How to become a Freelance Writer

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I started freelance writing in 2011. My first gig paid 50cents per word and I was ecstatic to have weekly freelance writing gigs as a stay at home mum. I wrote mainly about finance and it was a nice side income.

Over the years I have continued to do freelance writing, however, I charge more now and learnt a lot about writing options, where to get work, what to charge and got involved in supportive communities.

Freelance writing varies greatly in terms of price due to experience, qualifications, quality of work and it is highly competitive.

How do you get started?
Firstly do you have writing experience? When I started freelance writing I had been blogging for almost 2 years and was an author. I look back at the articles I wrote then and cringe when compared to my writing now. I’d recommend doing a course such this one – Earn Money Writing (there is also a fantastic Facebook group for those who are doing or have done the course!) It has helped many people I know launch their careers.

Set up your own site (I recommend SiteGround for hosting), create a portfolio of your work, even if it starts with some guest posts on sites linking back to you, then start pitching.

Where to pitch and where to get paid gigs
When starting out places such as Upwork, Freelancer and the Problogger Jobs Board can be great places to start, although the rates are usually lower compared to other freelance work, it’s often simple, quick articles people are looking for. Some have higher paid options which require some experience, a portfolio or proof of your work.

Sites such as The Write Life and Make A Living Writing both have lists of sites willing to accept content and pay you for it.

Alternatively, get active in groups on Facebook or pitch directly to sites you want to write for but make sure you read the rules and guidelines for each.

How much to charge as a freelance writer? 
Do you have a degree and experience or are you just starting out? Which country do you live in? How much research is involved in the article?

The biggest factor in determining your rates is experience and qualifications. Those with journalism or similar degrees and experience can command higher rates than those just starting out.

Next, Australia has higher rates than other countries, so if you live outside Australia or are dealing with international companies, be aware of this. In the US you will likely be competing against many freelance writers willing to do content for under $100 an article. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I found $50 per article was fairly common for US companies vs $200+ for Australian.

If you have a degree and extensive experience, the rates are more like $1000+ per article, especially if it involves a lot of research.

Basically, what you charge is up to you. Here are some sources to give you an idea of what to charge:
If you are an author, the Australian Society of Authors has freelance writing rate guidelines here.
MEAA (Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance) has suggestions for freelance rates (not just writing) here.
Freeline has some suggestions here, from 2014.
Kate Toon has great advice for working out your rates.

Before you do any work, make sure you know your rights, what the going rates are and don’t allow yourself to work for less than you deserve. Check out this from Tracey Spicer, even she gets pitched ridiculously low rates by big companies!

I love freelance writing, it is not my only source of income, though. If I were to dedicate myself to it, I’d allocate specific time for pitching, time for writing and time to market myself, network and provide value in Facebook groups, on my own site and elsewhere.

Are you a freelance writer? What tips would you add? 

 

10 thoughts on “How to become a Freelance Writer

  1. Very interesting and I’ve been wondering about how to get started in freelancing so thank you for the information.

  2. Wow this is an awesome article! I have a Master’s degree in writing and quite a bit of relevant experience, so I’m going to have to look into feeelancing as an option. Thank you!

  3. Great info! I’ve seriously considered freelance writing to help with my travel expenses but I’m not sure I have the time to seriously commit to it.

  4. The US is very competitive and that does drive the price down, but if it’s something that you like doing, hopefully, you won’t mind it much.
    I have thought about doing freelance writing here lately, but I just don’t have the time, unfortunately.

  5. Thanks for this, I really enjoy writing and would love to get more experienced as a freelance writer.

  6. I am trying to be a freelance writer, I am trying to learn all I can about it. This is great information so I pinned it, thank you for sharing.

  7. This is a great article! I am an author and I recently got serious about my blog and I have been considering adding some freelancing to have a little side and come doing something I love to do. Thank you for sharing this

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