Introduction to Freelance Writing

Freelance WritingSo, you believe you want to be a freelance writer, eh?  Well, let’s take a few minutes and learn what that means, and how you can achieve your dreams.  First, what is freelance writing?  The word “freelance” actually comes from hundreds of years ago when a mercenary would offer his services to anyone who was willing to pay for it.  He wasn’t loyal to any specific lord or lady, and would fight for whoever was willing to hire him, and so he was called a “Free Lance.”

Today, the term freelance is used to describe anyone who wants to provide their services to clients who wish to hire them.  They aren’t tied down to any one employer.  In the writing world, you can be a freelance writer for newspapers, magazines, websites or just about anywhere else you can find content.  There are more opportunities for freelance writers today than ever before, and the demand for these writers is only expected to go up.

Freelance writing is a very broad term, and while some people will be happy to write any type of content, most end up specializing in specific areas of writing.  The following are just some types of jobs freelance writers compete for, and a very brief description of each:

  • Article Writing – You write articles for customers.  These articles can be on virtually any topic, and published on websites, ezines, magazines, newspapers and many other places.  This type of writing is one of the most common for freelancers.
  • Web Content – This is often similar to article writing, but is published only on a website.  It can be anything from an informational piece on dog training to an ‘about us’ page, or anything in between.
  • Translation – This is a very specialized type of freelance writing, and as the name implies, requires the translation from one language to another.
  • E-Books – The freelance writing of e-books is growing quickly.  You can write anything from a 10 page ‘report’ style e-book to a 1000+ page novel, and everything in between.
  • Copywriting – This highly specialized type of freelance writing is meant to help sell or persuade the reader to take a specific action.  Top copywriters can demand hundreds, or even thousands of dollars per page.
  • Editing & Proofreading – Reading through the work of others and improving on grammar, style, format and spelling are all tasks many freelance writers perform.
  • Academic Writing – Writing a term paper or other academic assignment.  These typically need to be well documented and of the highest quality.
  • Creative Writing – Just what the name implies, any type of writing that requires creativity such as short stories and novels.
  • Technical Writing – Writing on technical subjects that require extensive research and include very specific content.
  • Resume & Cover Letters – Just what the name suggests, writing resumes & cover letters for other people.
  • Press Releases – Press releases are commonly used by companies and websites to get the word out for an announcement they are making.  These have specific standards that need to be followed.
  • Speeches – Writing speeches for other people.  It could be anything from an acceptance speech to a best-man’s speech.
  • Whitepapers – These authority papers provide facts & statistics as well as commentary on them.

There are undoubtedly many other types of writing that a freelancer will perform.  As you can see, some of these categories will overlap so you may be writing creative web content, or an academic whitepaper.  There are clients looking to hire people to write in each of these categories every day, and if you’re able to find them and convince them to hire you, there is significant money to be made.

There are many benefits to being a freelance writer.  One of the biggest benefits is that you are typically able to work from anywhere in the world, and you can set your own hours.  If you want to get up at 4AM and finish that day’s project so you can enjoy the rest of the day at the beach, no problem.  You can even bring your laptop to the beach and work from there; it’s all up to you.  Another perk of freelance writing is that you are in direct control of your success.  You can accept and reject clients as you see fit, and the harder you are willing to work, the more success you will find.

For many writers, the ability to make a living doing what they love is the biggest benefit of all.  Most people who get into freelance writing do it because they enjoy writing.  This is important because a successful freelance writer will be writing millions of words and spending countless hours in front of their computer.

Freelance writing isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.  One mistake many people who get into freelance writing make is that they believe it will be their dream job which they will love every second of.  A successful freelance writer MUST look at this as a job.  Some days you’ll think it is the best job in the world, and others you will wonder what possessed you to start writing for a living.  One problem many writers have with the freelance lifestyle is that you don’t always get to write what you want.  If a client asks for ten articles on the benefits of eating moth larva for dinner, that’s what you’ll be writing on today.  Of course, you can turn down any job, but then you won’t be getting paid.

Another problem freelance writers run into is finding the great clients to work for.  This is especially difficult at first, and can be quite discouraging.  Many writers end up spending over half their time seeking out new clients to write for during their first months as a freelancer.  Once you’ve found several great clients, however, a steady stream of work should keep flowing in.

Freelance writing is an exciting, challenging, frustrating and rewarding life.  If you are able to live with all the ups and downs of this turbulent market, it might just be the best career for you.  If you don’t like worrying about when you’ll make your next sale, or why a client isn’t responding, you might want to consider another line of work.

Are you a freelance writer?  Share your experience with everyone in the comments below.  If you have any questions or other comments, please share those here too.  As always, you can also email me at

Thank you


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