Ultimate Guide to Freelance Writing and How To Get Freelance Writing Jobs

Written by Melanie

January 29, 2020

Freelance writing jobs

If you have a passion for writing, or if you have been simply looking for ways to make a little extra money online during the pandemic, chances are the thought of turning your passion into a career has crossed your mind more than once.

One of the ways to do this is through freelance writing.  

As a freelance writer, you get to be your own boss and work on your own terms doing something you enjoy.

This is is the ultimate dream for a lot of people. Nothing beats the flexibility and freedom that comes with freelance writing.

As a freelance writer, you can also keep your day job and your regular schedule while bringing in an extra income doing what you love.

If you are really good at it, who knows, you might even end up quitting your 9-5 to focus on your freelance writing full time.

And that’s the dream, isn’t it?   

Starting freelance writing 

First things first: don’t quit your job yet.

You still need to put food on the table, and it might be a while before freelance writing jobs start to make you an income-replacing amount of money. 

So you’ll probably want to do this part-time as you start while keeping your day job. Learn the ins and outs of this line of work and decide for yourself whether or not you truly see yourself doing this long term.  

You just have to understand that freelance writing is a job like any other. As your own boss, you are running a business.

And all businesses need a lot of time, dedication, patience, and hard work before they can be successful.  

But I digress. If you want to start freelance writing, here is what you need to do:  

Freelance Writing Meaning 

Freelance writing involves three elements: the writer, the client, and the content.

You are the writer (obviously), the client is the person who gives you the writing tasks (and pays you for them), and the content is what you write.   

Clients come in all forms.

They can be individuals, magazine publications, companies, organizations, blog owners, the list is endless.

When you understand who your client is and what they need, you will be able to tailor your content to suit their specific requirements.

This is why you should always get a clear brief from your client before starting any writing task.  

At the very beginning, getting clients will be all about trial and error. They might like your samples/portfolio, or they may not.

It’s nothing personal, so do not take it to heart.

Just brush up on your skills and keep getting better at what you do, and the jobs will start coming to you.

Types of Freelance Writing Jobs You Can Offer

Content comes in different forms. There are four broad categories of freelance writing jobs online:  

  • Article/feature writing- which is the most common type. You’ll write for websites and magazine publications 
  • Copy/content writing- where you’ll write website copy, advertising copy, press releases, ebooks, blog posts, and so on 
  • Blog writing- where you run your own blog or a client’s blog 
  • Social media content creation- You handle a client’s social media account
  • Editing- you offer proofreading services
  • Ghostwriting – the content you write is not under your name. It will be under the client’s name.

Once you decide what type of freelance writer you want to be, you need to figure out the niche you want to focus on.

But I get ahead of myself. This will be elaborated on a little later in this text.  

How much do freelance writers get paid?

Well, the amount of money you make will depend on how much writing you are willing to do and the type of client you have.

The more you work, the more money you make. You will set a specific fee (rate per word or per hour, it depends on the job) with your client before starting any project.

However, when it comes to money, it is never this black and white. Quality always beats quantity eventually. That’s why there are some writers who get paid $1000 and up for 1000-word articles.

They only have to write 5 articles a month to hit the $5000 mark.

If you are just starting out, it might take you months of hard work writing hundreds of articles to hit $5000.

However, it should be comforting to know that the writer who gets paid $1 per word and $0.05 per word all started at the same place, the difference is in the experience.  

Payment processes also depend on the client: some might need invoices to facilitate payment, others may have a system in place to alert them to pay, and others still may pay half upfront then the remaining amount when the writer sends in the work.

Be sure to iron all these issues out with your client before accepting any job.  

Understand your niche 

Your niche is your audience. These are the people who will read your content.

Your niche also defines the type of content you create.

For example, if you choose to create content in the lifestyle or tech niche, you will be writing articles that focus on these topics. Your clients will also be people who need content within these niches.  

There’s a niche for everything out there.

If you can imagine it, there are probably people who have an interest in it. And there are definitely writers who create content that focuses on that niche.

So how do you choose a profitable niche?  

Well, the first thing you have to do is a little self-reflection.

What do you like? Is there a particular thing you enjoy doing? Are you an expert in a certain field? What do you have an interest in? What does your regular job involve, and can you create content that focuses on that?

The idea here is to make sure that the niche you choose is based on something that you actually have an interest in.

It is the only way you will stay motivated enough to keep creating content for it even when times get hard. 

Next, you have to do a little research.

List about 10 potential niches that you can see yourself focusing on, then look at the content that exists within those niches.

Is it possible to pair up two or three of those niche ideas?

For example, if you are into relationships and finance, you can be a writer who gives personal finance advice to couples.

If you are into babies and parenting and homemaking, you can be a lifestyle and parenting freelance writer. You get the idea.  

The next thing you have to do is to ask yourself, does the existing content within your niche suit your writing style?

If not, can you tweak your style a little to match it if you are needed to? Because the style you see most within those niches is the kind of style most of your clients are going to be looking for.  

So to recap, you need to find a niche that suits your writing style that you are relatively knowledgeable about, have firsthand experience in, or you won’t mind doing tons of research on for extended lengths of time.  

Create a portfolio 

There are various ways to do this, but I strongly suggest starting a blog.

Every freelance writer needs a blog. That’s how you get clients to take you seriously.

Luckily, starting a blog these days doesn’t need you to have any technical skills. In fact, you can do it in just 15 minutes.

I show you how to start a blog in 15 minutes here.

A lot of freelance writers find blogging very relaxing and fun, and it is the perfect way to let your creative juices flow. Set up a blog on WordPress within your chosen niche and start populating it with your own original content.  

With your blog up and running, the content you regularly post on it will serve as your writer portfolio.

It is a great way to show potential clients what you can do, what your interests are, and how you handle your niche.

Plus, it is a wonderful tool for getting the word out there that you are a freelance writer looking for freelance writing jobs.  

Have a separate ‘Portfolio’ or ‘Hire me’ page on your blog, so that clients can easily spot your portfolio without having to conduct searches.

Your portfolio may not contain exactly the kind of articles that a specific client is looking for.

Some people have portfolios where they dump all sorts of random articles on several different subjects.

However, professional writers advise that the portfolio be niche-specific so that you and the client are both clear on what you need from each other from the start.  

Related:  36 Ways To Make Money This Christmas

For example, if you are a lifestyle content creator, then your portfolio should have well defined categories like this:

freelance portfolio website
freelance portfolio template
freelance writing portfolio
how to get freelance writing clients

This doesn’t have to be blog posts only. It can be sample emails, social media posts, content for an About page, or whatever else you want to showcase.

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How to find Freelance writing jobs

1. Start a blog

There are so many reasons why starting a blog is number 1 on this list.

For starters, a blog is a great way to showcase what you can do. Clients will want to see how you write, and the best way to show them your writing is by directing them to a platform where your writing is displayed.

You can start a blog and post your original content and also add a hire me and portfolio pages.

Alternatively, you just start a writer’s website that’s simple and has a few links to your published work. This is also great, but it only applies to those who already have their work published on other websites.

If you are a beginner with no published samples, then just start a blog and publish your own work under your name.

You can even include a ‘Hire me’ link after every blog post or at the side of your blog to really advertise your services.

A blog is also great because it can be another great source of income.

There are many ways to earn from a blog aside from freelance writing.

You can earn from:

  • Affiliate marketing- Get paid to promote products
  • Sponsored content- Brands pay you to review their products
  • Podcast sponsorships
  • Memberships
  • Selling digital products
  • Selling ad space
  • Donations

I’ve talked about all these methods in my other article about How to start a blog and make money

You can use your blog to make extra money. A little extra money never hurt anyone, right?

2. Cold Pitch For Jobs

Heard this a million times? Well it’s because it works! I have gotten a lot of my clients through cold pitching.

Clients started taking me seriously once I started pitching and showing them samples from my blog. I can confidently say that my blog has helped me get almost 70% of my clients.

So what is cold pitching?

It is when you contact clients directly and let them know of your services and how you can help their businesses grow.

I love cold pitching because the competition isn’t quite as high as applying to an advertised position.

First of all, cold pitching isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and patience.

But it very worth it.

How To Cold Pitch

1. Find businesses in your niche

The first thing you need to do is to locate the companies or businesses you want to cold pitch to. Look at every business and choose the ones you would like to work with.

Find out if they have a blog section. If they do, look at their content and see what you can do to improve it.

If they don’t, it’s even better because you will then convince them why they need to have a blog section.

2. Contact them

Go to their Contact Us page and find their contact information. Try to make it as personal as possible by calling them by their name, if you find out what their name is.

3. Pitch them

When you pitch them, always include how you found out about them, who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

4. Follow Up if Necessary.

Follow up with them after some time so that you know if it is a yes, No, maybe, or a plain f* off.

3. Join Fiverr

Fiverr is the largest marketplace for freelance gigs and if you want to make money as a freelance writer, then you should be part of this marketplace.

Millions of people buy services from Fiverr every month.

So far I have made $2,847.20 since I joined Fiverr 3 months ago.

How to make money on Fiverr
How much money can you make on Fiverr?

I also purchased a few services when I needed help with some things.

Nowadays you can find literally any service on Fiverr. And you can sell any service too, so take advantage of this to make some extra coins on Fiverr.

There’s the regular Fiverr marketplace and Fiverr Pro. Getting accepted to Fiverr Pro is a little harder because you have to go through a rigorous selection process.

The beauty of Fiverr Pro is that its services are more expensive. So if you are a Fiverr Pro seller you will earn more because your services will be more expensive.

How Fiverr Works

Joining Fiverr is free. So you sign up and you can start selling your services immediately.

First you will create your seller profile then create your gig. A gig is a service that you sell on Fiverr.

You will start by creating a gig by clicking on Gigs > Create a new gig

It will bring you to this page where you will enter your gig descriptions

How to create a Fiverr gig

You’ll then add your pricing, gig requirements, and a photo or video to make your gig stand out.

Be very careful when writing gig descriptions. Ensure that your description is SEO optimized with the right keywords.

Also, look around and see what other people in your niche have done. But do not copy their descriptions because you will get banned.

Just use the examples for inspiration but do not copy them.

After you are done setting up your gig, promote it on your social media pages and among your friends.

4. Send applications from job boards

Agencies, businesses and startups usually advertise jobs on job boards.

If you are just starting out, you might want to apply for jobs from job boards like Problogger, Blogging Pro, all freelance writing, and Contena.

I’ve landed several high paying jobs from ProBlogger so you might want to try that out as well.

5. Take advantage of social media 

Social media can be a convenient distribution channel for your work, allowing you to be seen and heard by people whose paths you would have otherwise never have crossed.

Having social media accounts is essential for your writing. You also need to be relatively active on them for you to be noticed.

It will go a long way in helping you pitch for jobs when the time comes.  

Pitching here means attracting potential clients to your work by informing them and explaining what you are all about, with the help of your portfolio, of course.   

Social media is very powerful. Nowadays people spend most of their time on phones. So take advantage of this.

Twitter is a great place to start. You can find plenty of freelance writing jobs on Twitter. It is also an amazing platform to build relationships with potential clients.

You can follow a business and react to their tweets. Once you keep doing it, they’ll notice you eventually.

You can take that opportunity to ask if they’ll be interested in having someone create their content.

You can also join job boards on Twitter. My favorite board is Writer Jobs (@writerjobsnow)

Facebook is another great platform. There are plenty of Facebook groups to find clients and network with other freelance writers.

Try to be as active as possible and join in on the conversations.

You can join entrepreneurial groups and see what they discuss. From there, you can create a pitch that promises to offer solutions to these problems.

If you are convincing enough, and actually deliver when given that opportunity, you might end up landing a long term client and consistent income.

Some Facebook groups also advertise available freelance writing gigs.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You never know!

6. Guest post

You can either guest post for free or get paid for it. Either way, it helps.

And yes, doing guest posts for free still helps you build your name as a freelance writer.

Here’s how: When you guest post, you’ll be putting your name out there. Meaning thousands of people will be reading your posts and knowing who you are. So it’s like you are getting paid in exposure.

Secondly, guest posting helps you have writing samples which you will use to pitch to potential clients.

A client has to see your published writing sample before they hire you. And if you have been guest posting, then you will have lots of published writing samples to showcase.

So whether you get paid to guest post or not, you still get exposure and writing samples. Which is a huge win for you.

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How to find sites that accept guest posts

Go to Google and type in your niche plus write for us.

In our case, we’ll type in health and fitness + write for us.

How to get freelance writing jobs

Check out their guidelines and follow them.

Ensure you attach your author bio whenever you guest post so that whoever will be interested in your services can easily contact you.

7. Network, network, network

Networking with other freelance writers is really important.

You learn things from them and vice versa.

Some established freelance writers can help you know where and how to apply for jobs. There are very many freelance writing groups on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

LinkedIn is also a great platform to build connections with other freelance writers.

Sometimes you will find a writer who has excess freelance writing jobs and wants someone to help them.

That’s how you end up getting more freelance writing jobs and more money.

I once created a rapport with this one freelance writer on Facebook. One time she had excess freelance writing gigs and asked if I was willing to help her out.

Of course, I accepted and that’s how I ended up joining her writing agency. She was running an agency and they had excess freelance writing jobs.

One job turned into two then into regular work and a consistent income.

So join those freelance writing groups and be as active as possible. You might just get your next big break.

8. Ask for referrals from existing clients

If you work with a client for some time and develop a good working relationship, try asking them for referrals.

Ask them if they know anyone who might need a freelance writer and if there’s anyone, ask them to refer you to them.

It might sound scary, but it’s worth a try.

Most clients will actually do that. And you could land another client.

Just the way freelance writers network, entrepreneurs and bloggers network too. They also have their own groups and forums so they can ask around for you.

9. Try Flexjobs

I love Flexjobs because it is one of the best job boards to find remote freelance writing jobs and also because you can create a search profile that meets your needs as a freelance writer.

With Flexjobs, you can select the categories you want, your experience level, and your work schedule.

Most of all, I love Flexjobs because you can set alerts so you are notified whenever there are jobs that match your search criteria.

10. Try Linkedin

If you have a LinkedIn account, use it to connect with other freelance writers and also to find clients.

LinkedIn has a Jobs section with plenty of lucrative job ads. You can also sign up for alerts so you are notified whenever new job ads are posted.

There are plenty of professionals at LinkedIn. So you can use it to ‘stalk’ businesses and professionals. Know what their business is about and throw them a pitch outlining what you can do for them.

11. use reddit

Reddit is fun! And you can use it to find freelance writing jobs.

You can post and let people know that you are a freelance writer.

Try out these subreddits:

12. Join freelance writing websites

If you are starting out, there are freelance writing websites you can join. They are usually called content mills.

Some of them include iWriter, Textbroker, Guru, People Per Hour, Upwork, HireWriters, WriterAccess and others.

They don’t pay much, but they are a decent place to kickstart you writing career.

You can make a few coins to pay your bills as you continue pitching to other clients.

13. Try job search engines

Job search engines like Jooble are also a great way of finding freelance writing jobs. They usually collect job postings from different sites and post them on their site to make it easy for people to find jobs.

They have thousands of job postings under one roof, so if you are serious about finding writing jobs, try them out.

Other Ways of Making Money as a Freelance Writer

There are plenty of freelance writing jobs for beginners. But as you wait for your career to pick, you can also do other things to make money writing.

1. Self-Publish an ebook

You can self publish a book at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Write a novel, poems, a collection of essays, or whatever you like and publish it.

You can get graphic designers from Fiverr to create a nice cover for you.

When the book is ready, you upload it on Amazon Kindle.

Market it on your blog or website (include it as an ad in the sidebar), social media pages, and among your friends.

You’ll get paid every time someone purchases a copy or reads it.

2. Write a Listicle

Write interesting listicles and sell them on sites like TopTenz and Listverse.

You can also write short funny stories and sell them to magazines and sites that accept them.

Some of the best sites include The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Threepenny review ($400 for short stories), One Story, and The Antioch Review.

3. Participate in Writing contests

Participate in writing contests and stand a chance to win cash prizes.

There are plenty of writing contests. All you have to do is search for them online.

Here is a list of a few writing contests:

  • The Reedsy Prompts Contest
  • Inkitt
  • L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
  • St. Francis College Literary Prize
  • Young Lions Fiction Award

Qualities and skills that you will need to be a successful freelance writer 

1. Personal management skills:

This includes everything from self-discipline, work ethics, and personal finance management.

As your own boss, you are responsible for paying your bills, paying yourself, and getting the expected quality of work to your client, all at the same time.

You will need to be able to sit down and work without getting distracted, with no boss breathing down your neck.

Be smart about your finances, and know how much money your business is making.

2. Integrity:

Plagiarism can cost you clients. The most shameful thing a writer can do is to take and present someone else’s work as their own without permission.

Be honest in your work. Besides, you are getting paid for that work, so why not earn your pay?  

3. Patience and perseverance:

Freelance is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time. So be patient and keep working hard.

Keep pitching. And try all the methods we have discussed. You’ll eventually know what works for you.

Chances of you landing a client will be high if you cast your net far and wide.

4. Confidentiality:

I am including this as a quality on this list because I think it is important to keep it in mind in this line of work.

Sometimes, you might be hired for ghostwriting services. Once the text is paid for, you cannot claim it as your own anymore.

Some clients will expressly ask you not to add their content to your portfolio. I believe if you are willing to accept such jobs and agree to these terms, it is only right to honor them.  

Final Thoughts 

Freelance writing is all about freedom, independence, self-reliance, self-employment, and of course making money.

You are your own boss, your high and low, your source of income, and your number one fan.

As I mentioned, it will likely be tough to start as a newbie, and even tougher to get great clients.

And when you start feeling like nothing is working out, and you are about to give up, think of all the people who have been exactly where you are and have made it against all odds. If they did it, why can’t you?  

Finally, as I sign off, I should mention that it is very important to get into freelance writing for the right reasons.

If a quick buck is all you are looking for, you will likely not last very long. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Put in the work and be patient, and you will be surprised at how life-changing freelance writing can be.

I wish good luck in finding freelance writing jobs and hopefully having a very successful freelance writing career! 

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