Let’s start this blog post off with a big ol’ dose of VERY GOOD NEWS:
In today’s world…
Virtually anyone with basic writing skills and the willingness to learn how to market themselves can become a full-time writer.
Making a full-time living as a writer isn’t JUST for authors who got a lucky break anymore.
Writing full-time is totally possible thanks to all the amazing online writing jobs on the interwebz these days.
…Even if you have no degree and no experience.
…Even if you’re no Steven King.
…Even if the last significant piece of writing you created was a shitty short story that won you an award in 8th Grade.
If you’ve got GUTS, basic writing skills, and a willingness to learn, you can become a writer!
I’m not just saying shit. I’ve DONE IT.
I’ve built my writing business up to over $8,000 in a single month.
And nowadays, I travel when I want (I’m even going to NYC later this week!), buy all the fancy vegan food I want, and hang out with my dogs all day long.
Yes, I work hard… but I truly feel like I’m living the dream!
And it all started with a terrifying decision to start a writing business a few years ago.
I’m not an excellent writer. I have no degree.
I’m just driven, I go after what I want, and I don’t let fear hold me back.
…I’m guessing that you can relate to those things since you’re reading this blog post right now.
So, now all you need is a MARKETING plan. A business strategy. The practical STEPS to starting your writing business.
And that, my friend, is exactly what you’re going to get in this blog post.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to get online writing jobs and build a profitable freelance writing business – based on exactly what I did to grow my own business!
4 Simple Steps to Getting Online Writing Jobs with NO Experience
Step One: Decide on an area of writing to specialize in.
Another name for your area of speciality is your NICHE.
Now, there are a few main ways to niche down:
1. By industry (“Finance Writer”)
2. By content type (“Blog Post Writer”)
3. By industry and content type (“Finance Blog Post Writer”)
The reason you need to pick a niche?
The clients who are posting high-paying online writing jobs will pay top dollar for a SPECIALIST, not a generalist.
…Let me explain.
Imagine you want to pay a hair stylist to dye your hair blue.
You have an unlimited budget to get sweeeeeet blue hair.
You just want to make sure you hire and pay the BEST possible person for the job.
Because you’ve got a hot date next week. And you can’t show up with fucked up hair.
(Meaning that YOU, in this case, are the high-paying client.)
Which of the following hair stylists will you be more likely to trust and pay top dollar to dye your hair blue, assuming your budget is unlimited?
Stylist A – Markets themselves as a specialist in fashion hair colors, like blue, purple, and pink. Has a portfolio full of clients who hair they’ve dyed crazy colors.
Stylist B – Markets themselves as a general hair stylist.
The answer is clear.
You’re going to choose the person marketing themselves as the perfect fit for YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION: Stylist A.
That’s because the way they’re marketing themselves makes them positioned as the *perfect fit* for you – not just a “maybe” fit or an “okay” fit.
Freelance writing clients think the same way.
That’s why, if you want to land high-paying online writing jobs (especially with no experience), you MUST choose and market a niche.
You don’t need a ton of experience in your niche.
You may not even need any experience in it at all! I’ve personally written in the relationship niche, the real estate niche, and the ultrasound technology niche with ZERO formal work experience in any of those fields.
Just choose a niche you’re interested in, and start there.
Ideally, you’d have some knowledge in your niche industry too, but again, it’s not always necessary.
With good ol’ Google, it’s pretty easy to gain the knowledge you need!
The last thing you’ll want to think about is profitability, meaning that a specific clientele in your niche values the kind of writing you do AND has a good-sized marketing budget to pay you well for your work.
You may not choose the right niche or the most profitable niche from the start, so just think of everything as a learning experience!
On that note, here’s a VERY important piece of advice on choosing a niche:
Just. Fucking. Choose. One.
One of the worst mistakes writers make is agonizing over the niche decision for months. To the point where that never even start their business!
…And that, my friend, is a BIG waste of time.
Seriously, the WORST that can happen is the niche doesn’t work out.
And that’s super easy to fix!
You just choose a new niche, and at least you’ve learned something that will help you make a better niche decision next time.
If you want some super lucrative niche ideas to kickstart your process of landing high-paying online writing jobs, check out this blog post – it includes 10 of the best niches!
Step Two: Set up a quick website for yourself.
Not tech-savvy? Don’t panic.
Seriously – breathe!
It’s SO easy to set up a website these days, and it takes less than a day (probably even just an hour or two if you follow my super quick and easy writer website tutorial!).
Is a couple hours of your life worth setting up a website that completely changes your life by allowing you to land online writing jobs worth it?
Now, a couple things you need to know about your website.
First, a shitty/basic “portfolio” site is NOT enough to sell your services to high-paying clients.
Your portfolio is not your website – it’s ONE PAGE of your website.
The purpose of your website isn’t just to slap up writing samples…
It needs to be strategic and SELL your ideal clients on working with you.
Another thing you should know:
You MUST have a custom domain.
This is non-negotiable if you want to start a REAL writing business and make bank.
…In other words, your site should be:
And it should NOT be:
…Okay, so that last one was a little ridiculous, but you get what I mean.
Having a custom domain positions you as a REAL business owner worth paying REAL money.
It makes clients trust and respect you.
And clients who trust and respect you are a HELL of a lot more likely to hire you and pay you well.
Now, I’ll spare you from further ranting and send you over to this blog post:
Not only is this blog post a SUPER in-depth tutorial with everything you need to know to set up a website for yourself…
It also includes an exclusive discount on your website hosting AND a *FREE* domain. #Score
So, no excuses!
Right now, give yourself a timeline to get your website set up, head over to my tutorial blog post, and get to work.
Step Three: Create some niche portfolio pieces.
Okay, you’ve got a niche in mind and you’ve followed my quick website setup tutorial.
(If you haven’t yet, GET TO IT! Don’t procrastinate. Most freelancers fail due to some form of fear – like perfectionism that keeps them from ever even starting. Just start!)
Once you know your niche, it becomes SUPER EASY to create portfolio pieces, even if you have no clients and haven’t landed any online writing jobs yet!
But let’s also go ahead and cover a quick rundown of how it’s done.
First, realize that your niche is going to determine what you put in your portfolio.
For example, if you want to write blog posts about fashion you need… blog posts about fashion in your portfolio!
This seems like a “duh!” type of thing, but so many freelancers mess this up.
Let me be clear:
Clients don’t give a SHIT about you having a variety of samples.
They only care about if your samples are tailored to THEIR SPECIFIC NEEDS/INDUSTRY.
I say this as someone who has worked with many, many clients AND as someone who has hired writers.
I will hire a degree-less, inexperienced writer who specializes in what I need every damn time over someone with a fancy degree but a general, mixed portfolio.
For example, when I was writing copy (including email newsletter content) for IT services providers (my niche), I self-published this blog post on LinkedIn Publisher:
This niche portfolio approach goes back to the blue hair example we talked about earlier in this blog post. You’d hire the stylist who specialized in blue hair, even if they were a bit less experienced – because they’re still a better for for YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS.
Now, if you’re wondering how to get a portfolio when you haven’t landed any online writing jobs yet, the answer is…
You self-publish or write guest posts!
I have a full breakdown on how to quickly create portfolio pieces right here. Click to read now.
(And yes, this works even if you have no experience. The blog post also talks about my take on working for free / for “exposure!”)
Step Four: Start pitching and cold emailing clients in your niche!
Alright, now that you’ve got yourself a REAL writing business set up, it’s time to start pitching and cold emailing!
This is the #1 way to get clients as a beginner freelance writer.
And pitching is a 100% necessary skill for ANY type of writer.
Think about it – if you can’t sell your writing, you can’t make any money writing!
So, before we get into HOW you pitch, let’s talk about WHO you pitch.
One great option for beginners is to use high-quality job boards.
Key word: HIGH-QUALITY.
This means no shitty Upwork gigs that pay pennies for hours of work. No Fiverr. None of that garbage.
A couple job boards I recommend are the Problogger Job Board and Clearvoice.
Your niche comes into play with both of these.
For example, let’s imagine you’re a finance freelance writer.
If you go to the ProBlogger Job Board and see this:
…You’re going to go for the “Financial Niche” job.
Sure, you could pitch the other ones, but really what you want to to do get the most, highest-paying online writing jobs in the shortest amount of time is focus 100% on your niche.
Create a list of your favorite job boards, and check them multiple times every day, skimming for the online writing jobs in your specific niche.
…Up to this point, you’ve created a marketing strategy (your website and portfolio) that will REALLY help you sell your services in your specific niche, so don’t waste that effort pitching any and every job board gig.
A note on job boards before we talk about cold emailing:
Do NOT rely on job boards as a long-term source of clients. Make sure you’re building a real business!
Online writing job boards can get you your first few decent gigs, sure.
But you’re going to make a lot more money long-term if you create a real marketing strategy rather than just being another writer begging for gigs on job boards.
Now, let’s talk my FAVORITE method for landing high-paying writing clients as a beginner:
Cold emailing allowed me to make over $800 JUST the first month I tried it, even though I have no college degree and had just been fired.
If you’re wondering what cold emailing is, it just means sending a personalized, high-quality email to a potential client in your niche introducing yourself and your services.
The goal of this email is to start a conversation that results in you getting online writing jobs.
Here’s what the cold emailing process might look like:
—> You’re a technology blog post writer, so you decide you want to write for IT service businesses and tech review blogs. (Your niche!)
—> You use LinkedIn and Google research to figure out specific companies to work with.
—> You keep researching to figure out who’s in charge of marketing/copywriting at the companies you want to pitch.
—> You send each of these people a tailored, high-quality email (no shitty templates!) introducing yourself and the value of your services.
—> The cold email includes a call-to-action that ideally results in something positive, whether that’s a phone call, a continued email conversation, or you getting hired.
…When I started out, I thought there was no chance in hell of this actually working.
But it did.
I’m so passionate about teaching cold emailing because it has literally changed my life and the lives of so many of my students.
Knowing how to pitch / cold email is essential if you want to become a successful writer.
Do NOT let fear of rejection or your impostor syndrome hold you back.
Even the BEST writers get rejected sometimes – it’s just part of the deal!
If you want to learn more about my exact cold emailing process, check this out.
Getting a few online writing jobs is one thing. Start a sustainable freelance writing business that makes an awesome full-time income is another.
The truth is:
A mediocre writer who knows how to SELL and MARKET themselves will become FAR more successful than an amazing writer who is clueless about sales/marketing.
Let’s make sure YOU become the successful writer.
If you want something to change, YOU must MAKE the change.
To help you out, I’ve created a SUPER actionable *free* class (taken by over 3,000 writers like you!):
In this class, you’ll learn how to make $1,000 freelance writing within 45 days.
Sign up now to start learning EXACTLY how you can pick a niche, why just a “portfolio” isn’t enough (and what you MUST have instead), and the marketing method that made me $1,000 fast (even though I was a broke college dropout!).
Even if you have no experience and no degree, you can do this!
Ready to stop wasting time at a job you hate? Want to FINALLY learn how to become a freelance writer and chase your dream career?
See you at the class. 🙂