- Personal Finance»
- Income & Making Money
Stop Typing, Start Writing! Earn Money from Freelance Work
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Where do you stand as a freelance writer?
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?
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*