I started freelance writing in my first year of college. My first gig was as a weekly blog contributor for The Young Mommy Life. Although it was only a six-month contract, it was a great introduction to my dream career.
Then, in my final term at school, my teacher recommended me to a freelance writing gig for a local community newspaper and I’ve been writing for them ever since. It wasn’t until this summer that I finally pushed myself to get out there and start pitching editors. I now write for four different places, three websites and one paper, as well as my blog, and I am still sending out pitches all the time!
Being a freelance writer has a lot of benefits, which is why a lot of people wish to become one. Unfortunately, most people are too scared to get started, just like I was, but the truth is, it’s a lot easier than you think! The best part is, you don’t need any credentials, diplomas or degrees, or even experience to get started. All you need is knowledge in at least one topic (it can be anything from parentings, to veganism, to gaming, or even celebrity gossip) and a few examples of your writing. Examples can be blog posts or even an article you write just for them.
Since a lot of people have asked me about it, I figured I would share what I’ve learned with you.
The best way to get started is to start reading freelance writing blogs and websites. There are a lot of amazing sites out there that have everything you need to know.
Just to name a few, here’s a small list:
- The Renegade Writer
- The Write Life
- Make a Living Writing
- All Indie Writers
- Horkey Handbook
If you’re interested in a long list of websites I like to read regularly on writing and freelance writing, let me know and I’ll put one together!
The best writers are people who like to read. In fact, reading is essential to writers because it opens them up to new styles of writing, inspires them and helps them learn the art of language.
It doesn’t even matter what you read! Read magazines, novels, comic books, blogs, memoirs. Read anything and everything. Of course, also make sure you read a lot of similar things to what you want to write about. If you want to write about celebrities, you need to read a lot about celebrities.
One of my favourite things to read though, are books on writing. Here are a few of my favourites:
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction*
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life*
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft*
There are also a lot of great ebooks on writing, too. Here are two I really enjoyed:
- You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)*
- The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success*
If you want to be a writer, you have to write!
Starting a blog, if you don’t already have one, is a great way to get into a writing habit. When I was in college, I was shocked to learn there was only one other student in my journalism course who blogged, ever! It seemed like a missed opportunity for a lot of students who also wanted to freelance while in college.
Even if you don’t want to blog though, getting in the habit of writing regularly has a lot of benefits, but it is crucial if you actually want to make a living off of it. You can take online courses, take out a book at your library on writing, or simply write all on your own.
A great idea is to join, or even start, a writers group. It’s definitely on my to-do list, but I have yet to start. You can, however, join an online Facebook group like Jeff Goins 500 Words group.
If you read and write regularly, and have done your research, you might be ready to finally send out a few pitches.
Pitching was the scariest part for me, because I was so scared of rejection. Unfortunately, rejection is a big part of the job! Now that I’m used to pitching, I’ve learned it really isn’t that scary after all. The trick is to write a really good pitch, one you can save as a draft and tweak it to fit different gigs. If you find you’re getting gigs from it, then it’s probably fine to keep using. If you aren’t hearing back from anyone, you should change it. That way, when you come across a gig you like you don’t have to keep writing a new pitch.
The art of pitching is something that can be easily learned, although it does seem scary at first. I managed to get my past three gigs with my current pitch, which I learned how to put together through the ecourse, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success. When I say 3, what I mean is 3 places that regularly send me stories that have deadlines, but I’ve also managed to sell articles to websites and have been approved to write for other sites, too.
You can find a lot of great websites that tell you how to write a good pitch. Gina Horkey, author of 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success, has a great blog post on how to write a pitch, including a template. Read it here.
If you’ve got a pitch you’re feeling good about, then it’s time to actually use it.
There are a lot of online job boards around to find decent paying jobs. Here’s a list of some of the ones I look through:
To be honest, I even tried those content mills and my own experience was terrible. I got paid like, less than a dollar per article and wasn’t even give credit on the sites my work was published. Sometimes, writing for free is a great way to get experience and add to your portfolio, as well as bring traffic to your website/blog. Apparently The Huffington Post is one of the best places to write for, even though they don’t pay, for these reasons.
There are also a lot of places that will pay you for articles, poems, short stories, and what not, that aren’t recurring gigs. If you would like me to share a list of places that pay, don’t be afraid to contact me and I’ll put something together!
This is just an introductory to freelance writing. There’s a lot of information out there, and it can be kind of overwhelming, which is why I tried to keep this simple. If you are serious about freelancing, but don’t know where to start, I highly recommend taking Gina’s ecourse, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success. I honestly think it was the best money I could have spent towards my freelance writing career! And it’s a great price!
If there’s anything else you’d like to know, just ask! I’m not an expert, but I have learned a lot so far and will do my best to answer any questions you may have.
* Affiliate links in this post.