Do You Need a Degree to be a Freelance Writer?

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Freelance writing can be quite lucrative if you get yourself in the right mindset. And the best part is that almost anyone can do it without a degree. This includes people who have no prior experience creating content for clients.

In reality, I’ve personally seen high school drop-outs do quite well in the realm of online freelance writing.

What makes the biggest impact whether you’ll be successful or not is how you approach creating content. You can easily develop the rest over time.

A Degree Helps, but it’s Not Necessary

Helpful Degree
Don’t get be wrong, having a master’s or bachelor’s degree in your field is quite the boon for a freelance writer. However, it’s not necessary to be successful.

And no, you don’t need a background in English, journalism or communications to land the high-paying clients.

In fact, I’m a prime example of what you can accomplish without a degree. I’m a high school drop-out who earned a GED and have some college experience in graphic design.

Today, I have private clients for freelance writing and use content mills to keep myself busy on a daily basis.

Use Google to Learn

A command of grammar and spelling is a must if you’re thinking about a career in freelance writing. After all, no one wants content if it’s illegible or doesn’t hold a complete thought.

Luckily, most of what you need to learn is readily available in Google.

Everything from ways to use punctuation to writing in AP style English is accessible from a myriad of blogs. And the best part is that it won’t cost you anything outside of time.

Since 2012, I’ll often look up techniques and practices on the Internet. It helps straighten out a lot of problems I have transitioning from Oxford to AP…especially the comma use.

Are Online Courses Worth the Money?

While you won’t necessarily earn a degree through many online courses, they are often full of incredible information. For the price of a meal at Taco Bell, you can begin to fine-tune your writing style.

However, not all courses are created equal. You may come across some that are simply lacking when it comes to in-depth information regarding certain topics.

On the other hand, most systems like Udemy or Lynda have a rating system. This gives you an idea regarding the effectiveness of each instructor.

Even though I am quite successful as a freelance writer, I still plan on taking online courses myself. That is, when time permits.




What You Need as a Freelance Writer

The most obvious thing you’ll want as an online freelance writer is skill. Typing, grammar and spelling are essentials. Although you’ll learn these through a degree program, they’re also abilities you can acquire on your own.

It just takes a bit of determination to get yourself to a point where clients are constantly throwing work your way.

Outside of an Internet connection, what do you need as a freelance writer without a degree?

Motivation to Succeed

Working from home in any regard requires a high level of motivation. This is because you are your own boss. You’re not accountable to anyone but yourself.

Which makes it difficult if you find yourself drifting off into day dreaming or wasting time watching Netflix instead of writing.

You need to stay motivated to get as much done in the day as possible. If you have difficulty with that, you can always fool yourself into success by imagining you’re actually working for some big corporation.

A Willingness to Learn

Never assume you know everything you need to be a success. Even after the last seven years, I spend a lot of time learning new things about my trade. A lot of the time, it’s more of a refresher course.

If you start out with content mills, which I’ll cover in a moment, editors will give you tips on what you did wrong. Take this as constructive criticism and research how to fix the problem.

The more you learn, the easier it is for success as a freelance writer.

A Comfortable Work Environment

Being comfortable at your job helps keep you focused. Whether you like writing from your favorite coffee house on its Wi-Fi connection or powering through a dual-monitor computer setup from home, it’s all about what keeps you engaged.

Personally, I find it helpful to create a business-like atmosphere in my home office. It keeps me in the mindset of being a professional and makes writing content for clients much easier.

There’s really no right or wrong answer for this outside of what makes you the most productive.

Ability to Interact with Clients

Perhaps the most important thing you need as a freelance writer is the ability to interact with clients. If you treat them poorly, you won’t get those long-lasting contracts.

It comes down to treating people with respect and doing a project exactly how they want it.

I’ve seen too many freelancers argue with a client regarding a project, which always ended with the client going elsewhere for future articles. Essentially, these writers talked themselves out of a good-paying job.

How to Start Freelance Writing with No Experience

Start Freelance Writing

One thing to keep in mind is that on the Internet, “Content is King.” This means there will always be clients looking for someone to write website articles or blog posts.

And most of them don’t require a degree and are willing to pay a lot of money. That is, as long as you can demonstrate you can deliver high-quality work.

Using Content Mills

For beginners, content mills like Textbroker are great places to start. Not only do some of them provide a quick payout, but you’ll have a chance to learn and develop your abilities as a freelance writer.

A lot of “expert” freelancers don’t like content mills. The reason is usually because you’re not paid an incredible amount of money. However, it’s not all that bad if you’ve never created content before.

Take Textbroker, for example. You can earn an easy weekly payout into PayPal just by writing little more than blog posts for clients. And most of them don’t care about the content as long as you use their keyword once within the article.

In fact, I was easily making between $300 and $500 per week writing part-time with Textbroker.

Perhaps the biggest reason to sign up with content mills is the experience. As you write, editors will provide insights which will help you develop as a writer.

Besides, most of the clients I interact with would rather have someone with practical experience over a degree any day.

Scheduling Your Time Wisely

Having a good working schedule from home is vital for success. Too many people think they can simply work when they want and make enough money to sustain themselves.

It doesn’t always work out that way.

For instance, most of my clients are businesses. Which means I need to be available when they are. Most of the time, this is a normal 9-to-5 schedule.

That’s not saying you can’t be successful writing at night. Just make sure you have a schedule that works for your needs and is conducive to engaging clients.

Secondly, creating a schedule for yourself helps keep you in that professional mindset I mentioned earlier.

Using Platforms Like Grammarly

As a freelance writer without a degree, you’ll find yourself making several mistakes throughout your work. Luckily, there are a number of systems on the Internet which can help you fine-tune the writing skills.

For example, Grammarly is a platform which will analyze your text for common errors. It does this for both grammar and spelling.

The downside is that some of these apps require a monthly subscription fee to really use to the fullest of its ability. However, the monthly fee might be worth it over the short-term if it helps straighten out your writing and make clients happy.

A happy client is a returning client.

Keep Practicing

Like the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Even when you’re not creating content for paying clients, work on improving your skill.

One of the reasons I created this website was to help develop my abilities. I’m not saying you need to start blogging, but for me it’s been a great influence in how I developed over time.

You can always practice on systems like Vocal.Media. It’s a site where you can create blog posts for almost any topic while having the potential to make money from it.

Marketing Yourself

And lastly, realize no one is going to hire you if you don’t market yourself well. This includes having a filled profile in content management systems.

Marketing for freelance writing jobs includes everything from a social media presence to email campaigns. The main thing to keep in mind is no one will hire you if they don’t know you exist.

Outside of Textbroker, most of my clients find me through LinkedIn, Facebook and the WriterSanctuary blog.

It All Boils Down to You

Just about anyone can be a writer without a degree. It all depends on how motivated you are to succeed and if you’re willing to adapt and learn.

And if you can demonstrate a high level of skill and ability, clients won’t care if you have a degree as they toss work your way.

What kind of past experience do you have which may help freelance writing? If you have a degree, has it helped you become a success? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 6,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel.

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