I’ve been blogging since 2006, but it wasn’t until 2015 that I discovered a growing market for people who want to make extra money as a freelance writer.
My background is in banking and financial coaching. The more I blogged about personal finance (including my own debt-free story), the more I realized it resonated with people.
The same thing happened when I became a mom three years ago and started blogging about parenting and diapers and sleep deprivation. That clicked with moms.
If you have an area or two in which you have a great deal of insight or experience, you have a command of the English language, and you’re willing to put in some hard work, you could make extra money as a freelance writer.
Since transitioning from a hobby blogger to a freelancer, I’ve been featured on The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder, Rockstar Finance, The Dollar Stretcher, LifeHack, Scary Mommy, and more. I typically earn $40 to $100 per post or $20 to $50 per hour.
I’ll show you how in this article.
- Flexible hours
- Good pay
- Work from home
- Lots of growth potential
- No overhead
- You get to pick your work
- You get to speak on topics that resonate with you
Some people do this full time, but I’m assuming you’re already employed elsewhere or running your own business, so you’re interested in doing this on the side.
Perhaps you want to bring in extra money to pay off debt, grow your emergency fund, or invest. Those are great goals, but like I said, this job takes a lot of work, so ask yourself if you really have a passion to do this for more than just money. The reason is because you’re probably going to do some free work for a while as you build your samples and skills.
I can tell you as someone who began doing only free work and can now pick and choose what she wants to write for pay, it’s worth it.
Recommended Reading: “My First 3 Months: How I Made $1,200 Working Part-Time as a Freelance Writer”
Make Extra Money as a Freelance Writer in These 5 Steps
1. Choose your niche.
“Freelance” has such a miscellaneous feel to it. You might as well call yourself an everything writer. That is unless you zero in on a niche. What do you know a great deal about? What lights a fire in you?
Don’t just pick a niche that seems the most lucrative. If you can’t deliver valuable content that instructs or inspires readers, then editors probably won’t give you the time of day. I’ve already said my two niches are personal finance and parenting. I’ve also just broken into the writing niche, now that I have enough experience to share.
Freelance does give you the freedom to occasionally write in other niches (like in my case, travel, law, insurance, and fashion), but 90% of my work is in one of my primary niches.
What’s your niche? Here are a few examples:
- Personal Finance
- Online Marketing
Action Step: Brainstorm a list of topics that interest you. If it’s fly fishing, write it down. Circle your top two or three. Keep that list handy.
2. Start your own blog.
I can’t even begin to explain how paramount this is. One of the most powerful tools you can use to make extra money as a freelance writer is your own self-hosted blog.
Derek assembled a list of terrific resources that will help you start your blog right here on Life and My Finances. Check those out here.
Why start a blog?
Here are four reasons:
- It gets you to write! You can read as many articles and books about writing as you want, but until you’re the one plunking the keys and clicking “Publish” every week, you’ll never grow your skills.
- It teaches you how to write for other blogs. I faced a pretty big tech curve when I switched to my first self-hosted blog in 2015. The more I studied and practiced things like formatting, SEO, and content marketing, the better prepared I was for offering great content to editors.
- It gives you a place to hang your shingle. Once your blog is up and running, add a “Hire Me” page with a description of your writing services. To view an example, here is mine.
- It gives you more chances to monetize. People write entire articles on this one point. You can advertise, use affiliate links, write sponsored posts, grow an audience and sell products to them, or many other options.
Action Step: Read Derek’s article Start Your Own Blog and start thinking about which hosting service you’ll choose, as well as a domain name.
Yep, I said it. Once you’ve developed a niche and launched a blog, start looking for similar blogs that might allow you to guest post on their site for free. This is a great next step for three reasons:
- It grows your samples. A professional writing portfolio is essential for someone who wants to make extra money as a freelance writer. You can create a portfolio for free on Contently or Pinterest.
- It grows your experience. I really pushed myself to new heights when I knew my content was going in front of someone else’s audience.
- It grows your network. I’ve met some great people along the way and was able to network with them (which is essential in this business).
Action Step: Establish a routine with your regular blog posts, then schedule in a potential starting date for guest posting. Start searching around for places to write for. Join forums or Facebook groups for writers and ask around about opportunities. Google “write for us” and see what comes up.
4. Learn to freelance.
Becoming a better writer, choosing a niche, and guest posting are awesome accomplishments, but so far they haven’t made you a dime. Here’s where the cheddar comes in. You need to study freelance writing as it’s done in 2016. Therefore, you need to learn from someone who is actively freelancing right now.
I learned from business consultant and freelance writer, Gina Horkey, who created a widely successful course called “30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success.” You can go whichever route you choose, but this is the path I took and it helped me start generating an income very quickly.
Gina’s course was self-paced and filled with resources, tips, instructions, examples, and support. Before, I was earning $5 per article as a ghost writer. Afterward, I was earning $20 – $100, bringing loads of fresh traffic to my blog, and had articles go live on mega sites with millions of followers like Scary Mommy and The Penny Hoarder within the first 60 days.
My favorite component of Gina’s course is the Facebook group available to course graduates only. We share encouragement, advice, weekly wins, and more.
Action Step: Choose a method for studying freelance as it pertains to today’s online market. Then immerse yourself in a community of freelancers to get the latest information on writing opportunities, questions along the way, and general networking.
5. Find work and get paid.
Some of the best ways to find paying gigs are to search Google, the ProBlogger job board, Craigslist, UpWork, or Facebook groups. Once you find one you like, send the editor a pitch with a few article ideas or the whole article.
Read the writing submission guidelines and follow them to a “T.” Editors like this. Then create a concise pitch introducing yourself and your article in just a couple sentences. Highlight why the article could be important for their platform, add a link to your “Hire Me” page, include a few samples at the bottom, then get the heck out of Dodge. What I mean is, keep it brief. The shorter your pitch, the better.
Action Step: Begin searching for paying gigs in your niche. Bookmark them in a folder called “Paid Writing Gigs.” You can start by bookmarking this article that lists 79 websites that pay $50 and up for articles.
I’ve highlighted a lot of information in this article. Here is a quick review of the steps and resources offered:
- Choose a niche
- Start a blog
- Choose a hosting company
- Choose a domain name
- Start guest posting
- Create a professional writing portfolio (example)
- Learn how to freelance
- Find work
- Send a concise pitch
- GET PAID
Your Turn: Would you like to make extra money as a freelance writer? What would you enjoy writing about? Share in comments below!
This post contains affiliate links.