The First Step to Become a Freelance Grant Writer

  • Why are some freelance grant writers able to create a thriving business while others are just dreaming about being a professional grant writer?
  • Why do some grant writers grow their practice and seem to get all the clients while others just dream about it and get stuck in their J-O-B?
  • And why are some people clear about how to start and grow their grant writing business while others are floundering?

Can I be a Grant Writer even with No Experience?

This article is going to immediately help you get off the floundering fence when thinking about becoming a freelance grant writer and not knowing which step to take. Once you get this down, you’ll start experiencing more clarity, more confidence and more grant writing jobs.
If you’re a newbie grant writer who needs more grant writing experience, or you’re already an accomplished grant writer that isn’t leveraging your skills by getting and growing your nonprofit client base, stay with me because you’re going to discover why grant writers like you and me can grow a freelance grant writing business and why it’s critical you get your system handled right now.

Are you Ready to Become a Successful Grant Writer?

how to become a freelance grant writer


Before we dig in, I’ve got to warn you about something critically important. And not paying attention to this virtually guarantees your dream to become a professional grant writing will only be a dream… or take 3Xs longer to develop and feel like a burden.
Right now, you might think you need tons of clients to make any money and you might have imposter syndrome.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if instead you had system where you had the perfect clients and were confident in your grant writing skills?
I get this may be different from what you’ve heard before about freelance grant writing. But this fundamental shift is one reason why this blueprint works so well.
In fact, you might’ve already tried to get off the floundering fence – and it didn’t work out the way you’d hoped.
I’m sure you’ll agree, trying to start a real business and get nonprofit clients isn’t always as simple as some people make it seem. It comes with its challenges.
Maybe you have written proposals, secured clients, or even won grants, but you still wonder, “Can I really start a real business and get nonprofit clients?”
If this sounds familiar, I get it.
So many of us grant writers have tried the exact same things. We’ve heard that little voice of doubt in our head, wondering if it’s possible. And I’m here to show you it IS.
Let’s demystify the process of get off the floundering fence which will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. In this first article in the foundations of freelance grant writing series, I’m going to share a blueprint that I’ve developed after years of trial and error.
It’s called…

Foundations of a Freelance Grant Writing Business

If your dream to become a grant writing is still only a dream… then this will serve as a tremendous resource to eliminate that frustration and help you get off the floundering fence.
Maybe you’re a newbie grant writer, or maybe you’re already an accomplished grant writer.
Either way, you’re in the right place because after this article you’ll know how to find grant writing jobs and write better grants.
I developed this framework for you because I saw so many Aspiring Grant Writers become completely sidetracked while trying to get the grant writing experience you need.
For example, I saw Aspiring Grant Writers who were newbie grant writers trying to get the grant writing experience they needed before they knew how to write grants or had found out what types of services they love to do.
I’ve also seen accomplished grant writers not leveraging their skills by getting and growing their nonprofit client base because they don’t have the right freelance grant writing system in place.
I could go on, but I know us Aspiring Grant Writers need clarity – because in full transparency, that was my story too.
Before I outline Foundations of Freelance Grant Writing and the specifics for each step, you might be wondering how I got into all of this and figured it out. Let me tell you so you can understand where it’s coming from.
It started when I knew I had to create my grant writing business with nonprofit clients in order to get off the floundering fence.
If any of this sounds familiar, let me tell you – I know exactly what it’s like!
I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, and even questioned myself whether I COULD do it. But I was tired of spinning my wheels and knew that getting off the floundering fence was key to getting what I was after.
So, I set out to find a way to make it happen.
Once I got past my objections and began investing in myself, I started seeing my freelance consulting starting to grow. I did what I set out to do – now I know exactly how to create a thriving business with nonprofit clients.
This got me get off the floundering fence, which is exactly what I was going for. And if you’re ready for less stress while developing or growing your business, too you’re going to love what’s coming up.
Because this story doesn’t stop with me.
Everything I’m about to share with you is the exact plan I followed to create a thriving business with nonprofit clients. And it’s led me to have a much higher income and able to help hundreds of nonprofits.
More importantly, this means you’ll experience less stress while developing or growing your business. And that’s what I want for you. All Aspiring Grant Writers could use that, which is why I want to make this easy for you!
The purpose of Foundations of Freelance Grant Writing is to help you quickly to help you quickly identify a key pathway so that you can gain clarity and select your nonprofit niche so that you can get off the floundering fence.

Are you ready to start writing grants?

grant writing course

How to Get Started as a Grant Writer

The first step to becoming a grant writer is to answer the question, “What does success mean to me?”
I know you might be thinking, “Where is she even coming from?”
But believe me, answering this question is the foundation for starting any business as well as is the foundation for starting and sustain anything that you really want to do.
If you don’t set this foundation – even if you just jump forward and apply for your business license and get moving, you might not sustain the business when times get tough if you don’t know what type of success you are striving for.
Or it is going to take you a thousand times longer to do anything in your business!
So, let’s go ahead and do these simple steps.
The first thing I want you to do is to is identify what success means to you.

So go ahead and list it out 😊

One disclaimer I really want to share with you is do not feel shameful for anything you write down and do not think, “Well, what does success look like to somebody else?” I.e., meaning you might be thinking what success looks like for maybe someone you love and respect.
Forget what it looks like for someone else, or someone else’s view of you! Figure out what success mean to you as a professional grant writer.
This is your life so it’s okay if success as a freelance grant writer to you means owning a home and having a white picket fence, traveling and living around the world, or working on a laptop at a coffee shop for only a couple hours a day.
It could also mean having six or seven figures annually that supports your family. Or working five hours a week to earn a little extra money doing a job that fulfills you.
Success as a grant writer could mean a variety or a multitude of those things. But whatever success as a freelance grant writer means to you, it needs to light you up and make you feel amazing!
I do this activity a lot with board training too – as far as what does success look like as a board member of a nonprofit – and I am blown away with what people share.
It is cool because sometimes people have been serving on boards for years with the same people and they never knew the why reason. When they discover one another’s why it opens deep conversations and always creates closer relationships.

If you want help in brainstorming different types of success, here are some from students of my freelance grant writing master course:

  • I can run my own grant writing business and have flexibility

  • To be a positive change in the world

  • Because I want something fulfilling to do when I retire

  • I love to help people get jobs

  • I am passionate about the environment and want to help more nonprofits get funding to combat climate change.

  • I want to help animals in need

  • I want to work from anywhere in the world

  • I am tired of not getting paid my worth as an employee in a nonprofit

  • And so much more…

Create Grant Writing Career Goals Every Year

Now that you’ve written down what success means to you as a grant writer, I want you to think about what your goals are by the end of the year. 😊

As a freelance grant writer, what do you really want to accomplish by the end of the year?

  • Do you want to get 10 nonprofit clients?
  • Do you want to win three grants?
  • Do you want to figure out how to start a freelance grant writing business?

Maybe it’s even something as simple as wanting to finish a course in grant writing or to get your website developed.

Any of the goals above will do. Now put a time stamp duration on it. For example, “Get a business license by December 31st.”

Why? Well, if you have a timeline, it makes the action of accomplishing these goals more real.

What are Your Values as a Professional Grant Writer?

Now I want you to write down your values. This is important because your values really connect you to your idea of success and your goals. They are the current that runs deep.

Values are words and ideas that you want to live by and that you encompass. They are the imagination that inspire movements.

They really drive every decision in your life!

To help you brainstorm, I will share my company values.

  • Courage
  • Feminism & Diversity
  • Mindfulness
  • Abundance
  • Excitement and fun (yes, I actually have fun in my business!)
  • Giving Value (eek, can’t you tell I love sharing things that light me up – just like all my podcasts!)
  • Connecting
  • Learning
  • Adaptability
  • Financial Stability & Growth

Creating a Thriving Grant Writing Business with Nonprofit Clients

Now that you’re clear about how to identify success and you’ve gotten the first step in starting a grant writing business, the BIG question is, how do you get and keep nonprofit clients?

Hands down, this is the most important key to growth for Aspiring Grant Writers.  If you can’t get your ducks in a row, then you won’t get and keep nonprofit clients.

And without this, it means you’ll be scrambling to get clients and wake up with 20 to-do items on your list but no idea where to start.

What if instead you could keep nonprofit clients, and bring in new ones?

This doesn’t mean having to work much harder. It’s about working smarter. A way better result, for the same amount of effort? It’s possible!

Now, how DO you get and keep nonprofit clients?  That’s exactly what I’ll show you in podcast episode #190.

If you’re a newbie grant writer, this will serve as the foundation, so you see how to get and keep nonprofit clients.  If you’re already an accomplished grant writer, then you’ll be able to quickly put this into practice to get your ducks in a row.

I’m also going to introduce you to stories and provide you a blueprint that you can download and use as an ongoing reference and tool. Once you know exactly what to do, you’ll see it’s easy to get and keep nonprofit clients – and I’ll show you how in the next article.

What you’ve learned here in this article is a simple process for creating a thriving business with a firm foundation. It’s a game changer in helping you start a real business and get nonprofit clients!  It’s a key step along the way in reaching your goal.

And that’s when you can get off the floundering fence… and, more importantly, have less stress while developing or growing your business.

And what you’re learning in this article series puts you on the right path to get there!

In episode 190, we’ll talk about how to get and keep nonprofit clients by following a simple process to help you get your ducks in a row.

start a grant writing business

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Holly Rustick