There are many ways to get people onto your list. Lead magnets are one such resource. For example, you can build ebooks, checklists and cheat sheets. But you can also do content upgrades, such as PDF versions of an article with added resources in them, four-part video training series, and more. Think about your audience and what you can offer them to better serve them, then treat them with some respect and you'll eventually reap the rewards.
Tools. You don’t need much to work as a home-based freelance writer, but there are some tools that you must have. The most important will be your computer. Get the fastest Internet access that you can afford. It doesn’t matter what kind of computer you get. Just make sure you’re comfortable enough to spend a lot of time with it. Most clients will request that you submit your work as a Microsoft Word document, so make sure that whatever programs you use are compatible. In addition, because you’ll be spending so much time at the computer, make sure that you have a good work area with proper lighting. Some clients will want to be able to reach you by phone or Skype, so have both set up and accessible. You’ll need an invoicing program, such as Freshbooks, and a good bookkeeping system to keep track of sales, orders, and accounts receivables.
A blog highlights your technical ability and showcases your ability to write blog posts. Your blog can be about different topics than those you write about for your clients. In fact, it should be on a topic that interests you. Visitors will see that you can not only write, but you can also build an online community. A good blog has the potential to earn you many referrals for more clients.
Before you really roll up your sleeves and monetize your personal or professional skills, why not right-size your life? Selling your unwanted stuff is a great way to downsize and declutter your life while earning some income on the side. If you’re transitioning to full-time work-at-home status, that income could provide a critical boost to your plans for a proper home office, or allow you to maintain your lifestyle during lean times without resorting to voluntary simplicity.
As someone who's been immersed in a number of online industries for quite some time, I know a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in this arena. However, just like you, I started at ground zero with little knowledge, but a great deal of passion. What I learned along the way were some invaluable lessons from failure that hurt at the time, but helped immensely in the grand scheme of things.