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What Is Freelance Writing? A Guide To Your New Side Hustle


If you have a way with words, then becoming a freelance writer may be the perfect side hustle for you. 

But what is freelance writing and how do you get started?

We’ll answer all these questions and more to help you decide whether becoming a freelance writer is the path for you. 

Whether you’re looking to make a little extra cash on the side or thinking of turning freelance writing into a full-time career, we’ll go over all the essentials you need to know.

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What is freelance writing?

First thing’s first. Before we delve into how to start racking up cash as a freelancer, let’s answer the most foundational question of all – what is freelance writing, anyway?

Freelance writing is a type of work that allows writers to earn extra income without being hired as traditional employees. 

Freelancers tend to work as independent contractors, which means that you get to complete assignments on your own schedule, from wherever you like.

Sure, you’ll have a deadline, usually with a turn-around of a certain number of days. But you’ll also have the freedom to choose when you work, whether it be early in the morning or late into the midnight hours.

As a freelancer, just be aware that your client will not be expected to handle taxes and will pay you your full rate. 

So, you’ll either want to set money aside for tax time or get very familiar with common freelance tax deductions.

Types of freelance writing

One of the great things about freelance writing is that it comes in a huge array of different forms. 

If you’re into marketing, then you can get paid to write anything from newsletters and marketing emails to website content and product descriptions.

If you’ve got a solid background in journalism, then you might look into writing freelance news or magazine articles.

Or maybe you’re the technical type? There’s a lot of money to be made writing technical guides, research reports, white papers, case studies, and business plans.

On the creative end, you’ll find that plenty of websites outsource articles, blogs, listicles, and more to freelance writers.

The possibilities are literally endless. 

Take a moment to really think about all the words you come across each day, from websites to the information on products at your favorite retail store.

Somebody had to write all of it and the odds are good that many of them were freelance writers.

How to get started in freelance writing

One of the biggest challenges that many beginning freelance writers face is how to become a freelance writer. 

While freelance writers tackle this question in a variety of different ways, there are a few things that you can do to start getting work much faster.

Sharpen your skills

The first is to make sure your writing skills are on point. 

After all, if there’s one thing every client is looking for in a freelance writer, it’s someone who can write better than they can.

Make sure you deliver by taking the time to perfect your craft.

There are now plenty of free online writing classes that can help you brush up on your skills. 

Free tools like Grammarly are also an excellent way to ensure your writing is on point before it’s published or sent to a client.

Prepare to provide examples

Unless you happen to have a Pulitzer lying around, few clients are likely to hire you without taking a look at your work. 

But if you don’t happen to have any published pieces online, don’t panic.

There are now plenty of ways around this, including:

  • Self-publishing on a site like Medium
  • Volunteering to write for the website of a friend, family member, or local non-profit
  • Starting your own blog on free platforms like WordPress or Wix
  • Looking into guest post opportunities

In the beginning, some writers are also willing to write for a lower rate in order to help build a solid portfolio. 

While this is not necessarily a bad idea, just be sure that you’ll get something out of it in return, beyond a questionable pay rate.

This could come in the form of a byline, a testimonial, or anything else that will help further your career.

Build an online portfolio

Now that you have examples of your work, you’re ready to showcase what you can do. 

Some writers choose to build a website using platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.

Others utilize portfolio builders, such as:

How to get paid as a freelance writer

Now comes the biggest question of them all – how do you get paid as a freelance writer? 

The good (and bad) news is that there are as many ways to answer this question as there are freelance writers.

Here are some of the most common ways many freelancers find work:

Join a freelance service for regular work

If you’re looking for work on a regular basis, then one of the best ways to find it is to apply for a service that connects clients to freelancers who match their criteria.

Services like Writers Access do for freelancers what agents do for actors. 

Not only does Writers Access allow freelancers to create a free portfolio, but it also connects them with clients based on skill level, expertise, and more.

Style Guide

In exchange for a percentage of their fee, freelancers are allowed to select from a regular flow of assignments and set their own rates.

Pitch Yourself

Many freelancers also find work on freelance writing boards. There you’ll be able to pitch yourself to various clients looking to hire freelancers for gigs.

Some of the more popular job boards for freelance writers include:

Some freelancers also seek out work on sites like FlexJobs and Upwork

Then, of course, there are direct pitches that you can make by simply reaching out to a site you enjoy and offering your services.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to kickstart your freelance writing career. But it’s also important to know what not to do!

Check out some of the most common freelance no-nos with this article about 7 Freelance Mistakes to Avoid.

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