If you’ve got talent, tenacity and the right tech tools, you can make money with freelance writing jobs. Day job? Consider cranking out contracted content at night. Or, if you’re looking to make it as a full-time freelancer, come up with a simple business plan and start landing the freelance writing jobs you need to meet your goals.
To me, there are two major benefits of freelancing:
- You are your own boss. No need to report to anyone. If a client gets fussy, you just move on to another one.
- You can work from anywhere in the world. If you are a mom, you can stay at home to raise your kids while still contributing to family income. Or you can travel the world while making money by providing your services.
Of course there are some drawbacks, too: The insecurity of not having a regular paycheck and the potential loneliness of the home office are the two obvious ones. But the advantages usually outweigh the drawbacks, and, more and more, people are switching to part-time freelancing first and then going full-time.
Freelance writing jobs in particular are in high demand, but the competition is also very tough because anyone can ultimately become a writer. There is no formal expertise needed.
What do freelance writing jobs entail?
Writing! Mostly for other people, though occasionally for yourself.
A freelance writer connects with clients around the world who need content for websites, blogs, social media posts, ebooks, email newsletters, paper books, brochures, scripts and just about anything else you can think of.
Many freelance writers move between genres and topics, often learning as they go. How? Through research at the time of accepting an assignment or, if you want to target one or more niche markets, by doing plenty of homework up front. Once you have a strong grasp on a specific topic or vertical — like real estate, healthcare or retail — it becomes even easier to find work writing about it.
To succeed, freelance writers must also excel at promoting themselves, networking and finding clients.
This can take some practice, but hands-on types often find it comes easily with time and experience. Social media can be a great way to promote your writing services and find new clients, especially LinkedIn.
How much does a freelance writer make?
This depends on the freelance writer, the industry, the type of work and the job. For example, as a blog ghostwriter you will make an average of two to three cents per word as an industry standard. Those who live in regions with a lower cost of living might charge less. Those with degrees or a higher level of experience may charge more. It can be tough to figure out your pricing model.
Rather than paying per word, some freelance writers use a per-hour or per-project rate. You’ll find freelancers charging anywhere from $10 to $100 per hour. When you first start, your rate will probably be on the lower end — until you gain some experience and referrals from other clients.
You will work your way up the client ladder as you improve your portfolio.
A warning to newer freelancers: Don't cut your rate too low. You will quickly notice some writers offering to work for cents on the dollar, and they appear to be getting a lion's share of the freelance writing jobs. Unfortunately, that is a common undercutting practice from people who are going to be providing a lower quality of work. The clients who are willing to pay those rates are not going to be who you want to work for. Avoid those jobs, and keep your rate within the industry standard. It might take a little longer to filter through job postings, but it will be worth it.
Where can I find freelance writing jobs?
Freelance writing jobs are everywhere! However, there are a few major ways that freelancers take on work:
Freelance marketplaces online
- You set up a profile to advertise your writing services.
- Clients search the writer database to hire for specific projects.
- On some sites, you can search for freelance writing jobs that clients have posted.
These sites generally work on a first-come, first-served basis. Your payment for each job goes into a holding account, and once you reach a certain amount (usually $5 to $20) you can request payment through PayPal or to your bank account. The pay on these sites is often nominal, but some freelancers will use them for quick work in between steady projects.
An auction site lets you bid on projects based on rate, experience, samples and skills. You will be pitted against other freelancers who might be more experienced or have lower rates. You can find better-paying projects here, and often long-term clients will find writers who they go to again and again. Auction sites include Upwork and Freelancer.
On sites like Craigslist, you will find there are writing/editing areas under the job postings. This can be a very handy place to find work in your local area, with clients who would prefer to work with freelance writers in their region rather than dealing with national or international writers.
You have to be careful when dealing with classified sites, because the client has not been verified.
Get as much information as possible before accepting an order, and insist on a paid test article before agreeing to more work.
Some blogs like Listverse and Cracked offer paid guest posts to writers — and they include a byline. These blogs usually pay between $50 and $150 per accepted article. You might be asked to submit writing samples. Yes, you run the risk of rejection — but it’s worth a shot.
Work on building your portfolio with bylined guest posts on reputable sites.
Here are 10 sites where freelancers can blog for money. In addition, look for websites, print publications and other publishing platforms that accept freelance articles in a specific niche. Subscribe to WritersMarket.com for a leg-up on industry-specific freelancing writing jobs, tips for how much to charge for freelance gigs, and more.
Your own website
For many freelancers, a personal website can generate a huge number of referrals. Of course, it takes time and effort to build up your site to the level where it starts attracting organic leads, but it's well worth it!
Your own site gives you flexibility and power.
Not only will you be able to work on your own terms (the client will come to you, not vice versa), but you also can experiment by providing other types of services. Here are a few ideas to play with:
- Virtual assistant services
- Social media content
- Themed workshops (e.g. branding, photo editing, guitar lessons… you name it!)
What about taxes?
Taxes can be a serious pain, and you might want to go to an accountant at least the first year to learn how to file. Some freelancers make it a habit to take 15 percent (or whatever the self-employment tax is in your region) out of every payment. You can keep these funds in a special account for taxes.
Also, talk to an attorney and/or account to figure out if you should register as a sole proprietor or LLC.
Use your skills to fill your bank
With decent writing skills, the willingness to hustle for work, and the ability to manage yourself and your deadlines, you can begin landing freelance writing jobs. A high-speed internet connection helps, too.
Of course, building a strong client list is an ongoing process in the freelance game, but with a little time and effort you can be on the road to some major cash flow before you know it.
Got any tips for finding freelance writing jobs? Please share in the comments!