Have you ever dreamed of becoming a freelance writer? Someone who gets paid to sit in front of a laptop all day and create stories, or share their insights on the world? Well, you probably can. But you shouldn’t sit in front of your laptop all day because that’s bad for your eyes and other parts of your body.
As a freelance writer, you get to choose your own hours, work from home (or wherever you want), and get paid to write. It sounds like the perfect job, and it can be – but it also takes hard work and dedication to make it as a successful freelancer.
In this guide, I’ll teach you a lot about how to become a freelance writer. I can’t say that it’ll be everything you need to know, because as self-employed people we are constantly growing, learning, and adapting. But I’ll do my best!
We’ll cover topics such as finding clients and building your portfolio, setting rates and handling taxes, and much more. Let’s get started.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to some of the products listed in the article. If you choose to click on the links, I earn a commission if you decide to buy the item I recommended. Either way, I only recommend things I’d actually use and would be comfortable recommending to a friend.
What is a freelance writer?
Freelance writers are self-employed professionals who write for a variety of clients, on an array of topics. While some freelance writers specialize in a particular area, industry, or type of content, others take on a broader range of assignments.
For example, some writers exclusively write for sustainable businesses or for pet blogs or only write sales page copy. Some writers only write email campaigns for small businesses. Writing isn’t an industry-specific job, but you can absolutely specialize if you want to!
How much do freelance writers usually make?
It depends. I know – frustrating, right? In 2021, the average freelance writer made $61,240 per year.
Of course, your earnings as a freelancer will depend on many factors, such as how much experience you have, what types of clients you’re working with, and how many hours you’re able to work.
As a general rule, new freelance writers can expect to make $20-$45 per hour. More experienced writers can charge $50-$100 per hour or more.
Of course, you don’t have to rely on hourly rates – you can also set a project rate or word rate. For example, you might charge $500 for a 2,000-word blog post or $1,000 for a 5,000-word e-book.
It’s important to find a pricing model that works for you and your clients. If you’re just starting out, hourly rates are usually the best way to go. As you gain more experience, you can start transitioning to project rates.
How to become a freelance writer
The first thing you need to do is decide what kind of writing you want to do. Are you interested in writing articles, emails, social posts, or perhaps even sales copy or books?
Once you’ve decided on your niche, the next step is to start building up a portfolio of writing samples. If you don’t have any previous writing experience, this can be done by writing some pieces on your chosen topic and posting them online. Then, gather them all up in one place (preferably your own website) as a portfolio.
Once you have a few samples to show potential clients, the next step is to start pitching your services. This can be done by contacting businesses and individuals directly, by signing up for freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, or by heading over to a job board like ProBlogger to apply to some freelance or contract-based gigs.
What you need to know before becoming a freelance writer
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any special credentials or qualifications to be a freelance writer. Anyone can do it – all you need is a good command of the English language and a willingness to learn. Of course, if you have previous writing experience or expertise in a particular subject area, that will give you a leg up, but it’s not essential.
There are many different types of freelance writing that you can do. You can write articles for magazines or websites, create blog posts or e-books, or even ghostwrite for other authors. There’s no limit to what you can write – and no right or wrong way to do it. Just write whatever interests you and try to find markets for your work.
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you have to be willing to hustle. Marketing yourself and finding clients can be time-consuming – but it’s essential if you want to make a living as a writer.
There are many ways to find clients, including online job boards, cold-pitching potential clients directly, or even networking with other writers. The key is just to get started and keep at it until you find success.
Who actually hires people to write?
The answer is just about everyone! Just about every business needs some form of written content, whether it’s website copy, blog posts, or even just social media posts. And that means there’s a huge demand for freelance writers.
Of course, some businesses are better to target than others. For example, small businesses or startups are often more open to working with freelancers, as they may not have the budget to hire a full-time writer. But really, any business can be a potential client – you just have to know how to pitch your services in the right way.
How to deal with imposter syndrome as a new professional writer
If you’ve ever felt like you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve to be a professional writer, then you’re not alone. It’s common for new writers to feel this way – it’s called impostor syndrome, and it can be tough to deal with.
The best way to deal with impostor syndrome is to remind yourself of your accomplishments and why you decided to become a writer in the first place. Write down a list of your writing goals and what you hope to achieve – and refer back to it when you start doubting yourself.
It’s also helpful to connect with other writers, either online or in person. Talking to other writers can help you realize that everyone feels like an impostor sometimes – and that’s normal! You can also share tips and advice on how to deal with impostor syndrome, which can be helpful for both of you.
The bottom line is that impostor syndrome is common – but it doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving your writing goals. Focus on your positive qualities and why you became a writer in the first place. And if you ever start doubting yourself, reach out to other writers for support.
How to gain experience if you’ve never written for money before
If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, it’s important to build up a strong portfolio of writing samples. This will not only help you land clients, but it will also give you the experience you need to feel confident in your abilities.
One of the best ways to gain experience is to write for free – or for low-paying clients. This will allow you to build up a strong body of work without the pressure of needing to earn a lot of money from each piece. Once you have a solid portfolio, you can start pitching to higher-paying clients.
Another great way to gain experience is to take on internships or work as a freelance contributor for online publications. This can help you build up a strong byline and start to get your name out there in the writing world.
If you’re having trouble finding clients or breaking into the freelance writing world, consider taking a course or joining a writers’ group. This can help you connect with other writers, learn about the business side of freelance writing, and get some helpful feedback on your work.
How to pitch media publications and editors as a new writer
If you’re hoping to get your work published in a magazine or online publication, you’ll need to learn how to pitch to editors. This can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before – but don’t worry, we’re here to help.
When pitching an editor, it’s important to keep your email short and sweet. Start by introducing yourself and telling the editor why you’re writing to them. Then, include a brief summary of your article idea and why you think it would be a good fit for their publication. Finally, end with a call to action, such as asking for feedback or offering to send a full draft of the article.
It’s also important to remember that each publication is different, so make sure you do your research before you start pitching. Read through their website and familiarize yourself with their style and content. This will help you tailor your pitch specifically to the publication, which will increase your chances of getting published.
If you’re new to freelance writing, just know that everyone has to start somewhere. Remember to keep your email pitches brief and tailored to each individual publication. With a little practice, you’ll be landing writing gigs in no time.
How to build your freelance writer website
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, one of the best things you can do is build your own website. This will serve as a central hub for all your writing samples and information about your services.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy – but it should be professional and easy to navigate. Include a clear “About” page that tells visitors who you are and what you do. Then, create a portfolio page with links to your best writing samples. Make sure to list your rates and services on your website so that clients know exactly what you’re offering.
Building your own website is one of the best ways to market yourself as a freelance writer. It gives you a platform to showcase your work, attract new clients, and get paid what you’re worth. So if you’re serious about making a living as a writer, make sure to invest in your own website.
How to find clients as a freelance writer
One of the most challenging aspects of freelance writing is finding clients. But there are a few key strategies you can use to attract new business.
Create a list of target clients
These are businesses or individuals who you think would be a good fit for your services. Then, reach out to them directly with a tailored pitch. You can also search for online job postings or post your own services on freelance job sites and platforms.
Freelance writing job boards are a goldmine for writers who need to pick up another gig or two. Boards like ProBlogger have a pretty good reputation and you can find a variety of writing jobs on there. Everything from large media corporations to a lone blogger outsourcing some of their content. These jobs can be hit or miss, but a lot of good opportunities show up here, especially for beginner or intermediate-level freelance writers.
Get involved in online writing communities, attend writing conferences, or join a local writers’ group. These connections can lead to referrals or even direct work opportunities.
Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms to connect with potential clients, share your work, and build your brand. You can use all of them or just focus on one, whatever you’re comfortable with. Use your time on each platform strategically in order to make real connections that are more likely to result in mutually beneficial relationships.
- Share genuinely helpful and informational or entertaining content on social – not all of your posts should be promo, sales, and links. Be human.
- Post about your work on relevant hashtags that aren’t too saturated (Look for hashtags with 200k or fewer uses for the best results – hashtags with under 100k posts are even more ideal.)
- Create your own “link in bio” page for your socials (avoid paying a third-party a subscription fee for this by just making a new page on your website) and add any relevant links to your portfolio, services, and contact info.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can definitely find success as a freelance writer. Just remember to be patient, stay organized, and always be marketing yourself.
Setting rates and getting paid
As a freelance writer, you’ll need to set your own rates and figure out how you want to get paid. When setting your rates, be sure to consider the type of writing you’re doing, your experience level, and the market rates for similar services.
Once you have an idea of what you want to charge, start pitching clients and negotiating rates. Remember that you’re in control of your career – so don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.
When it comes to getting paid, there are a few different options. You can invoice clients directly, set up automatic payments through a service like PayPal, or even accept cryptocurrency if you’re feeling adventurous. Just be sure to get all the details worked out before starting any writing projects.
Handling taxes and legal stuff
When you’re a freelance writer, it’s important to stay on top of your taxes and legal obligations. Depending on where you live, you may need to pay self-employment tax, file quarterly estimated taxes, or get a business license.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of all your writing income and expenses. This will come in handy come tax time. And if you ever get audited, having detailed records will help you prove your case.
Of course, dealing with taxes and legal stuff can be a pain. But it’s an essential part of running a successful freelance writing business. So be sure to stay organized, keep good records, and consult with a tax professional if needed.
You need a contract for any freelance business
As a freelance writer, you’ll be entering into a lot of contracts with clients. A contract is simply an agreement between you and a client that outlines the scope of work, payment terms, and other important details.
Having a contract protects both you and the client by setting clear expectations and avoiding misunderstandings down the road. So before starting any writing project, be sure to get a contract in place.
There are a few different ways to create a contract. You can use a standard freelance contract template, have an attorney draw one up for you, or even just write out your own agreement. The important thing is that both parties understand and agree to the terms on paper.
I like Indy for getting contracts signed and sending out invoices to my clients. It’s jam-packed with helpful features for freelancers and it costs less than most comparable tools but it’s the best CRM I’ve tried. You can get a free month of Indy with my link – after that, plans start at $6.75/month, which is great.
Tips for thriving and staying productive as a freelancer
Working as a freelance writer can be both rewarding and challenging. On the plus side, you get to set your own hours, work from home, and be your own boss. But on the downside, you have to stay disciplined and motivated – there’s no one telling you what to do or when to do it.
If you want to be successful as a freelancer, here are a few tips to help you thrive:
- Set a schedule and stick to it. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can lounge around in your PJs all day. Set regular hours for yourself and make sure to stick to them. This will help you stay focused and productive.
- Create a dedicated workspace. It’s important to have a designated area in your home where you can work without distractions. This will help you stay focused and get into a productive mindset.
- Take breaks. Working non-stop is a surefire recipe for burnout. Make sure to take regular breaks, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Step away from your computer, stretch, and clear your mind. This will help you stay refreshed and focused on your work.
- Stay organized. When you’re working on multiple projects at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fall behind schedule. Stay on top of things by keeping a detailed to-do list and calendar. This will help you stay on track and meet deadlines.
- Set boundaries. Working from home can be great, but it’s important to set boundaries between your work life and personal life. That way you can avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Best gear and tools for freelance writers
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, you need to have the right gear and tools. Here are a few things you’ll need to get started:
- A computer: You’ll need a reliable laptop that’s fast and powerful enough to handle all your writing tasks.
- A good word processor: Google Docs, y’all. It’s the best and it’s free and easy to collaborate with.
- A printer: For printing out contracts, invoices, and other important documents. If this isn’t possible, though, you can always use a local office store or library.
- A scanner: For scanning and sending documents electronically.
- A comfortable chair: Because you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting at your desk.
- A noise-canceling headset: Trust me on this one – you’ll want to invest in a good pair of headphones to help you focus when working in noisy environments.
- A website and a professional email address.
- A few tech tools depending on what your workflow looks like. In this post about the best tools for freelancers, I go into more detail about recommendations.
Common challenges faced by freelancers
There are a few challenges that are common among freelancers and this article wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t bring them up.
- Time management – When you’re your own boss, it can be easy to get sidetracked and waste time. That’s why it’s important to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. This will help you stay focused and productive.
- Distractions – Working from home can be great, but there are also a lot of potential distractions. Whether it’s your TV, your family, or your bed, it’s important to find a way to work around these distractions and stay focused on your work.
- Finances – As a freelancer, you’re in charge of your own finances. This includes setting your own rates, invoicing clients, and managing your taxes. It’s important to stay organized and on top of your finances to avoid any stressful surprises down the road. If you are short on clients, you need to apply for jobs and pitch, pitch, pitch. There are so many writing opportunities available – hop onto some job boards, email editors to check if their sites need content, and apply for jobs.
By being aware of these challenges, you can be better prepared to handle them when they arise. Just remember that every freelancer faces these challenges at some point – so don’t get too discouraged if you hit a few bumps in the road.
Resources and links
Are you ready to start your freelance writing journey? Here are a few resources and links to help you get started:
- Facing Your Freelance Fears: 6 Fact-Based Reasons NOT to be Afraid of Starting at Inkwell Editorial
- Black Freelance – An amazing resource for Black writers and freelancers
- Content Writing vs. Copywriting: What’s the Difference? at Contently
- 4 Ways I Found Freelance Writing Jobs as a Beginner at Inkwell Editorial
- Copyblogger – Improve your writing skills and learn about copywriting and marketing
- The 17 Best Writing Websites to Become a Better Writer at Squibler.io
FAQs About Freelance Writing
How much should I charge as a freelance writer?
This depends on your experience, the type of writing you’re doing, and the market you’re targeting. As a general rule, new freelancers should charge $0.10-$0.20 per word. More experienced writers can charge up to $1.00 per word or more.
How do I find clients as a freelance writer?
There are a few ways to find clients as a freelance writer. You can search for job postings online, network with other professionals in your field, or reach out to companies and businesses directly. You can also join a professional organization like the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) or the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE).
Do I need a degree to be a freelance writer?
No, you don’t need a degree to be a freelance writer. However, having a degree – especially in English, Journalism, or Communications – can give you an edge over other writers in the job market.
What are some common challenges freelance writers face?
Some common challenges freelance writers face include staying focused, managing their time, and dealing with financial issues. Additionally, many freelancers struggle with impostor syndrome – feeling like they’re not good enough or qualified to do the work they’re doing.
Is freelance writing a good career for a parent?
Yes, freelance writing can be a good career for a parent. Freelance writing offers the flexibility to set your own hours and work from home – which can be a lifesaver for parents with young children. Additionally, many parents find that freelancing gives them the chance to pursue their passion while still being able to spend time with their families.
Is freelance writing a good career for an introvert?
Yes, freelance writing can be a good career for an introvert. Freelance writing offers the opportunity to work from home and set your own hours – which can be a great fit for introverts who prefer to avoid large crowds and noisy workplaces. Additionally, many introverts find that they’re able to focus better when they’re working alone, which can be a major advantage in the freelance writing world.
What are some tips for new freelance writers but the TL;DR version?
Here are a few tips for new freelance writers:
- Start by writing for free or for cheap if you can afford it. This will help you build up your portfolio and get some experience under your belt. But quit doing this within a couple of weeks because you only need a few writing samples to get started.
- Once you have a few samples, start pitching companies and businesses directly.
- Join a professional organization like ASJA or NAIWE. This can help you network with other writers and find clients.
- Follow blogs and websites that focus on freelance writing and freelancing in general. This will help you stay up-to-date on the latest industry news and trends.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate your rates. The more experience you have, the more you can charge for your services.
The bottom line on how to become a freelance writer in 2022
Freelance writing is a great way to make a living. It offers the flexibility and freedom to work from home, set your own hours, and be your own boss. And with the industry expected to grow significantly in the next few years, now is the time to start preparing.
This guide has taught you everything you need to know about becoming a freelance writer, from finding clients and building your portfolio, to setting rates and handling taxes. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing!