Start Paid Writing – A Step-by-Step Guide

Are  you wanting to get paid to write as a freelance writer?

Now is a great time to create the life you’ve always wanted – whether it’s traveling more, spending more time with your family, or wanting to work for yourself, you can have it all and I’m going to show you how.

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a freelance writer for a while now, then I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of blog posts on how great freelance writing or blogging is.

Start Paid Writing – A Step-by-Step Guide

But, are you having trouble finding the exact steps to get paid to write?

In my last post, 8 Ways to Take Your Freelance Writing Career to the Next Level, I gave away tips on taking your business to the next level.

Well, what if you don’t even have a freelance writing business in the first place? What if you want to be a freelance writer, but don’t know how?

Well, I decided to write this series on how to get paid to write in order to help SAHM’s, SAHD’s, part-time workers or people who just want to do something different with their life get on the track to becoming a freelance writer.

I plan, over several posts, to give you a step-by-step approach to getting your business up and running.

You will learn:

I did or learned about each of these steps to get where I am today and I’m going to show you how you can take your idea of wanting to make money writing and turn it into a thriving business.

Get Paid to Write

One of the first things you should do to get paid to write is to create an online presence.

And I’m not talking about starting a Facebook page or Twitter account (although getting on social media is important).

No, what I’m talking about is making sure people online know you are ready to be a freelance writer. Because, most, if not all of your clients are online, and if you don’t have an online presence, good luck trying to land writing gigs.

Here are three ways to signal to potential clients that you’ve opened shop and are now ready to get paid to write.

1. Create a Gravatar

If you’ve been busily commenting away on all your favorite freelance writer sites, then I’m sure you’ve noticed the small images next to people’s comments or questions in various forums.

These little images are called avatars.  Having a Gravatar is an avatar that makes it a whole lot easier to bounce from blog to blog or forum to forum without having to upload an image each time you leave a comment.


Why is this important to your freelance writing business?

  • It’s the beginning of branding yourself – The head shot or picture you use to tell the world who you are should be constant all across the digital world. From all your social media profiles to your author bio to even your Gravatar, having a consistent photo will establish your brand and help others quickly recognize you.
  • It helps you stand out – Linking your photo with your meaningful and insightful comments will get you noticed more than if you didn’t have your Gravatar. Also, having the interaction with the blog owner and other commenters lets you be easily visible and known. This contributes to your credibility as an authority in your niche.
  • It can drive traffic to your site – As you leave more and more comments on various blogs, readers will begin to recognize you because of what you bring to the comments – useful engagement. This in turn, will drive traffic to your site because readers will want to check you out. Blog owners may get wind of you as well, and guest-posting opportunities may arise, bringing you even more traffic to your blog.

So, having a highly identifiable image linked with an insightful response or unique opinion will grow awareness to your brand as a freelance writer.

 2. Create a Professional Email Address and Include a Signature in Your Footer

Here is where it gets real – having a professional email account. It’s important when developing your brand as a freelance writer to create an email that is professional and signals to prospective clients you are a business.

Just think about it – if you were looking for a web designer to design your website, would you take someone serious if their email address was, [email protected]?

So, if you want to be taken seriously, have a professional email address. The best, by far, is a customized, domain-specific email like [email protected].

You know what this means, right? Stepping up and registering your own domain (your writer website will be focused on later on in the series. For now, I want to focus on the little things to get you ready for paid writing gigs).

Another thing that will help you build your credibility fast as a freelance writer is to have an email signature at the end of every email you send.

You may think it’s a small thing to do, but it’s usually the little things that can set you apart from other freelance writers.

So, what can you include in your email signature?

  • A head shot– Many email platforms have the option of putting your head shot in your email signature. While it isn’t necessary to do this, it can quickly create a sense of trust when corresponding with a potential client. It’s also another way to extend your brand in your email.
  • Social media contact– Make it easy for clients and prospects to contact you on any medium. Don’t overwhelm your signature with 7 social media links; keep it between 1-4. For me, I only have my Twitter handle as I get the most action on this social media platform.
  • Your phone number – Designate a professional line for your freelance writing business. There are many online services that offer a free phone number. Google Voice is the most popular, but another service include iNum.
  • Your writer website – Once you have your writer website domain, make sure to include it in your email footer.
  • A tagline – If you decide to have a tagline, you could always include this as part of your email signature. This comes in handy when you decide to diversify your business and include other services such as editing or coaching. Your tagline can include these services as a way to communicate you do more than just write.

3. Become Familiar With Online Writing

The online world is fast-paced and people don’t have the time to read everything that they see on a site. So, they skim. In fact, over 80% of users scan blog posts and articles.

Most readers pick out the certain elements in a blog post. These are:

  • Your headline
  • Your subheadings
  • Lists and bullet lists
  • Short paragraphs or one sentence paragraphs.

Tailor Your Writing for the Online Scanners

So, if you are new to writing for an online audience, the best tip I can give you is to create a lot of white space. This refers to the amount of space between your text.

Having very little white space means having big blocks of texts. For the online scanner, most likely they will skip words, sentences and paragraphs.

If you want to maximize their time on your post (and eventually your client’s posts), then try these tips for creating more white space:

  • Make paragraphs no more than 3 sentences
  • Include a 1 sentence paragraph
  • Bold important ideas or sentences in your post
  • Break up your paragraphs with subheadings, lists and bullet lists

Here are some other miscellaneous online writing rules to follow:

  • Use one space after a period
  • Don’t underline phrases as this looks like a link
  • Create links in your text by linking to relevant words or phrases. For example, if you want to link to a post about a job board, it’s better to link:  job board than many places.
  • Always provide links in your post. Whether they are internal links (other posts on your blog) or external links (posts you found on other people’s blogs). This helps readers find more information on a topic and it shows readers you did your homework and didn’t just “steal” ideas from others.
  • Consider putting visuals to break up longer posts.

Specific Online Writing: SEO and SMO Editorial

You might come across different types of writing. A popular type is SEO friendly or SMO friendly writing.

Search Engine Optimized (SEO) writing, according to Jennifer McKnight on FreelancerFAQ’s

In a nutshell, it’s the practice of manipulating content in a way that improves a site’s search engine ranking. This is the ultimate goal of any online marketer or blogger because increased search engine visibility translates to more visitors, which equals more revenue and a prominent Web presence.

Clients may have you write with a specific keyword in mind and it’s our job to create content that incorporates relevant keywords while still making it reader friendly.

Ideally, you write for your audience, but are conscious of industry related terminology.

(Once you have a WordPress website up and running, there are many free additions you can add to your site to optimize your content for the search engines. These free add-ons are called plugins for WordPress. One is Yoast, a free SEO plugin. Now, don’t worry if you don’t have a website, my series will walk you through setting up a WordPress blog for you).

Social Media Optimized (SMO) writing uses social media to increase awareness of a brand or business. Trending topics and writing to pique reader curiosity are the main ways to attract web traffic using SMO style writing.

Ideally, clients use both types of writing styles to help increase traffic and conversion rates.

All of this leads down to the basic fact that most online writing freelance writers do will be conversational in nature. This just basically means:

  • Avoiding “big” words when you can say other words like use for utilize, or joking for banter
  • Try to write as if you are talking to a friend or one person
  • Use ways to engage the reader by posing questions such as, “do you have the same problem with writer’s block as I do?” or “is your blog ready to make money?”
  • Have a call-to-action at the end of your post or site content. This just means telling your readers to do something like sign up to your newsletter or buy a product or leave a comment.

 Get Paid to Write – Step-by-Step

I just outlined three easy ways to get paid to write as a brand new wrier. With a Gravatar, email signature and brushing up on your online writing skills, you are on your way to getting paid to write.

My next post in this series will go into if you are really cut out to be a freelance writer.

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Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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Hi Elna, I love reading your posts! Each of them are so helpful and well-written. I just started my freelance writing career and I’ve done the first steps: Having my self-hosted writer website ,social media presence and having my own blog. I still struggle with getting traffic to it but I think guest posting will be the next step I should take that will help me. I also feel sometimes discouraged since I’m based in Europe and English is not my first language, even though I’m fluent in it. Hope I will succeed. I just know I won’t be giving up even if it takes several months to get clients!Reply to Denisa
Hi Denisa, Thank you for your kind words! I tend to write in haste or write fast at times and make several grammar I’m glad I have my editing tool to help me! Your English looks great! Don’t think twice about writing in English for your clients! Good luck!Reply to Elna
Very informative. Thanks Elna for sharing…a lot. Definitely trying this out.Reply to Norryn
Hi Norryn, Thanks so much! Glad you are enjoying this little step-by-step approach to getting started as a freelance writer!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Profound thanks for your valuable information. I want to do freelance writing and with time blogging but I am yet to start.Do you have a formal online training/course on freelance and blogging for potential freelance writers like me? Must I have a website for a start? If yes, can I design it myself? How do I get a website at an affordable price for a beginner? Thank you.Reply to Ezichi
Hi! I have a freelance writing course and a writer website course (in the courses tab of this site) and I have a blog traffic course on You need to decide on yourself!Reply to Elna
Oooh, thanks for linking me to the post on post structure, Elna! Now I found this series! So much win! Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing your knowledge! Will read up the rest (haha, glad I got this gravatar bit down first!) By the way, you mentioned your Writeto1K course. I checked it out. Is it really, really in-depth, as you claimed it to be? Like, short of literally holding hands kind of thing? Many thanks!Reply to June
Hey June! Glad you liked it. I have lots of guides on this blog, but the course is really comprehensive and offers everything in one place 🙂Reply to Elna
My 2 takeaways from this article: 1.) I need to have a picture of myself taken, then use that as part of my brand. I don’t love myself in photos, so this will be tough but I will do it. 2.) I need to get an email address to go along with my website. That one should be easier to do than the photo. 😉Reply to Dawn
Hi Dawn, Way to go that you’re making the jump to freelance! I totally agree that having a Gravatar will help you be more successful. When you leave a comment without a photo it creates distrust and people just glide over your response. Can’t wait to see your photo!Reply to Elna
I think a lot of people don’t realize how important it is to brand themselves, as you mention, Elna. But it’s really such a vital step! You want people to see you as the authority in your field, and the person they go to when they need help – but how can they do that if they don’t even know who you are? Lots of great tips – thanks so much for sharing!Reply to Kelly
Hi Kelly! Branding is super important when you want your business to get noticed, especially on social media. Building a consistent brand isn’t hard, but many people don’t think about how vital it is and end up using different colors and pictures all over the internet. This makies it hard to for others to know who you are. You’ve done a great job building your brand Kelly, and I know every time I’m on Pinterest, I immediately recognize your pins! ElnaReply to Elna
I love this! I am learning so much….I have a lot of work ahead of me!Reply to Dana
Hey Dana! Glad you’re interested in getting paid to write. Forming your online presence is a huge task, but if you take it one step at at a time, it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Thanks for stopping by! ElnaReply to Elna
Thanks for sharing! Great information!Reply to Rosevine
No problem Rosevine. Glad you enjoyed my post about getting paid for your writing. ElnaReply to Elna
Thank you so much Elna, this was such an interesting and useful article to read! Do you have any recommendations for websites to set up a website on? I’m currently using WordPress and I’m pretty happy with it but would love any other suggestions. 🙂 Pippa.Reply to Pippa
Hi Pippa! WordPress is the best website to have! So you’re doing good! I’m glad you enjoyed my post and hope you stick around for the series! If you ever need help, hit me up anytime. ElnaReply to Elna
Great tips, thanks for sharing!Reply to Lisa
Thanks Lisa! Glad you enjoyed my post. Freelance writing is a great career to have! It’s creative, fun and pays very well. ElnaReply to Elna
I really wish I had the time to do more writing!! I love to write. Maybe someday I can do some freelancing…you know, when the kids get older and mom isn’t cool anymore 😉Reply to Crystal
Glad you came on by Crystal! You definitely can do some freelance writing in the future when the kids get older. But, you know what? I’m sure you can even start now! My kids are not even 2.5 years old and I’m still able to have a full client list and a budding business! If you ever need help getting started, contact me at [email protected] I offer coaching/mentoring services!Reply to Elna
Thank you!! I appreciate it! Hope you had a great Mothers Day!Reply to Crystal
Thanks Crystal! Glad you liked my post and will be publishing part two next week! ElnaReply to Elna
Sensible, sound, and sensational tips for budding freelance writers, Elna. 🙂 By today’s standards, online visibility and credibility is tantamount to your success. Kudos to you for stressing the importance of creating a presence on the web and your writing tips are right on! I edit pieces all the time that have zero white space and zero formatting. I’ve coined a phrase for them. I call them my “sardines in a tin” projects. 😉 Anxious to see what you’re going to include in your next installment.Reply to Melanie
Hi Melanie! Thanks for stopping by! You are right about online visibility. How else do you drum up business if you aren’t “everywhere” online? Stretching your reach is one of the most important things you can do for online success. And that’s a great term for your zero white space clients! Ha! I find creating white space second nature for me – in my blog posts, emails and comments! It was one of the first things I learned when becoming a freelance writer and it’s proven to be a necessity in my business. ElnaReply to Elna
Hi Elna. I used to be squeamish about using the Gravatar feature but I quickly got over that. I realize that using it has served to drive some targeted traffic to my website as people seek to know the ‘person’ behind the avatar. I think it is a great marketing tool for bloggers and online workers. I would compare it to a business card with a picture. Not only can you leave a good description to advertise yourself but you can also upload additional photos and provide links to social media accounts and to your blog/(s). Thanks for reminding me about how great Gravatar is. Very informative article!Reply to Eyeland
Great comparison Eyeland Gurl! A Gravatar is much like a business card as it does hold a lot of information if you click on the picture. I’m glad you found my post inspirational! Looking forward to reading your post on why not to quit blogging! Looks good. ElnaReply to Elna