Business ideas
8 min read

How to Start a Profitable Freelance Writing Business [11 Steps]

Learn how to start a freelance writing business in 11+ steps. Discover tips for success, finding clients, and growing your business. Keywords: freelance writing, business, clients, success.

By Nick Cotter
Updated Feb 02, 2024

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This page may feature products from our affiliate partners, which could influence the products we discuss due to potential compensation. Despite this, our evaluations are impartial, based solely on our independent analysis. The content here is intended for informational purposes and should not be seen as legal advice. For professional guidance, consulting with a legal expert is recommended.
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1. Perform market analysis.

Embarking on a freelance writing business begins with a thorough market analysis. This foundational step helps you understand your competition, identify demand, and tailor your services to meet market needs. Follow these guidelines to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the writing landscape:

  • Research your target niche by evaluating what types of writing are in demand, such as technical writing, SEO content, or creative work.
  • Analyze your competition by looking at other freelance writers or agencies, noting their strengths, weaknesses, and pricing strategies.
  • Identify your potential clients and understand their needs and content consumption preferences.
  • Explore various freelancing platforms and online communities to gauge where your services might be most needed.
  • Stay updated with industry trends, including popular topics and emerging writing styles or platforms, to offer cutting-edge services.
  • Consider the global market, but also focus on local opportunities that might offer less competition and a more personalized approach.
  • Conduct surveys or interviews with potential clients to receive direct feedback about what they look for in a freelance writer.
image of a freelance writing business

Are freelance writing businesses profitable?

Freelance writing businesses can be very profitable, depending on the type of services offered and the writer's ability to market themselves and build a client base. The potential for profit is determined by factors such as how much time and effort the writer is willing to put into it and how marketable their services are. Additionally, setting competitive rates that are commensurate with the type of work being done will also impact profitability.

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2. Draft a freelance writing business plan.

Starting a freelance writing business requires careful planning and strategic thinking. A solid business plan will serve as a roadmap for your freelance journey, outlining your goals, strategies, and how you intend to operate your business. Here's a guide to help you draft a comprehensive freelance writing business plan:

  • Define your writing niche and services, considering your strengths and market demand.
  • Identify your target market, including potential clients and industries that require your writing expertise.
  • Research your competitors to understand their offerings and how to differentiate yourself.
  • Set clear business goals and objectives, both short-term and long-term, for growth and success.
  • Develop a marketing strategy that details how you will promote your services, including social media, content marketing, and networking.
  • Outline your pricing structure, taking into account your experience, the type of work, and industry rates.
  • Establish a financial plan, including anticipated income, expenses, and how you'll manage cash flow.
  • Create an operational plan that includes your business structure, administrative processes, and any tools or software needed for your writing business.

How does a freelance writing business make money?

Freelance writing businesses make money by providing written content for businesses or individuals who need text-based services. For example, a freelance writer could provide a step-by-step guide to help entrepreneurs start their own spice business. This could include information such as the steps to forming a legal entity, the tools and ingredients needed to get started, and best marketing practices for the business. Target audiences for this type of content would include aspiring spice business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking for resources on how to start their own business.

3. Develop a freelance writing brand.

Developing a freelance writing brand is crucial because it sets you apart from the competition and communicates your unique value proposition to potential clients. A strong brand resonates with your target audience and can help you build a loyal client base. Follow these steps to create a memorable and effective writing brand:

  • Identify Your Niche: Focus on a specific genre or industry that aligns with your expertise and interests. Specialization can make you more attractive to certain clients.
  • Define Your Brand Voice: Determine how you want to present yourself in your writing and interactions. Whether it's professional, conversational, or quirky, your voice should be consistent across all channels.
  • Create a Professional Online Presence: Design a website and social media profiles that reflect your brand, showcase your portfolio, and provide an easy way for clients to contact you.
  • Develop a Unique Value Proposition: Clearly articulate what makes your services better or different from other writers. Highlight your strengths and the benefits clients will receive.
  • Consistency is Key: Ensure all your marketing materials, from business cards to social media posts, reflect your brand identity and message consistently.
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How to come up with a name for your freelance writing business?

Coming up with a name for your freelance writing business is an important step in the process of becoming an independent writer. When searching for a name, it helps to reflect on what you want your brand to represent. Consider what kind of work you specialize in, and think about how that might fit into a clever name. Once you have some ideas, try out different combinations with words and phrases to create something unique. Finally, consider searching online for similar names or phrases to make sure you are not infringing on an existing business.

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4. Formalize your business registration.

Once you've laid the groundwork for your freelance writing business, it's time to make it official. Registering your business is a critical step, ensuring that you're recognized by the government and can operate legally. Below are the key steps to formalize your business registration:

  • Choose your business structure: Decide whether you'll operate as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or partnership.
  • Register your business name: If your business will have a name other than your own, file a 'Doing Business As' (DBA) or similar registration with the appropriate state agency.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN): Even if you don't plan to hire employees, an EIN is important for tax purposes and may be required to open a business bank account. Apply for free on the IRS website.
  • Register for state and local taxes: Depending on your location, you may need to register for a sales tax permit, income tax withholding, or other state-specific taxes.
  • Secure necessary permits and licenses: Check with your city or county government to find out if there are any required permits or licenses for your type of business.

Resources to help get you started:

Explore vital resources dedicated to assisting freelance writing entrepreneurs with market trends, operational best practices, and strategies for business expansion:

  • The Writer's Market: A comprehensive guide offering access to potential markets for writers, including magazines, publishers, and more. Visit site.
  • Copyblogger: Provides articles, ebooks, and seminars on content marketing, writing, and SEO for freelance writers and entrepreneurs. Visit site.
  • Content Marketing Institute: This site offers resources, research, and advice on content strategy and marketing, valuable for writers looking to enhance their services. Visit site.
  • The Creative Penn: Hosted by Joanna Penn, offering podcasts, articles, and courses on writing, publishing, and marketing books. Visit site.
  • Freelancers Union Blog: Provides a wealth of articles on freelance life, including legal advice, health insurance information, and ways to run your freelance business more effectively. Visit site.

5. Acquire necessary licenses and permits for freelance writing.

Beginning a freelance writing business involves understanding and complying with the legal requirements. Acquiring the necessary licenses and permits is crucial to operate legitimately and avoid any legal complications. Below is a guide to help you navigate this step:

  • Business License: Check with your local city or county government to determine if a general business license is required to legally operate as a freelancer in your area.
  • DBA (Doing Business As): If you're operating under a name different from your legal name, you may need to file a DBA with the appropriate state or local agency.
  • Home Occupation Permit: If you plan to work from home, this permit ensures that your business activities comply with local zoning laws.
  • Professional Licenses: While typically not required for freelance writers, verify if your niche or type of writing service requires any special professional licenses.
  • Tax Registration: Depending on your location, you may need to register for a state sales tax license or a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), especially if you plan to hire subcontractors.
  • Other Permits: Research any additional permits that may pertain to your specific writing services, such as permissions for public signage if your freelance business has a physical location.

What licenses and permits are needed to run a freelance writing business?

In order to run a freelance writing business, you will need permits and licenses specific to the state you are operating in. Depending on your location, these may include a general business license, a seller’s permit, and a Tax Identification Number (TIN). Additionally, you may need a professional license if you are providing certain types of services that require specialized training, such as legal or medical writing.

6. Open a business bank account and secure funding as needed.

Opening a business bank account is a crucial step in establishing your freelance writing business and helps to separate your personal and business finances. Additionally, securing the right type of funding can empower you to invest in essential resources and grow your business. Here are some steps to guide you through this process:

  • Research banks and credit unions that offer business banking services. Look for accounts with low fees, easy access, and good customer support.
  • Prepare the necessary documentation, which typically includes your business registration, EIN (Employer Identification Number), and personal identification.
  • Apply for a business bank account either online or in person, and deposit the minimum amount required to open the account.
  • Explore funding options, such as personal savings, loans from friends or family, small business loans, or lines of credit if you need additional capital to start or expand your business.
  • Consider alternative funding sources like grants for writers, crowdfunding platforms, or freelance marketplaces that offer advances on projects.
  • Maintain a clear budget for your business expenses and revenue to manage your finances effectively and plan for future growth.

7. Set pricing for freelance writing services.

Setting the right prices for your freelance writing services is crucial to attracting clients while valuing your expertise and time. Consider the following factors to determine a pricing structure that works for you and your clients.

  • Understand Your Value: Assess your experience, niche expertise, and the quality of your work. Consider how these factors differentiate you and allow you to command higher rates.
  • Research Market Rates: Look into what other freelancers with similar skills and experience are charging. This will give you a competitive benchmark for your own pricing.
  • Choose a Pricing Model: Decide whether you'll charge by the hour, by the word, or a flat rate per project. Each has its own advantages, so select the one that aligns with your work style and industry standards.
  • Factor in Business Costs: Your rates should cover not just the time you spend writing, but also the time and resources spent on research, revisions, communication, and marketing, as well as business expenses like software and taxes.
  • Be Flexible: Be prepared to negotiate and adjust your rates for larger projects, long-term clients, or higher volume work. Offering different packages or tiered pricing can also accommodate various client budgets.
  • Communicate Value Clearly: When proposing rates to clients, always highlight the value and return on investment your writing provides. This can justify your rates and demonstrate your professionalism.

What does it cost to start a freelance writing business?

Initiating a freelance writing business can involve substantial financial commitment, the scale of which is significantly influenced by factors such as geographical location, market dynamics, and operational expenses, among others. Nonetheless, our extensive research and hands-on experience have revealed an estimated starting cost of approximately $2150 for launching such an business. Please note, not all of these costs may be necessary to start up your freelance writing business.

8. Acquire freelance writing equipment and supplies.

As you embark on your freelance writing journey, having the right equipment and supplies is crucial for maintaining productivity and delivering quality work. You don't need a lot of fancy gadgets, but a few essentials can make a significant difference. Here are some must-have items to get you started:

  • Laptop or Desktop Computer: Invest in a reliable computer with sufficient processing power and memory to handle various writing and research tasks.
  • High-Speed Internet Connection: A fast and stable internet connection is essential for research, communication with clients, and submitting work.
  • Word Processing Software: Choose a software like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Scrivener for writing and editing your documents.
  • Ergonomic Chair and Desk: Maintain your health with an ergonomic setup to prevent strain during long writing sessions.
  • External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage Service: Backup your work regularly to protect against data loss.
  • Notebooks and Writing Utensils: For jotting down ideas and brainstorming when you're away from your computer.
  • Planner or Digital Calendar: Keep track of deadlines, client meetings, and your writing schedule.
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones: Block out distractions and focus on your writing, especially if you work in a noisy environment.

List of software, tools and supplies needed to start a freelance writing business:

  • Computer: $300-$1500
  • Internet Access: $30-$1000/month
  • Word Processing Software: Free programs like Google Docs, but Microsoft Office is $99
  • Accounting Software: QuickBooks Self-Employed starts from $5 per month
  • Project Management Software: Asana, JIRA, Trello and are free for basic options and range from $9-$30/month for advanced versions
  • Marketing Tools: Hootsuite starts from free, Salesforce from $25/month
  • Storage Space: DropBox starts from free, iCloud from $0.99/month
  • Website/Blog Platform: Wix offers plans as low as $4.50/month
  • Image Editing Software: Adobe Photoshop is up to $20.99/month
  • Business Cards: Around $19.99 for 500 cards

9. Obtain business insurance for freelance writing, if required.

As a freelance writer, obtaining business insurance can protect you from various risks, including liability and property damage. It's essential to assess the types of insurance required for your specific business needs. Here are some key steps to consider when seeking insurance:

  • Evaluate your risks: Think about the potential legal issues you could face, such as copyright infringement claims or client disputes over contracts.
  • Research insurance types: Common insurance types for freelancers include Professional Liability Insurance (also known as Errors & Omissions Insurance) and General Liability Insurance.
  • Compare quotes: Contact multiple insurance providers to compare coverage options and premiums. Look for policies tailored to freelance professionals.
  • Read the fine print: Carefully review the terms and conditions of each policy to understand what is covered and any exclusions or deductibles.
  • Consider bundling policies: Sometimes, insurers offer discounts if you purchase multiple types of insurance from them.
  • Review annually: Your insurance needs may change over time, so it's important to review and adjust your coverage as your business grows and evolves.

10. Begin marketing your freelance writing services.

Now that you're ready to take your freelance writing business to the next level, it's crucial to attract clients and build your brand. Marketing your services effectively will help you stand out in a crowded market. Here are some strategies to get you started:

  • Develop a Professional Website: Create a website that showcases your portfolio, writing services, testimonials, and contact information. Ensure it's optimized for search engines (SEO) to increase visibility.
  • Utilize Social Media: Engage with potential clients on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Share your content, network with other professionals, and advertise your services.
  • Content Marketing: Start a blog or contribute to publications in your niche to demonstrate your writing skills and expertise, driving traffic to your site.
  • Networking: Attend industry events, webinars, and workshops to meet potential clients and collaborators.
  • Referral Program: Offer incentives for existing clients to refer new clients to you, expanding your client base organically.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list and send out newsletters with updates, promotions, and useful content to keep your audience engaged.
  • Paid Advertising: Invest in targeted ads on social media or Google to reach potential clients actively looking for freelance writing services.
>> MORE:

What licenses and permits are needed to run a freelance writing business?

  • Computer: $300-$1500
  • Internet Access: $30-$1000/month
  • Word Processing Software: Free programs like Google Docs, but Microsoft Office is $99
  • Accounting Software: QuickBooks Self-Employed starts from $5 per month
  • Project Management Software: Asana, JIRA, Trello and are free for basic options and range from $9-$30/month for advanced versions
  • Marketing Tools: Hootsuite starts from free, Salesforce from $25/month
  • Storage Space: DropBox starts from free, iCloud from $0.99/month
  • Website/Blog Platform: Wix offers plans as low as $4.50/month
  • Image Editing Software: Adobe Photoshop is up to $20.99/month
  • Business Cards: Around $19.99 for 500 cards

11. Expand your freelance writing business.

Expanding your freelance writing business is essential for building a sustainable career. With a focus on growth, you can increase your income, build a diverse client base, and establish a strong reputation in the industry. Consider the following strategies:

  • Network Strategically: Attend industry events, join writing groups, and connect with peers on social media to build relationships that may lead to new opportunities.
  • Refine Your Niche: Specialize in specific topics or industries where you can offer expert knowledge and command higher rates.
  • Invest in Marketing: Create a professional website, utilize SEO techniques, and engage on platforms like LinkedIn to attract clients.
  • Offer Additional Services: Diversify your offerings by including editing, content strategy, or social media management to provide more value to clients.
  • Seek Passive Income: Write ebooks, create courses, or start a blog to generate revenue alongside your client work.
  • Request Referrals: Encourage satisfied clients to refer others to you and consider offering incentives for successful referrals.
  • Outsource Tasks: Delegate administrative tasks to virtual assistants or collaborate with other freelancers to increase your capacity for more writing projects.