I get asked a lot about how I got into freelance writing. The answer is that I didn’t mean to, but here I am. So if you’re wondering how to become a content writer with no experience, I can tell you exactly how I did just that.
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Your journey will not look like mine. I started in 2010 with a weekly writing assignment on an obscure, local social blog. That branched out into feature writing in local publications. I also worked for a time as a ghostwriter at a now-defunct vanity press.
I got all these gigs for two reasons:
- I went to school for writing.
- I was paying attention to publications and putting myself out there.
Since then, I’ve worked as a technical writer, a writing instructor, an SEO content writer, and a copywriter. I can’t tell you how to get into all these random gigs I’ve had. Mostly, it was having the skills and experience, but also being in the right place at the right time.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to become a content writer with no experience, let’s talk.
How to Become a Content Writer With No Experience
It’s worth noting that no one is going to hire you unless you can prove you know what you’re talking about. Let’s look at all the ways you can learn about content writing.
001: Start a blog.
There are no creative writing jobs for beginners out there. A lot of people want to write but they don’t necessarily want to learn about writing. Which, like, I get.
So the best way to learn the ropes of content writing is to start a blog. That way, you get the experience you need for free.
Pick a niche and start writing. Create an editorial calendar and post consistently.
This blog will also serve as proof that you know what you’re doing. So don’t just post stuff willy nilly. Be intentional and show that you know what it takes to be a content writer.
002: Jump on Medium.
Medium is a platform where you can actually earn money for the stuff you post. I will say that it’s not easy to be a top earner there.
If you don’t like algorithm shifts, this is not the place for you. It’s kind of a mess right now, and there’s a whole subculture of Medium writers who write about how much Medium sucks. It’s weird.
Even so, you can jump on Medium fairly easily and start writing content today. I recommend reading through some content there before you start so you can see what seems to work there, and as always, create a plan for all the content you’ll be making.
If this sounds like fun to you, check out this post on how to write for Medium.
003: Build a portfolio.
The hard part about becoming a content writer with no experience is that you have to show people you know what you’re doing. This is not a gig where anyone will give you any training and that’s because all the information on how to write online content is available for free online. (Moz and Semrush are great places to get started.)
The best way to show people you know what you’re doing is to build a portfolio.
You can make your own website or use a platform like Contently. There you can post links to all your work. Or you can simply post samples there.
The thing to remember about content writing is that no one cares that you paid attention to your Comp I professor in college. No one cares that your high school creative writing teacher thought you wrote descriptively.
They only want to know that you understand what content writing is and that you know it’s not the same thing as writing for any other medium. Make sure your portfolio shows that.
004: Learn SEO.
I feel like SEO is such an old thing at this point that surely we’re getting to the point where it no longer matters, right?
Wrong. If you want some simple writing jobs from home that pay the bills, learning SEO is the fastest way to do that. I mentioned Moz and Semrush above, but there are tons of people writing about SEO online.
You can also check out platforms like Skillshare and see if there are any courses there that tickle your fancy.
Whatever you choose, make sure you’re reading up on SEO and learning the changes that Google makes every single year. Stuff that used to work can get you penalized now, so make sure you’re paying attention.
005: Apply at content mills if you must.
One of the few freelance writing jobs for beginners with no experience and probably the worst option is a content mill.
Content mills create a ton of online content really fast and they don’t pay for shit. So, if you want to write blog posts and earn like $25 for 1,000 words, this is your option.
I won’t shame anyone for taking this route. I know most writers only do it to either get some experience on their writing resume, or they do it because they need cash fast. Just know that it’s not a sustainable pace to work because most of these places want like four posts a day.
I don’t know any content mills to recommend, but if you Google, you’ll find them.
006: Take a freelance writing course.
One of the best ways to snag freelance writing jobs for beginners is to take a freelance writing course. I don’t have any to recommend, but I do know they’re out there.
Think about the type of writing you want to do. Maybe even find a course that’s niche-specific to the content you want to create. Of course, depending on your experience level, a blanket course may be just what you need.
Also, keep in mind that no one cares if you took a course or not. They really only want to see that portfolio, or links to previous pieces you’ve done.
007: Find an agency.
This is my preferred route. Marketing agencies need content writers. Part of online marketing is creating content to bring in potential clients.
So, if you can find an agency that’s hiring writers, that’s a great way to earn some cash.
Keep in mind that not all agencies are created equal, and not all agencies are looking for the same type of writer. So, you may have to hit up a few before you find a place that likes your style.
008: Work for free. (I know you don’t like this option. I don’t either.)
If you understand the basic principles of content writing and want to showcase your work on the websites of businesses, offer to work for cheap or free.
A lot of small businesses could use the SEO, but at the same time, they may not be able to pay for it. You could offer to create some blog posts for them and use them in your portfolio.
This won’t be something that you’d have to do a lot of. In fact, if this is the method you choose, I would pick two or three small businesses, and offer to create one or two blog posts for them. Make sure they understand you want to use them in your portfolio, and then create the content.
Once it’s live on their blogs, you can link to it on your portfolio site.
For what it’s worth, there’s a lot of working for free when you choose to become a writer with no experience. It does lead to paying gigs though.
009: Pitch large sites.
A lot of sites like guest posts, and if you want to get your name in front of a lot of people, this is a good option.
Find sites that take pitches. Don’t just pitch a site because you want to write for them. That looks unprofessional.
Pay special attention to what they want in your pitch, craft it, and sit patiently. Know that if you choose this route, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. It sucks. So you have to pitch a lot of sites to even out the odds.
010: Google for gigs in your niche.
If you want a writing opportunity for a specifc niche, Google it. You’re going to find a lot of potential options that way.
But beware! A lot of the top results will probably be for content mills. This is fine if you just want the portfolio or experience. But if you need to make cash, keep looking.
011: Hop on a gig site.
Sites like Fiverr and UpWork have people who swear by them. I am not one of those people.
Like Medium, I suppose there are some writers who can use these avenues to earn money. In conjunction with other streams of income, I think this could be a good option.
I wouldn’t solely rely on these sites though.
How Did You Become a Content Writer with No Experience?
How did you get your first content writing gig? Where do you find good content writing jobs for beginners? What is one thing you wish you would’ve known when you started content writing?