How To Start A Successful Freelance Writing Career

I have an informative interview to share with you that will show you how to start a successful freelance writing career. You can check out all of my past interviews with other successful business owners here. Today, I want to introduce you to my friend Catherine Alford. She is a full-time blogger, freelance writer, and has a…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: June 5, 2023

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How To Start A Successful Freelance Writing CareerI have an informative interview to share with you that will show you how to start a successful freelance writing career. You can check out all of my past interviews with other successful business owners here.

Today, I want to introduce you to my friend Catherine Alford. She is a full-time blogger, freelance writer, and has a course, Get Paid To Write For Blogs. She has been published in U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Time, Lifehacker, AOL, and more. She has also landed amazing appearances on Good Morning America, Fox News, and Huffington Post Live.

She was able to quit her full-time job due to her successful freelance writing career, and she gets to work from home and see her two year old twins all the time. She also started her freelance writing career at $10 per post, but now receives several hundred dollars per blog post and earns a great living freelance writing.

In our interview, she shows how this can be a possible career or side hustle choice for you as well.

Check out the interview below for more information and be sure to check out Cat’s course Get Paid To Write For Blogs to learn further about how to become a successful freelance writer.

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Please give us a background on yourself and how you got into freelance writing.

Hi! I’m Catherine Alford. I’m a full-time blogger and freelance writer.

In 2010, I started a blog called “Budget Blonde” as a creative outlet while I was in graduate school. I wrote about being on a budget and enjoying life without spending an exorbitant amount of money. Little did I know, that small blog would turn into a full-time career.

I ended up moving out of the country when my husband got accepted to medical school. In order to make money while I was abroad, I started applying to freelance blogging jobs online — sometimes I would apply for jobs I saw on job boards and sometimes I would e-mail websites outright and ask if they were looking for new writers.

Slowly but surely, my site grew and grew as did my roster of clients.

In the past 6 years, my freelance writing career has allowed me to be published on websites all over the Internet, including U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Time, Lifehacker, AOL, and more. It’s also given me a platform which landed me appearances on Good Morning America, Fox News, and Huffington Post Live.

I would have never dreamed that a small blog would create such a rich and exciting career.

 

Can you explain what exactly a freelance writer is, who they write for, etc.? 

A freelance writer is someone who writes for a number of different clients. They don’t work for one specific company but rather work for themselves and contract out their writing.

Many freelance writers write for magazines. Others write for blogs and online magazines. I personally write for a mixture of blogs and corporate clients. I have several large financial companies I work with but I also write for smaller blogs owned by individual bloggers.

 

How much can a beginner freelance writer expect to make? 

Great question. When I started freelance writing, I got paid $10/post.

Slowly, over time, I raised my rates and now get paid several hundred dollars per blog post.

The amount you make freelance writing really depends on your hustle. Someone who starts slowly and can only work on this as a side job a little at a time can grow to $100/post or so within one year, meaning they can make $500-$1,000 in extra income each month depending on how much they work.

However, I’ve had students who have taken my freelance writing course who have grown to make several thousand dollars a month writing for blogs and have been able to quit their day jobs. It just depends on how much time you devote to it.

 

What do you like about freelance writing?

Writing has been a strong passion of mine since I was a child.

I wrote my first children’s book when I was 9 years old and my dad still has it. I like that freelance writing allows me to work from anywhere at anytime and make a great income.

I enjoy the process of story-telling and educating others through the written word.

 

How can a person find their first freelance writing job?

There are many ways to find your first freelance writing job.

One of the most straightforward ways is to go to an online jobs board like the one on Problogger.com.

In order to get selected for a job, you should always have your own website or blog with a few samples on it to showcase your skills. Make sure you have a Hire Me page on your site and let people know you’re a freelance writer as well.

It sounds simple but sometimes just making it known to your friends, family, and online will land you your first job.

 

What if you’re not sure if freelance writing is a good fit?

Well, I always say that it doesn’t hurt to just try it out. I mean, I took tennis lessons one summer with my husband and I was absolutely horrible at it.

However, I gave it a shot.

I was awful, so I decided to pursue other activities when working out.

So, if writing piques your interest, just give it a go. Sit down and write something. Create a portfolio and see how you feel about writing for other people and meeting deadlines. If you end up not liking it, you can just stop writing.

You’re the boss when you’re a freelance writer, so you get to decide how much or how little you write or if you even want to keep doing it at all.

 

What steps does a person need to take to make money freelance writing?

First, they need a solid portfolio. They need to create a website, whether it’s just an author “about me” type site or their own blog.

They need to make sure it’s professional and looks very nice and has a few clips of their writing. Then, they should guest post on friends’ blogs to show that other people like their writing and don’t mind publishing it. Then, aggressively apply to writing jobs and rinse and repeat until you get your first paying gig.

Michelle’s comment: You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $3.49 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial.

 

How much does it cost to start this side hustle and maintain it?

To be honest, it can cost $0 to start this side hustle.

 

What do you love about being able to make money freelance writing? What has it helped you do?

It’s hard to even explain how much freelance writing has changed my life.

I love that I was able to quit my full-time job and write every day. I love that I can earn a full-time income doing something I love. I love that I can work from home and see my children every single day.

I make more than double the amount of money I made when I was teaching at the university level except now I can get hugs and cuddles from my two year old twins at any time during the day.

The opportunities the blog has given me have been incredible, too. I’ve met some amazing people and have been able to be on Good Morning America and Fox News and work with some of the largest companies in the country.

It started out so small and modest and I am so excited at what it has done for my life and my career.

 

Are there any other tips that you have for someone who wants to become a freelance writer?

The most successful freelance writers I know have an extreme work ethic.

They don’t live life like the average person. They write when everyone else is asleep or watching TV. They have an intense drive and a will to succeed. Anyone can start freelance writing if they love to write and can meet deadlines, but to be among the few who make this a full-time career with a six figure income, you have to have the hustle and the spark to make it happen.

 

What can a person learn from your course? Can you tell us about some of the people who have successfully taken your course?

Simply put, someone can learn how to be a successful full-time writer online from my course.

In 29 videos, my course takes you from the very first moment of developing your portfolio and website and takes you all the way through finding clients, setting up a business, invoicing, making sure you get paid, and knowing when to take the leap into self-employment.

I tell you everything I’ve learned in my 6 years of blogging, all the mistakes too, so that you can start off on the right foot and start making money immediately.

My past students have been extremely successful. Here are some examples:

  • “When I first started working with Cat, I was overwhelmed by my goals and had no idea where to begin! However, less than one month into Cat’s coaching program I had a paid writing job. ” – Kara from The Daily Whisk
  • I began the coaching program with one content marketing client and at the end of the 3 month coaching session, I had a total of 10 clients… I was also approached by US News & World Report to join their freelance team.” Kassandra Dasent
  • “I landed 5 outstanding new clients throughout the duration of the course and received new resources and information to help me grow my freelance business.” – Chonce from My Debt Epiphany
  • “With the skills and referrals I received I was able to make $400 in freelancing income after my first month working with her.” – Syed from The Broke Professional
  • “In the three months since working with her, I’ve booked business worth 130% of the cost of her coaching.” – Jenna from My PF Twins
  • “I had a job within the very first week of starting, and I was able to make the money back for the course before it was even over.” – Robin from The Thrifty Peach
  • “Your course on freelance writing was just what I needed to get started. I had no idea what I was doing three months ago, and today I was offered my very first paid writing job.” – Kristi from Moderate Muse
  • “When I started working with Cat, I had no idea that I’d be able to build my business enough to quit my job in only 12 months.” – Kayla Sloan

Click here to check out Cat’s course Get Paid To Write For Blogs.

Are you interested in starting a freelance writing career?

 


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Claudia @ Two Cup House

    There are so many side hustles out there it can be tough to know which one to invest in. A freelance writing career seems flexible, but I like the balance I’ve struck with SEO. Thanks for sharing some of the details about Cat’s course!

    1. Do you have an SEO company with big name clients-corporations?

      1. Claudia @ Two Cup House

        We do! We’re committed to small businesses, not big corporations. Thanks for asking!

  2. Great article!
    This is something I’ve been considering trying as an additional way to supplement income.
    It’s also hard to know if you are even good enough or what rate to charge when starting out.
    Found this really helpful and informative, thanks!

  3. This is great! I’m working on making an income at home from writing and VA work.

  4. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog

    I may have to check out Cat’s course. I currently freelance write but don’t make as much as I would like to. I need to land a few more consistent, well-paying clients.

    1. Aliyyah,

      DNN checked out your blog. You’re well on your way to good blogging profits. How long have you been blogging for and do you currently use the WordPress content scheduling plugin? If you have questions about blogging you know you’re always welcome on the site to ask questions. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Freelance writing has become very good source of passive income for many people. The demand of good quality content is high as many blogs are starting and now a days a every business is trying to make an impact in online world. Thanks for sharing this awesome article for beginners to know how to start a freelance writing career.

  6. This is a very down to Earth and humble story about blogging beginnings to financial greatness. Many people are still hesitant to this very day about starting a blog and growing it into a full time online business. Just like water in the Earth and the unlimited supply available, there’s also an unlimited supply of money available online to those who are willing to work for it through affiliate marketing and blogging. It won’t come overnight but it’s worth taking the 1st action step in faith and moving forward with a business blog. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story Michelle. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Lindsey

    I’ve just started my freelancing career to take on ANOTHER side hustle in hopes of paying off some debt. I ended up going through a facebook to land my first gig and I love the blogger I am working for :).

    1. Lindsey,

      Glad to hear you’re loving your new blogging career. How often are you writing and how many words are you writing per blog post (if you’re writing for the blog on a daily basis)? ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Lindsey

        My own blog is posted three times a week at around 500-1000 words a post. I write twice a month for another blogger though ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this interview. It’s nice to read about someone who started out making $10 an hour and now makes a real living doing freelance writing. Very inspiring!!

  9. I have also used Upwork to find some freelance writing gigs. Although I will admit a lot of them are not cost-effective or you wonder if they are legit. But there are some good ones advertised, especially if you are a content expert .

  10. Great interview and overview on what it takes to be a successful freelance. I’ve personally taken Cat’s course and it is worth the money and then some. If you’re willing to work hard at it, this course will pay for itself in no time. Highly recommended!

  11. Jackie

    Great tips on freelance writing. I would love to do it but don’t have the time right now. It’s just nice to know it’s an option if I want to increase my income. Thanks for sharing this interview!

  12. Francesca – From Pennies to Pounds

    Thanks for this interview, it is great to find out some more tips on this kind of subject!

  13. Amanda

    I love the idea of becoming a freelance writer for some extra income currently. I’ve started building my own blog as my first step, and am now starting to reach out to others to see if they will allow me to guest post on their blogs. Hopefully, this can lead to a new form of extra income for me.

    Thanks Michelle!

    Amanda

  14. Hi Michelle, your posts are so relevant to my life right now. I launched my blog at the end of March and just got my first freelance writing job (on an on-going basis) this past week (from Upwork). I think the best part, as Catherine mentioned in this interview, is that you can start for $0.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Catherine, you’ve really come a long way with freelance writing. I’ve considered freelance writing in the past, but just never took the leap. This post includes lots of great information for someone interested in freelance writing, so I can’t imagine how helpful the course will be!

  16. I’ve been blogging my personal family travels for the past couple of years. I mainly share my blog with friends on Facebook, and other readers on TripAdvisor. My blog started with documenting the ins and outs of our vacations, and to most recently, how we’re able to travel the world by using points earned from credit cards. In a couple of days, my family of 6 will head to Maui, and our out of pocket airfare expense is on $67 total for the 6 of us. I want to do more, and hopefully get paid. I love to write……I don’t know who’s door to knock on….I feel like I’ve got good things to share.

  17. Hi Catherine,

    I can totally relate to this. I’m a full-time freelance writer making thousands every month from a craft I love so much.

    To be successful in this career you must be ready to kiss good bye to sleep at times in order to write. You must always creatively find out what your audience are talking about and who your prospects are planning to reach. If you are already speaking to the audience your prospects want to reach, it will be easier to land more freelance writing jobs. I did it and it worked for me.

  18. Hello Cat,

    This is awesome and an inspiration to those of us who have been writing all these years for fun. Quite interesting to know that you can actually get paid for doing what you love. Kudos to Michelle for bringing this great content our way.

    Paul

  19. I really didn’t see myself years ago being full-time into this today. while I’ve never had the intent on being a writer in terms of earning a living, now I see value in this today.