Have you secretly harboured the romantic fantasy of being a writer — the kind who gets paid handsomely to write things you care about — for a long time now?
And have you never done anything about it because, well — it’s just a silly dream, isn’t it?
The trouble, you tell yourself, is that to make even a liveable wage from freelance writing, let alone a good wage that would allow you to buy a shiny new MacBook and a fancy espresso machine (those things are bloody expensive, you know) without batting an eye, you have to slog it out for years. You don’t have the connections, the skills or the qualifications to make a go of this, let alone the time or the energy.
It’ll just take too long. It’s easier to stay in your nice, safe — albeit bland, soul-destroying — job. At least this way you know you can pay your bills, make rent, and treat yourself to a bottle of red and a posh dinner out on occasion.
You don’t want to risk your comfortable existence trying to build a business that might not even work. It’s unrealistic to think you could eventually jack it all in and strike out on your own, reaping your sole income from freelance writing.
How I Leapt from £5 Per Article to £90
Back in 2012, I started writing simple 500-word SEO articles and getting paid for it. I didn’t get paid much — one of my first ever clients giving me a mere £5 for 500 words — but still I was ecstatic that people were willing to pay me anything at all to write. It was awesome.
Until it wasn’t.
Let me tell you: after you’ve been churning out meaningless articles about airport parking and garage doors for a while, it wears you down. Regardless, I kept on — it was either that or go back to bar work, something I wasn’t eager to do in a hurry.
I continued to spend my mornings sending out emails to prospective clients, knowing I would mostly be ignored, but that from time to time I’d happen on a new client who’d fork out a few pounds for an article.
Bingo! Somebody responded. They wanted to know my hourly rate. Figuring I’d be writing three articles per hour, as I did for my other clients, I told them £30 — just so I’d at least get £10 per article. Making £30 an hour was pretty good for somebody who’d previously earned £7 an hour pouring beers and mopping up puke.
They tried to get me down to £25 an hour, which was ‘what their other writers charged’. I sighed — that old chestnut again. I couldn’t bear the thought of making less than £10 per article. If it meant taking less than £10 per article, I decided, I was not going to work with this client. Armed with my new fuck-it attitude, I held my ground and remained firm on my price. Eventually they relented and agreed to £30 per hour.
I got my first brief. It was in-depth, required proper research, and would need to be around 1500 words. ‘You have a max of three hours to get it done in.’
My jaw hit the desk. Three hours? For one article? Holy shit! That’s £90! For ONE. FRIGGING. ARTICLE.
And that’s when I learned emotionally what I already knew intellectually: people will pay more for quality.
I Resolved to Transform My Freelance Writing Business Completely
That’s when I decided to change my whole business model. I didn’t want to deal with this SEO crap any more. I’d blindly stumbled into a sweet writing gig through a combination of luck, perseverance and my newfound attitude, which had imbued me with confidence and conviction — and it made me determined to shift my business in a new, more fulfilling direction.
I was in love with my new gig. These guys knew their shit. They didn’t give me keywords or precise word counts. They just wanted me to write something good for them. Something people might actually read — unlike the crap I’d been writing for clients so far. These guys weren’t slapping my articles all over the internet on whatever sites would have them, and they weren’t touching spammy article directories. They were positioning these articles — my articles — as guest posts on reputable sites, and their clients were companies I’d actually heard of.
So I started thinking: I need to create a new website — one that will show off my flair for writing, the way I can put personality to the page. A website that will not only showcase my talents, but also make me look professional, in control, confident — a writer who has her shit together.
I dreamt up Untamed Writing and got to work. I added copywriting and blogging services, at the same time obliterating any mention of ‘SEO’. I rewrote everything, letting my own personality and ethos snake through my words. This site felt like me, and I was proud of it. (Still am, s’matter of fact.)
These days, clients come to me. I charge £150-250 for a page of copy. I book clients in advance, slotting them in at a time that suits me. And I’m in the enviable position of being able to turn down any projects I don’t want to do, whether because the work sounds dull or because I fancy jetting off to Valencia for a few days. It’s fucking brilliant.
How to Create Your Own Successful Freelance Writing Business
For the past two years I’ve been teaching people how to start freelance writing in the same way I did — writing 500-word SEO articles. I’ve seen a lot of people start earning money from freelance writing — many going on to quit their jobs — and they were all just as ecstatic as I was the first time somebody paid me to write something, even though it was only a pittance compared to what I charge now.
But I’ve also seen many of my students get stuck, unable to move on to the higher paying work I found. And I realised that maybe that’s because I only taught them one thing: how to make money writing SEO articles.
And that’s when the thought struck me. If I went back to the beginning — back to before I’d earned anything for my writing — what would I do differently?
The answer? A lot, turns out.
And that’s what this course is about. This course details how I would create a freelance writing business from scratch now, utilising everything I’ve learned over the past 3+ years — as well as drawing on the collective experience of all the students who’ve passed through my doors.
Spoiler: It doesn’t begin with churning out 500-word articles on random topics.
Just had the meeting that was supposed to happen this morning and the client apologized profusely because he got stuck in a meeting. Anyway, we had an hour long Skype chat and we agreed on $300 USD per 1500-2000 word article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Drawing up a contract as we speak. I’m so damn excited!!! Our next meeting is Tuesday to finalize topics, etc. and go over contract details. Thanks for everything, Karen!! You gave me the organization, ideas, and confidence to make this happen. I’ll keep you posted. xo
The Secret to Creating a Freelance Writing Business You Love
Just a few months after Untamed Writing’s creation, I realised something. I realised that I didn’t really enjoy blogging for other businesses. I didn’t like the weekly deadlines or the fact that I couldn’t take time off whenever I wanted. And on top of that, I just didn’t enjoy the writing that much.
So I did something it took me a while to realise I could do: I removed the blogging services from my site, and shifted the focus solely onto copywriting. I liked the fact that copywriting projects were a once-and-done deal, and I liked the fact that I got to help people put their personality on the face of their businesses. I was good at it and I liked doing it. It suited me better.
In this course, I will teach you about both blogging and copywriting, as well as a few other types of writing services you could offer. But after that? It’s up to you. You get to decide what services you offer. What companies you work with. What niches you write in.
You can turn this writing business into whatever you want — into whatever suits you, your talents and your temperament the most. That’s not to say you’ll have to figure it out all on your own, of course. I’ll be on hand to answer questions (and ask them!) and help guide you in the right direction (Guided Edition only). And besides — you can always change things up as you go along.
As I like to remind my students: your business, your rules. I’m here to help you lay the foundation for a successful freelance writing career — but you get to decide exactly what that means.
In short: You get to create the business that feels right to you.
Are You Cut Out for It?
There’s just one problem. Not everyone is cut out for this. Pretty much anyone can make money writing SEO articles. It’s really not a difficult skill to master. But this? This is something else, and if you don’t truly have a passion for words, if you don’t know — or, more importantly, care — about how to use a comma properly, and if you don’t take pride in the work you put out into the world — this course isn’t for you. (If you just want to find an easy way to make money online, SEO writing is for you. Fortunately, you can still take my original SEO writing course here.)
But if you’re terrified of a client editing your words to within an inch of their lives — massacring them — then still publishing them under your name (the horror!) — this course is for you.
If you want to pour your everything into crafting a writing business you’re passionate about — this course is for you.
If you’re ready to finally realise your romantic vision of yourself as a writer — this course is for you.
Before you get too excited, let me lay out the pitfalls:
- There’s a lot to learn.
- This isn’t going to be easy.
- It’s going to take a while.
- It may be hard to find your first clients (but it will happen eventually).
You probably won’t be able to make money quickly by going this route, but over time you should be able to make a solid income, and by doing work you actually care about. You’ll create something you’re proud to show people. When people ask you what you do, they won’t have chance to blink before you’ve shouted ‘I’m a writer!’ and flung your business card at them.
Because that’s what you’ll be. A writer. Not somebody who wants to be a writer. Not an aspiring writer. Not somebody who’s ‘got a great idea for a book’. But a bona fide, real live, makes-a-living-doing-it writer.
And it will be fucking brilliant.
I wanted to take a moment and thank you SO much for your freelancer course! It was literally a life-changer for me.
I’d been freelancing on oDesk, planning to make it a temporary thing while looking for ‘real’ jobs. But as I did things according to your class, I attracted higher-paying clients and got pretty busy in the first month. I made $1,100 (£715) in the first month, and after picking up a couple of higher-paying gigs, I’m projecting $2,000 (£1300) by the end of February! I’ve never seen that amount of money in any corporate job I’ve held, so I’ve decided freelancing is my new job.
Karen, if it weren’t for this course, I probably would have landed a corporate job by now that I wouldn’t have been truly happy in. I love freelancing now so much more, as I work with people I enjoy being around and write about topics I give a damn about. I would never have realized what I was missing out on if I hadn’t taken the leap of faith. Your course encouraged me to do so, and gave confidence to a seasoned writer with no clear direction.
The course has already paid for itself more than ten times over, and now I can pay the bills with extra money at the end of the month. I’ve already recommended it to other aspiring freelancers I know, and I tell them it’s worth every penny.
How the Course Works
There are two editions of the course available: Guided and Self-Study. Here’s the difference:
The Guided Edition
The Guided Edition runs for 6 weeks, during which you will have unlimited one-on-one email contact with me. I’ll give you feedback and guidance on how to improve all the work you complete, and you’ll be able to ask me any questions you have.
Each week, I’ll email you a new PDF containing information and homework to get your business up and running. By the end of the course, you will have a professional website set up, you’ll know how to write various things people will hire you to write, and you will understand how to attract clients and how to work with them once you’ve got them.
You’ll also get access to our own private Facebook group, the creation of which — and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this — is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The group is active every day, and everybody in there is extremely supportive. There are no stupid questions in the group. No one will laugh at you for not understanding what a client meant when they said this or how to do that silly little thing on your website. I often feel amazed at how lucky I am to have such brilliant students. Love those guys.
The Self-Study Edition
The Self-Study Edition is exactly the same as the Guided Edition, but for three things: 1. You won’t get any one-on-one email contact with me. 2. You’ll receive all 6 weeks of materials as soon as you make your payment, which means you can get started right away and go at your own pace. 3. It’s £350 ($450) cheaper. You’ll still get access to the Facebook group though. Yay!
The Course Content: What You’ll Learn
Week 1: Choosing Your Path
The whole point of this course is to help you build a writing business you love. That means you’re going to have to think about the direction you’d like to go in — the direction that most suits your talents and tastes. I’ll provide you with lots of information to help you figure this out.
By the end of this week you will have: chosen your business’s name; decided whether to start a blog; written the first draft of your About page; and gained a much better idea of where you’re going to take this new-fangled business thing.
- Creating a Freelance Writing Business You Love
- Why You Need to Specialise
- What Services Could You Offer?
- What Type of Clients Could You Work With?
- What Subjects Could You Write About?
- How to Check Your Ideas are Viable
- The Other Key Ingredient: Your Voice
- Defining Your USP (Unique Selling Point)
- Choosing Your Business’s Name
- Should You Start a Blog?
- How to Write an About Page
- Prompts for Writing Your About Page
- The About Page Framework
Week 2: Planning Your Services
We’ll take a deeper look at both copywriting and blogging — two of the biggest sellers in the freelance writing market. I recommend you offer one or both of these services, at the very least. We’ll also look at other types of commercial freelance writing you could offer.
By the end of this week you will have: decided which services you’re going to offer; written the first draft of your Services page; and drawn up a list of blog post ideas (if you’ve decided to start a blog).
- A Word About SEO
- What is Copywriting?
- The Difference Between Benefits and Features
- The Art of the Headline
- How to Write Good Copy: The 4-Step Process
- Copywriting Services You Could Offer
- What is Blogging?
- Blog Posts and SEO
- How to Write a Blog Post
- An Overview of Different Types of Blog Posts
- How to Structure a Blog Post
- How to Source Images for Blog Posts
- How to Format a Blog Post
- How to Publish a Blog Post
- Blogging Services You Could Offer
- Other Services You Could Offer
- How to Write Your Services Page
- Prompts for Writing Your Services Pages
- The Services Page Framework
Week 3: Creating Your Website
Now that you’ve got a much better idea of where your business is going, we can start pulling your website together. We’ll focus on the technical aspects of building your site this week, and we’ll examine how to craft a solid home page and tagline.
By the end of this week you will have: purchased your website and set up its basic design and structure; written the first draft of your home page and tagline; and written your first blog post (optional).
- Why You Need a Website
- What Needs to Go On Your Website
- What Shouldn’t Go On Your Website
- How to Buy and Set Up Your Website
- How to Add WordPress to Your Site
- How to Install a WordPress Theme
- An Overview of Your Pages & Their Purposes
- How to Add Pages to Your Site (and Edit Them)
- How to Organise Your Menu Bar
- How to Write Your Home Page
- Prompts for Writing Your Home Page
- The Home Page Framework
- How to Write Your Tagline
- How to Start Your Own Blog
- What Not to Blog About
Week 4: Setting Your Rates
Ah, the dreaded rates. We’ll look at the different options for pricing your services and figure out which one is the best fit for you and your offering. We’ll also talk about how to negotiate your rates, and whether or not you should include them on your site.
By the end of this week you will have: set the rates for each of the services you’ll offer; decided whether to include your rates on your site; started work on growing your social proof; written the first draft of your Contact page; and published your first blog post (optional).
- Why I’m Not Going to Tell You What to Charge
- How to Define Your Rates
- How Much to Charge
- Calculating Your Ideal Hourly Rate
- Should You List Your Rates On Your Site?
- How to List Your Rates On Your Site
- On Negotiating: Karen’s Golden Rule
- The Importance of Providing Value
- Why You Need Social Proof
- How to Get Published Pieces for Your Portfolio
- How to Write Your Portfolio Page
- Using Already-Published Work in Your Portfolio
- How to Get Testimonials
- How to Display Testimonials
- Writing Your Contact Page
- On Publishing Your First Blog Post
Week 5: Organising Your Work Process
By now you will have the bulk of your website completed, which means it’s nearly go-time. We’ll look at exactly how dealing with clients works, from quotes to contracts to deposits to invoices — everything you need to know to look pro. We’ll also finish off anything else that needs doing on your website.
By the end of this week you will have: planned out your process for working with clients; researched what you need to do to get legally setup as a freelancer; written up a questionnaire to send to clients; set up a professional email address; and finalised your entire website.
- Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
- Your Work Process
- Scoping Out the Project
- Sending a Quote
- Signing an Agreement
- Getting 50% Upfront
- Starting Work and Communicating with Clients
- Tracking Your Time
- Sending Work to Clients
- Amending Work
- Sending the Final Invoice (and How to Write One)
- Getting Paid, Bookkeeping, and Accounting
- Registering Your Business
- Setting Up a Professional Email Address
- Finalising Your Website
Week 6: Finding Clients
Uh oh! This is the scariest part, right? Fear not, for I shall show you the way. We’ll explore all the different places you can find clients, as well as how to get them to hire you and how to write pitches that get results.
By the end of this week you will have: compiled a list of potential clients to contact; and written a template email or three to send to prospects.
- How to Write a Good Pitch
- Cold Emailing
- Word of Mouth & Referrals
- Going Local
- Job Boards
- Social Media
- Freelance Marketplaces
- Responding Professionally
- Following Up
- Keeping Track
- Raising Your Rates
- My Final Advice
I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your Start Content Writing course. From the first PDF, I felt really humbled and grateful. You explained everything in terms I could understand in that inimitable style of yours that made me alternately nod my head thoughtfully and snort tea through my nose.
The feedback you gave was spot-on and really helpful. It gave me a direction and focus that I wasn’t getting on my own. Now I work with an eye to what you pointed out, and I think my writing’s getting better — more ‘me’ — all the time. I’ll never have your wit, but I look forward to the day when my website reflects my personality as much as your site showcases yours.
Here are some of the things I learned in the course:
- Be honest. There are some conventions I picked up from browsing ‘How To Be a Blogger or Copywriter’ type articles, and I tried to weave them into my site’s text. You picked up on it right away and suggested I discard anything that wasn’t genuinely coming from me. Now when I go to my website, I feel comfortable and happy — it’s me, not a flashy storefront.
- Don’t sell yourself short. The suggestions about where to find jobs have been eye-opening, as have the pricing ideas. I don’t mind working my way up, but it’s also useful to remember that I do have some unique skills and experiences that some clients will value. And I don’t have to write just anything, because there are clients out there willing to pay well for quality work in the fields that interest me.
- How to set up a website. Very practical advice here and very much needed. I’ve referred back to your PDF about 600 times while figuring things out.
- What I want to offer. Your comprehensive guide to writing services was instrumental in helping me decide what I wanted to do with this freelance writing thing.
- How to write. Well, okay, you didn’t teach me everything I know about writing, but I didn’t know how to write headlines or good copy, and now I feel like I’m beginning to get it. I’m also able to read successful blogs and websites and see how their best pieces follow the formulas you outlined for us.
I wanted you to know how much you’ve helped. I’m probably about your own mother’s age, and taking on something new like this might have been really daunting, but your course is solid and empowering, not to mention really fun!
Thanks again, Karen, for your high standards and your consistent support.
Guided Registration: Open
Next Guided Class Commences: 1 November 2016
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At first I was reluctant to sign up. I’d tried and failed at online business before, and I was trying to make my savings last. The clincher was the amount of hand-holding Karen promised to give during the course. Looking back, I guess it would be more accurate to call it ass-kicking than hand-holding… But it worked, so I can’t complain.
I worked my last bar shift the day I finished the course, so I started full-time right off the bat. I made around £250 my first month and around £470 the next. This month I’m projecting approximately £1000 — still not a lot but it’s enough to cover my expenses with some left over for a few pints.
For the first time ever in my adult working life, I actually look forward to Mondays. I enjoy my work and I’ve built a financially viable business from scratch whilst living in one of the most expensive cities in the world (London). I don’t use an alarm clock any more, I work from home and I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself.
Oh, and the thought that I could go and live anywhere in the world without having to worry about what I’ll do for work is extremely liberating. In short, it’s awesome. Do it. It’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.
Is this course suitable for me if I’ve already taken your SEO writing course?
Yes, it is. You’ll learn a whole fuckload of new information here — information that will take you far beyond the scope of SEO writing. We will be able to transform your original website rather than you having to create a whole new one, though you can create a new one if you prefer. I’ll warn you now, though: If you decide to transform your current website I’m going to tell you to remove all mention of SEO writing. So if you’d like to keep SEO writing as a safety net while you grow your other writing income streams, I recommend creating a completely separate website.
I can’t decide between this and the SEO writing course. How do I decide?!
Listen, these two courses are wildly different, so the decision should be easy. This course is much more intensive, and you’ll have to think hard and make your own decisions about the direction you want to go in. You’ll also need to have an excellent grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar to make this course work for you. If you just want to be told exactly what to do, how to do it, and in what order to do it, so you can make some cash from writing quickly, Start SEO Writing is for you.
Here’s the short version:
Start SEO Writing is the quick, easy, but unfulfilling and lower paid route.
Start Content Writing is the longer, harder route, but you’ll find better paid, more enjoyable writing gigs.
What’s the difference between SEO writing and content writing, anyway?
For the purposes of these courses, I use ‘SEO writing’ to mean writing simple 500-word articles that companies can use to help them rank more highly in Google — this is the only thing taught in Start SEO Writing.
I use ‘content writing’ to mean, well, pretty much all other commercial freelance writing — blogging, copywriting, sales pages, ebooks, press releases, newsletters, email autoresponders, product descriptions, and on and on. In this course in particular, there’s a big focus on blog posts and web copy, which are two of the most sought-after types of content.
The huge big main difference is that content writing is used to build trust, rapport and connection with a business’s audience, making said audience more likely to buy stuff. This is done by writing engaging, interesting, educational and inspiring things.
SEO writing is designed solely to help websites rank better in Google, without much regard for whether people will actually read the articles you’re writing. It’s more technical, less creative.
Is this a scam?
No. If it was a scam, I’d be telling you about how easy this is going to be. ‘Make your money back a trillion times over in just 3 days! No work required!’ Yeah. No. This is gonna take some doin’, my little pumpkin pie.
Can I pay in instalments?
Yup! For the Guided Edition you can, anyway. Just select the third option when you go to sign up. This will set it up so three payments are taken, each a month apart. There’s no payment plan option for the Self-Study Edition.
Do you offer refunds?
Yes, but only within certain time limits: if you take the Guided Edition, you must request your refund within 7 days of the course commencing. If you choose the Self-Study Edition, you have 30 days.
How much time will I need to spend on this?
This is going to be pretty intensive. It’s going to take at least several hours per week for the duration of the course, and you may even need to set aside a full day or two each week.
Will there be any additional expenses?
Yes. At the very least, you will need to buy your own website hosting and domain name, which can add up to around $100. I will also recommend a number of other resources to help you succeed, but these are optional and you can just decide to buy them (or not) whenever you’re ready.
How much money can I expect to make?
This is impossible to answer, because there are so many variables. To see what I mean, read this. However, I shall also say this: you can make a lot of money, and definitely a good living, if you’re talented, work hard, and are persistent.
Can I do this work while I travel?
Yes indeedy! It’s harder to do this sort of work while on the road (as is true with most things), but one of the beautiful things about being an online freelance writer is that you can do it from anywhere with an internet connection.
Can I take this course if English is not my first language?
You can, if you also happen to be able to speak and write English fluently. It will be hard to get paid a decent wage as an English-language freelance writer if your written English is poor.
Does it matter where I’m from?
Nope! You should be able to find clients in whatever country you’re from, though there’s nothing to stop you from going global if you’d prefer that.
Can I specialise in a certain niche?
Yes! In fact, I heartily recommend it. Whether that means specialising in certain subjects or in writing certain types of content, or even specialising in working with certain types of company, you can make this writing business into whatever you want.
So just how flippin’ awesome is this Facebook group I keep hearing about?
So so so so so so so so SO flippin’ awesome. Sometimes it almost makes me cry happy tears; everyone in there is so brilliant. It’s a safe space to talk about anything freelance writing-related, and you’ll get to meet lots of likeminded people, which can be a lifesaver when you first strike out on your own.
I wanted to be a freelance writer, but lack of confidence and the fear that it was a terrible idea held me back. Then I came across Karen’s website and loved her ballsy, take-no-prisoners attitude, so I signed up.
Karen made me realise I could specialise in educational writing because of my background. After what felt like ages (but was only a month) I was offered two roles in a week. So far I have made $1000! Now I have two great clients who I’ve signed annual contracts with — one gives me large long-term projects and the other provides me with a vast amount of smaller projects.
I quit my job during the course and am freelancing full-time now. The first couple of weeks were hard as my confidence took a knock from all the unanswered emails I was sending out, and I began to feel like it wasn’t going to happen. But now I start work by 9.30am every day, work for about 6 hours, and get to spend a lot more time with my husband. I am genuinely more happy.
If you’re thinking about signing up, but are hesitant — do it. Working with Karen for just six short weeks gave me the confidence I never thought I’d have when it came to writing. I went into the course having no idea what type of writer I was or wanted to become. I am now working as an Educational Writer from the comfort of my own home. If this is what you want from your life, this course will be how you get it.