Last 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 writer 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.
My tips on how to become a freelance writer:
1. Start out slowly when searching for freelance writing gigs!
Don't make the same mistake I did when looking for freelance writing gigs. 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 websites when I first started freelance writing online. I never sacrificed the quality 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 when learning how to start freelance writing.
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 when looking for freelance writing gigs and you will learn how to become a freelance writer quickly.
3. Search for staff writing assignments, freelance writing jobs, 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. This is a GREAT way to find freelance writing jobs. 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.
4. Make sure your articles are always top quality to ensure that you will be hired for freelance writing gigs.
There are many reasons for making sure your articles are always top quality when searching for freelance writing jobs. 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. Some posts take me days to write and format, so it all really just depends.
5. Start your own blog if you are looking for freelance writing gigs.
A lot of you had the same question: How did you find your staff writing assignments? I always reply 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 and if you are looking for freelance writing gigs. 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.
Please read How To Start A Blog On Bluehost if you are interested in starting your own blog (which can then help you find freelance writing jobs). There is also a way to earn a free domain through that blog post and you will receive a discounted price through my tutorial! 🙂
6. Know your worth when finding freelance writing jobs.
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.
Related tip: My friend Cat Alford started a course called Get Paid to Write for Blogs that I highly recommend. She has written for many large sites and is extremely successful. Now, she is sharing her amazing tips so that you can become a full-time writer as well. If you want to earn money as a writer, I recommend you check out her course.
Do you do any freelance writing? Do you have any tips to share on how to start freelance writing? How do you find freelance writing jobs?
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