Leaving Work Behind

New to Freelance Writing? 10 Ways to Make Money as a Beginner

Written by Nicole Dieker on July 13, 2015. 52 Comments

71 Ways EbookSo, you want to be a professional writer? No problem.

Seriously: no problem. I’m not going to say that becoming a professional, paid writer is easy – at some point, you’re going to need to sit down and type out a few thousand original words – but it is achievable.

There are plenty of ways to get paid for your writing. Maybe you’ll earn enough to make writing a lucrative side hustle, and maybe you’ll follow my example and make writing your full-time job (I write about 3,000 words a day, Monday through Friday. It isn’t easy, but it is a lot of fun).

How can you get started as a beginning writer? Here are some tips, direct from The Write Life’s new e-book, 71 Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer. I helped The Write Life put together this resource, and I’ve done a lot of these money-making ideas myself, so I know they work!

1. Start a Blog

Every writer needs a blog. It’s one of the best places for you to develop both your style and your audience.

When I started my blog, for example, I created a weekly roundup called This Week in Freelancing, where I explained how much money I’d earned that week. This series of posts eventually led to the How a Freelance Writer Makes a Living column at The Billfold, and then to the Tracking Freelance Earnings column at The Write Life.

Now, I did promise each of these tips would include a way for you to get paid for your writing. How can you make money from your own personal blog?

Well, you could spin a popular weekly income roundup into two columns for two separate publications. Or you could put up a sidebar ad, or a donate button. You can also include a “hire me!” link on your blog, so people who read your writing know that you’re a writer for hire.

2. Pitch a Guest Post

You’ve got a few favorite blogs on your daily must-read list, right? (Please say one of them is Leaving Work Behind.) Why not pitch the guys a guest post?

A lot of blogs accept guest posts, and a lot of them pay for those guest posts. Check out Sophie Lizard’s The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs, Bamidele Onibalusi’s 110 Websites that Pay You to Contribute an Article, Instantly or Tom’s Paid to Blog Jobs for ideas.

Familiarize yourself with the blog and its posting guidelines, and make your guest post pitch. If all goes well, you’ll have a byline on a website, a clip for your portfolio and money in your pocket.

3. Pitch Your Alma Mater

Your alumni magazine needs writers, and they really like to hire former students. Read your magazine’s pitch guidelines, familiarize yourself with a few back issues and send them a really compelling idea.

Here’s a tip: if you can interview another alumnus who is doing something amazing, you’ve got yourself a story. Or you can always write about how your college education prepared you for a lucrative freelance writing career!

4. Write a Listicle

Who are the top 10 Batman villains? You’re already coming up with the answer in your head – Jack Nicholson’s Joker vs. Heath Ledger’s – so why not get paid to write it down?

Sites like Listverse and TopTenz pay for clever top 10 lists, and plenty of other pop-culture sites thrive on listicles and other short, GIF-filled pieces. Figure out who’s hiring, and start pitching.

5. Self-Publish Your Book

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is ready to help you make money off your novel (or travelogue, or collection of humorous essays). Upload your book, get it Kindle-ready and then start telling everyone you know that you have a book available on Amazon. Don’t forget to write about it on your personal blog, and include an ad in the sidebar!

Don’t have a finished novel yet? Why not serialize it? Put your work up a chapter at a time, the way Andy Weir serialized The Martian on his blog. He ended up with a movie deal, by the way. Those things do happen.

6. Sign Up with a Content Site

Content writers create everything from how-to articles to Invisible Boyfriend text messages (yes, you can get paid to be somebody’s Invisible Boyfriend!). Sign up with a content site to earn money by writing these short, simple pieces.

I used to write for content sites, and here’s my advice: Get really familiar with AP Style, because content clients are going to want error-free writing. Learn as much about the site and its style as you can before taking the entry test, because if you don’t pass, you’ll probably have to wait a few months before getting another chance. Don’t try to put personality into your writing; these clients want clean, simple copy, not quirkiness and puns.

Some content sites are better than others, in terms of pay rate and quality of assignments. I really enjoyed working for Crowdsource, so take that recommendation as a jumping-off point. Content sites can be good freelance writing jobs for beginners, but you’ll likely want to move on to better-paying opportunities once you’ve strengthened your skills.

7. Become a Copywriter

Once you learn how to write clean copy for content sites, becoming a copywriter is a logical next step – and, in fact, it was one of the next steps I took after writing for content sites for about a year.

You don’t need to wait a year to get started as a copywriter, though; you can look for copy sites like Get a Copywriter and start applying for jobs. Then have fun writing everything from product copy to press releases!

8. Enter a Writing Contest

Writing contests don’t distinguish between beginning writers and established professionals. Start with The Write Life’s list of 27 Free Writing Contests and see if you can win any cash prizes.

There are some really unique writing contests out there, by the way. You could win 85 goats or a horse farm! Do some research on current writing contests and see if there are any prizes you think you can win.

9. Write Fan Fiction

You’re going to love this. Amazon Kindle Worlds is ready to pay you for canon, licensed fan fiction about television shows such as Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries and Veronica Mars.

Seriously. You get to write 10,000+ words about your favorite characters, and then Amazon will pay you 35 percent on your sales. And yes, beginning writers are welcome!

10. Pitch for Jobs

This might seem like an obvious one, but landing your first job as a freelance blogger can be as simple as submitting a few applications and crossing your fingers. It really is possible to succeed in this business with nothing more than a base level of writing ability and a willingness to work hard!

You can start by checking out the big freelance blogging jobs boards, such as ProBlogger. That said, our recommendation (naturally!) would be to check out Paid to Blog Jobs – a resource that gathers up all viable freelance blogging opportunities from across the web and ties them together in a neat package for you.

Conclusion

Use these ten ideas as inspiration to get you started on your first beginning writing project. Remember, we all started as beginners – but the more you write, the faster you’ll level up and become a professional writer.

How did you first make money as a freelance writer? Let us know in the comments below!

Nicole Dieker is a freelance copywriter and essayist. She’s also a regular contributor to The Write Life, a website for writers that recently launched a new ebook, 71 Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer.

This Isn't Just Another "Make Money Online" Blog.

I'm sure you've had enough of hollow promises and get-rich-quick schemes.

I don't buy into that stuff; it's never worked for me. Instead, I create profitable online businesses through nothing other than hard work and persistence.

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52 Responses to “New to Freelance Writing? 10 Ways to Make Money as a Beginner”

  1. venkatesh khajjidoni
    July 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    Great post for beginners like me to achieve writing success. And a question to you. How much can a beginner freelance blogger earn per moth?

    • Lisa Rowan
      July 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      Hi Venkatesh,

      Lisa from The Write Life here. It really all depends on the kind of work. A writer who lands a recurring gig with a content company or a business might make a few thousand dollars a month, depending on time spent and the rate paid.

      On the other hand, as a new writer pitching publications or blogs, the earnings may only amount to $50 to $250 a month.

      One thing to remember — sometimes you get paid long after the post has published! So you’ll need to have a good budget in place to keep you afloat.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Anton Roder
    July 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Almost all my first jobs were ghostwriting for established bloggers.

    A lot of successful online businesses find themselves in the position where their business is so successful they no longer have time to write as much as they used to and if you can adjust your writing style this is a great starting gig.

    The other reason you should consider this is it gives you the opportunity to find out more about how online businesses operate. This knowledge will help you cater your writing to offer more diverse services than just writing per se.

  3. Gayla Groom
    July 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Very helpful article; thank you! I’m following up a number of your suggestions.

  4. Adam Zetterlund
    July 14, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    These are great suggestions Nicole! I might add working through a freelance platform like elance or Upwork to the list. If nothing else, these tools offer a nice opportunity for gaining some experience and building up an assortment of clips you can use to land more contracts.

  5. Elvis Michael
    July 15, 2015 at 4:40 am

    One of the easiest ways to make money online is through freelance writing, and your suggestions are top notch! Kindle, Worlds, more specifically, could give you a huge chunk of income if your book becomes even mildly popular.

    The sky is the limit. Thanks for sharing with us, Nicole.

  6. Radhika - Fulltime Nomad
    July 31, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Great advice Nicole. I’ve been a freelance writer for 10 years now and did a lot of free/ pro-bono work to get noticed. Back then, blogging wasn’t what it is today.

    When someone asks me for advice on how to get started as a freelance writer, I always tell them to set up a blog. I hire writers for my agency now and even if someone doesn’t have a lot of experience, I will hire them if I can see and like their style of writing from their blog.

  7. SAHIL
    August 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Hi,

    I tired eDisk for 2 months, it is much better then freelancer. Thanks for sharing the list, never heard before about constant-content.

  8. Faye
    September 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Great article! I’m a beginner, having recently left my high level job to pursue my passion for writing, and really appreciate these tips. At the moment I’m focused on content sites and my blog, but would like to evolve to where I am primarily writing for private clients. I do like the sites for now though, as they help me build my portfolio and better understand all the ins and outs of the industry. So glad I found this site!

  9. Hemlata Singh
    September 24, 2015 at 4:45 am

    Informative !! I prefer to write articles for others. This article paves the way to find many fields of freelance earning. Thanks for crafting.

  10. Dave Jung
    January 23, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Sorry if I’m cynical and skeptical about all the hype.
    Partly, it’s apprehension as a “baby boomer”, no doubt (not up-to-speed) on the latest cyber-methods for making it as an established writer.
    I’m no Salinger or Bukowski, but I share their distaste for the status quo, and their perception for “seeing through the matrix”, as it often appears illusory, at best.
    Call it paranoia. I don’t trust sending my work anywhere without some type of assurance that I won’t be “mugged” and left with an empty wallet, while it gets published under some pseudonym, and the board members at the online publisher’s office share a joke about it ’til they wet their pants.
    Years ago, I had a great idea for an invention. After massive effort, including sending the drawings to both a patent attorney’s office as well as the U.S. patent office, I was left out of the loop, struggling and destitute, while someone, or a number of persons in a high ranking business enjoyed the fruits of my labor. Today, as I travel, I sometimes “see red-to-magenta” as I view the evidence of my concept. Yes, the lighted or computerized billboard.

    Don’t get me started.

  11. Chris
    February 20, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Great advice for a beginner like me! Thanks for the article and I’m looking into some of the tips. Greatly appreciated.

  12. Sharath
    April 29, 2016 at 6:07 am

    Hey there. Thank you for that informative piece. The problem with me is that I’m unaware of the niche I’m good at. I do have a not-so-popular blog where I blog about random things (I’m reviewing my college mates as of now and at least I find my posts funny). I’d be grateful if you could just peep into my blog suggest me something to write about.
    🙂 Have a good day

  13. Trevor
    April 30, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Lists are always a good one (as this post proves!)

    They can be monetised in lots of different ways – I’ve seen top 10 book lists link off to Amazon, review lists link to the products they’re reviewing and just links off to longer explanations on your own site.

    If you’re able to make the list slightly controversial or a bit longer than other people, that helps as well.

  14. Carl
    June 13, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Great post and Thanks for providing very useful information for beginners.

  15. Rajmaninder
    June 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for the post, I am a beginner and its really helpful in providing the insight!

  16. Kevin Casey
    July 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for the post! I have to disagree with the statement ‘Every writer needs a blog’, though. Beginning writers should concentrate on getting clients. Blogging, for beginning writers, takes up way too much valuable time that could be spent on aggressive self-marketing instead. ‘Brand building’ is a long, slow process that doesn’t pay the rent for ages, if ever. Statistically, over 90% of all blogs receive negligible traffic.

    I didn’t create The jet-setting Copywriter blog until I’d been working hard and making good profits as a writer for 3 years. If I’d started this blog earlier, my income would have suffered greatly along the way. Today I make so much money I can ‘afford’ to take the time out of my schedule to blog (and travel 4 months out of each year too).

    There are some great reasons to create a blog, but don’t have one just because everyone says you should. Wait until you have something you desperately want to blog about and share with the world. Blog because you’re ready to blog, not because you can…

  17. Robert Pena III
    July 27, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Great article Nicole. Thank you for taking the time to share some insight about where a beginner can get started. Writing this response makes me feel more professional.

  18. Ogwuche O.
    August 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I find this article quite stimulating. Thanks

  19. manish kumar
    August 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Nice post it is very help full… Thanx For sharing

  20. Naomi Berrett
    August 28, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Very helpful thank you! I will definately look into some of these as I find writing to be very therapudic. I’ve been looking into writing as a career for some time now and think it would be very fun.

  21. Tony Sanford
    September 5, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Nicole, This is excellent information for folk who want to get into freelance writing for income. I found some awesome tips one being to start your own blog. What better way to develop not only a writing style of your own but a reader base. That’s where I am now. It takes time but it’s well worth the investment. I look forward to trying some of the other tips in your article. Great work!

  22. Ofa Pousima
    September 8, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

  23. simon owens
    September 11, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Hi Nicole, interesting article, thanks. I made £80 for an article I wrote about ‘Bench Plaques’ last year. Writing a book on beach cleaning now! Cheers.

  24. Eze Anozie
    October 25, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I have the impression writing for other blogs though good for beginners, may suffer some rip-off.Can one make it fast?How?

  25. Rehana
    November 13, 2016 at 7:31 am

    A great Article, will be a nice start for newbie Freelancer like me. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Natalia Sulaiman
    November 15, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I found this to be very informative for me as a newbie. Though I am not sure where I stand as a writer yet but I found myself loving to write short stories. Thanks for the tips and tricks!

    Hopefully, it helps!

  27. radhe
    November 29, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    When you’re just getting started to make your own home business, you need to sit down and think. You should also write down what you need to do, just so you can reference your notes later. You’ll need notes, because if you want to start a business, there’s a lot of things you need to consider.

    What are my skills? What are my talents? What can I do to make money? Those are just a few of the many questions you should ask yourself. You need to know what your skills are, just like you need to know your talents. If you can combine those two elements together, you’ll have a way to start generating ideas for a business opportunity.

  28. Rancho Bernardo
    December 12, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    As someone who is VERY new to the world of travel writing/blogging, I can’t thank you enough for offering such detailed advice! There are a lot of resources out there, but I’ve found that the info you’ve provided throughout TPTMP is some of the most honest and thorough! Thanks again !

  29. hiya
    January 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Thnkyou nicole

  30. Mike
    January 29, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    A great Article, will be a nice start for newbie Freelancer like me. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Rhonda Wells
    February 10, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Thanks for some great info on where to go to expand my writing horizon. Already bookmarked several of your suggestions.

    I am a freelancer, and now a blogger. I grew up writing, competing in writing, writing for fun. I’m a writer. Rusty albeit.

  32. Ankit
    February 15, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for such great article. I’m glad to share that the first step worked for me. Before few months, I started placing bids on freelance writing sites to get a content writing job. Though I’m a good writer, I had not anything to prove that.
    After a few days of getting disappointment, I decided to start a blog. I was completely rookie at that time for website development in experience, but I learned a lot till now. And, now I have got an offer to write for an agency, and they told me that my blog is their appreciation and consideration factor. I’m not boasting myself, but I’m just saying what has worked for me.
    Now, after reading this article, I’ll definitely try other methods too.

  33. Ednan
    March 8, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Great insight indeed for beginners. Well, I’m a few steps behind to be called a beginner though! I was wondering if I could find a freelance work. consequently I’m trying to get out of the 9 to 5 bubble nowadays!!
    Great job Nicole!

  34. Ranjeet
    March 8, 2017 at 10:41 am

    This is really helpful for someone who is just starting out. I hope this will help me in earning some extra money online.

  35. jimm
    March 9, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Great stuff.

  36. Edwin
    March 19, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I am a complete novice at writing. I learn many useful thing from here. Maybe I should start my own blog and write more! Anyway, great article Nicole!

  37. Jon M
    March 20, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    This helped a lot, grazi

  38. edmond crawford
    April 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    I am free ;lance writer trying to break thru please help a brother out

  39. Jimmy
    May 24, 2017 at 9:11 am

    After reading this great guide. I am goona do freelance writing! Wish me good luck!

  40. DottieLynn Savage
    June 6, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Love this article! Great info for the beginning writer.

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