Thoughts about freelancing?



I want to earn some money as a freelance writer, but I am very new to this field and any advice or info would be much appreciated :slight_smile:


What kind of freelancing? Nonfiction articles? Journalism? Technical writing? Business communications?


There are websites that will pay people to write one-time articles and blogs.
But most of those require you to be over 18, have Paypal, a portfolio, etc. All the standard stuff. :stuck_out_tongue:

I would be very careful on where you give your info to. Always do your research on each website. c:


fiction writing/ghost writing


so far i’ve signed up on reputable websites only, and have contacted some people…


To my knowledge, ghost writers and writers for hire (like LJ Smith) are chosen from an agent’s or publisher’s stable of known writers.

@authorhlumelo is doing some interesting work-for-hire so he might be able to point you in a direction I’m not familiar with.


Give us a shout on Wattpad, if you like.

Have you figured out how much you want to make and how many words you can manage a day? Word count will give you a better idea than hours since your rates will likely be based on the former.

I’ll admit, it’s not the easiest way to earn a spare buck, let alone a living. There are already so many freelancers with more experience, shinier portfolios, and a pocket full of recommendations. But it’s not the worst way to go either, and there are ways to get your foot in the door.


As in writing short fiction for magazines?


In the same boat and don’t know where to start. How are you going about it?


I’m currently a freelance ghostwriter who is building up a larger client list. I’m still getting my feet under me and have had positive and negative experiences with clients. If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them, just don’t ask me about actually filing taxes, I just barely started making enough to do that.


With due respect, why would someone want a ghost writer that is new? Usually ghost writers are used by people who don’t have the “writing skill” so they are looking for someone with extensive experience.


This seems to be the biggest barrier keeping out people looking to get started. What I’ve found is that a lot of writers get discouraged because:

a. They’re looking in the wrong places for work (on Upwork, for example, you live and die on the strength of your resume)

b. The only people willing to pay them anything can only offer sub-human rates. Like, “someone has scratched the bottom of the barrel and whatever’s left is yours” money. I got started on the latter and burned out after each project because there was just no incentive to put 30 hours into something that would only yield peanuts.

But there are ways for new freelancers to get a foot in the door – you just can’t be a new writer. It’s a job, one that requires skills and an understanding of the industry. I had three and a half years of seriously studying craft to help me out, not a lot in the grand scheme, but I had the basics of good writing, and research into both indie and trad publishing had made me sensitive to what markets and readers wanted. Those two things made a big difference, but they were still no substitute for a strong resume.

One way to build the experience, resume, and skillset that’d let a freelancer stand on their own is to go through an agency. The best ones curate their own teams of writers. I got into a pretty good nonfiction one because they happened to be recruiting for a fiction team too. They didn’t need experience, they just needed you to write well, meet deadlines, understand and execute what clients wanted. The process involved applying via email, being asked to write a sample based on specific guidelines, and if you got through that, an interview. Once I was in, I was free to accept whatever projects the agency took on, because clients were paying for the agency’s stamp of quality, not yours as an individual. The pay’s not lavish compared to what seasoned pros are making – and a big reason why I’m able to live off it is the dollar-rand exchange rate and cost of living in South Africa – but I can support myself on it, and in the greater schemes of things, I’m still at the bottom of the ladder with plenty of rungs available to me.

That said, it’s not for everyone, and that’s just something a lot of people aren’t honest with themselves about. I feel like that needs to be stated up front. It’s fun setting your own hours, but it’s not fun when you suddenly find yourself with 14 000 words that need to be written in a day because you didn’t organise your week properly. I write 5000 words a day, five days a week. That’s time I could be spending on my own work (although the silver lining is I get to put money away to invest in my own work when I finally take the indie plunge).

Too long, didn’t read?

It’s a job, treat it like one, and, to paraphrase @MichaelJSullivan, the first step is getting your service to a place where people would be willing to pay for it.


I hope you’re keeping stats about what you’re writing, how many words, how quickly, etc. Those will be great on your resume (depending, of course, on what you’re trying to get).

The upside of a writing job is, well, writing. That’s the downside too. By the time you’ve written all day, it’s easy to be too tapped out to spend time on your own stuff.

It does, however, instill the discipline you need to be a professional writer. You don’t get to have writer’s block. You have a certain number of words to produce – at a certain level of quality – and you WILL get it done, or you won’t get paid.

And you get the bonus of entertaining me with stories from the writing trenches.


Anything freelance doesn’t pay as well as you might think. Being freelance means you are being “paid by the project” and not by the hour.

Think of yourself as Peter Parker applying to become a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle and being told that “300 bucks” is the going rate for a set number of Spiderman photos.

(This is why in the second movie, you see him as a pizza delivery guy.)


Yup. I know that I have six hours completely to myself every day (07:00-13:00) before the niece comes home. The 5k gets done in that time for many reasons: the house is quiet, I’m naturally a morning writer, I have the whole rest of the day to build up the creative well for the next day’s haul.

Absolutely. Another consideration when building a portfolio is where the balance between generalist and specialist is. I lean towards specialist with nonfic because it’s not my natural game and I know what type of project I’m best at. Fiction, like a bag of liquorice all-sorts, although there is one genre that every freelancer needs to get comfortable with very quickly if they want to get ahead. XD

This is honestly the best skill I’ve developed since I started. Bonus is that it’s transferrable to all areas of life.

Fun fact, the cure to writer’s block is a deadline and your professional reputation being on the line. Every time.


Truth. I wrote half the word count of my published nonfiction book in the 10 days before the manuscript was due.


I hire many freelancers - some, like my cover artist is “work for hire” - which means I pay $1,200 for a cover and it doesn’t matter if it takes him 1 hour or 40 hours.

Some of my freelancers (copy/line editors) charge by the hour (usually around $30 - $50) and that’s not such a bad wage. So for them, the price of the job is based on the number of hours they spend. And yes, they give me an estimate based on word count and they’ve always come in at or below that estimate, but if they were to get get into a position of having to go over, they would have to come back with me before exceeding that amount.


Thank you all who replied! I will take this all into account. For now, its not strictly money that I am after, but rather experience. I’ve started browsing projects and contacting clients whom I know I will be able to write for.


My friend who freelances says it’s difficult the 1-2 years, because you’re building up your clientele.

But if that’s what you really want to do, then I say go for it.


Can’t that be said of any “startup” endeavor? the first few years are tough, but then people find you, you get referrals from othrers, and your business grows.