If you’re skilled at researching and writing, you may be wondering how to start a freelance writing business.
This is the type of business you can run from the comfort of your own home. I’ve made my living doing this for the past 15 years.
In fact, I’m a single mom and have earned a full-time living with my writing business that has allowed me to take my kids to Disney many times, as well as multiple cruises and much much more.
You don’t even need to have a home office to get started. I do, but most of the time I’m writing away on my laptop while lounging on my recliner with a hot cup of coffee.
If you’d like to learn more about how to build a successful freelance writing business, read this detailed guide.
Table of Contents
- Types of Freelance Writing Online Jobs
- How to Start a Writing Business
- How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
- How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charger Per 1,000 Words?
- How to Start a Freelance Writing Business: Important Tips
- Growing Your Freelance Writing Business
- In Conclusion: Is Freelance Writing a Good Business?
Types of Freelance Writing Online Jobs
The first thing you’ll want to do is identify the type of writing you enjoy doing. You may be surprised to learn just how many different types of writing jobs there are.
For example, I enjoy non-fiction assignments, while my oldest daughter prefers to create fiction pieces.
Let’s take a look at the many different freelance writing positions available on the web:
- Website and Blog Content: Big and small companies alike hire writers to create their content. Since content is needed on an ongoing basis, this is an excellent place to start. You can opt to promote yourself as a generalist, or as an expert in a specific niche.
- Resume Writer: Do you know how to review a person’s skills and job experience and create a resume that will make them stand out from other job applicants? If so, you’ll find there are an abundance of resume freelance writing positions on the market.
- Product Description Writer: Another option is to create product descriptions for sellers. They may require in-depth descriptions for a website or shorter descriptions for use on listing sites, such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy.
- Grant Writer: Many businesses and non-profits hire writers to create their grant proposals.
- Press Release Writing: When companies launch new products or services, they often get the word out via a press release. Since they want to attract as many customers as possible, they often hire a professional writer to create it.
- Technical Writing: If you’re good at explaining hard concepts in easy step-by-step instructions, leaving no detail out, then you may wish to get into technical writing. Technical writers are responsible for creating everything from user manuals to how-to guides.
- Social Media Posts: Writers who love to spend time on social media can get jobs creating social media posts for companies and individuals who simply don’t have the time to do it themselves.
- Creating Courses: Digital courses are huge right now, and again, many business owners don’t have time to put together a course for their customers. They’ll hire a writer like you to help them complete the task.
- Video Scripts: When it comes to freelance writing services, you’ll also want to consider getting into video script writing. Businesses often need videos created for their YouTube channels, and this starts with having a script developed by a writer.
- Greeting Card Writer: Yes, you can even create a freelance writing business around greeting card content. This job is also extremely fun, as it allows you to explore your creative side, as you may also be asked to select the fonts, colors and sizing of the wording used in the cards.
- Journalism Jobs: Perhaps you prefer reporting on the news. There are plenty of journalism jobs that will allow you to do just that. You’ll find there are opportunities for everything from a big publication to a small town newspaper.
- Marketing Content: Businesses also need help writing their marketing content, which can be a simple landing page or a series of emails for an affiliate marketing campaign.
These are just a few of the most common types of freelance writing positions. You’ll find many more, such as curriculum writing, reporting on scientific studies and even trivia writing.
How to Start a Writing Business
Once you’ve identified the direction you’d like to go, you’ll want to take some time to come up with a freelance writing business plan.
Your business plan should including the following:
- Mission Statement
- Vision for Your Business
- Goals List
- Steps to Acheive Your Set Goals
- Available Work Hours
If you’ve never created a freelance writing business plan before, you can follow a template. Here are my top picks:
What I like about this template is that it’s simple and easy to use, which is important when you’re just starting out. It’s also extremely affordable.
This template is also inexpensive, but it offers a little bit more for those who won’t feel overwhelmed by the extras. It has pages for marketing, hitting important milestones, analysizing competition and defining the roles of each team member (once your business grows).
Although you’ll find this template a bit more expensive then the other two, it’s a great investment when just starting out. In addition to the colors, I love that added checklists that include things you may not have though of.
The set even comes with sample contracts and a list of job sites to get your freelance writing business for beginners started off on the right foot!
How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
I’m going to reveal where to get started searching for freelance writing jobs, but I want to first point out that free freelance writing jobs will never ask you for money to get work.
If a site asks you to pay to access job listings, run the other way. You can always find jobs online at no cost.
Freelance Writing Job Sites:
- Indeed: You can search Indeed for just about any job, including freelance writing opportunities. Just make sure you check whether the job is remote or requires you to work from an office. I will say, I have had friends ask to work remotely when the job ad specified an office. Some of them were granted this, so it never hurts to ask.
- Problogger: Problogger has a job board that you can check daily. You will be able to see at a glance whether the job is remote or at a specific location, as well as whether it’s a contract position or a freelance position.
- Freelance Writing Gigs: Freelance Writing Gigs has a job board on their site as well. Consider checking it each morning to review any new jobs that look appealing to you.
- Upwork: Projects are listed on Upwork and you have the opportunity to submit a bid. Many times this leads to ongoing work. I know a lot of writers who have been successful on this platform. If you want to make sure you create a proposal that will stand out, I suggest using this template: Upwork Freelance Writer Proposal Template.
- Craigslist: There are two places to locate writing work on Craiglist. Choose “Writing/Editing” under the Jobs tab or “Writing” under the Gigs tab. You don’t have to stick to your city either. Many of the jobs are remote, so I suggest checking all the big cities as well.
- MediaBistro: From the homepage, you can use the search bar to screen for specific writing jobs or click on the “Copywriter Jobs” button.
- Social Media: Twitter and Facebook post job ads all the time. I’ve used Facebook successfully in the past. There are groups dedicated to posting writing jobs for beginners, so do a search and join a few. The communities are also quite encouraging and helpful when you need it!
- FlexJobs: Currently, FlexJobs reports having just under 30,000 jobs that need to be filled. Use the search box to check for freelance writing opportunities.
Content Mill Sites:
When you’re just starting out, you’ll find it easier to get in with a few content mill sites. The pay will be less, but you can stick with it long enough to build up a resume.
- Textbroker: Once you do quality work for Textbroker, you’ll start getting invited to teams, which have more work and a higher pay rate.
- WritersDomain: This is one of the first places that I used to get started in the writing world. The company is still going strong today, which is why I highly recommend them for beginners.
- BeWriters: The only thing I don’t like about BeWriters is that they require a sample task at no pay. If you are new to freelancing and you don’t have any work to place on a resume, I suggest joining and doing the sample task in order to get the job. Once you’re established, however, never do sample work for no pay.
- Writer Access: I have a lot of friends who started out with Writer Access, so I can recommend them with confidence. This company also needs editors, graphic designers and videographers if you have any of those skills.
- Scripted: Scripted pays a bit more than other content mills, so it’s worth applying. They also reward writers who consistently do a good job.
- Constant Content: With Constant Content, you don’t claim assignments like other content mills. Instead, you create articles and post them for sale. I’ve sold several articles on this site, so I feel that it’s worth including in the list.
- Top Content: Another option is to sign up with Top Content. They need writers in 15 different languages, so if you aren’t a native English speaker, you may qualify to write in one of the other 14 languages. They also accept writers from around the globe.
- Word Agents: Word Agents only accepts writers in Canada and the USA. Pay starts at $.03 per word and payments are weekly, instead of monthly like many other sites.
Create a Resume and Promote Yourself:
Whether you’re applying to freelance writing companies, or specific job ads, you’ll want to have a resume that stands out.
There are several ways you can go about this, and you may even want to do more than one.
Method 1: PDF Resume You Can Upload
With sites like Indeed, you’ll need to be able to upload your resume. You can create one in your Word program or use a template.
If you have the money, I suggest investing in hiring a professional to create your resume. Both Etsy and Fiverr offer this service at an affordable price. You can use this as a business expense on your taxes.
Without a good resume, you won’t land quality/higher paying jobs. Some things are worth investing in.
Additionally, if you plan on writing in more than one niche, you’ll need a separate resume for each niche. For example, you won’t submit a resume for a gardening content writer using a resume that highlights your finance credentials.
Create one resume that highlights your experience in the finance niche and another that highlights your gardening expertise.
Method 2: Create an Online Portfolio
Some jobs will allow you to link to a resume/online portfolio. I have mine in two places.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great place to create an online resume for your freelance writing business. I’ve had so many companies reach out to me with job opportunies, which means I’ve landed jobs I never even had to apply for.
You can also provide a link to your LinkedIn profile on your freelance writing job applications. From there, clients can view your experience, education, skills, etc.
Contently: The second place I have an online resume is Contently. This is because Contently allows you to neatly display samples of your writing.
Any client that wants to check out your writing style can quickly click on one of the articles you placed on your Contently resume and get a good idea of what you are capable of.
Method 3: Build a Freelance Writer Website
Advertise your services on your own author website. This is definitely the way to go once you’ve got some experience under your belt.
With your own website, you can create pages that list your pricing and services, as well as pages with samples of your work.
You can present testimonials from previous clients and create contact forms for new potential clients. There really is no limit to what you can do with a website.
I personally use Wealthy Affiliate for all of my website. This is because you can do everything from this one platform. You can get your domain, build your website, have your website hosted, and get a ton of community support and encouragement.
Freelance Writing Business Names
When you opt for Method 3 above, you may find it beneficial to consider freelance writing business names over your author name.
Not only does this make you stand out, but it also allows for growth. Instead of being Jane Smith, for example, you may opt for the business name A+ Media.
If you have more clients than you can handle, you’ll be able to contract out some of the work, having advertised your business and not your own personal services.
Trouble coming up with a business name? Try BusinessNameGenerator.com.
How Much Should a Freelance Writer Charger Per 1,000 Words?
How much freelance writers get paid varies based on several factors.
- Experience: With no experience, you’ll need to accept lower-paying jobs until you can build up a resume. The more content you have in your portfolio, the more you’ll be able to charge new clients.
- Niche: There are several niches that command a higher price per word. They include health and medical writing, tech niches and legal content.
- Client: Larger companies are able to afford to pay their writers more per word than small companies and start-ups. You may get $.03 per word at a content mill, while a larger well-known company pays $1.00 per word for the same content.
The important thing is that you are constantly growing. You can always keep your current low-paying job while you apply for higher-paying opportunities.
Don’t forget that cost-of-living is different across the US and across the globe. I’ve had friends that live in a state with a lower cost-of-living, and therefore, they didn’t need to earn as much as me in order to make ends meet.
NEVER let anyone rate shame you. I’ve been a part of several Facebook groups that have members who rate shame. That’s terrible in my opinion. If you are finding work that is helping you make ends meet, take it.
If the rate is low, keep working at it until you land something that pays a bit more. There’s always room to grow. There’s always the ability to raise your rates later on.
Also, I don’t pay much attention to price per word. Calculate how much you’re earning per hour instead.
Here’s why. One client may offer you $.10 per word, but require interviews and photo sourcing. Another may offer $.08 per word, but have no extra requirements.
After completing the assignments, you may actually find you’re earning more per hour with the $.08 per word freelance writing job.
How to Start a Freelance Writing Business: Important Tips
Remember that your freelance writing online jobs will be treated as a business come tax time. That means you need to be paying Estimated Taxes on your income each quarter to the IRS.
I keep track of my income in a binder, however, you can also use software or an Excel sheet to do this.
In addition to paying estimated taxes, you should be keeping track of all of your business expenses. This includes any desktop or laptop purchase you make, Internet fees, business cards, ink for your printer, etc.
You’ll be able to deduct additional costs related to your workspace area, for example, you can deduct the portion of your heating and electric bills that is associated with your office/workspace.
I use TurboTax to file my self-employment taxes each year, as it’s super easy to follow and guides me through all the deductions that I can take.
You may wish to pay for an accountant to do your taxes. You can even request a consult with an accountant when you start your freelance writing business to get tips on how best to handle the finance side of the business.
Growing Your Freelance Writing Business
There are several ways to grow your freelance writing business.
One way to grow your freelance writing business is to invest in education. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to college to get a degree, although that is an option.
I have always been good with money and I really enjoyed working in the finance niche. I decided to invest in becoming a master financial coach.
I got my certification and that certification landed me much much higher paying work. So although it was a sacrifice in both time and money, that education paid off big in the long run.
So, I am a firm believer that a freelance writing business for beginners should include education.
Consider your niche and what certifications and courses you could take that would add real value to your resume.
Coursera is one place that allows you to earn professional certificates, many at an affordable price. Some courses even have Financial Aid available that you can apply for.
Edx offers certifications, micro degrees and full degrees, so you may want to check out what they have to offer.
You can even check colleges and universities for free courses. Harvard has 120 free courses on their website.
I’ve landed several lucrative writing jobs simply by networking with other writers. We developed a friendship and then when their companies were hiring, they recommended me.
I have also recommended other writers to my clients and gotten them steady writing work.
Facebook and LinkedIn are two of the best places to network in my opinion, but you can certainly connect on other social media sites as well.
Marketing yourself may feel awkward and first, but it is the best way to get the word out about your services.
You can promote your website or create pitches for companies you feel could benefit from your services.
I’ve heard so many success stories from writers who took a chance and reached out to a company to let them know how they could improve their business.
The worst that can happen is you hear a “No” or radio silence, but if you get a “Yes,” you may end up with a well-paying gig!
In Conclusion: Is Freelance Writing a Good Business?
100% Yes, a freelance writing business is an excellent home-based business if you are skilled in the art of writing.
I got my start in freelance writing, as I was looking for a way to support my girls that still allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom. My youngest has a severe neuro-genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome, so I needed to be home for her.
Over time, I was able to grow my business and make great money, while still being able to be there for my family. You really can’t beat that freedom!