How to Become a Freelance Writer in 2022 (Make $5k/Month!)

How to Become a Freelance Writer in 2022 (Make $5k/Month!)

What is freelance writing?

You might be wondering, what is a freelance writer, anyway?

And what is freelancing, for that matter?

Simply put, a freelancer is someone who’s self-employed and contracts their services out to individuals or companies, often on a short-term basis.

So, as a freelance writer, you’ll typically work with individual clients, agencies, companies, or publications, contracting your writing services to them.

Freelance writing is a flexible and potentially lucrative way to make money online, whether as a side hustle, a full-time career, or anything in between.

It’s true—freelance writers can take full rein over their career growth by choosing their own schedule, who they work with, what projects they take on, where they work, and so on.

Pretty great, huh?

Not to mention, there are multiple different kinds of freelance writing you can pursue, providing a wide range of specializations and project opportunities at any given time.

Let’s go over the most common types of freelance writing you’ll want to know.

Freelance content writer

A freelance content writer produces content online that informs, educates, or entertains. Great content writers need to be able to write in a variety of different tones and styles and typically need a solid understanding of search engine optimization (SEO).

Some types of content they create are blog articles, web pages, video scripts, white papers, and more.

Freelance copywriter

Though there’s some overlap, copywriting differs from content writing in that it’s all about persuasion; copywriters take a strategic, data-driven approach to writing that’s meant to convince people to buy a product or service.

Freelance copywriters write things like search engine and social media ads, slogans and taglines, website landing and product pages, email marketing campaigns, and more.

Freelance columnist

A freelance columnist works regularly with a specific publication, providing journalistic articles through the lens of their own opinions and worldviews. Whether a newspaper, magazine, or website, columnists usually contribute to a specific section, like cooking, sports, or politics.

Freelance ghostwriter

Freelance ghostwriters create written work on behalf of and credited to another individual or company. Ghostwriters often work closely with those they’re writing for, following their voice, style, and other specifications to a T.

Freelance ghostwriters can work on a variety of projects, from fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, online articles, manuals, or speeches.

Freelance academic writer

As the name suggests, freelance academic writers write academic content that’s rooted in evidence-based facts. Because of this, academic writers need exceptional grammar and research skills as well as an understanding of referencing styles, like APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian.

Some common content types freelance academic writers create are articles, scholarly journals, and class materials.

20. The Travel Writers Life

Here’s another travel site that pays $100 to $150 for interviews and personal stories about people who are making a living as a travel writer, photographer, or tour operator.

How-to articles about getting paid to travel pay up to $200. While this is one of the sites that pay $100 or more for contributions, they also feature courses to help you become a better travel writer.

Video

15. Pentimento

While this is one of the sites that pay closer to $250 for posts about people living with disabilities, they do not currently have any calls for submissions.

#10 Understand that Writing Online is Different

Online writing can be multimedia, so always be looking for opportunities to enrich your article with images, audio, or video. It can also be interactive. Linking out to useful information and websites is a courtesy to your readers. Since online writing is global, you may want to avoid using colloquial expressions or relying on cultural references that will only be understood by people in your country.

One of the most commons mistakes people make while writing online is using too many long paragraphs. While five sentence paragraphs are the norm in academic writing, online readers are turned off by big blocks of text. When I’m writing for the web, I’ll rarely use more than three sentences in a paragraph.

Recommended Reading:

=> 16 Things That Turn An Ordinary Blog Into An Authority Website

Diversify Your Writing Income

Your path to getting paid to write might look different than mine, but most successful online writers earn more by diversifying their income streams.

Most successful nonfiction authors, for example, earn more money by offering additional services like courses or consulting.

Getting paid to write is easier than ever once you figure out your niche and who your ideal reader is. Lots of new jobs come online every day for writers. The question is do you have the right skill set?

Your niche could be creative writing jobs, greeting card writing, writing jobs for beginners, targeted ads, technical writing, content marketing, or academic writing. More writing jobs are online now than ever.

You just have to know where to look.

Why You Need to Think Like a Business

It took me a long time to get into the right mindset about running a six-figure freelance writing business. I paid a bunch of my hard-earned freelancer dollars to an excellent business coach who helped me get out of my head and take action.

This is what you need to do, too — except you don’t have to pay me anything (except maybe your eternal gratitude when you become a successful writer).

One of the biggest keys to success in growing your business is to stop thinking of yourself as ‘just’ a blogger and instead as a small business owner.

When you think like a business, you start to run your shit like a business. And that means getting a focus, attracting the right clients in that area, and getting them to pay you real dollars (not $.03 a word) for the content you create.

In reality, becoming a paid freelance writer is not rocket science. It just takes focus and consistency

Once you start making money from freelance writing, it helps you shift your mindset.

The me who was making $.05 a word and the me who makes $1+ a word are in two very different mental places. A big part of that hinged on building the confidence that I could be a writer and make real money.

To do that, I had to bust out of my shell, get focused, and start marketing myself as a serious business owner.

To make it in this business, you need to do the same.

11. Writers Work

Writers Work connects writers with companies that need an expert in the written word.

It’s an all-in-one platform for landing paid writing gigs. They’ll offer career training, writing tools, an online portfolio, portfolio assessment, and more.

Writers Work positions include part-time, full time, and contract positions that areremote gigs or freelance projects. The site provides training through videos, courses, and live support.

Writers Work minimizes time spent searching for jobs by curating writing job listings from many sources.

If you want to learn more about Writers Work, read our review.

Pay

Freelance writers can earn from $20-$65/hour. Payment varies depending on skill level and average time spent on each job. 

ProsDistraction-free text editor with readability functionsA variety of places to pitch writing workEffective training videosEasy to navigateConsMembership requires one-time fee of $47.You can’t filter older opportunities.The goals feature needs far more options.

Free Course on Getting Paid to Write Online

I knew I didn’t want to write books and be an author, but I also didn’t want to get paid pennies for my writing.

I decided to try freelance marketplaces like Upwork – but found no success on those platforms (and I’m glad!). Places like Upwork value bulk content for the cheapest rates. And, your writing is mostly ghostwritten, so you can’t build your portfolio with Upwork.

I was failing.

I didn’t have the time to keep looking for ways to be a freelance writer; I had twins to take care of and a house to manage. I needed to find a different way to make enough money to contribute to our household finances.

And within six months of changing my strategy I was making a living as a freelance writer!

Now, five years later, I am able to stay home and write for a living. I write for digitally native brands and can make up to $600 a blog post.

If you want to do the same, here are the steps I took to start writing online.

4. Start Pitching

In the beginning, the fastest and easiest way to find a freelance writing job is to use freelance writing job boards.

While these jobs may not be the best types of jobs out there, they usually pay well ($50 a post) and will get your foot in the door.

Go to a job board and see what types of jobs there are.

Get a feel of what’s out there. Some job sites have a search option where you can search your niche topic. While there are other ways to find a freelance writing job, first go to job boards and then try other places.

When you find a freelance writing job that you are interested in, it’s time to send your pitch. Your pitch should mention where you found the ad, who you are and how you can help the prospect.

Here is the pitch that helped land my first freelance writing gig.

When pitching, try to have a process so that you s

When pitching, try to have a process so that you stick to it, and make it part of your hustle strategy.

For some new freelance writers, sending that first pitch brings a lot of fear. Fear in pitching doesn’t have to cripple you and stop your dreams of making a living as a freelance writer.

Check out my video to help you overcome your fear of pitching!

Why Should You Start Writing Now?

Writing has always been a valuable skill. No doubt about it. For decades, the best authors and copywriters have commanded a fortune for their work.

Attention is a valuable resource, and writing is how you get attention. As Nathan Barry wrote in Good Things Come to Those Who Write:

“Major companies spend billions of dollars on advertising each year in order to interrupt people for a chance at getting attention for their products. Writers get that for free. They have tens of thousands of people raising their hands to say, “Sign me up. I want to read everything you write. You have my attention.”

By lowering the cost of creating and distributing ideas, the Internet increases the returns to writing.

It’s easier than ever to find obscure ideas that match your interests. Since discovery has improved so much, one outstanding article can help you meet people you’d never be able to meet otherwise. When you engage smart and curious people, they will reach out to you. Like you, they’re searching for people who improve the quality of their thinking, and once you build a relationship with them, they’ll return the favor and teach you what they know.

The job market is changing along with the Internet.

Top-of-the-market employees in industries touched by technology are switching jobs at a faster rate than they used to. Freelancing and remote work are accelerating these trends. Google, for example, has as many contractors (70,000) as it does employees. Nobody interviews at a company thinking they’ll work there for life. Instead of committing to a corporation for decades and depending on the corporation to determine their value, workers are letting the market decide their worth. Since they switch jobs frequently, they’re valued and judged by the market more consistently than their elders were. When they do, the quality of their brand determines their pay. If you write well and find an audience for your ideas, you’ll attract better, higher-paying job opportunities.

Writing isn’t just a way to advertise your high-value skills. It’s a way to discover which new ones you should pursue as well.

Compared to print, you receive much more feedback when you write online. That feedback becomes a sixth sense. It gives you unique insight into the world of under-rated and under-explored ideas. Viral posts, for example, signal that the idea you’re writing about has been insufficiently solved by the world-at-large. Here’s the kicker: when you write a viral post, people email you with responses and provide opportunities that help you learn even more about the topic.

Informed by feedback, writing helps you steer your career in a more productive direction. Like a map, the feedback you receive can guide you towards your Personal Monopoly.

For example, the genesis of my own writing course came from Twitter. I tweeted that my goal for 2019 was to help 1,000 people start writing. To my surprise, the tweet struck a chord. People responded with roaring enthusiasm. Within 48 hours, I received hundreds and hundreds of messages from every corner of the globe from people like yourself who wanted to write online.

Inspired, I called my friend Tiago Forte and told him we should create an online course together. He said yes. We spent five months putting everything we knew about writing online into an intensive online program, and now, it’s live.

2. Copy/Content writing

In business nowadays, content marketing is king. And luckily for freelancers, this has meant a surge in demand for services such as copywriting and content writing.

As a freelance copywriter or content writer, you’ll write for businesses to help establish and promote their brand, engage consumers and clients, and market products and services.

Pete Boyle at Have A Word succinctly sums up the difference between these two types of freelance writing:

Content writers create text that informs or entertains an audience with engaging copy. For companies selling a service, a content writer’s job is to build reputation and authority whilst instilling trust. For websites and publications not selling a service, a content writer’s goal is to entertain.

The aim of a copywriter is to persuade audience members to take a specific action. Most often that action is to purchase a product or service.”

Some of the content you may create as a copy or content writer include:

  • Advertising copy
  • Website content
  • Blog posts
  • EDMs
  • Press releases
  • White papers
  • In-house publications (such as ebooks, or the custom magazine publications we mentioned above)

How do I get this type of writing job?

Getting content and copywriting jobs doesn’t involve the same sort of process that article writing does. You won’t really be pitching ideas to businesses; you’re more likely to be applying for jobs advertised online.

(We recommend signing up for access to our Remote Writing Jobs & Opportunities Board – for a small monthly fee, you’ll have access to a curated, up-to-date list of online writing jobs to apply for.)

You can also reach out to businesses with an offer of your services, but don’t rely solely on this cold-calling approach to secure a steady stream of work.

Content agencies are also a place you can start with this type of writing. Agencies will hire freelancers to complete content assignments for their clients (but beware the possibility of being underpaid or exploited – ensure you’re only working with reputable agencies).

As with any freelancing service, word-of-mouth will also serve you well here. Be sure to network wherever possible and maintain a solid online presence so that people can find you and your services.

Part two: cementing your presence

Things you should consider when creating your presOnce you’ve got the skills for the job, you need to let everyone else know about it, and you won’t be able to if you’re just scribbling away in a notebook or keeping your work locked up in a folder on your desktop.

Things you should consider when creating your presence include:

Portfolio

A portfolio is probably your most effective way of showcasing your skills and attracting clients or employers. After all, it offers people real-life examples of your work rather than empty promises.

So, how should you go about building a portfolio? Unfortunately, in the beginning, your portfolio will mostly be made up of writing you won’t get paid for, but it’s all part of the process. Start by creating your own blog, guest posting, and pitching to publications. All of these things will not only build your portfolio but give you more exposure too.

Social media

Alongside your portfolio, having a presence on social media will also help to further your career. Using Twitter and LinkedIn to network with other writers and comment on relevant industry-related topics will help you get noticed for jobs as well as present you as someone who is serious about progressing in their career. Make sure that you link all your profiles and blog together to create a cohesive, professional presence.

Why NOT to Start Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is great and all, but the reality is, it’s not for everyone.

Maybe we should have listed this video first as if any of these are dealbreakers for you, then we shouldn’t waste any more time.

Still think freelance writing is for you?

Let’s get to it.

4. Social media content creation

We are living in the age of social media. Every business has (or should have) a social media presence these days, and as a freelance writer, you can really capitalise on this!

While a lot of businesses manage their social media presence in-house, many choose to outsource their content creation to freelancers. Planning, writing and scheduling social media posts across a variety of platforms can be a tricky and time-consuming job – one that’s perfect for freelance writers.

How do I get this type of writing job?

To really succeed in picking up freelance social media jobs, you’ll need to be a bit of an all-rounder. It’s not just writing that’s involved.

Social media is largely a visual medium, so there’ll likely be some design aspects attached to a social media gig as well – think images and videos as well as written content.

You’ll also need to have an understanding of how various social media platforms work, and how audiences respond to and interact with social content.

To find social media jobs, again, we recommend searching online job boards, as well as reaching out to local businesses who may require social media management.

It’s also a good idea to specifically advertise and promote the fact that social media content creation is part of your freelance repertoire. This way, people know for sure that they can approach you for these kinds of jobs.

Want to Learn More About Writing?

Become a better writer with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by literary masters, including Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, and more.

Spring clean your content: How to update website content for SEO

Spring is a great time to revise your content marketing strategy and refresh your existing content to make it work harder for you…

Learn to Write Clearly and Persuasively

Writing is the most fundamental method of communication.

It’s a pillar of any successful career and the foundation of every other form of media. It’s the best way to clarify your logic and thinking, and the benefits extend far beyond the page. Storing and distributing text online is cheap, which means your words can be read by almost anybody, anywhere in the world.

Most people have reservations or fears about publishing their writing. They don’t get started because they “don’t have a voice,” “haven’t found their niche,” or “don’t know what to say.” Trust me. I’ve heard every objection under the sun. But there’s only one way past this stage: Develop a bias toward action.

Create. Create. Create.

The easiest way to write more is to write about ideas that stimulate you. If you do, you’ll be able to produce on a more consistent basis.

Focus on quantity over quality at first. If you publish something every week for a year, you’ll gain tremendous insights into what you should be creating.

I’m reminded of a famous story about a ceramics class. On the first day, the teacher divided the class into two groups. The group on the left side would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, while the group on the right would be graded on quality:

“His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A.”

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

Consistency develops ability, so pick a schedule and stick with it.

Expect a small number of articles to outperform the rest. The vast majority of your traffic will come from a handful of articles. Your traffic will spike and stall. It’s normal. After I published my article, What the Hell is Going On?, traffic to my website skyrocketed. My website received almost 50,000 visitors in two days, and more than 100,000 visitors during the month of March. Since then, my website has returned to its usual cadence of 20,000 visitors per month.

Most people have an outdated idea of what it means to be a writer. I call this the “Thoreau Model.” They think that writers are loners. They escape society, wander into the forest, and live in a cabin for three years as they pore over their sacred tome. Well, guess what. Walden was published in 1854. Solitude worked well for Thoreau but it won’t work for people like you.

I use an active, social, and collaborative approach to writing. Most of what I “write” doesn’t even happen on the page. It happens while I’m away from the computer, when I’m in the line at the grocery store, waiting at the airport, or speaking with friends.

What Do You Need to Become a Freelance Writer?

Besides patience, tenacity, and a knack for budgeting, successful freelance writers need three things: a portfolio of writing samples, great ideas, and a network. Knowing the right people opens doors to new project opportunities and assignments and allows you to do the same for others down the road, but meeting those people can be challenging. At the beginning of your freelance writing career, you may have to rely on cold-pitching to get the ball rolling. Reach out to your favorite writers locally and meet up for coffee, or join an online freelance writer’s group, where editor contacts and resources are swapped freely.

A good writer also has the ability to work outside of their usual writing niche, and your portfolio should highlight this crucial skill set. If you have a specialty, drill down into it—but don’t discount assignments that might feel like more of a challenge.

#20 Only Writing is Writing

You have to sit your butt in the chair and write. You have to do that every day. That doesn’t mean you lie on your couch and play with your navel. That doesn’t mean you go shopping when the words don’t flow the way you think they should. That never works. It means you sit your butt in the chair and get to work. No excuses.

Harlan Coben

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I need to write. Sometimes I even fool myself into thinking that I’m being productive. But the only way to make progress in your writing is to do write – pages and pages, day after day.

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