Ten tips to succeed as a freelance writer, whatever your niche

top tips to succeed as a freelance writer

It’s Monday morning. There’s another email in my LinkedIn inbox from a well-meaning recruiter, asking if I am interested in switching to a permanent role. This happens almost every Monday and my reply is always the same: I’m very happy freelancing, I’m not looking for a permanent role right now. In all honesty, I’m not sure when I’ll next look for a permanent job (you’re welcome to keep trying, though, recruiters).

I really do love freelancing. 

Don’t be fooled. Spending too long on social media would have you believe in six figure salaries, a relentless flow of work, and (somehow, despite the flow of work) 3-hour working days. If only it was that simple. The perks are there, but you have to work hard to unlock them, taking good care of your mental health along the way.

You know from my blogs that I believe in accountability and honesty. So, this piece contains my top ten tips on finding success as a freelance writer, whatever your niche.

Ten tips to succeed as a freelance writer

Get writing

Writing is my business, so this comes first. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for a client or not. Just write. Publishing your own work will help you build a body of work to show potential clients (here’s mine). 

Keep sharpening your skills whenever you have a moment and embrace the ability to manage your own CPD. Research is such an important skill for a health or medical writer to master, so whether you are keeping up to speed with the latest SEO advice or looking into how to draft a white paper, it all counts.

Plan your marketing strategy

I expect you’ll have lurked for a while, trying to work out how to get people jumping onto your website or sliding into those DMs (I hear that’s what people do these days!) Now it’s time to jump in yourself: get posting on your social media platform/s of choice, planning blog posts and growing that email list. 

Choose wisely though, because it can get addictive. And marketing is not your business (unless marketing is your business, of course). Choose platforms you will enjoy creating content for and in time you’ll be able to assess the impact on your business.  

For me, LinkedIn and Instagram have always been my platforms of choice, with LinkedIn taking priority. I also blog semi-regularly, with some support. In 2024, I plan to grow an email list to take my marketing to the next level.

Use content pillars

To take some of the stress out of the last tip, let content pillars guide you. Content pillars are themes or topics of your brand that you focus on to create content. They represent what you stand for as a business, allowing you to create a narrative that will resonate with your chosen target audience.

Once decided, they are really useful in creating your social media posting schedule too. I have four pillars. Each post I put out aligns with one of my pillars. For me, this takes a little bit of procrastination out of creating content as I focus on these pillars each posting cycle. 

Find your freelance crowd

Don’t dismiss networking as a great way to boost your freelance business. The conversations you have with other like-minded characters create confidence and momentum, which is essential in the early days. You’ll reap the rewards of checking in with other professionals throughout your journey and inspiring each other to grow.

Pitch! Yes, I know it’s scary…

It’s amazing when work finds you, but if you’re just starting out, it may not be that simple. You may have to approach companies or businesses to offer your services. And that can be scary. So practice. 

Draft emails that you could send out to potential clients and compare notes with your freelance community to build confidence. Add people on LinkedIn who you’d love to work with and send a personalised note. 

Then send, send, send: you’ll never know unless you try.

Stay connected 

I’ll let you into a secret: almost all of my work comes from existing connections. Either people I worked with in a previous life or clients I’ve re-connected with. 

Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in the search for more. More clients, more followers, more services. So, pause. Don’t forget your existing contacts. Those you’ve written for before, connected with in the past or even worked alongside. Keep those relationships strong, as you never quite know when they will need your support again. 

Keep a rolling document of all conversations (mine is in an Excel spreadsheet, but other programs are available), even if you think they aren’t promising. You never quite know when checking back in will lead to something exciting.

Always be accountable

This is all about quality assurance for me. Put pride into what you do from the beginning of your freelance journey and you will be repaid for it in the future. Demonstrating a consistently professional work product and attitude will create an impressive reputation over time, and reputation is huge as a freelancer. 

You’ll soon discover the power of credibility when networking and how quickly people value your voice. Back that up with an impressive portfolio and it won’t be long before word of mouth is bringing you outbound leads. 

Find your flow and manage distractions

This one is really important to me – my brain is easily distracted, unless it’s really interested in something (hello, hyperfocus). No matter how many posts you read about other freelancers’ preferences, you’ll only find your own way through experience. You’ll soon discover that consistency is an amazing thing…but it is also rare in the world of freelance writing. 

Even when I try my very best to structure a day (or even week) of work, things crop up. Every bit of feedback is useful learning. Every email is a potential client. Every social media ping an exciting new follower. 

Finding flow is achievable, but you have to be strict with managing your distractions. Top tip: put that phone away in a drawer. 

Outsource

When you start out, you do everything yourself, likely out of necessity. But there might come a time when you can afford a little help. 

I know this can be really difficult. Some people find it hard to let go of a little bit of their business. I look at this differently though. This is me putting a piece of the puzzle into trustworthy hands so I can keep growing. 

The bigger your business gets, the more amazing ideas you dream up to continue the growth. At some point you may need some help. And that’s ok. You have to think of your business as just that: A business

Enjoy what you do and stay positive

Read the thoughts of others, engage with their discussions, but stay true to your own path. It’s easy to get distracted by the projected glamour of social media success; especially when imposter syndrome kicks in.

If you’re anything like me, you probably scribbled down your business plan in your trusty diary at the start. Keep it close by. Revisit it when you need to remind yourself what your plan was to begin with. My top tip to reigniting some positivity if you’re feeling uninspired is to arrange a chat with another freelancer you have a good relationship with. You’ll come away reminded of all your mini successes, empowered to get stuck in and continue growing your business.

So there you have it. My top ten tips to succeed as a freelance writer, whatever your niche. I hope you found these tips helpful!


Thank you so much for reading. I’m always open to networking and I’d love to compare tips with you.

Did you know I also offer one-to-one mentoring? If you’re interested in talking through some more top tips from a health writer with a decade of experience, just get in touch.

Take a look at my previous blogs to learn a little bit more about my story and some of the areas I’ve written about. 

Reach out if you want to connect on a health writing project.

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