Tips for Becoming a Freelance Writer

Updated on June 1, 2017

There is nothing like choosing your own hours to work and working on projects you want. Getting into the world of freelance copywriting can be overwhelming and intimidating, to say the least. There are not very many freelance writers out there willing to share their knowledge with others as well. This is because the freelance writer/copywriter sector is saturated. This means everyone is bidding for work. And in this industry, only the best writers get the gigs.

This article intends to cover five primary questions many burgeoning freelance writers have as they search for their own place as a writer. If you are already a seasoned freelancer, then this article is not for you. For those who are fresh in the game and looking for some words and advice you can trust, please read further.

The AP Stylebook Is Your Bible!

Most medium-to-high-end freelance writing sites require that authors or copywriters have basic knowledge of the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Stylebook for short). Those sites that do not require this are questionable.

You may think that you can write because your significant other thinks you're the best, but the fact of the matter is, you probably suck (in comparison to what is required). When I first started freelance writing, I thought I was a pretty okay writer. I was gauging myself against others who knew less than me when it came to grammar and writing styles. Even today, I am not happy with where I am in terms of my own writing.

It is important to get this through your head now: you know nothing about writing if you haven't yet learned the AP Stylebook. This is because, when it comes to writing professionally, anyone you deal with who is looking for true talent will only accept the Associated Press style of writing.

Why am I being so blunt and straightforward? I wish there had been someone rude and blunt towards me when I was just beginning. Once you spend hours compiling page-after-page of sample material, turn them in, and then get no responses or even worse: You get a response that says, "We are not looking for your style of writing at the moment." This can be really disheartening.

Building A Writers Portfolio Is An Important Step

Build your portfolio before you start looking for work. This will save you a lot of time.
Build your portfolio before you start looking for work. This will save you a lot of time.

As you delve into the world of freelance writing, you will soon begin to see that the landscape is pretty much the same all the way across. You will be required to submit a resume', around three samples of your writing, a cover letter and some links to previously published works. These prerequisites can be a big hurdle for those new on the scene.

There are some employers out there who don't require anything but a good writing sample. Asking to produce a sample in the 300+ word range is not unusual. These are the companies I prefer to apply for. It shows me as a writer that this company cares more for my artistic abilities and not so much about frivolous documents that have nothing to do with skill.

And this brings me to the final point in this section: Don't settle for being an employee! If you want to enjoy the freedom of being a freelance writer, you have to work for it just as you have to work for any other career in this world.

In some advice from the FreelancersUnion, look at yourself as a professional looking for clients, not a job seeker looking for an employer. If you want to be treated like a professional, then you must behave and treat your own work as such.

Stay Away From Content Mills

You are a skilled writer, not a slave.
You are a skilled writer, not a slave.

Content mills are actually a good sign that becoming a freelance writer is very possible. It means that there are a lot of clients out there looking for quality written material. Most of the predicament lies in the fact that you are intimidated by the thought of looking for your own clients. Don't be!

When I was working for content mills, I used to find ways of tracking down their clientele whom I had written for. After seeing my work on their websites, and seeing that these were big name brands displaying my work but with another name and face signed to it, I decided to quit helping them make money.

These same big name brands that I was once afraid to approach out of fear of rejection were buying my content. A lot of times I was receiving five stars for the quality of my writing (not that those stars mean anything), but I wasn't receiving full payment (not anywhere near it) nor was I getting discovered. It was all a big waste of time.

Sites like UpWork and Freelancer are nothing but scams. These are the worst of the worst when it comes to freelancing anything. There are possibilities to meet good clients through UpWork or Freelancer, but to agree to communicate with any client outside of their platforms will lead to getting banned (which, who really cares anyway!). But a lot of these so called "clients" are also looking to get out of the UpWork or Freelancer platform in order to scam you as well. So, basically, just stay away from such trash sites.


If you have always dreamt of working as a freelance writer, the time is perfect. Though the competition is fierce, don't let that thwart you from your dream. There are billions of consumers on the planet; there are hundreds of millions of companies online looking for people to write content for them. It only takes getting off your butt and putting in the energy to learn the AP Stylebook and build a killer portfolio.

But remember, don't focus your writing on personal blogs or online journals (unless you are a travel or fashion blogger). People don't care about your personal feelings or thoughts. They want to see that you can produce well written, informative content for their sector. That's it. So, get your pen and pad and start jotting notes on things that fancy you. Maybe you'll find a niche' who is interested in your material.


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