How I Started Freelance Writing (and how you can, too!)

freelance writing

Freelance writing seems to be the dream for many in the personal finance blogosphere these days. I think if I hadn’t already been a freelancer before I started this blog, I would definitely want to get in on it, too! The question that always comes up is, “how did you get started?” Here’s my story.

My first freelance writing gigs were found the old-fashioned way, through someone I knew. It wasn’t even my idea to start freelancing, actually. I was just blogging, staying home with my baby while living in a foreign country. An opportunity came up to make some money at home, and I thought, why not?

All of my communication with the client was done via Skype. He would send me topics, and I would produce a piece and send it over to him. The articles usually ranged between 300-500 words. Payouts happened twice a week, via PayPal.

It was a great arrangement for me, at the time. The money wasn’t amazing, but I made a goal for myself to pay off my student loans with my earnings. I consider myself to be a talented writer, so it was a natural fit. Eventually, I started to look for other opportunities on the web, and luckily I’ve found quite a few! Almost 3 years later, and I’m still typing away.

How to Start Freelance Writing Today

There are many ways that you can start writing for money online. I would suggest that you first decide what exactly you want to get out of it. Are you hoping to make this a full-time thing to replace a day job? Are you just looking for a side hustle? Is this something that you are able to commit a lot of time to, or just a little time here and there?

How you answer those questions will influence where you begin your search for work.

If you’re just looking for a side hustle, you may want to consider working with a content provider. These sites usually offer low pay, and are referred to as “content mills”, but if you just want some easy work for quick cash, you might consider checking them out. Here are a few that I know of, but do not have personal experience with:

A great resource for finding jobs is the ProBlogger job board. Keep in mind that there’s probably a ton of competition for those jobs, since it’s a popular site, but it’s worth a try. I scan it every week or so to see if there is anything up my alley, and I sent out an email if something seems like a good fit.

Start a Blog

I recommend either creating a website to promote your writing skills, or making a Hire Me page on your blog. It’s a place where you can direct potential clients if they want to see examples of your writing style and work. It can also help to bring clients to you.

If you don’t have a bog already, it’s so very easy to get one started today! Since you want to look professional, I would suggest going for a self-hosted website. You can do this with Bluehost, as they are very affordable and make the entire process a breeze.

Bluehost takes you through the process, step by step. You can register your domain name, set up hosting, install WordPress, and begin blogging today. I think this is really a must if you’re serious about being a freelance writer and blogger.

Blogging also provides you the opportunity to hone your writing skills. By getting familiar with the WordPress format, you open up more possibilities. Many business sites use WordPress, and they may want you to have experience blogging on this platform.

How to Set Freelance Writing Rates

One of the things that you’ll need to do at some point is set your freelance writing rates. You don’t want to just pick a number out of your hat, though. You want to be sure that you are valuing your time.

If you’re writing for content creation sites, you won’t get to dictate your rates. Most sites base payment amounts on your writing level and the word count. Eventually, you can increase your pay rate by being promoted to higher levels.

When calculating your freelance writing rates, take research into account. It isn’t just about how long you spend writing a piece and how many words it is. There’s also the time that you have spent communicating back and forth with the client, researching a topic, sending files, etc. These are the things that I keep in mind when setting my freelance writing rates.

Freelance writing can be competitive, but there’s plenty of room for more voices. If you’ve been thinking about giving it a try, I say go for it! Just put yourself out there and see what happens.

Are you interested in freelance writing? Would you like to make it a full-time gig, or just do it as a side hustle?

About Lauren

Lauren May is a freelance writer and travel lover living on a budget.

22 thoughts on “How I Started Freelance Writing (and how you can, too!)

  1. Thank you for sharing this advice, Lauren! Freelance writing is definitely something I’m interested in picking up as a side hustle. I haven’t investigated it much yet, so I’m grateful for these tips!

  2. The way I began freelance writing is very similar to your story. I got into it through a good friend while living out of the country. It was a little daunting at first, and I had no idea what my rates should be. I’m still sometimes surprised at how much time goes into writing for someone else, and you really do have to take that into consideration if you want to earn some real income.

  3. Great tips, Lauren! I think it’s great your goal was to pay off your student loans with what you first earned. Like Shannon said, having a blog doesn’t hurt at all since it’s a portfolio ready to go whenever you need it! Having a sample of guest posts on other topics (so you can branch out) isn’t a bad idea, either.

    1. It’s really a great portfolio! I’m always surprised when I see a posting for a gig and they ask for a resume instead of a portfolio- I still haven’t made one up, and I’m not sure how to format one as a writer. Something I need to work on.

  4. I started freelance writing in the opposite way you did. After several months of starting my blog, I decided that I wouldn’t mind getting paid to do something I really enjoy and that’s what triggered the decision. Time management has been the biggest challenge for me as I am already self-employed so adding on writing hours was at first daunting. But I’m really enjoying it and fortunate to have avoided the content mills. Thanks for sharing Lauren!

  5. I think starting a blog is a huge way to get freelance writing work. You not only interact with other writers, who can help you with finding jobs, but potential hirers can easily see your work and determine if they want to work with you. I have not had an interest in a freelance writing career, but because of my blog, I have been paid to write numerous times.

  6. I think the point about research is completely crucial. You have to know what hourly rate is your minimum and turn away jobs that won’t fit that bill. This is from my vast experience of two published freelance posts 😉

    Great info on those sites – I’ll have to check those out!

    1. Yes, you really have to value your time. If it’s a first assignment, it can be worthwhile to take extra time and make sure it’s impressive, but otherwise, you want to keep an eye on your hourly rate.

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