How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer

How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer

There is an unfortunate misconception out there about the viability of freelancing as a career choice. Most writers seem to assume that freelance work is quite simply there to augment current income: money earned from freelance work is enough to buy that Blu-ray player you’ve been eyeing over the past while. The truth is that if you use your time effectively and market yourself well, the income earned from freelancing may well be surprising – so much so, in fact, that you might see the advantages of starting your own business.

Understanding the Business

Before jumping in to start a new company, the person in question should spend time researching the business to understand more about what owning a freelancing business will actually be like. There is little worse than going to all the effort of starting up a new venture to decide that it doesn’t live up to initial expectations. Invest the time upfront before taking the plunge.

Business Plan

While a business plan is usually only required for companies seeking start-up funding, a business plan is a good idea for any new business to have. A business plan outlines items such as the company’s mission statement, expected expenses, marketing plan, goals, and direction. Freelancers unsure of where to start should contact someone familiar with developing business plans for support and guidance.

Small Business Requirements

Every small business is required to follow government requirements for opening a business in South Africa as well as applying to SARS for the relevant tax requirements, acquiring business insurance, and complying with local zoning requirements. Contact your local small business council to find out exactly what will be needed to start up a new freelancing business.


A freelancing company doesn’t need much in terms of equipment but there are some basic essentials necessary to do freelance work. Freelance writers will need a computer, a printer, an Internet connection, and a phone line for client communication. A flash drive to move work from computer to computer comes in handy as well.

Dedicated Space

Any writer will say that one of their keys of success is having a dedicated space to do their work. Even if the new freelancing business is home-based, having a room that can be use primarily for work related purposes will help to keep the freelancer organized and on task. The best kind of space will have equipment close at hand and a door that can be shut to keep out family and other distractions while working.


Owning a business involves a lot more than just the freelance work. There are aspects of running a company – marketing, bookkeeping, organization – these are all time sucking tasks that take away from productive and profits. Learning to streamline, utilize resources and outsource certain tasks it the path to running a freelancing business.

Legal & Copyright Support

Unfortunately times will arise where a freelance company will need legal support. This could be the result of a copyright infringement issue or it could be a client that refuses to pay for work provided. Whatever the reason, operating a freelance business requires professional contracts and the occasional help of an attorney who understand freelancing issues and needs.


A new freelancing business should make it a priority to join at least one local business organisation. Small business organisations, chamber of commerce companies and local writing associations all provide the opportunity for a freelancer to meet new people and clients. These types of organisations are also great for sparking new ideas and avenues for business.


The key to marketing a new freelance business is to start small. Since most new freelancing companies are not going to have a lot of funding, costly marketing campaigns and landing big projects from the onset are most likely out of the question. Start doing small jobs, potentially even working for free to gain experience. This will not only help a new freelance business acquire professional experience but it will also help the company learn just how much work they can realistically take on as they slowly build their clientele base and workload. Marketing is the answer to jumpstarting a new freelance business.

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