If you are drawn to freelance writing because it offers the freedom to work from anywhere, be your own boss, and set your own hours while doing work you love, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Upwork’s Freelance Forward 2022 report, about 60 million Americans are professionally freelancing!

But just what IS freelance writing, and how do you get started?

In this guide we’ll talk you through what skills you need, what types of work are available, how you find jobs, and how you get paid to write

What Is Freelance Writing?

Freelance writing means writing for hire, where you’re self-employed and not committed to a specific employer. As an independent contractor, you choose who you work for and find your own jobs.

Being self-employed is the freelance part, and the writing part can encompass dozens of different types of work. While the list below is not exhaustive, it will give you an idea of some of the most common types of work freelance writers do.


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How Do Freelance Writers Get Paid?

Freelance writers essentially write for money, and most freelance gigs pay in one of three ways:

  • Per Hour – This method requires tracking your time and charging an hourly rate. Beginners can typically charge around $15 an hour, and more as you gain experience.
  • Per Project – This method means you contract for a set of work like a month’s worth of email blasts or a blog article. The amount of time you take or the number of words you write aren’t the basis of your pay; it’s the quality and completion of the whole project that triggers payment.
  • Per Word – This payment method is more common in smaller, less complex jobs like many of the gigs on Fiverr that pay $0.01 to $0.10 per word. These small jobs help you get practice and build your portfolio. 

Types of Freelance Writing Work

  • Blogging – There are over 600 million blogs worldwide, and most major companies have a blog as a standard part of their websites. Some companies consider blog writing a subset of their overall content strategy, so you may also hear it called content writing. As a freelancer you can write for other people’s blogs or launch your own.
  • Technical Writing – If you have a knack for explaining complex concepts in a simple, digestible way, technical writing could be your calling. It involves creating user manuals, how-to guides, and product descriptions, among others.
  • Copywriting – This involves writing compelling content for brands to promote their products or services. It’s all about persuasion and conversion.
  • Content Writing – Content writers create informative and engaging content for websites, ranging from blog posts to white papers, case studies, and more. This type of work may also include social media content like writing Instagram stories or Facebook posts for clients.
  • Ghostwriting – As a ghostwriter, you’ll do the writing and the work will be published under someone else’s name. Companies outsource blog writing so they can publish frequently and predictably (like every Tuesday and Friday) to keep readers coming back. Or you can ghostwrite books or other long-form content.
  • Grant Writing – This niche involves writing proposals to secure funding for nonprofit organizations.
  • Resume Writing – Anyone who has struggled to create their own resume knows they can use some help from a pro. Resume writing involves creating professional and compelling resumes and cover letters for job seekers.
  • Article/Feature Writing – Magazines and newspapers, both print and online, often hire freelancers to write articles or features.
  • Social Media Writing – Clients may hire a freelance writer to create their LinkedIn bio or photo captions on platforms like Instagram.

Skills Freelance Writers Need To Succeed

You don’t have to have a degree or experience to get into freelance writing. But mastering certain skills can significantly enhance your writing career. 

  • Strong writing skills are a must, including excellent grammar and punctuation, as well as the ability to convey complex ideas in a clear, concise way. But it’s also important to know how to adjust your tone, formality, and style to match the assignment. 
  • SEO knowledge stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is critical for most clients. SEO writers understand how to incorporate keywords so that content ranks on search engines.
  • Proofreading: Your credibility as a writer can be easily damaged if your work is full of typos, bad grammar, or complex sentences. The FREE 4-Figure Side Hustle training gives you a step-by-step outline of becoming a highly paid proofreader.  
  • Copywriting: This writing is a type of advertising, such as email marketing and other writing that generates leads (prospective customers). Learning copywriting skills can help you write compelling content for any niche.
  • Research skills are also crucial. This involves not only digging up facts and data but also understanding the context and knowing how to apply it in your writing. 
  • Time management and self-discipline can also make the difference between a hobby and a career. As a freelancer, you’re your own boss, which means you’re responsible for meeting deadlines and maintaining a consistent work schedule. 

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How Do I Get Started as a Freelance Writer?

There’s no single best way to learn how to become a freelance writer, but here are six ideas to jumpstart the process.

  • Build a portfolio – For clients to believe you are the right writer for them, they need to see your published work. Post samples on your own website or on sites for writers like Medium. It’s okay if you don’t have a ton of samples at first — just keep writing!
  • Start a blog – When you have a blog you can direct prospects to, they can see you doing your best writing in your own voice about your favorite topics. That view into your personality may help them trust you to write for them.
  • Get your resume ready Resumes allow clients to see your full body of experience and any special education or certifications you may hold. They’re also a marketing tool — people may not remember every job you’ve held, but they may remember you had the resume with the spa colors and well-written descriptions of being a wellness writer.
  • Pick a niche – Freelance writers have diverse opinions on whether a niche — a focus on certain topics or specific types of content — is necessary. We love the niche concept because it helps new writers not feel so overwhelmed by all the possible things to write about. If you need help narrowing down your options, read more in our article about freelance writing niches
  • Update your social media presence – Your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and the About page of your website all require written content, so leverage that to show how powerful your writing is.
  • Write a lot! – Writing daily is the most powerful tool for developing your writing discipline. Whether you launch a blog, publish short stories on sites for writers like Medium or Ghost, or simply keep a journal, your writing muscles get stronger every time you face a blank page and start putting words on it. 

Tips for Finding Freelance Writing Jobs

You can find freelance writing opportunities in several ways, but they nearly all boil down to two key concepts — freelance writing job sites and pitching ideas to prospects. Job sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or ProBlogger (if you’re more experienced) help you compete for jobs of all sizes and start building your experience and exposure to clients.

Those sites can require patience, however, because you’re competing against such a large group of writers. They also take commission out of your pay.

Sometimes your fastest and most lucrative path to an assignment is to pitch your idea to a local company. Think about who you do business with — your hairstylist, favorite local gift shop, dog sitter — and ask to write a guest post on their blog or an ad on their Facebook page for their upcoming promotions.

Pros and Cons of Freelance Writing

If you think about what freelance writing is, you’re probably picturing the joy of being your own boss and getting paid to do something you love. And that’s all true, but it takes hard work. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of being a freelance writer.


  • Earning potential – Can be a lucrative side hustle or a full-time career, can earn more as you get more experienced
  • Flexibility – Can work from anywhere — home, your favorite travel locations, coffee shops — set your own hours, choose your gigs
  • Creativity – An outlet to do work you love and write about your passions


  • Unpredictable – May experience down time between jobs
  • Takes time – Can start earning fairly quickly but it can take some time to build up your credibility and experience enough to compete for higher-paying jobs
  • Administrative requirements – Finding clients, building relationships, negotiating rates, invoicing customers, tracking your expenses, understanding business taxes

Jumpstart your writing career

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Final Words

Freelance writing is hard work. It takes discipline and focus to write well and groom your business by building your portfolio and putting yourself out there for work as often as you can. 

But it has so many great benefits! It really is one of the best ways to get paid money to write. You don’t have to be an expert to start, and you can earn more money as you get better and better at your craft. 

The hardest part might be figuring out what you want to write about, so spend the time to reflect on the stories you want to tell and the legacy you want to build. By making sure that most of your writing work lines up with that mission, you can embark on an exciting and fruitful adventure as a freelance writer.


How much money do freelance writers make?

It can take a little time to build your portfolio and business, but freelance writers can realistically make $500 to $5,000+/month.

Is freelance writing a side hustle or a full-time job?

Both! It really depends on what you want it to be, but I know many writers who work it around their full-time job or their busy stay-at-home mom schedule. Career writers build their portfolio and reputation so well, they can depend on steady, full-time work.