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How to Become a Freelance Writer on the Side

Updated on September 22, 2010

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Writing can be a hobby or a career - what you do with it is your own choice. If you would like to become a freelance writer, I'm happy to tell you your dreams can become a reality. Becoming a freelance writer isn't something that happens overnight - it takes time and dedication, just like any goal. However, you can become a freelance writer as long as you are willing to put in the effort.

Steps to Become a Freelance Writer

Follow these steps to get started on your goal to become a freelancer:

  1. Think about the kind of writing where you would like to focus. Before you become a freelance writer, you should have a clear direction for your writing - do you want to write fiction or nonfiction? Will you freelance for magazines or newspapers, Web sites, or perhaps you would like to satisfy business writing needs.... Come up with a target market for yourself!
  2. Make sure you have the necessary equipment and materials for your new career. Some of the key materials you will need include a computer (preferably a laptop), printer, Internet connection, pens and paper, and a few good books on writing to give you a head start.
  3. Start networking! Go to networking groups and events. Meet other writers. Meet potential customers. Get involved and get your name out there!
  4. Order some business cards to help you advertise your writing. You might be amazed at how helpful a set of business cards can be for a professional writer.
  5. Create your own writer Web site so people can find you online. Your Web site will be your hub to drawing in new customers and scoring freelance gigs. Don't delay on this one - the Web site is vital!
  6. Apply for writing jobs. It's that simple. Once you feel confident and prepared, apply for any writing jobs you can find in your area or on the Internet. Don't be disappointed when your initial applications don't result in a boatload of freelance work. Building any kind of business takes time.

Follow these tips to help you become a professional freelance writer while you have another day job. Stay focused and dedicated to your goal. Don't allow yourself to become discouraged. Keep at it and you'll land your first paid writing gig in no time!

Make Time to Write Every Day

Confused about how to get started as a freelance writer?
Confused about how to get started as a freelance writer?

Best Tips for a New Freelance Writer

Getting started as a freelancer can be intimidating but it shouldn't turn you off as long as you have a little patience and commitment to your goal. Consider these tips to help you get going as a new freelance writer.

  • Getting clips is critical. Find ways to get published and save copies of your work. Even if you have to start a blog just to get your name in print, do it and do it well.
  • Expect the pay to increase with experience. Most beginner freelance writers don't snag the best-paying gig on the first try. You might have to do your due diligence at first, taking low paying assignments just to get your name out there. Don't worry, though. The more you write and stay at it, the better chance you have to find those great paying gigs.
  • Try to score regular work. Find someone who needs writing on an ongoing basis, whether it's an individual client or a newspaper offering you a regular gig. The continued payments will give you a sense of accomplishment!
  • Get to know other writers. You can learn a lot from someone who's been doing it for a while. Spend time talking about tips and best practices for freelance writers. You'll learn more from practical experience than you can imagine!

Writing Poll

What Kind of Writing Do You Enjoy Most?

See results

Places to Get Published Online

If you know where to start, you can have published clips in the same day you set out to do it. Not all of these suggestions will get you a published clip right away, but some will, and others lend themselves to more freelance earnings. Consider these options for places to publish some of your writing to gain some clips:

  1. Your own blog - Having your own blog can even turn into some side income if you find a good niche topic and remain serious about it!
  2. A friend's or colleague's e-newsletter - Offer to write a short piece for an online newsletter and ask only that you receive an "About the Author" bio with a link to your own Web site.
  3. Constant-Content - You can make REAL money writing for this site. The customers are Web site publishers, business owners, and sometimes even print publications. The only catch is you have to write everything on spec unless you are lucky enough to get a private request. Still, you can make some extra money whenever something you've written sells. It isn't hard to get started either - Definitely worth a shot!
  4. Associated Content - Associated Content gives new freelance writers an easy way to get some clips under their belts while also providing more exposure for more experienced writers. You can write about just about anything and get paid for it, either as ongoing performance payments (based on the number of page views) or as upfront payments up to $15 per piece. It's easy to sign up and a great community affiliated with Yahoo!.
  5. HubPages - If you are reading this, chances are you already publish on HubPages. If you don't, what are you waiting for? It may not make you a huge paycheck at first, but HubPages are a great way to get your name out there, network with other writers, and learn a great deal in the process. You'll earn a bit from ads, too, depending on how much effort you put into it.


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