How Starting a Freelance Writing Career Changed My Life

- | 70 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Work & Career

Freelance writer showing how to start freelance writing

How can anyone make freelance writing as their career? Like others, don’t you also perceive that professional growth, hierarchy and rank define a career?

Also, when you start freelance writing, you’re not an employee, employer, nor an entrepreneur. Yet people want to become freelance writers!

The designation of a “freelance writer” in a freelance writing job always clings to you, and you don’t climb a corporate ladder. Then, how do you progress?

How promising is this way of working, if you can ever call or make it a career?

I know many of you would have some of these questions in mind, because I too had them and many still keep asking me.

Honestly, I never thought I’d start freelance writing and make it my career.

It all happened by chance. However, once I began writing freelance for my online clients, it brought happiness and totally changed my life.

Believe me; I never regret quitting my previous job and becoming a freelance writer.

Not only did I acquire another source of earning, I did not have to move out of my home. It’s the best aspect that I like about online freelance writing, especially being a working mother.

Imagine the bliss to sit at home and work! You get paid for writing online, and you can have your own work time, wear what you want, don’t have to commute, and just be your own boss!

I’ve observed progress or professional growth in terms of writing rates, so that’s the only ladder you climb. But that’s not bad, is it?

I don’t mind not having a coveted designation or not working for a Fortune-500 company. I like the fact that I’m doing something that I love doing and making money out of it!

For me, freelance writing is the best work-from-home career and I want to tell you my story so you too can benefit from it.

Of course, you should only take up this career if you’re interested and think that you’ve the writing skills, or feel you can develop them.

What is Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is writing for clients as a freelancer. Such a person is self-employed and not committed to a particular employer for long-term.

It is all about using your writing skills to create content according to your client’s needs.

Your client gives you a topic, situation, or a reason, and you create a story around it, which can be entirely creative or research-based.

Freelance writing is a skill as well as an art. It involves playing with words, choosing and organizing them in a way that impresses the reader and motivates them to take action.

You can also write freelance, yet not for anybody. Freelance writing can be paid or free as well, which depends on your decision and the type of clients you have.

Freelance writing is a full-fledged career and it has great earning potential. If you take up this profession, you’re known as a freelance writer, which is something that I’m very proud to be. 🙂

You can either write for your clients locally, on site, or online remotely – something that’s also called telecommuting jobs.

Freelance writer writing

Why Choose Online Freelance Writing As a Career

I preferred going for online freelance writing jobs because I believe freelance writing online has a promising future.

Once you decide to become a freelance writer, you’ve the option to do web content writing, article writing, medical writing, technical writing, and various other forms of writing.

Even if you’re not a blogger and don’t own a blog, you can write for blogs. You know there is a boom in blogging with so many new blogs coming up daily.

Those bloggers need people to manage their blogs, if they aren’t able to do it themselves. They need content to be written for their blogs, which is where freelance writers come in.

My belief and assertion that you should start freelance writing is based on a fair assessment of the writing market:

● Bloggers need help to develop good content, which will always be a necessity to secure good search engine ranking positions. They need blog writers.

● Most successful companies also have blogs, which are a must-have feature to connect with existing and potential clients and develop a brand awareness. They need content writers.

● All websites need content. There are online web article depository or information banks that need articles on diverse topics to cater to their versatile viewers. They need article writers.

Of course, freelance writing has further scope in offline writing jobs, like print magazine writing, book writing, writing for advertising agencies, publishers, and so on.

If you choose and start freelance writing, you can decide how much you want to earn and work according to that plan. You’re your own boss and you can choose your clients, rates, and topics.

However, all this takes time and efforts. The rates might be low in the beginning, but you can set your own rates, over time once you gain more experience.

As a freelance writer, you can work for one or more than one client at a time, if you can successfully manage their work.

You’ve come reading this far, then you should know how you can begin writing freelance online and be as happy as I am. 🙂

How to Start a Freelance Writing Career Online

Like any other occupation, you need to be prepared and trained to take up freelance writing.

Although there are many freelance writing courses online and offline, the method I tried was experimenting and practicing on my own.

I’d suggest you take the following 7 steps to start your freelance writing career.

1) Acquire

Get an Internet connection if you don’t have one. Also, familiarize yourself with the browsing software like Chrome and FireFox, and writing software like MS Word, Google Docs, and Open Office.

2) Search

Google for “freelance writer”, “How to be a freelance writer”, “freelance writing career’, etc. and scan the websites that give you detailed information.

3) Study

Go through the various article directories like Ezine, Articlesbase, etc. Observe and study the articles you find there with regards to their sentence structures, composition, and style to get an overall understanding of freelance writing.

4) Analyze

Read the popular online blogs such as Problogger, Kikolani and analyze how the articles are written. You can even read posts on websites of other freelance writers like Susan, Sylviane, and Amandah to study them thoroughly and gain more knowledge about freelance writing.

5) Write

Take up any topic of your choice and prepare an article of about 500 words, and submit to a few article directories. You can also write free for non-profit websites to help them and build your portfolio as well.

6) Practice

Contact a few blogs and write free blog posts for them. Make changes in your writing style as per the feedback, and keep writing till you get better.

7) Promote

Develop your writing portfolio on a free blog or static website. Your free articles will help impress the potential clients so make sure you’ve your byline on them. Also, get testimonials from your clients about your writing skills, professionalism, organization skills, reliability etc. and put them on your portfolio blog or site.

TIP: Create your impressive resume and cover letter. Many prospective clients read the cover letter seriously and won’t go beyond to even see your resume, if they aren’t impressed with your cover letter.

You need not have your own professional website at this stage, though it’s good if you’ve one soon.

I started my writing website very late, so I still have my portfolio on a free blog. (Don’t imitate mine, build a better one!)

You can also place your writing samples or exclusive articles on a personal blog, which serves as a freelance writing online portfolio. I started Aha!NOW partly to serve this purpose. 🙂

By now you must’ve gone through many freelance writing websites that give you all the tips and information to be a successful freelance writer.

Next you need to know is how to get the freelance writing online jobs.

JOBS cutout and people searching freelance writing jobs on laptop

Where to Find Freelance Writing Opportunities

If you feel confident that you can take up a writing assignment, then start finding freelance writing jobs.

Let me confess that this is the toughest part of an online freelance writing career.

It’s not easy to get a freelance writing job initially because there might be many other freelance writers who’re experienced and have better portfolio than yours.

But don’t lose heart because every freelance writer goes through this phase.

If it is your first job, grab any, even if it’s a low paying one. Remember, all you need is experience and to prove that you’re a good writer.

Try following these 7 places to launch your freelance writing career.

1) Freelancer Platforms

Join the freelance work platforms like Odesk, Elance, Freelancer, and Guru. Create your profile there and apply or place bids for freelance writing jobs that suit you.

I started my freelance writing career with Odesk. Later, I continued with the same clients independently, at my own risk. I’ll tell you about the risks at the end of the post.

2) Craigslist

Track the Craigslist of your market area, and apply for jobs that meet your criteria. You need to be careful regarding the deals you make here.

I found many clients on Craigslist with whom I had long-term professional association, and they became my regular clients.

3) Google

Google for “freelance writing jobs”, “freelance writer jobs”, “online writing jobs”, “freelance online jobs” or “writing jobs online”. You can also search for “freelance article writer”, “freelance content writer”, “freelance blog writer” etc.

TIP: When on the Google search site, click on “Settings” and then “Advanced search”. Type your keyword (say, “freelance copy writer”) in the first field. Narrow down your result to “English” and the country of your choice and put “craigslist.org” in the “site or domain” field. Press the Advanced Search button.

You’ll get most of the craigslist listings that have the term “freelance copy writer” in them from all selected market areas. Of course, you can change the region and the last update setting to find the freelance writing jobs in that specific period.

4) Social Media

Create an online presence on social media. If you haven’t done this yet, join website like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, and indicate that you’re a freelance writer in your profiles there.

I received many freelance writing offers through the contacts on these platforms. LinkedIn is a great professional network, and there are many groups and communities related to freelance writing on Facebook and Google+, which you should join.

TIP: Remember to link up your social accounts, blog, and portfolio of your social profiles in all the social media platforms. Use your sales pitch to describe yourself and create a professional impressive resume that highlights your freelance writing career or qualifications.

5) Job Boards

Join freelance writing forums, job boards, and websites like Problogger, Flexjobs, FreelanceWriting to keep abreast with the latest freelance writing opportunities and happenings, and to connect to other freelance writers.

You can also submit your resume and portfolio to staffing agencies that can find you freelance writing jobs as per your needs.

6) Content Websites

Write for paid and passive income websites like DemandStudios, Hubpages, eHow. I haven’t tried them and they aren’t all that paying.

These either have fixed rates per article, pay on basis of page views or pay on revenue sharing basis derived from the adsense ads on the pages where your article is placed on their site.

7) Online Magazines

Apply to online magazines for freelance writing opportunities. Most magazine websites invite contributions from writers and display all their terms and conditions.

You should try your luck by sending them good pitches as per their requirement, and remember to follow-up after sometime. You never know they might like your idea and ask you to write for them!

You can search for your clients locally or choose online freelance writing, which is what I do.

I do not have any local clients – most of my clientele is International.

The key to have a successful freelance writing career is to maintain good relationships with your clients by providing quality articles on time.

You should remain in constant communication with clients for whom you write. Don’t hesitate to ask for work or let them know that you’re available.

General Freelance Writing Tips and Facts

As I mentioned earlier in the article, you need to be careful in your dealings regarding the pay and the payment.

In most cases, you can negotiate the pay, which you’ve to quote smartly to win over the client and make your ends meet.

Make sure your client is authentic, and try to ask for half the amount in advance as a general policy. I always do that and start my work after I get the upfront charges in my Paypal.

Honestly, the only drawback of freelance writing career is that there are no income guaranties. There’s no fixed monthly salary, no paid holidays, no free medical, and no surety of work too.

Like any business, there is an element of risk, and there are frequent ups and downs.

You might earn less when you start freelance writing, but you can gradually increase your writing rates.

Generally, those who outsource their freelance writing work – expect work at lower rates. If you can offer quality, you can not only bag their orders but even hike your rates with time.

Freelance writing career is challenging, but the rewards are good if you do it right. Remember to be patient, committed, and hardworking.

It takes time to settle and make your name, just as in any other field.

However, you can also be an entrepreneur being a freelance writer if you get hold of bulk writing assignments and have them completed by a team of writers. You can reap great profits this way!

I hope the above-mentioned details and tips help you have a great start to your freelance writing career, if you opt for it.

You can even start freelancing part-time and become a full-time freelance writer when you achieve success and feel it’s worth devoting more time to freelance writing.

If you’re a blogger, you can be a freelance writer simultaneously, and if you’re a freelance writer, you can be a blogger too – just like me 🙂

When you’ve the double-edged nib, your pen is mightier than the sword! So, what are you waiting for – start today!

Over to You –

Would you want to start freelance writing? If you already are a freelance writer, how has your journey been? What are your tips for finding freelance writing jobs for a successful and stable freelance writing career? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos



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70 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Alan

    March 31, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Great post. However, I am finding it extremely difficult to get any freelance writing jobs outside my Kindle book writing.

  2. Aditya

    March 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Freelance writing as a career is tough these days. With the deluge of writers available in every freelancing platform, it is a race to the bottom as far as pricing is concerned. So how do one survive and thrive in this scenario? The best solution is to master a niche – preferably something that you like and passionate about. Writing fact laden high quality content pieces in your niche will make you stand out and as it happens, money will follow quality.

  3. Rahul Krishnan

    January 31, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Hi Mam,
    I love to be a freelance writer. Awesome post indeed.
    I got my first online payment from freelance writing just a few day before. Love this job.
    I decided to be a freelance write before almost 2 years ago. But got a potential client only now. Anyway I am happy now. So I can surely say finding clients at the initial stage is very difficult.
    It is good to choose low paying jobs and after having experience we can raise our rates.
    I now feel this is my career. Let us see what god will give for me.
    Having a blog is a superb idea for freelancers. We can showcase our writings there. But I know a boy who has no blogs and still earns from freelance writing.
    As you said, having an internet connection is essential for freelance career. Unfortunately this is what I am suffering from. Hope I get broadband soon.
    I too started my freelance career with oDesk and earned my first $5 after striving hard and a lot. I use no other platforms
    Now I am happy. Facebook is my client gathering platform now. I got two 4 clients from it. Pretty good I think.
    Now I am facing a problem, that is I have no pancard and paypal. But will apply for it soon. I know it is important to get international payments.
    Hey, that is a superb idea to ask the clients for half of the charge. This will surely throw scams away.
    Nice post Mam. Keep going.
    Regards,
    Rahul

  4. Bo Tipton

    January 27, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Harleena very well written post. It is easy to see why you are successful as a freelance writer. One of nice things about freelance writing is that over time as you build up your customer base you do not have to spend as much time acquiring work and can spend more time writing.

    To be a successful freelance writer the writer has to love writing as you do. If they do not love to write then it will not work for them.

    It is not about how good someone writes. If they are willing to learn they can develop the skills to write professionally doing what you said, “You can even read posts on websites of other freelance writers … to study them thoroughly and gain more knowledge about freelance writing.

    One last comment. If someone wants to be a professional writer on their own site or for hire they need to get Grammarly. I having been a freelance copywriter since 2001 and I was very glad when Grammarly came along.

    There are links here on AHA-Now for Grammarly.

    Why because the hardest writing to edit is our own writing. We will overlook mistakes in our own writing that we would see in other people’s writing.

  5. Swadhin Agrawal

    October 5, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Hello Harleena Madam,
    LOL today when I am re-reading all the posts from this section I came across my comment which I have posted here long back. I can’t control laughing as this comment indicates that I thought you weren’t from India.

    Coming to the post its awesome. Yes I really liked the search tips that you gave for finding a perfect job. My question is is craiglist having an intact credibility in India. Hope you notice this comment and if you do so please kindly answer this.

    • Harleena Singh

      October 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Hi Swadhin,

      Lol…is that so? I wonder why you felt like that? And though this post has a few pending comments but I’d answer yours because you asked a question. In the freelancing world, you cannot trust anyone, and people on Craiglist too are like totally unknown ones, but you get a lot of job opportunities there. I had even downloaded their software, but that was long back when I started, now I don’t think it’s there, where all the daily job opportunities used to show up in your feed, so you could choose the ones you like – apply and wait, just as you do anywhere else. You have to take your chances and you can get good clients from this one place too.

      Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this helps 🙂

  6. Sylviane Nuccio

    June 1, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Wow Harleena,

    So, sorry I had missed that post since February. I love it! I’ll keep it as a resource nest for myself too 🙂 and thank you so much for mentioning me, which I never knew.

    This is the first weekend in week where I have sometime to site at the computer just to read blogs, and I’m browsing your. I was hoping that this post was recent, but I see it’s not.

    I one thing I’d like to tell to those looking for writing jobs, it’s not to get discouraged, as it usually takes some time of trying and trying again before we break through. It does take time, energy and dedication.

    Thank you for the great resources you’ve included there too.

  7. Ravi Chahar

    May 2, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Hi Harleena,

    The journey of becoming a freelance writer have a long path. It’s really amazing to hear your story as how you have become a famous freelance writer?

    As you have mentioned to become a freelance writer we are required to have great writing skills. Everyone can’t provide quality content. In my opinion being a freelance writer it’s a great achievement. I always think about it and only think comes in mind is about the visions of a freelance writer. How can a person think like that much demonstrative?

    I hope someday I will have that much thinking power. 😉

    Thanks for sharing and motivating me like always.
    ~Ravi

  8. Debarpan

    April 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I started freelancing as a part of hobby and overcome my that time depression but now it becomes my part time job.So I can assure you doing freelancing is a great thing,just enter into this field and it’ll dramatically help to change your life and may also help you to build a promising career.

  9. Adeel Ahmed

    April 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    This is the finest article that deals with every aspect of pursuing a successful career as freelance writer as well as making social impact so that you can get lots of traffic through those social community pages or forums.

  10. Swadhin Agrawal

    March 13, 2014 at 12:05 am

    should I have asked anything to God and I now think i would have been granted these is by far the best guide for freelancing

    Harleena ma’am you deserve “Dua” (prayers in hindi hope you dont mind) because this is what i wanted now I can go forward and do achieve something you might think I am flattering but literally I am shiverring whilr writing this as this post made me a way And i want to trod it to a successful carrier thank you Harleena madam may God bless you

  11. Meagan

    February 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    This is an excellent read on freelance writing. I myself do freelance writing as one of my many endeavors as a freelance creative spirit, and I find that I am most successful in these five areas: Writing for up front payments (like from magazines, Demand Media Studios, etc.), writing for revenue sharing websites (my favorites being Squidoo and List My Five), writing books, running blogs that make use of affiliate marketing, and doing gigs on Fiverr. (They add up!) I love helping others and sharing ideas!
    Thank you for sharing your excellent ideas and information. As always, I’ll be back. 🙂
    Peace and Love,
    Meagan

  12. Tejwinder Singh

    February 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Hello Harleena
    Awesome Article one again. Besides Describing different platforms to start freelancing writing career, you also mention some points which can also help to improve writing skills, advance searching tips and all. Every time I visit your blog, I learn something new from your blog. Thanks and keep in touch.

  13. Sandra Cross

    February 24, 2014 at 3:18 am

    One of the things that I highly appreciate about freelancing (whether you write, design, code or just anything) is the fact that you’re not climbing any sort of ladder, but your progress and success is left for you to define. In my terms, both progress and success are achieved by staying not just interested, but passionate about what you do, and working a regular nine to five job can take that away from you very easily.
    This was a great read, thank you for sharing your experience.

  14. Nosa Ero Nosa

    February 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Hello Harleena,

    I don’t think I have attempted freelance writing, but if I ever wanted to get the most of freelance writing, your guide is definitely the most practical I have seen and I have equally bookmarked it.

    One brickwall exists in Nigeria and that’s the exclusion of Nigeria in PayPal’s list of accepted countries and most of the sites that accepts freelancers make use of PayPal. For me, that’s a major limiting factor why most Nigerians haven’t really made the most of freelancing..

    Great article Madam and do have a nice day 🙂

  15. Stephan

    February 23, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Hearleena,

    This is the first time i have visited your blog and this article impresses me so much. I think this a hardest and biggest chance for individual to be a freelancer writing. in the past, when i worked for a software company, this took me so long to decide to become a freelance writer but from then, i never regret about my decision. your story inspires and encourages me a lot to follow my dream and i think this will help bloggers surely especially beginners.
    thanks for your sharing and looking forward to your new post.

    stephan

  16. Jeevan Jacob John

    February 23, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I haven’t done any freelance writing, unless you can count guest posting as part of the free section in freelance writing, but I do plan to 😀

    I plan to start offering writing and blog consultancy services by the end of this year. I haven’t finalized anything yet, so I might scrape the project, depending upon my success with other projects).

    But before I start, I have to work on improving my writing skills. I am not sure whether my writing is good enough to be sold 😀 I have a few things to work on, especially with grammar.

    I have bookmarked the post for later 🙂 Thank you for sharing it! Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

  17. mvenkatK

    February 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Wow amazing Hearleena,

    This is the best guide for freelance writing, you touch nook and corner of freelance writing, and one doubt you put all keywords of freelancing at the writing opportunities section 3 number tip “Google” wow what an idea of you, really amazing, many people don’t think those are ” search keywords”, so I think you are great writer. Thank you.

  18. Mich

    February 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you for this comprehensive freelance writer’s guide! It’s so helpful. I needed to know everything and got them in one place. Score!

  19. Shan Naqvi

    February 20, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Hello Harleena,

    This is the best article, which I’ve ever read… I was looking for this kind of such article, and you wrote.. Thank you so much for this!

    You’ve seen my articles? I hope so! 🙂 What do you think, am I good with writting? Any suggestion for me??

    And yah! I am going to start freelance-writting career anon.

  20. Michał Krawczykowski

    February 20, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Wow! The most complex post about freelance writing career I’ve seen. I’ve just printed it and now I’m going to plan my own career as a freelancer. Thanks!

  21. Akaahan Terungwa

    February 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Hello Harleena!

    I guess I was grossly mistaken when I assumed that I was the only one who thoroughly enjoyed ‘working with words from my bedroom’ as I put it. It’s a pity that this model of work style is grossly underrated by persons who feel that a real job must have an office where you must commute to everyday in a jacket and tie.

    My first stint with freelancing was working with academicexperts.us. Even as a newbie, I discovered that at the end of two weeks, what was sent to my Payonner card far exceeded my previous monthly salary…since then, I have never looked back!

    What I now do is that I advertise my services on my blog and address client’s challenges as they come…it’s great working and at the same time enjoying the company of family! This style rocks, believe me.

    Always,
    Terungwa

  22. Mayura

    February 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Excellent! 😉 I really love when blog posts are derived from the experiences and this is what I’m talking about. I was kinda surprised you wasn’t thinking about this topic until now 🙂

    Well, after about 2 years of blogging I’ve come to the conclusion that writing is not in my best interests, Harleena 🙂 I know, I know… I’m blogging. But freelance writers are way beyond that. Hence I have no idea of stepping into the freelance writing career though. Hey, but I’ve been learning from you by observing your writing and style.

    I know that your experience gonna help immensely to those who are interested in ’cause when I start off with my freelancing, I had no idea where to begin and what to do either. Right now, there may be hundreds or thousands looking for how to get started and this is a trending topic indeed.

    I wonder how hard it was for online job seekers to find jobs prior to search engines. However, seem there are so may resources to count on now and it’s been made easier. Now I got a question – Can freelance writers exist offline too? I’ve never heard of ’em except for online.

    Well, I don’t think drawbacks really gonna make a big impact though 🙂 May be it depends on the intentions toward freelance writing career. Eventhough I’m not a freelance writer, I have a question that I believe everyone might have when get started, Harleena – How do you weight pricing for clients when you are with no portfolio, but some writings?

    Shouldn’t be overrated and neither underrated, right? May be it’s alright to underrate as a newbie. How did you figure it out?

    Enjoy the rest of your week dear 🙂

    Cheers…

  23. Theodore Nwangene

    February 20, 2014 at 3:39 am

    This is a very comprehensive guide Harleena and, I will bookmark it for future reference.

    Being a freelancer is indeed another cool way to make money from the internet and though I haven’t been so serious with it but, I’ve done freelance jobs before. The first one I did got me $100 and I got the client from Facebook. Still thinking of taking it higher though.

    My only problem is that almost most of the sites you mentioned here like Odesk and the rest accept payment via Paypal and, Nigerians are not allowed to use Paypal so, its really a big blow on the face:).

    Thanks for sharing Harleena.




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How Starting a Freelance Writing Career Changed My Life

by Harleena Singh time to read: 10 min