Growing Online Income

How to Start Freelance Writing Online

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My journey to making money online wasn’t a straight line. I created my first travel blog partially just for fun, but also because I hoped to one day make money from it. When I started I didn’t really know how I’d monetise it but I knew that was my end goal.

A few months into my blog and it was making no money. I started to get pretty low on funds so I decided to sign up to to apply for some freelance writing jobs. I was never particularly talented at English or in writing, but I enjoyed it enough. I used my travel blog as my portfolio and applied to a few jobs for dismal pay rates and worked my way up. Within a month or two, I was earning more money than I’d ever earned before and working to my own schedule.

I could travel wherever I wanted while earning money – I felt like I’d hit a jackpot.

Eventually my blog became profitable and I moved away from freelance writing but it’s something I might look to dabble in again. Here’s my guide to starting freelance writing:

1) Spend a lot of time on your profile
This is where potential employers will come to learn more about you. I have actually hired people on and there’s nothing less attractive than a brief, unedited profile that is vague. Spend a few hours making it something that showcases your talents, experience and passions. It will pay off in the long run.

2) Write cover letters for each position
I had a generic cover letter that I modified for each posting. It was about 300-400 words and I always made sure to have specific comments or answers to the job posting. I’ve had people apply to jobs with one line that says “I want to do this job” and it’s really not impressive enough. Spend the time, reap the rewards.

3) Take some low paying jobs for experience
The truth is, is a somewhat saturated market. It’s definitely in favour of the employers. There’s a lot of competition. Recently I posted a job for a Virtual Assistant and had 50 applicants. This means if you want a job you’re going to need to stand out. One way to really appeal to potential employers is to have a decent amount of very positive feedback. In the beginning I took a few jobs that paid $4 per article and I wrote professional, well-researched pieces. I received great feedback and then started to apply for jobs that paid $20-40 per article.

4) Focus on ongoing positions
Once you’ve got a decent amount of feedback and experience, you should start focusing on ongoing positions. This might be a posting that requires 5 articles per month, or 20 per week. Whatever it is, it’s so much more efficient to have a regular client that you work for rather than small little one-off jobs. The thing about applying for jobs on Elance is that if you do it properly, the applying for jobs can actually be quite time intensive.

5) Branch out
If you want to write about travel, you’ll quickly find there’s a lot of competition in that market because many people want to write about travel. I wrote about parenting, bicycles and yoga – not my biggest interests, but I just researched them online and simply wrote based on what I had read. If you limit yourself to a niche, you’ll likely miss out on a lot of opportunities.

Finding freelance writing work online can be really hard in the beginning, but once you have an established portfolio it becomes a lot easier.

Have you done any freelance writing online? How did you find it?