If you have a natural knack for writing and enjoy the idea of working for yourself, starting a freelance writing business might be the right fit for you.
When it comes to starting a freelance writing business, having superb writing skills is a given. However, success in this industry demands more than simply being good with words. This guide will walk you through the business basics and provide steps and answers to some frequently asked questions..
A freelance writing business is one where writers work as independent contractors on a project or contractual basis, often focusing on content creation, such as articles, blog posts, social media, newsletters, and books. Some freelance writers also offer services like editing and proofreading.
Freelance writing work is a popular type of business because it provides time flexibility and deciding on what work to take on. Some writers focus on specific topics, niches, or target audiences, while others vary the topics they write on.
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The freelance writing industry is part of the broader content creation and digital marketing landscape. With the proliferation of online platforms, the demand for quality content has skyrocketed. Companies, small businesses, bloggers, and even individuals seek skilled writers to convey their messages effectively. This industry is not limited by geography, allowing freelance writers to work with clients from all over the globe. The cost to enter the market is relatively low, and the business can be operated from home or virtually anywhere with an internet connection.
the rise of online platforms for finding work, such as job boards and social media networking. These platforms make it easier to connect with potential clients while working from anywhere in the world. Especially with the growth of AI, writers with a special grasp of a particular topic, industry, or writing style are in higher demand.
Steps To Start A Freelance Writing Business
Step 1: Write your Business Plan
When setting out to start a freelance writing business, diving straight into finding clients and writing is tempting. However, one critical step often overlooked is creating a business plan. While some may see this as a formality for lenders, a business plan is, in fact, an important tool for any small business owner.
First of all, the act of putting your plan on paper also adds a level of accountability and turns abstract ideas into concrete steps. Each component of the plan, from your marketing strategy to your financial projections, acts as a milestone. As you achieve each one, it fuels your motivation to move on to the next, creating a positive cycle of progress and achievement.
Another important part of a business plan is where you will conduct market research. When it comes to your freelance writing business, you’re not alone in the field. There are things like client demand, industry trends, and what your competitors are charging that you need to consider. By researching and including this information in your business plan, you can make the right decisions about things like what writing niche to specialize in, what platforms to use, what rates to set, and what services to offer.
Perhaps one of the most practical aspects of a business plan is its role in financial planning. When you work out your financial projections in your business plan, you can properly budget your startup expenses and calculate that your new business will likely earn a profit instead of losing money.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 2: Register the Business
Starting any business, including a freelance writing one, involves more than just having a passion for your craft. You also need to ensure your business is legally set up. Each state will have different rules, but here’s an overview of what you need to do:
Choose your business structure: The first task is to set up the business structure, which determines how your business is organized and operates. Each business structure comes with its pros and cons, so take time to consider which one suits your freelance writing business best.
- Sole proprietorship: This is usually the cheapest and easiest business structure to set up, making it a common choice for many new businesses. The downside is that it doesn’t separate your personal and business assets, so you would be personally responsible for business debts and liabilities.
- General partnership: An option if you’re starting your freelance writing business with a partner. Like a sole proprietorship, it’s easier to start, but both you and your partner would be personally liable for business debts.
- Corporation: This structure separates your personal assets from your business assets, shielding you from personal liability for business debts. However, it’s more expensive to set up and requires more additional administrative oversight.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This offers a mix of features from corporations and sole proprietorships. Like a corporation, an LLC can protect your personal assets from business liabilities. But like a sole proprietorship, it has fewer administrative requirements, making it easier to manage.
Related: Comparison of business structures
Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.
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Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.
During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.
Obtain business licenses and permits: Depending on your location and the nature of your services, you may need certain business licenses or permits. For a freelance writing business, you may need a general business license, seller’s permit, or a home occupation permit if you’re working from home.
Step 3: Set Up Operations
In this next step, we start setting up the operations of the business. A few of the basics to consider:
Choosing your workspace: One factor to consider when starting your freelance writing business is selecting where you’ll work. You have options: is home your preferred workspace, or would a coworking space or coffee shop be a better fit? Working from home can help you save on costs while renting a space elsewhere may be ideal if you need a separate, professional spot for your work. Since a lot of writing work is online, many writers don’t worry about having a physical office, particularly when just starting out.
Getting your office ready: No matter where you choose to work, it’s important to have a workspace that supports productivity. Make sure you have access to a computer, reliable internet, and a quiet space where you can concentrate and write to the best of your ability.
Equipment and software: For a freelance writing business, a reliable computer, internet connection, and word processing software are a given.
Creating a workflow: Develop a workflow for managing writing assignments, from initial client contact to final delivery. This could include processes for client communication, research, writing, editing, and invoicing.
Step 4: Create a Marketing Strategy
When starting a new freelance writing business, getting the word out about your services may be one of the most important steps. Even if you are the best writer, if clients can’t find you, your business won’t exist for long.
Start by identifying what makes you unique as a writer and what value you offer – this is often called a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Highlight your skills, experience, and the special touch you bring to your projects. This will help potential clients understand why they should hire you instead of your competitors.
Building a strong, recognizable brand is also necessary. This involves having the same logo, colors, and messaging across all your platforms. This consistent branding makes you look professional and makes it easier for clients to recognize you.
A website is one of the best platforms to showcase your freelance writing business. Here, you can display your writing portfolio, list your services, and provide your contact information, making it simple for clients to reach out. Don’t forget about the power of social media, too. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are not just for sharing your work; they’re also crucial for networking and engaging with your audience. Regularly posting your content, sharing insights about your writing process, and engaging with followers can help establish your online presence and credibility.
Another avenue for marketing your new business is through online job boards and freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru. These platforms can connect you with a wide range of clients looking for writing services. While there is a lot of competition for freelance writing jobs on these platforms, they offer a good starting point for building your client base and gaining valuable experience.
Step 5: Prepare to Launch!
After covering the core steps of launching a freelance writing business, there are still several tasks to take care of before starting your business. The tasks needed will vary by entrepreneur, but here are a few of them to consider.
Business insurance: Depending on the nature of your work, freelance writers, like any other business owners, may want to consider getting business insurance. This can protect your business against various risks, such as lawsuits, property damage, or loss of income. Depending on your specific circumstances, you might need professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance), which can cover legal costs if a client sues you for a mistake or negligence in your work.
Setting up bookkeeping: As a business owner, you need to keep track of your income and expenses for tax purposes and to monitor the financial health of your business. You can set up an accounting system to handle daily transactions, taxes, and financial statements. This can involve hiring a bookkeeper or using accounting software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks.
Opening a business bank account: A separate business bank account makes it easier to manage your business finances effectively, which can be helpful for accounting and tax purposes.
Accepting credit cards: Setting up a system to accept credit card payments is important to accommodate clients who prefer this payment method. Services like Stripe, Square, and Paypal offer easy solutions to process credit card transactions.
Common Questions When Starting A Freelance Writing Business
How much does it cost to start a freelance writing business?
The costs to start a freelance writing business are very low, and you probably already have most of what you need. A typical range for starting a freelance writing business is between $1,000 and $3,000.
Let’s break down typical startup costs:
Computer equipment: Expect around $1,000 – $1,500 to purchase a reliable laptop and any required writing and grammar software.
Business registration: Registering your business involves fees that vary by state and the type of business structure you choose. Estimate between $50 and $500.
Marketing: Budget for website design, social media advertising, and possibly business cards. This can add somewhere around $100 to $500 to your upfront costs if you do it yourself.
Office supplies: Around $100-200 on items like printers, paper, pens, folders, envelopes, and other operational supplies.
How profitable is a freelance writing business?
The profitability of a freelance writing business can vary greatly depending on the writer’s experience, specialization, and client base. To calculate potential profitability, let’s consider the following hypothetical example:
Revenue: Assuming starting out, you charge an average of $40 per hour and work 20 hours per week. This would result in a weekly revenue of $800 and a monthly revenue of $3,200.
Expenses: Expenses for a freelance writing business are typically low. Let’s assume monthly expenses of $200 for things like website maintenance, marketing, and software subscriptions.
Using these assumptions, the monthly profit would be calculated as follows:
This means that under these assumptions, a freelance writer working part-time could potentially make a profit of $3,000 per month. However, it’s important to note that these are just estimates, and actual profits can vary.
What is the NAICS code for a freelance writing business?
The NAICS code for a freelance writing business is 711510, which is categorized under Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.