Welcome to the world of freelance writing. For you to be reading this post, you must be the new kid around the block, and you deserve a warm welcome.
So let’s start with the first thing on our plate: What is freelance writing?
What is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is the career pathway for professional writers who want to work completely on their own terms as opposed to a full-time writer who works in a company.
As a freelance writer, you are your own boss: you determine how long you want to work, your pay rate, your writing contracts, and on what platform you want to work ( a freelance site like Upwork or independently).
The flexibility offered by freelance writing has made it a popular career option. Its high adaptability to remote working conditions and side-hustle business model tendency are some of its many benefits.
However, all these have also, unfortunately, made the field competitive one overtime.
I know you must have figured this out yourself, and if that’s why you are reading this article, you are in safe hands because I will cover the “competitive aspect” of the field in the article.
The competitive nature of freelance writing is an aspect of the field a lot of articles don’t talk about, and I think it is unfair to beginners to have no access to such information.
It is always best to know what you are dipping your legs into.
This is important so you don’t make decisions based on half-truths, like the proverbial man who ran into the river and started crying about how cold the water is!
So let’s start by setting some grounds.
Is It Too Late to Start a Freelance Writing Career?
This is a very common question, and it isn’t surprising why it is.
It is a universal experience to feel this little doubt in your head telling you it is probably too late to start a career in this path or that path.
I can guess it is there, right in your head.
I have been there too—and this is true for everyone who has ever taken a step towards this career path!
So here is the answer straight-up: it is not too late.
A new career path is a welcome challenge—not a barrier—and you should embrace it.
Freelance writing, like every endeavor in life, comes with its unique challenges, and you must face them head-on and beat them down, one after another.
So in this article, I will help you overcome the first challenge on your journey to becoming a freelance writer: picking the most suitable freelance writing niche.
If before now you didn’t know you need to pick a freelance writing niche, then you need to put this in your mind: picking a freelance writing niche is very important.
This is crucial because picking a freelance writing niche will speed up your growth. Being a generalist freelance writer will get you nowhere. I am speaking from experience.
But you must understand again that picking a freelance writing niche is also one of the most difficult barriers you will face as a freelance writer.
That’s why you need to learn about choosing your most suitable freelance writing niche.
Making the right choice and taking the right steps will help you avoid frustrating scenarios down the line.
But first, let’s talk about setting new goals for your new career decision.
Set Your Freelance Writing Goals
First thing first. You need to set your goals.
Why do you want to become a freelance writer?
What do you want to achieve by taking this career path?
These are very important questions you need to ask yourself as they will help you make better decisions—especially on the choice of niche.
Here are a few examples of goals you could have;
- You want to make money as a freelance writer.
- You want to make freelance writing side hustle.
- You want to convert or explore a passion (e.g., fashion) as freelancing writing.
These goals are not mutually exclusive and they are not exhaustive as your goals could be a combination of one, two, or more goals as well as include more of them.
But the most important thing is that you need to know which is your strongest goal. That is, what is your strongest motivator in deciding on a career path as a freelance writer.
This is important because it will be the goal you will work with when picking your niche.
It is also important you identify your strongest motivator because, in picking a freelance writing niche, you must consider several factors, which, more often than not, contradict one another in their outcomes.
In the next section, I would cover those factors in detail and you would see for yourself why knowing your strongest motivator is necessary, especially with the factors having contradicting outcomes.
7 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Freelance Writing Niche
With them, you will make better career decisions, and most importantly, you will be able to identify your possibilities and limitations, know your barriers and chances, and develop an effective pathway to help you explore possibilities.
It will help you differentiate between fantasy and reality– because within the prevailing culture surrounding freelance writing, it is easy to fall into the quick money mindset—which is nothing but pure fantasy.
These factors are your guide to choosing your most suitable freelance writing niche.
This is always the first thing with embarking on any journey: where does your interest lie?
You’ve decided to be a freelance writer. Now you must decide what type of writing you want to spend your time on throughout your writing career.
Do you like creating product descriptions, copies, and sales letters? Then, business writing might be your interest.
Or do you like writing about travels and adventures? Perhaps you want to be a travel writer.
Don’t worry if you can’t figure out which type of writing interests you. You can always learn about yourself.
There will always be moments of self-discovery.
Don’t be too much in a rush. Sometimes it could be difficult to figure out what interests us.
One piece of advice is to try out your hands on a couple of different writing and see which sits comfortably with you.
A good place to do this is to check out job postings on freelance sites like Upwork and Freelancer.
See what writing jobs are posted and try your hands on some of them.
With time, you will recognize the type of writing that sits well with you.
Every content is grounded in a particular subject or domain. For instance, fashion, health, and personal finance are domains (A domain is a field of knowledge with relevant practical skills).
In order to create content in a domain, you must possess the knowledge and the practical skills of that domain—except you want to create crap content.
Now, different domains have different learning curves.
A learning curve is the amount of time plus how much it takes mentally to acquire new knowledge and train a new set of skills in a new field.
Some domains have long learning curves, while others have short learning curves.
Let me give you an example.
Think about becoming a science or academic writer.
Because of emphasis on strict ethical code and deep research, you might need to get a full university education plus years of practice to be deemed capable of creating value-worthy content anyone would be willing to pay for.
In other words, this domain has a long learning curve.
On the other hand, if you want to be a fashion writer, familiarity with the fashion industry and trends—which you can absorb over a few weeks of interaction with the industry—would be enough to get you started.
A short learning curve, that is.
With the learning curve factor, you want to decide how much time you have to absorb the necessary knowledge and skills in a domain you want to niche in relative to how soon you want to achieve your set goal.
The sooner you want to achieve your set goal, the more focused your choice of niche would be on domains with short learning curves.
Throughout your freelance writing career, you would always need to do research that could range from shallow and less time-consuming to deep, rigorous, and time-consuming research.
Some writing domains like science writing or technical writing will always require intensive research.
While others would require research only once in a while—and this is mostly true for niches that are opinion-based like lifestyle and fashion.
For instance, in the beauty niche, writing may be based on your own beauty routine, products, and unique opinions which might not require you to conduct any research or little, if at all.
So your aim is to know which form of research and how much research you are comfortable with:
Do you enjoy conducting a lot of research?
Can you cope with methodological research (more rigorous based on agreed convention) as against discretionary-based (based on your own terms) research?
You must also keep in mind that some domains require field research and other forms of cost-intensive research.
This is especially true for technical content (UX writing for instance) and academic content where research is indispensable.
How much will it cost you to create content in your chosen domain?
This might not come off as obvious, but it is something you don’t want to overlook.
I will give you an example.
Think of yourself as a travel writer. To be valuable and in-demand, you need to create valuable and unique content.
To achieve this, you might need to spend time and money traveling to different locations to conduct research.
In other words, you will have to incur and deal with travel costs.
Except this falls right into your laps as an opportunity—that is, traveling is part of your daily routine—you need to think about if you can handle the cost.
With this factor, you need to consider the cost, both time and money, a niche would cost you to create content in it.
You don’t want the cost high—especially since you are just starting out.
Different niches vary in terms of their monetization channels, from few to many monetization channels.
On average, business writing, technical writing, and financial writing have more monetization channels compared to beauty/fashion, fiction, and parenting niches as listed below.
If money matters in selecting a monetization channel.
There are a few things to note here, especially in relation to the learning curve factor and cost factor.
The longer the learning curve and the more cost incurred, the more monetizable a niche will become because it’s less competitive.
Also, you need to know how monetizable a niche is before selecting it. If a niche isn’t very monetizable, you will have a hard time succeeding “money-wise”.
Proximity to Environment
There are some writing niches that, except you are in proximity to engaging with those types of writing, it will be difficult, as a new freelance writer, to compete in those niches even though they have short learning curves.
I will give you an example.
Grant writing is a writing niche demanded mostly by NGOs.
It will be easier to position yourself as a grant writer if you have worked in an NGO organization and have had hands-on experience compared to if you’ve never worked in an NGO and have no experience.
In essence, I want you to keep this factor at the back of your mind as you explore different writing niches.
In your journey, you will come across several writing niches that would appear an opportunity to take advantage of because of their short learning curve or none at all (since they might just demand the skill sets you already have). But the competition, lack of former hands-on experience, and portfolio could make it impossible to break in.
Such niches might not be worth wasting your time and mental energy on.
I kept this for the last on purpose.
Except you have a good strategy to beat the competition, which from my experience, beginners are always very inexperienced at, you need to ensure your writing niche is not too competitive such that you can grow with it!
This factor is where you put together all the other factors above to find a common ground that would serve as your freelance writing career pathway.
Let me give you a head start to get you thinking:
On average, niches with a longer learning curve, deep and rigorous research needs, and higher costs are less competitive than niches with short learning curves and fewer research needs.
Does this ring a bell?
This means you can’t settle for the easy way out!
Push yourself to try out niches with a longer learning curve, have rigorous research needs, and have higher costs.
So here, I want you to see how each of the factors intersect and then try to find a common ground to decide which niche would be best for you.
Remember, be realistic.
Except that you will be living in a fantasy, making decisions that would prove useless and uneventful in the long term.
With that said, let’s list out some of the profitable freelancing niches you can choose from right now.
Profitable freelance writing niches you can consider right now
As mentioned earlier, the only way you can prove useful and land better clients as a freelance writer, especially if you are breaking into the business, is to niche down.
However, just as with other digital skills, doing this is not a walk in the park; that is why I first went through some salient factors to consider when choosing a freelance writing niche.
Meanwhile, there is a sharp difference between Niching down as a freelance writer in terms of service and industry.
Let’s take this one after the other.
The list of niches you can consider as a freelance writer starting is seemingly endless. But, you’d want to focus on the highly in-demand and profitable ones. Examples of these fields, in no particular order, include:
1. Newsletters (physical or email-delivered) – Content writers can narrow their services to creating engaging newsletters concerning the activities of a business or an organization that is sent to its members, customers, employees, or other subscribers, usually via email.
2. Business plans – Business plan writers are among the high-paying set of freelance writers. This service niche involves working with business owners on all aspects of their business, such as marketing, expansion, and even exit strategy plans.
3. Media kit – Authors usually need to write a media kit for anyone who wants easy access to further details about them and their book. There are freelance writers specified in actualizing this – creating a unique business card on authors’ websites.
4. White papers – White papers are a popular service niche in freelance writing. Writers in this category help companies to illustrate their knowledge and expertise through facts and evidence without advertising or endorsing the company’s products.
5. Research reports – Freelance writers in research reporting carry out presentations of research processes and findings, written in a formal language and the third person, based on first-hand verifiable information.
6. Speeches – another highly lucrative niche for freelance writers in writing speeches. This is usually contract-based work and involves writing speeches for individuals addressing audiences.
7. Radio and video scripts – In this area, freelance writers specialize in creating and developing scripts for TV and radio programs, including comedies, dramas, and documentaries. While they usually liaise with directors, producers, and script editors, this service niche requires a certain degree of background education in the field.
8. Web pages (informational or sales pages) – Every website has a particular target audience and message to pass. It is a job of a freelance writer specializing in web Content to develop written content that will attract business right from the landing page of the company website. Freelance writers in this space are usually paid heavily.
9. Blog posts – The most embraced service niche in the freelance writing business is blog post writing, a good starting point got budding writers. Professional or freelance bloggers are paid to routinely write for other companies’ blogs like this blog post.
Other types of service niches in the freelance writing playground include:
11. Magazine articles (for consumer, custom, or trade publications)
12. Newspaper articles
13. Direct mail sales letters
14. Case studies
15. Internal/intranet company communications
16. Press releases
17. Video sales letters
18. Marketing emails
19. Ghostwriting of anything above
The world of freelance writing is filled with earning opportunities. You can become an expert on any of these niches. It narrows your search for high-paying clients online when you niche as a service.
After figuring out the type of service you want to offer as a freelance writer, the next important aspect to consider is the industry you want to write in.
Niching down on a particular industry as a writer is simply the area of interest, subject, or field you will be applying your writing services.
For example, you can be a blog post writer for automobile websites or a copywriter for a fashion eCommerce store.
Every industry needs a content writer to transform their ideas or product into words that will either attract or compel them to drive sales.
While choosing your industry as a freelance writer will largely depend on your interest and experience in that field, you should know that some industries are more favorable and high-paying than others.
Below is a list of the high-paying industry that every freelance writer can venture into today:
- FinTech (Finance + Technology) – This is a fast-rising space for freelance writers. Most digital solutions that allow users to manage their money better are looking for writers who can transform their ideas into words in a trustworthy, straightforward, and credible tone.
- Contents for SaaS (Software as a Service) – SaaS is always looking for mostly copywriters to sell and advertise their apps. However, writers who thrive in this niche are also good in SEO, website copywriting, blogging, ad writing, and building sales funnels.
- Real Estate – It is no news that Real Estate Business is now the new gold. However, Investors are usually seeking writers, particularly newsletter writers, blog post developers, and copywriters, to expand the frontiers of their property market.
- Education – Education has always been a profitable niche for freelance writers, especially newbies. It entails creating content to serve those seeking knowledge on scholarships, admission, and examination. This niche goes in line with Travel/Visa content.
- Home improvement – home improvement writers are hired to write high-quality content for the home improvement industry, which includes kitchen utensils, home devices and gadgets, decor and home facilities care. It is considered a convenient niche to begin your career given its familiarity, and also highly profitable.
- Automobile – if you have a flair for vehicles and innovative engines, there is a place for your in content writing, and there are tons of high-paying clients for this niche. The interesting part is that you don’t need to be an engineer to become an Automobile writer. Your interest and ability to learn on the job is a good get-go!
- Pets – There is no limit to how much you can earn per year as a freelance writer in the pet care industry. Clients in this space are usually on the lookout for blog post writers and copywriters who know their onions.
- Gardening – Gardening is related to home improvement. However, freelance content writers in this niche must be seasoned researchers who can provide answers to myriads of questions Googled by plant enthusiasts. We find more blog post writers in this field who are doing well for themselves.
- Health – In the health niche, different freelance writers have space. They have a decent knowledge of the field. You can’t delve into the health niche as a freelance writer because you have flair. It requires a level of knowledge and research prowess. It is ranked among the high-paying niche for writers.
- Cannabis & CBD – cannabis content writing services have shifted from just freelance journalists assigned to the Marijuana and cannabis beat for reportage, to bloggers and content creators who develop informational and how-to articles around the subject. So there is a place for freelance writers in both spheres. It is needless to explain how highly profitable this niche is.
There are a plethora of industries where freelance content writers can thrive. However, those who make top-paying industries according to Smartblogger.
You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in these fields to make a fortune writing for clients in the selected industry.
The good part is that you can learn on the job. Even though you have little or no experience in these hot cake industries, there are tons of online materials that you can expose yourself to and then pitch to clients with confidence.
This leads us to the next vital part: getting started as a freelance writer with no prior experience.
The most challenging part of freelance writing is starting – especially with no experience or job history. This is why people who just recently stumbled upon the world of freelance writing usually ask.
How do I get started as a freelance writer?
I can share a few ways new writers can break into freelancing and begin creating a portfolio of work – and signing on Upwork or Fiverr is not among them, trust me!
Before that, you want to identify your ideal potential clients first. Who is the set of people looking for you and willing to pay for your writing abilities worldwide?
Agencies: Content agencies are the most common platform many newbies start from. These are digital agencies that house a group of content writers and allocate them to clients in need of these services and then get a certain percentage from the job’s proceeds.
Niche bloggers – People who own niche blogs have the widest prospects for content writers. Since they don’t have all the time to create articles for their website, they demand your skill.
Educational establishments: People who deal with e-learning will need materials or want to create educational courses for their markets. Clients in this category are looking for writers who will take care of preparing such materials.
Authors: Authors are also target markets as long as freelance writing is concerned. In most cases, they seek ghostwriters for their books.
eCommerce brands – Owners of eCommerce brands will need freelance writers for their product description writing on online shopping platforms. It is very profitable.
Publications – Publishers are not left out in the chart of people who need freelance writers as they need people to take care of publications in their magazines, newspapers, or trade magazines.
Knowing that this set of people is usually on the lookout for freelance writers, you should also know that they will need individuals who have a record of successful jobs before hiring for your service.
But what if you don’t have any?
Then you need to take on jobs that will help build a credible portfolio. It doesn’t necessarily have to be glamorous at the beginning.
You can achieve this by volunteering to write for a nonprofit, writing for friends’ businesses, writing for local businesses you patronize, or posting free content on Medium. Your works on these platforms can add up to your experiences and may help you build the right connections you need to get paid freelance gigs from target clients.
Selling your writing skill; Where to start from exactly
Another complex aspect of freelance writing for beginners is Pricing. Many newbie writers have a problem with marketing and a pricing strategy for their services.
As I mentioned earlier, when breaking into freelancing, especially as a writer, I don’t recommend getting on Upwork and bidding for gigs against 1,000 other writers as a beginner.
However, the first step in selling your writing skill is to build a marketable writing presence online, research the average rate other writers charge for your niche writing service, and then set your rate. You want to make it relatively affordable since you are starting.
Next time you get a client, ask for more. Repeat and adjust your pricing until you find a balanced price for your client and the value you offer.
Alternatively, you can become a member of a writing community where your rates will have a benchmark and get feedback from other working writers on your bids.
How much does a freelance writer make?
Freelance writers are often in high demand because they can write on various topics.
When it comes to how much they make, it can vary based on their skillset and the genre of freelance writing.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of a freelance writer is $63,213 with a $30/hour rating.
Also, Glassdoor shows that freelance writers earn an average of $63,157 annually and $98,423 for a senior writing position.
Payscale also shows that freelance writers can make an average of $26.66/hour writing content for clients.
With the average income stream shown above, it’s no doubt that freelance writing is a good career choice or even a full-time career to pursue. Therefore, it is important to gauge your skills and understand the right freelance writing niche before starting your journey.
There are many freelance writing niches available, as listed above, and the average income structure will depend on how much is charged for the service.
Landing your first writing gig online as a freelance writer
Now that you have equipped yourself with the necessary information to sail off into the freelance writing world.
You have pinned the niche you want to flourish in and have identified your prospective target and how to target them; the next line of action is landing your first writing gig online.
As you set out on this, steps to take will guarantee a smooth ride from negotiation with clients to recommendation after a job well done.
I have covered some of these steps in other parts of this extensive guide, but they still need to be included.
Step 1: Figure out your writing field. Several factors should be taken into account when determining your writing niche, and these include:
- What you’re passionate about
- What you know about and have experience with
- What is hot in society at the moment
- The type of audience that would be interested in reading your content
- The topics that will generate income for you.
Step 2: Build Your Freelance Writing Portfolio with Samples. One of the most important parts of a freelance writing portfolio is samples. To have an awesome freelance writing portfolio, you need to have samples of your work.
Samples are simply proof of your previous works. When presenting samples to a potential client as a freelance writer, you want to make sure it is related to the job you are pitching at.
Here are some ideas on how to create your samples:
- Write a blog post on a topic related to your area of expertise and publish it online.
- Write an article or feature around your niche for the column of an online newspaper publication.
- Create content for social media (Strong online presence)
After publishing your articles online and having enough samples, you can use Contentre multiple portfolio features to streamline your portfolio to suit the client you want to acquire.
According to a quick survey carried out on Linkedin, streamlined portfolios increase your chance of standing out and landing the job.
Step 3: Start pitching. There are different freelance writers, but the key skill they share is selling your brand successfully. As a new freelancer, there are two ways you can start pitching for new clients.
Find potential clients online, identify a problem for them, and then sell your service to help them solve that problem, next, by generally responding to content requests from freelance writing platforms or online.
Freelance Writing Tools
Most importantly, as a freelance writer, you need tools to help automate your boring processes and help you write more, and gain more clients.
Many tools can help you make your job easier as a new freelance writer. Here are the tools and websites you should have as a freelance writer to ensure that your business runs smoothly and efficiently.
You need a tool to keep track of the time spent on different writing projects. The tools have options such as start time, stop time, project duration, and more to help you calculate your time and how hours per article.
This is an essential tool for any freelance writer who wants to get their work done faster, collaboratively, and with fewer errors. This tool can help you find grammar mistakes, improve your writing style by suggesting better word choices and clean up the content for unneeded words.
The project management tool is arguably the most important tool any freelance writer should not ignore, especially if you are just starting.
You need to lay your hands on the best project management tool if you want to flourish in this writing business without stress.
You need a tool that will help you stay organized by keeping track of all your writing projects and the progress of each one. You can also use it for tracking invoices for every project. This is useful for both new and old writers.
Freelance writing is an attractive career field, and you need to make well-informed decisions to survive the competitive nature of the field.
It is impossible to succeed in the field without making optimized decisions based on well-defined goals considered alongside important factors—which I covered in this article.
In the above article, I have touched on the important things that new freelance writers need to consider when starting on this career path.
First of all, it is important to have a portfolio. This will show the potential clients your skills and what kind of content you like to write about and with Contentre multiple portfolio features, you can streamline your portfolios.
Secondly, read as much as you can about the industry and stay up with the latest trends to create innovative content that attracts clients. Stay updated on social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter for getting more insights on the current trends.
Finally, you must research your market before pitching your services online since it could lead to an expensive mistake.
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