How to Land Freelance Writing Jobs Without a Degree (Dropout to 5K/Mo)
“Can I be a writer without a degree”?
There are ways to earn money writing online that don’t require any degree, experience, or connections
I’ve built a freelance writing career earning 5K+/month from scratch and didn’t need a degree to do it. Now I work from home, make my own hours, and travel year-round (and film it) while making good money.
Life is good…
Actually, I dropped out of college (My dad didn’t know until he read this)…he’s kinda pissed.
I’m gonna cover which writing jobs you can do without a degree, what you need to get started, and where to find them.
Ⅰ: What You Need to be a Freelance Writer (Definitely not a College Degree!)
I started this whole Freelanceaholic journey as an English teacher. I worked full time (For next to nothing), and built my career at night.
I landed my first client in a matter of days. In less than 2 months I was a full-time freelance writer.
I was FREE!
Here’s all you need:
- A Computer: You can literally just use a Chromebook (Less than $200) for writing. All you need is Google Docs. Whatever contraption you have now will work just fine.
- A PayPal Account: PayPal is evil and the fees suck but it’s the easiest way to accept payments as a freelancer with 0 experience. Suck it up and open one.
- A Portfolio: You DON’T NEED an expensive website. You can use a FREE portfolio like Journoportfolio.com. Open an account and put a few samples up (I’ll explain ALL ABOUT this in the next section – quitcherbitching’).
- Skype: This is the easiest way to call clients. Free to use.
Ⅱ: Which Kind of Writing Jobs DON’T Require a Degree, Kevin?
I hate to break it to all the English majors reading this, but not a single client will EVER care about your degree.
I’ve written for an army of clients across god knows how many niches, and not a single one has asked about my education.
They care about what you can do for them. What you can produce.
They want RESULTS. Not DEGREES.
"You have to go to college to be successful" - Some overworked/underpaid teacher who has 0 clue what they're talking about
Here are 5 jobs you can start instantly with a bit of determination and willingness to learn (No degree needed):
Web Content Writer
Becoming a content writer is the fastest and easiest way to break into freelance writing.
Quality content is in HUGE demand and companies are hiring skilled writers in massive numbers. I get asked almost daily by friends in my industry if I know anyone that can write for them.
If you want to blog about anything and make money, this is it.
- Write coherently in English?
- Research a range of topics from Toy Story to Florida Personal Injury lawsuit settlement FAQ (I’ve written on both)?
- Format a blog properly – intro, body, conclusion?
That’s seriously all you need. I landed my first client in a matter of days.
Then boom!…Money started rolling in.
Check out my article on how to become a content writer fast. It details the step-by-step process I used to land my first clients from scratch.
Copywriters make about $60k/year on average according to Glassdoor. No degree required. And all from home or anywhere in the world for that matter.
Copywriters, by definition, are handsome, good smelling men and women that write ads or text for marketing. Actually, we just sit in our underwear and try to sell shit.
You’ll be writing things like sales pages, landing pages, ads, brochures, and other neat-o stuff.
I know some copywriters that make $5,000 for a SINGLE PAGE of copy. I’ve made $1,000 in one shot from writing sales pages before. In the beginning, I was making $80/hr without much experience copywriting for company websites.
Funny, I don’t have a degree and I keep getting regular work….I guess schools lie to you.
Wanna get some great inspiration for copywriting? Check out Swiped.co for discussion and examples of great copy and marketing in general.
Writing emails is a completely different beast altogether from sales page/landing pages, so it gets its own spot.
- Write succinctly
- Speak conversationally to a targeted audience
- Pique a readership’s curiosity
- Write fun email subject lines that get people to clikkity click
Then start writing emails for $$$. I know a high-end email copywriter getting $200 PER EMAIL. I personally charged about half of that back when I was writing emails for an eCom agency.
Amazon Listing Copywriter
Benefits. Benefits. Benefits.
Pain points. Pain points. Pain points.
Positioning. Positioning. Positioning.
These listings don’t write themselves (Though most look like they do). This one SUCKS. HIRE ME WHOEVER THIS COMPANY IS!
You can easily fetch $100+ per listing. I don’t write too many anymore, but I still get about $200/listing. Think about it: If a company has 10,000 daily visitors and your listing results in even a 2% uptick, that’s 200 more sales.
Do the math!
Press Release Writer
This is a different, more specialized form of content writing.
I used to get about $70 – $100 per press release. They’re wicked easy and you can probably bang 2 of them out while cooking, feeding your baby, doing a Sudoku, and Tweeting about a political issue you have 0 understanding of.
$$$ in your pocket and all you did was the same shit you did before, except write a press release while doing it.
Can you write this kind of stuff?:
Lead sentence that succinctly summarizes the 6 W’s:
- wHow (I’m trying, here)
About the Company
Cool, you can easily get paid to write these types of pieces. Wouldn’t be surprised if you could make $500/mo or more as a side hustle just from these.
Want to get started writing press releases? Here’s a sample release that I got $60 for and it took me less than an hour. I’m telling you, it’s formulaic. Just F****** copy this format. I’m giving you exactly what to do.
Ⅲ: What You Need to Land Your First Client in 2019/20
OK, you’ve made this far. That means one of two things:
- You’re bored out of your F****** mind and have nothing better to do but read some Schmuck’s blog that he wrote hungover as hell in his apartment in Ho Chi Minh city
2. You’re determined to start a writing career and are ready to bag your first client
Could be a bit of both, who knows.
Anyways, landing freelance writing clients is so easy these days. Don’t listen to the people who say it’s too hard. They just suck.
Here’s what you need:
3.1: A Few Samples
Choose which kind of writing you want to get into and write a few samples.
If you want to be a content writer, just google blogs in a niche you like and use those as the blueprint. Write 3-5 500-word blogs on any topic you like. This is the easiest way.
If you want to write Amazon listings, just go to Amazon and find products you like and write your own samples based on those.
Press releases? Do the same.
TIP: Clients often want to see published work. If you’re a total beginner, you ain’t got none. I didn’t have any either. Whenever clients asked for published work I told them I had “non disclosure” agreements (Whatever the hell that means), so I couldn’t show them.
3.2: A Portfolio at Journoportfolio.com
This was my first portfolio. It’s all you need to get started…kill me.
Set up a free portfolio and slap your samples up there.
Now, this is very important.
DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I AND MOST OTHER WRITERS MAKE.
Most writers – myself included – are way too bland, boring, and basic with their bios or taglines.
Do not just write generic “I’m the best” kind of stuff. And don’t waste space telling clients things they already know like “good content boosts SEO”. See what I did up there? That’s bad.
Instead, tell them specifically what makes you suited to their needs AND make them laugh. My clients love when I give em’ a good chuckle. Here’s an example profile of how I’d sell myself to clients in the dental niche:
Personality and proof are what sells. Not bland “I’m the best” BS.
3.3: Make Your Own Facebook Page
This one is super straightforward.
Just make a Facebook page for your freelancing service and share your samples. Include a bit about yourself and a photo.
Takes next to no effort and makes you look professional.
TIP: While you’re at it, might as well make a Linkedin too.
3.4: Write a “Think Piece” on Medium
Pretty much anyone can write on Medium.
Start building your brand by publishing work there or writing a think piece. For example, you can write about transitioning from full-time office slave to freelance writer.
Why not write about your first vacation paid for exclusively from your writing profits? GET ON IT.
Here’s some inspiration:
3.5: Connect with Prospects on Social Media
I’ll cover where to find all of this freelance writing work in the next section.
But you should know that any time you identify a new writing prospect, always connect with them on:
When you’re connected on social media, you can just DM them rather than filling out an application.
One digital marketing company in my niche needed some articles. Instead of applying, I connected with them on Linkedin and DM’d him.
I got the job.
Ⅳ: Where to Find Your First Writing Clients
There are tons of easy ways to find freelance writing gigs, and you don’t need a degree to land a single one.
For now, I’ll just focus on the core ways.
It’s probably A LOT easier than you think it is, and getting your foot in the door is the hardest part.
Once you have 1 client, it’s easy to find your 2nd, then your 3rd, then your 10th. Before you know it, you’ll be full-time and competing with me for big-ticket clients (Then it will be WAR!).
JUST GO F****** DO IT!
4.1: Cold PItch
This is hands down the best way to get writing jobs.
Cold pitching is when you approach clients directly and, umm, well, PITCH your services.
But Kevin, I don’t know who to approach!
Yeah, duh. I’m about to show you…
First, decide which type of freelance writer you’re gonna be. Then, look in the following places:
- Content writer: Google SEO companies, google digital marketing companies, look on content Facebook groups, look on digital marketing Facebook groups, look for marketing companies in your local area.
- Copywriting: This is pretty tricky honestly, and takes a lot more legwork. It also pays a lot better than other types of writing so it’s up to you how much work you wanna put in. Here’s what you can do:
- Job boards: Cult of copy job board, CopyMonk Job Board, AWAI Job Board.
- Co-working spaces: Introduce yourself to everyone and let them know what you do.
- Your local area: Call companies in your local area with shitty ads and demand to speak to the manager.
- Social Media: NICHE DOWN AND CONNECT WITH COMPANIES IN YOUR NICHE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Then publish content in your niche and share it.
3. Amazon Content: Facebook groups (Google them), Amazon marketing agencies, Amazon SEO companies.
4. Press Release: I would connect directly with press release services and pitch them. eReleases, 24-7pressrelease.com, and EINpresswire are good places to start. Also, check Facebook groups. LOL, look how easy this is:
How to Cold Pitch as a New Freelancer
OK, you know what you’re going to write and who you’re going to contact.
Time to PITCH, PITCH, PITCH.
But don’t cold pitch like everyone else out there. If you write just average, spammy pitches, you’ll get no answers. Been there. Done that.
You gotta step your game up.
- Say you’re the best or amazing
- Use spammy language
- Waste space telling them things about their business they know already
- Be chill and personable
- Demonstrate your expertise in a non spammy way
- Make them an offer they can’t refuse
Here’s a sample pitch that worked for me on Linkedin:
Think of cold pitching like dating….
For my guy readers, imagine you’re in a bar and you spot a lovely lady that you’d like to connect with.
- Barge right up to her, pushing her friends out of the way while screaming OMG YOU’RE SO HOT I’M AMAZING BECAUSE I’M RICH, HANDSOME, SUCCESSFUL, AND COOL. LET’S GET MARRIED!!!
- Be chill, normal, and polite but straightforward.
Pretty obvious here (Since most of us guys are dense, the answer is B)
Cold pitching is the same way. Clients are bombarded with offers daily (Much like women, the fairer half of our species). They’ve heard all of your bullshit before.
No freelancer that’s actually successful and confident has to brag about how successful and awesome they are.
Instead of claiming I was the best or they’d have an orgasm over my content, I always just told clients something like “I know how tough it can be finding a writer on xyz topic, so if you ever need someone who can do that, I’ve written about this topic, and this topic, and that topic, and other topics.”
See how that’s less spammy?
I suggest doing the same.
NOTE: Email Subject Lines – You seriously have to NAIL THIS. DO NOT send subject lines like this. They never work!
Why? Because your prospects get this from EVERY freelancer. Also, it’s not really congruent with reality. If I were an expert copywriter, why would I be cold emailing like this instead of swimming in money and using my own site/network/paid ads to get clients?
Facebook is my go-to way to get new clients.
There are entire groups full of prospective clients hiring freelancers by the day. Just search for these terms in the search box and join relevant groups:
- Freelance writers
- Content writers
- Online marketing
You can find everything from entry-level blogging work that pretty much ANYONE CAN GET to high-paid sales page writing or ghostwriting opportunities.
And Facebook does all the hard work for you. You just reply to job adverts or DM the person directly. Can’t beat it.
It doesn’t get any easier.
4.3: Job Boards
I hate freelancing platforms.
I hate content mills.
I hate mayonaise.
I will never use platforms, content mills, or mayo to get any freelance clients.
However, job BOARDS are great!
These are curated lists of available paid jobs for freelance writers.
Here are a bunch to get you started:
Problogger – START HERE
Problogger is an excellent source of available writing gigs, and it’s updated regularly. You can find everything from full-time gigs at established companies to remote jobs for startups you can work from anywhere.
Just don’t waste your time applying to dead end jobs. Here’s how I tell a good writing gig from a bad one:
- Read the description: The more effort the company puts in, the better.
- Research the company: Who are they? What’s their story? Do they have a bunch of happy-looking employees on Linkedin?
- Company profile: Do they have a profile? Do they have an image? The more info the better.
- What do they know about writing: Check the job description to see if they know exactly what they need and what good writing is. Some companies just say “am look writerz”. If that’s the case, run!
Here’s a good job ad with a pic, company profile, and lots of info:
4.3.2: More Job Boards for Freelance Writers
OK, here are a bunch more:
- Morning Coffee Newsletter: Automatic freelance job alerts every morning while you sip your coffee slowly (Because you ain’t rushing to the office anymore).
- Linkedin Jobs: Linkedin’s job board is way less spammy than the network itself.
- Blogging Pro: A lot like Problogger, except with their names reversed.
- Craigslist: Check out the writing/editing or gigs sections.
- Remote.co: Very high-quality remote jobs board. More for full or part-time jobs rather than freelance gigs. Still worth a look.
- We Work Remotely: Tons of remote gigs for the taking.
- Freelance Writing Jobs: Just read the name.
- Work at Home Adventures: Not a bad place to get started. I didn’t find anything high paying, but as a beginner that’s fine.
OK, that’s literally everything I can think of. You should be able to easily start a freelance writing career with this information.
These are all freelance writing jobs you can do without a degree. They’re easy to find, pay decently, and don’t require anything but a bit of grit and a penchant for writing.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Send me a sample to Freelanceaholics@gmail.com and I’ll give FREE writing tips so you can find clients more easily!