How to Start a Freelance Writing Business

Remote work is becoming increasingly popular. With some planning, you can escape the standard 9-to-5. Here's how to start a freelance writing business.
freelance writing business

Remote work is becoming increasingly popular. Thanks to the internet, almost anyone can escape the standard 9-to-5 if they want to. That isn’t to say that a career in freelancing is the easy way out, though. If you want to start a freelance writing business, it’ll take just as much if not more energy than a traditional career. Here, we’re going to break down some of the most basic steps to getting started.

Decide What to Do

Saying that you’re going to be a writer has always been a general term and that hasn’t changed. What type of writing does that include? What can clients go to you for?

Highly specialized freelancers tend to do better than ones who take any and all jobs. For one, they get a chance to hone their skills and deliver expert quality. On a more immediate level, clients know what to reach out to them for. As an example, a student would usually be the client of an academic writer. If they need to know how to write a book review, they know who to go to for editing and writing services. If someone’s specialty ranges from ghostwriting fiction to writing SEO-centric social media posts, they’re likely to confuse rather than attract clients.

Find a Platform

Once you’ve got some experience under your belt, you can take independent commissions or run a website. These things take a while to set up, though. It’s going to be easier to contact clients through a platform like Upwork or Freelancer than attract them to a brand new site.

A second and critically important reason to use these sites is third-party contracts. When working without a contract, it’s easy for one end or the other to drop out. In other words, it’s easier for clients to take your work and disappear without paying. There are freelancers that take work out of contract but they always require an upfront payment of about half.

Don’t Be Afraid If It Doesn’t Take Off Right Away

Freelancing isn’t a job you sign up for then punch in a time card the next day. It requires you to find clients, communicate with them, and hopefully retain their business. That isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time to gather clients.

It’s also going to take time to earn the rates you want. A big part of high rates is having a reputation and new clients trusting your skills. In the beginning, there’s likely to be low-reward jobs. Don’t give up.

Create a Portfolio

Staying on the topic of earning a reputation, it’s critical to have a portfolio of work. This is a resume of sorts that new clients will look at. This could be before they reach out at all.

There are a few things to keep in mind in creating this portfolio. First, make sure you actually have the rights to the work. This is especially important in ghostwriting. Even if the contract wasn’t as strict as a non-disclosure agreement, it can cause a problem if you’re advertising work that was published under another name.

Secondly, the more recent the work, the better. The more you write, the more you’ll grow as a writer. The content from a year or two ago isn’t likely to be a representation of where you are today.

Know When to Say “No”

It seems to be skipping a lot of steps to get to this point. However, it’s an absolutely crucial point to keep in mind. As jobs come in, there are times that “no” is the best answer. Maybe something smells fishy in what the clients asking for or maybe you’re just busy. A big part of being a business owner is controlling your inflow of work effectively.


There are plenty of things to keep in mind when starting a freelance business. When it boils down to it, though, the main tenant is to keep going. Use tips like these to get you started and adapt as you learn what works for your business.

Today's Free Templates

Confidentiality Agreement Form

Most businesses will need to have a confidentiality agreement for one reason or another. Use this sample to craft a confidentiality agreement for your business.

One Page Marketing Plan Outline to Generate Qualified Leads

This one page marketing plan outline is a checklist of specific marketing activities that generate leads. It includes tactics that will increase your visible footprint and compel prospects to seek your services. Download for easy editing in Microsoft Word.

Website Design Proposal Template

Copy/paste this website design proposal template to create one for your clients. Use it to generate more business for your web design company.

Affiliate Disclosure

This post may contain affiliate links to help us pay for running the website. See our affiliate disclosure for details. Thanks!

Free Marketing Plan

Download our free marketing plan example to create a detailed plan for your business. Includes sample text, charts and tables.