How To Become A Freelance Writer In India : Everything you need to know to start a freelance writing career

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Here’s your complete guide on how to earn and find success as a freelance writer in India

Last updated: 9 November 2020

If you were wondering how to become a freelance content writer in India and how to get paid for freelance writing work then we have compiled the ultimate guide for just about anyone.

Imagine you are sitting on a beach in Bali and sipping on your cocktail, you pen down a story about the best part of a beach holiday. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, with a freelance content writing career you can do just that and get paid for it!

So let us jump right into everything you need to know about a freelance writing career in India. This is a very extensive article so you might want to use the menu below to navigate

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What is freelance content writing and its types

How much does a freelance writer earn in India

How to start a freelance writing career

How to get work as a freelance writer

Pro tips for a successful career in freelance writing

FAQs

What is freelance writing?

Freelance Content Writer Meaning

Firstoff, A freelance writer is someone who is self employed and can typically be considered as an independent business owner. They often work on several projects at the same time and are paid separately for each of their work.

What does a Freelance Writer do?

Freelance writers are required to produce well researched and properly written relevant text, as asked for by the client. The conceptualised text could be required for brochures, manuals, blogs, websites, newspapers, ebooks alike. They could by the nature of their project be required to work with editors. 

They are directly paid for this work by their clients in accordance with various rates that are mutually decided upon for the project.

Types of Freelance Writing Jobs

If you’re looking to start as a freelance writer, you would need to know the major types of freelance writing jobs that are there.

Web Content Writer

 A web content writer basically writes on and for the internet. The nature of the job could vary from writing content for websites that are selling a particular product or service to writing blogs. It essentially requires you to research relevant keywords and skilfully entwine them with your article. Your primary motive in this case is to direct traffic towards the webpage through your writing.

Technical Writer

As a technical writer you would need to make sense of daunting technical terms and break them down into comprehensible information or instruction for your reader. Your work here could circle around writing manuals, guides or relevant articles.

Newspaper or Magazine Writer

Newspapers or magazines could be territories that you get to chart in both the offline and digital media. A writer for a newspaper needs to report about particular events in an objective and unbiased manner. Other magazines or newspapers could require you to review books or movies or put out opinions about a particular topic.

Ghost Writer

Ghost Writers write blogs, website pages, eBooks but not in their own name. The credits to these writeups are given to a different person.

How much does a freelance writer earn in India?

A major question faced by most aspiring freelance writers is usually how to earn money as a freelance writer. It is also important to understand the prevailing market rates before you decide on how much to charge as a freelance writer in India.

Freelance Writers’ Salary for Beginners and Experienced writers in India

The average monthly earning of a freelance writer in India is ₹ 16,000 which means that freelance writers make approximately ₹ 2 lakh per year. This is according to numbers quoted after  a survey conducted by Indeed where they asked users to submit details about their salary.

The freelance writers we spoke to, during the course of writing this guide stated that their monthly salary as freelance writers were between ₹ 25,000-₹ 40,000. 

Average freelance writer salary for beginners was found to be between ₹ 10,000-₹12,000 per month while experienced content writers can earn ₹ 20,000-₹ 60,000 per month on an average.

Based on the type of writing done, freelance travel writers earn around ₹ 16,000 on an average while freelance resume writers earn around ₹ 15,000 a month.

Freelance Content Writers Salary Per Word and Per Article

Freelance writers’ pay rates in India can be based on what they charge per word. Freelance writers’ charge per word ranges from ₹ 6 per word for a 1500-word article to a gross amount of ₹ 15,000 for a 2000-word well-researched piece. Based on deadlines it can be ₹ 8 per word for a two-day deadline and ₹ 80,000 per month for a retainer.

Freelance Writers’ Hourly Rates in India Based on Skills and Experience

Based on a survey by Payscale, we present to you their findings on how much freelance writers make based on their experience of work. 

On an average, hourly charges for a fresh, entry level freelance writer in India is around ₹ 494 per hour. While the same, for a mid level experienced (1-3 years) freelance writer was seen to be around ₹ 510.  

Again based on type of freelance writing, technical writers’ hourly rates in India are on an average ₹ 275 per hour. 

A freelance medical writer’s hourly earning on an average is around ₹ 365 per hour. 

Making A Rate Card

I was late to the party and only made my rate card this year, but it is important to do this from the start and stick to it. It’s also easy to respond to clients and potential projects if you already have a rate card. 

Of course, each project differs and you need to leave room for negotiations, but it’s good to have a general rate so you at least know where to start. If you are just starting out, talk to a senior freelancer and ask them if the rates you are asking for are good enough, or if you need to make some change

We regularly update our community with new jobs and exciting opportunities. Check out the current job openings here

How to start freelance writing career in India?

If you are a beginner we recommend that you start with our beginners guide to freelancing in India where you can get all the details on how to start.

An important question of if freelance writers need a business license to start working might be on you mind. To answer that clearly, No, you do not necessarily need to register for any kind of trade license to start as a freelance writer in India.

Skills required to Become Freelance Content Writer 

Some skills that could come in helpful before you begin wading in the sea of freelance writing would be understanding SEO, Blogging, Proofreading and Copywriting. 

If you are a technical or Medical writer then brushing up on the fundamental concepts and meanings is also a good idea. 

Not only will these skills help you do a better job at providing your client with the product that she needs but would also improve the quality of your work, word of mouth recommendation and eventually have a positive impact on your earnings. 

How To Become a Freelance Content Writer Without Experience

Start with finding your own niche. What is it that you enjoy writing the best? From beauty articles to SEO-friendly pieces for an e-commerce website to writing copies for social media, you have a wide range to choose from. 

Unlike a full-time job, you get a lot of opportunities to test your writing skills as a freelancer.

When you are just starting out, it is important to take up a variety of projects. From lifestyle writing to social media writing, and basically whatever you can get your hands on. Use this experience to figure out what works best for you and find your niche.

Also, play to your strengths. I’ve realised that writing about beauty, fashion and relationships comes naturally to me. But articles on finance, legal issues or even sales and social media copies take longer. Hence, I’ve divided my projects in an 80-20 ratio. 80 percent of lifestyle writing that I can finish easily and take up more projects. And the rest 20 percent of writing stuff that takes longer to finish and requires more effort.

How is Freelance Writing as A Career? :Scope and Future Prospect of Freelance Writing

As you gain experience as a freelance writer you might want to know what other career paths could you take in order to specialize or diversify your career. 

Most freelance writers can move to arenas of content strategy, content managing and instructional designing. You could continue to freelance for clients in these roles or eventually choose to associate yourself with an organisation for the same. 

How to get work as a freelance content writer?

The best way to answer this question is by getting freelancers to let you in on their secrets. We spoke to seven freelancers and here’s how they find work.

Cold Pitching

Cold pitching is a method in which freelancers can email targeted strangers who are potential employers to convince them to partner with them. They provide a pitch as why it is of benefit to work with them and might mention examples of their previous work. 

We spoke to some freelancers and here’s what they said about cold pitching. 

“I find work primarily by cold pitching stories to the online media outlets that I wish to work for. And I also use connections from my university, the organisations I’ve worked for and offline media-related events to find new projects to work on.” said Rasika Rane.

Another freelancer, Ainee Nizami said, “I have a lot of industry contacts to fall back on. While I was a bit hesitant initially to approach organisations and cold-pitch ideas, I got over that pretty soon (especially when the money ran out). I schedule one day in a fortnight where I spend time looking at the work that everyone is doing – including the fellow freelancers follow on social media- and the I write my own cold pitches to send to organisations/people that I wish to work with. For me, more than job portals and websites that offer work, social media has been the go-to place to find projects. From freelancing job communities on Facebook to personal messages on LinkedIn, I’ve done it all.”

“I think cold emailing the people that I wish to work with has also worked best for me. I also have a very active presence on the internet. People can even check my Instagram to get an idea of my work.” – Smriti Notani

Networking and Referrals:

 A lot of freelancers actively network on various career and networking sites to look for potential clients. Referrals also work as a charm when a particular client recommends you to other prospective employers after you’ve done a fantastic job with them!

Freelancer Aditi Srivastava said, “Sending pitches to the people I wish to work with, and networking with people had always helped me find work. I usually network through online groups and local events and I use LinkedIn, Instagram and work-related Whatsapp groups to market my work.” 

“Pitching and networking have been the best ways for me to find jobs. I have also been helped out by people of influence in the portals I work with. When I approached one, the other approached me.” – Radhika Oltikar

Meeting a Client for Work

Some freelancers by virtue of their kind of writing meet clients to seek projects. 

We talked to Anamika Joshi, who said,  “I either pitch to clients or get my projects thought of by word of mouth or references. I don’t pursue much of online pitching. The kind of content work that I do, I generally meet the client and we take it forward.” 

Online Websites

You can also sign up on freelance work websites like Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, Freelancer.com and Worknhire.com. But be sure to check each project thoroughly before committing; you don’t want to be cheated or worse yet, be underpaid.

What does it take to become a successful freelance writer in India? : Pro tips on finding success as a freelance content writer

Stop Treating Freelancing As A Second Job

If you are serious about having a career as a freelance writer in India, you need to stop treating it as a second job, or an alternate option. Figure out how much money you need to make to support your lifestyle and leave room for savings, and go out there and ask for that money.

If you are not making enough right now, hustle. Keep some time aside purely for networking and finding work on a daily basis. I remember a piece of advice a fellow freelancer friend of mine gave me: when I started freelancing fulltime ‘I started freelancing while I was staying in a posh area in Mumbai. Keeping my low income in mind I moved to an area that had cheaper houses. I think it was the biggest mistake I made. Don’t ever downgrade your lifestyle to supplement your low income; rather hustle, find work and make sure you make enough money as you did in a full-time job, or even more.’  

Know Your Value

To be a freelance writer in India might not always be one of the easiest tasks but you need to know your value at all times. No one is going to come up to you and offer you Rs. 10,000 for a project; you need to ask for it. Stop undervaluing your work, and ask for what your work is worth. You are spending a considerable amount of time and money on this project, and it’s your right to get reasonably paid for it.

Say NO To Bad Jobs

Not just underpaying jobs, but jobs that don’t excite you don’t need to be done. Sure, you may think that any work is better than no work, but trust me, it’s not worth it. The amount of time you spend working on a crappy project could have been spent looking for an awesome project that pays 10 times what you are currently making as a freelance content writer.

how to be a freelance content writer in India

Have Money To Fall Back On

One of the biggest mistakes we all make is not having enough money to ride over the no-projects months. It happens all the time. One day you have so much work you are turning away clients and the next month you have zero work and no one returns your calls. It’s best to keep aside a part of your income on a monthly basis so you can deal with the no-work no-money days without falling prey to taking up bad projects/jobs.

Ask For A Contract

It’s best to ask the client to send across a contract so that you don’t have to struggle with the issue of non-payment in the future. However, if a client refuses to issue a contract for freelancing work, put all the agreed-upon terms on an email. Apart from the basics like the names of the client and you, and details of the work, talk about the payment you agreed upon, the schedule of your payment (and the issue of late payment fees), the deadlines, cause of termination, and confidentiality.

Mark a senior person – business or HR head in the email so that if the person you are coordinating with leaves you still can communicate with someone else – and wait for them to send a reply to the email before you start working. 

Treat Yourself Like A Business

No matter how many clients you have, as a freelancer, you are working solely for yourself. So, make sure you include all expenses like transportation, buying of software for your work, like, for example. Grammarly, money spent on research – meetings, interviews, etc. – in your quotation.

We regularly update our community with new jobs and exciting opportunities. Check out the current job openings here

Freelance Writing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do freelance writers need a business license?

You do need any kind of business or trade license to become a freelance writer in India. For. For more information on the legal aspects of freelancing read this guide.

Can you make money as a freelance writer?

Yes, A freelance career provides you with opportunities to earn through your work. Read up more on this here.

How much do freelance writers make a year?

On average, freelance writer earn around 3.7 lakhs per year. You can read more about their monthly and hourly earnings here.

Can you become a freelance writer without a degree

Yes, one can become a freelance writer without a degree or at times with a degree not necessarily aligned to the field of writing. You just need to love writing and know your grammar well!

Research Credit: Devika Awasthi

Additional credits: Dimum Pertin, Kritiksha Sharma, Ashutosh Bharadwaj & Shayri Bhattacharya

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Feminist. Writer. Reader. That's the precise order in which Ainee functions daily. She has been writing for a decade now, and her primary interest lies in working on pieces that resonate with the modern Indian women, helping them discover their own identities. Apart from writing over 1000-words a day, she loves to sit by the beach and dream of a better world, while sipping on an adrak wali chai.

14 COMMENTS

    • A very informative and interesting article. Anybody who wants to take up freelancing will find this as a very good source of information.
      Hope to start freelancing soon and am sure you will not hesitate to rescue when needed.

  1. Really helpful blog, I am also a web content writer. This piece of content gives me the opportunity to learn how to run my freelancing business. I am about to leave my job, and start freelancing, but was not sure.
    But this content open my eyes, and motivates me to do What I Want

    Thank You so much

  2. Appreciate the clear cut guidelines and the way it has been presented.
    I have retired from a creative writing career in advertising and multimedia spanning 38 years. Now operate from home and looking for writing opportunities. Would appreciate any inputs and leads. The corporate tenure may have seen the twilight years…the spark stays kindled…

  3. This is quite an important article for us budding freelance content writers. It’s time now that freelancers of any industry understand their worth and charge accordingly.

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