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Can You Make a Living as a Freelance Writer?

This isn’t one of those articles pitching a course on how to make a six-figure income by writing.

A small percentage of freelance writers do pull down six-figures, but the vast majority of those who consider themselves successful at full-time freelance writing is not.

But they are making comfortable five-figure incomes.

If that’s your goal, you can make it happen if you have the skills:

Grammar and spelling without errors is a must.

There are tools, software and online, to help you in self-editing what you write. They can take care of many grammar and most spelling errors.

However, they are not perfect, and will not help when it comes to knowing the difference between “their, they’re, and there.” The same goes for “your, and you’re.”

A spell-checker will see all of those as correct, but only one of each is right for the sentence usage.

And, if you don’t know when to use an apostrophe, then you won’t know why one writer drove off the road laughing when he saw a sign reading simply “HORSE’S.” Horse’s what?

A problem in these areas isn’t necessarily a deal-killer, but if spelling and grammar are a challenge, you will have to work much harder at self-editing your work and proofreading it multiple times.

You will spend more time cranking out the work that delivers your income.

It’s best to write about what you know.

You can research online and write about topics of which you have little knowledge. When you do though, you take on a higher risk that your customer who knows more than you on the subject will not accept your work or will not hire you again.

You’ll also spend a lot more time cranking out your product: words. When you write about what you know, you write faster and with more accuracy.

Your first step in getting started should be to sit down and do a self-assessment and write down what you know and what you’ve done in your life, as well as your work experience.

Every job you’ve held has some value, as there are websites and companies out there wanting content about every topic and activity on the planet.

Include your hobbies in your experience review. If you’ve ever done any online searches on your hobbies to learn more or find products, you’ve seen websites that need content on the hobby.

Sit down and write down a list of every topic, activity, or interest you’ve had in your life, and that’s your list of writing subjects to get you started in searching for work opportunities.

Get an idea of how to charge for your work and how much.

When you begin to seek work on the freelance websites, you’ll see that there are three main ways in which buyers expect to pay for writing.

  1. You keep track of time, and they pay you by the hour.
  2. They compensate you based on the number of words.
  3. They pay you on a piece basis, a set amount for each article or blog post.

Unless and until you become known for good work and you’re in demand (it can happen in your chosen topic niche), you will not be able to state a price and expect to get it.

You’ll have to compete and bid for work. You can work for less than your desired rate to get your feet wet and some good reviews on the freelance sites, but at some point, you want to seek compensation that is worth your effort and skill.

As you build a body of delivered work on one or more freelance sites, you’ll also be building a reputation, and buyer reviews will be important.

Start out working for less than you would like if that is what it takes to get work and get established.

As you build that reputation, you’ll get repeat work, and you will be able to increase your compensation.

Sign up with freelance sites and start seeking work.

You can usually get a free account with the larger freelance sites, though it usually means their percentage or fee taken for your delivered work will be higher than if you have a paid account.

The free account is a great way to start though, as you have no overhead cost to get your feet wet and start building your writing reputation on the site.

A few of the most popular freelance writing sites are:

If you can find work in topics or areas in which you have the most experience, stay in those niches as much as possible while you’re learning the ropes.

If you know a lot about the building trades, look for work writing articles in that niche. You’ll have less research to do, and you will deliver quality relevant copy that should get you good reviews.

Build an impressive profile on the sites.

Until you build a track record and even after, you want to have a freelance site profile that will show buyers that you know about their topic and have the skills necessary to write about it.

State the things you did in your job, areas of responsibility, and any recognition, awards or related licenses you held.

If you took college courses in writing, make sure you mention them, and a degree in journalism or related expertise will help a lot.

Especially when you’re getting started, this is critical, as your profile is the only thing the buyer will see as they evaluate your bid and those of your competition.

Conclusion

Making a nice income on your schedule and anywhere you want to work is possible as a freelance writer.

Starting out, work cheap, then work up.

Do the work to build your portfolio and get good reviews; then you work your compensation up as you go.

Many writers have started out working for 2 to 3 cents per word or $10 to $12 per hour, but their income after they are established grows quickly.

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