How to be a Freelance Writer and Earn from your Writing? All writers have a dream to be a successful writer. Some writers will end up deciding to either become published, which takes a long time – or they will become staff writers for companies or publishers along the way, and pick up and hone writing skills as they go. Others will take another path, and try their hand at writing on sites like Hubpages or Squidoo or Constant Content. And they may discover they have always had a true talent for writing, and so they progress to other writing ventures, like their own blogs or websites and hone their skills that way.
So here is the Freelancer. Becoming a freelance writer means working by earning almost entirely from your own writing. And to do this, you need to know how to not only find work, but be consistently good at it, and become good enough to keep getting writing jobs. Later in this special 2 part feature, I will show what you need to become a freelance writer, and where you can find work. I freelance myself and I will list many resources for you.
Being a Freelance Writer
Just to start the ball rolling, have you read anything about Freelance before? Have you read about how to be a freelance writer? Have you attended or viewed courses on freelancing?
Being a freelance writer means being in control of your work. You will choose your own hours to work, (your work will be in roughly 2 parts, where you will divide your time between writing and selling your writing), and you will use your writing skills in new ways, by getting paid for your words. It is not that scary. So many writers are already doing this. You can do it too, and have a new career that you control and have more freedom.
Learn the difference between writing for fun and writing for pay. Be the second choice. When you put a value to your writing, everything changes forever with writing.
You might be worried about failing as a freelance writer. Why, if you have this writing talent do you think that? Don’t avoid failure by not writing freelance… because that is not the way. With patience and perseverance, and with a willingness to learn new things, anyone can be a freelance in whatever business or endeavour they pursue. Knowledge is power.
Give yourself a list, make goals and make targets. Give yourself 6 months to a year to “make it” as a freelance writer. It all starts with you.
Develop and hone more than just your writing skills. Hone your desire to succeed. Be willing to try. Tell yourself you have NOTHING TO LOSE. Live by this creed.
You probably have never sold anything before and wonder can you sell your writing? Can you sell YOU? There are ways to make selling easier and much more possible. I will talk more on selling and making a pitch later.
Advantages of being a freelancer:
- You are your own Boss
- You will gain experience
- You make the choices and steer your career and life
- Have more time flexibility
- More control over your kind of work
- You can work anywhere…
- Focus on work you enjoy
- Earn better – more than regular work
- Learn more – have more responsibility
- Change work colleagues with less stress
- Pay is frequent
- Being small in the beginning pays off
- You are the only product
Freelance Writer Salary
How much should you charge for writing? Freelance work is similar to being a contractor, except contractor work lasts longer. When you become a great freelance writer, you will be in big demand for your work. How to value your writing…
On setting your price for freelance writing:
Ask yourself this: how many hours would you reasonably work per week in any job that you do or have done? Make a note of the number. This is the number of hours you should apply to writing. You may perhaps work twice as many hours on some weeks but you need to establish your defacto number and the only one you should refer to in your sums.
How to calculate your hourly freelance rate
How to calculate your hourly freelance writing rate per hour: work out how much money you need to live comfortably per week – (this is your rent, food, paid bills, and some small extra spending money for “sundries”). Divide that number by the number of hours you will spend writing, from earlier. Look at your answer. That is your minimum hourly rate.
20 hours per week for work … £400 per week in money or bills = £20 per hour.
20 hours per week for work … £200 per week in money or bills = £10 per hour.
40 hours per week for work … £150 per week in money or bills = £3.75 per hour.
40 hours per week for work … £400 per week in money or bills = £10 per hour.
How to work out your price per word that you write: work out how many hours will it take you to research, compose and edit an article that must be a certain number of words long? That number of hours multiplied by your hourly rate, divided by the number of words is your price per word.
- Example hours taken to research and write – 7
- Hourly rate £10 (for this example)
- Number of words written – 500 gives you a per word price of 14 pence a word. That is your minimum price, and whatever you do, don’t go below those numbers. They are your bottom line. Keep to the numbers – and you will keep on the path to successful freelance writing.
There is more to freelance writing than just writing. A freelancer needs to know how to find work and customers. I will make this easier for you in part 2 as I will list 50 sites that will pay you for your writing. You will have no excuse to not becoming a freelance writer, provided you keep trying and keep pushing for work.
Keep your freelance dream alive and nurture it. Find a place to work from. I know writers who spent their first few months working anywhere from the local library (with free internet) to even Starbucks cafes (again with free internet) until they earned enough money to get their own work space. (Otherwise it can cost a lot of mocha lattes to get to being a freelancer.)
To freelance, you don’t need to pass an exam or get Govt. Approval. Just bring your skills as a writer and your determination. Whatever confidence and training you have this is it. You are ready.
Get Freelance Writing Gigs
You also don’t need to slave away on sites like Elance, Odesk or Textbroker just to have to bid downwards to get a measly income from your hard earned writing. There are better and easier ways to get work and earn a decent income. Due to the big demand for written content, there is no shortage of freelance gigs, just a matter of those good jobs finding you. As you find those jobs that are at the higher paying scale, you will discover ways to tweak your writing. More of this below later.
To help yourself become more visible, you need a place where samples of your writing can be seen and read. A Blog or website, even a free one will serve this purpose. WordPress, Blogger or Weebly all provide free sites and blogs for any freelance writer. Many journalists use other means to display their written works or clips. About.me is one such website where your clips of writing can be displayed. Assuming you already are a good writer, know how to do research for a feature or article or writing project, have very good editing and grammar skills, can think creatively and originally, and can look at the project from beyond its own limits – you have the basic skills to do the writing.
Extra Writing and other skills
The more tricky part to being successful in freelancing – is offering more than what other freelancers offer. If they offer X, then you offer X+Y. If you have HTML experience, better again. Photoshop or photo editing skills or software experience? Even better. Quark Express or Adobe Copy? Fine. These skills add value to your skill set. Use everything you have, don’t waste your talents. Give them a value. If you don’t have those skills, or that knowledge, here is the good news. Most freelancers don’t have that knowledge either. Your experience in writing will serve you well if you have also written before for a previous employer or person. If you have worked at editing, copy-writing or any kind of journalism in print or online, you have an edge. Are you worried they will be better than you? What if they charge X? Good, now you are getting it.
Look at your niche – the subject (or subjects which is better) that you can write on… is it technical? Technical writers are in top demand. Does your niche include numbers and finance, Law, contracts, agreements, labour, work, entertainment, creative writing, books, children’s content, health, travel, or tourism? Whatever extra niche you can include is possible leverage you have over other freelancers who do not have knowledge in that niche. Take advantage of gaps in the freelance market.
A hugs part of being freelance is going out to seek work. Finding writing jobs is key to your success. You must actively look for leads, make connections, establish friendships, colleagues and people who can help you.
Making a pitch is a special skill. It might be scary at first but fear is a great motivator. You will never be free or truly happy until you quit that boring day job, then earning from freelance writing will be worth it. Trading in the safety net of a day job for the more riskier prospect of working for yourself and earning whatever you wish, want or dream… can you see yourself in this position? Some people try keeping the day job and do part time freelance. Some people are happy to earn less income.
My advice to combat this fear is to build up enough money and reserves to last you for 6 months to a year. Give yourself that time to test the rich waters of freelance writing, and see can you handle it, find the jobs, keep at it, and build a successful business.
Getting paid in Freelance Writing
Never wait to get paid for your work. Never wait until the work is finished. Ask for part of the money up front. Ask for 50% of the money you will get for the work. Set rules and agreements. Get them agreed by your client. Learn how to make agreements on payments. Ask for the balance of your money within a set time, like a week. This means you have to pressure yourself and do the work and finish it in that time. Not all clients will pay according to terms. This has to do with finance and the 30 day money cycle.
If cash is low and you have to get writing gigs –
Consider doing cash in hand work. Also consider some part time work until things improve. Don’t fall into a lull. Do contract work. Also try some temping for a while until things pick up.
Work out your budget for what you need to earn each month. Don’t let your income go below your bottom line. In my opinion more than 80% of the good or very good freelancers I know who do this work are earning very well, and get lots of referral or repeat work from previous customers.
I should also add that some people may find that writing freelance is not for them. Bahala na, as they say in the Philippines. That’s life. C’est la vie. There is nothing wrong in discovering your limits. You lose nothing if you can go back to your own work as before, or have enough saved away to live in in the meantime till you get work. Writing freelance will give you a taste of what writing jobs can be like. Or you might discover what you did wrong, or could have tried more…and wonder could you try again in the future?
In part 2, I will talk about the kind of writing jobs you can find. You might be asked to do something you have written before. What if you are asked to write a product article? Or a White paper? What about a Lead or Sales Generation Page? Or what about a Speech, a Fundraiser or Direct Mail or Ad Copy? Can you write these? Are you worried? Don’t be. In part 2, I will explain them and what you would earn writing some of them and I will list the places online that are looking for work. These are good paying writing jobs for freelance writers. Once you have written one or two of each, it gets much better and easier. If you have read this far, then don’t sweat it. Freelance is 100% possible for you.
Most freelancers that find this kind of information tend to keep it to themselves. Not on Philpad.com. We’re spilling the beans. See you in part 2.
© Copyright by Cathy Nerujen Creator of FlashStar Magazine
Passion Series: Cathy Nerujen from A Novel Quest
Interview with a Romantic Writer and Poet, Cathy Nerujen, from London UK
7 thoughts on “How to be a Freelance Writer and Earn from your Writing”
I love reading this article. It is so informative and very honest. I am a freelance article writer also. Please provide the link of the part 2. I am so excited !
Oh I will tell Cathy to do the second part of this post. Thanks for visiting!
Hi Cathy, Great bit of info. I wished I’d seen this before. I’m pretty new to the Freelance world and have been blown away by how much I have learned, so quickly. I considered doing an article like this and then I found yours! Very well said and well shared. There really is so much work for freelancers, that there is no need to keep the info to ourselves. I look forward to following your work.
The whole article is a sheer gem in terms of making things easy to figure out for freelancers. Especially new writers and newbie freelancers.
Oh and the next part and final part 2 of this article on How to earn from Freelancing will be available soon. Thank you Fehl for letting me post this here. It was a lot of research but so well worth it, and can I say it looks amazing on your WordPress blog! Amazing as usual, Philpad. 🙂
Yay! I’m so happy your Gravatar is displayed now honey 🙂 This freelance writing article has it all and I can’t find a page like this anywhere on the web honestly. You are spilling all the helpful and effective secrets of finding freelance opportunities here Cathy. I am so waiting for part 2. You are an amazing mentor.
*hugs and thank you for sharing us this page*
PS, I added your interview links so that people can get to know the amazing author who shared this awesome article. 🙂
Excellent article about being a freelance writer. This will surely help not only beginners for freelance but also those who want to maintain freelance writing successfully. You have shared million dollar tips here Cathy. I am so proud of you. Thank you for this excellent post.