How to Make Money as Freelance Writer?
The one question every person asks me for when it comes to freelance writing. How do you make money?
Many freelance writers work full time and manage to make a stable and growing income out of it. But for every successful freelance writer, there are many more who barely make enough to be able to escape their day job.
Freelancing is a rollercoaster, at times it can be thrilling but other times it can be sickeningly scary. On a plus side working alone and being your own boss is liberating but, on the downside,, there is no HR or regular salary to protect from life’s twists.
It can be a lonely world, especially if you work from home, but remember there are also other freelancers, from all industries, who can offer support. As a freelancer, I have discovered that having talent is not enough to make a successful and stable income but also I have needed to have a grounded calmness and a steady sense of peace because this industry can be an uncertain one.
Here are ten tips, from me to you, to making a decent living as a freelance writer:
1. Start a Blog
A blog can serve a freelance writer well. It can be a great way to practice your writing and give you a boost of confidence as you improve in your craft. It can help you earn a small income through monetization strategies. Blogs are also a great way of attracting clients to you, showing off your creative niches and serving as a live portfolio.
The best thing about using blogging as an introduction to freelancing is that it’s reasonably easy to start up. WordPress, Square Space, Tumblr, Medium and Wix are all easy start up platforms for bloggers.
To make a blog appear more professional adding a ‘hire me’ page that tells prospective clients about what you do and why they need to hire you; a portfolio page with samples, an about me page with a blurb about your and why you’re the go-to for that writing niche and a contact page which links to other social media accounts.
Affiliate marketing is a good entrance into monetizing a blog, until you get more traffic and connections. The most popular network for this type of marketing is Google Adsense; all you do is simply place a banner on your site and Google will choose ads relevant to your content.
Other similar programs are
If you end up with enough traffic advertisers may contact you directly and ask for their ad to be placed on your site, you may also feel confident enough to approach them. Selling ads may come in the forms of banners and links or it may be writing sponsored posts or reviews about the advertiser’s service.
Just remember that you are not going to make any money from a blog that no one reads or engages with. Make sure you produce a good quality blog because no one will click your ads if they’re not visiting your blog.
2. Grow Your Social Media Presence
The more places you present online the more opportunities clients have to find you. The may see your Twitter post and then head over to your LinkedIn profile, they make see your Pin and want to check out your blog content.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by being on all the social media platforms to start with, start small and pick one of two, I found Twitter and LinkedIn the best tools for freelance writers, you can build up to more at a later date.
When writing your bio and descriptions use keywords like copywriter, freelance writer, B2B writer and white paper writer. If you have a specific skillset or interest and have a niche you are great at make sure you include it in your bio and description.
Choose an image that can sell you and fits in with your brand. It is easy to create a simple headshot with a standard camera or iPhone these days, just make sure it has a plain background and good lighting.
As a lifestyle writer I made sure that I showcased a styled outfit and fresh make up in my profile picture but when I moved into more professional topics like business and marketing I updated my photo to look more professional.
There are thousands of bloggers and writers online who want to get the best freelance contracts, make sure you stand out from the crowd with a personality that will allow clients to connect to you.
Your social media presence shouldn’t just be about your skill level but also about your story, make yourself stand out with your witty and relatable presence.
Social media has almost replaced job boards with multiple Twitter accounts being dedicated to writing work advertisements, follow
for updated job opportunities.
Start following other writers, brands, businesses and influencers, especially those in your field or niche. It is import to network, a lot of work in this industry comes from referrals.
Be nice and interact with other writers, retweet their links and compliment them. After having made a connection with writers online they have recommended me to their clients when they were unavailable.
3. Create Samples Around a Niche Topic
Freelance writing clients want to hire a writer with experience in one niche topic which is why it pays to pick a specific subject matter to write in. Sometimes it takes time to discover a niche, especially if you don’t have academic or work experience in a certain field.
Choose something you have a lot of passion for like lifestyle, sport or health. Choose something you have lots of experience in like parenting, education, business or marketing. A good way to find a niche is to think about what you want to read about, maybe there is a sector you feel is not being covered in the right way if at all.
Browse to find blogs, businesses and publication that will actually pay and see what subject they centre around. Are there trade publications for our niche? Are there gaps in the market that will lead to a job opportunity? If not that maybe your niche is too saturated or too specific, take a step back and access how much money you could realistically make from your interests and experiences.
Finding a freelance writing niche doesn’t mean you have to only write in that topic alone, it can be a great selling point to attract clients.
Once you find this niche, start creating samples around the subject, the sooner you figure it out the sooner you can make money.
4. Write Articles for Blogs, Magazines and Journals
Popular blogs, magazine and journals are still hungry for quality writing and many will pay for it. Getting a decent income from this won’t start overnight, it’s something that will need experience and a good portfolio.
A large amount of article writing and guest blogging is unpaid, with writings trading content for exposure, there are some that offer a small amount for the right writer.
Whilst traditional publishing has had a rough decade but many consumer magazines are still going strong and will pay well for feature articles. This won’t happen straight away so start small with local publications, unpaid blog work or pay per traffic work.
Trade journals are always looking out for reliable quality writers that have strong knowledge in that narrow topic area. If you are a talented writer/ blogger with proven specialist knowledge then you can often the painful entry jobs if have the right pitch for the right publication.
There is no secret to getting paid to write content, it’s all about risk taking, being tenacious, using common sense to separate the reliable opportunities that actually pay to those who are using freelancers and being efficient and reliable once you land the contract.
Try platforms like
- People Per Hour or
to find clients and build up a good portfolio. Upwork is a great place to pick up new clients if you are new to the game, there are lots of clients willing to take on novices with great potential. These platforms offer entrance jobs and work for experienced freelancers.
If you want to be one of those people who follow this model successfully you need to be able to crank out quality content quickly without getting writer’s block or being bogged down too long by one project.
5. Content Marketing
Content marketing is the concept of creating valuable content that will attract customers and build credibility. More and more businesses want to produce content that will attract customers and are happy to pay for it.
This is a hard market to break into, especially without any contacts, but it’s not impossible. A good way to start is through Upwork.com where you may have to jostle with other beginners but it’s a great way to build up experience, contacts and a portfolio.
This route requires more than an understanding of the niche but also the fundamentals of marketing, anchor texts and SEO. You will need to show you have this knowledge when you pitch to the clients as they will want to hire a writer who understands the bigger picture.
Business to business (B2B) content marketing is a big earner because the products and services sold between businesses tend to be more expensive. When pitching to a B2B client show you have an understanding or their particular industry, speaking their language and know their jargon. Don’t pitch yourself as a writer, say you’re a B2B medical device writer, for example.
6. Become a Kindle Author
Many people have hopes that becoming a published author but it’s a hard dream to realise if you go through the traditional publishing house route.
Today, thanks largely to Amazon and Kindle, the self-publishing market is no longer exclusively for vanity projects, and making your living writing books is achievable.
You will need to be commercially minded with a strong target market for your book if you want to make a profit. You will need to be persistent as it often takes several books being published before you see any traction and sales. The publishing itself is very easy, at bare minimum all you need is a book with content and a cover.
A captivating cover will do wonders for sales so find a freelance for cover designs and formatting through sites like Fiverrr.com. Other marketing tools are almost essential if you want to make money from Kindle publishing, it’s almost vital to get a mainlining list and blog or website where you can build a fan base.
Author Earnings reported that only 1,6000 authors were earning over $25.000 or above from their Amazon book sales and 10000 of those had published their first book over three years previously. The good thing about self-publishing income is that you can continue making money from your back catalogue.
7. Become an Editor or Proof-Reader
Good writers aren’t always good editors however if you are a good editor you can get a decent pay-out from it. Content is everywhere from books to websites and ads, the written word is everywhere and someone needs to proofread and edit it.
Editing and proof-reader are often used interchangeably but really, they are two very distinct processes. Editors will look at the document as a whole and check the sentence structure, clarity and grammar. A good editor will make the piece a readable and clear documents without any spelling or grammar mistakes.
Proof-readers come into the process much further down the line and review the document as a final step. A good proof-reader needs to have a strong eye for detail and can spot even the smallest spelling error or typo. As you start applying for jobs keep in mind the distinction between the two processes.
If you’ve got a keen eye for formatting, editing and typos than this is the role for you. At times it can be challenging but if you get a good reputation it can be a good earner.
Everyone from students, bloggers, reporters and businesses use an editor. If you’ve ever written any content you understand how hard it can be to separate yourself from the content and how easy it is to overlook errors that may be obvious to others.
Editing can sometimes be a tough role as it is so subjective, you might get accused of making mistakes that aren’t actually mistakes. The key to success is to know the specific grammar and formatting roles (known as in house style guides) for the company, person or website that hires you. It also pays to have your own guide just in case you are working with a client who doesn’t have a preferred style, it will help should any disagreements come up regarding what is correct or not.
Many traditional publishers have turned to at-home freelance editors to work on the manuscripts and self-published authors almost rely on freelancers to help them with their books. Academic journals also employ this type of editors but they often want someone who knows the subject matter well and understands a particular style guide (MLA or APA usually). If you studied a specific field or have work experience in a certain industry try and push this in your editing proposals.
8. Become a Ghostwriter
Ghostwriters help people write content but their name is never disclosed or credited, this could be everything from books to blogs and social media posts.
People hire ghostwriters for a variety of reasons, sometimes people have a compelling story to tell but don’t feel like they have the experience of talent to write it, sometimes they lack the time or other times it because they can provide the video or photo content but not the matching written content. A lot of content creators who provide photos and video for their Instagram and Youtube accounts pay a ghostwriter to provide the content for the accompanying caption and blog.
Because ghostwriting is so varied it is good to specialize in one thing like full-length books, content marketing (like blog posts and business website content) or academic papers. The Editorial Freelancer’s Association estimates rates for ghostwriters to be between $50 and $60 per hour, or about 25-50 cents per word.
Ghostwriting is the type of work where it is beneficial on both side for writers and clients to have a lasting relationship. This is so the author/client will have a rapport and trust with the ghostwriter, and the ghostwriter will become familiar with the author’s voice and personality. Once you have proven your worth and start to build up a relationship and a big portfolio you will find yourself be able to charge more money.
9. Get Repeat Business
Don’t be scared to ask for more opportunities or to let your clients know how much you enjoyed working with them.
Many writers are too busy wooing new clients that they forget their previous ones but really you should be treating them like royalty. In this service oriented world, from experience, the continual cycle of clients is what will keep you going. Try to take care of previous clients as well as you do new clients who are hoping to get a contract with.
To make sure your client will want to return to you for the next project make sure you deliver the work on time. Never miss a deadline, a client could have a campaign built around the content you are supposed to deliver so a missed deadline won’t just harm your reputation but could lose business time, money and respect.
Try and keep a list of clients you have had positive experience with and their contact information. If your contact information or situation is going to change keep your customers informed, it’s professional and also reminds them of your existence.
Update your clients on new service you might be offering, have you branched into other speciality niches or have gained a new interest. Also, update clients on your availability, let them know if you are on vacation or have more available work hours, you might end up being the right writer in the right place.
The most important thing is to never lose a client for lack of follow up. It may involve extra effort but expressing thanks, offer further assistance or just wishing them good look for their upcoming project will show you are willing to put in the extra effort for the client. Many decisions in business are based on emotions so a personal connection, and trust is worth almost as much as the content you deliver.
10. Beware of Scams
Writing should be getting paid. Free exposure online isn’t as valuable as your clients want you to believe, unless you’re working with a high traffic site with a great reputation or you’re getting lots of non-monetary perks (free items or free tickets, for example). Try to avoid wasting a lot of time writing for websites that offer you nothing in response. In fact, it could damage your writing reputation.
Be wary of sites which connect writers with advertisers who want exposure on your blog. They might offer to pay you a small fee for posting a paid review or seeding a link but in the end, all they want is to rent your audience, without full disclosure. Don’t risk the trust you’ve built with your audience just so you can make minimal money with a paid review.
If someone emails you or connects to you through social media, offering you an opportunity to sign up to write somewhere, be cautious. Beware of any client reaching out or soliciting lots of writers, good clients usually only need one or two new writers at a time. Also remember it’s a dead business model to aggregate lots of sub-par content to put ads against just in the hopes of affiliate revenue for clicks. It will never pay well.
Read the about me page and search the company or brand, if it is a scam there will surely be someone on the internet warning you about it. Make sure the pay is guaranteed and not speculative, never sign up for any future pay based on traffic or clicks deals as that will make you pennies in return if anything. For sponsored posts make sure nothing is kept secret from your audience and never accept work from a company that demands you lie to them.
It is easy to waste time writing for clients that won’t help your career and will, in the end, harm your credibility. Learn not to let others take advantage of you, never put a client on a pedestal and then put yourself under the pedestal. Holding your own to clients when you feel like they are using you can ultimately making you stronger.
These different ways of freelance writing will utilize your writing and communication skills and, when done right, will help create a stable monthly income. In the world of freelance writing, there are ups and down, so it is important to think out of the box and know your worth.
Remember it can be a lonely job and we all have months where we aren’t quite hitting our target. It’s not a job for the lazy and it’s certainly not a quick fix for empty bank account. It might take you a while before you get a good month, it will take patience, risks and some wrong turns before you learn which direction it best for you and your bank account.Updated on: October 30, 2018