When you search for ways to make money online, one of the most common recommendations you see is to make money with freelance writing.
Freelance writing is actually how I make most of my income. In fact, it’s what let me quit my day job back in 2020. I now travel the world, making money with my laptop, all while working the hours I choose.
For me, making money with freelance writing has been incredibly empowering.
And, the great news is that anyone can get started with this digital side hustle. All you need is a game plan, persistence, and the desire to write.
So in this post, I’m covering how to become a freelance writer so you can boost your income online and work from anywhere you want.
Let’s get to it!
Want to accelerate your writing income? Checkout:
- Freelance Writing For Freedom: My new course provides the exact blueprint I used to scale from $0 to $100,000 in writing income!
How To Make Money Freelance Writing
I’ve been making money with writing for the last few years. And freelance writing is actually how I quit my office job and started traveling the world full-time.
When I first started, everything was intimidating and confusing.
How do you actually find freelance writing jobs? And when it comes time to write for clients, how do you start and actually get paid?
This confusion is very normal. But, thankfully, making money with freelance writing is actually quite straightforward once you know the steps.
1. Pick A Writing Niche
One of the most important factors in becoming a freelance writer is to choose a niche to write about.
Your freelance writing niche is basically the topic(s) you write about. It’s similar to choosing a blogging niche, and you’re basically picking a category to write about and to share your expertise in.
Picking a niche is incredibly important because it helps you specialize and offer expert advice. This also means you can land higher-paying clients as you gain experience since you’re an authority in your niche.
Personally, my freelance writing niche is personal finance. But I specialize in a few sub-niches like passive income, making money online, gig economy jobs, and saving money.
Some of the most popular freelance writing niches include:
But, as mentioned, there are thousands of sub-niches people specialize in. For example, I know writers who only write about credit cards, or about certain cities and travel areas.
When you’re a new freelance writer, don’t stress too much about finding the perfect niche or only covering one topic.
However, in my experience, sticking with a general niche, like finance or travel, helps you land gigs. Over time, you can start to specialize and charge more for your work.
2. Build A Freelance Writing Portfolio
The next step in making money with freelance writing is to build a writing portfolio.
A portfolio is how you showcase your work to potential clients. It’s basically a resume, and it’s supposed to highlight your writing skills and niche knowledge.
There are several easy ways you can create a freelance writing portfolio, including:
- Starting your own blog
- Using free writer portfolio websites like Journo Portfolio or Clippings.me
- Writing on Medium
- Building a WordPress writing portfolio yourself
Personally, I used several of these tactics.
I was already writing on This Online World, so that was helpful in showcasing my content. But I also wrote a bit on Medium since it’s free and pretty sleek, so it makes for a nice portfolio.
Plus, I made a simple WordPress website to showcase more of my client work and to outline all the services I offer.
I did this since I have other digital marketing side hustles I make money with. But having a standalone writing portfolio also made pitching easier.
Note: Pitching without a portfolio makes it almost impossible to land paid writing gigs.
If you’re a brand new writer, I suggest writing a few articles in your niche for free and posting them on your portfolio. Even though these pieces aren’t for clients, it lets potential clients see your writing so they can decide if you’re a good fit for their website.
3. Apply To Paid Writing Jobs
Now that you have a portfolio with a few articles, the next step in becoming a freelance writer is to land some writing gigs!
This is the most difficult part for a lot of writers. But the great news is that there’s so many legit online jobs in writing, provided you know where to look.
For example, remote job sites like ProBlogger have an excellent job board. It’s full of part-time and full-time freelance writing gigs across almost any niche you can think of.
You can also find freelance writing jobs on regular job boards, like Indeed and ZipRecruiter.
Some writing gigs list how much they pay. However, many ask you to submit your rate and a portfolio of writing samples.
I’m going to cover how much to charge as a freelance writer later on in this guide. But in my experience, I started around the $0.07 to $0.10 per word range. After a year and some experience, I was writing in the $0.15 to $0.25 per word range.
When you submit your pitch, make sure you address the editor in a professional manner. Also outline your skills or information like:
- How long you’ve been writing for
- Why you’re a good fit for the role
- Several samples of your writing work
If you need help with pitching editors, you can check out my Freelance Writing For Freedom course.
It has five templates I’ve personally used to land high-paying clients and to get more work from them. And there’s even a bonus template for how to scale your rate-per-word over time.
4. Write Articles For Your Clients
Once you land some freelance writing jobs, it’s time to actually create some content!
This is such an exciting part of making money with freelance writing. But it’s important to create excellent content out of the gate to make your clients happy so they keep you around.
Some critical tips I’ve learned to keep clients and editors happy include:
- Making sure there’s no grammatical mistakes or spelling errors
- Interlinking to other articles on your client’s website
- Adding in media like images and videos when it makes sense
- Outbound linking to important information like research and properly citing your sources
- Adding keywords into your content and following basic SEO practices
My YouTube video actually covers this concept, as well as a general outline of how to make money writing, if you want some more tips and tricks!
But in a nutshell, create the best content out on the Internet and follow your client’s instructions. Also, never miss deadlines, especially with a brand new client.
If you’re ever confused or falling behind, send an email as soon as possible. This is the best way to keep clients happy and to avoid any issues.
5. Get Paid By Clients
If you’ve reached this step, congrats! You’re now making money with freelance writing, and it’s time to actually invoice your clients to get paid.
Personally, I pay the freelance writers at This Online World upon article submission. But most of the clients I’ve worked for in the past ask that I submit an invoice at the end of every month to get paid for the articles I wrote for them.
This is pretty standard in freelance writing and other fields. But once you send a few invoices, you get the hang of it very quickly.
Invoicing and business management software like Bonsai is awesome here. It lets you easily send invoices to your clients, track your projects, and even has useful tools for tax season.
A lot of freelance writers I know also send invoices with QuickBooks or FreshBooks. And I’ve also been paid with PayPal money before for my work.
As for what to include on each invoice, I suggest mentioning:
- Each article title and word count
- Price per article
- Your client’s name and business address
- Your name and contact information
- A thank-you note in the footer
Ultimately, you need to choose some invoicing software that works for your currency, country, independent contractor tax laws, and your clients. But sending invoices is pretty simple.
The Best Freelance Writing Websites
The above steps are a pretty comprehensive outline of how to make money with freelance writing.
However, in my experience, regularly applying to new writing jobs is important for scaling your writing income.
This is because having more clients helps you reduce the risk that your only client drops you. Plus, over time, you want to pitch higher-paying clients and find better writing jobs.
My Freelance Writing For Freedom course has a useful list of some of the best freelance writing job websites you can use to find work. It also has some pitching templates to help out.
But, some other great writing job boards you can explore include:
- Upwork – A massive marketplace, wide range of jobs, 20% fee per job completion.
- Freelancer – With 14.1 million jobs posted, this is another excellent freelance writing job resource.
- PeoplePerHour – This site has 1 million+ workers, 15 free bids per month as a freelancer, 20% fee per job completion.
- Reddit – While it might surprise you, there are numerous communities on Reddit where people hire freelance writers.
I also have a YouTube video that covers some other tactics you can use to find freelance writing jobs online.
Extra Reading – How To Make Money Online As A Beginner.
How Much Should I Charge As A Freelance Writer?
Setting your freelance writing rates depends on several factors, including your writing niche, experience, and the language you write in. Additionally, your client’s overall budget naturally plays a role in if they can afford you or not.
As I mentioned, when I was a new freelance writer, I was making around $0.07 per word with my first clients. This means a 1,000 word article paid me $70.
However, finance is a pretty well-paid niche. And I also had a lot more experience than many first-time writers because of my blog.
Some general freelance writing rate benchmarks I’ve seen include:
- $0.03 – $0.07 Per Word: Beginner.
- $0.07 – $0.15 Per Word: Intermediate.
- $0.15 – $0.30 Per Word: Experienced.
- $0.30 – $1 Per Word: Niche expert and topical authority.
Just note that there are so many exceptions to these guidelines. For example, I know some fairly new freelance writers making $0.50 to $1 per word because they’re in technical niches like law and grant writing.
And, making money with freelance writing involves selling yourself to a large degree. You should ultimately set a rate that makes your hourly pay what you’re looking for.
What Are The Highest-Paying Writing Niches?
Generally, the highest-paid writing niches are industries with very expensive products and services and a lot of money in them. This is because website owners in these niches have enough money to pay writers well. They also need to pay top dollar for the best content because content that generates sales is so valuable.
In my experience, here are some of the highest paying freelance writing niches, as well as some medium- and low-paying ones:
- Highest Paying: Includes finance, crypto, marketing, legal and tax advice, real estate, ecommerce, technical writing, and software.
- Medium Paying: Includes technology, travel, education, parenting, and health and fitness.
- Lowest Paying: Includes entertainment, general lifestyle content, and food writing.
Of course, there are exceptions here as well. For example, I know some travel writers and food bloggers making way more than most finance writers I know.
However, the general rule of “following the money” usually holds true when finding the best paid writing niches.
Tips For Making Money With Freelance Writing
Now that you know how to make money with freelance writing, here are some tips that I’ve found incredibly helpful over the years:
- Keep Pitching Clients: Regularly landing new writing gigs is an excellent way to get higher-paying work and diversify your income.
- Raise Your Rates Occasionally: Every year or so, raising your rates with your lowest-paying clients is a good tactic.
- Slowly Expand To New Niches: Once you build your expertise in a niche, don’t be afraid to branch out a bit. I did this by writing about digital marketing alongside personal finance after about two years of writing, and it landed some high-paying work.
- Be Eager To Learn: Editors give feedback all the time. Sometimes, this feedback is harsh, but that’s okay. Having thick skin and being willing to learn is critical for making money as a freelance writer.
- Offer Other Services: Over time, you can increase your income by offering supplementary services to your clients. Examples include script writing, creative writing, eBook writing, proofreading, and copywriting.
Useful Tools & Resources For Freelance Writers
As you scale your freelance writing business, you should start getting higher-paying gigs and honing your craft.
Some useful tools that I’ve used throughout my freelance writing career include:
- SEMRush: This is my go-to tool for researching keywords and doing any SEO work for clients.
- Hemmingway Editor: This useful app helps you improve readability, run-on sentences, and use of active voice.
- Canva: An awesome design tool that’s great for creating featured images, infographics, and other media.
- Bonsai: A robust invoicing and freelance management software I love.
- Trello: A free and useful project management tool you can use to ensure you never miss a deadline.
Find even more tools and tricks in my Freelance Writing For Freedom course!
Do I Need A Blog To Become A Freelance Writer?
You don’t need a blog to become a freelance writer. However, many new writers use a personal blog as their portfolio when pitching their first clients.
This is largely what I did with This Online World. It takes more upfront work and potential costs since you have to start and build a blog. But, it makes for an exceptional portfolio once it’s live.
Plus, a blog can turn into a great source of income. For example, This Online World made $272,000 in 2022.
Most of my income comes from Mediavine ads and affiliate marketing. But I’ve also had editors contact me through my blog to pay me for freelance writing work.
If you want the fastest option, start a portfolio on Medium or a free portfolio website. But consider blogging as a nice, longer-term option.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?
According to Indeed, freelance writers make $19.75 per hour on average in the United States. This equals approximately $46,000 per year in annual freelance writing income.
But in my experience, freelance writing income varies greatly between niches and people.
Some writers I know are so good at selling themselves to clients. They consistently land the highest rates and most work. In contrast, some are more shy and accept lower rates without negotiating.
Personally, I’ve made $100,000+ from freelance writing. And some of my best clients averaged around $100 per hour for the work I was doing. But I know writers making far more and far less than this in different niches.
Is Freelance Writing A Good Job?
In my opinion, freelance writing is an excellent job. It gives you complete flexibility over the hours you work and lets you work from anywhere in the world. And in my experience, it pays much more than most salaried jobs if you land enough clients to work 30-40 hours per week.
That said, freelancing can be very stressful.
You have to find all of your paid work on your own. You also don’t get benefits, vacation time, or other perks you might get with a 9-5 job.
This is the trade-off of being an independent contractor. But in my opinion, freelance writing is very lucrative and is incredibly rewarding.
I hope this guide on how to make money with freelance writing helps you start and scale your writing income.
My final piece of advice is to have some patience and to trust the process. I mean, it took me over a year of hard work to turn writing from a side hustle into full-time income. And then it took another year to pass $100,000.
However, I firmly believe that anyone can make extra money with freelance writing. And even if it’s just something you do on the side while holding down a job, this extra income can make a massive difference.
Thanks so much for reading, and best of luck with becoming a freelance writer!
Remember to check out my Freelance Writing For Freedom course for even more inside tips, pitching templates, and the exact blueprint I used to reach $100,000+ in writing income.
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
If you’re interested in freelance writing services or want to partner with This Online World, please use our contact page to get in touch!
Lola B says
Thank you for this excellent and very practical post. I read it several times and am convinced that following the steps you delineate will bring success as a freelance weiter.
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So, in general, how many articles do you have to write to make money on Medium. I like Medium, but it seems that you are competing with many writers of magazines who have a professional following.
Tom Blake says
Hi Michael, thanks for reading and your comment! I think making $50-$100 or even several hundred dollars a month is possible with Medium if you diligently publish good content and grow a following over several months. However, I think you are right in that the top paid authors on Medium probably have very large followings or partnered publications.
Additionally, I would imagine to make a lot of money on Medium, you probably have to write in their most popular categories or spark as much conversation/draw as many eyes to your work as possible. According to Medium’s latest partner email, the top writer made $16k last month…I definitely doubt they are writing in niche subjects.
So long story short I think a handful of articles and some patience is needed to make a modest amount of passive income with Medium. To make more, I think many hours per week would be needed.
Min QKim says
Making money as a freelance writer is the best and easiest job as I am concerned. We can do this job from any place or while traveling also. We should find a online freelance writer marketplace for searching jobs according to requirements.