Beginner's guide to freelance writing
This article covers a super easy step-by-step guide for beginner to learn how to become a freelance content writer in Singapore.
It was the early mid-2019 when I came into realization that I wanted to curate my life and live a lifestyle at my own pace.
I wanted to work on projects by myself and live life a little slower especially in a busy city like Singapore. That’s when I figured that I want to become a full-time freelancer.
Yes, I’m a newbie full-time freelance writer (and website designer) with only a year of experience.
I’m no expert to give advice but I can share with you my journey and experience. Please read on till the end to learn how you can also become a freelance content writer in Singapore.
Make use of the ‘Table Of Content’ to navigate around easier. (It’s right below).
#1 Be realistic
Skepticism is on the rise especially here in Singapore as people are always being targeted by those “Get rich fast schemes” advertisements.
It is important for you to know that “Get rich fast schemes” doesn’t work the way you imagine it to be.
In reality, freelancing takes away your money, effort, time and lots of patience in order to make it work.
How much can a full-time freelance writer earn per month at the start?
I started out as a freelance website designer at the beginning because I was directed down that path while I did my research.
For the first month, I earned kosong (SGD $0) because I was still setting up my foundation and doing all the preparation like building my website, creating accounts on freelancing platforms, and doing a lot of self-learning.
In the second month, I made $1080 with my first client (see whatsapp screenshot). I’m probably just lucky I guess…
Looking back now, I’m glad that I planted the seed to start freelancing. Read on to learn why.
Is it true that anyone can get rich fast being a freelancer?
It’s kind of subjective when the word ‘rich’ is being used.
If the definition of ‘rich’ meant that extra few hundreds per month to you, then the answer is yes you can get ‘rich’.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t agree that you can earn like SGD $1,000 to SGD $3,000 immediately when you start your career as a freelancer.
It’s like no one on earth is able to run immediately when they’re born. Even for baby birds, they have to practice a few times before they can take off towards the sky.
It’s about being disciplined, consistent with your work and how determined you are to continue down this path of freelancing.
This purpose of you being a freelance content writer must be so strong that it becomes a driving factor to push you to continue.
What’s the ideal roadmap for a freelance writer in Singapore?
Just imagine, you only need:
- 2 clients paying $150 a week, it could generate you $1200 a month.
- 5 clients paying $300 a week for a more in-depth blog article, it could generate you $6000 per month!
But as mentioned above, being a freelancer writer really requires a ton of time, effort, practice and patience.
It’s not a “Get rich quick” passport and if you are only a part-time freelance content writer (or a beginner), it may even be a huge challenge for some of you to hit that SGD$1000 per month target.
It’s not impossible but it just takes time and determination for you to build your way up.
On average, it could take about 2 or 3 months to see results. The question is, “How much perseverance do you have?”
Money shouldn’t be the only pushing factor to become a freelancer
I would like to emphasise that curatorsuite is not build to promote “Get Rich Quick Scheme”.
When I joined curatorsuite to be one of their full-time freelance content writers, I wanted to express my thoughts genuinely into a piece of content where it truly helps people to simplify the small little decisions that we have to make daily.
It brings me joy to write useful articles as it feels like a way for me to contribute back to society.
This brings me to the next point on how I became a freelance writer while designing websites.
#2. Develop the skill of copywriting
Being a website designer, I wanted to help business owners to refine and touch up on their existing content in their websites.
So, I picked up a skill known as ‘Copywriting’.
Copywriting is the process where content writers writes professional advertising and promotional materials that is so compelling that makes the readers takes action.
For example, instead of using ‘Book A Holiday Now’, the copywriter could transform this sentence to ‘Book a date with Blue Skies, Sandy Beach & Martini now.’
#3. Work hard and work smart
There are thousands of marketers and business owners worldwide that are looking for a freelance content writer to design, create and format digital info products for them.
So, how do you stand out?
One of the ways could be lowering your price for high quality work but I understand that it’s not a sustainable method for your freelancing career.
There’s a software programme called Sqribble where you can create eBooks in Minutes.
I stand by my principles and that is ‘Never devalue my time and effort.’
Instead of doing all the work manually, I’ll look for ways on how technology can streamline the process and help me deliver results to my clients in a more efficient manner.
That’s when I can actually sustain your freelancing career by charging my rates slightly lower and at the same time take in more clients.
#4. Identify specific clients that you want to help
One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made it not able to identify my ideal customers and target audience at the start.
It’s important that you know who you want to help simply because you can’t just treat everyone as your client.
If everyone is your client, you can easily sidetrack and get yourself confused on how to market your services.
The next step is to identify where your ideal clients would hang around (in other words, where can you find them)
Some of the platforms includes:
- Marketing Forums
- Facebook groups
#5. Understand your target audience inside out
When it comes to creating content, there are 3 ways that a business owner (your client) can deal with. Let’s use eBook as an example and take a look below.
Route 1 – Do it themselves.
They can create an eBook by themselves.
But it can easily take days, weeks or even months to design, write and create a decent ebook/ free report that people want to download, buy or actually read.
Route 2 – Outsource
They may consider to let the professionals do the work.
It may be too costly to hire a local agency so another option may be hiring freelancers.
It is challenging to find a suitable freelance content writer in Singapore because there’s a lot of uncertainty to the quality of their work.
Route 3 – Hire an In-house professional to use complicated software
The last method is to hire a professional as their direct employee. Do you know that many marketers are using software programmes like AI, PDF, PS, CSS & FI just to create eBooks and other digital info-products?
The cost will add up fast to hire talents and purchase all the software programmes.
The purpose of the above exercise is to crawl inside the mind of your ideal customers and think like them.
From there, you can:
- know where to find them;
- provide valuable solution and ideas on how to overcome their problems;
- and how much to charge them.
#6. Don’t be afraid of failure
There may be a hundred different ways for you to look for clients. However, the results that you get may often varies from the other content writers even though, the same strategy was implemented.
Often, people claimed that freelancing doesn’t work but that’s because they only did freelance for a few months and they gave up.
The only way for you to find a business strategy that works for you is to try it out.
Simply pick one business strategy that you think it’s the most appropriate based on your current circumstances, your ideal client and then constantly refine the strategy.
Simple strategies that a beginner freelance writer can implement immediately
Here’s one example that is based on point number 5. (It’s for freelancers that creates eBooks.)
- Aside from getting jobs from freelancing platforms, you can hunt for clients on LinkedIn, Facebook and also search on Google. The purpose is to find companies that already have an existing eBook on their websites. Then, reach out to them by emailing or calling them. Instead of focusing on promoting your services, provide solutions on how you can help them. For instance, you have downloaded their eBook and then share with them what are the area of improvement They’re usually happy to hear you out.
Or (If the above strategy isn’t suitable for you, try the next one)
- Build your social media followers on a specific nice (e.g. Health & Fitness). Once you’ve hit 1000 followers (for example), you can create an eBook to sell on your social media. Usually your audience will buy your eBook no matter what it looks like because they are your supporters. If you have 1000 followers, 10% (100 of them) buy your eBook that cost $10, you’ll receive $1000 for doing a one-time job. The best part is that it’ll be recurring for a lifetime when you have more followers and as long as your supporters grow, they will continue to buy from you.
Or (If the above strategy isn’t suitable for you, try the next one)
#7. Prepare yourself mentally
Here’s the brutal truth – Freelancing is really not going to be easy at the start.
If time could be rewind, I wouldn’t have just quit my full-time job and jump into freelancing without any plans.
I would rather start as a part-time freelancer and until I am certain that my freelance work can fully support my lifestyle then, I’ll transit into a full-timer.
I’ve experienced earning nothing for a few months and it’s rather depressing.
The thing is, school doesn’t teach you how to become a freelancer. There’s a lot of trial and error that I have to test it out by myself.
So what if I’ve attended some paid courses, the instructor won’t be by my side to guide me throughout the entire journey.
If you were to ask me have I ever considered about going back to the workforce, well, the answer is yes.
But, I didn’t because it all goes back to the core intention of why I want to be a freelancer in the first place (which I’ve mentioned in the introduction above).
#8. Beware of the ‘shiny object syndrome’
Starting out, I’ve experienced the ‘shiny object syndrome’ (meaning to follow the latest trend and wanting to do everything).
It’s really not possible for anyone to do well in everything. Period.
When I haven’t even master website designing and build up my portfolio, I wanted to start an eCommerce store, be a content writer, build a massive Instagram account, run Facebook Ads and do all those ‘proven-to-be-successful’ marketing strategy that can help me earn more side income.
In the end, I wasted so much time and money which can be invested back into just doing website designing.
I personally think that it’s best that you stick to one skill and be really good at it before you move on to the next. Right now, my focus is in content writing and web designing.
#9. Brainstorm for a proper business workflow
Many times, prospects (especially business owners in Singapore) like to compare across multiple freelance writers in Singapore.
They prefer to meet you in person first before considering if you are a suitable candidate.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach but the overall workflow can be managed in a more efficient way without them wasting your time.
What you can do is to ‘qualify’ your prospects over a phone or skype call before arranging for a face-to-face meeting.
Here are some questions you can ask the prospects over the phone first to eliminate the possibility of the prospect wasting your time:
- “What would business be like if we were to work together”;
- “What are you looking for in a freelance writer?”; or
- “My rate starts from SGD$X amount, are you comfortable with that?”.
#10. Stand firm on your ground when dealing with nonsense
In conjunction to to point number 7 & 9, you have to be mentally prepared that freelancing is not as simple as design, write and sell your work to the clients.
There’s going to be a lot of back and forth when it comes to editing and proofreading your content. In short, there will be a lot of revisions after you’ve delivered your work.
Be sure to layout the number of changes/ revisions allowed very clearly with your client. If they insist to make more changes, you have your rights to charge a small revision fee.
#11. Stay extremely organised
When you’ve decided to become a freelance writer, you’re actually really a ‘sai kang warrior’ (a person that does everything for the business).
No offence but I’m one myself too.
I am the accountant, admin, salesperson, writer, designer, customer support, and everything else.
There will be instances where I have to handle multiple projects at one given time and it can become really confusing to track all the deadlines, ensure proper editing, manage each and every client’s request, etc.
Above all the other roles that I have to play, being an organised person is the most important responsibility that I need to have.
This means you have to stay extremely organized and only take up projects that you can handle. The last thing you want is get your reputation tarnished for bad service and low quality work because you’re struggling to handle everything by yourself.
#12. Consider investing in tools and software to help you
A common dilemma that I’ve faced as a freelance writer is to invest in tools and software when I’m broke.
Think of it as this perspective instead, “Why would people spend hundreds of dollars on a monthly membership to gym when they could exercising at home, at the park or at the community club?”
It has a psychological explanation actually.
There’s a much stronger motivation for people to work harder, persevere and continue until they get back what’s worth the money that they’ve spent/ invest.
To me, it worked really well.
Either way, if you’re considering to be a freelance writer in Singapore, it’s optional but good to consider investing in useful tools like Sqribble to help you.
In A Nutshell
I hope this article will help you find success to become a freelance writer in Singapore.
There’s definitely room for everyone in this industry and I believe that the more we help each other, the more we can help ourselves.
Don’t be shy and just leave any of your queries or suggestions in the comment section below, my team and I will try to revert as early as possible.