After some interest in my income report for June, where I made over $4,000 for freelance writing, I thought I would share some deeper insights of how I make $4,000 (and many times more) freelance writing. This was not an overnight thing, like many other writers make it seem. However, making decent money on the side is possible. Here are my top 11 tips to do so.
1. Build Up Your Portfolio
If you have never published anything, then I strongly encourage you to pitch guest submissions to get your name out there. Sites like ThePennyHoarder.com pay for guest submissions, and you do not necessarily need a lot of experience, just a great, unique pitch.
Once you have a few bylines under your belt, you can start looking for paid freelance writing work more successfully.
2. Narrow Your Focus
I use to write for any job I could get when I first started my freelance writing career. I was working all over the map and only averaging $12-20 an hour. It was mentally exhausting because I felt like I had to constantly learn new topics. I accidentally stumbled into finance writing because I have a passion for personal finance topics. Narrowing my field allowed me to move up the chart to make $50-100 per hour. I also was able to get featured on big websites, like Time, Huffington Post, Fidelity, Yahoo, and more.
Also, since I narrowed my focus, I have better success of getting finance writing jobs. Since I am considered an expert in my field, I am able to set my rates.
3. Keep Hustling
For the past ten years as a freelance writer, I have had consistent or too much work about 80% of the time. My secret to consistent work is the hustle. Even though I am comfortable with my workload as is, I still apply for new positions weekly, if I find a position in my field.
This has been extremely helpful in my line of work because publications switch editors and paths often. As proof, I lost a huge contract with a company last month because they changed their editorial direction. Thankfully the hit is not too great, since I have plenty of other work to keep me busy and provide the income.
4. Keep Pitching
I try not to leave any lull time in between my conversations with my editors/clients. If I pitch an article and they like it, I try to get that article in as quickly as possible and have a new pitch for them the next day. Pretty soon, your editor might start asking you to take on assignments.
5. Set the Time
I was very resistant against getting a babysitter to watch my girls for 10-12 hours a week because I felt guilty. My main goal was to be a stay at home mom. I should be able to do it all. Wrong! Hiring a babysitter allowed me to almost double my freelance writing income and has made me such a better mom. I am able to get that mental break that I need, and my kids get a break from me too. Now my work and play hours are defined, allowing me to really focus on my children.
6. Create Your Own Jobs
Stop waiting for the right listing to pop up. Many of the freelance positions I have worked over the years have been self-created. This means that I reached out to a local business owner or a site I was interested and asked if they were looking to hire a freelance writer. Out of around 100 emails, about 80% went ignored, but the other 20% were the gold nuggets I had been looking for.
7. Follow Your Favorite Writer
Another way I made a path for myself in writing was to look towards other freelance writers. I looked at a few freelancers that were about a step or two ahead of me. I looked at which sites they wrote at, and I just contacted the blog owner there. This also lead to me getting quite a few jobs.
8. Apply for In-House Positions
I have even applied for in-house writing positions asking them to consider using me as a freelancer. This has been only successful in one case, but I know other writers who have done this successfully for several companies. Think about it – a great freelancer could save the company a lot of money.
9. The Flow Will Come
When I first started writing, I would become victim to writer’s block and wrote slowly. I don’t have time for writer’s block or writing slowly these days. Thankfully the more I have written, the better I have gotten at my flow. If you feel clumsy or insecure writing for clients, don’t worry, things will get better. You have to just keep practicing.
10. Don’t Quit Your Day Job for Freelance Writing
If you are currently employed, don’t quit your job to pursue writing until you have established a healthy flow of clients. Remember, freelance work is not always steady. It is more of an ebb and flow. Some months the work and money come pouring in, and others you will have to practically beg for assignments and paychecks.
Also, as a writer, you only make money on what you write. Therefore, if you have a sick day or if you aren’t in the mood to write, then kiss your paycheck for the day goodbye.
11. Track Your Time
If you are serious about making money writing online, then you need to know how much time you are writing vs how much you are making. You could win an assignment for $200, but if it takes you 20 hours to write, then you just worked for below minimum wage! I created these freelance writer printable trackers to help stay on top of hours worked, clients, and submissions.
All of this to say that if you love writing or are passionate about a certain topic, then try freelance writing. I absolutely love my job, but I have known I wanted to be a writer since I was five or six. If you hate writing and think this is a quick way to make a buck, then this is probably not the right side job for you.