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Stop Typing, Start Writing! Earn Money from Freelance Work

Updated on May 1, 2016

Freelance work has been known to provide writers with a steady income source in all economic conditions, as proved by the most recent recession and as far back as the Great Depression of the 1930s.

It hasn't been a walk in the park, to be sure. The danger of mass outsourcing of freelance jobs has always loomed over the business, especially since the Internet has allowed practically anyone to offer their services globally at ridiculously low prices.

Fido, have you been outbidding my freelance writing projects again? Bad dog!
Fido, have you been outbidding my freelance writing projects again? Bad dog! | Source

Despite that, the demand for quality freelance writers has remained high as ever. After all, you couldn't possibly entrust every job to a monkey at a typewriter (no offense to monkeys)

With enough knowledge of English language, a knack for online research and relevant topics to write about, you can find an appropriate freelance writing task for your skills, tastes and payment expectations.

Write, submit and get paid! Where's the catch?

If you ask around experienced writers, you'll find out that doing freelance jobs is (usually) easy. That's why most writers scale their freelance work for quantity, rather than quality (except those lucky few who make a living doing what they choose to do).

There's only one problem with this.

Getting freelance writing jobs is (unusually) hard!

The Internet is filled with new freelance writing opportunities, some of them submitted as recently as a few minutes ago. Catching them early and proving yourself as the best candidate for the job is the main challenge you'll face here.

I'm not talking about the $1 per article jobs, which no one but your dog wants to do. If you're aiming at those, you'll beat all competition if you can tell a mouse from a keyboard!

Try to find something more rewarding.

The competition is tightening!
The competition is tightening! | Source

When you find a job that pays well, don't be afraid to bid more than your competition. Employers who are willing to pay are looking for the best possible candidate and a couple of extra dollars won't make any difference to them, as long as they get quality writing in exchange.

Repeat jobs are among the most profitable parts of freelance writing. When there's no new work available, ask around some of your past clients for available freelance writing jobs and you might just land on a goldmine.

When you don't have work, look for it. When you have work, look for more.

Some writers prefer to find work within specific freelancer circles, such as freelance-related forums or blogs. Others find the user-friendly outsourcing websites to be more to their tastes (just remember to set the bar high).

Whatever the means, you'll have to market yourself to land the best jobs. After all, you're supposed to sell something you haven't even begun working on. It takes serious persuasion skills, good reputation and a lot of practice.

Not bad... for a monkey.
Not bad... for a monkey. | Source

Make it all about the money.

Money is the universal measurement unit for judging your freelance writing performance, so don't waste any time on the smaller tasks. Although many customers are willing to buy low-quality writing at miserable payment rates, you shouldn't be willing to sell.

$2 per 500 words seems like a great option for fresh writers without any skills or examples of previous work, but you'll be lucky if you make $4 an hour that way.

If these kinds of tasks are all you can get at the moment, try improving your writing skills or even online communication skills. Until you get better, don't become too involved, or you could be stuck at that level forever.

Didn't think this through, did you?
Didn't think this through, did you? | Source

Earn while you learn.

While you're improving your skills, why not earn some extra money and build a writing portfolio in the process? Choose new topics you wouldn't normally write about and submit your writing to some article publishing sites (HubPages works, but if you don't want to mix up your niche here, choose another site or create a different username).

The payment rates won't be anywhere near the ones you're aspiring to, but don't forget that unlike freelance writing, you will retain full rights over your work and will be able to include it in your portfolio without any confusion over its authorship.

When you feel ready, jump right into action!

Viva la Freelancion!
Viva la Freelancion! | Source

Hold your ground and let the employers know that you don't work for less than $5 per 500 words. If you've been in the business for a while and have an extensive track record, increase your requirements to $10, then $15 and so on. If you lose some employers in the process, you've simply outgrown them and they probably wouldn't have been of much use to you anyway.

You'll know what pace is right for you. If you're left with no work, that's probably too much. When you're neck-deep in rubbish tasks after charging less and can no longer manage them, you know you've gone too far the other way. Try to stay between those two extremes.

Bid to win.

It might not seem that way at first, but you as the writer are the one choosing the freelance writing jobs and employers to work for, not the other way around. After all, your time is limited, while the demand for articles, blog posts and web content is always out there.

Even if you don't win all the jobs, you still have a fair chance of topping all other bidders on most tasks you want to win. After all, most bids you see on outsourcing sites is just noise made by bots, third-rate writers and confused freshers nobody is going to hire.

Know where you stand.

People who are making their first steps in freelance writing often undervalue their own skills compared to their competition. Are you one of them? Well then, let's try to put things into perspective.

Did you read this article? Did you understand every word?

(This is a serious question, as far as freelance writing goes.)

You've just put yourself above 50% of freelance job seekers you are competing with.

Don't believe me? Well, you better, because I'm probably being excessively generous here. It's not uncommon for two-thirds of people applying for writing tasks on outsourcing sites to bid without even reading the project description.

Could you write a similar article about your favorite topic?

(Well-structured, good grammar, native English or close enough.)

If so, you can consider yourself better than 80% of the supply side of the freelance writing market.

There are plenty of people who think they are good writers (and sometimes they are good writers), but they just aren't motivated enough to bring themselves to spend time on covering topics they don't even care about.

Could you write it on a topic of your employer's choice?

(Online research, fact-checking and plenty of motivation.)

Positive? In that case, you're now in the top 10% of freelance writers.

Don't be too flattered, though. Remember, we're counting everyone in those other 90% (even the dog... I guess). You're just among the people who can get regular jobs, not every single job they want. Still, this is enough to be proud of yourself and have confidence in your skills.

Could you do it in less than an hour?

(Plus 24-hour deadlines on larger projects.)

Yes? Sure about that? Welcome to the top 5%, the freelance writing elite.

These writers not only get the jobs, but complete enough of them to impress their employers and receive additional projects at higher rates.

The time spent on writing a decent 500-word article should be around 30 minutes, provided you've done some quick research beforehand (or are familiar enough with the topic). Some freelance writers advise 20 minutes, but I prefer to write the whole article and go back to it later, so whatever I do, I still end up spending more time on it.

The ability to manage your time is one of the most important assets of freelance writing. A nicely written sample article can only get you one job at a time. Time-management skills will provide you with hundreds of leads, multiplied by the number of employers you've ever worked for.

Are you a qualified expert on any of the top-paying topics online?

(An online authority in the field is almost better than having a degree.)

Really? You are? Then you're at the top!

Source

Where do you stand as a freelance writer?

See results

Turns out you're better than you thought you were! (If you already knew it, good for you!)

Could it be that you chose the last answer? If you did, how does it feel to be with the top dogs, looking down at the rest of freelance writers, seeing how they're desperately looking for writing jobs online?

But hey, wait a minute! Who's that up there? Even higher than you are! How did those people get there?

Turns out, there's still something you can do to climb even higher on the freelance writing ladder.

Could you prove the above answers with your words alone?

By now, we already know you can meet deadlines and do freelance work! But remember how getting freelance writing jobs is (unusually) hard? Now that you know just how good you are, can you pull it off without training wheels?

Source

With no ratings for completed work. No amazing credentials. Without any article samples.

Could you manage to put together a 2-3 sentence snippet that would land you the freelance writing job of your choice?

I dare you to try!

If don't feel like you're up for the task, no worries! By realizing why you can't do it, you'll learn the most important thing about making the move from typing for pennies to doing real freelance writing work for a living.

It's not the snippet that's important. It's who wrote it.

What sets apart successful freelance writers from talented newcomers is not just the extensive portfolio or their long work experience. It's their reputation. The ability to instill trust in employers by the power of their name alone.

Remember, a decent portfolio and efficient marketing efforts can get you through the door, but in the end, your name is what gets you the best freelance writing jobs.

Good luck! Please leave a sentence or two in the comments!

You'll earn some Hub-cred and make someone happier! *wink*

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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for a very helpful article. Even if we have been writing for 30 years and have a lot of solid skills and experience tucked under our belt, we often find ourselves doubting our word.

      You have also given some helpful standards to measure ourselves for online writing, which is very different from print publication. Voted up!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Stop Typing, Start Writing! Earn Money from Freelance Work, great hub, informative, useful, and certainly an idea for one who hasn't gone that road of freelancing. I like the photo and I vote up, awesome, useful, and interesting

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Great hub, Andera! I dived into the freelance waters years ago and made some pretty good money, got repeat assignments from one client on elance for about two years straight, then I wrote for Demand Studios, then suddenly everything came to a screeching halt. But I haven't been trying to compete with Fido lately. It's just that my day job keeps me very busy, with little time to do what I really love, which is writing. But I'll get back to it soon. Voted up and useful.

    • Andera profile image
      Author

      Andera 3 years ago

      It's not that hard to get assignments from Demand Studios. However, I don't like the editors there. The work opportunities are also very limited.

      I prefer one on one contact with actual clients who know what they want, instead of people who have been appointed to regulate a constant flow of low quality content. Then again, it could work for you. Might as well try and see what comes out of it.

      Bubblews is known for withholding payment from many people. I wouldn't advise anyone to join the site hoping that they'll be a part of the lucky few that get paid.

    • dwelburn profile image

      David 3 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Thanks for taking the time to reply to me. I'm just wondering why you say not to write for Bubblews though?

      And do you recommend Demand Studios? Though I'm not sure if I could write for them as they want professional writers with a resume.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      This is the opposite of visiting billybuc's pages! (Last first).

      To the above: This is horse-sense for the writer who thinks himself/herself better than the average bonehead (sorry Fido) who doesn't want to work for peanuts (sorry Charlie)!

      Makes you want to go out and shout your head off (like the man in the bottom pic), but as it's gone one in the morning here and I'm due to join the little wifie upstairs for some pillow-wrestling, I'll catch up on you tomorrow! (Night-night)

    • Andera profile image
      Author

      Andera 3 years ago

      Pretty much anyone can write at those rates. I wasn't sure what kind of audience I had here at the time of writing the article, so I went as low as I could with my estimates.

      The first freelance writing job I got paid a measly 1 cent per word. I went to 4 cents per word or more in a week, so it's pretty easy if you know what people are looking for. I still do some projects at that level, but it's mostly higher than that now. The hardest part is trying to get your existing clients to increase the rate, so it's best to ask as much as you can right away.

      You usually only need a solid portfolio to get work at professional rates. A couple of samples, good reviews or a reference will do just fine most of the time. Networking is the key to getting the best projects to work on, so you have to stay in touch with the right people.

      I would not advise anyone to write for Bubblews, and yes, you can quote me on that.

    • dwelburn profile image

      David 3 years ago from Chesterfield, UK

      Great article and very inspirational. I can't see how you could make a living charging $5 per 500 words though. Besides plenty of people are making that and more at Bubblews. But $10 per 500 words maybe. From what you say though it sounds like you couldn't get that until you are well established. Is that right?

    • fivesenses profile image

      Leena 3 years ago from new delhi

      Great tips and advice on work from home.

      voted and shared.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Superb advice and well-written, of course. I especially like your advice to not undervalue your work by accepting meager pay.

    • RealityTalk profile image

      RealityTalk 3 years ago from Planet Earth

      A captivating Hub; it kept me reading from the capital F to the ending *. Myself, I tend to write about controversial topics & I tend to take the least popular side of the argument. I love to get people emotionally invested in discussion with the hope someone will learn something or at least think a little.

      A problem I have come across on HubPages however is that many of the responding hubbers tend to avoid a valid discussion and immediately degenerate into personal attack & abusive language.

      This does not make me popular, so it is highly unlikely I will make a career at this or any money on HubPages, but c'est la vie.

    • Andera profile image
      Author

      Andera 3 years ago

      It has definitely become more challenging to earn money by writing the exact same way we did a few years ago, but we can't afford to be stuck in that mindset. Adjusting to change is never easy, but that's also the reason why it's so rewarding when you finally get there.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Wise words and a very mature approach to writing Andera - I am impressed.

      In my early years I surprised myself and earned some real money for writing a few controversial articles. It does seem that these days it is more difficult to earn decent money at writing so I found this very encouraging and definitely something I would like to try myself in the future.

    • jeolmoz2 profile image

      Julio E Olmo Sr 5 years ago from Florida, USA

      Appreciate advice

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Very interesting. I voted it up. I've looked into freelance writing, but for now, I prefer the less competitive route and write for a few different websites. I like Hubpages because I can write what I want and I can read other's work as well.

    • profile image

      oceansider 5 years ago

      Hi Andera, thanks for the great article. I would love to be able to be paid enough for my writing... to be able to pay all my bills, but this has not happened for me yet..I lost my job a year ago, while on State disability for a knee injury..my employer fired me...but it's OK, I wasn't crazy about working there!..The Lord is providing for me through family, unemployment insurance and many other ways!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 5 years ago

      Considering that I have been a complete abject failure at the Hub making money - I have not made one penny - this is a world class hub article that I should be paying attention to help me overcome my misery of economics - you are such a convincing writer who communicates so well and I love your images of monkeys and dogs to drive home the (irreverent) point - you have offered me enlightenment and an education but on a thoroughly entertaining level as well - lake erie time 5:39am ontario canada

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 5 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      Wow, this is fantastic. I honestly had no idea how this worked these days. Very interesting, information packed hub.

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 5 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      I have been making some decent money recently writing articles, and it feels good. I'm just getting started and I'm hoping it only gets better from here. Great writing, voted up and useful.

    • rex michaels profile image

      rex michaels 5 years ago

      I have found, speaking for myself here that I have improved simply because of experience. I tinker with articles on other sites, I revamp my blog often and I take jobs out of my comfort zone. Much of my writing, for private clients, is based on my own experiences, which is very helpful; it helps keep the drudgery out of the task.

    • Vegas Elias profile image

      Vegas Elias 5 years ago from Mumbai

      A good informative hub. I have saved the link and will come back and read it further.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Really good information, Andera. Thanks for sharing these tips on making money as a freelance writer, and for the clue "It takes serious persuasion skills, good reputation and a lot of practice." Voted useful!

    • jeanihess profile image

      jeanihess 5 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      I am enjoying your hubs on freelance work. It is time to seriously explore the possibilities.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      Incredible article.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      This is a very good topic and a well written hub. I am doing free lance writing and like it. It is easier than putting up a hub with the pictures, videos, etc. I still enjoy writing hubs so I just do both as time permits. My income has improved however. Voted up and useful.

    • Andera profile image
      Author

      Andera 5 years ago

      Zerbini, thanks for being the first one to comment, and for coming up with such nice words to say!

      Global-Chica, I'm glad it caught your attention. Once we engage into the unreasonable outbidding practice, we lose ourselves to the outsourcing hell, the sort of typing work I'm advising against. I know I actually wrote 'Bid to win' at one point, but I believe it should be accomplished not by going as low as possible on your price range, but providing quality samples and demonstrating readiness to complete work to the best of your abilities.

      Rex, that's an interesting fact. There has definitely been a noticeable tendency for more people to seek online writing jobs in the past few years. As someone who's only had a few months of experience in freelance writing, though, I wonder how an average writer is doing now compared to 5 years ago.

      Bravewarrior, it's nice to hear from you again and know that you're still fighting your way into freelance writing! Both a giant leap and a baby step still bring you closer to your goal. As long as you're relentless in your pursuit, a slower pace can't hold you back from accomplishing it. If anything, it'll just make your journey more thorough and interesting!

      I may not have responded to everyone personally, but I appreciate all of your comments. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Andera profile image
      Author

      Andera 5 years ago

      We are all smart and talented cookies here!

      That's the point I tried to get across in this Hub, and those aren't just empty words.

      It really takes a kind of dedication to come back to this site day after day and write about whatever comes to our mind. Even if those are things we are passionate about, even if we love doing that, we are still working and should be proud of the work we do.

      Whoever said it can't be fun? If anything, work SHOULD be fun!

      Now, my main goal is to help writers turn that work into money, all while I'm working out my own freelance writing strategy. Haven't stopped learning and not planning to! So, whenever I learn or think of something new, I reflect it in a Hub.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Good advice, Andera! I've recently entered the online freelance world, which is completely different from writing TV ad copy, which is what I did in the 80's.

      At the moment, I'm taking baby steps, with the $1/500 word gigs. It was grueling until I realized I was taking it far too seriously. Once I relaxed and wrote in my own personality, it began to flow.

      I currently work full time in the accounting industry. The only way I'll be able to leave this job is to build a well paying freelance career. My next step is hourly assignments.

      The tips you present in your freelance hubs are being put to practice with this back-in-the-saddle-again warrior!

    • chaturrajneesh profile image

      chaturrajneesh 5 years ago from India

      Very very inspiring and informative hub!!

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 5 years ago from chennai

      Good and informative hub.

    • rex michaels profile image

      rex michaels 5 years ago

      Well done, I can relate, I write for content mills, myself and private clients and of course HP. It is a juggling act some days. I started fives years ago and I have noticed more and more writers online because of the economy.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Well done Andera. We often tend to undervalue ourselves...shame on us.

    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 5 years ago

      Excellent tips for those just starting out in the freelancing world. It's a tough job, but it sure beats having to rush off to work each morning. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      another useful share Andera thanks :)

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Thanks, Andera, for this comprehensive, well-written article about freelancing. I'm about to jump in and will remember your advice.

    • Global-Chica profile image

      Anna 5 years ago from New York, NY

      I really enjoyed your article and think you offer great advice. I loved the part where you stress the fact that when you find a job you like, to not be afraid to bid more than your competition - makes sense but not something we may think of when just starting out in freelance writing. Voted up and useful!

    • profile image

      zerbini87 5 years ago

      Well-written and very informative! I am shocked no one has commented yet. Excellent picture placement, titles and use of bold words. I enjoyed your topic and feel it is very pertinent in this day and age. Struggling writers learn for better ways to get their work out there. Voted up and very useful. Keep up the good work!