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Freelance writing is very lucrative. You can earn $300 or even more per article as a beginner. The most important thing is that you set yourself up for success the right way.

A lot of people are looking in the same places you are and they are willing to produce far more for far less money.

For that reason, for you to make a decent side income or even full time income freelancing, you will have to follow the following steps:

> Start with any job you can get but try to niche down as you continue

> Build your portfolio (I will show to if you have no experience)

> Improve your writing

> Get out there and look for work (I will tell you where to look)

> Learn how to pitch

> Network with other writers

I have been a freelance writer since college and I have made many mistakes.

I recently got a steady freelance writing job to ghost write guest posts for a website trying to improve their Google rankings.

It has taken a lot of pain and tears to get here but I made it and in this article I will tell you what to do and all the mistakes I made as a beginner for you to avoid.


At the beginning of any career, you have to take whatever job that comes your way. You apply to any writing job board and even cold pitch to multiple websites.

However technical writers or writers with a perceived expertise in a specific niche get more and better paying freelancing jobs.

My best paying jobs are often for legal SEO or any other kind of legal writing.

Distinguish yourself by building a brand, an expertise. This is not very hard to do. Here is how:


The way you distinguish yourself from every teenager and their moms applying for the same freelancing jobs is by looking like a professional. Even if you do not have experience, you can do this within the next 24 hours.

i. Have samples at hand.

Obviously this is the easiest one and so the least effective way to establish professionalism. However, you are far better off than people who have nothing.

Take a topic you can really write well. Write a few exceptional pieces and save them to Google docs and create a link to them that you will include in your pitches.

Make sure your writing is the best you can produce. More on improving your writing in point number 3.

ii. Guest posting

There are very many established websites which accept writers to guest post. These sites like Thought Catalog and The Minds Journal may not pay or may pay very little but having an article on their site will boost your portfolio immensely.

In whatever niche you want to work in and hopefully dominate, search for sites that accept guest posts and submit your best piece.

You can find these sites by searching niche + write for us or niche + guest posting for example below is the search results for productivity + write for us. The more reputable the site the better.

iii. Start your own blog

This is the best and most lucrative option. Open a blog and put your best five or ten articles, a service page and your contacts then use it to market yourself.

Having your own website makes you look very professional and it will take you less than one hour to set up and for only $3.95/month on Bluhost billed annually.

You can build a successful blogging business while concurrently building a freelance business.

I started my blog to make money from it and one of the ways I have been able to do that is by using it as a portfolio to get freelance clients.

Do not use any free hosting site where your web address looks like or or wix site or anything of that kind. It will hurt your portfolio instead of helping it.

If you are really broke and cannot afford to invest the $3.95, in this article, I tell you how I got with blogger and GoDaddy for only $0.99.

In conclusion, pick a direction and do it well. I wouldn’t advise that you do not heavily rely on just having samples. Try to have at least one guest post from a reputable site as well.

The best option is always to start your own blog because of the potential for making income on your blog as well.


You do not need to write like a Pulitzer contender but you do need to have a passable mastery of the English language and have good grammar.

In order to become a good writer, simply write more and read more. That is literally it.

Always proofread and use Grammarly to spot issues with sentence structure, spelling and things like that.

As a beginner pitching to mid range sites, you can sign up for the free version of Grammarly and if you are pitching to more high end and well paying sites, you may need the extra help of Grammarly premium.

To be honest, I relied on Grammarly heavily in the beginning of my career. However, these days when writing blog posts, I don’t use it that much and it has begun to show. 

Despite reading and rereading my work, typos still make their way into the final and published work. I guess it is because I know my blog readers are not as unforgiving as editors and I stopped pitching for freelance jobs.

Another aspect of a good writer is the ability to engage readers. This is not taught. It is something you will learn from reading books and writing often.


A lot of freelancing jobs are not found cold pitching to strangers on the internet.

Many of the people you know in real life need writers to help them with resumes, content marketing, business proposals, reports and so on.

My highest paying freelance job was writing court documents for an advocate.

I got the job through a friend. I later wrote legal SEO for that friends website.

I have written for a local newspaper through connections with a classmate.

Another aspect of networking as a freelancer is joining Facebook groups for freelancers.

The community will not only teach you but also support you. Whenever opportunities come up, you will be the first to find out as a group member.

You know where your potential clients hangout so spend time with them. I am friends with a lot of web designers because they often call me to write content for the sites they build.

I am friends with a lot of my law school friends who always come to me when they need legal research and writing. I even wrote legal SEO for a former boss.


Now, the most important part of freelance writing is pitching. Pitching is not just selling yourself, it is offering someone value. 

The most important thing you need to know about pitching is that you need to have thick skin. Rejection is part of the game.

Especially at the onset, you will get rejected a lot. In fact majority of your cold pitches will go unanswered. Do not sweat it. Just keep improving and doing it.

For a more in depth article on pitching, click here. Plus pitching samples included.


Now you are ready to start looking for jobs armed with your simple portfolio, good writing skills, Grammarly and your sample pitches. So where do you actually find freelance writing jobs?

i. Your networks

Best place to begin is with people you know. Tell your family and friends that you are getting into freelance writing and that if they hear of any opportunities to let know. When they need a writer, they will think of you first.

Even better is pointing it out for them. A friend of mine had a website for his business with no content and that is how I landed a gig. We were out one day when I offered to write content for his website and he agreed.

ii. Job Board 

Believe it or not, they still work. Online job boards, twitter and Facebook freelance writing job board groups and pages.

Even UpWork, Fiverr and all the upcoming freelance writing websites. Just read honest reviews about the sites and get cracking.

Remember that technical writers who offer some sort of expertise do much better than general writers. Having a legal degree and my friends website as a part of my portfolio has made me get multiple opportunities as a legal writer. 

iii. Guest blogging

The only guest blogging that I have done is with websites which pay writers a set amount for each submission.

An example is The Minds Journal pay $10 per article. I did not however take the process seriously and I never went back to check if they accepted my submission or not. I should do that.

A lot of websites often have a write for us page where they ask for submission, give guidelines and even specify the amount payable for each submission. Here is a list to check out.

Another form which I have never tried but a lot of people in the freelance writing space swear by is writing free articles for a site in the hopes that one day they will hire you. I get the sentiment but I cannot really speak about it authoritatively.

iv. Cold pitching

Full disclosure, I have tried it many many times bu I have yet to be successful at cold pitching. Cold pitching is where you see that a person, business or website could benefit from your services and so you let them know.

Normally you are not responding to any call for submissions or any ask on their part for services like yours.

Here are some cold pitching samples written by someone other than yours truly.

Success as a freelancer is very much possible. Pro tip: do not overlook your networks. People you have worked with, friends and family. Most people need a writer at one point or another. Just be on the look out for them. Another pro tip: start blogging.

Comment down below if any of these tips resonate with you. 

To check out other ways you can make money online as a writer, read this article.

For an article on how to make money blogging, click here and for the best writing tools, click here.