I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me a few years ago, but it really is possible to make a great living writing online. Many writers end up pursuing non-writing jobs because they don’t know how to start a writing business online. Setting up any kind of business can be a daunting but fun experience. However, when it comes to doing taxes or dealing with the books for your business, it is important to know that your business is doing things correctly. There are a lot of accounting firms in NYC and all over the country that could help you maintain a healthy look on your books and could give you peace of mind.
With the growth of huge freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer, it’s possible to write for a living from practically anywhere with a web connection. Similarly, if you enjoy writing, reading, and improving on the works of others, you could also consider becoming a freelance editor and offer your services to aspiring authors and writers around the world.
So what do you need to get started? Who are your clients and what do they want and need? Let’s look closer!
How to Start a Writing Business Online – Step 1: Register on the Major Writer Hiring Sites
Finding freelance writing opportunities online has never been easier. If you know how to write articles, ad copy, grant letters, or any other form of professional content, there’s a treasure trove of work posted every single day on major freelancing sites. These sites standardize all transactions between freelance writer and client, providing an easy interface to manage multiple assignments and apply for new ones.
The major writing communities are all free to join, and the sites take a percentage as payment for using their platform.
The three biggest online freelance writing sites are:
After you register with these sites, you’ll need to build a profile. Just select a professional looking picture and tell potential clients a little about who you are and what your experience is.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a qualified journalist, in fact, most clients on these platforms will never even ask about your qualifications, but are more interested in your job feedback scores and stats.
All the major job sites also track your performance, client reviews, and earnings. These stats are viewable to the public. The more work you do, the more trust you’ll accrue on the site, and over time you can start to command higher rates. As you deliver excellent work, clients will leave a positive comment and star rating on your profile, and that’s all you need to succeed.
Step 2: Start Bidding on Jobs and Creating Gigs
Writing on Fiverr
On Fiverr, you create what’s called a “Gig”, meaning you offer a service for $5. This can multiply many times over, and you could offer to write 500 words for $5, allowing someone to order 10 units from you, netting you $50.
Writing on Upwork & Freelancer
On Upwork and Freelancer, you bid on jobs. Clients post a job description and after reading it, you bid. Send a catchy cover letter, ask questions about the project, and most importantly, have great job success feedback to improve your chances of success.
When starting out, you’ll definitely want to sign up with Upwork. Upwork is user friendly and has a wide user base, making it relatively easy to score work. The best feature about the site, however, is its escrow protection for payments. Since you’ll typically be accepting jobs from total strangers (sometimes living halfway around the world), the escrow feature is extremely valuable, since it means you’ll never get ripped off by a shady client.
Pro-Tip: Getting started can be a Catch-22. You’ve got no job feedback, so clients may be reluctant to hire you. Explain to clients that you’re new to the platform and offer to do a small job for free in exchange for great feedback. Most clients will agree since they have nothing to lose.
Step 3: Experiment..Then Specialize!
Every writer has strong spots and weak spots. Maybe you excel at writing fictional romance short stories, or maybe you’re better at drafting detailed legal documents. Try a few different jobs until you find what you’re good at to begin with, and once you find it, specialize!
Do more and more of the kinds of jobs you’re getting great feedback from, and phase out the ones where things aren’t going so well. This allows you to get better and better feedback scores, which in turn will net you more and more new contracts from clients who find your profile.
Once you find your sweet spot, develop it to its maximum potential.
Step 4: Build a Team
It’s an old saying that to get rich you have to separate your income from your time. There are only so many hours you can reasonably work, and to leverage both other people’s time and skills for your profit, you’ll need to build a team.
Find writers who excel in the areas you aren’t so great at, and find them in different timezones so you can have a 24-7 ready to go team to serve clients quickly and across the globe. You can do this on the sites mentioned by creating a client account. Once you start building a team, you could start thinking about implementing something like Deputy’s shift swapping software into the business, as this will allow you to keep track of absent staff without having to wonder why they didn’t turn up to work. This just makes managing the business a lot less stressful.
The nature of this business really is global from day one. You might have clients in Australia, America, Asia and Russia all at the same time, and keeping up with it all can be exhausting and lead to anti-social hours.
Building a team solves these problems – it allows you to expand and take on new projects, growing your business and filling in the gaps in your skill set, and it allows you to serve clients around the clock, building a profit machine! You might also want to check out invoice templates to keep on top of your client’s needs and stay ahead of the game.
Step 5: Take your writing business to the next level – start a website
QUICK START – launch your website
1) FIND A DOMAIN & SETUP HOSTING – bluehost $3.95 / month special.
2) INSTALL WORDPRESS – one click wordpress install after sign up with bluehost.
3) CHOOSE A FREE OR PREMIUM THEME – Studiopress is who I use for premium themes (SEO ready, Fast Load Time, Solid Genesis Framework)
Launching your writing website can add the credibility you need to grow your writing business. Increasing your profit margins by cutting out the middle-man doesn’t hurt either.
Summary: How to launch your writing business in 2016
The demand for written web-content is virtually endless and keeps growing. On one of the above-mentioned platforms alone, 3000 new jobs are posted daily, with only 1000 new freelancers joining the site monthly.
To anyone with a head for business, that’s an opportunity not to be missed! Most clients are simply businessmen and women who don’t have the time to write their own promo materials, or who struggle with English and need to create a web presence in the world’s most spoken language.
If you have a flare for writing, this could be the business for you. It’s possible to be in profit from your first contract, since there are literally no start up costs and the platforms are free to use from day one.
Now that you have the basics for How to Start a writing business…let us know if we can help you start your online writing business.