Do you have a way with words, understand the rules of grammar, and have a keen editing eye? You may want to consider becoming a freelance writer. Freelance writers work with clients to help them translate ideas into text. Your words might appear in a magazine, on a website, in an ad, in a grant proposal, or in thousands of other places. But first, you need to set up a small business.
This guide is for a person starting out as a freelance writer. It outlines the main steps for entering the field, from choosing a niche to protecting yourself with insurance for writers and publishers.
Let’s get started!
What is a freelance writer?
A freelance writer is a self-employed professional who writes content for different clients. The content they write may appear just about anywhere, from blogs and websites to magazines and billboards. Freelance writers may interview people and do research to create some content.
As a freelance writer, you may write content about a single subject, focus on a specific industry, or work in a variety of areas. Versatile writers may work with a broad range of clients from different industries.
While writing will take up most of your time, you’ll also be a small business owner. That means completing the admin that comes with running a small business (or managing the people you outsource it to). You might be your own bookkeeper, project manager, and marketing specialist.
How to become a freelance writer
It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to set up a freelance writing business. Here’s an overview of how to get started:
1. Choose your niche
While you can be a general freelance writer, you might consider choosing a niche. Having a specialty can set you apart from your competition and help you find clients. Writing specialties you may consider include:
- Copywriting – Creating text (copy) for brands’ marketing and promotional materials. This may include web copy, advertising copy, social media posts, blogs, newsletters, or white papers. You may work directly with brands or through an agency.
- Blogging – Writing articles for your own blog or guest posting on others. Many writers develop their skills by writing on their own blogs and make money by working with advertisers.
- Journalism – Writing articles on subjects like world or local events, culture, technology, or other topics. You will develop pitches and contact websites, magazines, or newspapers to place them.
- Ghostwriting – Crafting content for other authors. You may work on an article, blog post, or book manuscript for another person, working one-on-one with the client to capture their vision and voice.
- Grant writing – Help non-profits and charities apply for funding. You will need to understand the organization’s goals and clearly explain them to the audience.
2. Write a business plan
The first piece of writing you might create is a business plan. This document helps you set goals and guides your decisions. It spells out details about your business, such as:
- Your background and expertise
- Business structure
- Market research
- Research on your competitors
- Revenue projections
- Marketing plan
A business plan might be necessary to get a small business loan or secure other funding. But even if you aren’t looking for investors, a business plan can still be helpful. It can help you set realistic goals, track your progress, and make important decisions on how to run your business.
3. Register your business
Several steps may be necessary to open a small business in your state. These generally include applying for a business license, registering a fictitious business name, getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and setting up bank accounts for your business. Check with your state government to understand how to become a commercial writer in your area.
4. Curate writing samples
Clients will typically ask for writing samples before they hire you. If you previously wrote for your high school or university newspaper, have recently taken a writing course, or have other experience, you may already have a pool of samples to choose from. But if you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, you may need to create a few.
Writing samples should fit the specialty you’ve chosen or show off your versatility. Pick samples with different word counts, genres, and tones. Each piece should be proofread, clean, and readable.
5. Build a website
A website is an easy way to display your writing samples and help potential clients understand who you are and the writing services you provide. It should also include your contact details and your rates (or information on how to request them). As your business grows, you may also include links to published pieces (with the client’s permission) and client testimonials.
6. Consider business insurance
Writing might not seem like risky work. What can possibly go wrong when you’re typing at your desk? However, there are risks that come with every job, even becoming a freelance writer.
You might consider different types of insurance, including:
Professional Liability – This coverage helps protect you against claims of professional wrongdoing, including negligence, undelivered services, and missed deadlines.
General Liability – This coverage helps protect you against third-party injury and property damage claims.
Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) – These policies can be customized to cover unplanned business interruptions and damage to essential business equipment (such as your laptop or cellphone).
Without insurance for writers and publishers, the expenses caused by a claim or lawsuit would be your responsibility. Paying from your own pocket could quickly empty your bank accounts and even lead to bankruptcy.
Easy insurance for writers and publishers
Becoming a freelance writer could be an exciting small business option for a talented individual. Though there are many things to consider as you set up your business, business insurance may be one of the most important. Protecting yourself and your small business could help you write a thrilling success story!
BizInsure has insurance for writers and publishers that might fit your business’ unique needs. Compare quotes from A-rated insurers and buy coverage online. It takes just 10 minutes to protect your writing business—get free quotes now.
The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your trade or professional license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.
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