How To Start Being A Freelance Writer? With Colleen Welsch, Freelance Writing Coach

Freelance writing is one of the most accessible online jobs for aspiring digital nomads or work from home persons, as the only skill required is... writing! But how to become a good writer, and be able to create an amazing guest post or product description?

In order to know more about starting being a Freelance Writer I asked Colleen Welsch, an experienced freelance writer and writer coach.

She told us her 6 tips to become as successful as fast as it is possible in the freelance writing business, and she is full of surprising valuable information.

6 Tips To Start Being A Freelance Writer
  • 1 Choose a niche
  • 2 Create pieces of content
  • 3 Make your portfolio available
  • 4 Hire an editor to look at your portfolio
  • 5 Start pitching clients
  • 6... Watch the videocast or listen to the podcast to find out the most important tip!
Are you ready to become a Freelance Writer?
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Colleen Welsch is a freelance writing coach who helps aspiring digital nomads quit their 9-to-5s and start LIVING!
Colleen Welsch is a freelance writing coach who helps aspiring digital nomads quit their 9-to-5s and start LIVING!

Watch the videocast, listen to the podcast: How To Start Being A Freelance Writer? With Colleen Welsch, Freelance Writing Coach

#1 Introduction: How To Start Being A Freelance Writer? With Colleen Welsch, Freelance Writing Coach

Hello and welcome to this new episode of international consulting podcast I am today with Colleen Welsch, hello Colleen! 

Hi Thanks for having me!

Pleasure and we will talk about how to start being a freelance writer As you are not only an experienced writer but also a coach, right? 

That's right.

Especially now it's very popular to work online, to work remotely and freelance writing is kind of Maybe not an easy job It's actually difficult to write properly, but a lot of people are getting into it 

That's right. Yeah Freelance writing is bigger than ever. There's never been a better time to be a writer if you have that skill set That's for sure. Yeah So if you can write you can definitely get paid to do so

Isn't it actually more complicated to enter this business as there are more people on the on the market? 

I don't think so. If you have good writing skills and good business acumen you can be successful pretty easily.

What Skills that you should have to be a good freelance writer? 

The number one thing is that you have to love writing I think a lot of people think oh I could be a freelance writer. But let me ask you this.

Did you actually enjoy Doing those papers because that's all you're going to be doing for work every single day. So if you don't love writing you really shouldn't get into this line of work.

Yeah Your blog post 13 reasons why you shouldn't become a freelance writer is a good recommendation maybe to read this also for anybody that is thinking about starting a career as a freelance writer, which reasons Would eventually prevent him or her to start in this business. So for how long have you been writing yourself? 

Right. I've been a big writer ever since I was in third grade in 1997's I think i'm aging myself a little bit there. But Which has been wonderful to review later and see what I was thinking all those years. It's really funny. And then in terms of professional writing anthropology degree and right after I graduated from College I started working as an assistant buyer at a fashion merchandising brand.

And I hated it spoiler alert But I was lucky enough because the director of my department really saw that I hated my role and I didn't like what I was doing and that I was more of a creative person. So she gradually started getting more And then I was able to leverage that into several other positions Where I was working in marketing and then copywriting is a big part of that.

So that's initial experience Me to start my own blog writing business was in 2016. I was working for a beauty brand They had a blog and nobody at the company. Wanted to write the blog So I liked writing it and I realized that there were probably Hundreds of other beauty companies out there that had a blog and no one on the marketing team Wanted to write it So that's when I went freelance in 2017, and started pitching to beauty companies.

So I would say on this freelance journey. I have been doing it for three years full-time writing. Actual freelance writing and then after a while I realized that I knew enough to teach other people how to do it.

Of course makes sense. So for you was it a vocation? 

Absolutely when I was little my dream was to be a writer.

But would you say to be a good freelance writer you have like to dream about it since your childhood or you can learn the skills? 

Doing it and you can learn how to become a better writer and Thus be able to make more money as you go on but anyone can jump in.

And at which point of your life or career Is it a good time to start? 

Working as a freelance writer I have like a lot of conversations with my followers on my coaching business and some of them are straight out of college They just graduated and obviously Job prospects are a little bit bleak right now.

So that's a good way to start making some money right away If you're on the hunt for a job or if you want to do this full-time I would say the majority of the people that I work with are Around 30 and they've been in the job force for a while and they realize that they hate working a nine to five And they just have to get out of there.

So it's not too late to get started then either You could start as a side hustle put some money aside and then just make that leap and jump into it full time It's never too late to get started.

And so a lot of people are actually switching careers and looking for more freedom From what you saw? 

Yes working with because that was really my story too as I worked in nine to five I hated my life. So I just quit my job and went for it. But I will say that it wasn't without some you know Difficulties.

Like for example it took me about nine months to really get my freelance writing business to the point where I could support myself And travel full-time make along the way so just you know you can skip all those mistakes and just get to the part where you make money, I think that's what most people want about difficulties and easy money.

#2 Content writer skills / freelance writing job requirements

So what are usually the job requirements of our freelance writing, what is expected from a freelance writer? 

Being open to feedback are huge and I think a lot of people really miss the mark there It's as as we discussed a little bit earlier.

It's hard to find a freelance writer who's actually reliable and turns in good content so I think people Really understand themselves if you can Create good content and turn it in on time, you're good, you can charge you know what you want to charge. But that's not enough the content also has to be good. You'll improve your skills. Like writing is definitely a skill that can be improved just by doing it every day but if you Don't have super sharp writing skills yet or if you are trying to write in another language Are english as a second language even if they're fluent, There's still like things that are a little bit off, and like a native reader would notice and pick up on that.

So what I recommend for those people and for all people that want to be freelance writers is to hire an editor Who's a native english speaker and they can fix and tweak anything.

Anything like that and literally nobody will know then Once you turn it in.

But if you are a freelance writer already hired by a company to write, you should still get an editor? 

Oh So it's 100 perfect And they don't have to worry about anything. We all want that, yes.

So I have a question. How did you find your first client? 

So my first client from a previous job and she had moved to a beauty brand and they needed someone to write the blog and that's really when I Was like So And then after I had the realization that a lot of other beauty brands didn't have anyone on their team to write blogs I started cold pitching.

So I made a huge list of beauty brands And I went on their website to see if they had a blog and if they had one And it hadn't been updated in six or months. I sent them an email And offered my services to them and I did this every single day For months until I build up a full book of business I just tried to email five companies a day Wow I'm not really sure to be honest with you. I didn't keep track of that people always ask about Conversion rates i'm like I don't know. I'm not a math person. I'm a creative person. Okay yes networking is huge and Depending on what kind of writing you want to do like I really recommend that you go to networking events and meet people in your community because You never know who's going to need a freelance writer.

But besides that you should tell everyone you know that you're a freelance writer because you never know who's going to know someone else for example And I hung out with him two times and This was over a year ago and somehow he reminds that I was a freelance writer and then when his friend needed one They contacted me and I was like but it's just because you know True Is that a real practical piece of advice is it takes time to build your business, to find clients, to make your network work for you.

High level of freelance writing where you're making good money You know you can start and start bringing in a thousand dollars, two thousand dollars Like straight off the bat And for a lot of people that would be really helpful I think.

#3 How much money can you make as a freelance writer

So actually talking about money how much money can you make as a freelance writer? 

So if you have a few years of experience and You are good at sales You definitely can make a lot more as a freelance writer than you can working as like a staff writer for a magazine or a website.

So in your experience it is better to work as a freelance writer than To be employed?

Absolutely. It's better to be freelance for sure And there's like extra expenses that come with that like in the US you have to pay for your own health insurance and things like that.

But it is worth it and you bake those charges into what you need.

I think a question that a lot of people people have is how to value your your time. Like how do you know what you should charge? 

Yes so I have I actually have a writing rate calculator on my website that I have already figured this out for everybody. But basically Like your living expenses and how many weeks per year you want to work? and how many hours per week you want to work and then it Spits out what you should be charging per hour, Which is usually a lot higher than what people think they should be charging.

Because when you work at like a nine to five if you work like 40 hours it comes out to like maybe you make 25 dollars an hour to 45 an hour 75 an hour You're not working 40 hours per week anymore. You're really only be When you're at an office There's so many hours where you're just like getting coffee.

Or you're like in a meeting actually producing anything for the company So when you're a freelance writer the actual hours that you are producing content are a lot smaller, So you need to consider that when you're thinking of your freelance writer rate.

Additionally you have to pay for your health insurance and sometimes maybe you need to charge a little bit more just to make sure that You can make ends meet if you take time off or if you don't have a full book of clients yet.

Well I think it really depends on your opinion of yourself to be honest with you, Someone will pay for that If you have the skills It's rarely In my experience Severely under charging, which is unfortunate because it drags the whole market down.

So I like to tell people if we don't deal with the bottom feeders, And if your skills aren't there yet work on your skills, so you can make that money.

But all in all you mentioned like up to 10 000 or over 10 000 a month? 

No after probably the first three months. Not so bad that's I mean I like to think that you know with some coaching it would go a lot more smoothly Of course.

Well You know because they'll say like well i'm gonna do this I'm gonna do that So it helps to really have someone to check in With and make sure that they're actually getting the tasks done that they need to get done to get started.

Additionally how do you know if your work is worth what you want to charge like a coach can offer that kind of feedback and give recommendations for where you need to improve.

But of course you can learn all this stuff just from Google which is what I did.

What is the difference between a coach and an editor? 

Maybe a little bit on the content itself. But it's going to be more about running the business and doing the sales and the marketing part of the freelance writing, because When you're a freelance writer - And I think that is difficult for some creative people to Handle - An editor it focuses specifically on the content.

So they'll give you suggestions on how to improve it Or just like proofread it and make sure they clean up all the typos and everything.

A newcomer in the industry should get both Right away? 

Somebody new in the freelance writing business should get both an editor and a coach.

How much you want to put into it how much you want to invest in it? I really believe in investing in yourself and your education. But some people don't have the initial startup capital to hire a coach but I really recommend hiring an editor straight off the bat No matter what.

Well It's always a good idea to think about investing more in it. And in yourself in this case. Yes you know Cutting down on months and months of trying to teach yourself how to do something when you hire a coach because you get immediate feedback And immediate wisdom from someone who's already done it.

When I work with my students As a coach I have an editor that I work with. So I introduce them and she's amazing and Can really help people get to the next level in their writing.

So we work together to make sure that you know kick ass And actually when friends writers are looking for clients.

#4 Best freelance copywriter websites / blogs hiring freelance writers

So for example yourself Are you registered on the Online working website like freelancing websites? 

Yes a lot of really big like fortune 500 companies are on upwork so Which is what people don't realize and That's the majority of the job postings you see on there.

You will get reach like these big clients will reach out to you and ask you to do work for them. And that's how I like once I landed like a twenty thousand dollar job that only took like three weeks to complete, And that was all thanks to upwork.

In terms of the All the like the freelancer websites upwork and fiverr are the two big ones. I have not Used fiverr. I have heard good things about it. I know that some people make a lot of money on there I just prefer upwork something about Fiverr like i'm gonna do this test for five dollars like i'm not going to do anything for five dollars but Cut of Or 10 to 20 depending on the type of client it is Which is a lot, If someone reached out to me directly.

And actually is it also a good idea to have your own Online publication like your own blog for example to showcase what you're capable of? 

Yes because that makes it especially like a beautiful professional looking website. And if you have the gift to make one of those yourself good for you. If not that way when you do Get a bite from a client through cold pitching or if you apply for a job or something.

You can easily show them your portfolio, You look professional, You look like an expert and they'll be happy to hire you.

But is it really important to have this portfolio? Can you find clients without a portfolio or should you first work on a good portfolio? 

So you need to have a portfolio to get started. You don't have to have it on your own website, What you can do is just post it on Google Drive and send someone the link to the folder.

Maybe you don't even have your own blog so It's already difficult to To choose where to start and where to put your efforts, right? well Let me tell you what I recommend people to do is first choose the type of writing you want to do.

So you choose a niche like something. So you start with a niche for example and then create three pieces of content on spec which means that you don't get paid to do that. You can either make up a brand in your mind or use a popular brand and then you just create three pieces of work, Then turn those into PDFs put them in a Google Drive folder, and then you can share that folder with potential clients.

So that The startup time for that is less than 10 hours and then you can get out there and start pitching. Oh and make sure you hire an editor to look over those samples.

The last thing you want is to you know have typos or spelling errors in those samples because you won't get any clients.

And at which point should you actually get a coach? 

Help people get that portfolio set up as part of my coaching service.

So as soon as you Want to get started basically? 

Also even before choosing the niche.

It's a brand new point of view at least for me on the online freelance writing business. 

Yeah It's a big deal and it's bigger than ever.

What is your point of view on guest posting? 

Yeah expertise in your subject. So once you have your niche what you want the Goal is to become the number one writer for that niche. So guest posting is a really great way to show your expertise And improve your credibility and it also helps potential clients find you instead of you finding them all the time.

So there are like three ways to Build your portfolio:
  • just create them for yourself
  • create your own online publication and write for it
  • or guest post

So a lot of publications won't accept guest posts without a portfolio. So you need to do the portfolio first. So this content to your portfolio, add better and better samples to your portfolio and charge more.

Now when you contact clients How do you choose what to show specifically? 

To be honest with you I don't really worry about that as much but I do keep my portfolio Relatively updated on my website just in case someone finds me through there.

So I go with the projects where The client is probably the most famous. So I have done work with like Marika like a lot of big clients so I make sure to keep those top.

At the top My work and I was really excited about the client and just wanted to share.

Maybe you could tell us a little bit what is the project you are the most proud of? 

Marika And I love working with them because they're like just write about whatever you want. It just has to be about this fragrance, So there's a lot of more creativity in that.

Oftentimes It's in terms of articles It's like very specific, like it's this topic and these keywords, which is fine - and I enjoy doing that.

But then another thing like my favorite thing to do is branding copywriting, and I love to come up with the voice for startups, you know.

#5 How to be a freelance writer with no experience tips

So what would be your top tips for freelance writer to start?

It's easy. It's three steps you just have to do it Okay Just do it. That's my advice just do it. Ah yeah at some point you have to start and invest full time in your business So you don't even have to do it full time. You can do it I mean you can work on this on a Saturday if you have a job, and you just want to Start having this as a side hustle until you're able to make enough money to leave your job You know.

And most people shouldn't do that I wouldn't recommend doing that because I did that and It put me in a pretty like compromised financial situation for a few months.

Luckily Maybe do it on the side to begin.

And How long did it take you from the start like when you left your job To get to the point in which you were sure that this was the the career you would push you in the future, And You wouldn't come back?

I knew I wanted to do it because as we said offline before I had tried twice before and failed. You know. So I like sublet my apartment and drove back to Ohio I was all in and that was like I think three months after I quit my job, but I was all in like I gave up my whole life to go after it and I got there so it was worth it.

But so when did you actually get there? 

So I would say that the real turning point for me was when I booked that 20 000 Project with the client because that allowed me to pay - I had a lot of credit card debt, I had like Twelve thousand dollars of credit card debt. Living in LA it was really expensive.

So I was able to pay off all my credit cards and then I had enough money left over to feel like I had enough savings to Buy a one-way plane ticket to Europe and then I just went, so that was the summer of 2018.

So it was about a year later when I was really locked in And ready to go But depending on someone's financial situation. I mean it only took me three months to start making 4 000 a month which is 48 000 a year, and in a lot of places that's plenty of money to live on.

Okay between the moment you left your comfortable salary And got to the point where you were comfortable with your new situation? 

Yes a year to get to a financial place where I felt like I could do that okay And it's important when you start to know that you will run through issues. It will take time. It's not, This isn't a get rich quick scheme.

This is you know to build a sustainable business does take time, it takes at least three to six months to really get your business off the ground like I'll tell you right now like I Have really cut down on client work and I only work 20 hours a week, and I make like 8 000 a month, so and I live in Cleveland and that's cost of living is very low here, so I own a house like It you know.

#6 Wrap-up

One last question. So if I understood well You are now living comfortably on your freelance writing business for two years? 

Yes Three years Allegedly going into a recession. Is pretty recession proof so I feel fine about it, besides that I'm adding to my business more like having multiple streams of income now.

Also I'd say the number one downside to being a freelance writer is you're trading your time for money.

So if you want to go on vacation Like you're not going to get paid during that, or if you know want to take maternity leave or something You won't be paid.

So Like thinking in the future about having a family and stuff. I want to make sure that I have some more passive streams of income. But I feel good. I feel excited about the future and I Think this is a really exciting opportunity. Well Okay Yeah articles for beauty brands And then my other business is my freelance writing coaching business, I offer one-on-one mentorship programs as well as just freelance writing calls Need help getting through a block And in the next two months.

But until then I do have some freebies on my website that are really useful for people who are getting their business started, Which includes a freelance writing rate calculator where I did all the work for you on how much you should be charging?

And then I also have a cold pitching kit which has all the templates that I use to Get freelance writing clients when I first started, so you download that and it basically gives you all the instructions on how to make that happen for yourself, and get That full book of clients and make money.

Sounds very good! So for sure we will be sharing the links. 

Yeah That'd be great.

Okay It was very good talking talking with you today, freelance writer and a coach

Michel Pinson
About the author - Michel Pinson
Michel Pinson is a Travel enthusiast and Content Creator. Merging passion for education and exploration, he iscommitted to sharing knowledge and inspiring others through captivating educational content. Bringing the world closer together by empowering individuals with global expertise and a sense of wanderlust.

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