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Becoming a Content Writer: The Basics

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Some people may think that freelance writing is a difficult industry to break into but with an estimated 42 million blogs on the internet in 2012 in the US alone, you can see that the market is huge. 60% of all businesses and companies have blogs or websites and these need updating regularly with content in order to attract an online audience. Google rewards websites that update their content often with a higher ranking than those that remain static and plugging new content on social media is another way to grasp the attention of consumers whilst keeping the website interesting and relevant. But who writes this content? Many large corporations employ in-house SEO copywriters and content providers but as it is primarily an online role, the industry has opened itself up to freelancers who can work from home to provide fresh, valuable content to really boost the website and blogs. Here are some tips on breaking into freelance content writing as a freelancer.

Start a blog

Blogging is a great starting point for an aspiring freelance writer. It gives you the opportunity to hone your writing, attract readers and eventually can be referred back to as a portfolio to showcase your writing skills and style to potential clients. Although it is helpful to have a niche, the topic of your blog is entirely up to you with parenting, cookery, travel, fashion, lifestyle and pop culture being just a handful of the popular genres within the 'blogsphere'. If you can gain a large readership you may also be able to earn a little revenue through affiliates and advertizements as well as being offered freebies to review.

Market yourself

If you are expecting people to pay for your writing then you are offering a service so essentially you are a business. Treat yourself as one and market yourself accordingly. Social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook are a good starting point as they instantly allow you to interact with other people in the field as well as potential clients. Aside from your blog it may be worthwhile to create a professional website – the two can be linked (many websites have blogs within them) but your website should be more focused on the service you provide and give details of prices, experience, samples, contact details and testimonials if you have them.

Get searching

In any career, work rarely comes looking for you so you will need to search for it. A quick Google search will link you up with hundreds of job boards with opportunities for freelance writers – some more reputable than others. They may include positions for SEO copywriting, article writing, newsletters, guest posting on blogs or even writing ebooks. Problogger has a good reputation for offering both experienced and first time freelancers opportunities in various fields. Other websites may ask you to register and pay a small monthly fee in order to be able to access their advertized positions. Broker sites encourage you to set up a profile and bid for projects in order to link their clients up with the best possible candidate for the job in hand. Or you could apply to work for a content providing agency such as wait.co.uk who will search for opportunities on behalf of their writers. How you choose to search for job opportunities is up to you but there are plenty out there if you know where and how to look. When submitting your work always take note on whether the client is purchasing rights to your work. If they are then you are unlikely to be able to refer back to it as a sample in your portfolio.

Approach clients

Don't be afraid to approach potential clients. If you are browsing websites or blogs and notice that they haven't been updated with fresh content for a while then look up the contact details and drop them an email saying something alone the lines of 'I've noticed that your website content hasn't been updated in a while, I think I could help you out'. Ten link them up with your portfolio/website. The worst they can do is say no and I personally have gotten several jobs this way, one of which has become a regular client.

Do your research

As the old adage goes: quality over quantity. Don't get carried away with the amount of work there is on offer and apply for anything and everything – the content of your work will suffer and so will your reputation. Be open minded when it comes to projects – working outside of your comfort zone can be great but it is important to always do your research thoroughly. Clients can spot a bluffer from a mile away and if you are providing below par work then they are unlikely to use you again. Ultimately you should be aiming to get regular clients in order to build a financially stable career from writing and the best way to do this is to provide consistently high quality, well researched content.  

References
'State of the Blogging World',  http://blogging.org/blog/blogging-stats-2012-infographic/ , accessed 20/12/14

'How to Make Money From Your Blog', http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/8714/how-to-make-money-with-your-blog/ , accessed 19/12/14

'Ten Tips on Marketing Yourself as a Freelance Writer' , http://www.freelancewritersonline.com/10-tips-on-marketing-yourself-as-a-freelance-writer-online/ , accessed 20/12/14

Problogger Latest Job Board, http://jobs.problogger.net/  , accessed 20/12/14

Writing Jobs from wait.co.uk, http://www.wait.co.uk/jobs.php , accessed 20/12/14

'Getting Clients: Approaching the Company' , http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/09/getting-clients-approaching-the-company/ , accessed 20/12/14


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