How to Become a Freelance Writer

If you enjoy writing, you may be wondering how to become a freelance writer. Although you may be anxious to quit whatever boring job you currently have so that you can become the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you need to understand that this type of phenomenal success is the exception rather than the rule for freelance fiction writers. In fact, the vast majority of people who call themselves freelance writers do not make enough money each year to support themselves. As a result, you are better off keeping your current job and beginning your freelance writing part time until you become successful enough to do it on a full time basis. In the meantime, if you don’t currently do a great deal of writing on your job, you could volunteer to write letters, promotional materials, reports, press releases, newsletters, advertising copy, web blogs etc. so that you can get some professional writing experience.


While you may think that you can write anything for anybody any time, you probably have a better chance of succeeding if you can narrow down your writing to a specialty or niche. The first thing you need to decide is if you are more interested in writing for money or in maintaining your artistic integrity. If you are convinced that what you write shouldn’t be changed because it is perfect just as it is, you might want to consider writing poetry, plays, or fiction. These writing avenues give you the most creative license. However, you should realize that making a great deal of money at these endeavors is a real long shot – probably comparable to winning the lottery. Also, you may run into publishers who won’t print your work without it being edited first.

On the other hand, if your goal is making money as a writer, you have a great number of options available to you. One of these is writing for businesses. Companies often need all kinds of material written – anything from corporate video scripts to direct response mailer copy to annual reports. Corporations also tend to pay well for freelance writing, usually anywhere from $30-$75/hour. The trick is to get in touch with the people in these businesses with the authority to hire you. You can make some phone calls and start asking who you should talk with about freelance writing. But be aware that often they will want to see samples of your work before they hire you. As a result, you are going to want to put together a portfolio of your strongest and most diverse writing pieces, so that you can impress them with your work.

Along with picking the type of writing you want to do, you might also pick a particular subject niche. Think about what you know and the type of work you have done in the past. If you have worked in the healthcare industry, that’s a great niche, especially since there are lots of people interested in articles about health issues. Also if you happen to specialize in article writing, don’t forget that there are more and more online opportunities every day, especially since businesses are in constant need of new content for their web sites and blogs.

Build Credits

When you are first starting out as a freelance writer, you want to build your credits. Try to write for companies or individuals with name recognition and then see if they will not only allow you to display the work you did for them in a portfolio but also write a letter of recommendation for you. If you happen to get your work published in a magazine or newspaper, ask for the tear sheet. Also keep track of the various web sites that have used material you submitted and type up a list. The more examples of you work and credits you have established, the more likely you are to have others hire you as a freelance writer. Also the more experience you have, the more you can charge, ultimately allowing you to pursue your freelance writing career full time.