How I Turned a Free Guest Post Into a Paid Freelance Writing Job

New freelance writers are often told to guest post as a way to build their portfolio.

After all, if someone else thinks you’re good enough to write on their blog, then surely a prospective client will think you’d be good for their company too.

Most guest posting is a free writing opportunity. You are giving away your best content for free!

How I Turned a Free Guest Post Into a Paid Freelance Writing Job

Why would you do that?

Many big and successful freelance writers advise against writing for exposure. They say you’ll die of exposure.

I don’t believe this. In fact, my most recent guest post landed me a sweet writing gig.

But, before I get into that story, let’s go over why writing for free really does pay off for new freelance writers.

Writing For Free Works

In my freelance writing course, I advise all my course participants that the best way to build their portfolio is to guest post. I even have an entire lesson in the course on how to land your first guest post so you can land clients quicker.

There are many places that pay for guest posts, but it might be a bit harder to get these posts accepted and the sites aren’t always well known.

And typically, free guest post spots are easier to land – but not always depending on how popular they are – which makes building your portfolio a quicker process for new writers.

When I first started, I was able to land a guest post on A Nation of Moms easily. This gave me the confidence I was a writer and not some wannabe writer.

Guest posting is also a great marketing tactic. You want to know why? Because of this:

Your author bio.

This is what will help you snag your ideal client and earn you money as a freelance writer.


  • It gets your face, name and service out there. Your author bio is like a business card advertising to prospective clients who you are and what you do.
  • It attracts your ideal client. I recently updated my author bio to say “provide digital marketing content” instead of “useful and engaging content.” Now my bio will attract my ideal client – a solopreneur or small business that seeks digital marketing content.
  • Gives you a new platform to market yourself. Imagine guest posting on the Huffington Post? This huge platform can immediately help you solidify your expertise in your niche and introduce you to new collaborations.

And this is why guest posting is the best way to build your portfolio – for exposure.

But, one perk many writers don’t talk about is how guest posting for free can result in landing a writing gig. It hasn’t happened to me a lot – only because I wasn’t guest posting as often as I am now since I’m promoting my course – but it has happened to me, and just recently in fact.

How I Landed a Paid Gig Out of All This

When I launched my freelance writing course back in November, my marketing plan was simple:

  • Guest post
  • Create a funnel with my free course
  • Notify my email lists I had a course available

This is pretty standard for marketing your products. So, I made a plan to guest post on popular sites like Successful Blogging and Adrienne Smith.

Then I started focusing my marketing on work-at-home sites and making money online sites. I sent a pitch to Real Ways to Earn Money Online and asked if I could guest post.


This blogger accepted my pitch and when I finished the post and sent it over, the next day I received this email:


This was a pleasant surprise. I love doing images and I readily accepted this gig – but this isn’t what the post is about.

This prospective client reached out to me again and offered a writing gig. We negotiated a rate for content and now I provide blog posts for this blogger on an ad hoc basis.


And just this month both my client post and guest post were published.

So, how did this happen? I knew nothing about this blog when I pitched my guest post. I saw many pins on Pinterest from this blog, but that was all.

I wasn’t following this blog on Twitter or Facebook either. I purely contacted them for a guest post to promote my course. But, it resulted in a freelance writing job!

So, how can this help you out if you’re new to freelance writing and you’re writing guest posts to build your portfolio?

4 Things That Helped Me Land This Gig

Let’s look at four things that helped me land the gig.

1. I Had an Active Blog

One thing is for sure, my blog is helping me land clients. As a freelance writer you may  feel a blog isn’t necessary. I mean you’re writing – for free – on your site, which leaves little time to write for your paying clients.

I get this. But, what has helped me change this view is to treat my blog as a client. I have several recurring clients and I just include my blog as one of them.

Every week I create a schedule for my recurring blogging gigs and over the course of a couple days I can whip out these posts for all of them. And since freelance writing is something I know very well, I write posts for my blog easily and quickly.

I also have an active blog. I feel this contributes to hiring me once a prospect sees the level of engagement on my blog.

I post regularly, always have comments and there’s always a lot of social sharing going on.

I feel prospects look at my blog  – and see the high engagement and all the shares – and can confidently feel that I can produce this type of content on their site.

So, what’s the takeaway for you:

Treat your blog as a client. Over time you can build a loyal following and high engagement if you post consistently and promote frequently.

If you haven’t started a blog I have a video tutorial to help you get your business blog up and running!

2. My Blog Has Great Images

I get told from visitors all the time how great my images are on my blog. And I have clients that only want my graphic design services.

While it isn’t necessary for you to have great images on your site, if you want a thriving blog, you should consider taking the time to pick beautiful images.

And you can get work, with your blog images.

Nowadays it isn’t expensive to have a beautiful looking blog post. You can grab free images from Pixabay or Pexels (my two favorites). And you don’t even need Photoshop (although that is what I use). You can easily produce the same type of images as me with free editing tools like Canva or Picmonkey.

And since I know the value images have on a blog, I even included enhanced video training in my course on how to create text with your images.

The takeaway for you:

Be more than just a writer. Explore adding services with images, GIFs, infographics, pull quotes or anything to make your blog post pop. This will get you noticed by visitors and increase your social sharing and engagement.

3. I Have the Credibility

Now, I know you’re a new freelance writer and you’re just building your credibility, so this might take time to grow.

I have a feeling, though, that this blogger considered my credibility before asking me to write for them.

In my original email I did mention I was a writer for Blogging Wizard and that I provide ghostwriting for influencers online. These two factors makes it easier for a prospect to hire me when they know I’ve written for popular blogs and for popular people.

But, what if you are new and you haven’t landed a guest post on a popular blog yet? The best advice I can give you is to keep trying and to devote some time to:

  • Commenting on popular blogs like Smart Blogger, Quicksprout or any popular blogs in your niche.
  • Share blog posts of sites in your niche.
  • Follow big blogs and popular people.

This is called blogger outreach and it works. Focus your energy on doing a bit of blogger outreach in the beginning while you’re still building your portfolio. This can help you cement your credibility in your niche when you can comment using  your expert knowledge on these sites.

So, the takeaway for you is:

As a new writer, you can gain credibility by not only guest posting, but engaging in blogger outreach too. Doing this will get you noticed as an expert in your niche.

4. I Was at the Right Place and the Right Time

Let’s face it:

This client was ready to outsource her work and wanted someone to lighten her graphic design time and content writing time (she said that in the email).

I just happened to appear and fulfill that need. It’s instances like these that you can chalk up to being lucky, but isn’t luck occur when preparation meets opportunity?

What’s your takeaway?

There’s always opportunity when you least expect it. Realize any comment you leave, any person or business you follow, or any guest post pitch you submit could lead to a paid writing job.

Start Taking Action

You’re new and unsure what to do.

If you’ve never pitched or wrote a guest post all this can seem overwhelming and daunting. But the best thing you can do is to start taking action today.

Search for places to guest post. Type in Google, “write for us” + “[your niche].” Pitch a topic to these blogs and start creating posts for these sites.

Once you have a few pieces for your portfolio you can really start to market yourself as a freelance writer for hire. And if you need that extra guidance to help you succeed faster, consider taking my freelance writing course!

Over to you – what’s your experience with guest posting. Have you landed a gig out of it?

Please pin me 🙂

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.

Leave a Reply


Hi Elna, I’ve been reading a lot on freelance writing and on your blog. I used to freelance locally for print publications. In fact, all my samples and experience is print. This seems to be a hiccup now. The perception is that I don’t know how to write for online web content when, plot twist: I’m also a web designer. I know exactly what goes in online content. Should someone like me do some guest blogs to get online writing samples?Reply to Eunice
Hi Eunice! The online world changes a lot! I would say every six months there are new strategies and new mainstream tools for marketers and bloggers. So yes, get your name out there by guest posting for sure!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna! I just want to say that I love your posts and I think you’re an inspiration to all of us aspiring freelancers! I just have a quick question about guest blogging. Is it worth to guest blog on a website that does not have a huge audience like the bigger publishers? Since those are harder to get into, I figured there would be no harm in volunteering on a lesser known site. However, some freelancers have warned me about being used for my free services. Is it ok to keep blogging on these websites and eventually move on to the bigger ones?Reply to Alex
Hi Alex, Thanks so much for your warm compliment! What a great question. For me, I think it’s fine to guest post on a lesser known site, as long as it is in your niche that you want to get paid for. In the beginning I guest posted on mom-health sites and a site dedicated to autism information. I did this because I wanted to write in those niche topics (I only wrote in the health niche for a bit). The point is to have published work to show on your portfolio and I’m all for guest posting for free!Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, thanks for sharing your view on free guest posting and paid service. Really useful for freshers like me.Reply to Ragini
Hi! You’re welcome! Yes, a lot of freelance writers don’t want to write for free, but it can really open the doors to paid freelance writing projects! Good luck!Reply to Elna
How amazing is your post because it opens our minds to think of the brightest opportunities. And this one of going to the encounter of sites to start to write like visitor is sensational. I really want to thank you from the heart.Reply to Lucia
Thanks so much Lucia! So happy you found this post helpful for your freelance writing business!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I’m glad you got a job through the use of a guest post. I got “found” through a guest post once but the lady wanted me to place articles on authority websites. I didn’t want to do something that could cause me to lose my credibility as a freelance writer. As always, your blog post is great. I’m excited to get more guest posts out there since I’ve been lazy at the prospect of writing them out. I need to write out the ideas that are hanging out in my head at the moment. Thank you for the nudge forward!Reply to Lizzie
Hey Elna, I can’t express how awesome it feels going through your freelance writing guide. You seem to have to knowledge and knack to hit in the right places. Am an aspiring freelance writer currently working on a free WordPress blog I intend to use to market my freelance writing services.Reply to Isaac
Hey elna, Great tutorial to read…. your article clearly describes the way to earn through guest posting and making your presence as a freelancer., your article will really help writers to earn money through guest posting. Thanks for sharingReply to sonali
Hi Sonali, So glad to hear this! Thank you so much.Reply to Elna
Nice Article ! You have explained it amazingly. Really an informative and insightful post for all the readers. Keep it up.Reply to Shreya
Wow! what an impressive writeup Elna. Once again u ve made my day. I found your site a couple of days back and ever since, i ve kept wondering how u have accomplished so much as a writer giving that you are only 2yrs plus in the proffession. I hope to start a proffessional writing service aswell and i have learnt a lot from your site that i now consider it an integral part of my overall building plan. Thanks for the information.Reply to Sunny
Wonderful post filled with great nuggets of useful information, Elna! I actually left teaching 3 months ago to pursue freelance writing and blogging and I’m (hopefully) on a similar pathway to you. I paid our rent last month through my writing and I’m slowly but surely building a social media following for my blog: . I’m excited to follow your blog and read more of your posts! I love finding other successful moms in the same niche!Reply to Andrea
Hi Andrea, I just stopped by your site and love it! I signed up to your newsletter to make sure I stay updated with your journey! This is so great you are in the same boat as me. I know you’ll succeed since you’re kicking but right now – and you just started! Successful mamas should stick together eh? So happy to get to know you!Reply to Elna
Just found your site tonight while researching Contena! Nice to find another Canadian freelancer too since I’m from Canada as well. πŸ™‚ I LOVE your images & really want to learn how to build a beautiful site like you have done. Wow! Incredible work, Elna! Lots of great info. here too. I will definitely start looking for places to guest post as you suggest. You’re so right I think–it’s about getting your face & work out there for people to see. The “luck” comes after the work & action part! πŸ™‚ Really look forward to following you!Reply to Leona
Hi Leona, Thanks so much for stopping by! Love networking with other fellow Canadians πŸ™‚ Guest posting is a great opportunity for you to get your name out there and in front of prospects. Whether it’s free or paid, it’s totally worth it. So happy to see you signed up to my course and are interested in being a freelance writer! You’ll get wind of my February webinar – my first – so this may come in handy for you! Thanks again!Reply to Elna
Absolutely Elna! πŸ™‚ Looking forward to it since I have a fair bit of free time right now. And I’m trying to move into finding some freelance work I love to do.Reply to Leona
Thanks for this article Elna, I have landed a guest post for free but was wondering, would it still be smart to write up contract or is that not necessary? For ex, just in case they require multiple revisions etc. that take up more of your time? The client had stated since it is unpaid, there’s no need for a contract and has given me free rein on topics. What do you think?Reply to BT
Hi! There’s not need to do a contract for free guest posts. Once you land a real client that pays you, you can talk to them and have a contract or service agreement. For me, I started with service agreement and now I mostly do an agreement via email since I deal with high-paying clients and they are good for it. So no need for contracts when you’re guest posting!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Congratulations on all your success. Your story is definitely a motivating one. It goes to show that with the right plan, work and dedication one can make a living as a freelance writer. Thank you so much for always being willing to share what works for you! You know I’m passing this on. πŸ™‚ Enjoy the rest of your week! CoriReply to Corina
Love seeing familiar faces on new blogs I’m finding! I already follow you Cori. This is just a great reminder to visit your site again and find something to share. -AndreaReply to Andrea
Hey Corina! Thanks so much. You are right, if you have a plan and have the support you can make this totally work for you. Excited to contribute to your site again!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I think that’s SO awesome how that all worked out for you but you also practice what you teach. That’s SO important. I have a feeling that anyone who has purchased your course is reaping the benefits and getting those paying gigs. Granted, it’s up to them to get out there and start doing the work but with your help, suggestions and advice to show them the way and what they should be doing then boy are they ever way ahead of the game. I was so happy to feature you at my place too, that post went over really well. Thank you for that too. Will be sharing this post tomorrow so until then you have a fabulous day and thanks for the mention. ~AdrienneReply to Adrienne
Aww thanks Adrienne! Thanks so much for your support. You are truly a great blogger friend and colleague to have on your side! My course participants are doing well. I am doing a pitching challenge so that’s totally helping them stay motivated and landing jobs! Thanks for stopping by!Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, This is really encouraging for somebody like me who hasn’t taken guest posting seriously at all. I never even thought about how it could turn into a paid gig! I’m all about the guest posting right now and more blog commenting too. One of the sites I write for allows me to re-post my articles to my blog after a month of being published on their site, which is kind of really awesome, so I’m going to take advantage of that and start re-posting some of them on Medium. There are so many businesspeople and entrepreneurs hanging out there, I’m curious to see how I might be able to catch their attention this way (and by interacting too). Thanks for all your help Elna!Reply to Elise
Hey Elise! Glad to hear you are on the marketing and promotion path right now. I think Medium is a great place to publish your posts, but don’t forget about LinkedIn’s Pulse. They have a big entrepreneur and small business niche there! Yes, guest posting rules! πŸ™‚ This is how I built my successful freelance writing business! So don’t discount it.Reply to Elna
LinkedIn Pulse! Thanks for the reminder, I’m definitely going to use that one too.Reply to Elise