When I did my research for this article, I was amazed to see how negative so many of the search results were on the subject of freelance writing. If I’m honest, I didn’t do much research for this one because I’ve worked from home as a self-employed freelance writer for almost a decade now. In my case, it wasn’t something I set out to do on purpose, but falling into it by accident changed my life and definitely for the better. Spend a few minutes with me here, and I’ll tell you exactly how hard it is to get freelance writing jobs and become a successful self-employed writer working from home or anywhere else.
It really couldn’t be easier to get freelance writing jobs, even as a completely new writer, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, the quality of the work out there varies immensely, and so do the pay rates. You may well have grand ideas about starting your new life as a self-employed writer writing for Forbes, National Geographic, or Time Magazine. In that case, I’m afraid you will be deeply disappointed.
On the other hand, if you set your sights on a more realistic level and concentrate on making a living first and foremost, becoming a freelance writer is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most accessible ways to start a profitable business working from home. I should know because I’ve done it.
How good at writing do you need to be?
I’m not going to lie here and say that anyone with any level of education can become a successful writer. That simply isn’t true, but you certainly don’t need to be the next Willam Shakespeare to get freelance writing jobs either.
To have any real hope of making enough money regularly to support yourself as a writer, you do need to be at least competent. You do need to have basic spelling and grammar skills, but that’s not to say it has to be at the level of a college degree in the English Language.
There are plenty of tools around that can help you with your spelling, grammar, and other aspects of writing, but you still need to have a decent grasp of such matters as the tools are not infallible.
Do you need to be an expert on the subjects?
It does help if you have strong knowledge or some experience of the subject a client hires you to write about, but it’s certainly not essential or even necessary. To begin with, some of the subjects I wrote about included the history of chocolate, loft roof ladders, and concrete reinforcement techniques! I’d eaten chocolate before, and I’d used a loft ladder in the past, but I knew nothing about concrete reinforcement, and I wasn’t what you’d call an expert on the first two either.
My experience shows that you will spend a good proportion of work time researching unless you are lucky enough to write about a subject you’re an expert in. Of course, if you are doing creative writing rather than technical or informative pieces, you may not have to do any research. You probably will, though, especially if you want to do a great job and get repeat work from that client.
How hard is it to find work as a self-employed writer?
If I were a mathematician, I could probably come up with some fancy formula to quantify the relationship between how hard online writing work is to find and how lucrative it is. I’m trying to say that the easier the work is to find, the worse it usually pays. If you think back to the second paragraph of this article, I told you that getting to write for the most prestigious publications can be almost as unlikely as winning the lottery. It’s not impossible, of course, but you have to be seriously good, and you probably need to know the right people, or you’ll have no chance.
When you first start out as a freelance writer, you’ll be looking at writing jobs paying a couple of cents per word. When you write a 500-word article about a subject for a client at that rate, the pay for a finished job would be $10. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s what you’re letting yourself in for as a beginner starting from scratch.
On a more positive note, if you can pick up and write ten of those articles in a day, you can earn yourself a hundred bucks. Do that five days a week, and you’re then talking $2,000 per month.
Unfortunately, this brings me to something you need to think carefully about before you set out on your quest to become the next “big thing” in online writing: your outgoings or how much money you need to earn to live.
I had a significant advantage in this area because I lived somewhere with a very low cost of living, we didn’t have children, and we didn’t live a lavish lifestyle. I could live very well on the minimum wage, so the only question I had to ask myself before going self-employed as a writer was, “can I earn the same writing as I’d get working a job for minimum wage?”
If I’m being honest, I didn’t even need full-time hours at minimum wage to get by, so it wasn’t a tough decision to quit my job and strike out on my own as a writer.
That’s all I will cover in this article, but I hope I’ve given you enough encouragement to think seriously about taking the next step? If you think you have the skills and the inclination, getting started as a freelance writer is easy. There are many places online for new writers to pick up work, and you could start right away if you want to.
However, I’d ask that you read more articles I’ve written for you about becoming self-employed as a writer working from home. If you do, I can give you advice, help, encouragement, and resources I wish I’d had when I started.
In my other articles, I cover things like where to find work, how much to charge, how and when to get paid, what you do and don’t need to be more successful, how to set up your workspace to be more productive, and software, hardware and other resources that will help you be more successful.