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The Complete Noob Guide to Freelance Writing



There are a lot of people who dream of becoming a freelance writer. Some people have a passion for the art and others like the idea of being their own boss and working remotely. The freedom commonly associated with freelance writing draws in a lot of work-at-home parents, college students and even seasoned writers. If you’re serious about becoming a freelance writer, it’s important that you learn all you can about the field, so that you can improve your chances of being a success.


It’s also common for people and businesses to hire a freelance writer for personal and business-related projects. There are different types of freelance writers on the market, but finding the perfect one can take time. What you’re looking for and your budget is important to know before you begin looking for a freelancer.


What is a Freelance Writer?

A freelance writer is someone who writes content for a client on a freelance basis. This means that you are not an employee of the client and that it’s not guaranteed consistent work. Some freelance gigs are long-term and others only last a few weeks or days. You can think of service jobs like painters, plumbers, and pest control as freelancers, since they are hired sporadically by different people and companies. The great thing about freelance writing is that it allows clients to spend money on a per assignment basis and writers don’t have to be obligated to just one client.


How to Become a Freelance Writer


Freelance writing


The requirements of a freelance writing position depend on the client that’s doing the hiring. Some will require that you have a four-year degree others will accept skill or experience only. As a newbie, you can’t showcase your experience, so you’re going to have to look for work that is seeking candidates with a degree (in English, Communications, Journalism, etc.) or that will accept samples that showcase your skills. There are a lot of startups out there who are willing to give new writers a try. Some of the lower paying clients are also more likely to hire newbies as well. To help you get acquainted with freelancing, there are short freelance writing courses that you can take online, or you can simply go to your local library and read related books to familiarize yourself with it.


How to Build Your Reputation and Experience


When you’re first starting out, you’ll hear recommendations to do internships or complete projects for free. This could help you to get much-needed samples and even references that can vouch for you when applying for future paying work. The other route is to look for low paying jobs that a lot of the experienced writers won’t take. This at least allows you to get paid, while gaining some experience. Maintaining a portfolio either online or on your computer will help to organize your samples, so that you can offer a professional presentation to prospects.


Where to Look for Freelance Writing Work


The Internet is a great resource for finding freelance work. There are various sites, like,,,,, and A simple Google search can provide you with a list of results for sites to find work.


How to Apply for Freelance Writing Jobs


Depending on where you go to find your work, you’ll either have to email the prospective client or use the online system or form to submit your application and resume online. Since you are new, you should instead submit a CV (if you have one worth sending). Otherwise, send along a cover letter and samples. When writing emails to clients, make sure that you use professional language. Always proofread your messages before sending them – after all, this is your first impression and since you’re being hired to be a writer, your editing and writing skills will show through this first form of contact.


Types of Freelance Writing Jobs


There are different types of jobs you can find in the freelance writing field. It’s a good idea to find a niche, like health and fitness, business, personal finance, insurance, parenting and so on. When you first start out, you can dibble and dabble in different areas, and eventually, you’ll find the niches that you enjoy writing about the most. Try to choose one that has consistent job postings, so that you can keep a steady flow of work coming your ways.


There are also different forms of writing. You may want to position yourself as an SEO writer (search engine optimization), copywriter (sales content), news writer or eBook writer. Writing for the Internet can be very rewarding if you can learn how to write for it. It’s a bit different than print writing because you have to focus on writing for search engines, as well as for people with short attention spans. Familiarizing yourself with online writing techniques is important, unless you plan to write for magazines and newspapers.


What to Charge for Your Writing


When you first start out, you don’t have much control over what you’ll be paid. You are at the mercy of the clients and whatever available jobs that will accept your newbie status. At first, you’re going to have to look for work that is lower-paying or non-paying. Once you have gained momentum and built an impressive portfolio, you can start looking for higher paying work. Lower paying jobs typically pay between .01 and .02 per word, mid-range is between .03 and .10 and the higher paying gigs can be an upwards of $1.00 per word, sometimes more. It’s a lot more common to find work in the low- to mid-paying range.


How to Get Paid for Your Work


At the end of the day, the most rewarding part about being a writer (other than pleasing your clients) is getting paid for your hard work. There are different ways you can receive payment for your writing. If you have a bank account, you can open a PayPal account to receive payments. Or if you prefer the old way of doing things, you can request a check. Keep in mind that personal checks are harder to cash without a personal bank account. Otherwise, business/payroll checks should be preferred, since these can be cashed anywhere.



How to Hire a Freelance Writer



When you’re in the market for a freelance writer, it’s important to determine what skills, experience, pay ranges and expertise the freelance writer should have. Finding a freelance writer isn’t hard to do once you know what you’re seeking. The Internet is a great place to find potential writers. Before you begin your search for a freelancer, you have to pinpoint what type of writer you are in need of. You’ll need to hire a freelance writer who is capable of writing in the style you are looking for. For example, if you have a new business Web site, you’ll need a freelancer who is familiar with business writing and writing for SEO. The language used for a blog post would be much different, so if you need content for a blog, then a blogger would be more suitable. Those who are looking for sales content for a landing page, product line, email campaign or e-commerce Web site, will find a copywriter to be sufficient.


Level of Expertise and Experience


Your writing project likely requires a certain level of expertise and experience. For instance, you may need content that will cater to a particular market of people, like business executives, health care professionals or well-educated consumers. It’s necessary to hire a writer who has the expertise to write for the target audience of your project. The level of experience comes down to personal preference. There are instances where a recent college grad with little to no experience can complete the job satisfactorily. However, you may need someone who has experience with a certain business field and its lingo, which would require an experienced person for the task. You’ll have to assess your project to determine exactly what you need, so that you can find a writer with the right skill sets and resume.


What to Pay Writers


You can expect to pay more for writers who have many years of experience, with or without a college degree. For a lot of people, experience outweighs education, since you learn more about how to complete actual assignments in the real world. If your project doesn’t require a high level of expertise or experience, you can expect to pay writers between .01 to .05/word. You can browse around for the market rate and going rate for your particular project, so that you can set a price range that’s within your budget. Sometimes asking for candidates to give quotes to compete for the position can work better for your budget. However, make sure that you don’t go with the lowest bidder based on price alone. Make sure that they have the style of writing you’re looking for.


Where to Look for Freelance Writers


There are many places you can browse for freelance writers. Some sites you may have some luck with include,, and On sites like Odesk and Elance, you can set up a profile and workstation, so that you can keep track of project progress. On these platforms, you’re able to pay writers by the hour, which is calculated by the platform. The writer clocks in and out each day they work. If you need better organization when working with a group of freelancers, then this could help you better manage projects and workers.


Request Samples to Ensure Quality


When you’re looking for a freelance writer, past samples and a resume can help you determine their skill set, but to better ensure their quality, a sample should be requested. This could be a short sample or a paid trial sample that you can actually use if you find it suitable. When you’re dishing out money for samples, make sure to be very selective, so that you don’t end up overspending for content you may not even use.


How to Pay Your Freelance Writers


If you have a bank account, you can use it to pay your writers using services offered by PayPal or Google Wallet. Some writers don’t mind being paid via check. This is ideal for companies that have a payroll department that issues payroll checks. If your business offers direct deposit, you can see if writers would prefer that option. It’s important to discuss this with your writers ahead of time, so that you can determine which form of payment is preferred.


The freelance writing is a lucrative field that can prove to be beneficial to both ends of the deal – the writer and the client. When you know what to look for, you can get the client or writer you need for your business objectives. With this guide, you should be well on your way to finding work or writers in no time.


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Cameron Mackey

Cameron is the Content Manager for the Vorongo Blog. He has spent three years in various content marketing roles. When he is not working with Vorongo he enjoys photography and hiking.

One response to “The Complete Noob Guide to Freelance Writing”

  1. is dreadful. They take your money, if you’re a writer, once a deal is made. They take their vig right off the bat. Unreal. I recall being charged $400 right off the bat without any warning. They are not ethical. Thankfully I’ve been a long time Paypal customer and the charges were reversed. With Odesk you’re up against the third world countries that might charge $3.00 for a 500 word post. It’s generally garbage, but buyers fall for it. It’s not easy out there for writers.