6 Tips for Setting up a Freelance Writing Business

We all want more freedom and more space to do the things we most enjoy in life. If you crave breaking away from the 9-5, and writing is your thing, setting up a freelance writing business could be your dream. It can offer the flexibility of working the hours that most suit you, from any location you choose.

However, when you go freelance, you’re going into business – and if you hope to succeed, you need to be business-like in your approach from day one. Here are 6 tips to help you turn your freelance pipedream into reality.

1. Prepare financially

Switching to a freelance career or not, everyone should know their basic cost of living, or the minimum needed to cover the bills and food each week. If you are contemplating leaving a salaried job to start freelance writing, set aside extra savings (if you can) that will cover your living expenses for a period of time once you leave your job.

Alternatively, if it won’t cause issues with your employer, start your business and begin engaging in activities to build your client base before you take the leap out of employment. When you start out, finding clients yourself can be a struggle. Building up your client base will take time, so consider asking some of the copywriting agencies in your region  if they are looking for any additional writers.

Desk and computer

2. Set your business up correctly so you’re ready to trade

These are a few things to consider when setting up any business. If you’ve only ever worked as an employee, you’re likely to need to:

  • Register an ABN (Australian Business Number)
  • If you want to trade under a business name instead of your personal name, register the business name with ASIC.
  • Register a domain name;
  • Speak to an accountant about business structure and tax issues relevant to your circumstances;
  • Set up a website and social channels

3. Protect yourself

Agreements and contracts don’t just cover you if a client situation turns awry; they help to clarify expectations on either side – by setting out what you will supply and what the client can expect. They minimise the risk of misunderstandings and disputes. Decide how you will go about making agreements for copywriting work with your clients and either create your own templates or have a lawyer do it for you.  There’s also a helpful guide for freelance copywriters online at Legal123.


4. Have a backup plan

At this stage, it’s important to have a backup plan in case things don’t pan out quite the way you expected. In an ideal world, we would reach every goal the first time we try, however life isn’t that simple. If you’re leaving a stable income, have a back up plan and decide on the circumstances when it would be time to find employment if you aren’t finding enough regular freelance work. A solution could be taking up a part time job while you continue your efforts to establish a stable client base.

Whatever set back you experience, don’t give up – consider it a valuable lesson that will help you build a stronger business.

5. Build a portfolio

Start creating a digital portfolio to showcase your work. If you have articles featured anywhere online, ask your clients’ permission to post them up via a link to their website. For work not published online, create a PDF portfolio, or use a document creation platform to create a visually attractive portfolio of your work.

6. Garner social proof

Customers frequently make purchase decisions based on testimonials, reviews, referrals and recommendations, which is why it’s vital to add social proof in every place where a sales decision is made. This includes your ‘about’ or bio page, and on social media. Don’t bunch every review in a ‘testimonials’ section where prospective clients might not look.

One more thing that almost goes without saying, is to learn as much as you can about best practices, and stay up to date with emerging trends. It’s particularly important as we enter the era of generative AI – writers who are able to use AI tools for topic research, ideation, and article outlines, will soon (if they’re not already) be in higher demand than those who can’t. There are plenty of online courses, either free or inexpensive, that you can take advantage of to upskill – and the best time to do it is while you’re starting out and work is still a bit slow!

Article Writers Australia is a writing agency providing copywriting and content services across Australia and New Zealand.

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