So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 9.41.58 PMLast week I finally started my Ways to Earn Extra Income. A lot of you have questions, and today I figured I would continue my Extra Income series with how to become a freelance or a staff writer. A lot of you seem very interested in this. For the sake of this post, a staff writer = freelance writer, just to make this all easy.

Before September, I never thought I would be staff writing, and I never even thought about it. But once I began, I really started to enjoy it. I really love to write (yes, I do realize that I’m not the best and I probably should proofread more, but I do like to talk), and writing for different blogs was fun for me.

And I’m not going to lie, the money is nice also. Being able to write about topics that I enjoy, from the comfort of my home is great. I try (yes, try) to throw all of my extra money towards student loans, since I do have a $38,000 student loan payoff plan that I am working on.

I believe I started freelance writing in September of 2012. I DID make mistakes though. I signed up for way too much, and as a result, my own blog suffered. I feel like the content on my blog wasn’t the greatest when I had signed up for so many staff writing assignments. Luckily, that did not last long as some of the assignments were only short-term.

Then I ended up stopping a couple of others and right now I am at my perfect amount. Taking on too many writing assignments at one time was definitely a mistake that I made.

So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?

Tips on becoming a freelance writer:

1. Start out slowly!

Don’t make the same mistake I did. I thought I could write for multiple blogs, but lets be for real, there are only so many personal finance topics that you can create in one week before you get extremely bored.

Determine how many blogs or websites that you want to write for. Start out slowly by adding assignments one at a time. Decide how many websites you want to write for, and how many times per week or per month. Get the feeling for it and be 100% positive before you start adding more assignments to your list of things to do.

I originally signed up for a ton of blogs. I never made the quality lower just so that I could fit them all in, instead I started slacking on my own blog. I now write for two personal finance blogs and for one hotel in the Caribbean. I prefer this mix the best.

 

2. Discover your niche.

There are many different blogs, websites, magazines and so on that you could possibly write for. And there are tons of topics that you can write about. What do you think you could write best about? Possible topics include: travel, fashion, home, do-it-yourself, personal finance (of course :) ), pets, family, and so on.

However, not everyone can write about travel blogging, and if you never travel, then this is probably not the best bet for you. Stick to what you know!

 

3. Search for staff writing assignments and let your services be known.

How are people supposed to know that you are looking for a freelance writing position? Over the summer, I was asked to be a staff writer for a blog. The e-mail came out of nowhere, but after I received it, I started looking into staff writing further. Having a blog (as talked about before), helped people find me and consider me for their staff writing positions.

After that initial e-mail, I then posted on Yakezie (a personal finance community with a great forum) and stated that I was searching for a staff writing position. After I made the post on the forum, I received a couple of e-mails and this is what launched my staff writing career. The power of throwing yourself out there and just asking was definitely helpful for me.

Also, there are the ProBlogger job boards, and there are a lot of staff writing positions on there. I know of a couple of people who have found their positions through that website.

If you do have a blog (see below for further information), then make sure you have a “Hire Me” tab if you are available. This will then let others know that you are looking, and also what you are available for.

Many blog owners might also be looking around, or they might make blog posts directly stating that they need staff writers. Keep an eye out for this. It doesn’t hurt to just e-mail the websites directly. If you truly want to write for them, try sending them a quick e-mail, and attach some writing samples, and/or link to your blog as well.

P.S. I have received e-mails in the past, and I consider all of them, however, right now I am not looking for any staff writers :)

 

4. Make sure your articles are always top quality.

There are many reasons for this. Many website owners will refer your work to others, and what they think is most likely the best representation of your work.

Don’t expect to just be able to sit down, think of a topic and write it all up in 30 minutes. I keep a running notepad on my phone about my possible ideas for article topics. This is a lot easier because I tend to think of my best topics when I’m not trying to think about it.

A good post that you research, write, proofread, etc. might take around 1.5 to 2 hours. Possibly longer, all depends on the topic and how much research is needed for it.

 

5. Start your own blog.

A lot of you had the same question: How did you find your staff writing assignments? I then replied to you all with the same answer: Someone contacted me directly. I think having a personal finance blog definitely helps because people already have an idea of how I would write for them.

This is important here! Make sure the posts on your blog are high quality, as this is how you will be judged. Having your own blog and staff writing are very similar in that you will be creating articles for both.

Starting your own blog is always a great idea if you truly want to get into freelance writing. This is of course a topic that I will be writing about separately in another post (the topic of starting your own blog), so today I’ll just talk about how it pertains to helping you out with increasing your chances of landing a staff writing gig. I do have some tips listed on my Extra Income page about starting a blog, so take a look there for a start.

When you have your own blog, then a person looking for a freelance writer will already have an idea of your writing style and quality. This makes it a lot easier for someone to hire and take you onto their website.

 

6. Know your worth.

Different niches and websites probably have different starting rates for blog writing. Determine what you want to charge, and stay at least kind of firm with that amount. You don’t want to charge less than what you truly want or deserve, and then sacrifice quality because you think you aren’t being paid enough.

Determine how much you will ask for depending on the niche, the amount of words, and the amount of research needed for the article. There are many factors to think about. Are you purely just writing about your life? Or will the article topic take hours and hours to research, and then even more hours to write?

Obviously a 500 word article would probably be worth less than a 2,000 word article. The key is to keep all of the factors in mind and know your worth!

EDIT: Read about why Jordann thinks Staff Writing is the Perfect Side Hustle.

Do you do any freelance writing? How is it going for you?

If any of you know of any websites/forums where you can find legitimate writing gigs, please post it below. I will then add it to the post. Thanks!

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