With the current state of the World and still lingering fear and uncertainty over COVID19, the question “How do I make money as a freelance writer?” is being asked more and more on online forums and sites like Quora. It is quite feasible that an increasing number of people are looking for ways to earn a living without being out in the workforce and having to spend more time than necessary around others.
Working from home, or remotely via the computer seems like the perfect solution, and so the idea of ‘freelancing’ springs to mind.
There are many different fields or niches in which people can offer their services as freelancers, but for me specifically, it is freelance writing. So, for that reason, I will share my own observations from personal experience having been writing online for over 13 years and as a freelance writer on Fiverr for more than seven. The clearest way of sharing the information is to list my top ten freelancing tips.
Top 10 Freelancing Tips
- Sell What You Are Good At: Don’t offer a service you have no real experience in and expect people to buy it. If it is something that interests you, and you really want to do – research, study and practice as much as you can before you even advertise. In my time at Fiverr, and HubPages I have encountered numerous people calling themselves ‘freelance writers’ who can barely construct a legible sentence, or who have a very basic grasp of the English language.
- Join a Freelance Hosting Site: It is best to begin your career by joining one of the freelance hosting sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer etc. This helps you hone your craft, makes your skills available to a large customer base without you having to cold-sell, and takes payment worries out of your hands. Most of these take a commission of 20% but I find that well worth it for the service the platform offers (at least Fiverr.) Once you establish yourself and build up a regular clientele you may decide to go it alone and save on paying a commission to anyone.
- Price Your Work: It is no good trying to sell your services if you have no idea what to charge. As a writer I find it best to charge a set amount per word or per 100 words. Charging by the hour is too difficult and allows to much latitude for dishonesty. Some customers will let you know the budget they are willing to spend but most prefer you to quote a set price you will do the work for. Some may try to haggle and bring your price down, but at least you have a starting point to work from.
- Don’t Make Unrealistic Promises: Don’t promise your customers what you can’t deliver. Some people have unrealistic expectations but you shouldn’t feel pressured to accept. If you think a project will take you comfortably three days to complete don’t agree to do it in one unless they agree to pay you extra for giving it your full-time attention to get it done early. Your first priority should be to deliver quality work and having to rush often compromises that.
- Be Flexible: It may appear that this is somewhat contradicting the previous point, but it isn’t really. You need to treat all customers as individuals, listen to their needs and do your very best to accommodate them. Don’t give them false promises though. All customers have different reasons for wanting your services. Some I have encountered just seem to want someone to discuss their ideas with and get feedback. Occasionally a client may give you a story that makes you empathize with them and you decide to give them a cut-price deal or extras at no additional cost. It happens. Offer a variety of different services and types of writing to appeal to various demographics and needs.
- Payment Before Delivery: The biggest benefit of belonging to a freelance hosting site is that the buyer has to pay the site when they order the service or product. The only way you, as a seller, won’t get paid is if the buyer is not happy with your delivery, even after revisions, and refuses to accept the order or raises a dispute with the service provider. If you are an independent freelancer you are in charge of handling the payments, but I recommend you ask for at least part payment at the time of ordering.
- Have Your Own Writing Space: Try to set up your own private home office or comfortable and semi-private space where you can write. Your work may be based at home but you still need to treat it as a business and be as professional as possible. You need to be able to separate yourself from or work around the everyday distractions of home and family life, at least for the few hours a day that you need to dedicate to your writing.
- Make Time For Yourself: As a writer, you love to write. It is your passion, not to simply write what other people need or request, but subjects and genres that interest you. You need to make time to write for yourself as well, otherwise writing will cease to be fun, and you will lose your love for it if you are only doing it for the money. Being part of a writing group or websites like The Creative Exiles, HubPages, or Medium will help you keep the love alive.
- Grow a Thick Skin: As a writer, you need to be able to accept criticism as something positive and learn to grow from it. Not everyone will love what you write, but as long as the positive reviews far outweigh the negative, you are on the right track. Occasionally, a customer may say what you delivered is not what they envisaged or they don’t like what you wrote. Usually, you will offer them one or two revisions as part of the service so problems can often be resolved there. The trouble with writing something and delivering the work is that you have no way of taking it back. There is really nothing to stop a customer saying you didn’t meet their brief or they just didn’t like what you delivered so they can get their payment reversed. Luckily, this does not happen often.
- Don’t Give Up Your Day Job: If you have another job, full-time or part-time, don’t give it up with the hope of replacing your regular income with what you make freelancing – at least not as a writer, and/or for a few years. Just use whatever you make as a freelance writer as a top-up or supplement to your regular wage. Freelancing is not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme and takes a lot of dedication and patience to make even half of what a regular wage pays. But, it can be lucrative over time.
I hope that gives you some idea of the pros and cons of freelance writing. When I first started I thought,” This is a waste of time. I have better things to do than just sit around hoping for customers,” but over time I received, first one order, then another. One customer became a regular, and as good reviews built up it attracted more customers.
Now after seven years I am so glad I stuck with it, and have a regular stream of orders that keeps me busy, and although doesn’t support me totally, does help pay the unexpected bills and expenses that invariably crop up, or an occasional holiday away. My parting words, be patient. It is worth it.
by John Hansen © 2022
For more works by this author see John Hansen on The Creative Exiles.
You can also find great works by John Hansen with the pen name of Jodah on HubPages.