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How to Start A Successful Freelancing Writing Career

Updated on Oct 28, 2020 4480 views

Do you want to learn the secret to becoming a successful freelancer writer?

Then you need this one-in-all freelancing writing guide in 2019.

You see:

One of the greatest inventions of our time is the invention of the internet. With the internet come many things that we would have not believed would have been possible.

The internet, more importantly, has made the world global. Now, you don’t necessarily have to see people physically to relate with them.

And while a lot of us are glad about the advantages it has brought to relations between friends and family, especially when there is distance separating them, it has also helped the economic world.

One of the things it has brought about that we are talking about now is freelance jobs. Great examples of this type of freelancing jobs are digital marketing jobs, graphic designers job and writing jobs.

In the decades passed, before you can do a job to earn money, you either have to be an entrepreneur that owns a business or you are an employee with a physical company, where you to 9 to 5 everyday to register your presence in order to get some work done.

However, the invention of our time has made it possible for people to work freelance and not tied down to a particular organisation while making their money.

It is advantageous to the freelancer because it is not restrictive and they get to determine their own hours.

It is also of benefit to the organisations because they are not tied to all that comes with maintaining an employee.

However, one of the most popular freelance jobs is freelance writing.

Many people, erroneously think writers are broke and do not make a lot of money. Well, that can be true if you do not have the right information at your fingertips.

 If it was true that it is not profitable, then many people would not be so interested to go into it.

According to a study conducted by, most freelancers made a conscious effort to be freelancers. What that tells you is that they wouldn’t have made a conscious decision to be a freelance writing without the benefits that comes with employment, if it was not profitable. And a further survey by contently, shows that 35% of those surveyed makes about and under $20,000 annually compared to the average labour force’s 40%. So clearly, freelance writing is more attractive income-wise.

Writing has so much diversity you will be amazed ... what, with people needing to constantly push out content to drive their brands. They see their limitation and are looking for writers to help with it. That is where freelance writing comes in.


What is Freelance Writing?

What does a freelance writer do? You might ask. It is simple ... just get the meaning of freelance and writer.

Freelance, according to mobile English dictionary means, “selling services to employers without a long-term contract.” Writer, on the other hand, can simply be put as someone who writes, turn words into meaningful pieces, professionally.

When those two terms are combined, then a freelance writer can be described as a writer, who writes professionally for employers without a long-term contract.

That means basically, a freelance writer is not a permanent employee of the employer and there is not binding contract between the two parties. There is just an exchange of service and payment for service rendered.

As mentioned earlier, there are different dimensions to freelance writing and different ways that an employer or an organisation will need a freelance writer.

They include but not limited to blog articles, newspaper articles, proposals, program proposal, advert contents, grant writing, training manual, proofreading or editing, book or product or services review, interviews, transcriptions, translation into another language, freelance journalism and so much more. Some writers do it all and some find their niche(s) and stick with it. It depends on what works and will not affect productivity and quality.



Types of Freelance Writing

The two major types of freelance writing are the full-time and per-time freelance writing,

Full-time freelance writing has to do with doing the job full-time and having no other job except it. A full-time freelance writer wakes up every morning with only the writing job in his or her mind as her only source of income.

The per-time freelance writer on the other hand, usually has a day job and the freelance writing is just a supplementary or side job to bring in other income.

It can be quite tricky determining between full-time and per-time freelancers because generally, they work their own hours.

While a freelancer who has a day job will automatically be restricted by the number of hours he/she can dedicate to freelancing whereas the one without the day job can decide what to dedicate to it.

So, someone with no job can also be called a per-time freelancer if they dedicate more time to maybe house-keeping and dedicate a few to the job. It is tricky.

But what is important is that you can decide to do this with a day job or without. According to Freelance Writing Gigs, a website that provides writing gigs to freelancers, most freelancers are women and that does not come as a surprise because women are usually the ones combining the home front and a job. So naturally, they will be attracted to a source of income that gives them more time for the home front.


How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer

If you are interested in being a freelancer and you have no idea where to start, then this is for you.

One misconception that has seemed to gain ground is how people assume everybody can write and writing is not a serious business. You are just as much a business owner as the restaurant owner downtown. So you need to take your business seriously. 

Now to be or launch your career as a freelance writer, there are certain things you should take seriously. In no particular order;

  • Be able to write. You might be wondering why this is necessary. Well, the truth is many people think they can write. Writing is one of the jobs that many people think they can do because they believe once they are educated, then they should be able to put pen to paper. But writing is not that simple. It takes creativity to merge words together to make for an interesting and comprehensive reading. It is an art and you should be able to do it before you think of going into it. For some people, it is inborn and for others, they learnt it. However you came about the skill is not important, but have it.
  • Enrol for some writing courses. Yes, you can write but just the same way visual artists go to art school or learn from an expert even though they are already talented, so should you, as a writer, enrol for writing courses, if you were not able to study it in school. There are many courses online that would come in handy and help you polish your skills. Apart from writing courses, you should also consider reading different good materials on freelance writing, so as to know the ropes. Being a good writer is not enough to being a freelance writer. As earlier mentioned, freelance writing is professional writing, it is far removed from scribbling intelligent words in your note book and it is a business, so it has to also be handled from the business point.
  • Determine your niche. It is very tempting to want to do it all but we all know what is being said about jack of all trades. Some people believe it is a myth and you can do it all. But the truth is people will trust more in your expertise if it streamlined to certain area(s). It doesn’t have to be one area but determine your strength and build on it. You need to know before you start whether you want to go into fiction or non-fiction, technical, business, finance, relationships, lifestyle, health, entertainment, academic and many more. Pick the one(s) you have an interest in and can do easily and build on it. Also, determine if you want to go full time or per-time. Of course, you will have to put a lot into consideration here before making the decision. Things like your expenditure, present income, the weight of your responsibility, time you can spare can get you started on making a right decision.
  • Build an online presence. It is practically impossible to work as a freelance writer without sufficient online presence. You will need to go online to network with other freelance writers as yourself and also to build a reputation as a freelance writer, so that those who are in need of a freelance writer can search you out. Be active on social media, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook and others come in handy as well but the former two are good places to start relating with like minds.
  • Similarly to the above, build a website. Luckily, these days, you do not have to be a tech guru in order to build a website and you don’t even have to pay a dime to get started. Free website hosts like WordPress or Blogger has made it easy to get a free website as well navigate easily. You can decide to upgrade later to a self-hosted site but as a start, you can go with the free. The website will be a way to put your work out there. It can serve as your portfolio that you can direct employers or just general audience to. It can help you polish your art as you have to write constantly and it helps to show your skills.
  • Get the required tools. Sign up to Grammarly. It is a website that helps you proofread your work and it also has plagiarism checker to help you check how original your work is. It is a very good tool for writers. To keep your work safe and secure, especially with the unreliability of a laptop or a phone, you can sign up to some online note keeper that helps you save your work online with a password. Evernote is a good option but there are other apps online you can try. Also, you can also get apps to keep track of your money and spending.
  • In case you don’t know how, then you need to learn how to write a cover letter to pitch to employers when the need arise. Understand that while you can have one readily at hand, always edit to suit the particular needs of the employer.
  • Then you need to put yourself out there to seek for jobs. One way is having a visible social media presence as explained above. Another is registering or subscribing to different sites that send out writing gigs to freelance writers (some of those sites have been listed below). Yet another way is writing a wonderful profile on LinkedIn and joining groups that relates to your niche. You can also browse the internet for freelance writing jobs in nigeria. But what is important in all areas is that you need to pitch anywhere and everywhere and it is just a matter of time before jobs start coming your way.

You are on your way to becoming a freelance writer, if you take all these steps. Now being a freelance writer is one thing and being a successful one is another.

How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer

You are obviously in it to win it. Nobody engages in a venture, just to lose. But there are certain tips you need to take to heart in order to become successful as a freelance writer.

  • You have to be passionate about it. It does sound like a cliché when passion is mentioned in discussions that relate to career but the fact that passion is important was true years before and true today. No matter how profiting a business venture is, there is a time for sowing before the reaping. And that is where passion comes in. Passion is what will keep you there when it is still growing, when you face challenges and even motivate you to keep working hard.
  • Do whatever it takes to polish your craft. Yes, you are a good writer. Yes, you have a good imagination that spurs creativity. Okay, is that all that is necessary to be a great writer? What about grammar, punctuation, tenses? Wherever area you are lacking, be true to yourself and work on it. It will not help you in the long run if you leave it festering. Reviews from employers can make or mar you and you don’t want bad reviews.
  • You have to read and write a lot. Good writers are good readers. One of the surest ways to polish your vocabulary is by reading good books. According to Lord Acton, revered English Historian of the nineteenth century, “learn as much by writing as by reading.” That means while you are learning by writing, you are also learning by reading. Don’t just stay a reader, pick up your pen and don’t spend all your time writing, make time to read as well. This will make you a great writer and before you know it, you will be highly sought-after.
  • You have to be disciplined. It is easy to get distracted when you are working your own hours and answerable to no one. You can get fixated on the TV or on social media and forget you have work to do. So it is necessary to realistically work out a schedule that you can follow. And whatever hours you stipulate for work, try to make sure it is strictly for work.
  • Make sure you do research for your writings. You cannot know everything and you in fact, do not know everything. Good writers are good researchers. You have to know what you are talking about before you put pen to paper, otherwise you sound phony. No matter what you are writing about, whether fiction or not, do a proper research so your writing can come off as true and authentic.
  • Learn to manage your finances. As a freelancer, you will not always have work and so income might be slow and the income that does come will not come as regularly as it would have if you were a salary earner that is why you have to be wise about your finances. Save when you have much and don’t squander it.
  • If you have a website, you can ask your clients for reviews, and with their permission, publish it on your website. If they can release their picture to you, the better, to increase credibility. And if the employer comes from another website where reviews are allowed, you can encourage clients, who were satisfied with your work to submit reviews as well.
  • Most writers are not naturally out-going, so when you have a job that keeps you cooped up in front of a laptop, the tendency to forget the outside world is high. However, try to make room for friends and family and even to treating yourself out of the house so you don’t become a recluse. And it will help your creative flow if you mix with the outside world once in a while.



5 Famous Freelance Writers

As a freelance writer or aspiring writer, it is necessary to know few famous freelance writers as a way of drawing inspiration from them. Here a few of them, therefore the list is not exhaustive.

Cameron Crowe: The present American director, producer, screenwriter and journalist started as a freelance writer at the age of 13, writing music reviews for The San Diego Door. He met the editor of Rolling Stone on a trip to Los Angeles and started writing freelance for the magazine as well. The 60 year old author of “Fast Times at Ridgement High,” which he wrote when he was just 22, still writes for Rolling Stone frequently.

Joe Hill: Son of authors, Tabitha and Stephen King, the 45 year old is a novelist and comic book writer. He has written many short stories that are published in different magazines, including The High Plains Literary Magazine. Although he was born Joseph King, he decided to use the pen name, Joe Hill, so as to achieve success without the attachment of his father’s name, Stephen King. The writer published his first book, 20th Century Ghosts, which is a collection of short stories, in 2005.

Aline Brosh Mackenna: She is a 50 year old French-born American screenwriter and producer, known for writing The Devil Wears Prada in 2006. After graduating from Harvard, she did freelance writing in New York while seeking for a job in publishing. A script she wrote for a screenwriting class she attended got her an agent, which was the first step into the big break that was to happen about eight years later.

Kevin Sites: He is a freelance journalist born in 1963. The Northwestern University graduate has worked for networks like ABC and CNN before setting out on his own to explore hot zones in the world and document them on his website, Kevin Sites in the Hot Zones. He published his first book, “In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars” in 2007 where he shared his effort to put a human face on global conflict by reporting from every major war zone in one year.

Mariane Pearl: The widow of American Journalist, Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, she is a freelance journalist born in 1967. She started out as a journalist and became a columnist for a magazine called, Glamour. After her husband was kidnapped and murdered, she published a memoir, “The Mighty Heart,” centred on the circumstances of her husband’s kidnap and murder.

Having a job as a freelance writer can be interesting depending on how you go about it. If you are ready to learn and put the right information to use, you are on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer.

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

1 Comment(s)

  • Ochuko Evidence
    Ochuko Evidence Jun 13, 2023

    Whether you are an aspiring writer or already established in the field,  for capturing your readers’ attention and delivering value.


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