The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need on How to Start Freelance Writing

how to start freelance writing

Prospective freelance writers often enter the field with little idea about the work they will be doing. “Freelance” gives off a feeling of ambiguity, variety, and skill. A freelance writer is seen as someone who can adjust their writing style to the assignment at hand.

Who wouldn’t want to work from a laptop and be free to move wherever they want, whenever they want? Freelancing is an enticing job, and the world has never been short of idealists who follow their dreams of being a writer.

While it’s true that freelancers can write from anywhere, it isn’t easy to make enough money to do so. If you do it right, though, you could be on your way to a successful career as a freelancer.

Read on to find out how to start freelance writing.

How to Start Freelance Writing

Formal opportunities for writing work can be found in the same spaces as other jobs. Job boards like Indeed and Linkedin frequently hold the more reliable content mill positions. Other sites, such as Upwork and Elance, cater to freelancers specifically.

Freelancing sites are home to many of the higher paying, niche-focused positions with individual clients.


Skilled freelance writers can adjust their style and tone to the needs of their assignment. Employers want to know that they’re hiring someone who will produce niche-specific work that requires little to no revisions. Because of this, most employers will require that you submit a few of your writing samples before hiring.

You are in a good position if you already have published work to provide. Compile your samples in a way that will show the employer your skill set. If possible, provide examples that display writing similar to that needed in the position.

If you don’t have content-specific examples, try to show that you can adapt to different writing styles. You aren’t out of luck if you don’t have any published work to display, though.

Much of the writing required in freelance involves researching and explaining topics you are unfamiliar with– choose various subjects to research and write 1000 word articles on them. You will be considered for the position as long as you can display your skill and ability to format articles.

If you’re interested in finding ways to improve your writing and pump out some great samples, see more here.

Content Mills

Content mills such as CopyPress hire freelancers to write for an indefinite amount of time, much like they would treat an actual employee. These are the sites that will provide opportunities for a foundational income as a writer. Some content mills have steadier work than others, but the writing typically pays anywhere from three to five cents a word.

The application process for content mills usually includes two steps. The first step is an email or application containing a few samples of your writing. Format your email like a short, professional cover letter. Express your interest in the job, state your job-related experience, and give your gratitude for the opportunity.

Attach your writing samples to the email and await a response. This is essentially the first round of interviews. They will contact you if your writing is what they’re looking for.

The second step requires you to write a test article. This is a typical assignment that one would receive when working for the site, and it’s intended to assess your ability to produce a quality article on a deadline.

If you’re the right fit, you’ll likely begin work immediately.

Freelance Job Boards

Freelance job board sites are less reliable than content mills but hold potential for higher paying, more rewarding jobs. The methods of application for these positions are usually similar to those of content mills. There is a submission of samples and a cover letter followed by some form of an interview.

Freelancing sites do, however, value experience more than content mills do. There is an abundance of work on sites like Upwork and Guru, but work typically goes to writers with verified writing experience within the site. The key to being successful on freelancer job boards is to play the slow-game and develop experience.

High paying jobs are going to go to the experienced writers, the low paying gigs are going to those with little or no experience. Unfortunately, unless you can crush experienced writers with a brilliant application and cover letter, you will need to work your way up the freelance ladder. Some intro level jobs pay in the range of .04 cents a word– that shakes out to about 2 dollars per five hundred words.

That being said, higher paying jobs on these sites can earn you upwards of a dollar a word. Of course, 1 dollar a word is extremely high, but it is possible to find work that pays well. Those big fish do lurk around the job boards, but it is more likely that you’ll see a lot of small businesses and individuals who pay average rates.

Handling Freelance Relationships

Content mills and individual employers differ in their levels of communication and involvement. Most content mills will give you instruction upon hiring and only require communication when issues arise. Individual employers typically require daily contact.

Most communication will be via email. Write your business emails carefully and professionally, just like you would if you were corresponding with a professor. Keep a positive tone and be concise.

Time Off and Quitting

Treat freelancing just as you would a real job when it comes to taking time off or quitting. Give notice of time off as far in advance as you can and be sure to remind the employer that your vacation is approaching– Your employers often have multiple employees and could forget, so a friendly reminder can’t hurt.

Do the same when you are planning on ending the business relationship. A two-week notice is hugely appreciated, giving the employer enough time to find someone to replace you. Of course, you have the option of quitting on the spot if you absolutely can’t keep working for someone.

Bear in mind that good employer reviews are your ticket to higher paying jobs on freelancer sites. It’s in your best interest to maintain positive relationships if you plan to continue working with a particular site. That means submitting a two-week notice before ending the professional relationship.

Start Today!

There’s no reason that you have to wait around for an opportunity to arise; you can become a freelance writer the minute you set your mind to it. Now that you understand how to start freelance writing, nothing is stopping you.

Have confidence, put yourself out there, and we guarantee that you’ll begin to find in some form. If you’re interested in other interesting ways to improve your life, we’ve got all of the information you need!

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