Make Money (From Home) as a Freelance Writer

Sick of your 9-5 job? Do you dread the alarm clock every morning? Are you ready for a change?

If you answered yes to any (or all) of the above questions, freelance writing could be the perfect cure!

Disclaimer: Regardless of what you may read on the internet, freelancing is NOT for everyone.

Freelancing requires hard work, an insane amount of commitment, and enduring passion.

That said… freelance writing does remain one of the top ways to make money from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you are looking for a temporary side gig or a new career, freelance writing provides an opportunity to discover and realize your dream job.

Having been in the industry for 10+ years, I can safely say that yes, it’s worth it.  The freedom is real.  Once you get a taste of working for yourself there’s no turning back.  You call the shots.  You reap what you sow.  The possibilities are endless.

Ready to get started?

Here are some tips on how you can start making money as a freelance writer and increase your chance at success:

1) Define Your Niche

Do yourself a favor.  Don’t skip this step.

It’s tempting to try to take on the world (and every project along the way), but it’s just not worth it.  Start with a single area of focus.  It’ll be easier to discover and describe your Unique Selling Point (aka strengths).

When defining your niche, here are a few suggestions:

  • Consider your preferred clientele:

    There are a ton of potential clients out there – bloggers, publishers, authors, startups, small business owners, etc. The idea here is to pick an ideal client and build your niche around their needs.

    Let’s say you choose authors as your ideal client. Most likely they’ll want ghostwritten content or promotional pieces for their books that showcase authority on a certain subject. This is exactly the type of content you should display in your portfolio.  If you don’t have any previous work in their niche that’s ok, but take the time to filter. You don’t need a ton of work to share, quality > quantity.

  • Consider the services you want to provide:

    There are a variety of services that writers can perform. This may include writing newsletters, case studies, reviews, press releases, whitepapers, and more.

    If you’re especially good at writing newsletters, consider this when marketing yourself. If you niche down (and include your ideal client in your thought process), you will land better gigs.

  • Consider the topics you are most knowledgeable about:

    To figure out which topics you should pick, draw from your experiences. What are your hobbies? What industries did you work in before deciding to become a writer?

2) Befriend Social Media

Social media is a great way to launch any freelance writing career. If your goal is to become a successful online writer, you should build up a presence on the appropriate platform(s).

You don’t have to be on every social media site, so choose one and stick with it. At the end of the day you can connect with businesses and brands almost anywhere.  Consistency is key.

Quick Tip

When creating your profile, make sure to upload a picture of yourself. This adds an air of legitimacy and helps you come across as personable to potential clients.

3) Put together some writing samples

No one will believe you are a writer if you don’t have samples to prove it. Make sure the examples you feature are in the appropriate niche and highlight your unique writing talent. To ensure this happens, consider the following:

  • Start from scratch:

    Pick a topic you’re passionate about and just start writing!

    As far as creating the actual document, Microsoft Word is a popular choice.  If you don’t have Word available, draft your sample with Google Docs. Google docs makes sharing your samples with clients extremely easy. It also lets you download your sample in PDF form.

  • Guest post:

    Another great way to generate samples is by guest posting on someone else’s blog. This shows clients that your content is strong enough to be published online and provides proof that your writing is in demand. Find blogs to write for by heading to Google and searching for phrases such as “write for us” coupled with your topic of choice.

  • Start a blog:

    Many top freelance writers agree that this is one of the most important steps in your journey to building a successful career. As an added bonus, your blog can simultaneously serve as your CV or resume.

Quick Tip

A business blog exudes an aura of professionalism that adds to your legitimacy as a writer. Businesses want to work with like-minded entrepreneurs, not someone who considers writing a hobby.
  • Revamp your existing work:

    The easiest way to create samples is to repurpose writing you’ve already done. Maybe you helped a family member with their resume long ago or wrote some content for your friend’s site. Retool these pieces and use them in your portfolio.

4) Use a portfolio to showcase your samples

Once you have some niche-specific samples ready, it’s time to share them with the world.  Consider these popular outlets:

  • Blogging:

    As noted above, a blog is a perfect way to get your content online.  Create a portfolio page for your blog and reference your top samples.

  • Contently:

    This popular digital marketing platform has a portfolio section that’s great for writers.

  • Linkedin:

    This site was created for professionals which presents as the perfect audience. Use it as your online resume and post your premium content.

5) Finding writing gigs

Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty – how to secure more writing jobs. Before you get too excited, understand that finding gigs can be challenging if you don’t have the right strategy.

Here are two ways you can go about finding work out of the gates:

  • One-off pieces:

    If you need cash right away, freelance communities such as Upwork and Freelancer are a great place to start. Bid low early on to stay competitive, build confidence, and boost your profile with positive reviews.

    Keep in mind however that you likely won’t make a ton of money going this route.  Constantly pitching to new clients is time consuming and will inevitably wear on you as time goes by.

  • Become a full-time writer:

    Head to the writing job boards to find established businesses and nurture these relationships. This will help ensure that your writing is always in demand.

Making a living as a writer can be challenging but isn’t impossible if you apply yourself. By following the above strategies you will be on your way to success.