If you are thinking of starting a career as a freelance writer or simply looking to earn some extra money on the side, there are a few things you should know. The freelance world can be challenging to navigate! Hence, from my experience as Spanish freelance writer, and to help you start your quest, I have come up with nine must-haves for new freelance writers that can help save you time, effort, and money:
*This article DOES NOT have any affiliate links. This is my honest and subjective opinion and there is not money involved.
Word Processor Program
First things first, assuming you already have a computer, the next thing you should have is a word-processing program. I recommend Microsoft Word or the free version of LibreOffice.
Usually, these types of programs offer not only word processing features, but also spreadsheets, presentations, database management, graphics editing, and other tools that might come in handy.
Both programs are readily available for PC or Mac and will be your go-to tool when writing article pieces.
Portfolio & Writing Sample
If you have some experience as a freelance writer, you might have already compiled a literary portfolio with some of your best work. If not, do not panic! Simply go through your computer in search of previous personal projects (e.g., poems, short stories, articles) or academic projects (e.g., school work, voluntary work, research papers.)
Without a doubt, you have written some things worth mentioning. It does not matter if you are not entirely sure if they will suffix.
Remember, no one becomes successful overnight— or at least not within freelance writing.
Once you have collected five to six samples of your best work, you can move on to the next step.
Starting a blog or website is the best way to showcase your work. Plus, it gives prospective clients the sense that you are a professional and thriving writer (even if you are not quite there yet.) Blogs are also a medium for you to show off your personality, writing voice, and previous work.
I recommend starting with something simple to wet your toes, and then move on to more complex sites. WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are three easy-to-use platforms that can help you build your website without having to learn how to code or investing thousands of dollars.
Terms & Conditions
Now that you have a website running and a portfolio to attract prospective clients, you should start thinking like a business. To do so, you must draft a document, including your terms and conditions. Establishing clear policies is crucial!
I know it can be tempting to cut through the “red tape” of getting a freelance contract signed by your busy client—especially if it is a friend or an acquaintance. But, it is better to be safe than sorry.
As an experienced freelance writer, I have been the victim of a fair share of scams and sketchy clients. All of which could have been avoided by drafting a short contract and have them sign it before getting the work done.
There are many free templates readily available on the web. I suggest you take a look online and try to mix and match to create your own.
An excellent editing tool will be your best friend when it comes to writing. Keep in mind that clients pay you to develop content, create interesting articles, or promote their brand. Thus, your work needs to be top-notch!
Freelance has little to do with experience and appearances. Freelance writing is all about your work and what you can produce— whether it is a catchy slogan, an intriguing copy, a newsletter, or an in-depth technical paper. As a result, anything and everything you write must be free of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, well written, and a 100% original.
I suggest you invest a little money on a premium editing tool such as Grammarly. This spellchecking software offers contextual spell checker, vocabulary enhancement, plagiarism checker, corrects writing style/form/tone, and more.
You can check it out by clicking the following link.
When you are a freelance writer, you do a lot of web surfing and Internet browsing. Thus, having a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can be pretty useful and come with a long list of benefits, including:
• Enhanced security
• Online anonymity
• Access to blocked websites
• Different IP addresses
• Better bandwidth and network efficiency
• Remote control and access to your information
Plus, VPNs also offer a safer means of surfing the web and looking at content online.
If you have no ideas as to what to look for in a VPN, you can use the one I usually used, which is Cyberghost VPN. I use this one because cover the Latam countries that I usually work, but there are others that are good like ExpressVPN (more expensive) or NordVPN.
Another essential tool to have is a trust-worthy antivirus. As I mentioned before, freelancing involves a lot of Internet browsing, and this can sometimes put your computer at risk. So, if you already have an antivirus installed on your computer, make sure it is up to date and working properly.
If you do not have an antivirus already installed, this might be the right time to get one. There are many efficient brands; some of the most well-known antivirus software are Bitdefender, Norton Lifelock, McAfee, and BullGuard.
Most of your clients will request to pay you through a secure platform. Hence, it is always recommendable to have an electronic wallet set up for their safety (and yours.) There are infinite possibilities, and they all have their pros and cons.
I personally like PayPal because it is well-known across the globe and enables you to pay, send money, and accept payments easily. Their fees are reasonable but not low. So if you are working with international clients who do not mind to pay by bank transfer and might want to pay you in a different currency, TransferWise is your best option.
Another must-have is setting up a freelancer account in one or more freelancing platforms. These types of websites can help you instantly find clients without having to spend money on advertisements or sponsored posts.
Furthermore, usually, these websites have their terms and conditions and policies that protect you from unwanted clients.
Thus, if you are starting, they are a great and safe way of attracting clients and gaining experience.
However, know that most of these platforms charge between 10% to 20% in “handling fees.’ Meaning, that if you make $20 through the app, you will only receive $16.
My favorite freelancing websites include UpWork and Freelancer. They are easy-to-use platforms that are easily accessible from anywhere in the world.
Do you want more useful tools and websites? Check my page about Resources for writers.