I can teach you how to become a freelance writer and make money from what you write.
I used to babysit on the side for extra cash. But after learning how to blog and write, I now make extra money from freelance writing and blogging.
Freelance writing allows you to work from wherever you want, set your own hours, and be self-employed. It gives you freedom that most traditional jobs don’t. If you’re a new mom who wants to stay home more, then freelance writing is a great gig to start because you set your own schedule and can work from wherever you want. If you hate your job, you can start freelance writing on the side and build up your writing to the point where you can quit your job and be your own boss (yes, this is possible!). Or, if you need to make more money, freelance writing is a “more prestigious” side job that could help advance your career.
HOW TO BECOME A FREELANCE WRITER
Here’s how you can become a freelance writer. Note that the first few steps are things you should do before you start freelance writing.
1. Create a website or blog
Before you start freelance writing, you need to start a basic website. Everyone applying for freelance writing gigs has a website, so if you don’t you’re going to eliminate yourself from the position almost immediately.
I can teach you how to create a website (aka blog) here.
For your website, you should create an about page, a contact page, and a hire page. This is the bare bones of what you need to have up if you’re applying for freelance writing gigs.
It’s really easy to do, so don’t skip this step. Get your site up and running, then you can proceed to the next steps!
2. Join online groups for writers (Facebook)
Next, join the freelance community. The best way to learn how to do something is to surround yourself with people who are already doing it. The easiest way to do this is to join Facebook freelance writing groups and like freelance pages.
I have a private Facebook group for bloggers that you can also join. It’s called #SocialHack and it’s meant for bloggers who are interested in growing their blogs on social media.
A few Facebook freelance writing groups / pages that I like and recommend are:
- The Careful Cents Club for Freelancers (group)
- The Writer’s Circle (page)
- Freelance Writing Jobs (page)
- Laptop Lifestyle (group)
By joining these groups and liking these pages you will learn things that you didn’t even know you needed to learn. People will talk and answer questions that you haven’t even thought about yet. It’s the fastest way I’ve found to learn the ins and outs of freelance writing.
Seriously – you will really set yourself apart by taking these preliminary steps and learning about the industry.
3. Send cold pitch emails to get writing gigs (avoid job boards)
Okay, so you have your website up and you’ve read blogs and heard what people are talking about in the freelance writing industry. Now, you’re ready to apply for freelance gigs.
To apply for freelance writing jobs, you should send the following email to different companies, blogs, magazines, etc.
I hope this email finds you well. I am a huge fan of XYZ blog [Use the name of the site, but do not give the url – they know what they’re website address is.], and I would love the opportunity to write for you. I have been featured on X Blog, and in X magazine [If you haven’t been featured in anything yet, don’t use this sentence until you have]. If you have a need for a contributor, I think I would be a good fit because of my professionalism and writing skills. I have included links to recent posts below for your consideration [You need to include links to your recent work, if you don’t have any – this would be a good reason to post a few blog posts on your website in the beginning.].
- Link 1
- Link 2
- Link 3
- Link 4
For more information about my background, visit my personal site at FirstLastName.com.
If you have a need, I have the following ideas for pitches for XYZ Blog [Include 2-4 pitches here, if you want. You don’t have to, but it can be helpful depending on the company – use your judgment. I tend to not include this section unless I’m sure that the company would want pitches right away. Usually bigger companies will.]
- Pitch 1
- Pitch 2
- Pitch 3
I understand you may not have a need for a contributor right now. If that’s the case, please keep me in mind for the future. I appreciate your time in advance. Thank you!
First and Last Name
I get emails from writers all the time asking to guest post on my blog and the emails are poorly written. What that tells me is that the person isn’t a great writer. Why would I want that on my site? Don’t make the mistake of screwing up the email and blowing it before you even had a chance. Instead, take time to craft your email professionally but with a touch of personality.
Side note: If you are reaching out to companies, making your emails professional makes sense. But if you’re reaching out to a smaller blog, consider just sending an email that says how much you love their blog and respect them. People love to talk about themselves and get compliments. Of course only do this if you mean it. But focusing on them is key – don’t focus on yourself. Ever. Building a relationship could lead to something more. In fact, in the online world, it usually does.
Continue to send cold emails until you have as many freelance gigs as your heart desires. I always recommend finding jobs this way, or through recommendations. I do not recommend looking for freelance jobs through job boards because the competition is high and the pay is low.
4. Explore niches until you find yours
If you know what you want to write about, then search for blogs, companies, and magazines in that niche. If you don’t have an idea what type of writing you want to do, then reach out to a bunch of genres. I suggest searching things like “top insurance blogs” or “top financial services blogs”. Start here and read lists of companies. The bigger the entity the bigger the budget, in my experience. Don’t be afraid of applying to a big entity.
You will get rejected. You will actually get rejected A LOT. But every freelancer out there – even the pros – get rejected. It’s part of the process. The point is to apply every day until you get something. Then, you can snowball that job into more jobs. Don’t stop hustling. If you want it, the jobs will come. Take on as much as you want. The nice thing about freelancing is that it’s up to you.
5. Learn the biz
There are a few things you need to learn as part of being a freelance writer, including: 1) how to send invoices, 2) what to charge, and 3) whether and when to sign contracts. Here is my advice on each.
- How to send an invoice: Create your own invoice in Word. Save it. Then create a PDF version and email that version to the company when they ask for it. Never email the Word version that they can edit. It sounds intimidating but it’s really easy. You can create invoices yourself until you really get going into your writing career. You can buy software but that wouldn’t be necessary until later in your freelancing career. I would Google “invoices” or “how to create an invoice” and look at images online. That’s how I created mine. Make sure your invoice includes the following: 1) your name, 2) the date, 3) the services rendered (your posts), 4) the cost per post, and 5) how and when payment is received. Mine is never more than a page. Really just look on Google – there’s a lot out there on this.
- What to charge: People write at length about what to charge for your writing. I’ve heard everything from $20 / post to $50 for every 250 words. You’ll have to decide this for yourself. My advice: start higher than you think you’re worth. You can always go lower next time. Of course what you charge depends on your circumstances. Is this money going to feed your baby or is it beer money? I know lots of writers who get paid between $150 and $500 per post — so don’t sell yourself short!
- Whether and when to sign contracts: You will probably be asked to sign a contract if you’re writing for a bigger company. Generally, this is a good thing because it should say something to the effect of: writer will write and company will pay for writer’s writing.
A FINAL NOTE
Freelance writing is an amazing way to make money on the side, right from your own home. Anyone can do it, including you. I had no experience and brought in substantial income freelance writing. I did this by following the steps in this post.
So, if you’re ready to take the leap, do the following:
- Start a website that has an about page and contact page (at a minimum)
- Join Facebook groups about blogging and writing to learn more as you go (like mine called #SocialHack)
- Send cold pitch emails to companies, blogs, and magazines (see above for a template)
- Explore niches until you find the right fit for you
- Take the time to learn the biz (invoicing, what to charge, and contracts)
*BONUS: I highly recommend reading On Writing Well by William Zinsser before you start freelance writing. This book changed how I write and made me a much better writer. Like anything, writing is a craft that needs attending to.
**Freelance writing is just one of the many ways I make money online. You may also enjoy reading my Blogging Page with links to all of my blogging posts and other ways to make money online.