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How to Start Freelance Writing as a Beginner

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Getting paid to write, sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? The exciting news is it’s not a dream, and you can do very well by starting a career as a freelance writer! Today we’ll talk about the different opportunities that exist for freelance writers, plus how you can start freelance writing as a beginner.

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What is Freelance Writing?

Freelance writing is when you work for hire to write something for someone else. In most cases, a freelance writer today will be writing articles which will appear on websites and blogs online, as well as potentially in print magazines, newspapers, and other publications.

As a freelance writer, you can work for a number of different types of people. For example, you could be hired by a company which needs blog posts on their website, and they hire you to write these posts.

There are a number of places freelance writers can find work, such as freelance job boards, your local classifieds, and even on social media such as Facebook.

There are also websites where you can sign up to be a freelance writer and they will pay you based on the articles you submit. These types of sites however are typically referred to as “content mills” – and it’s easy to burn out fast as you often have to produce quantity over quality to make it worthwhile.

Today I will share how I have done well as a freelance writer, and how today I charge anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per word when I am hired to write. I often meet people at various conferences who beg me to write – so learning how to write well and what to write about is important!

I’ve also hired freelance writers in the past, so hopefully these tips will help give you a nice understanding of how freelance writing works and what you can do to start your freelance writing career on the right foot!


Here’s How to Start Freelance Writing:

Step 1: Start by Creating a Portfolio

Your portfolio as a freelance writer is critical. You will want to write articles and pieces which are easy to read, informative, and accurate. Having examples of your written work is critical in helping people decide whether or not they would want to hire you as a writer.

It is best to have your writing samples in .txt format so that it is easy for people to read the articles when you submit bids on writing proposals. PDF files can also work.

You can also create a portfolio of writing samples online. This could be your own blog or website, or you could easily set up a google docs account to upload your writing samples to be viewed by potential clients.

Step 2: Create a Profile at Freelance Job Boards

Creating a profile at most freelance sites is relatively straightforward. Some freelance job boards will require you pay an application fee, which is typically a relatively small price, such as $5. This is usually how they try to keep out spammers. You will also likely need to authenticate your account with a phone number and possibly even a copy of your photo ID and tax information.

These steps can be annoying as a new writer, but it is helpful to do this, as it will make your life a lot easier for billing and taxes. It also adds a level of trust to the website, because if someone goes through all of that trouble they are more likely to be reputable and trustworthy as someone who will actually pay you!

Your profile should include your area of expertise, any accomplishments you have made as a writer, and any training or certifications you may have.

For example, if you are a psychiatrist, you can get paid more simply for your credentials as an expert in the field of psychology. If you are a licensed plumber, people will pay more to have someone who is knowledgeable in that subject.

While a good writer can write about any topic, even a topic they know very little about, having experience will show through. It’s important to list any type of experience you may have that would make you a desirable writer for hire!

Step 3: Begin Submitting Proposals for Writing Jobs

It is important when you first start submitting for work that you do not underbid your worth! Many writers think, oh, everybody else is charging $5o to write a 500 word article, I’ll charge $35 and hopefully win more writing gigs that way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with this!

First of all, it devalues the work of all writers everywhere. In order for writing to be taken seriously, we have to know our worth as a writer. The myth of being a starving artist of a writer is silly, and we can’t keep feeding into that idea. Writers need to make a living wage, because the work they do typically does cause a lot of return for the businesses and individuals that hire them.

A website that hires you to write articles is likely making a lot of money off your writing – otherwise they would not pay you to write those articles! One single article on a popular website can translate to thousands of dollars per month for that website in income.

DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT!

The other reason you don’t want to undervalue yourself is because you will burn out fast. Let’s say you want to make a salary of $3,000 a month with your writing.

If you charge $50 per article, and your goal is to make $3,000 – guess how many articles you have to write? You would have to write 60 articles, or two articles per day every single month.

I easily write 2500 words a day {some days I write 5,000 or 7,000 words!) – but that many articles is a LOT of writing. And worse, it’s not very fun writing, especially when you are writing about boring topics that do not interest you on a personal level.

Now, let’s imagine you find a client who is willing to pay you $350 for every article you write. If your goal was to make $3,000 in a month, now you only have to write 9 articles per month. If you write 10, you’ll actually make more money than your original goal.

See the big difference? Know your value as a writer. Don’t compromise. If you are a good writer, tell people you are a good writer. If you are a good writer, people will expect to pay top dollar for your writing.

It’s true, in the beginning as you build up credibility, you will likely need to charge a little bit less. However, this does not mean cutting yourself short. As you build credibility and a proven track record with the success of your writing, you will be able to soon be able to charge more for your writing.

freelance writing for beginners

Step 3: Build More Credibility as a Writer

Building credibility is not as difficult as it seems. The portfolio you created in the first step is a good starting place. However, it’s good to also know what people who are hiring writers want and need – this way you can have these qualifications to outshine the competition.

Many freelance writing gigs online are to create content for websites and blogs to rank in search engines. This is called SEO writing. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of writing for SEO here, but it is something that a lot of freelance writers simply don’t understand.

Why? Because those of us who do know how to write well for this type of writing aren’t too quick to spill all of our secrets – after all, that is what makes us valuable as writers!

The good news is you can easily take a course online on this, and all of the information out there is basic common sense. Write good content, people will share it, and people will find it.

Once you get good at this, you will notice articles you have written are easily being discovered online. How an article you write performs is very important. For example, I have single articles online which I can say have been read over 10,000,000 times.

If someone who is hiring you as a writer wants articles that will likely perform well and get them 10,000,000 visitors to their website I can promise you they will pay you much better than if you are just someone who does not have that kind of proven track record.

Step 4: Start a Blog or Website If You Don’t Already Have One

Building your own website is also a good idea. First of all, you can make money blogging and writing on your own website. Second of all, it can help you attract the type of client you are looking for.

For example, let’s say you want to write for lawyers. You can begin writing articles that will attract lawyers to your website, and then you can have a call to action on your website for why they should hire you to write for them.

Even if you don’t plan on targeting a specific topic or client, just having your own blog or website is a great way to write AND make money online by writing. For example, I’ve written how I have made money online with poetry by creating a website about poetry. This could work for creative non-fiction, short stories – anything you like to write.

Selecting a specific topic or niche for your writing can be helpful also. For example, maybe you are a parent and so you decide to write articles about parenting tips. Maybe you are a teacher, and you write articles about teaching and educational resources. Maybe you love to cook when you are not writing, so you could write about recipes and cooking tips.

The possibilities are endless! When you learn how to write well and write the type of content that performs well, you will soon find that writing for your own website or blog can be just as lucrative as writing for the companies that may wish to hire you!


Freelance Writing Jobs Are Abundant

Today the demand for freelance writers only continues to grow. Finding people who are able to write well, meet the deadlines, and create content which consistently performs well can be difficult. I know in the past I have tried to hire freelance writers for various other websites I own. It was not easy to find a good writer who was reliable AND able to create the kind of content I needed!

If you can consistently create valuable content and put in the work to establish yourself as a freelance writer, you will find that you can do very well by writing on a work for hire basis.

It’s also a great way to supplement your side income. For example, if you already have a full-time job, you could spend 5-6 hours per week writing part-time. Your part-time income could very quickly match with your full-time income if you work at it!

What Are Your Tips for Becoming a Freelance Writer as a Beginner?

Do you have experience as a freelance writer? Do you have any tips to share with new writers on how they can jumpstart their own freelance writing career? Where are some of your favorite sources to find freelance writing jobs? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!

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17 thoughts on “How to Start Freelance Writing as a Beginner”

  1. I have a couple of questions: I am near retirement and have begun writing more now and would like to suppliment retirement income with writing income . . . So, if I have not yet had any freelance writing jobs, should I just write some articles, sample copy writing, etc. for the sole purpose of putting it in my portfolio?

    I do have several things I’ve written: 2 Kindle ebooks, some blog articles for a personal blog and a few articles for college publications (many years ago) which are not online. I would like to include those pieces as well, so should I scan them into PDF docs or just rewrite them in a word doc?

    Appreciate the article.

    Reply
    • Those all sound like great options to use in the portfolio. The important thing is to think about what type of freelance writing you want to do – having a few more recent posts that illustrate writing ability or experience on a specific topic can be very helpful also.

      Reply
  2. Never create a profile at most freelance sites! It’s better to scale up your account at one platform (and the higher your rating is, the more you earn). Moreover some freelancing websites roundup of all the best jobs from different job marketplaces around the web, for example WorkRoll and Beesy.pro.

    Reply
    • Absolutely – it can be a great way to not only practice writing for school but earn some extra money at the same time. It’s definitely a better summer part-time job than working at a fast food chain!

      Reply
  3. Your blog is exactly what I was seeking. I would like to hear from someonew who has become successful but only started offering freelance writings services with the past 3 years. I don’t know how to find that person or persons. I am curious about market saturation. I know my perception is skewed because of myn interest. Suddenly it seems everyone is writing! And its seems ‘everyone’ has a book, course, seminar, podcast or other material to sell. I don’t mind paying for good information, but wish to avoid spending a great deal of cash on unhelpful information or training programs. Is there any kind of consolidation website that ranks or places value vs. expense on respectable resources? Do you have any suggestions for resources for the novice? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Laura,
      There are a lot of different markets for writers, and some are a bit more saturated than others! It does seem like everybody has a book or course to sell, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: Most them do not do the actual writing themselves! Many times they are freelance writers or ghost writers. There are novelists on the best sellers list who do not write their own books!

      I do agree it would be helpful to have a round-up review of all the different writing programs out there, so I will try to put that together on our website within the next few weeks – it would be a very helpful resource for a lot of writers.

      Reply
  4. Thank you for sharing so much information, clear and precise. It is always difficult to start. I have never written novels, stories, nothing to see. I always wanted to be able to live from writing.

    Reply
  5. This article has motivated me! Are there any Freelance Writer boards that you recommended we build profiles on to obtain clients?

    Reply
  6. Thanks for sharing this important piece. I have a question; I am a beginner and i’ve not had a freelancing job. I write poems but not published online.. Can I make poetry my niche? Can I use it as my portfolio. I love poetry but I’m having this assumption that poets are not hired? How do I get hired as a poet or should I just create another niche?

    Reply
    • Hi Kabrirat, the commercial market for poetry is a tough one, but often times poetry can help us break through to other genres of writing, for example romance novels, greeting cards, etc. You can also always be a poet for hire, check out our post on Ways to Make Money With Poetry for more examples.

      Reply
  7. I’m just starting out as a freelance writer. I don’t have a portfolio yet. Is there a way I can start writing without any experience?

    Reply
  8. Hi , I am very interested in becoming a freelance writer . I have never written before nor do I have a portfolio . I have been a Nurse for 29 years and just want to do something different at this point in my life . I would have a lot to write about from my experience and the Nursing field in general , but where to start is the issue . I’m so new to this that I need someone to explain it to me as if I were a 5th grader . Where do I go to make a portfolio and how ?

    Reply

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