to me) that they had no other ideas so they had to make a blog tricking people into giving them clicks (which is how they make their supposed $20,000). Actual writing takes a lot of work and income is not always consistent. That’s part of the territory! But the good news is that there is a community of people that want to help you and see you succeed.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. I have been a content writer for four years and it’s how I’m able to supplement my creative writing (you know, the fun stuff), so I can answer a lot of questions you may have!