Learn how to start freelance writing with no experience as a non-native English speaker. As a non-native English speaker, I’ll share the steps you need to take to leverage your authority as a writer, though you struggle with writing confidence.
I am a writer from the Philippines, recognized as the 20th country with highly proficient English speakers. But how did I manage to make $5,000+ as one?
1.5 billion English speakers worldwide, and 1 billion are non-native speakers. Isn’t that amazing?
The non-native speakers outnumbered the total count of native speakers based on facts.
So, I’m wondering why we lack confidence in our writing skills. Why do we hide in the shadows and poison our creative heads with lies—that only native speakers succeed?
Many linguistic experts revealed no key differences between native and non-native English writers. The only advantage is the awareness of colloquialism and the “exact” word used to describe an event or feeling.
The native English writers may know more slang, metaphors, and vocabulary than the non-natives. However, in today’s rapidly changing content, many prefer published articles easily understood.
So, you may be asking yourself, “What’s in it for me?”
Well, it only means there’s no reason for you to feel discouraged or fear that nobody will like your work. That is, if you have the guts to do the first step.
In today’s post, we’ll tackle the steps you need to do—from steps 1 to 10—to help you build your brand as a writer.
Are you ready? Let’s dive into it. Shall we?
How to start writing with no experience as a non-native English speaker?
Here’s what you can do to start your writing career even without experience as a non-native English speaker:
- Start with the foundation.
- Define your niche.
- Build your platform.
- Start a blog.
- Prepare your email list.
- Search for writing gigs on content mill providers.
- Send pitches to editors.
- Keep reading.
- Keep writing.
- Repeat the cycle.
1. Start with the foundation.
Start strong. Define your writing goal.
Before you waste your time, you need to identify the reasons for writing. Assess your skills, strengths, or values as a writer.
Are you trying to publish a book later on? Do you have plans to open a freelance writing service in the future?
You need to define your writing values. What do you want to tell the world? How do you want to contribute and help other people? How do you want to be remembered?
Is it for getting freelance writing gigs, getting an audience for your next bestseller, or teaching writing classes in the future? Or do you simply want to write and share your thoughts with your readers?
These are helpful questions to ask to help you with the next step.
2. Define your niche.
Writing opportunities can be vast. But if you specify the types of content to what you know and love, that’s better. Your attitude and mindset reflect on the manner the post is written. Keep that in mind.
As I mentioned in the previous point, you need to evaluate your values and goals with your writing. Remember, writing a piece of content online isn’t for your eyes only. It’s for the world to read, appreciate, and remember.
For example, if you have extensive knowledge about clinical psychology, why would you want to write about finance?
Stick to the niche where you feel confident and avoid the writer’s pet peeves as much as possible. Do further research to be updated and know your industry inside out. If you want to learn more about technical writing, here’s an article to read on and learn more about this writing style.
What most writers do is try to fit in with the market. What they didn’t know is their feelings towards the subject (they’re writing about) reflect on their content.
Most writers tend to question their “subject” and try to fit in the wrong crowd. They often force themselves to write without knowing their feelings are reflected on their content.
If you don’t like what you’re writing, why do you have to force it?
You’re only entering the writer’s trap—writing about a wrong niche, which is often the case for most writers.
In my case, I am knowledgeable about content marketing, SEO, blogging, and writing books. So, it’s easier for me to share them because I don’t have to force myself to learn something I’m not interested in.
That’s why bloggers sound like they’re the experts in their fields. They have spent hours studying their niche and writing hundreds of blog posts. And they have no problems doing it because it’s what they love sharing.
Instead of wasting your time on learning something new and pressuring yourself to master everything for the sake of writing, you rather put your heart and soul into writing a post that matters to you.
There’s a lot of difference between the two, my friend.
3. Build your platform with a “wow factor.”
You have to please your clients. That’s what you’re here for. Do you want to make an income as a writer? You have to accept that clients will only pay if they’re satisfied with your output.
In other words, you have to be generous with your service. Elna Cain writes on her blog about the importance of providing the best for your clients and yourself.
To make this even more explicit, let me give you an example.
You’re looking for the best book offer. Maybe, you thought, you’ll need to save some money. So, you’re searching for a bookstore that provides just that.
As you search, you found Bookstore A and Bookstore B. Both of them have been in the business for a long time and are known for selling bestsellers. For you, they’re trustworthy book sources.
When you enter Bookstore A, they provide a 30% discount on the same book you like. That’s all. You’re tempted to bite the bait but you also thought maybe—just maybe—there’s another store that could give you a better offer.
Confused, you leave Bookstore A and enter Bookstore B. When you roam around the shelves of books, you see this offer. “Claim your 50% discount when you buy this book + 1 book for free!”
Bookstore B exercised more generosity than Bookstore A. So, which one would you prefer?
Do you rather pay a 30% discount for a book from Bookstore A, or do you prefer Bookstore B’s offer?
I know the answer is obvious. But that’s how marketing works. People like to receive unsolicited gifts. And if you can give it to them, just do. You don’t have to question whether you’re giving too much information or not.
So, how can you apply the same strategy on your writer platform?
You can start free via Medium or LinkedIn and start writing.
4. Start a blog.
Spend some bucks on building a self-hosted website with your name on the domain and a great professional-looking website layout that matches your niche.
Take it from personal experience.
It was challenging to find a writing gig when I had no self-hosted blog. When I searched for gigs online, most were looking for someone with a website. And what I had was a free Blogger site.
I landed my first writing gig without a blog! A small online news company hired me to work with them. Yet, I did a terrible writing job and was laid off after 2 months and got paid only $50.
It was my first $50 as a writer.
Investing some bucks for a self-hosted website changed my writing game. When I only had Blogger, I barely get great writing gigs. When I have www.mgaspary.com, I started receiving offers from different companies and earned more income than my teaching job and tripled the amount!
In 2018, I decided to get more serious with my blog (after I managed to have 3 websites down) and wrote more high-quality content, which changed the game for me. I earned my first $5,000+ as a writer—combined income from writing for someone’s blog, affiliate commissions, and paid posts.
Searching for writing gigs wasn’t like finding a needle in a soccer field. Many potential clients started approaching me via LinkedIn, and a lot more to tell.
I invested some bucks for a self-hosted website with my name on the domain and bought a professional-looking website theme to match my business. If you want to rebuild your blog to give a “wow” feeling to your audience, I suggest you do either of the following options:
Option 1: Get your Ultimate Genesis Pro Package (All-in-one package)
- 1-year FREE web hosting package. Claim it here.
- Unlimited website themes to choose from
- Access and support for Genesis + StudioPress Themes (same as my blog)
Option 2: Start cheap with Namecheap + StudioPress Themes
- Get your 99% off of Namecheap. Claim it here.
- Bring your blog to life with special discounts on web hosting packages, SSL certificates (website security certificates), and many more!
- Take advantage of StudioPress Themes for a professional-looking website. Get your special discount here. I used Digital Pro for this site. You can get yours here.
5. Send pitches to editors.
Your blog is your portfolio, guest posts included. Why should writers build their writing portfolios?
The editorial team will always look into your sample posts if you search for writing opportunities, regardless of getting paid.
When you don’t have anything to showcase your skill, how can they evaluate your contribution to their site?
Guest posts aren’t only beneficial for them, as the publisher, but the author (that’s you) as well.
Through guest blogging, you can expand your reach and show your expertise related to your niche.
Are you getting the picture?
Let’s say your guest post contains your website link. The publisher approves the links within the content you submit. And if it’s published on their site and, for instance, they have millions of readers per month on average. You get the share for around 30%.
Guest blogging helps you a lot as a writer. It’s a great opportunity to market your brand and build strong relationship with site owners or editorial team. So, you don’t have to rely on ads to promote your content because they will do the promotion for you.
For example, your post got 1,000 views. An estimated 30% of the total readers visited your site. That means you get 300 visitors. You don’t need to spend on ads to promote your content.
It’s about being smart. You take risky shortcuts but are worth your while. And here’s why.
When they land on your site and see your offer, you have 300 chances to earn sign-ups and make money from your courses or affiliate commissions (if you’re an affiliate).
In my case, I contributed to Lifehack and professional blogs like Your Online Revenue and Raelyn Tan. These popular blogs opened their doors for me to write for them.
Here are some of the posts I wrote:
- 17 Lies Expert Bloggers Love To Tell You When You Start Blogging
- Is Bellame A Scam? [$70,000 Bonuses In 30 Days?!]
- 30 Tips To Create Engaging Content That Excites Your Readers
6. Prepare your email list.
This step is necessary as you start gathering loyal fans from the moment you begin your writing career. When you start building your blog, you’ll soon realize the need for an email list.
Of course, you want people to follow you, right?
So, become someone that provides value to stick with you. Whether you like it or not. It’s a brutal truth you need to accept.
And I only realized it lately.
The more I thought about how I started. I learned that having no established following from my audience hindered me from growing, not only as a blogger but as a writer in general.
“Why haven’t I thought about it?” I asked myself several times. After learning my lesson, it’s time for me to teach that to you.
Again, you need to prepare an email list.
When you choose to run a self-hosted blog, open an avenue for your audience to get closer to you. While you write for guest posts and clients, your audience’s growth simultaneously grows.
You don’t even need to have a content upgrade to offer yet. You simply open a channel where people can get in touch with you and get closer to you as the content creator.
7. Search for writing gigs on content mill providers.
As soon as you start to showcase your writing talents, the first you have to do is to test the waters. It’s daunting, nerve-wracking, and terrifying, but you’ll see the outcomes. It’s on a grand scale of things.
I started the same when I decided to change my career—from full-time high school teacher to writer. I knew I had to start from scratch; hence, I wrote for free for several months.
It was challenging. My parents didn’t understand what I was doing. They thought I’d find online teaching jobs as my friends do. The time was ticking. I needed to find an alternative as fast as possible—to silence them, at least.
For obvious reasons, I needed money to start and own a self-hosted website, paid plugins, and site themes to maximize my writing reach.
I left my teaching job without thinking of the outcomes. It was reckless. I know. For a 20-year-old, staying under my parents’ roof had placed too much pressure on my shoulders.
And that’s how I found writing. Not as a hobby but as a source of income. Yes, writing gives you money. That’s the same skill people need for marketing businesses.
So, I took the risk out of desperation. Fortunately, my post got accepted on Lifehack and other websites. Later, I got hired as a freelance writer, and my family acknowledged my new profession years after.
That’s the beauty of writing.
It allows you to make more income than your 9 to 5 job and helps you improve your writing and find your voice in various ways.
When you start working for someone, you muster the courage. It’s your first and most important skill to develop. I guess it’s true to all brave enough to take calculated risks such as career change.
Next, you feel the need to satisfy the clients. That’s another skill. You become more responsible for what you’re writing. Your ego is tested. Your suppressed determination for approval and success turns on.
Learning how to deal with endless editing, proofreading, and revising—with an editor or someone who has more experience than you—surely tests your patience and attitude towards writing.
I swear. It was never easy for me, and it won’t change. Establishing yourself as a writer is not a bed of roses. It’s hard work combined with confidence and strategy.
Nonetheless, you will gain a lot more benefits than you think. You learn to create a piece of content that resonates with you and your audience.
Above all, writing for someone makes you see a wide array of opportunities as a writer. You will better understand what content writing people will like to read.
If you want to start, you can visit Upwork or OnlineJobs.ph (for Filipino writers).
8. Keep reading.
There’s no other impeccable tool that improves your writing but reading. Given that you’re a non-native English speaker become a voracious reader.
Read all kinds of reading materials you can find and learn how they express this and that in a sentence.
Jot them down if you have a journal so you won’t forget them. If you don’t have one, I can make one for you. I make handmade journals, planners, and notebooks. Visit my Etsy shop here.
9. Keep writing.
Jeff Goins, a best-selling author and blogger at GoinsWriter.com mentioned in his videos that blogging could be the best platform for a modern writer to utilize to improve his writing skills effectively.
Blogging hones your high-income skills—not limited to writing—because the subject resonates well with you, and your passion oozes out unconsciously as you write the entire piece.
Are you getting the picture?
10. Repeat the cycle with a winning mindset.
When you already have everything you need, all you have to do is to repeat the process.
But here’s the catch.
The outcomes depend on your mindset.
If you believe your writing is crap, you produce only crap, and you will continue writing like that. Changing your perspective toward the positive will bring good results.
It’s not being selfish or delusional. That’s another story.
When you believe you have the “X-Factor,” you spend time honing your skills rather than getting stuck in a bubble of lies. Lies that tell you you’re not good enough.
Do you remember when your teacher asked you to write “I’m sorry, I will not do that again” in class several times on a sheet of paper? Not only for one sheet of paper, but 10, if not 20 of them?
Do you still remember that experience when a peddler approached you to buy his products and followed you from the intersection to your house, annoying you with his non-stop sales talk?
How do you feel about these events?
Why do you think they make us feel uncomfortable, my friend?
It’s about repetition. And I bet you don’t like that. You don’t want routines. However, it’s how you learn best.
I know this sounds a bit cliché but repetition is the key for a successful writing. Every writer knows that writing every single day helps them improve. It is only when you sore your writing muscles you see desirable results. Irresistible writing that magnets high-income opportunities.
Your first draft will undoubtedly be crap. But don’t stop. Just keep writing with consciousness. Be more aware of the areas you often mistake. Observe how successful writers do and apply them to your work.
As you go along the journey, you’ll face harsh criticisms from readers, editors, and whoever reads your work. When you do, always remind yourself not to take them personally.
These obstacles exist to shape you.
You’ve got to have a winning mindset when you choose to build a platform that increases your authority and reach as a writer. You’ve got to be ambitious. Your words should be heard, and the lessons you teach should permeate globally.
Because you know what, whether you like it or not, you’re leading a group of people. Your readers. Your subscribers. Your fans.
Conclusion – You Will Be The Next Writing Superstar!
Money is attractive, after all. Who wouldn’t think it is, right? But it shouldn’t be your only goal. Instead, consider writing as a way to pull you up from the rut to become someone worth-remembering, becoming someone with value, becoming someone with a Wikipedia page, and on top of that, becoming free.
If you follow my advice (not necessarily quitting your full-time job, just starting writing), you will see what I’m talking about from that alone. The gates of flooding opportunities will come to you.
So, stop wasting your time, and better learn how to start freelance writing and earn an income from doing what you genuinely enjoy. Your audience is waiting. The world is waiting for you to tell the story. It’s time for you to take the stage and spread your message. It’s your turn.
Are you willing to take the first step to start freelance writing even without experience? Or, do you rather stay within your comfort zone—afraid and insecure—and continue dreaming for success when success is in your hands?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. 🙂
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