May 31, 2010 Jason

How to Become a Freelance Writer

(Updated Aug 2018)

The reason for my update today is because one of the writers at blogging.com reached out with a whack of resources to update my list. Check out this article on blogging.com for a much better (and more recent) list of resources to help you become a freelance writer. 

OK, so you’re tired of your 9-5 job, but you’re not quite ready to retire yet. You’ve heard there are huge opportunities in the freelance world, and you think now is the time to make the switch. Congrats!

Welcome to the life of the freelancer; where you can sleep in, wear pyjamas until noon, knock off whenever you want to, and the only exercise you have to do is the walk to the mailbox to pick up the piles of cheques (this is how we Canadians spell ‘checks’).

I’ve got good news and bad news.

First, the good news: the part about the pyjamas was true. Probably.

The bad news – you’ve got to work harder than you ever did before. Remember when you were in the office, thinking “It’s all pensionable time”? Well, now pretty much every hour you’re earning money took two hours to get the job.

That being said – it’s a pretty good gig if you’re able to motivate yourself to git ‘r done.

I wrote this post to give you a few links that I’ve found useful to find new freelance jobs. What I’d like in return? Your questions about freelancing, your thoughts on it, what you like about hiring freelancers, and what you do to cope financially as a freelancer.

So, if you want to give freelancing a try, check out these links. When you’ve landed a few jobs, managed to get paid for them, and with any luck, received positive feedback, then maybe start thinking about doing this full time.

Update: regardless of your views on jobboards, these sites get a ton of traffic from potential customers looking for writers. My suggestion for you to get started is to use these jobboard sites as a testbed to learn how to land new clients. The tips and tricks you use to get noticed on these super-competitive sites can be used to find better clients in the real world.

  • Elance.com Upwork.com – Good site, with new jobs opening all the time. You’re competing on the global level, so sometimes the pay is a tad low. Tad being a massive understatement.  The free account lets you bid on up to 10 projects each month, and like most of these sites, you can get regular emails about new jobs. update: the site has changed a fair bit (merged with odesk and changed the name to upwork). I’ve heard a rumor that they’re not accepting new copywriters, but if you’re already there, check out some of the folks that claim to be making a killing there, such as Danny Margulies, the six-figure Upworker – there are also a ton of folks willing to take your money to help you succeed on Upwork. Keep in mind that there are some people that can do, and some that can teach. Finding the ones that can do and can teach is…tricky.
  • Odesk.com – Similar to elance, but not quite as busy.  Good tools to use, and has a free trial. update: odesk isn’t just similar to upwork – they were assimilated by them.
  • Getafreelancer.com – free to sign up and bid on projects, layout isn’t as intuitive as elance or odesk, but it’s not bad
  • Freelanceswitch.com – pay service with a monthly fee, but the jobs here tend to be a bit more professional. update: freelanceswitch was a great resource, but they were shut down by Envato.
  • Guru.com – very similar to elance and odesk.  Lots of work, lots of competition; not a lot of $$
  • Constant-content.com – for writers only, but a decent way to build a portfolio.  The ability to sell all the rights, or just some of them, to your market.  Low price point, but as you write more, and sell more, you should be able to adjust your rate.  Be warned – if you submit 3 articles and they don’t accept them, they won’t accept any more work from you.  They also have a good affiliate setup – so if you sign up, please use the link I’ve provided.

Now that you have a few places to find work, give it a try. For the most part, it won’t cost you much. The sad part about that – you likely won’t earn that much. But, if it gets you paid for writing/designing/consulting, isn’t that a step in the right direction?

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” ― Stephen King

Good luck – I’ll try to add more on this topic if you’re interested. (update – no, I probably won’t)

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