Last updated on September 11th, 2023 at 10:20 am
If you are a creative, artistic, or design-minded individual and want to earn money from your talents but don’t have any experience or connections, then becoming a freelance writer in South Africa might be the right path for you.
But how do you start freelancing?
What qualifications do I need?
How much will it cost and will it pay?
These are some of the questions that may come to your mind.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
The guide below will answer all of these questions and more so that you can get going with your freelance writing career with confidence.
Table of Contents
What is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is one of the most sought-after professions in South Africa.
It offers you the opportunity to work from the comfort of your home, earn a decent salary, and have control over your working hours.
Typically you work with various clients who hire you to write articles for their websites, blogs, or Magazines.
Your job is to create great content and deliver it in a timely manner.
This makes it ideal for both individuals and businesses.
You can choose to work as a freelancer or as part of a team within an organization where you will be able to make use of your creative and analytical skills.
Freelance writing in South Africa is a great way to start out in this business, especially if you don’t have any experience or connections.
In fact, if you are looking for a job that is flexible regarding working hours, then this might be the right path for you.
What Qualifications do I Need?
To become a freelance writer in South Africa, it is essential that you are well-versed with grammar and punctuation rules as these are very important when writing copy for websites, blogs, magazines, etc.
If you don’t have any knowledge of these, you can take classes at a local college or university.
You will also need to be familiar with some of the common styles and formats used by professionals in the field, such as how to write an article, how to format an eBook, how to publish an article on WordPress, etc.
If you are interested in becoming a freelance writer but don’t have any formal training or experience, then it is advisable that you do some research on the Internet and find out what other people are doing in the field.
And if you are going the team route, then this is also important so that you know what your colleagues are doing.
What does my day-to-day work involve?
As a freelance writer, your main responsibility is to create content for clients.
This means that you will be writing articles (or for your own blog or website), and editing them before you submit them to the clients.
You may also find that you need to create content for your own website, or blog, which means that you will be writing copy for these as well.
Types of freelance clients
There are many different types of clients that you will have to deal with, including businesses (such as companies and organizations), individuals (such as celebrities, politicians, and sports stars), and even government departments in some cases.
If you are working on a freelance basis, then it is important that you know how to deal with all of these types of clients, so that you can provide them with the best possible service. If a client asks for something specific (such as a particular style of article), then it is important that you can provide this without fail.
In order to be successful as a freelance writer, it is essential that you are able to work under pressure in stressful situations.
This means that if something goes wrong, you will be able to handle the situation in a professional manner. It is also important that you have the ability to work well with others, as this means that you will be able to develop good relationships with colleagues and clients alike.
You should also know how to deal with rejection and criticism so that you can learn from your mistakes and move forward.
Should You Get Into Freelance Writing?
It is important to consider if freelancing writing is right for you before you dive in.
After all, it is different for everyone.
If you are not sure, don’t be afraid to ask.
However, there are some things you should know before you start your journey into this world of content writing.
First and foremost, you should know that it is not just a one-way street.
To be successful as a freelance writer in South Africa, you should expect to receive a cut of the profits. This is usually split between the writer and the company (in the case of content mills) he or she works with.
In addition, you should understand that this career path isn’t for everyone.
It is important to consider your own preferences, as well as what works best for your schedule.
Yes, freelance writing in South Africa is a great way to earn money on the side while you are pursuing your own personal goals.
And if you are interested in becoming a freelance writer, then it is important that you take some time to find out as much as possible about this type of work before making any firm decisions.
You should know that there are many different types of freelance writing jobs available (such as copywriting and proofreading), so it is important that you look at all of these before deciding on which type of freelance writing job would be best for your skills and experience.
How to Start Freelance Writing in South Africa (Zero Experience)
If you have decided that freelance writing is something that you would like to pursue, then here is how to start freelance writing in South Africa.
Step 1). Choose your niche
The first thing you should do is choose your writing niche.
This is the part that determines how much you are going to make as a freelance writer in South Africa and your target clients.
Once you have selected the right niche, the rest will fall into place.
Now, there are many freelance writing niche areas in South Africa where you can make money online, such as:
- Digital marketing
- Writing for various online courses
- Blog post writing
- Email writing
- Case studies
- Sales Pages or Landing Pages
- Video Script Writing
- Online or E-Learning Courses
- Book Writing (Ghostwriting) and so on.
Why is choosing a freelance writing niche important?
Choosing a freelance writing niche is important for a few reasons.
The most obvious one is that it puts you in the position to receive more clients.
At the same time, choosing a good freelance writing niche in South Africa also helps you build your brand, increase your chances of getting hired, and increase your passive income.
In fact, the best freelance writing niche has everything you need to grow as a writer.
It should have high demand, excellent traffic, and a large number of active writers.
How to pick the right freelance writing niche for you?
As we’ve already seen, there are a lot of freelance writing niches to choose from here in South Africa.
They differ in the level of competition, demand, and difficulty to break into.
The best way to make sure you choose the right one is by doing your research. Here are some general guidelines to follow when choosing a freelance writing niche:
a). Research the market
When choosing a freelance writing niche, finding out what others in the industry are earning is key.
This is because you need to know how much money is being made in your chosen niche so you can create an effective strategy for making money online.
b). Research the competition
The competition in any freelance writing niche can be high.
You need to know what other writers are earning in order to have a chance of making money.
This is because it shows you where to target your efforts and what topics to write about.
c). Research the demand
The demand for a niche will vary depending on the topic and industry.
It is crucial to find out what people are looking for so you can decide on a topic that will have high demand.
If you choose a niche that has no demand, then your writing will be less effective, which means it won’t generate as much income as you want it to.
d). Research the difficulty level
When choosing a freelance writing niche in South Africa, you need to make sure there is enough demand and competition in order for your work to generate income online.
You also need to check how difficult it is for others in your chosen niche to make money by finding out how much time people spend researching and developing their own websites.
Step 2). Research and learn about the field
Once you have selected your niche, it is important that you become knowledgeable about it before you start freelance writing in South Africa.
This is because you will need to find out the best way to start making money from your writing so that you can make a successful career in it.
There are many ways in which you can do this and they include:
a). Reading online articles
The first thing that you should do is search online for articles written in your chosen niche or industry.
The more information that you find, the better idea of what people are talking about, what blogs are popular, and how much work people are doing on their own websites.
b). Reading books
It’s also important to read books in order to get an overview of what people think of your chosen niche or industry.
You can also learn some useful business skills from these books such as how to manage staff and how to write sales copy for your website.
c). Reading websites
Another good way to learn more about your niche is to look at websites that are already successful in it.
This will give you an idea of what people are looking for on their websites and how they go about making money from them.
d). Reading forums
One of the best ways to learn about a niche is by reading online forums and groups.
These are places where people talk about similar topics and you can learn a lot from these discussions.
e). Paying for training
If you don’t have the time or money to spend on training, then it may be worth paying someone else to do it for you.
There are many sites out there that offer this type of service so you can find one that suits your budget.
You could also consider taking an online course if one is available in your chosen field.
Step 3). Set up a website or blog
Once you have a general idea of what type of content you would like to write about, the next step is to set up a website or blog.
To say the least, a website is a great way for you as a freelance writer in South Africa to showcase your skills and get your name out there.
A blog can be anything from a simple blog about yourself or a service that you sell, but it should also have some sort of contact page where people can contact you if they want more information about what you are doing.
The key is to have a site that people can visit and find valuable information on, so you need to make sure that it has all the features that you want it to.
To get a website, you need the following:
- A domain name – this is the web address clients will type to get access to your website. I recommend you use your name.
- Hosting – this is a place where your website’s files are stored.
You can get both from the same provider.
What should a freelance portfolio website have?
A good freelance portfolio website should have:
a). About Page
The about page is where you will talk about yourself, your skills, and what you are capable of.
This should be a short and sweet description of who you are, what you are capable of, and why people should hire you. Make sure that it is attractive to read as well as easy to navigate.
b). Contact Page
The contact page is where you talk about how people can contact you.
You can include your email and phone number, or you can just have a form to go through to get in touch with you.
This is the only place on your website where people will be able to get in touch with you, and it should be clear and easy to find.
c). Portfolio Page
Your portfolio page is a good way for people to get a feel for who you are.
It should have your photos and projects, as well as other information that people may find useful.
This is also the place where you can talk about your experience, so it should be clear and concise.
d). Pricing Page
Your pricing page is where you talk about how much your services cost.
The best way to do this is to list out the types of projects you do, and then give examples of how they were done.
Make sure that it is easy to read, and that the prices are clear so people know what they will be paying for.
e). Testimonial Page
Your testimonials page is a good place for people to see what other people have said about you.
It should be written in a way that is easy to read and understand so that your clients can get a feel for how great you are.
f). Services Page
This is where you talk about the services that you offer.
You should include your pricing, and explain what each service is.
You should also include how long it takes to complete a project, and how long it will take to complete each one.
g). Case Studies Page
This is where you talk about your experience, and what you have done.
You should include any awards that you have won, as well as other information that people may find useful.
You may also consider adding a blog section to your website.
The blog section is a good way to get in touch with your audience and show them what you are doing.
Your blog should be updated regularly so that your target clients can see what you are doing, and how great you are.
Step 4). Write an epic sample of your work
After setting up your website or blog, the next step in how to start freelance writing in South Africa is to write great sample work.
This is the best way to get a feel for what you can do and to show people what you can do. You should write something that will get the attention of your target client.
Make sure that your sample work gets the attention that it deserves, by being different from other samples on the internet.
You should also make sure that your sample work is of good quality so that people will be able to see it easily.
How to create the perfect sample for your freelance writing business in South Africa?
There are many ways to create a sample for your freelance writing business.
a). Research your target client
First, you need to know what your target client is looking for.
For example, if you are writing for a law firm, your clients will be looking for quality legal content.
If you are writing for a travel agency, your clients will be looking for quality travel content.
b). Pick a topic of interest to your clients
After you have researched your target client, you need to pick a topic that is of interest to them.
For example, if you are writing for a law firm, make sure that you pick a topic on the law so that they will want to read your sample.
c). Write the sample in a way that makes it appealing
Before you start freelance writing in South Africa, you need to think about how you are going to write your sample.
For example, if you are writing for an online magazine or newspaper, your target clients will be looking for articles that are well written.
At the same time, relate the sample to the target client’s business and industry.
For example, if you are writing for a travel agency, after you have made all of the necessary changes based on their comments, relate it to the target audience’s travel industry.
You need them to read and be like, ‘It is like you are reading my mind!’
d). Get someone to read the sample and give feedback
Once you have created your sample, you can then get a friend or family member to read the sample.
And then for feedback.
If everything checks out, move to the next step.
e). Share the sample where your target client hangs out
You will need to share the sample with your target client.
Most people hang out on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
When you find a target client on these sites, you can post a link to your sample and even tag them (make sure it is something valuable).
Step 5). Start pitching to clients
After you have created a sample, you can start pitching to clients. This is step 4 on how to start freelance writing in South Africa.
What is pitching in freelancing?
Pitching is the act of putting your ideas out there into the world. It is a way to make them heard by as many people as possible, and potentially get your work done.
The process of pitching is often described as “selling” your work to potential customers. It is the act of putting your best self forward, telling your story, and pitching your idea.
What is the best way to do this?
By pitching with a clear and concise outline.
You can’t just start talking about stuff.
First, you need to know your target client. Understand what they are struggling with.
And then outline your solution. Here, describe what you are going to do and why you are the best person for the job.
So, first, get the client’s email and send them an email and ask if they will be interested in your services.
Then, follow up with phone calls and emails.
You should follow up several times until they respond.
What to include in your email pitch
Your email pitch should include the following:
- Who You Are: Who are you? What do you do? What is your background?
- Your Solution: What is your solution? What problem does it solve? How does it solve the problem? Include the proposed headline along with a brief description of your story idea.
- Your Proof: What proof do you have to show that you can deliver what you say that you can deliver? Why should they hire you over the other person who can’t deliver what they said they could deliver. Include your writing sample.
- Your Website/Portfolio Link: Include a link to your website or portfolio.
- A deadline: What is the deadline to make the project happen?
- How to reach you: Include a link to your website or contact info.
- What is your pricing? Include a link to your pricing page.
Here’s a freelance writing email pitch sample:
Subject: Freelance Pitch: [Article Headline]
Hello [Editor Name],
My name is [Your Name], and I’m a freelance writer specializing in [niche].
My work has been published by [link to relevant outlet], [link to relevant outlet], and [link to relevant outlet].
Since I have such a passion for [niche], I’d love to use my expertise and insights to write a piece for [this brand or publication]. I’ve included a story idea below that I think will really resonate with your readers:
[Brief description of your piece. Make sure you’ve thought carefully about the angle of your story, so you can make this as compelling and grabby as possible. Make the editor want to read more.]
My writing samples are here for you:
[Writing Sample #1]
[Writing Sample #2]
[Writing Sample #3]
My portfolio is here: [website link]
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need any other information from me. If I don’t hear from you by [Date], I’ll assume you’re not interested and move forward with pitching this story to other outlets.
Thanks so much for your consideration, [Editor Name].
Step 5). Check writing job boards
The next step in how to start freelance writing in South Africa is to check out the different writing job boards.
As you wait for pitching to pick up, you should be able to find a lot of freelance writing job boards online here in South Africa.
Some of these are:
This is a good place to start. It is well-known for the quality of its freelancers in South Africa. It also offers a great opportunity for you to get some work experience on your CV when you apply for the jobs. You can find some freelance writing jobs on this website, too.
This website is a popular choice for freelancers. It has a great number of freelance writing jobs available.
This is a good website for writers. It has a lot of freelance writing jobs available. You can also find some freelance writing jobs on this website, too.
Fiverr.com is a great place to find freelance writing jobs. It offers a lot of freelance gigs in South Africa.
Step 6). Collect testimonials from your clients
It is important to know what your clients think of your work. You can ask them to write a testimonial on your profile page.
Asking for feedback will help you become a better writer and learn from your mistakes. You will also receive useful information such as how to improve your writing.
The testimonials can either be written or video. But I would recommend you go for video testimonials because it is more engaging.
At least 3 testimonials should be enough.
Testimonials will help you land higher-paying clients.
Step 7). Market your services online
The last step in how to start freelance writing in South Africa is promoting your services.
There are many online marketing platforms where you can promote your freelance writing services and earn money from it.
For example, you can join sites with similar industries to yours, such as ProBlogger, Upwork, and so on, and begin advertising your services.
You can also join forums where you can discuss various topics related to your niche and earn more traffic to your website.
Forums are very helpful because they provide a platform for you to interact with your clients and get feedback from them.
- You can also go for niche websites and blogs that are related to your industry.
- Create a landing page and promote your services there.
- You can also buy an ad on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google AdWords, etc.
The goal here is to keep your clients’ pipeline full at all times.
Freelancing in South Africa is a great way to make money online.
All you need to do is find a niche that interests you and find a way to host content around it.
You can write for various clients who hire you to write articles for their websites, blogs, or Magazines.
And you can go full-time freelancing or part-time, depending on your situation.
If you are considering a career as a freelance writer, then it is important that you look at all of the different types of work available before making any decisions.
This is because there are many different types of freelance writing jobs available (such as copywriting and proofreading), so it is important that you look at all of these before deciding on which type of freelance writing job in South Africa would be best for your skills and experience.