How to Become a Freelance Writer

Becoming a writer was something I wanted ever since I was a kid. Meeting an author in primary school then later in high school my love for writing grew. However, when I shared this dream with others, I was laughed at and told it’s not a real career.

Back then, motivational and female empowerment writing was what I wanted to do. Now, I do finance, parenting and travel writing, with some female empowerment and motivational pieces mixed in. Pacific Island Living, in flight Magazines, international magazines, websites and books are all places I write. Travel writing is my favourite because I get to go to incredible places such as the Solomon Islands, Slovenia, Fiji, Vanuatu and more.

Freelance writing varies greatly in terms of price due to experience, qualifications, quality of work and it is highly competitive. While it has been a great career for me, it does require some skills. That said, if you love writing, it’s a good option as a side gig for some or full time for others.

This post may contain affiliate links to products I use. Read the disclosure here.

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.

Learn to Write Well

Doing a course e.g. Earn Money Writing will not only assist you to become a better writer but also launch your writing career. The more you write, the better you will get especially if you get feedback. Share your work, take the criticisms and be grateful people are pointing out things you need to change.

Use tools such as Grammarly to check your work as you go. Seeing your mistakes underlined and having a report each week will show you areas you can improve in.

Set Up Your Site/Portfolio

A self-hosted site is easy to create and worth it. You don’t need to blog every day, simply have details about you, how to contact you and your work to start with. SiteGround is the best for hosting). I have a full guide on how to set up a site here.

With your portfolio, include any work you’ve had published already. If you don’t have any published pieces, have “coming soon” or similar for the portfolio section and update it as soon as you get pieces published.

My travel writing portfolio can be viewed here to give you an idea.

Me, writing this article between hikes in Slovenia

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, however, the rates are low compared to other freelance work. It’s often simple, quick articles people are looking for on those sites so it’s up to you to decide if the low pay for articles to place in your portfolio is worth it.

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. These are less common. Read this article on how to know your worth and charge it for tips on pricing.

Sites to Check Rates

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.
Kate Toon has great advice for working out your rates.

Know Your Rights

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!

Have clear terms and conditions for what the work is, how much is quoted and when payment is due. The Thrifty Issue terms and conditions are here to give you an idea.

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? 

Writing an article while hiking through Slovenia

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    10 Comments

    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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