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Last Updated on December 16, 2021 by Daniella
Freelance writing can be a pretty lucrative gig.
Some of the most dedicated freelancers earn over six figures and work less than 40 hours a week.
The best thing about being a freelance writer? You can work from anywhere in the world.
It’s a great option if you want to travel or have a family because of its flexibility and income-earning possibility. For the same reason, freelance writing is a fantastic side hustle to bring in some extra cash.
Even though it’s a great way to earn money, starting freelancing is daunting. Here are some tips on how to get started freelance writing as a brand new freelancer.
How to Get Started Freelance Writing
1. Network and Build a Community
Every freelancer needs to start somewhere. And it’s always best to start with people you know and who support you.
Ask your friends and family who are business owners if they need blog posts written. If you have limited in-real-life connections, the internet is an excellent place to network, even if you’re just beginning.
- Join Twitter and connect with people in your writing niche
- Look for Facebook freelance writing groups you can join (search for “writing”, “freelance writing”, “writing jobs” and other similar keywords while filtering on the groups section)
- Message old contacts on LinkedIn who are in content creation roles
Pro tip: Don’t just ask for favors without giving back to the communities you join. Make sure to chime in on discussions and provide knowledge and insight about what you know.
You’re more likely to get freelancing jobs if you’re engaging in your community of interest than if you’re only ever asking for favors. Make sure there is give and take.
2. Start a Portfolio or Blog
Once you have a few pieces penned, it’s time to start a showcase of your work. Digital portfolios like MuckRack are a great place to share what you’ve written with other people (for free).
Also, keep hard copies of your work on file – in case something happens to your work digitally and the link breaks or the person you wrote for shut down their business. You want to make sure that your strong portfolio isn’t lost if the internet crashes.
If you don’t have a portfolio to show people yet, starting a blog in your niche is a great place to start writing and showing people your dedication to your work. It also showcases your writing ability and what you’re interested in writing to potential clients and editors. When your first starting out, you can guest post on other sites to get your work seen.
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Pro tip: While guest posting is a great way to get you started, make sure you’re not doing too many pieces for free. At some point, you’re going to want to start making money, and the sooner you start seeing value in your work and charging for it, the better.
3. Look Through Job Boards
While job boards aren’t the best place to find high-paying work, they are a great place to start writing. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr tend to be a race to the bottom of the barrel in terms of pay, but starting writing for them isn’t a bad idea if you just need bylines to get started. However, don’t stay with these sites for long since they might stifle your earning potential.
Also, set up Indeed and LinkedIn alerts for freelance writing positions in your area of interest. You must have a steady stream of potential jobs coming into your inbox because that saves you time trying to hunt them down.
Pro tip: Set up alerts for full-time job opportunities in your field of interest. Once you find them, message the hiring manager on LinkedIn and ask them if they need freelancers while they’re looking to hire full-time people. If they do, offer your services.
Keep your message short and sweet like this:
I noticed that your organization is hiring a full-time writer for this position. I wondered if you were looking for a freelancer to help create content while you continue your search for this role. Here is some relevant work I’ve done. I’d love to continue this conversation,
It shows them you’re interested, researched what they need, and are ready to fill in that gap for them. It’s a great way to find high-paying clients.
More job boards to look at:
4. Turn Your Work in On Time and Communicate with Your Clients
You would be amazed at how many freelancers agree to do work and then just never talk to their clients again. That’s leaving free money on the table.
You want to make sure to reach out and communicate with your editor. Especially if you’re feeling stuck or confused on a project, it’s better to reach out and ask your editor for help than it is to ghost them.
The freelancing world is small, and good freelancers are hard to come by. Setting yourself apart by making sure the editors know you’re reliable, turn your work in on time, and communicate well with them means you will get referrals.
And referrals help build a solid clientele.
Pro tip: Agree to a timeline that gives you more time than you need to write the article, and then turn it in a day or two ahead of schedule. This strategy leaves a good impression on your editor, and they are more likely to work with you again in the future.
5. Increase Your Rates With Every New Client
The fastest way to increase your earning potential is to increase your rates. But one of the most complex parts emotionally of being a new freelance writer is knowing exactly how much you’re worth.
It’s not uncommon to be offered $.06-$.08 a word when you’re first starting freelance writing. This isn’t a bad starting rate. However, you should not stay there for very long.
Attempt to ask for $.02 more a word for every new client. If the first client pays you $.08 a word, ask for $.10 a word on the next assignment.
Pro tip: Another great way to increase your earning potential as a freelance writer is to charge by the project, not by word. Flat rates are a great way to ensure that each party knows precisely the cost of the article, and you often get a better per word rate if you charge by the project. A reasonable beginning rate is somewhere between $75-$150 an article. But more experienced freelancers can bank $300-$400 an article, and sometimes even more.
Places like the New York Times pay close to $1,000 an article. It just depends on who you’re writing for.
How To Start Making Money as a Freelance Writer
Overall, freelancing isn’t hard. It’s about providing a much-needed service to those in your community. The more robust connections and relationships you build with editors, the better-paying roles you will get.
It’s a great skill to have either as a side hustle or a full-time business that gives you the flexibility to achieve your goals.
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Moriah Chace writes about low-income money and queer culture. Her work has been featured by The Motley Fool and other large media outlets. She has words in Women’s Personal Finance, The Deal Taker, and Live Betr. As a part-time barista and full-time coffee addict, she spends her spare time over-caffeinated fixing up her 1978 Winnebago Itasca and plans to travel around the USA with her dog and two cats after she breathes life into the old soul of an RV.