What is Freelance Writing and How Do You Get Started? (Part 1 of 3)

Photo by Johnsense, courtesy of Morguefile.com

Photo by Johnsense, courtesy of Morguefile.com

What is Freelance Writing?


Freelance writing is a form of self-employed writing that involves working on a freelance or contract basis for blogs, magazines, newspapers or websites. You work the hours you want to work and you work as much or as little as you want to work.

You can get paid for freelance writing either per word, per article, per hour or some combination of those.


Writing for Newspapers and Magazines

When you write for newspapers and magazines, you typically send queries, which contain an idea, an overview of what the article will include, the length of the article and why you should be the one to write it. I’ll also discuss different types of articles and how to develop an idea. More on that on Monday.


Writing for the Web

Website. Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

Website. Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com

When you write for websites, you can write about pages, sales pages, location pages, etc. for local business. This involves cold calling. You can also call up business people, friends and family members to see if they’d like you to write a newsletter. A lot of people can’t write and don’t know what to write about. If you can do it for them, many are willing to pay – even if they don’t pay you a lot.

You can also write content for specific companies’ websites. In two weeks, I’ll give an overview of how to find jobs like this, what they entail and a little bit of information about setting your prices.


Mixed Bag of Nuts

When you’re freelancing, doing both types of writing (contract writing for the web or newspapers and magazines and querying for magazines and newspapers) is healthy. It ensures that you have enough work, that you can balance dry spells, that you can budget and that you can plan ahead. It also allows you to have an almost somewhat-regular income and find new opportunities if you don’t like some of you current gigs. Many freelancers recommend that you don’t rely on one job for more than 25% of your income because having many jobs and balancing them gives you more freedom.


Pros and Cons of Querying Magazines

Photo Courtesy of Writersmarket.com

Photo Courtesy of Writersmarket.com

Pros of Querying


  • Develop your own ideas
  • Higher pay per word/article (#200-500/article)
  • Get a byline!
  • Manage your own time
  • Interact with many people in the publishing world
  • Exciting to see your name in print

Cons of Querying

  • Takes weeks to hear back from editors
  • Often not paid until publication (several months after acceptance)
  • Writing queries is time-consuming
  • Idea development is time consuming
  • Many many many rejections
  • Need to be able to write articles quickly
  • Often you need a publishing history – you must be published to get published

Pros and Cons of Web Content Writing

Pros of Web Content Writing

  • Select from others’ established ideas
  • Usually paid quickly
  • Regular work
  • Can write many articles in a short time
  • Many opportunities, less risk of rejection
  • Manage your own time

Cons of Web Content Writing

  •  Often repeatedly writing the same type of thing
  • Pay per word/article is low ($10-$40 an article)
  • Little room for creativity
  • Usually no byline
  • When working for individuals, it can be difficult to get paid
  • need to be able to write articles quickly


Next Monday and Tuesday, I’ll detail how to find freelance and contract jobs, write query letters, develop ideas and address how (and when) you’re likely to be paid. I’ll also share some resources that I use that I consider invaluable that could help you get a head start and develop your own skills. Even if you have already established a freelance writing career, it’s good to know what’s going on in the industry and be able to have the opportunity to interact with other freelancers.


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  1. Great post, Robin! I can’t wait to read next weeks posts, too. I just wrote an article I want to get published so maybe you’ll help me find that place for it.


  1. […] What is Freelance Writing and How Do You Get Started? (Part 1 of 3) from Robin at Random Writing Rants […]

  2. Joseph Chinnock

    What is Freelance Writing and How Do You Get Started? (Part 1 of 3)

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