How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer
You can make a living as a freelance writer by building your own business from the ground up, and do your own thing. Or you can start small and sign up for a few websites like People Per Hour and Copify to get your feet wet and start writing for others.
You can also get your foot in the door by offering PLR packages or non-exclusive articles by selling them on sites like Fiverr. This isn’t a site you’re going to make a killing on, but at $5 a pop, it can add up rather quickly when the work is minimal. I like to think of it as a stepping stone.
Either way, unless you land a solid gig where you are writing for the same person all day every day, you are going to need some advertising. You will need to stay organized, on task, and visible. How do you do that? Learn from those who have walked in your shoes before! Here are some of my best tips for making a living as a freelance writer.
Freelance Writing Tips
First and foremost, realize that most freelancers have several streams of income coming in at once. If you land a $1,000 gig, don’t be satisfied with that and take the weekend off. Keep working (set hours if you want – but keep working), and keep earning that money. Why? Because like any business, freelance work has highs and lows. You want to be able to set a budget up, right? You cannot do that if you make $2,000 one month and $200 the next. Try to get things to even out within the first few months, and continue working even when you feel like you have made “enough” for the week!
Be a “Walking” Billboard
You won’t necessarily be advertising in person (though do not rule that out just yet!), but you still need to be your best spokesperson. After you have got a few gigs under your belt, you should have others advertising for you as well in the way of testimonials. There are many ways you can advertise for yourself without being spammy, my favorite being in an email signature. Think about every email you send out. Each time you hit “send” you could advertise your freelance business without doing any extra work. Simply add your website or social media links to your email signature.
BallPark and BlinkSale are my favorite invoicing tools. Both have their pros and cons, and different pricing options. You can also just use Paypal, because their invoicing system has definitely upgraded over the years. Most of the freelance writers I know just use Paypal, and it’s sufficient. If for some reason you find that it isn’t, then I would check out the other (paid) options.
Keeping clients organized is a constant struggle for many freelance writers. If you like to keep things very basic, I recommend Google Sheets. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Excel, you can use Sheets with no problem at all. Even if you aren’t familiar with spreadsheets, there’s not much of a learning curve as far as the basics go. To keep your workload organized in spreadsheet form, you could create a new tab for each day and have it like a calendar for your “to do” list; you could have a different tab for each client; you could even have a different tab for each “type” of assignment. So say you have 5 articles to write, 10 media kits to create, and 3 errands to run. Put each on a separate tab so you can work in batches and accomplish things faster!
Freelance Writing Tools
FreedCamp is a free tool to use for project management and collaborations that will help you manage your freelance writing career. Unlimited users, unlimited projects, it really seems like a great tool to at least try out. If you absolutely love it, they have a paid invoicing system as well so you could do everything on one platform which is nice!
Wunderlist is an online to do list. What I love about it is that you can add people, assign them tasks, and more.
Trello is one of the best project management and collaboration tools out there. If you’re just working by yourself it’s probably not a necessity, but if you work up to having a team or end up collaborating with anyone, it’s wonderful!
One more tool I use is Google Tasks. It’s not an all-in-one be all end all kind of tool, but you can turn any email into a task. For freelancers, that’s gold!
RescueTime tracks how you’ve spent your time so you can analyze it later. This is effective because at the end of the day when you see you’ve spent 5 hours on Facebook, and you’re wondering why you’re behind on all of your projects, you’ll know why. It is a great way to re-focus your attention onto being a freelance writer.
Dashlane isn’t specifically a time management tool, but it’s a password keeper, which essentially means it’ll save you a ton of time. How much time have you wasted five minutes resetting a password, getting the new one sent to you, then having to change the password again? You’re trying to change it, and it’s saying you need an extra character or a symbol. Then you’re going to forget that password, too! Use Dashlane to keep them all organized.
Ah, tax time… the best or worst time for a freelancer. As long as you are using an invoicing tool (even if it’s just Paypal’s), you should be good to go as far as filing taxes. As far as paying taxes, well, that is a different story. You will need to set 25% of your income (give or take a few) for taxes. Sometimes you will not need that much, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. On the note of being safe rather than sorry, I would recommend hiring a tax professional for your freelance business because things can get sticky… fast! If you need a referral give Freitas Tax Services a call. Super easy to work with and their services are affordable.
Getting Down to Business as a Freelance Writer
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Are you a freelance writer? What’s your best tip for making a living from home? Let me know in the comments!