If someone had told me when I first started out as a freelance writer that I would be making, on average, $600 a post, I’d think you’re crazy.
People actually pay for words?
People can get paid to write?
Yeah, I would have been shocked.
But, in only two short years I worked my way up from landing my first gig at a $100 per post to making up to $600 a post.
If you’re a new writer and struggling to make $50 or $100 a post, the steps I lay out to get paid to write can work for you too.
Before I tell you what I did, I just want to make sure you understand that if you want to succeed as a freelance writer you’re going to need the motivation, persistence, desire and confidence to really make a living from this.
Because when you do, it’s a great feeling. You are in control of your day, your projects and the sky’s the limit to how much income you can earn as a solopreneur.
Here we go – seven steps to get paid to write even if you’re a beginner.
1. Establish a Name
Yay! You’re a new freelance writer. Your family and friends know, but no one online knows you want to get paid to write.
I knew early on I had to get my name out there. I did three things that helped me lay the foundation for my freelance writing business:
In the beginning, I guest posted for free. I didn’t know there were paid guest posts opportunities.
All I knew was that I needed to secure a guest post because that meant I could advertise my writing services in my author bio.
One of the first guest posts I landed was for A Nation of Moms. Since one of my niches early on was natural health and parenting, I felt I needed to show a sample in that niche.
I also landed a prestigious guest post on PsychCentral – a leader in mental health content. Since my background is in Psychology and education, I felt I could make a sample in this niche and hopefully land a client (which I did, but almost a year later).
I guest posted on two other blogs – Brazen Careerist and Social Media Today. Both of these guest posts weren’t in my intended niches, but my Social Media Today guest post proved to help me get started in the digital marketing niche (the niche I currently write in).
I Left Comments on Popular Blogs
One of the things I started to do when I became a new freelance writer was comment on popular blogs like SmartBlogger, Blogging Wizard, Successful Blogging and other blogs I visited.
This lead to working with Sue Anne Dunlevie in the future as well as help me land my gig over on Blogging Wizard.
Set Up My Social Profiles
I’m a big believer in being online as much as you can. Well, not really be online 24/7, but by having a several social media profiles that you update frequently, it looks like you are always online.
I made sure to promote my blog posts, client posts and guest posts as well as share other people’s posts – which helped me land my second freelance writing gig.
2. Be Bold
You need the confidence to be a successful freelance writer.
And if you want to get paid to write and grow your income, you have to be bold. You have to face rejection like a boss and learn from failure.
When I first started, I set my rate at $.04/word, but I never landed a gig with that rate.
My first gig told me their rate – $100 a post – when they hired me, so I didn’t even have to negotiate with them since that was much more than my rate!
So when I received an inbound inquiry for my freelance writing services, I had to come up with a new rate.
Here’s the email I got (by the way, this ended up being my second freelance writing client).
Noticed that this prospect told me that he appreciated my tweet of his post.
Since I landed my first gig at around $.10/word, I quoted $.12/word for this gig since this was a new topic for me.
With per word I personally feel that clients would get too picky with my posts and I don’t want the pressure to only write a certain amount of words. Also, charging by the hour would lower my overall income since I’m a fast typer.
That’s why I decided early on to charge per X amount of words – $120 for 1000 words.
3. Raise Your Rate With Each New Writing Job
By raising my rates with each new inquiry that came my way, I was able to move from $100 a post to $300 a post no problem.
I faced a lot of rejection, however and I missed out on a lot of freelance writing jobs, but I held my guns and finally landed work and was receiving on average, $300 a post.
Since my rate was $120 per 1000 words, I started quoting $150 per 1000 words.
Once I landed a gig with that rate, I moved up to $200 per 1000 words. Over time I changed my rate to give a quote for every 500 words for smaller jobs.
What if you do this and realize that no client is hiring you? Well, either you haven’t found the right client, or you haven’t found the right niche.
Some niches have a cap on what you can make, while other niches are highly lucrative.
If you think it’s the clients’ perception, then it’s time to start optimizing your website, guest posting on more prestigious blogs and develop those relationships with top bloggers and entrepreneurs in your industry to get paid to write.
You can also look at your writing too. Maybe your writing is too formal or lacks personality. Looking at your writing objectively can help you improve your writing for better sentence structures and help you find your voice.
4. Secure Great Testimonial
When I landed my ideal client – perfect rate, perfect project and flexible deadlines – I asked for a testimonial.
From there, whenever I landed a notable freelance writing gig, I made sure to ask for a testimonial.
Now, if your freelance writing clients aren’t influencers or popular, you can still have powerful testimonials.
Include a headshot and a link to your client’s site as proof they exist (because people do create fake testimonials).
When I first started freelance writing, my first testimonials came from other freelance writers.
So even if your testimonials come from other freelance writers or bloggers that you guest posted for, you can still use those to help you boost your credibility as a freelance writer.
This type of social proof will be a powerful tactic for you so you can get paid to write.
5. Niche Down Your Writing Niche
The best way to get paid to write is to have one writing niche that you know inside and out.
When I decided to niche down from writing about parenting, natural health and education to digital marketing, I really didn’t know much about that niche.
I just knew I loved reading about marketing and applying it to my freelance writing business.
Since I was passionate about lead generation, inbound marketing, email marketing and all that jazz, I decided to switch focus on and start writing in that niche.
Since my second freelance writing client was in that niche, I could use those byline samples for my pitches.
And when I landed my Blogging Wizard client, I KNEW this was the niche I wanted to write in.
So, it’s okay to change niches six months into freelance writing or even a year later.
That’s the beauty of this industry; you can just read about it, write about and eventually know about it.
6. Ghostwrite for Influencers
For many new freelance writers, they are using freelance marketplaces like Upwork to find jobs. Many or most of those jobs are ghostwritten ones.
Places like Upwork have prospects that want bulk content that’s ghostwritten. Or they want an eBook written (that’s ghostwritten) or some project that you can’t attribute your byline to.
And because of this, you aren’t making any money from ghostwriting. So, why am I telling you to ghostwrite?
Because there’s serious money ghostwriting for influencers. Some of my highest-paying posts come from ghostwritten content that I wrote for influencers in my niche.
My ghostwriting rate is typically 20% more than my standard rate, but it’s not unheard of to ask for 50% or even double your standard rate for ghostwritten content.
For me, I generate more work when I have a byline, so I don’t take on many ghostwriting assignments unless it’s high-paying and the content is in my wheelhouse (i.e. doesn’t take a lot of time to write).
So, how can you write for influencers?
The main thing is to established connections with these bloggers, entrepreneurs or marketers. This means following them on social media, sharing their content and commenting on their work.
7. Gauge the Market
For a while, you’re going to like your rate and clients. This can be dangerous. You become complacent, and take your clients for granted.
Before you know it, a client stops invoicing you, or they switched gears and stopped asking for four posts a month (they just want one post now).
So, remember, even if you have enough clients, you need to be hustling all the time.
Now, I don’t pitch very often, but I do pitch at least once a month to a few places.
I also do a lot of warm pitching on social media so that I’m on the radar of many other small business owners.
And of course, I make sure my client’s posts are free of errors and provide flagship content.
When inquiries come to you, the ball is in your court. You get to set the rate and negotiate.
Since you are gauging whether this client can afford you, you can play it safe or add a few more cents to your rate.
If the client doesn’t bat an eye, you know that it’s time to raise your rate.
Get Paid to Write
Need more help? Check out my video on how to get paid to write. It’s a freelance writing tutorial that lays out the fast-track steps to get your first freelance writing job.
I also have several guides on places to find freelance writing jobs.
- 20 Ways to Find a Freelance Writing Job as a Beginner
- 53 Places to Land Freelance Writing Gigs Online
- 24 Easy Ways to Make Money Writing Online
- The Giant List of Magazines that Pay Writers
- 73 Creative Writing Jobs to Make Money With Your Hobby
15 Top Places to Get Paid to Write
To find freelance writing jobs that are perfect for you, you have to devote time each day to searching, applying, and pitching.
The whole pitching process is like thrift store shopping. You can’t expect to find that amazing find the first time you visit the thrift store. Instead, the best thrift store finds come when you visit regularly and take time to comb through the racks.
Keep that in mind when you are tired of looking at online writing jobs. You will find the gold eventually, but you might have to waste a few days digging.
To help you out, here are more places to find freelance writing jobs, here are fifteen top places to get paid to write as a beginner.
1. Facebook Groups
To find writing jobs, you need to go where your potential clients are hanging out and talking.
Don’t just join these groups and self-promote, but honestly try to make connections. Once people know who you are and what you are good at, they will refer you without you even having to ask.
RemoteOK is another listing of remote jobs, with several listings for content writing and social media writing.
Search for copywriting, email writing, and content marketing to find writing leads. If you are looking for a non-writing remote job, this is a good place to look too.
Search ZipRecruiter for content and writing jobs.
Not all of the job listings are going to be for remote work, so you will need to sort through them.
However, just because it doesn’t say remote work, don’t let that stop you. I’ve been able to convince companies to hire me on a freelance basis instead of an in-house one.
Indeed is more commonly used for local job searches, but I have found a lot of good writing positions through here.
Just be sure to type “writer” and “remote” in the search fields. You can narrow your search further by searching “finance writer” or “grant writer.”
Contena is a writer’s job board that you have to pay for. The one thing I like about Contena is that that the job listings are sorted by niche and the pay rate is stated up front.
I also love their leads list of all the companies that hire writers. It’s an exhaustive list of many popular and well-known brands.
For more help using Contena, make sure to check out my Contena Review.
When I first started to get paid to write, I landed a lot of jobs from the Problogger Job Board and I am super thankful for that. My secret to winning writing jobs on this popular listing is to check listings every day and apply as soon as you see a listing you like.
7. Simply Hired
Simply Hired is another popular job search engine, but if you type in writer and remote for the search fields, you will find a lot of listings.
Be aware that there is a mix of wonderful job opportunities, along with content-mill type jobs.
Usually, content-mill jobs sound too good to be true, boasting that writers can make $20-50 an hour by writing 400-word articles. What those jobs really mean is that they will pay you $3 per article, and if you write fast enough, you can make a reasonable hourly rate.
This is NOT the type of writing job you want! You want recurring writing jobs that value you as a writer!
Am I seriously suggesting you find a writing job on the same site you would find a used sofa? Yes!
One writer said that Craigslist actually hooked her up with her WiseBread gig.
Be sure to search in popular cities, such as Los Angeles and New York City. You can even expand your search to Canada. With Craigslist, there is a big mix of listings, from low pay and internship to good pay. Look for the established sites and companies that are posting jobs.
For more help, check out my Craigslist hack to find more freelance writing jobs.
9. Who Pays Writers
WhoPaysWriters is not a posting for online writing jobs, but it is a good place for leads and to figure out how much certain publications pay. Use this site to get ideas on who to pitch and email.
10. We Work Remotely
We Work Remotely is worth putting on your raider because it can link you to unique job opps that are not elsewhere on the web.
In the past, I have seen more listings than the two listed in April. Make sure to check under copywriting and marketing for possible online writing jobs.
11. Blogging Pros
Blogging Pros is not my favorite site, but occasionally there will be good job offers on there. Watch out for low-paid gigs.
Media Bistro has a lot of writing jobs for in-house writers, but there are also opportunities for freelancers.
13. LinkedIn Jobs
LinkedIn is a great way to get noticed by potential clients and also a good way to find freelance writing jobs. I have landed several writing jobs through LinkedIn’s job search.
For more help on using LinkedIn, make sure to check out my guide for freelance writers.
14. All Freelance Writing
All Freelance Writing is another job board listing that rates jobs by pay. Some of the jobs are repeats from other sites, but it is still worth checking out.
15. Twitter Feeds
Here are some Twitter feeds to follow for writing jobs postings:
Twitter can be a goldmine for finding some great freelance writing jobs so you can get paid to write!
Here is my Twitter guide for freelance writers!
Time to Get Paid to Write
The seven steps I mentioned will not only help you get paid to write, but also accelerate your income as a new freelance writer. Those steps were the steps I took in the first two years of being a freelance writer to raise my rate and land high-paying writing gigs.
Over to you – do you want to get paid to write? Check out my free email course and tell me in the comments what step you’ll try first!