Thinking about taking up freelance writing? Well, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made, so I’d encourage you to start even if you have no experience or qualifications.
I left university to start a career in freelance writing a couple of years ago and never looked back.
Anyway, enough about me. Here’s everything you need to know before you start your freelance writing career in 2021!
Snapshot: The Qualifications & Experience You Need to be a Freelance Writer in 2021
- Is Freelance Writing Worth it in 2021?
- How I Became a Freelance Writer With No Experience or Qualifications
- The Skills You Need to Be a Successful Freelance Writer in 2021
- What Qualifications You Need to Be a Freelance Writer
- The Best Freelance Writing Courses in 2021
- Is Freelancing More Difficult in 2021?
Just to let you know, this post may contain affiliate links (meaning if you buy from one of my links I make a little money at no extra cost to you). Find my full disclosure here.
Is Freelance Writing Worth it in 2021?
Before we get started, you’re probably wondering if freelancing is even worth it in 2021, right? With Covid and everything kicking off last year, thousands of people started trying to make money online (y’know instead of going to the office).
All of a sudden, there was tonnes more competition for work BUT there was also more work for freelance writers than ever before. Now that so many people are starting online businesses, the digital marketing industry is booming and blogging is a MASSIVE part of that.
Blogs are huge moneymakers for online companies but they take so much effort to run. So, the first thing most companies outsource is their blog; cue the freelance writer!
How I Became a Freelance Writer With No Experience or Qualifications
Back in 2019, I was officially a university drop out and, to be honest, I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. The one freelance writing client I had went bust and I had NO IDEA how to get work.
So, I freaked out applied for a job on a beauty counter (THAT was the biggest mistake of my life, lol). Anyway, fast forward a couple of months, I had tried two “real” jobs, quit them both (classic millennial), and found myself back at square one.
I decided I had to make freelancing work because I hated having a boss (and being told what to do). So, I googled “how to become a freelance writer” and started working really hard, hoping my effort would pay off.
After about a week of working myself to the ground, I ended up finding two clients. That was all I needed to make between one and two thousand a month!
That might not sound like much to some of you, but I was used to living off of a £475 per month student loan so it was HUGE to me.
Anyway, I know from first-hand experience that anyone can become a freelance writer (or a freelance anything for that matter) if you’re willing to work hard.
What Qualifications You Need to Be a Freelance Writer in 2021?
Here’s the simple answer: you don’t need any qualifications to be a freelance writer. Prospective clients are way more interested in your experience than your qualifications.
No client has ever asked me what qualifications I have. In fact, job ads for copywriters usually state that they’re looking specifically for self-starters.
Think about it, if you were running a business, you’d rather employ someone who’s good at their job than employ someone with a piece of paper that says they could be good at the job, right?
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have to learn all sorts of copywriting techniques but you can find all of that on YouTube; that’s what I did!
The best blog posts are conversational, so you don’t even have to be a particularly good writer to get started. I’m not going to lie, I’m not even that great at spelling so I just use the Grammarly plugin to make sure my writing is flawless (spell-check is not enough, people!).
Confused about the differences between freelance copywriters, bloggers, and content writers? This post explains everything.
The Skills You Need to Be a Successful Freelance Writer in 2021
Although you don’t need any specific qualifications or experience to become a freelance writer, having (or learning) certain skills will help you along the way. These are the skills that have helped grow my career as a freelance writer…
Strong Writing Skills (or Use Grammarly)
I mean, this one’s a bit of a given. Although you don’t technically have to be a good writer, having strong writing skills will help you get paid to write.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the best spelling or grammar – those are easy fixes. As long as you can write fluently, you’re good to go.
Here are some of the writing skills that make a good freelance writer:
- Easy to read, conversational writing.
This is the most important skill to have as a freelance writer. Your writing should be conversational as if you’re talking to a friend over coffee.
A lot of beginner freelance writers make the mistake of overcomplicating things (I did, anyway). You don’t have to use fancy words or complicated sentence structure.
In fact, you should try to avoid these mistakes at all costs.
A good blog post should be informative, fun, and, most importantly, easy to read.
- Exciting layouts.
Add excitement to your writing by switching up the format. You can use:
- Bullet points,
- or even bold to make facts stand out.
Do you see how that’s WAY more exciting to read than this:
Add excitement to your writing by changing up the format. You can use bullet points, italics, or even bold to make facts stand out.
Also, keep your sentences short but sweet. Short sentences sound more informal and fun!
Last but not least, try only to use two sentences per paragraph. Remember, most traffic comes from mobile devices.
One sentence on a desktop looks like a paragraph to mobile readers. Your writing will be more readable if it’s broken up a bit!
- Using keywords (without anyone knowing you’re using keywords).
To help your clients rank on Google, you need to include as many keywords as you can in your articles. But, there’s a catch: you don’t want anyone to know when you’re using keywords.
If you keep using the same words over and over again, your readers will catch on. So, try to keep it subtle!
- Perfect spelling & grammar.
Now, I’m not just talking about your articles here. Every time you communicate with potential or ongoing clients, your spelling and grammar should be on point.
Remember, you’re marketing yourself as a writer. So, you will be expected to be flawless in this department.
The only problem is no one can be flawless all the time. I recommend using a chrome extension like Grammarly.
That way, whether you’re writing an email pitch or an article, your spelling and grammar will be perfect.
Grammarly even checks your tone so it will let you know if your writing sounds a little boring, lol.
As I mentioned earlier, learning about SEO is essential before you start trying to pitch clients. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “that sounds way too technical for me”, right?
Trust me, it’s not. You can learn everything you need to know about SEO by watching YouTube videos like this one for a couple of hours (if that).
As a beginner freelance writer, most of your clients will come from cold email pitching, applying to gig ads, or from websites like Fiverr and Upwork. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of competition amongst freelancers (especially on freelancing sites) so you need to find ways to make yourself stand out.
Take a look at other freelance writers’ profiles and websites to get an idea of how they sell themselves. Jot down anything that comes up often and see if you have that skill as well.
I might write a full blog post on how to sell yourself as a freelance writer, let me know if that would help down in the comments!
If you’re not naturally confident then I’m with you there, lol. This was a STEEP learning curve for me. But, I got there in the end so you can too!
Ready to get to work? Learn how to get your first freelance writing client FAST with Fiverr.
Freelance writers have to have great communication skills. Clients love writers who reply to emails quickly and are always around to answer questions.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still work on your own schedule, just make sure your clients know when you’re around and when you’re not.
As a rule of thumb, try to:
- Reply to client emails the same day (at least).
- Tell clients what days you work/what days you don’t as soon as they’ve agreed to work with you.
- Let your clients know in advance when you’re taking holidays (remind them closer to the time as well).
- Set an out-of-office auto-reply email whenever you’re taking time off.
Basically, just try your best to keep your clients happy.
Work Ethic & Self Motivation
If you’ve never been self-employed before, you might be in for a rude awakening. Because I’d just left uni, I was used to having tight deadlines and whatnot.
Plus, I was excited about my new venture so, to begin with, it was easy to motivate myself.
But, once the excitement died down I realized I wasn’t that great at keeping myself motivated.
So, I read tonnes of blogs about self-motivation but, really, all it came down to was structure. As soon as I started getting up early and working the same hours every day, things fell back into place.
If you’re naturally driven, you’ll be fine. Unfortunately, that’s not me.
I’d much rather watch Netflix than work, lol.
So, I’d recommend finding out how to keep yourself going before it’s too late!
If you’re thinking “oh my god, I don’t have any of these skills”, don’t worry. These are all things you can teach yourself before you start.
I certainly had to.
The Qualifications & Experience You Need to be a Freelance Writer in 2021: FAQ’s
What do Freelance Writers Actually Do?
Can You Be a Freelance Writer Without a Degree?
Yes. I don’t have a degree (or any experience) and I’ve been a freelance writer for years now.
Can Anyone Be a Freelance Writer?
Absolutely. Even if you don’t have the skills to be a freelance writer yet, you can learn them in no time.
How do You Get Work As a Freelance Writer?
There are three ways to get work as a beginner freelance writer:
- Cold Pitching,
- Applying to gig ads,
- And on freelancing sites like Fiverr
Where Do You Start as a Freelance Writer?
New freelance writers should start by creating a profile on freelancing sites. That’s the easiest way to get your name out there as a new writer! Check out my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer to find out how I started making 2K per month from freelance writing.