A Noob’s Guide to Launching an Online Writing Business

online writing business

Many predictions have been made about freelancing as the “wave of the future” in America’s workforce. In fact, even NASDAQ has forecasted that in 2020, about 43% of professionals will be independent contractors instead of full-time staff members.

Creative industries, in particular, are heading in this direction for a multitude of reasons. For the professional, it affords more artistic license outside the parameters of a traditional nine-to-five job, and for companies, it is often more cost-effective to outsource freelance projects than to retain a permanent employee. These mutual benefits make freelancing a versatile, in-demand career with all kinds of opportunities for growth.

One of the most popular and successful niches to start a freelance business tends to be in the writing industry. From content marketing to reporting to technical writing to blogging, there are many different genres to explore within this overarching sector.

As a freelance writer, you have the freedom to contract yourself out to businesses, websites and publications who are interested in your work to promote or elevate their own brand. You partner with these clients on a remote, independent basis and maintain the flexibility to create your own schedule provided that deadlines and expectations are satisfied.

If writing is your passion and area of expertise, but you are unsure how to establish a career in this field, these pointers can teach you how to launch a writing business online and turn your creative interest into a sustainable income.   

Create a Blog or Website Platform

This sounds blatantly obvious, but in order to become a writer, you need to spend as much time as possible writing. The routine of honing your craft is essential because it familiarizes you with the mechanics of writing to improve your skills, boost your confidence and accrue a portfolio of work. Before outsourcing their projects to you, clients want evidence that you are both credible and experienced, so you need writing samples to validate this.

That is where blogging comes into the equation because this outlet makes it easy to publish content online even if you are not a recognized writer yet. The most reputable website for creating a free blog is WordPress, a user-friendly platform that is ideal for novices but can also expand and upgrade as your aptitude evolves. One you start the blog, commit to posting on a weekly basis—300 to 500 words are sufficient—and over time, you will amass a portfolio of writing to offer your prospective clients. If you want to make quick cash while building a portfolio, consider editing or writing essays and papers for college students.                                                                                     

Utilize Social Media as a Resource

Around 77% of the U.S. population has an active social media presence which can make this tool a goldmine for promoting your services and connecting with people who need a writer. Tapping into your social network is one of the simplest and most effective ways to alert friends, relatives or acquaintances that you are open for business.

You never know if that college roommate or second cousin might be looking for someone to draft a press release for the launch of their new company. Moreover, they would never know that you are available to write a press release if you do not communicate it publicly. There is no shame in posting a brief status on Facebook inquiring if some of your connections need a writer. In the early stages of a career, self-endorsement is often part of the deal, and you might be surprised at the positive reaction that simple inquiry generates.

Offer Services to Local Businesses

From startup digital marketing firms to large-scale tech corporations, there are likely businesses in your area interested in hiring a freelance writer. Often companies are too absorbed in their daily operations to focus on producing quality content. So this is where you can be a major asset to local business owners. A quick Google search will narrow down the various companies in your zip code whose industries align with your expertise.

Choose three to five businesses that pique your attention and click on their respective websites to obtain contact information. Then compose a professional email, asking if each company has a need for writing services like newsletters, product descriptions, case studies, SEO-driven posts and other website copy. In addition, you should be prepared in advance to discuss rates, and this price breakdown is a useful resource for determining what is fair to charge based on the project details and your experience level.

Seek Guest Posting Opportunities

Many established media outlets and publications are eager to compensate writers—from beginners to veterans—in exchange for unique, compelling articles which their websites retain the exclusive rights to. There are multiple benefits to having your work featured in these types of publications, and collecting a paycheck is just scratching the surface.

Aside from the compensation, guest posting for a major internet platform also increases your name recognition, drives more traffic to your personal website or blog, and exposes you to whatever niche topics you are interested in pursuing. For example, if you want to become a travel writer, seek publications geared toward that domain. Or if you prefer the health and fitness sector, find publications rooted in that community. To minimize some of this legwork, The Write Life has created a roundup of websites that can grow your freelance career.

Launching an online writing business might seem like an arduous process—and hustling is required, of course. But if you are determined, persistent and strategic about fine-tuning your skills, boosting your exposure and sustaining your clientele, the market is prime for a successful career in this dynamic, creative pursuit.