So, you want to learn how to become a freelance writer in Malaysia?
If you want to stand out from the crowd as the best freelance writer in Malaysia, you got to work your ass off. It’s not easy to position yourself as the best in this saturated freelance market.
I’ve written an article on “How to Hire Writers in Malaysia” and published it on my blog. I get tons of emails from people asking me how to get started as a freelance writer in Malaysia. You don’t have to work as a freelance writer for Malaysian companies, you can work for anyone around the world. The fundamentals of becoming a freelance writer remain the same regardless of where you’re from.
However, this guide is for Malaysians who are looking to dive into freelance writing. I’m writing this guide to help people who are looking to jumpstart their careers as freelance writers.
I’m aware that MDEC has designed a national program called Global Online Workforce (GLOW) which helps individuals to identify their freelancing skills and generate income. Well, I’m not a fan of this program because you will only learn about how to sign up as a freelancer on various freelance platforms and bid for freelance jobs that are relevant to your skills and knowledge.
But how do you enhance your skills as a freelancer in the first place?
What kind of resources can help you become a better freelancer?
All the listed freelance platforms are extremely competitive and how Malaysian freelancers are supposed to compete with other freelancers from countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who charge way lower.
I don’t want you to listen to the wrong advice. There’s a lot of wrong advice out there. You don’t need formal training or a paid course to become a successful freelance writer.
Anyone can become a freelance writer with the right guidelines.
Freelance writing is a perfect side hustle for anyone looking for financial freedom. But don’t expect to become rich overnight. You just got to learn some crucial tips and tricks to excel in freelance writing.
I know a lot of freelance writers who earn close to five figures per month from their freelance writing gigs.
Many of you might think how a person who has never been a freelance writer can guide us to become one.
Well, you’re right in a way. But let me introduce myself and you can decide whether to continue reading this guide and become an outstanding freelance writer in Malaysia.
I’m Naven Pillai, a digital marketing consultant with more than 10 years of experience. I started developing websites and creating content for the websites to rank on Google. Once the sites start generating organic traffic from search engines, I’ll use various monetization methods to generate revenue from those sites. Once the sites reach their maturity, I would sell them off 20x to 30x of its monthly profit. I’ve sold close to 15 sites over the years.
Currently, I’m working as a digital marketing project manager for a digital marketing agency that’s focused on providing search engine marketing services for startups and small-medium businesses. I’ve worked with a few hundred freelance writers over the years and guided them to write content that ranks on search engines like Google.
Moreover, you can check out all my articles and blog posts on the following websites:
- Naven Pillai
- Magnes Marketing
So, are you still with me?
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you need to work hard with persistence and continuously motivate yourself. And discipline is the key to success not only for freelance writing but for everything you pursue. You don’t have to follow hundreds or thousands of tips to become a freelance writer.
You just need to get the basics right.
Let’s get started.
Types of Freelance Writing
Once you’ve decided to become a freelance writer, you need to know the types of freelance writing in the industry right now.
Freelance writing is a generic term. Even if you choose to write social media posts it’s considered freelance writing. If you choose to write 25 pages eBook, it can be classified as freelance writing too.
There are a lot of things that fall under “freelance writing”.
So, let’s get a clear understanding of the types of freelance writing.
The best part of freelance writing is the opportunity it offers for individuals like you. That’s not because of the types of freelance writing but there are so many industries to write about.
I’ll cover each type of the following freelance writing:
- SEO Writing
- B2B Writing
- Technical Writing
Blogging is the most common type of freelance writing.
It is popular in Malaysia.
Blogging is also known as content writing or content marketing writing for the web.
The common misconception about blogging is that most people think that it’s done for fun and people just blog to share their passion and hobbies. But blogging is more than that. Businesses are using blogging as one of their powerful marketing tools to reach their potential customers.
And these businesses pay freelance writers to write high-quality blog posts for them.
If you’re just starting, blogging is something you should consider. And don’t bother about people telling you that blogging is dead. This is something most of the top freelancers doing right now.
From small-medium businesses to big companies, every business has blogs today. The pay differs depending on the quality of content they are looking for. You need to have the ability to perform in-depth research and understand the unique style of the organization that you write blog posts for.
For more help on blogging, you can check out the following resources:
- How I Earn A Full-Time Living As A Part-Time Freelance Blogger
- How to Make $5,000 a Month with Freelance Blog Writing
Copywriting is another type of freelance writing that’s high in demand. This type of writing pays more than others because it helps businesses make money. When your writing help businesses attract and persuade people to buy, you’re more likely to get paid for your amazing work.
But you can’t expect to become the best copywriter right away. You need consistent practice and experience to become a successful freelance copywriter. It is important to have sales skills and persuasive writing skills to write sales letters that convert visitors to paying customers.
However, you can get started with copywriting as a beginner. If you’re a fast learner, you might gain immediate success with copywriting. But it’s a rare case.
Even if it takes more time to gain the right knowledge and skills to be good at copywriting, it’s worth it!
For more help on copywriting, you can check out the following resources:
- How to be a successful copywriter: from a man who’s written million-dollar emails
- The Path to Becoming Successful Copywriter
- What is Copywriting and How to Become a Copywriter
SEO writing is another type of freelance writing which involves the implementation of keywords and key phrases within the content. SEO content helps websites to gain organic visibility from search engines like Google and attract quality visitors.
SEO writing works along with copywriting because you want to make sure the visitors coming from the search engine find the page, they’ve landed on to be high in quality and provide enough information.
And SEO writing is not something that you can master overnight. You need to have basic knowledge of SEO and combine them with your content. The content should be both human and search engine friendly. If the content is valuable and offers solutions to the visitor’s problem, it deserves to be at the top of search results.
If you want to learn more about SEO writing, check out the following resources:
- What is SEO Writing? The Complete Guide to Writing for Search
- SEO Writing for Copywriters – The Ultimate Guide
- SEO Writing Explained: How to Choose Keywords and Rank on Google
First, you need to know what is B2B.
B2B stands for business to business. A business that sells products or services to other businesses. When you want to do B2B writing, you’ll be working on blog posts, industry guides, sales copy, eBooks, whitepapers, and anything related to B2B.
For example, Salesforce is a B2B organization. It’s a SaaS company that offers a CRM tool for businesses to organize their entire customer relationship management process. If a consumer wants to purchase a CRM tool, you won’t have any use for it unless you have a business. So, you’ll be writing content for businesses on how the tool can benefit them and save their operational cost in the long run.
B2B writing can be lucrative but you will need to do extensive research and analysis to come up with the most suitable content for the B2B audience. Having experience in an industry will be an added advantage if you choose to become a B2B writer focused on writing about that industry.
If you want to know more about B2B writing, check out the following resources:
Technical writing is a bit challenging. But if you get used to it, you’ll enjoy writing technical stuff like manuals and instructions of equipment, machinery, tools, and many more.
The demand for technical writing has been growing over the years. If you’re serious about technical writing, trust me you’re going to stand out. Some technical writing also covers things like summaries, reports, and whitepapers.
If you’re a little geeky and like technical stuff, this is the type of writing you might want to explore.
For more help on technical writing, you can check out the following resources:
Now you know the different types of freelance writing out there. You can choose one or more depending on your capability. If you think you can do it, just do it!
Next, we’re going to discuss how you can get started as a freelance writer in Malaysia.
How to Get Started as A Freelance Writer in Malaysia?
Did you think I’ll ask you to register an account on Freelancer.com and UpWork?
I’m sure most of you don’t know me. If you do, you know one thing for sure that I only share actionable tips with my readers in every blog post and guide I write. I do extensive research on the topics I write about.
And that’s how I’m able to write in-depth articles loved by my readers. Without doing any research and simply writing an article will take you nowhere. If you choose to sign up for freelance sites crowded with individuals desperate for money and charging way too low for their services, you’re not going to make the money you deserve and it’s better to get a job in 7-Eleven.
My advice is to start with Blogging, SEO writing, or B2B writing.
Let’s dig in more.
Check on Your Current Skills and Experience
Don’t start from scratch if you have excellent writing skills and experience.
I’ve personally started from scratch because I entered the digital marketing industry when I was 18 years old way back in 2011. And writing was the first thing I learned.
And the easiest way to get started with freelance writing is by looking at the niche and skill set you have.
Just pause for a moment and think about the things you’ve learned in your life, work, home, and any tools you’ve used.
Think about the things you’ve read and obsessed about. Just make a list of it.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What niche you’re most experienced in?
- What kind of expertise do you have in that niche?
- Do you enjoy learning and researching about the niche?
- Can the businesses within the niche pay you if you choose to write for them?
- If you are to write a 2,000 words content today, what will you be writing on?
Don’t get stressed. I understand the situation you’re going through during lockdown in Malaysia.
Sometimes it’s hard to get started with something from scratch. Because if you lose interest in that topic you have to start over again. When such a situation happens, you’ll be wasting your time and energy. So, it’s better to get started with something you have experienced. Once you’ve built your foundation and started making good money from your freelance writing gigs, you can diversify into other niches. I’ve written on many topics from digital marketing to cryptocurrency.
The key to your success in freelance writing is to focus on areas that you can achieve immediate success. Just don’t waste your time!
If you don’t have experience or specific expertise, it’s absolutely fine. You can start as a generalist.
Narrow Down Your Freelance Writing Niche
Like I’ve mentioned earlier, you need to choose your niche from the start. And you need to narrow down your niche. I call it niche within a niche. Let me give you some examples:
- Digital Marketing Services – SEO – I write on everything about SEO
- Baby Products – Skincare – I write on baby skincare brands
When you choose to narrow down the niche you want to write on, you will have a complete understanding of what you’re writing about and who will be reading your content.
Let’s put it this way. A company is selling human resource management tools and looking for a writer in the industry who knows about it. They won’t be hiring you if you’re interested in writing about human resource management. You need to write about what organizations will benefit from using HRM tools. You should position yourself as a freelance writer who writes for HRM technology brands.
These are some of the top niches you should consider in 2021 for freelance writing:
- Digital Marketing
- Health & Alternative Health
- Video Script Writing
- Food & Wine
- Beauty & Fashion
- Real Estate
You need to think out of the box. In Malaysia, you can also write tons of content in Malay. There is a huge demand for freelance writers who can write in Malay as the biggest audience in Malaysia likes to read content written in Malay. On the other hand, everyone can read Malay in Malaysia.
If you have good proficiency in Malay, just go out there and offer your Malay freelance writing services.
There are so many job boards available for freelance writers in other countries. Sadly, there are none in Malaysia. Even if you’re a freelance writer from Malaysia, you can still apply for freelance writing gigs from other countries.
Note** Please stay away from Freelancer.com, UpWork, or any freelance jobs sites that require you to sign up and bid for freelance writing projects. These platforms are saturated and the success rate is extremely low.
You can check out the following job boards for freelance writing:
Research and Learn More About Your Niche
Once you’ve chosen the right niche to write, start your research process.
Here’s how you can get started.
Go to Google and type the following in the search box [Your niche] writer and see what kind of results pops up.
You can see who is writing on these niches and the type of content that ranks. This is an easy way to find out the trends and current happening in the niche you’re focusing on.
If you can find several writers in your niche, it’s awesome. This is because it shows that there is a demand for writers for the niche and businesses are paying for high-quality content.
Open your Excel spreadsheet and start adding the people and businesses in your niche with their website URL. Make thorough research and understand the niche better and come up with your style of writing that appeals.
Find Your Potential Client
Your potential clients are brands or companies that you want to work with. If you’re not sure and confused in identifying your potential clients, ask these questions:
- Who are they?
- What are they doing?
- What problems are they solving for their customers?
You need to create a buyer persona of clients you want to work with. If you want to know more about creating a buyer persona, you can check out the following resources:
- 10 Steps to Creating A Buyers Persona for Freelancers or Startup Companies- A Guide with Examples
- An Advanced Guide to Creating and Using Buyer Personas to Convert Leads
If you’re serious about taking your freelance writing career to the next level, you need to have an online presence. If your potential clients can’t find you, they won’t be able to hire you either.
And that’s what the following steps going to teach you in establishing your online presence and improving personal branding.
Develop A Freelance Writer Website
First, you need to get a website. I’m not talking about WordPress or Blogspot blog. You need a self-hosted blog with a domain of your own. You need to have complete ownership of your website. And here’s how you can get a freelance writer website up and running:
Once you have your site developed, it’s going to be your lead magnet in attracting potential clients and allowing them to know more about you and the services you provide.
Most people who are trying to get started with the freelance writing career often miss out on this crucial step. They often end up with content mills that pay pennies for their writing. Even some of the top freelance writers in the industry made the mistake of not getting their website developed in the first place.
Don’t make the same mistake!
It is important to have a website to position yourself as a good freelance writer in the eyes of potential clients.
You don’t have to build a complex website, just start building a basic one. You only need to have the following pages on your site:
- Portfolio / Writing Samples
Once you have enough clients, then you can focus on implementing other digital marketing strategies like SEO, Social Media Marketing, and Content Marketing to amplify your website’s growth and attract more clients.
You also want to focus on publishing content related to the niche you’re targeting. This will also help you build authority and credibility within the niche and businesses will be more than happy to have you write their content.
If you think getting a website going to empty your pocket, that’s not true. This is the cost breakdown to get a website developed for freelance writers like you:
- Domain name: $6.99/year [RM30.00] for .com domains. If you want to purchase a Malaysian domain, it will cost you RM80/year for .com.my domain and RM120.00/year for .my domain.
- Web hosting: You can choose a local web hosting like ServerFreak which only costs RM239/year or Exabytes which will cost you RM210/year. You can check out other suitable web hosting service providers here.
- WordPress theme: You don’t have to use any premium theme for a basic website. If you have the budget, you can purchase themes from Themeforest.
You only need to spend a maximum of RM500 to get started with your basic website. And every year you will need to renew both domain name and web hosting. Even if it looks expensive for some of you, stay assured that your initial investment will bring you great ROI in the long run.
I would also suggest following some easy-to-follow tutorials to build a basic WordPress website on your own rather than hiring a developer. You don’t need to have the technical expertise to develop a simple website using WordPress.
You can check out the following guides:
- How to Create WordPress Website
- A WordPress Tutorial for Beginners: Create Your First Site in 10 Steps
Contact Digital Marketing Agencies
Sometimes you might face difficulties in landing top-notch clients as they often outsource their complete digital marketing initiatives including content writing to digital marketing agencies.
When your work with agencies and write for their clients, you don’t have to worry about marketing yourself. But the only drawback is that you won’t be able to charge the best price working with agencies. As they have a pool of freelance writers to work with, they will have the power to determine the rates. However, if you produce high-quality content that adds value to their client, you shouldn’t have any problem charging for your writing service.
Here are some of the sites that you can find digital marketing agencies in Malaysia to work with:
Send the agencies an email with your examples and rates and tell them how you can add value to their clients with quality content. You can check out the guides on pitching your service to your potential clients and digital marketing agencies:
- 9 Cold Email Templates to Pitch to New Clients More Effectively
- How to Send the Best Cold Email Pitches and Win Freelance Gigs
This is not restricted to companies and digital agencies in Malaysia alone. You can also send email pitches of your freelance writing services to any agencies or businesses around the world!
Take Advantage of Social Media Sites
If you’re using social media sites purely for social activities and entertainment, you should think about how to leverage them to get more clients. I’m not telling you to completely stop being socially active on those platforms. It’s just that you can use them to get more clients and freelance gigs. More clients more money!
On the other hand, you want to appear professional on social media sites as some potential clients tend to check your profiles to know more about you.
These are the top 3 social media platforms you should focus on in 2021 to get more clients:
- Facebook Groups
Let’s explore them one by one.
As a freelance writer in Malaysia, you should join the following Facebook groups:
There are other Facebook groups as well, but I won’t suggest them as there are too many spam posts on those groups. The groups I’ve listed above are moderated carefully and only allow genuine posts.
You can find a lot of freelance writing gigs from these groups. Just get in touch with the people posting those gigs and share your writing samples. Make sure to have a professional conversation and increase your chances of getting those freelance writing gigs.
Did you know that you can use Twitter to find freelance writing gigs?
It’s simple. Just the same as how you use Google to search for freelance gigs.
Just search for terms like “looking for writers Malaysia” or “looking for freelance writers Malaysia”. Click on the “latest” tab like the screenshot below and you can see the latest tweets from people looking for freelance writers.
Sometimes you need to try out different keywords and terms to find tweets of people looking for freelance writing services.
LinkedIn is one of the best social media sites to find potential clients. Nothing beats LinkedIn.
Here’s how you can get started with LinkedIn in finding your potential clients:
- Create a professional LinkedIn profile. Learn how to create one that stands out with this guide.
- Find the company within the niche you’re targeting.
- Check out their company website and their blog. Sometimes you might want to check out their career pages as well (if they have one) and see whether they are looking for a “writer” or “freelance writer”.
- Head over to the LinkedIn company account, click on “people”. This will give you the list of people working for the company.
- Search for “people” with the title of marketing or writer.
- Click on “Connect” and include an introduction about yourself. Please avoid pitches!
This is an example note that you can use:
Hi [person’s name],
I was looking at “company name” blog and came across your name. Would love to connect, I’m [your name], a freelance writer, and have been working with [your niche] companies, [company A], [company B]. I’m just dropping by to say hello. Have a great day ahead. [Your name][If you still have space include your website URL or email address]
Do not ask for a job or show that you’re desperate to get a freelance gig from their company.
Just keep it simple and nice. When you look at the example introduction note, it shows that you’re genuine to connect with them because you liked what they have published on their company blog. Having a good relationship with them will bring you freelance writing opportunities soon as they already know you and your writing skills.
One of the common mistakes by individuals getting started with their freelance writing career is that they tend to overdo things especially when they get connected to someone on LinkedIn and keep pressuring them for writing opportunities.
You need to avoid such an attitude if you’re serious about building a long-term relationship with your potential client.
Use the method I’ve shared above to build good connections in LinkedIn which can bring you more writing opportunities in the long run.
Market Your Freelance Writing Service
Oh shit! Are you asking me to market myself? Please don’t ask me to do that. I’m an introvert and I have a serious problem communicating with people.
Well, I clearly understand your concern. Things like marketing don’t come naturally for most people.
You just need to have a high level of confidence to market yourself. It may look difficult but it’s not impossible.
I was an introvert and I prefer working on my laptop the whole day long without interacting with others. However, over the years I’ve learned to embrace marketing. I’ve done it and I’m sure you can do it too.
Let me get this straight.
If you want to become a successful freelance writer and increase your revenue, you need to market your services consistently.
Freelance writing involves sales. You need to know how to sell yourself and your writing skills all the time. And always remember that only you can market yourself and the services you offer.
I will show you the exact process you can use to stand out and get recognized.
So, let’s get started.
These are some of the marketing tasks you need to consistently do.
- Cold emails – Daily or weekly
- Follow up emails- Daily or weekly
- Cold email introduction pitches – Daily or weekly
- Updating website/portfolio – Monthly or Quarterly
- Connecting with people on LinkedIn – Weekly or Monthly
- Joining freelance writing network groups – Weekly or Monthly
- Perform content marketing – Weekly
- Connecting with digital agencies – Weekly or monthly
You need to schedule your tasks for marketing purposes. You don’t want your marketing initiatives to affect your writing work. For example, if you perform content marketing (publishing a blog post + promoting content on social media platforms), you don’t have to do it in a day. You can work an hour every day for 4-5 days to get it completed.
When you consistently work on your marketing tasks, it will become a habit after a few weeks. Once it becomes a part of your daily or weekly schedule, you won’t feel the difficulties to work on them.
Starting with your marketing initiatives can be hard at the beginning. Once you start doing them, you can certainly make them work.
You can use Asana, a project management tool to schedule your tasks and follow them. Asana’s basic features are enough for you to stay consistent with your marketing efforts. (it’s free with limited features) If you’re not sure how to use Asana, check out the following guides:
I understand that doing all the marketing tasks can be hard and break you down. But you need to be clear with one thing, the marketing tasks you do help you acquire more clients.
Don’t miss out on the benefits content marketing offers. Creating content to market your service is a form of marketing. Getting your content to the right audience will help you improve your brand awareness while increasing your authority within the freelance writing niche.
On the other hand, you can guest post on other websites, get featured on podcasts, or get interviewed can help you amplify personal branding.
You can check the following resources on how you can improve personal branding as a freelance writer:
- 10 Smart Ways to Market Your Freelance Writing Business
- 7 Highly Effective Strategies to Promote Yourself as a Writer
Deciding on Your Freelance Writing Rates
If you’ve followed everything I’ve discussed in this guide, you should be in the process of acquiring at least one client. Did your potential client get back to you asking for your writing rates?
I’m glad to hear that and you’re moving in the right direction.
When it comes to freelance writing rates, people are often confused.
I’ve seen so many people get anxious when we talk about the pricing of their writing services because:
- Freelancers are often worried they are charging higher than the market rate, but they are undercharging their clients.
- There is no “standard” rate system for freelance writing services.
Setting the rate for your service is subjective.
There are a lot of factors that determine the rate of your writing service. It depends on your experience, style of writing, and knowledge. It’s hard for us to tell that you can charge RM500 for a 1,000 words blog post.
However, the following article can help you set the right pricing for your writing. You can check them out below:
The article is not perfect, but it covers the basics to get you started.
Here are some additional things you can keep in your mind to get more freelance writing clients and charge the right pricing:
- Have a minimum rate for your service. You should not go below this rate.
- Raise your price once you start getting more clients. Or choose the client you want to work with.
- Turn down potential clients who aren’t willing to pay your rate.
- Always be confident with your writing skills and experience.
If a potential client approaches you to write content for a specific price, negotiate for a higher rate. Although there are thousands of writers from countries like India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan charge way lower than the market rate, their quality of writing is always disappointing.
I know writers who charge thousands of dollars for one single blog post. And I’m not talking about long-form guides of 10,000 to 15,000 words. Just simple long-form post of 2,000 to 3,000 words.
I won’t be surprised if you start writing 500 words content for RM40. But, don’t settle for low. Improve your writing skills and come up with high-quality samples that deserve higher pay.
Acquire Additional Skills That Amplifies Your Writing Skill
Writing is the most important component for any freelance writer. But, having additional skills that support your writing can take you to greater heights in your freelance writing career.
One of the great examples is SEO.
A freelance writer with SEO knowledge can craft content that is both human and search-engine friendly. Most of the websites actively look for writers with SEO knowledge as they want content that helps their sites to rank for keywords and terms related to their products and services.
Just pause and think for a moment.
Why do websites need content nowadays?
The main aim of any content published on a website is to drive targeted traffic and convert them to paying customers.
With content ranking on search engines, a website can generate quality organic traffic. Freelance writers with SEO skills often get paid more compared to generic writers.
If you want to make more money as a freelance writer, you need to add additional skills that amplify your writing skill.
Think of Freelance Writing as a Business
90% of freelance writers consider writing as their job and only the remaining 10% think of it as a business. It’s hard to change the mindset as only some can look at it as a business and take the necessary steps to run a freelance writing business.
Ask yourself whether you want to continuously work as a freelance writer or run a freelance writing business. Changing your mindset is one thing. But the key to transforming a job into a business is to treat your freelance writing as a small business.
When you start running your freelance writing service as a business, you will start focusing on the profitability of your business and choose the right clients to work it. You will stop working for clients that pay you pennies.
Once you have the business mindset, you will eventually start marketing yourself like a real businessperson. All you need is discipline, focus, and consistency.
Get yourself out of your comfort zone. Hustle continuously until you reach your goals.
In this guide, I’ve outlined everything you need to know about freelance writing. If you follow everything in this guide, you can get started with your freelance writing career in Malaysia right away.
And the best thing you can do as a Malaysia freelance writer is to keep on learning to enhance your knowledge and skills. Whether you’re looking to improve your writing skills, learn how to write email pitches to potential clients, or acquire additional skills you need to be consistent with everything you do.
Do you think this guide has covered everything to help you become a successful freelance writer in Malaysia?
Please share your thoughts by commenting below.