What Is Freelance Writing? (And How To Get Started)
So… exactly what is freelance writing?
If you’re here – you either want to know what it is, want to know where to get started, or both.
Freelance writing can earn you some side income or easily and quickly replace your full-time job.
Here you’ll learn what freelance writing is, what freelance writers do, who they write for, how much you can make as a freelance writer, and of course… how to get started with freelance writing!
My History With Freelance Writing
I started freelance writing back in 2017. I did this as a way to add another income stream while I was working on building up my freelance portfolio.
Freelance writing came naturally to me. This is because I was already creating content for my clients in other ways.
I was creating social media posts, building funnels and writing sales pages for clients already. These tasks involved a ton of writing!
It just made sense for me to branch into additional offerings, like writing articles as a freelance writer.
In the years since, I have written for many publications, both large and small.
I've written as a paid contributor and also as a ghost writer. (A ghost writer writes articles to be published under the website owner’s name).
Working as a freelance writer is one of my favorite sources of income to this day.
I regularly earn $2000 per month (or more) writing just a handful of articles a month.
Learning how to write for the internet is very different than the way you learn to write papers in school. It's a skill that takes time and practice to master.
In this article you will learn what freelance writing is, what services you can offer as a freelance writer, and how to get started if you decide freelance writing is right for you.
What Is Freelance Writing?
A freelance writer is a self-employed writer performing various duties related to writing.
Freelance writers work for several clients and do various types of freelance writing.
As a freelance writer you may just stick to one thing or offer multiple services. These services all fall under the umbrella of freelance writing.
Freelance writers are paid per word or per article depending on the type of work and the client.
Writing projects can be one-off gigs or recurring, depending on what the client needs.
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Services You Can Offer As A Freelance Writer
Freelance writers go by many different titles and offer many different kinds of services.
Depending on your skills, you can offer multiple services to clients in your freelance writing business.
For example, maybe you’re a multi-talented virtual assistant who does a little bit of everything and offers freelance writing as a natural addition to your existing work, like me.
There are many different kinds of services you can offer as a freelance writer, including:
- Blog writing
- Content Marketing and Strategy
- Social media services
- Full blog management
These are the most common services you will see offered by freelance writers.
Freelance Writers Write More Than Blog Posts
Freelance writers write so much more than just blog posts.
A freelance writer who specializes in copywriting will write sales letters and sales pages, for example.
Here are some examples of work you can do as a freelance writer:
- Writing Sales Pages and Product Descriptions
- Website Content
- Magazine Articles
- Emails for Email Marketing
and more. The list goes on and on. If it’s in written format, you can probably get paid to write it.
How Much Money Can You Make As A Freelance Writer?
In my experience, freelance writing has always been lucrative, especially for the amount of time invested.
As I mentioned above, I regularly earn $2,000 or more from freelance writing side-projects.
And, I only spend about 30 hours on it total per month. For me, that equals out to about $66 per hour, and I could be making more.
I have a friend who writes magazine articles and is regularly paid $600 PER ARTICLE. Can you imagine?! It doesn’t stop there, either.
The more technical your content and the more experience you have under your belt, the more you can charge.
For beginner freelance writers, an appropriate rate is around $0.07 to $0.10 per word.
At $0.10 per word, this comes out to $100 for every 1,000 words, and 1,000 words is a good length for an article.
As you gain experience, testimonials, and build up your portfolio, you will have no problem charging more.
However, if you look on gig job boards like Upwork, you’ll see hundreds of listings for freelance writers that only pay $10 – $20 for 1,000 words.
This is a huge insult to the entire freelance writing industry. I highly advise you do not use gig job boards when looking for freelance writing jobs.
Remember: If you accept a 1,000 word job for $20, it makes people think it's OKAY to ask for that. It hurts the entire industry. KNOW YOUR WORTH!
It is absolutely realistic to expect to make $1,000 per month with a freelance writing side hustle, and if you put more time into it you can make much more.
How Do I Get Started With Freelance Writing?
If freelance writing sounds amazing to you (and it should, because it is), you’re probably wondering how you can get started!
Everyone’s journey is different in the beginning. This depends on what skills and experience you already have.
If you already have a blog, you’re a step ahead!
But if you don’t, don’t be discouraged. It won’t take you much longer to get going.
Figure Out A Niche
Think: what passions do you have? Also, what are your hobbies? What is stuff that you are already interested in? This is the best place to start.
While there are many freelance writers who are generalists, you will have the most success if you pick a niche and stick to it.
This could be parenting/pregnancy/motherhood, fitness, travel, camping, marketing, software development, etc.
Choose something you enjoy and writing will feel a lot less like work!
Write Sample Pieces
If you don’t already have a blog or website with articles you’ve written, you’ll need to write sample pieces to create a portfolio.
To create sample pieces, pick a topic within your niche that you have a lot of experience in or know can help people.
A rule of thumb when writing for the internet is not to write about your personal experiences or stuff you want to write about, but things you know other people are looking for.
These could be answers to problems, how-to’s, etc.
Once you have a few sample pieces written, you’re well on your way to having a portfolio to show potential clients.
If you’re a blogger or you’re interested in blogging, you can either use your existing blog posts or write posts for your blog to use as sample pieces.
When you do this, you are showcasing your expertise as a blogger. Also, you're simultaneously creating a portfolio online to show potential clients! It's a win-win.
In my opinion, having a blog or website is essential for a freelance writer… but more on that later.
Have An Online Presence
Having an online presence doesn’t just mean having a website!
A website will definitely help you in your freelance writing journey, but it isn’t necessary.
What IS necessary is having professional, active, and up-to-date social media profiles.
I’m talking LinkedIn, Facebook, and maybe even Twitter and Instagram if that’s your thing!
Don’t spread yourself too thin by having too many profiles – at a minimum you need to have a professional Facebook and LinkedIn presence.
I have personally gotten most of my freelance writing gigs through Facebook groups. the networking on Facebook and LinkedIn are invaluable for aspiring freelancers.
The easiest way to get clients as a new freelance writer is through networking.
By networking I don’t mean spamming your friends and family on your Facebook profile.
I mean strategically adding certain friends and joining certain Facebook groups. The kind where people are actively searching for content writers.
Popular Facebook groups to join are typically anything in the small business and entrepreneurial niches.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs frequently hire freelance writers to help them in their businesses, and Facebook groups can be a gold mine for finding clients.
You should also make a post every now and then on your Facebook profile. But, don’t barge into people’s inboxes like some rando from high school trying to sell essential oils.
It won’t annoy people if you make a couple of posts a month about what you’re doing and what kind of work you’re looking for.
Include links to your writing samples. This might seem weird and you might not get any responses at first, don't be discouraged!
By doing this you will be top of mind if any of your friends or family come across writing jobs – and you’ll start getting tagged in them.
Learn How To Pitch
Networking will get you clients. When you’re ready to start going after the ‘bigger fish’, you need to learn how to pitch.
Some of the highest paying freelance writing jobs can come from cold-pitching a company or publication.
Cold-pitching is reaching out to the company (typically via email) without them listing a job opening or writing position.
This step can come later. Learning how to write and send an effective pitch can totally change the game for your freelance writing business.
Invest In Yourself
Always be investing in yourself – whether it’s with time or money or both.
You should invest in your education to become a better freelance writer.
Another important place to invest is in your marketing education. Do this so that you can market yourself more effectively, and as a result, make more money.
Lastly, invest your time into writing more and honing your skill. Time and practice are the only things that will drastically improve your writing.
Become a Freelance Writer
Freelance writing is my favorite service to offer as a VA because it is so versatile, especially for a digital nomad lifestyle.
With freelance writing, you can write about topics you choose on your own schedule. There is little coordinating to do with the client, so you’re not boxed in by needing to be connected to the internet or weekly and daily time schedules.
Your rates are set by you, your topics are set by you, and your deadlines are set by you.
There isn’t a sweeter gig, in my opinion!
Freelance writing is so easy to get started with, especially if you’re a blogger or are planning to be.
And if you’re not, research some topics and write some sample pieces and you’ll be well on your way!
Do you have more questions about freelance writing? Let me know in the comments below!
Carrie WilderCarrie has a passion for location independence and nomadic lifestyles. After traveling full-time in an RV and living the van life, she created Making Money and Traveling to help others make the switch to a remote lifestyle. Learn more about Carrie on the About page or connect on social media below.
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