Tips to Becoming A Freelance Writer

Here are some real, straight-forward tips to becoming a freelance writer - no frills, no fancy language. Know what you have to do, when to do it and how. Let's face it, writing isn't that difficult for creative people like ourselves. Getting paid as a writer is. No one expects other professionals to work without payment, but when a writer asks for a fair return for his/her work it's incorrectly sometimes seen as an insult to to the art. 

A publisher once kept a book I submitted for one year before telling me they wouldn't publish it. As you know, publishers request that no submission sent to them be sent to another publisher at the same time. Working with this 'rule' what are writers meant to be eating for each year it takes for individual publishers to say no? 

This intro was written by me. The rest of this article is a guest post by Angelita Williams.

Tips to becoming a freelance writer - paid position


Landing a job as a freelance writer

Writers and other creative professionals are required to adapt to their audiences. Before pitching a story idea to any publication – newspaper, magazine, blog, etc – you must research the publication and determine what type of audience it is trying to reach.

Read comments on popular posts to see what people are talking about and search the archives to determine if your story idea is fresh.  Pitch story ideas that cover breaking news or uncovered topics and explain how your story will appeal to readers.

Attach samples of your work or include a link to your blog. (I encourage all budding writers to have a blog.) See tutorials for newbie bloggers here. Consider writing feature stories, exposés or stories on niche topics that will bring something new to the paper; but always keep the audience in mind. You can write the story before or after sending your pitch, but never include the entire article in your initial e-mail. Instead, include a summary and explain how you think it will interest readers.

If you are a new freelance writer with no connections, you may offer to allow the newspaper to publish your work in return for the byline. The benefit of this exchange will depend entirely on the relationship you cultivate with your editor. Let your editor know that any work you allow to be published for free will remain your intellectual property and will be distributed on your own blog.

Proving yourself as a dependable and capable freelancer could evolve into an internship. Granted, the position may not be paid (educational credit will be required), but a decent print portfolio with a solid recommendation from an editor will go a long way when searching for a full-time position.

Freelance writers who respond to an ad for writers may be surprised to find that the pay is lower than expected. However, established writers with reputations are often sought by editors and are paid significantly more. Experience is the true backbone of the industry, and you have to prove yourself before you can expect to earn a living or acclaim.

That being said, know what you are worth and know the worth of the publication. Receiving lower pay for a start-up that you believe in may be a better investment than receiving the same amount from a newspaper that is more likely to forget that you ever existed. Keep track of the amount of time you spend on each piece to determine how much you’re earning per hour and never be afraid to negotiate.

Benefits of becoming a freelance writer

Working as an independent contractor, you won’t have access to the same benefits as full-time employees. College is the perfect time to build your portfolio as a freelance writer because students can be covered by their parents’ health insurance plan.
Young adults are actually allowed to remain on their parent’s plans until the age of 26, so freelancing is a viable option for those who have recently graduated as well.
Full-time freelancers who are no longer eligible to be included in their parents’ plan will need to purchase their own insurance. Another option is to work full-time in a position that offers benefits and to use freelancing as a supplemental income.


Freelance writers are often paid per assignment and will need to complete a W-9 and report earnings at the end of the year. Keep your paychecks and receipts for any work-related costs. The IRS provides tax information for those who are self-employed, and don’t hesitate to ask a tax professional if you have questions.
Angelita Williams is an education blogger who dispenses online learning advice for readers who want practical solutions to their complex problems in the classroom. She can be reached at angelita.williams7@gmail.com.

If you think other freelance writers can benefit from 'Tips To Becoming A Freelance Writer' please share this article on your social networking sites. Thank you. You may also be interested in this regularly up-dated paid writing opportunities page and these helpful free e-books lists.

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can see her available books in the side panel on the right.


Umer | Online Jobs in Qatar August 2, 2012 at 6:36 AM  

Freelancing is a good option for learners; that helps continue study with work and also financial helps to parents.

Anne Lyken-Garner August 2, 2012 at 8:06 AM  

That's true, but they need to make sure they're working for the right companies. There are too many companies out there, trying to con writers.

Icy BC August 2, 2012 at 1:51 PM  

Like you said, Anne, "writing isn't that difficult" but "getting paid is"..

I went through too many websites these past few years, and stick with the ones that work for me.

Anne Lyken-Garner August 2, 2012 at 2:03 PM  

So true, Icy. We've had our fill of the sites that pay nickels.

Anne's a published author, freelance writer and experienced editor. She's just signed her second publishing contract this year with 2 separate publishing houses. You can hire her or see her available books in the side panel on the right.
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