Tips on How to Become a Freelance Writer

From research to pricing, here are the basics about freelance writing

Businessman at home office working on laptop
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Want to write for a living but do not know where to start? The first place is to make sure you have marketable writing skills and find places where you can sell those skills. Not everyone can write novels, and even fewer can write on demand, but with today's demand for bloggers and website content it is not hard to find work to at least supplement your income.

Be Realistic

Freelance writing can be lucrative, fun, and rewarding - but it can also mean long hours, writer's block, and fast-turnaround deadlines. Be prepared for some clients to love your work while others will hate it and send it back for revisions or reject it completely.

Unless you establish yourself as a professional writer, you will find it hard to get your foot in the door. Listen, take notes, ask questions, and offer writing samples and references. The majority of freelance writing jobs require you to listen and do what you are asked to do - not to offer your own ideas or creative slants.

If you have thin skin, freelance writing is probably not right for you. A good way to test your ability to roll (and write) with the punches is to show a few writing samples to a friend, spouse, or family member. If you can take constructive criticism from someone close to you, you will probably be able to handle it from a client.

Factor in Your Research Time

Most writing jobs available online pay by the word or a flat fee. When you accept a job or submit a bid for work, be sure to factor in the amount of time you will need to research your topic. You won't get paid for the research time and attempting to write about something foreign to you could end up costing you more in research time than the job itself pays.

Get Everything in Writing

It is important that you get everything in writing before you submit work for payment. Your contract should include what you are supposed to write, for whom, how much, and the deadlines.

In all cases involving writing for someone else, copyright issues need to be resolved. According to U.S. Copyright law, the hiring party is considered the author and copyright owner in a work-for-hire agreement. It is particularly important if you are ghostwriting - you may never be able to claim intellectual or bragging rights to your material.

How Much to Charge

There are no hard-and-fast rules about how much to ask for, and each industry is different. For example, bloggers typically are paid less than writers preparing educational materials or articles for print. No matter what you are writing, if you want top dollar, you need to provide top quality content on time.

Many tech and phone support jobs can be easily outsourced overseas, and there are thousands of foreign-based companies willing to write and sell content for pennies on the dollar. However, when it comes to the English language, it is hard to beat someone who has a mastery of the little nuances of (any) language so you should not be overly concerned about underbidding to compete with cheap labor. Business owners are usually willing to pay for quality work, especially when any content you write for them will help with their own branding or online presence.

Show off Your Work the Right Way

If you have never done freelance writing before you may need to submit writing samples. One of the smartest things you can do to begin branding yourself is to create a portfolio of writing samples and post them online. However, it is important that if you want to be seen as a legitimate content writer, you do not post your samples to "content mills" or "vanity" websites. Instead, create your own blog or website and showcase your work separate from others.


Do not rely on spell checkers and grammar checkers – they make mistakes! If you lack solid proofreading skills hire someone to proof your work, or try an old secretary’s trick: start at the bottom and read backward and upwards – you will be more likely to notice typos and other errors.

By Anonymous. Is It for You?

One of the biggest issues new freelance writers face is a writer's identity crisis. Your name rarely will appear on the work you do, and the slant you may think is best is not always going to be accepted. You must be willing to let go of some creativity to please a client.

If you want to write your own novel, freelance writing is a way to help you pay the bills while hacking away at your plot, but it is not likely to be soul-fulfilling to a hardcore writer. Try to keep the two separate in your mind - like actors waiting for their break who take a second job. The job that pays the bills does not define them; it is just what they do to earn money until they can achieve their real dreams and goals.

Approach freelance writing as you would any other business and expect to make some sacrifices in pride to please the client.