If you are a freelance writer looking to start or grow your business, then working on a simple business plan is a key step to help you succeed and reach your first-year goals.
For many, creating a freelance writing business plan is daunting, and searching for online free template results in even more confusion due to the business jargon. However, with the right guidance and information, you can create a solid plan to help you get new clients and reach your independence as a self-employed individual.
A freelance writing business plan will also help you make important decisions, set goals and targets, and evaluate your progress. In this article, my goal is to teach you how to create a business plan for your freelance writing business to help you create a strategy and set you up for success.
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Creating a Freelance Writing Business Plan
Define Your Freelance Writing Business Goals
Defining your freelance writing business goals provides you with a starting point that you can break down into smaller goals. Whether you are just starting out or are looking to expand, clear business goals will also help you to stay focused.
For example, my first business plan included the following goals:
- Hone my writing craft: I took courses to improve my content writing skills and published my articles on the Medium platform. Some of the courses I completed included a coaching program created by Zulie Rane, the WriteTo1K by Elna Cain, the Write & Ignite Challenge by Alex Cattoni, and the free SEO certification from HubSpot Academy.
- Grow writing portfolio: As freelance writers, we need to develop a writing portfolio to find clients and apply for freelance positions. You don’t need a website at the beginning, but once you start to get a bit of traction, you can create your website portfolio. In my case, I started publishing on Medium as a way to develop my writing and voice, and use pieces on my portfolio before I started my site and blog.
- Networking: Being a freelancer can be a lonely endeavor, so it is important to network to find support and job opportunities. I joined a few Facebook Groups where I learned from other female freelance writers which allowed me to find guest post opportunities to grow my portfolio too.
- Find clients: To find clients, I had to learn about cold pitching techniques. However, most of my clients were found through Facebook freelance groups that I belong to and guest posting opportunities. A guest post I completed turned into a job opportunity with a marketing agency where I currently provide freelance ghostwriting services.
These freelance writing business goals allowed me to break them down into smaller goals using the SMART technique (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), and I was able to complete them during my first quarter as a freelancer.
To determine your personal business goals, you can start by asking yourself some questions. What do you want or need to achieve? What are your aspirations for your freelance business? How will you do it? Is it to provide products or services, or both? What do you want your business to be? Who do you want to help? How much do you want to earn?
When you know what you want to achieve, you can start thinking about strategies to help you get there.
Research the Freelance Writing Industry Niche
How do you know if you are targeting the right clients and industries? The best way to find out is to do some industry and competition research. For example, one of my niche industries is travel. During my research, I searched for potential customers (ex. publications and travel blogs), shopping/buying habits (of travel consumers – using this for my family travel blog), the pain points for the clients within the industry, and who would be my competition, including their strengths and weaknesses.
By researching your chosen freelancing industry, you learn to understand its current state and its main pain points (the specific problems it is facing). You can also use this research to understand the target audience, tailor your value proposition, and as a marketing strategy to promote your services.
Understand the Target Audience
A target audience is the group of people or companies you want to provide your services to.
As a freelance writer, you may find that your target audience consists of small businesses, entrepreneurs, marketers, or authors. Once you’ve identified your target audience within your chosen industry or niche, you need to research and understand their specific needs and wants. That way, you can tailor your services to better fit a potential client.
You should also consider their budget and the types of writing projects they are likely to need. For example, if your target audience consists of entrepreneurs, you may focus on creating blog posts, website copy, landing pages, sales pages, social media captions, or press releases.
Overall, understanding your target audience’s wants and needs helps you develop your value proposition.
Determine your Value Proposition
As a freelance writer, creating a value proposition is an essential part of succeeding in the industry. A value proposition is a statement that outlines what makes you unique or what differentiates you from the competition, how you can help your clients, and the value you bring to the table. It should be tailored specifically to the needs of your potential clients, and it should be clear, concise, and convincing.
First, identify the value that you bring to the table. It could be your experience in a specific field or industry, your outstanding research skills, or your ability to write engaging copy. Think about what makes you stand out and make sure to include it in your value proposition. For example, there was a potential client who needed a freelance writer with travel writing experience and knowledge of places to visit in Puerto Rico. Since I specialize in the travel niche, and I am from Puerto Rico, so I knew I had a value proposition for this particular client.
Remember that your value proposition should be focused on the benefits that your clients can expect from working with you. Some examples include faster turnaround times or higher quality work. When drafting your value proposition, make sure to include the service(s) you provide, the problem it solves for your clients, and the results you can deliver. Also, include a call to action that encourages potential clients to take the next step.
Once you know your value proposition, you are in the position to tailor the type of services you can provide potential clients and set the pricing, and payment terms.
Develop Your Services, Set Pricing, and Payment Terms
There is a myriad of freelance writing services you can provide, such as article writing, blog writing, copywriting, technical writing, white paper writing, SEO writing, ghostwriting, social media, and so on and so forth. It depends on your ideal target client.
In my case, I started providing three different services, including content writing, ghostwriting, and line/copy editing services. Determine what’s included in each service you want to provide and how it works. On my services page, you can see how I broke down what’s included and how each service works. All of these were developed when I drafted my freelance writing business plan.
After developing your services, it is time to set pricing, payment terms, and methods. So, how do you do it? Pricing and payment terms will vary depending on your clients and the scope of work you will do for them. You can set the pricing by project, charge by the hour, or by the word count. To help you get an idea, the American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI) and the Editorial Freelancers Association have a pricing guide you can use as a reference.
For payment terms, you can require payment upfront, after services are rendered, or on a payment schedule that you can define with your client. Pricing and payment terms will also vary by client and they may have their own payment methods, such as direct deposit, Stripe, Wise, or PayPal.
Estimate your Expenses
As with any business endeavor, there will be expenses, including office supplies, equipment, web hosting, domain names, courses, memberships, transaction fees, subscriptions, self-employment taxes, or apps you use to run your freelance business.
By knowing your monthly/yearly expenses and keeping track of them, you will be able to create a realistic budget and stay in control of your finances and self-employment taxes. Always check with a tax advisor for more information.
Select a Business Entity and Business Name
Once you have done your research and understand your target audience, your unique value proposition, and the services you want to provide, then it’s time to decide how you want to establish your freelance writing business. There are multiple business entities, but you can select one best suited to your business needs, such as a sole proprietorship or single-member limited liability company.
Choosing a business entity will help you know your responsibilities as a business owner, including whether you need to register the business with the state, obtain business licenses and permits, and file for the appropriate quarterly and yearly taxes. For your business name, take the time to brainstorm creative ideas that reflect your brand, mission, and values. It is also important to make sure that the business name is not already being used by another business and that a website domain name is also available. You can check the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to see if the business name is available and do a domain name search with sites, such as Go Daddy.
Develop Key Performance Indicators
Now that you have your freelance business goals, niche, target audience, business entity, and business name, it is time to develop your key performance indicators. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are “the critical (key) quantifiable indicators of progress toward an intended result,” according to KPI.org. When building and growing a freelance writing business, it is imperative to have measurable goals to track progress and assess the performance of your business. It allows you to adapt or change a system or procedure that isn’t working.
An example of a goal and its KPI could be increasing the number of clients you have. As such, you can track the number of new clients acquired on a monthly basis. Another goal would be to increase the content you produce, so a KPI could be keeping track of the average words you write per day or how much content you publish on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Developing key performance indicators for your freelance writing business can be a great way to measure and track your progress to ensure you are consistently working towards your end goals.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Marketing will become an important part of your freelance writing business plan as it will help you reach your clients and find more work. It will also help you build your brand and promote your services.
A good marketing plan should include how you plan to reach your target audience, what strategies you will use to engage them, and how you plan to measure the results.
Start by thinking about your target client and the strategies you will use to reach them. Are they a business, agency, or individual client? Will you create a blog page? Promote yourself on social media? Develop an email list?
There are many different marketing channels you can use to promote your freelance writing business. You can also use social media, such as LinkedIn, do guest posts, and start cold pitching. Many freelance writers find their clients (or clients find them) with LinkedIn, so create a profile and update it accordingly.
Finally, you’ll need to develop a system for tracking the results of your efforts. You can use analytics tools or even simple methods like tracking how many views your blog post or social media post gets.
Implement and Adjust your Plan
Creating a freelance writing business plan can seem like a lot of work. But once you start, it will become easier. When the plan is complete, review it and make adjustments as needed. You should also stay on top of your progress.
Make sure you stay focused on your goals and make time for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. The best way to stay on track is to create quarterly goals and create a plan to achieve them within the time frame to help you reach your goals.