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Freelance Writing – And How to Get Started

May 22, 2013 by Lady Unemployed

writing in the journal

I preface this by saying I am by no means an expert on freelance writing. It is a part time job to give me extra income and I’m still learning and making my way through the world of freelance writing. Between you, me, and the cup of coffee beside me, I have a lot to learn. But someone told me recently – and a comment here and there has proved it – that I can use my blog to help others. I want to do just that.

So…how did I get started? Well, since my blog is fairly anonymous, I have the comfort of full disclosure and I will try to tell you as much as you can about the pay received taking each venue and how long I lasted doing this.

1) Volunteer Work.

One of my first tastes of freelance work was when I found a volunteer gig with a non-profit dealing with pets. I went to a meeting or two and I started out by doing research and helping generate content for the newsletter. I don’t think I did much article writing, though. Mostly, this was on the research side, but it was a start.

If you are trying to break out into freelance writing, this may be a good place to start. You are basically getting real world experience that you can present when you are applying to paying gigs and you may just seem like an expert in the long run because of that experience.. Plus, this gives you a reference to use  (if you need one for freelance work; so far, I haven’t needed one). Not to mention, this helps you get a few writing samples under your belt and this does matter in the long run.

Where to find volunteer work: Visit sites like VolunteerMatch.org and Idealist.org. You can also seek out opportunities that doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of your home. Use search terms like “virtual” or “remote”  when looking for writing gigs. 

2) Content Mills.

If you aren’t familiar with “content mills,” it’s basically sites that you write for where you get money based on people who click on ads placed on the site. The one I used was called HubPages, which is the only one I have used so far. I liked it because it had a good community of people and a clean interface that was easy to use.

One benefit of this is another way for you to get a few writing samples, which do matter in terms of getting better paying writing jobs. I have also heard that many writers get a decent income from writing for these sites.

3) Blogging.

I don’t mean having your own blog (that’s a post for another day). I mean blogging for someone else. I have two experiences with this – one paid, one unpaid. The one paid opportunity gave me $5.00 a post and I wrote 3 to 5 times a week for them. I had my own little author biography in the post and a link to my personal blog. I blogged for this opportunity for about 7 or 8 months.

The benefit is the extra income. $5 per post isn’t much, but it was a great start for me. I found this opportunity through oDesk.com. After I started getting more familiar with blogging opportunities and where to find them, I realized there were sites like BloggingPro and FreelanceWritingGigs.com that revealed better paying opportunities for me. It also improved my writing skills and my ease and ability creating content for someone else. It also looked good on my resume.

4) Where I’m At Now

Here’s where I’m at now – I am writing for an SEO Company and I make about $25.00/post. This may not be much, but it’s better than what I made writing for a content mill and definitely better than $5/post. I’m getting to the point though where I want to do less work for more money and I’m venturing out and trying different things (more on that in a different post).  The downside? It’s ghostwriting and I don’t get credit for the posts that do go live. There was a long journey of acceptance to get to this point and I still have mixed feelings about it.

But how did I find the current gig?

Well, somewhere in between using those sites I linked up before (see BloggingPro and FreelanceWritingGigs) as well as using another site called Business2Blogger.com. The link I just gave you is more geared towards people who run their own blog and looking for either sponsored posts or products to review. I do see the occasional job on there and that is how I found my present opportunity.

Now…how about where I’m at now?  I’m experiencing the new learning phase of pitching to a company and asking if they need help with social networking or building their blog back up. This is another learning experience for me and so far, I haven’t received any response.  I have also started making a little extra money with my own blog (not this one). But these avenues are posts for another day.

Anyways, if you are trying to get started with freelance writing, this is just how it is working for me. Some people have different stories to tell on how they broke out into the field and I can’t say that my avenue is the best. Considering I work full time and it isn’t exactly the right time for me to get my byline in a local newspaper (not a conversation I want to have with my current employer), I would say this works pretty good for me right now.

Can I answer any questions you may have? If you are in the freelance writing field, how did you get started?

 


2 Comments »

  1. Lix says:

    I completely forgot about oDesk. Haven’t checked it in ages. I’ve been using PeoplePerHour and Elance to look for gigs, but more in the design and photography business field, and not successfully.

    My current freelance writing gig pays $50 per post and brings me a lot of traffic, though it hasn’t converted to sales yet (will probably help to have a proper website for my photography). I first got it in January, same terms, by applying to a job on the problogger.net board and someone passing my details onto my editor. Then I blew it by being late on posts, but I reached out last month and got rehired. I’m currently doing a post per week, though would like to do two. Just so busy with all my lines of work.

    I’ve been applying to gigs on the problogger board as well but I admit I haven’t been looking very hard for writing gigs. I do like to do it but I don’t feel like I’d be that good at it… which is weird because it’s a lot easier for me than some of the design things I do. It’s just hard to cut back when you depend on your freelance income. Like long-term maybe it would do me a lot of good but I just can’t make myself do it.

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