Starting Out as a Beginner in the Writing Business — What It’s Really Going To Take To Make Bucks

Dennis Francis
19 min readApr 28, 2022


Woman with laptop

This is the best time to get started… It’s not going to be a cakewalk.

Freelancing is a great way to get started in the writing business. There are so many options to choose from, which means starting out can also be overwhelming. However, with a bit of research, you can find the right freelancing process and start making a living in your own business.

Freelancing platforms like UpWork and Fiverr offer a great way to find freelance writing jobs. They also offer great tools for writers to manage their work. You can post your project descriptions, connect with clients, and track your work progress.

Should You Promote a Niche Specialty or Be a Generalist?

If you are knowledgeable in a particular area, you may command better rates than a generalist would. This depends on the popularity of the niche and the marketing potential of the information. If there’s very little competition yet high demand for a particular subject, you’ll make a good living if you’re a subject-matter expert.

Choosing Your Niche as a Professional Writer

There are so many options to choose from for freelancing that a new writer can get instant paralysis when the time comes to take action. Here’s a basic overview of areas to consider when narrowing down your writing options:

· Arts Hobbies and Crafts — Specialized knowledge of creative hobbies is a must for this specialty.

· Automotive Copywriter — You’ll need to know your way around the industry to write for this niche.

· B2B Content — Business to business marketing; from corporate to small business information. SaaS writing jobs are exploding right now.

· Bilingual Digital Content — A high-demand service for a broad market.

· Blog Content — Pick a niche before getting into this one. This is a broad field.

· Communications — A general field that involves creating blog posts, press releases and social media outreach.

· Content Creator — Another catch-all area that may include writing scripts for videos to email marketing campaigns.

· Content Marketing — Similar to the content creator with an emphasis on commercial intent.

· Copywriter — Content specifically for sales. This requires experience in sales conversion.

· Corporate — Business correspondence, promotional materials, memos and even proposals.

· Correspondence — Communications materials; emails, letters, memos; etc.

· Crypto Content — This is another highly specialized field that requires knowledge of the industry, finance and technology.

· Development — Producing grant proposals, fundraising materials for companies.

· Digital — Another catch-all for writers who produce material for a variety of media assets.

· Documentation — Creation of company bibles, policy papers, manuals, white papers.

· E-Commerce Copywriter — You’ll need sales copy experience from a business to a consumer’s POV.

· Entertainment — This covers a variety of niches; from movies, TV, comics, gaming to collectible trading cards.

· Finance — Experience creating content involving investing, business, economics, trends, current events, etc.

· Gaming — This requires knowledge of the industry, including editorials, manuals, reviews.

· Ghostwriter — Create content for others who will claim credit for the work. This is a vast market that encompasses an array of subjects; from books to speeches, reports to college papers.

· Grants — You will need organizational skills for researching and creating grant proposals for organizations.

· History Content — Research and produce content for textbooks, video scripts, even research for online entertainment.

· Instructional — Create textbooks, courses, manuals and more with research material supplied by clients.

· Medical — Take highly technical information and produce reader — friendly content. Content includes manuals, courses, articles, briefs, video scripts, tutorials, as well as manuscripts.

· Multimedia — Generate online marketing and promotional campaigns, write advertising copy and proposals for print, web, video or audio.

· Press Release — Ability to monitor social media, write press releases, and create internal communications.

· Proposals — Persuade others to do business with your client or to support a project. Businesses and non-profits use proposals for this purpose.

· Resume — The writing process involves editing and writing both resumes and cover letters for clients.

· SaaS — Writing for the Software as a Service industry. Content includes manuals, marketing materials, social media posts, and articles.

· Science — Background necessary to create science and technology — related media content.

· Screenwriter — You can actually apply for jobs creating scripts for movies and TV.

· Scripts — Scripted production includes commercials, podcasts, webinars, presentations, even YouTube videos.

· SEO — Create content that ranks in the search engines. Expertise in writing for search engine optimization is necessary.

· Speechwriter — Politicians aren’t the only ones who need to speak in front of a crowd. Prepare talking points, remarks, and presentations that are articulate and coherent.

· Sponsored Content — Developing and updating content for digital platforms to promote products and services.

· Sports Betting — Content that would be interesting to both bettors and investors, including current events, legislation, gossip, stories about personalities, stats, and analyses.

· Story Telling Copywriter — Brands can be brought to life by telling their back stories. Creating an interesting brand position requires storytelling skills.

· Technical — Your ability to communicate technically as well as your ability to provide clear and easy-to-understand explanations will be essential.

· Technical Marketing — Written content intended to appeal to those with a basic understanding of a product or technology.

· UX Copywriter — User experience is important in a lot of businesses. Skills at valuating, detailing and communicating optimal user experience.

· Web Content — Create digital content for businesses with an emphasis on SEO, formatting, and lead generation and sales conversion.

Freelance Writing Services as a Commodity

It might seem a bit frustrating competing with thousands of writers from around the world, but getting the assignments will become easier as your portfolio of working samples grows. Avoid the trap of doing low paid work hoping to get more assignments. Create at least four samples in your niche market.

Inevitably, there will be writers who undercut their work’s value and there will be people looking for rock-bottom prices. It is costly to hire a freelance writer of high quality. Because of this, clients look for writers with experience and a track record of producing quality content.

Look for prospects who are interested in your service, not the cheapest product. If you want to make this your career, let those low-paying prospects go. Your time is not redeemable.

How to Get Gig Work as a Freelancer?

You can choose from several job hunting platforms when you’re getting started. Here are some of the top choices for writers.

· BloggingPro.

· ClearVoice.

· Constant Content.

· Contena.

· Contently.

· Craigslist.

· Fiverr.

· FlexJobs.

· Guru.

· Online Writing Jobs.

· People Per Hour.

· ProBlogger.

· Skyword.

· The Writer Finder.

· Upwork.

These types of postings are great opportunities for talented writers who want to test their skills before taking on more permanent freelance assignments. However, don’t forget that when you’re working as a freelancer, it’s important to set your rates realistically in order to cover the expenses of your time and talent.

Unfortunately, as a new writer, you’ll be working in an arena with people working at or below scale as a way of building their reputation. Don’t let that deter you. There might be a lot of $15 articles and blog posts promotions out there, but people who fall for them are the type of clients you really don’t want to work with.

Freelance Writing Rates: What They Are and How to Make Money

Freelance writing has become a booming business as content marketing continues to leap ahead of advertising as a viable long-term strategy to bring in sales. Content marketing requires a lot of useful material for readers who want information on a wide range of topics.

Experienced and new writers are looking to make a living from the comfort of their laptops. How do you decide what to charge for a blog post or article, anyway? As you’re about to find, it’s not as simple as it should be.

Freelance Writing Rates Are All Over the Map

One of the biggest problems with offering your services as a freelance writer is knowing what your time is worth. With so many variables, like experience and skill level, there’s no single answer that fits everyone.

That said, there’s a wide range for freelance writing rates: The range falls between $50 to $200 per hour. But keep in mind these numbers are just guidelines — the subject and the project will often dictate how you scale your rate. Negotiate a higher rate if you’re confident about your ability to over-deliver to your client!

Working with Internet Marketing Businesses as a Copywriter

Working for internet marketing companies as a content writer can be a rewarding experience with a variety of earnings. Freelance writing for internet marketing companies can be one way to make money from home, and it’s an extremely flexible way to work.

Most successful freelance writers have at least some blog or article writing experience behind them, so this type of work is usually a good match for them. You may need to write articles on specific topics related to a specialty area based on the client’s niche.

The fact is, many of these business owners hire talent to write for their growing brand. Pitching to marketing professionals can be done through cold emailing, networking with people in your industry, or directly reaching out to individuals via LinkedIn.

Be sure to follow up after initial introductions. Email marketing can be a great way to connect with people in your niche and show that you are interested in writing for their organization. It can also serve as an introduction to larger brands who may want to sponsor your content or workshop.

Market Your Service on LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a valuable resource when looking for freelance work because it allows you to connect with professionals from all industries, languages, and regions. You can post appealing job openings directly on LinkedIn or send out targeted invitations.

LinkedIn is a great way to connect with potential clients. After all, they’re likely already using LinkedIn to research potential employees and partners. When you send a LinkedIn message, make sure you follow these guidelines:

Be Personal

Include their full name, company name and any reference that applies. This will help make the connection more personal and encourage the recipient to respond positively.

Write professionally

When writing your LinkedIn message, be sure to write professionally. Use terms that are industry specific and use the correct format.

Keep it Short

Keep your messages short. Try to keep them at around one or two paragraphs max so that they can be easily read.

Be Concise

Include your main points in a concise and to-the-point manner.

How to Make Money as a Freelance Writer?

The most important bit of information I can impart on making writing your full-time job is taking it seriously as your business. As a business, the process becomes more complex. There’s record keeping and marketing to consider. You’re going to need to spend some money. You’re going to need small business tools to assist in your operation.

You’re going to need to make enough money to maintain (or improve) your lifestyle. You’ll need to make money to keep the business going as well. Itemize and track your expenses. Many of these will be tax deductible.

Pricing Your Service

For their writing services, some freelancers charge an hourly rate. For example, if you charge $50 per hour for your services, that would amount to a total fee of $1,000 per project. However, some freelancers work on a retainer basis and only charge clients for the time they spend working on the project (rather than an hourly rate).

Here, the fees might be lower (possibly just $30 or $40/hour) because there’s no daily cap. To calculate your hourly rate, follow this formula:

You expect to work (goal income + estimated expenses)/billable hours. To make $6,000 a month, charge $50 per hour, assuming 125 billable hours per month and expenses of $250 each.

A perfectly acceptable way to price your service is in 500-word blocks. You can also bill through the per-word method. Right now, quoting $.12 to $.15 a word is a standard for most projects that an entry-level writer can expect to get. Freelance rates may start at $50 for a basic 500-word post and go up to $500 for the expert version.

Offering a flat rate for a blog post or article is another standard method of pricing the work. For example, a 500-word post may have a basic, intermediate or expert level with a price for each, depending on the subject and complexity of the material.

A short blog post may call for extensive research and or breakdown of a complex bit of information into a simple format. You may spend a lot of time creating a highly detailed technical 500-word article.

Show Them Why You’re Worth It

Be prepared to justify your rate with solid examples in your portfolio. If you are just starting out, take a month to simulate your working schedule. Work on samples at the same schedule you would if you were working on your business. That might mean staying late to finish writing tasks after you’re done with your day job. Get a feel for your production in real time.

If you have a large following in a particular niche, capitalize on that notoriety. Flaunt your following subtly by sending prospective clients to your platform.

Don’t forget to pitch for testimonials as you deliver great work. Ask for feedback first. When you get a few really suitable responses, pitch for the testimonial.

Building your brand will pay off on time. Focus on the work, but don’t forget to build your business. Value is subjective, brand recognition pays off in higher fees.

Be Sure to Get the Numbers Right — Pricing Strategies

Here are some tips on pricing your services:

Know what people in your niche or industry are charging. There’s no harm in using online resources to get an idea of what people are charging for similar services.

Resist the temptation to lowball your rates just to win a job. If you’re not sure how much you should charge, err on the side of keeping your rates higher than necessary, but below what clients would expect from someone with more experience and expertise. Remember that some clients will be happy with any rate you offer, while others will be more selective.

Don’t forget to factor in time and effort spent working on a project. Charge for the time you put into your project, not the final product — this includes researching and writing high — quality content as well as ensuring that all deadlines are met.

Calculate your hourly rate based on how many hours per week you work on average and then divide by 52 (for a full week). For example, if you work 40 hours per week on average, your hourly rate would be $16.00 ($40/52=.64).

Set forth specific terms in your contract and billing process so that both parties are clear about who handles what regarding the completion of a project. Include dates by which the project should be completed, designated “Ownership Deadline” and a billing date.

If there are any delays, let your client know as soon as possible and document the reasons for the delay. If payment is not received by the designated billing date, you can take appropriate legal action.

How Much to Charge for a Standard 1,000 — Word Technical Piece?

An article for a small business client that is going to be used on their website may not carry the same level of detail and importance as an online journal with hundreds of thousands of readers. A news site may pay $500 to $700 for a proper article that meets their standards. Your standard rates should be consistent with the market and your client base.

New freelance writers need to know that there really is no single example of a “good hourly rate”. The business of content writing may pay a bit more now than back in the early days, but that’s the good news. The bad news is that every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they can make money doing this thing. This is especially true of website copywriting.

Evaluate Your Skills for The Job

A word of warning! Be sure that you have the skills to research and produce the work at or over the level you intend to charge. Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the type of examples that people in this environment expect.

If you are promoting yourself as a writer with SEO experience, you had better know the language of Search Engine Optimization. Perhaps creating an autoreactive — looking white paper on SEO best — practices in content marketing can influence prospects to try you out.

Before you embark on this journey, take stock of your abilities.

· What are your strengths and weaknesses regarding running your freelance business?

· How experienced are you in record keeping?

· How much do I have to pay for self-employment taxes, software, insurance?

· Can you handle several clients at once?

· In addition to writing, do I provide any other services?

· Can I handle rejection?

How to Market Your Services as a Freelance Writer?

Marketing your service as a freelancer can be tricky in the beginning. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Start a blog or website to share your writing samples and thoughts on the industry.

Search for freelance writing opportunities online, and contact employers directly if you feel qualified for their project based on your samples.

Take part in online writer’s forums, where experts can offer feedback on your work and help promote it to others in the community.

Use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to reach out to clients and potential clients. Post interesting writing ideas, job openings, or tips you’ve learned along the way.

Offer free consultations on topics such as SEO or query letters, in order to show your skills and show that you genuinely care about helping others succeed in the business.

Cold Outreach to Prospects

The biggest issue new writers face is finding the clients to service. However, all the steps that come with servicing a client must be set in place before the first job. Whether you contact prospects through mailers, in person, on the phone or by email, you need to reach enough people to get to the sales averages. Sales people work with the law of averages.

Here are a few action steps follow to get you going:

· Contact at least 20 people a day; every work day.

· Keep your list of contacts and be sure to record each correspondence.

· Be ready to make your offer even if you’re just sending out preliminary outreach information.

· Craft offers that fit your prospects’ specific needs.

· Be prepared to follow up at least six or seven times with your prospects.

· Get your paperwork in order. Establish templates for service agreements and invoices.

· If email marketing is your jam, make each email as customized as possible. NO SPAMMING.

· If you want the big bucks, you need to put in the sales effort.

· Pitch a meeting by phone or Zoom call.

· Ensure that your attitude is in a good place before each meeting.

Whether you’re an experienced writer who is ready to tackle a new market or a novice at the freelance writing business, establishing your pricing strategy is extremely important.

You can consider many factors I’ve covered so far, but decide whether to go with per — word pricing, flat rate, per project rate or a per hour rate.

You’re Going to Need Some Tools of the Trade

While writing, the best writing tools help you be more productive and organized. Their purpose is to make the writing process easier. There are many writing tools available to freelance writers. Some of the most popular ones are Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Scrivener, and WordPress. Using these apps, you can save your work, track your progress, and collaborate with others.

Here are some of my favorites for optimizing production. You don’t need all of them but they certainly make the process more efficient.

Adobe Acrobat — Produces and saves PDF documents. Documents can easily be shared with others when used with Adobe Acrobat.

DropBox — An excellent tool for storing your work and accessing it from any device. It can also be used for collaborative projects.

Microsoft OneNote — Keeps track of ideas, notes, and sketches. In addition, it’s handy for taking snapshots or recording work in progress (WIP).

Answer The Public — A useful tool for finding responses on a range of topics. For freelance writers who need to keep track of public opinion, it’s a good choice because it’s free to use.

Asana — This one is perfect for tracking and managing projects. You can use it for free, and it is easy to learn. For freelance writers, it is an excellent choice. Using Asana, you can also collaborate with others on projects or track your progress.

Google Drive — Google Drive is a great way to keep your work organized and share it with others. You can access your work from any device, and you can also use Google Drive to collaborate with others on projects.

Canva–Try this interesting way to create graphics and illustrations. It’s free to use, easy to navigate, and perfect for creating marketing materials or designing your own logo.

Content Marketing Magic — Content Marketing Magic is a great tool for creating content that attracts and converts visitors. It’s free to use, easy to learn, and can create blog posts, e-books, social media posts, or videos.

Slack — Great for communicating with your team in real time. Slack is a tool for sharing ideas, getting feedback, or solving problems quickly.

Evernote — It’s the perfect tool for storing everything in one place. Use Evernote for notes, graphics, and ideas.

Google Docs — Make and share documents. You can use Google Docs to work collaboratively on projects, or simply update and edit documents.

Grammarly — Grammarly is an excellent tool for improving your writing skills. It’s free to use, easy to navigate, and comes with a wealth of helpful tips and tutorials.

Hemingway App — Improve your writing skills. This tool helps you correct your grammar and punctuation.

Microsoft Word -

The grandfather of writing apps, this is an oldie but goodie… Using Microsoft Word, you can edit and update documents quickly and easily.

OmniFocus — Manage your work in one place. OmniFocus helps you manage your projects, tasks, and goals.

ProWritingAid — Like Grammarly, this app provides a lot of great resources for improving your writing skills. It’s free to use, easy to navigate, and comes with a wealth of helpful tips and tutorials.

Quora — An online social network resource for finding answers to questions about topics you’re interested in. You can use Quora to ask questions or seek advice from others.

Surfer SEO — A new tool for improving your website’s visibility online. It comes with a set of tools that help you optimize your website for search engines, rank higher in Google, and generate more traffic to your site.

Trello — You can use it to organize your projects, tasks, and goals.

WordTune -

You can improve your word processing skills with WordTune. It’s free to use, easy to navigate, this handy app offers suggestions for rewriting your content.

A Word about AI Writers

AI writers are still controversial. I recommend looking into them for their ability to help you organize and optimize content collection. Think of them as your virtual assistant helping you gather content samples for your final work. Here are two that handle a lot more than writing.

Jasper AI — A robust AI writing tool that collects and organizes content for your project. Create a variety of content; from simple meta-descriptions to long form articles.

Scalenut — A Swiss Army knife for content creation. This AI tool helps with SEO and copywriting. Use it for collecting competitive information, reference and a preliminary draft of your project.

Best Practices of Customer service for Freelancers

As a freelancer, you’ll have to handle customer service and sales. There are a few things you can do to ensure that your service remains excellent.

1. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date and easy to find. Include your website, email address, and phone number on every page of your portfolio or on an easily accessible location, such as the bottom of each slide in a presentation.

2. Always be respectful when dealing with customers. Be aware of the tone you use in your emails, voicemails, and face-to-face interactions.

3. Provide detailed information about your services so that customers know what they’re getting before they make a purchase or sign up for a trial subscription.

4. Refrain from using hard sell tactics during customer service interactions. Instead, try to explain why each aspect of your service is valuable and how it can benefit the customer.

5. Maintain a good level of communication with your customers after they’ve made a purchase or signed up for a trial subscription. Keep them updated on your progress and provide support when needed.

Production Scheduling for Freelancers

Starting your career with solid skills in project workflow, scheduling, and time management will be a real asset as you become busier. You will soon realize how valuable your time is.

To deliver on time and within budget, you’ll need to develop a system for working with your clients. We will schedule sessions and track client progress through revisions to ensure deadlines are met without compromising quality or creativity.

To predict how much work can be completed in a day based on current workloads, goals and deadlines set by yourself or your client(s).

This allows for accurate planning of schedules and makes it possible to estimate costs (materials, time, etc.) associated with a project. Here are the top project management and scheduling apps for freelancers right now.

1. Asana

Project management and scheduling tools are designed for teams of up to 10 people. This one also works for the lone wolf. It features simple drag-and-drop task creation, Kanban boards to visualize work in progress, delegation tools, and cross-version compatibility.

2. Trello

Famous for its unique visual board interface, this application helps you manage projects by grouping related tasks together into cards and lists. You can add due dates and notes to cards, share boards with colleagues, and track changes.

3. Wrike

This cloud-based project management and scheduling tool helps teams manage projects by organizing tasks into workflows, assigning roles to team members, and tracking progress. You can also create milestones and invoices.

4. Heartsbeat

Using this tool, you can track deadlines, tasks, resources, and quality measures on projects that are managed in the cloud. Teams can be assigned to projects, progress can be monitored, and data can be exported to a variety of formats.

5. There is a Google Calendar in Google Docs. If you want a simple way to keep track of your work, it works well. Google Docs has many plugins that can be useful to your business.

It’s OK to Screw Up — It’s Inevitable

Sure, I’ve had years of experience as a writer and still sometimes underestimated my fee or word count. I was then underpaid for my writing time. It will happen occasionally. I didn’t lose much money on the publishing project because I still made a reasonable rate. You’re never going to get pricing perfectly. Some projects will take longer than you thought, and that’s ok.

By following the steps outlined in this post, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer. By understanding what content marketing can do for your clients, and how to build a successful strategy around it, you’ll be able to attract top-quality clients and generate income through your writing skills. Subscribe to this blog for more information on content marketing and freelance writing!



Dennis Francis

Retired content marketing consultant. Author, artist, husband, father and owner of Still helping small business owners daily.