What You Need to Know Before Starting a Freelance Writing Career

Mar 10, 2023 · 7 minutes to read

Young business woman working at the computer.

Freelance writing can be a great career if you are self-motivated, detail-oriented, and have a natural way with words. But it’s not for everyone. Starting your writing career as a freelancer can be tricky, and making a success of it may be even more challenging.

Before you begin searching for freelance writing jobs for beginners, you might want to take a step back. Let’s look closer at what it means to be a freelance writer and five important things to know before you begin. We’ll also talk a bit about protecting yourself with writers’ insurance.

What is freelance writing?

Freelance writing is essentially running a one-person writing business. Clients hire you to help them craft written content for their businesses, institutions, or personal use. You might work with one client at a time or with multiple clients in a single week.

There are many great benefits that come with a freelance writing gig. You’re your own boss, with the power to set your hours and pay. You also get to choose the clients you work with. If you’re lucky, you may be able to focus only on the jobs that interest you the most.

However, there are some downsides to being a freelancer. The fate of your business rests entirely on your shoulders. If something goes wrong, it’s up to you to fix it. Freelance writing can also be unsteady work. One month you may be turning clients away, and the following month struggling to fill your calendar.

5 Things to Know before you start freelance writing

Ready to start your writing career? Hold up! There are a few more things you might want to consider first:

1. Know your skills

Understanding where your writing talents lie is crucial for any freelance writer.

While some freelance writers do it all, many focus on specific services or types of clients. Choosing a niche could help you stand out from the crowd. It positions you as the expert in your preferred area, which is appealing to many potential clients.

Your niche could be anything, such as:

  • Writing about specific topics or industries – This could be an industry you previously worked in or topics that interest you. You might be hired to write blogs, SEO articles, video scripts, and other content around a topic or industry.
  • Business-to-business (B2B) writing – Helping business sell their products or services to other businesses (essentially what you do as a freelance writer!).
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) writing – Helping businesses reach customers at different stages of their buying journey.
  • Copywriting – Writing content that gets people to take a desired action. You may work on website landing pages, social media posts, advertising, and other similar content.
  • Technical writing – Crafting knowledgeable and quality content for specific fields where you have expertise. Popular industries for technical writers are STEM fields, medicine, law, and information technology (IT).

Pro tip: A strong portfolio can help you win jobs over your competition. As you work, select the strongest pieces to include in your portfolio. Including reviews from past clients or employers can also be a great touch.

2. Know your potential clients

One perk of freelance writing is that you’re not limited to clients in your city or state. Online apps and freelance sites, like Upwork or Fiverr, can connect you with projects all over the world. However, you still need to know who they are and what type of writer they’re looking for.

Knowing your ideal client helps you define your business, the services you offer, and how you’ll market yourself (more on that in a bit).

Writing content for a traditional finance company is not the same as writing for a creative tech start-up. The tone they each want is probably very different, and they may be looking for different types of content. They will likely have different budgets, too, so you should keep this in mind when setting your rates.

3. Know the basics of running a business

As we’ve already mentioned, freelance writing is basically running your own business. Writing content is just one part of your day-to-day activities. You’ll also need to take care of:

  • Responding to clients via phone, email, or social media
  • Sending project quotes and invoices
  • Writing business contracts
  • Bookkeeping and accounting
  • Filing your business taxes
  • Renewing your writing and publishing insurance
  • Posting to social media and your business blog
  • Updating your website
  • Advertising your business
  • Anything else needed to keep your business running!

Few freelancers know how to run their businesses perfectly on day one. It will take a lot of trial and error, and mistakes will probably be made. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps, software, and training available to help set small business owners up for success.

And if your budget allows, you might consider hiring other freelancers to help you manage some parts of your business.

Pro tip: A business plan can help you make critical business decisions. These documents include cash flow forecasts, budgets, market research, and other vital info about your freelance writing business.

4. Know how to market yourself

Finding clients is a big hurdle for many new freelance writers. But without a steady flow of work, your business likely won’t be a success.

Marketing your business is an essential part of running it. The internet is the primary place where clients look for freelance writers, so it’s vital that your online presence is solid. You may consider promoting your business by:

  • Setting up a website and blog – A website is your space to present yourself exactly how you want. Including a blog can supplement your portfolio and help you climb to the top of search engine rankings (especially if you post regular, quality content).
  • Social media – Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can be excellent spaces to promote your freelance writing business. You might also consider advertising on these platforms to reach people working in specific industries.
  • Freelancing apps and sites – Setting up profiles on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer can also help you find new clients. A well-written profile and portfolio are essential for rising above the competition on these platforms.

5. Know how to protect your business

Running any small business is unpredictable—even a freelance writing one! You might want to consider different forms of coverage designed for writers, authors and publishers to help protect your finances.

Two types of writers’ insurance that you might decide to buy are:

  • Professional Liability – Even the most careful writer makes mistakes. Professional Liability insurance protects you from claims raised due to unintentional mistakes made in the professional capacity.
  • General Liability – Also referred to as Commercial General Liability (CGL) or “slip and fall coverage”, this insurance can protect your business against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits from outside parties. This may be necessary if you meet with clients, interviewees, or other members of the public in-person to do your job.

How BizInsure helps writers and publishers

Freelance writing can be an exciting career with greater freedom and opportunity. And as you write your success, writing and publishing insurance can help you protect it.

BizInsure makes it easy to buy insurance for writers, authors, and publishers online in minutes. With no complicated paperwork and instant coverage, you could be just 10 minutes away from greater peace of mind!

Compare quotes for writers’ insurance today!

As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this guide is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.
The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
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