How To Start Making Money As A Freelance Writer

by Anne Wayman

printing moneyThere are two sources of income for freelance writers: paid assignments from magazines, newspapers and other publishers and paid assignments from corporations, nonprofits and other businesses.

The sound similar, right?

Yes and no. Yes, this is an oversimplification, but it holds up for most writing.

Yes, both sources are similar because you’re looking to others to generate your paycheck, but the approach to each is quite different.

Get paid writing for magazines, newspapers, & other publishers

Magazines, particularly trade magazines, always need new writers. Sure, you’ve got to be able to write, but you don’t have to be the next Pulitzer Prize winner. Writer’s Market lists trade and consumer magazines. Follow the instructions. Google up trade magazines and trade magazines for an industry you know. The web site will probably tell you how to submit an article – when you follow the instructions you may surprise yourself with a sale.




Local newspapers, particularly weeklies and freebies are great places for writers to start – and often get paid. Call the newspaper and ask if they pay freelancers – if they do, ask the best time to contact the editor. Call the editor with an idea or several, follow the instructions and chances are you’ll make a sale.

Under other publishers comes everything from book publishers to blog publishers. Jenn Mattern has published 5 More Freelance Blogging Markets that Pay $100 + Per Post. Yes, there are some, and there’s also a link there to her first blog on the topic. Google paying blog markets for more.

Book publishers also constantly need material – and I’m talking about trade publishers that pay you and who pay all the expenses, not self-publishing. Self-publishing can be a decent deal if you do it right, but that’s not what I’m talking about now. Again, Writer’s Market lists publishers, telling you what they want and how to approach them. Yes, it’s possible to start a writing career by writing a book – not easy, but it can be done.

Write for businesses of all kinds and get paid

In many ways, writing for businesses is easier than writing for publishers – first of all there are businesses everywhere and they all need writing, although not all are willing to pay for it. Secondly it can be fairly easy to break in.




Assuming you can write a reasonable sentence or two, you’re the one who has to contact the big, small or medium sized business and offer your skills as a writer. Figure out what kind of businesses you want to write for – this could be a specific industry like cars, or beauty supplies, or… You can also choose a category like nonprofits or small business with 500 employees or less. Or you can choose something like any business I can walk to.

The trick is marketing. You might want to do an email campaign followed by a phone call, or just start cold calling, remembering it’s a business to business call – yes, you’re a business as a writer. Some people send letters of introduction while others work trade shows.

Lori Widmer offers Marketing 365: Daily Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Small Business for $4.95! She’s the writer and creator of Words on the Page – this book is really aimed at writers. You could do worse than try one tactic a day for a year.

You can also make a habit of looking at job listings – do this consistently and selectively and you’ll probably get some gigs.

How to start earning money

The way you start freelance writing and earning money is to plunge in. Pick a couple of areas you want to write in or about. Find market listings and start submitting – always following the instructions. Or start marketing to companies – or, yes, even both.

It really is write, rewrite and market.™ That’s the secret, the way to do it and start earning.

Tell us about your first sale or what you’re doing to get it.

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by WonderWhy7439




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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine James March 26, 2014 at 10:39 am

My first sale was to a local newspaper.

I rewrote my own university application to do list into an article – and ended up making my first freelance writing sale… :)
Katherine James recently posted..Get Paid To Write Articles by Checking These 5 Job Boards DailyMy Profile

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annew March 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

Love it… proves almost anything can be made into a saleable piece of writing!

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Cathy Miller March 26, 2014 at 4:12 am

My first sale was to the corporate employer I just left for freelancing. :-)
Cathy Miller recently posted..LinkedIn’s Clashing CulturesMy Profile

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annew March 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

That’s the way to leave… with freelance work!

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Jennifer Mattern March 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Thanks for the shoutout Anne! :)
Jennifer Mattern recently posted..Can You Build a Kick-Ass Blog in 3 Months?My Profile

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