How To Become A Freelance Writer (And Actually Make Money!)

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Content is king, and right now, there is a shortage of writers to create it. In this article, I will share with you how to become a freelance writer and make a full-time income writing at home in your PJs or on a beach in Bali: you pick!

Do you love writing?

If you do, the idea of getting paid to write and work from home may sound too good to be true.

Trust me. It’s not.

In an era of unending content creation, there is actually a shortage of good writers out there.

This means that today, it has never been easier to earn money writing while at the same time gaining the freedom and lifestyle you are longing for.

Yes, making a living as a freelance writer is going to require time, effort, and an investment in yourself to get started.

But once you do, you’ll be able to work from the comfort of your home and set your own schedule!

Or, if you love to travel like me, you can freelance from anywhere since all you need is your computer and an internet connection.

You can simply earn money writing on the side or easily transform this into a full-time gig.

It’s up to you!

Let’s get started!

How to become a freelance writer

If you’re ready to start your own freelance writing business, just follow this step-by-step process that will help you not only get going but also make money quickly!

Also check: 15 Best Freelance Writing Website To Find High-Paying Gigs!

1. Decide what type of writer you want to be

This is such an important first step. There are different types of writers, all of which can be generally classified under the freelance writer umbrella.

The first thing you should do is think about which types of freelance writing and what type of content sound most interesting to you, along with your area of expertise and what you think you’d be good at.

The most common types of freelance writing are:

  • Article/feature writing: This is probably the most common type of writing that comes to mind when people think about freelancing. You’ll be writing for magazines and newspapers, either online or for a printed version.
  • Blogging: You can make money writing by starting your own personal blog. How do you make money from a blog? Take a look at my guide here.
  • Ghostwriting: This means that you will be writing things for others, who will then put their name on the work. Think blogs and articles, white papers, social media content, and even books. If you don’t mind working in the shadows and letting someone else take the credit, this may be the option for you.
  • Copywriting: As a freelance copywriter, you’ll write creative copy to help businesses and entrepreneurs establish and promote their brands, engage with clients, and market their products and services.
  • Social Media Content: With social media becoming an important aspect of everyone’s life, social media content writers help brands plan, write, and schedule social media posts and digital content across a variety of platforms.
  • Technical writing: The idea of technical writing is to take an overly complicated idea in a specific field and present it in an easy-to-understand manner to the general public. If you’re an expert in certain scientific, mechanical, or other high-level fields, you can make good money as a technical writer.

Case study 1

How Laura from Legal SEO Writer makes over $15k a month!

Laura started her full-time freelancing career in June 2012. Since then, she managed to scale her one-woman business to a multi-six-figure level!

“I decided to start a freelance writing career because I was bored to death in my office job at an insurance company. I wanted a business where I could decide who to work with and who to turn down.

I’ve had months as high as $28k as a one-woman shop, but I usually hover between $15-20k.

My best tips would be to start small and don’t give up your day job yet.

I stayed in my day job for a year while I built up my clientele and had a year of income reports to prove to myself that it was steady. Taking the leap to go full-time was scary but also amazing because my business grew so much, and I am worlds happier than I was in my day job.

Also, know that you will hear the word “no” or get no response dozens or even hundreds of times. Don’t expect to land your first freelance writing client in five minutes- invest the time to write a great pitch or samples and then start pitching.

During the time I’ve been freelancing, we have moved six times (and I’m currently packing for move #7) for my husband’s military career. Being able to pick up and keep business as usual in a new city is a huge help to me.”

2. Narrow down your niche

Now that you know what type of writer you want to be, the next step is to narrow down your niche.

Believe it or not, marketing yourself as a general freelance writer may backfire. Most people looking for a writer for a specific project want someone with expertise in that specific topic.

If you choose to become a Jack or Jill of all trades, potential clients may assume you’re not specialized enough and just not what they’re looking for.

Start by brainstorming the topics that seem more interesting to you and that you have some experience in. You can even create sub-niches from your main niche to allow for more diversity.

For example, if you enjoy writing about personal finance, you can also cover specific topics like paying off debt, creating a budget and tracking expenses, saving for retirement, or building an emergency fund.

Here are some of the best and most profitable niches for freelance writers to consider:

  • Personal Finance
  • Business and Freelancing
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • Marketing
  • Parenting
  • Dating and Relationships
  • Food
  • Fitness
  • Higher Education
  • Fashion

Case study 2

How Leslie from Blurban Planner makes $4-10k a month by working in a niche she knows well.

Leslie started a company to create multilingual content for luxury resorts, hotels, and real estate.

“I realized a few years ago that my dead-end 7-4 job was not fulfilling. I wasn’t happy, and wanderlust was beginning to pressure-cook below my surface. But I knew I loved writing and had experience with SEO development for real estate companies and resorts (I live in a bungalow on the beach in Virginia).

I decided to take a vacation to Paris for two weeks, returned to my job, and put my two weeks’ notice in with my supervisor. During those two weeks, I teamed up with other bilingual writers to form a content writing company, incorporated my firm, and haven’t looked back since.

Fast-forward to now, and we proudly write for many large luxury brands locally and abroad. I get to travel the world and meet with clients globally. I absolutely love the life I live and the career I created for myself.

My best tips for someone getting started in writing?

Read. A lot. Absorb content on whichever genre interests you and learn writing styles and what will bring value to your potential clients. Read first, write next, and never stop learning.”

3. Invest in yourself

Becoming a freelance writer can be overwhelming at the beginning. As you get started, you should be open to investing in yourself and your writing skills to ensure your success.

For example, I absolutely love this affordable course, which shows you everything you need to know to set up a profitable freelance writing business.

Not only does it teach you the writing skills you need for this digital age – including the secrets to writing successful blog posts, website copy, podcast and video scripts, and more – but it also shows you how to find paid writing work and market your services effectively to make the most money.

No wonder it has helped almost 7,000 burgeoning freelance writers already!

The Complete Freelance Writing Course here

Check out this top reviewed course to help you get started!

Beyond a freelance writing course, new freelancers should also consider investing in the right equipment.

This could be upgrading your laptop or setting up a home office so you can work efficiently.

Here are some helpful tools that you may want to consider using as a freelance writer:

  • Grammarly: To help check grammar and spelling for your work (there is a free and paid versions).
  • Hemingway App: Free grammar editor that can help you score your writing level and assess your overall sentence structure.
  • Wave: This can help you send invoices to clients and track your payments. The best part? It’s completely free!

4. Build your portfolio

Writing samples are so important to starting a freelance writing career, and it’s difficult to get hired without them.

Would you hire a dog sitter who has no experience? Probably not. You’d likely want to see reviews and testimonials from past clients to assure you that they know what they’re doing when it comes to caring for your dog. It’s the same with freelance writing.

Potential clients want to see that you’ve written content before, and they also use samples from your portfolio to get a feel for your writing.

If you don’t have any samples in your portfolio, you may have to write for free a few times, so you have some work to showcase. You don’t have to do this long term. Just try to land 3-4 solid guest article spots and deliver your best work.

This is how you do it:
  1. Search for websites within your niche that accept articles from guest writers.
  2. Reach out to them to see if they would be willing to have you write a trial article that can be published on their blog. The best approach is to send an email and give them a proposal for a few guest post articles you could offer them for free.

A few tips when you reach out to write your first articles:

  • Keep it short, simple, and to the point.
  • Explain in a brief paragraph who you are and why you’re an expert in that particular niche.
  • Pitch your article with a catchy title and a short description of what it will be about.
  • Everyone likes to hear why they are great, so read their content before you pitch a platform and tell them why you like it.

From there, you can use those samples to pitch new clients for paid work.

As you build your portfolio, you should be thinking about three things prospective clients want to see.

  1. That you know how to write: think about spelling, grammar, and punctuation, as well as format and clarity of thought in your work. Most simply, potential customers want to see that you are a skilled wordsmith.
  2. Knowledge in your chosen niche: your portfolio should show clients that you know what you’re talking about. Aim to show a knowledge of both the history and future of the niche, as well as a grasp of industry-specific terms and jargon.
  3. Documented results: if you are writing a guest article for free, ask the source if they can write you a short review talking about the quality of your work and the success of the content you created, then add these testimonials to your portfolio!

5. Do I need a blog?

I think it’s a great idea for freelance writers to have their own blogs.

Having a blog can be the easiest way to build a portfolio and showcase your work if you’re trying to make money writing articles but don’t have a ton of writing experience.

Yes, starting a blog costs a little money, but it’s another good way to invest in yourself, and it pays off.

Most writers I talk to also have a blog and have used it to help them land qualified freelancing gigs.

You can even leverage your blog to get other guest post opportunities. If you find a blog in your niche that you really like and admire, pitch a guest post idea that you think would be valuable to their readers.

Deliver your best work, then afterward mention that you’re a freelance writer for hire and would appreciate any leads they send your way.

Want to make money writing? Learn how to become a freelance writer and earn money online, following these 8 simple steps to success!

6. Build a network

Don’t underestimate the power of a solid network – it can be the difference between success and failure as a freelance writer.

The good news is it is so easy for new writers to build a network in the writing community online.

Head to Twitter and search the hashtag #Writer; start a LinkedIn profile and connect with others; you can even find a thriving writing community on TikTok!

If you’re just starting out, perhaps the best way to build a writing network is by joining a few freelance writer groups on Facebook. This will allow you to connect with other writers, ask questions, and get feedback.

Most freelance writers in these groups are friendly and more than willing to help other members out.

There is plenty of freelance work for everyone, so you probably won’t feel a sense of competition and should feel more like you’re part of a community.

Below are some of the best Facebook groups for freelance writers to join at the moment:

Remember that networking shouldn’t be one-sided. However you network, be sure to give back and contribute just as much as you receive – networking is all about relationships, and relationships require nurturing.

Who knows, you may even be able to share leads with your network once you reach your capacity with clients.

It can happen sooner than you think!

Case study 3

How Greg started writing for love and now makes $4-8k a month

Greg followed romance and taught himself how to become a freelance writer, using the support of a community to help him grow.

“I’ve been working as a freelance writer for five years now and got my start because of romance. I met a Chinese woman while we were both traveling in Guatemala. At the time, I was working hands-on in agriculture, conservation, and community development… not writing!

But, romance took me to China, which opened up a world of language-related work. I went from editor to transcriber to writer to content manager to small business owner to ghostwriter. Five years later, and I still do a little bit of everything as a remote freelancer and small business owner because we split our life between the US and China.

My biggest piece of advice is to never stop prospecting – even when you’re absolutely full to the gills. That’s when you start pitching 10%-20% higher rates to new prospects – for
every one you land, you can replace that least favorite/paying client!

My second piece of advice: join a supportive community. For me, that’s The Content Marketing Lounge on Facebook. This great group of professionals is willing to answer your questions, and where I got my #1 piece of advice!”

7. Start pitching: how to get your first freelance writing client

You may actually land your first client by the time you get to this step, thanks to networking and building your portfolio via guest posts. However, it’s still crucial that you know how to find freelance writing work. There are three great ways to do this:

1. Job Boards

Job boards are often filled with freelance writing jobs for clients who are eager to hire. This is what makes them a great place to start your search.

My favorite job boards for freelance writing gigs:

ProBlogger: In many ways, the industry leader in freelance writing jobs, ProBlogger is a great place to find work no matter your freelance writing niche, or if you are a beginner or an expert. And, despite the name, it’s not just blogs. ProBlogger’s job board contains clients looking for copywriters, ghostwriters, social media content writers, and more!

Better still, because ProBlogger is often the first place businesses and content creators go to find freelance writers, the chances are you will be working with professionals who know the value of high-quality writing.

FlexJobs: FlexJobs is arguably the best online job board for all sorts of remote work, including freelance writing gigs! There, you can search for writing jobs and narrow down the options based on your preferred work schedule, your experience, and your niche to find exactly what you are looking for.

Note that FlexJobs does come with a 2.95 fee for the first 14 days, but if you’re looking to find paid online writing work immediately, I would definitely say that it is worth it.

Plus, if you don’t like it, you can cancel at any time, no questions asked!

Also check: 15 Best Freelance Writing Website To Find High-Paying Gigs!

2. Cold Pitching

The second way to find writing work is by sending a cold pitch. If you discover a blog or website that you’d like to write for, find out who the editor is and send them an email.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your pitch leads to new client work.

  • See if there are other writers on the site. If you see different authors on the blog, it’s a good indication that this client hires freelance writers. Some sites even have a team page where they may include bios for their current writers or the head editor.
  • Make sure the content is up-to-date. Don’t waste time pitching a dead blog or website. Seeing fresh content indicates that this prospective client actually cares about the writing and finds it valuable.
  • Follow instructions. If there’s a page on the site that highlights a freelance writing opening, be sure to follow the instructions exactly when you send your pitch.
  • Connect on social media. A great way to warm up your pitch is to connect with the client on Twitter or LinkedIn to build up some rapport.
  • Send article titles and samples. Never send a freelance writing pitch without attaching some writing samples. You can also get creative and send them a few custom article titles that you think would work well for their site. This shows them that you’ve taken some time to read through existing content and learn more about their audience.
  • Don’t get discouraged. You may have to send a number of pitches before you’re accepted. Be prepared for rejection, but don’t stress; this gets easier the more you build your portfolio.

3. Freelance Service Marketplaces

Another great way to find freelance writing work, particularly when you are just starting out, is through online service marketplaces like Fiverr.

There, you can post an ad for your writing services and wait for customers to come to you! (Check out my guide on How to Make Money on Fiverr).

If you’ve read other blogs about how to become a freelance writer, you’ve probably seen the stern warnings against this option, claims that it is not worth it since you will be competing against bottom dollar freelancers, and assertions that many have waited months without ever hearing from a single customer.

I’m here to tell you that this does not have to be the case. To succeed in service marketplaces like Fiverr, all you need to do is follow these simple tips:

  • Use your account as an element of your writing portfolio. This means showing that you know how to write eloquently and concisely through your profile and ads. Additionally, as you begin to complete projects, don’t be afraid to ask clients to leave reviews, which will show future potential clients your documented results.
  • Don’t compete against bottom dollar freelancers. Serious clients are not looking for bottom dollar work. They are willing to pay for a professional writer who knows what they’re doing. Don’t set your prices based on the lowest common denominator; instead, don’t be afraid to charge what you feel you are worth, which will actually make you more impressive to many prospective clients than if you had low rates.
  • Cheat on your first sale. The hardest sale to make on service marketplaces like Fiverr is your first. Many create an ad, then sit back and wait for the offers to come rolling in, only to find that they hear nothing for months. Get around this by asking a friend or family member to make the first purchase (you can even pay them back) and leave a 5-star review. This will show potential clients that you are making sales with positive results and will almost certainly result in more sales shortly after. Is it cheating? Yes. But all’s fair in love and business.

8. Don’t undervalue yourself

It’s unfortunate, but most new freelance writers actually undervalue their work and don’t charge enough money.

I get it. It’s tough to ask for more money sometimes, not to mention slightly awkward. Still, you have to do it if you want to be paid fairly and earn enough to support yourself.

Freelance writing is hard work and requires a lot of skill and attention to detail. You should be compensated well for the work you do.

Plus, you have to cover your own expenses, pay taxes and health insurance, as well as save for your own retirement.

Keep in mind, you will have to do administrative tasks that keep your business running, like checking and responding to emails, doing research, editing your own work, and sending invoices. Factor that time into your ideal rate.

When a client asks you how much you charge, never answer with a general quote. Every client is different in their own way, so your prices should vary.

Take into consideration factors like:
  • How long will it take you to write, research, and edit (Pro tip: Time yourself when you do free trial work and write guest posts to build your portfolio, so you have a good idea of how much time and effort goes into writing).
  • Whether you will be given a topic and outline or will need to come up with that yourself.
  • Whether you’ll be writing under your own name or as a ghostwriter.

NOTE: Most writers charge per project or per word.

Set an income goal and speak to a tax professional about how much you should save from your freelance writing income so you can pay quarterly taxes. Factor that amount into your rate.

For example, if you charge $75 per blog post but are at a 25% tax bracket, that means $18.75 of that money should go directly to taxes.

Finally, ask yourself if you feel completely confident in the rate before you send it to a prospective client. If you secretly feel like you sold yourself short, don’t send it or raise the price. You will enjoy the work and most likely do a better job when you feel like you’re fairly compensated.

Just remember, with something as specialized as writing, the lowest price is not always best.

Customers are not looking for a cut rate product; they are looking for something perfect for their needs and are willing to pay for it.

9. Scale up your business

As mentioned above, in an age of unending content creation, there is currently more writing work out there than writers to do it.

If you follow the steps listed above as you start a career in freelance writing, then you will get work, and, more often that not, you will eventually find yourself fully booked.

When this happens, you should scale up your business by raising your prices for new customers. Don’t wait for a specific time on the calendar, do it immediately – you can always lower your prices again if the work slows down.

Do this a few times, and you will soon find yourself with a more than lucrative full-time job.

Case study 4

How Samantha uses freelance writing to have a steady income while building her business, Monsoon Blooms, and makes $3-8k a month

Samantha has worked for big publications like Lonely Planet, the Huffington Post, and many more. She is now building her how business and uses freelance writing to diversify her income.

“I studied Marketing at University and quickly discovered office life wasn’t for me and went hunting for a career path in travel that offered more flexibility.

After spending a lot of time working on my portfolio by writing free articles in my spare time, I took the plunge to go freelance… I also used the change as a chance to move to Bali, where the cost of living was lower, and I could more easily manage varying paychecks. Copywriting has proved far more financially viable than editorial for me, so I always recommend finding your voice across various industries and writing styles.

I also tracked down mentors within the industry and did everything I could to understand how they paved their path. Last but certainly not least, I think it’s important to separate the elements of writing and find your strengths and weaknesses within the skill. I realized that my grasp of the English language is average when it comes to spelling and grammar, but I can put words in great order and know how to evoke emotion. By figuring this out, I was able to scrub up on what I lacked and progress a little further than I had ever imagined.”

How do I make more money as a freelance writer?

To truly succeed and make more money with freelance writing, you should expand your thinking beyond simply putting words on a page.

There are so many different angles and elements to the writing game, and the more you learn, the more money you will make!

Here are three ways to boost your income as a freelance writer:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Writers in the digital age should aim to become fluent in SEO. Many clients, whether they’re looking for articles, blogs, social media content, website copy, or other things, want to work with writers who understand how search engines work, and are anxious to pay for writers who are able to write SEO-friendly content.

How do you become an expert? Start with this amazing free course. It will show you the tips and tricks you need to take your SEO game to the next level, even if you aren’t very tech savvy.

2. Proofreading

Understanding how to effectively check work for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and readability to make sure everything is perfect before it’s published will allow you to provide more polished work and make you more impressive to potential clients. Moreover, you can actually supplement your writing income by doing freelance proofreading for other writers and content creators on the side.

Want to know more? Check out my breakdown of How to Become a Proofreader.

3. Make money from your blog

If you’ve started a blog as part of your freelance writing career, well, you might as well be making money from it! Not to brag, but I am currently making six-figures from this blog you are reading now.

How did I do it? Learn all my secrets with my comprehensive, step-by-step guide and How to Start a Blog and Make Money.

Should I be worried about AI writing?

If you’re thinking about getting into the freelance writing industry, you’re probably wondering whether the industry will continue to exist in a few years or whether it will be taken over and made obsolete by AI writing.

In my opinion, and in fact, in the opinion of those creating the AI writing programs, it won’t, at least not anytime soon.

Here’s the thing: AI writing works by searching for and processing thousands of written pieces related to whatever keywords are chosen. While this is great for creating pieces which regurgitate a series of facts, it lacks the ability to provide context and originality – it cannot include anecdotes or emotions, nor can it fabricate creativity.

That said, AI writing may be able to take over for poorly written content in the near future. For low-skill writers who lack the ability to formulate comprehensive, concise, and creative written ideas which flow smoothly, AI writing could probably do it better.

If you want to insulate yourself from this, think about improving your skill set and expertise, and don’t be afraid to invest in the courses and resources I mentioned.

The Complete Freelance Writing Course here

Check out this top reviewed course to help you get started!

Ready to make money as a freelance writer?

It’s true. You really can make money as a freelance writer, and in fact, there has never been a better time to get started than right now.

Laura, Leslie, Greg, Samantha, and many others have changed their lives and are now making great money doing what they love.

Just follow the steps above, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer, not to mention obtaining the freedom you’ve always wanted!

As you begin, please do let me know how it’s going and if you have any questions. I will keep an eye out for eloquent and well-written comments below.

Also check 17 Easy Remote Jobs You Can Start Today (With No Experience)

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  1. Norman Clise says:

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  2. Muriel Caskey says:

    Your positive mindset is inspiring! Your effort as well as devotion are praiseworthy.

  3. Hi there, any tips for acquiring photos for an article if they are photos you can’t take yourself. Love the article it’s very useful to me! Thanks,

    1. I normally use a website called Deposit Photos. You need to pay a small fee for each photos but there are offers they run if you sign up to their email list, and it’s the best way to avoid any copyright infringement.

  4. I have a friend who is so much interested in guest posting and this post will really go a long way for her so i will be sharing it with her…

  5. Not sure if you noticed or if it was on purpose. No 3 Bold Heading *Learn* from experts- I like your article. Thank You

  6. That was really helpful! Actually, I was collecting some information for some research purpose& found this pretty interesting. Thank You 🙂

  7. Hey Sara. I really love how good your contents are. I just started a blog and it’s because I’m having college entrance exams very soon that’s what holding me from upgrading to a paid plan,but my niche is based on teenagers and how to live good lives both at school and home. Do you think it’s enough to bring income? Because my goal is to get the MacBook air 2020 under my first year of blogging. Is it to much to dream of or unattainable

    1. Hey Nkechi,
      I think your niche is good! But make sure to identify how you are going to make money. Look for affiliate marketing opportunities and products you can recommend to your readers. Check similar blogs and find out how they make money.

      It’s great to have goals! But MacBook can be expensive and you seem to be busy with college as well. I think we can all achieve our dreams but don’t be too demanding of yourself. I have a couple of friends who started their blogs and it took them over a year to earn enough to be able to buy a MacBook 😉 So keep working on your blog, but keep in mind that it could take some time before you start to make money!

      But once you do, it will be easier and easier to grow from there!
      Best of luck!

  8. Hello, It has been inspiring to read through this owe inspiring teaching. I am gathering momentum to create a Blog with Bluehost. I still want to search for all your writings It will take some days. Sr. Felicity Therese Drakuru, a freelancer to be with your help.

  9. Hey there. I am a content writer myself and I couldn’t agree more. I really enjoyed reading this guide. Much valuable article. Keep spreading goodness with your articles 🙂

  10. Wilson Wilson says:

    Thanks so much! I think#4 was a great tip! I’ll be trying it out immediately.

  11. What’s great about freelance writing is that you can increase your salary very quickly! Unfortunately, it will be difficult to make money in the beginning—like many other online businesses.

    1. Hey Jasper,
      I agree! Every business you start will take time! But I have many friends that managed to earn a full-time income with freelance writing within 6 months to a year from starting out. It’s possible if you work hard at it 🙂

  12. Hi, Building a network definitely works out in getting new freelance contracts. Yes, but it’s not easy initially. But, once you are into full time freelance writing, you can make a way for yourself. However, improving skills regularly matters here.

    1. Hey Harleen, yes! With freelance writing it takes a bit of time to build connections but once you start to build a portfolio things get better!