How to Become a Freelance Writer

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Freelance writing is an attractive job for many reasons. First of all, you can do it from anywhere you have a computer and Internet access. Second, you get to brag to all of your friends and acquaintances about being a writer. Third, you’re always working on something new. And finally, there is serious money out there to be made.

Great pitch, huh? So what’s the catch?

There’s a bunch of extra work that goes into being a freelance writer that most people don’t think about. When you’re not on a job you have to send out dozens of queries a week, most of which never get responses. You have to constantly find ways to market yourself through personal blog sites, other peoples’ blogs, or whatever other advertising you can afford. Since you are online most of the time, you’re dealing with customers anywhere in the world, so your hours are anything but regular. And to top it off, most of this work that you’re doing is the groundwork to get a job—i.e., you do all of this to market yourself and to look professional without getting paid!

If you’re just posting blogs and articles because you love to write and don’t rely on the paycheck, then there are plenty of places out there for you to post. Most of the sites that Steve listed from his other post will get you going. But if you’re serious about freelancing full-time and want some advice on how to get started and succeed, read on.

First, you need to do some serious trade research.

Look up phrases like “how to be a freelancer.” Learn from the experiences of seasoned professionals on topics like where to find a job, what rates to charge, how to market yourself, and so many other important facts that are vital to success.

While you’re researching, you may want to join some freelancing communities. Never pay to join a community. Any community that guarantees it will find you hundreds of jobs and have you earning six or seven figure salaries are too good to be true. Do not buy into the scheme.

The best communities are those that are free, well-maintained, and full of tips and support for all freelancers. Some of my favorites are as follows:

Freelance Writing Gigs is an excellent community for freelance writers, and a good place to look for jobs. The tips are helpful for the freelancer just starting out, and the staff responds quickly to questions.

About Freelance Writing has some excellent articles to give you tips and advice. Also this site has links to other freelancing sites to help improve your skills. Jobs are posted here on Mondays.

Freelance Writing is chock full of useful information: leads to job boards; information about magazine submission guidelines; and even information about writing contest.

Once you’ve done research into the trade of freelance writing, and perhaps joined a few communities, you’ll begin to feel more confident with putting yourself out there and sending query letters to possible employers.

Realize that finding work is the biggest part of your job. When you are not working on a project you have to go out there on to the job boards daily and look for new work. I recommend using some of the above sites listed for finding jobs, but you may also want to try some of these locations:

Craigslist: True, it can be kind of a hodgepodge of possible leads, but hundreds of reputable employers utilize Craigslist because it’s cost effective, quick, and gets the word out. While I have found work here, be wary of people who want to pay you less than you are worth.

Online Writing Jobs: A great place and very well organized. To apply to some of the jobs you may have to join certain boards (ie: Media Bistro, ScriptLance, and Jobvana). As long as it’s free to join, do it. never pay to get work. If it is really worth your time, they will pay you, you do not pay them.

WFH Market: You do have to join this page to apply to the jobs, but it’s totally free and easy. The listings here branch out from basic freelance writing, which can prove very lucrative for people who are programmers, web designers, etc..

When you’re hunting from day to day, it’s easy for you to use up all the assets from one board, so you will need to use several boards at a time. Also, you should have a daily goal of how many queries you want to send out. Don’t put your eggs in one basket and send out as many queries as you can. Just keep organized so that when you accept a job it doesn’t conflict with any other projects you’re working on.

These basic tips should get you on the way to becoming a successful freelancer. No matter what, you have to be persistent with job hunting, and develop a thick skin for rejection. As many other writers will tell you, rejection is part of the job. Do not take it personally and just keep looking for that next opportunity.

Happy hunting,

-L. Rigdon

[I’d like to first thank Steve for inviting me to do a guest post on IveTriedThat. As a quick bio: I knew I wanted to be a writer since the fourth grade, which is why I got my bachelor’s degree in literature with a minor in journalism, and why I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in literature with a focus on gender studies. I’ve been freelancing professionally now for a little over six months. Through the guidance of other professionals in the community, I have enhanced my skills and successfully landed several regular clients and work-for-hire book deals. My belief in the freelancing community has inspired me to write blog posts such as this one, and others that you can find on my web site at: http://eccentriceclectic.wordpress.com/.]

I have been building six figure businesses online and helping others do the same since 2007. Let me show you how it's done. Click here to learn how to build a real business online.

8 Comments

  1. My rule is–if anyone is making money and you are doing the work, you should have some of the money. If they start up about how they are just getting started (sob) and may be able to pay more later (sniff), then ask yourself why they didn’t capitalize their business and why they will pay for electricity and rent, but not you. If you decide to risk-share like this with someone you will never meet, you need to ask yourself–will it be obvious to anyone seeing your work there that you were not paid? They may be looking for “easy writers,” too. They will email you immediately.

    Reply
  2. To earn a living as a freelance writer and work from home is an ambition of mine. Although very much a beginner, I’ve had four pieces published.

    My last submission was to a leading trade magazine and the editor loved the article. I’ve even been asked to blog on their related site! However, two publications that liked my work have told me that they have ‘no freelance budget’ at present, but they’ll be happy to feature my article.

    I asked that they proceed with publishing anyway – my rationale for unpaid work is that my name will get around and my published cuttings portfolio gets larger.

    Am I right? At what point should the aspiring writer walk away if there’s no payment?

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  3. All of these are true. Nice work Steve… Thanks for this information.

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  4. no digital point is a open forum where affiliate marketers learn how to. There is a sale section where people sell their services what ever those may be.
    Freelance writing is easy if you are a writer and investigator. If you have a hard time in school then you will have a harder time in the real world. You need to fine tune your skills first before you expect any kind of real pay.

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  5. Very profitable, huh? It’s a darn hard business. Most–MOST–of your time is spent getting work or chasing checks, rather than writing. Is this “digital point” a bid place–if it is, you can charge what you want, but you will be beaten out by lowballers.

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  6. Freelance writing is a very profitable business. Content writitng for new publishers is where the money is at now. Go to forums like digital point and offer your skills at writing content articles for people starting out their new business and blogs. Charge what ever you think is fair.

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  7. Excellent blog post. Another helpful and friendly writers community / forum to add to your list is Accentuate:
    accentuateservices.com/xmb/index.php

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  8. Don’t forget you have to be able to write! Colleges even teach this–it’s a learned skill, not something everyone can do because they wrote essay questions on tests on HS. You also need to know how to interview. You need to know what to do when the check doesn’t come–or when it’s three months late. You need to know how to write contracts, how to negotiate. You need contacts–sources–or a way to find sources. If you are doing commercial writing, do you know the principles of selling? Can you write a pitch? There are tricks to this. Can you write a splash page? An order blank? I could go on, butyou get the drift. Writing isn’t something you just wing off and “do.” It’s a skill, a profession. If you want to duke it out with Indians in Calcutta to use the word “sewer pipe” six times in 500 words of plagiarized material, be my guest. But you know what–you will still have to know what to do if the check doesn’t come. And don’t forget that Paypal percentage.

    Reply

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