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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Make a Living as a Freelance Writer

Making a career out of freelance writing is a labor of love. Many writers aspire to one day support themselves entirely with writing, but instead discover that they must work at the local coffee shop or spend their most productive hours answering phones to make ends meet. I get it. I've been there and still regularly occupy that space. Life is a dynamic process and freelance writing is especially thus. It's ever changing.One month, you might have five clients that you're working with and the next, you're checking your email every hour, hoping for a small editing gig. What I've learned more than anything else in the freelance business is that I am responsible for my business. If I'm not generating it, there won't be any.

My partner in crime is a musician and he is a great example of how to be successful in the freelance business. Every day, he works to create his business. He goes to jam sessions to network with other musicians, he regularly stops by music studios to offer his services as a music teacher and he composes almost every single night. I'm often envious of his amazing focus and determination in his chosen field of creativity.

If you're struggling to make writing your full time career, consider some of the tips and resources below to help jump start your June business.

Advice for Freelancers 

  • Talk About Your Business: I recently started a new editing project for an attorney. She called me because she knew that I was a freelancer and she couldn't find anyone in her area that she trusted with confidential documents. Her business came as a result of conversations that I'd had with her more than two years ago. The more you tell people about what you do, the more likely your name is going to come up when someone needs writing or editing services. So allow the modesty to fall away for a bit and tell everyone that you meet for a week that you offer writing and editing or other freelance services, pass out business cards and remind your friends and family that any clients they send your way are greatly appreciated. 
  • Practice What You Preach: I must admit that I often fail in this capacity. When I work with clients, I spend a lot of time optimizing their content, building a social media platform and finding ways to make their business relevant on the internet. Why do I do this? Because that's how their future clients and customers will find them. This is equally, if not more so, important for a freelance writer. Utilize the internet to find new clients and to let people know that you exist. I recommend Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and any other sites that can advertise your area of expertise. 
  • Do Stellar Work: Every client is a connection to future clients. When you create content that someone loves or optimize a website so that your client's business improves, other people will hear about it. It's an overused statement that actions speak louder than words, but it's extremely relevant in the freelance business. You can talk a great game, but if you provide mediocre service, you will lose a lot of word-of-mouth business. 
Writer's Resources

  • MediaBistro: This is a great site for connecting with other writers, finding freelance jobs and finding informative articles about writing, publishing and more. 
  • NAIWE National Association of Independent Writers and Editors: Though this organization is not free, it is still a great resource for writers. As a member of NAIWE, you receieve a hosted WordPress blog that appears in the associations blogroll in addition to professional level support. 
  • All Indie Writers: Freelance writing jobs, writer's forum and writer's markets. 
  • Writer's Market Directory: An online directory of paying writer's markets. 


  1. Hello JR Erickson,
    I discovered your blog by searching something like content writing jobs in Michigan. My hope is that we can have short-term conversation, as I am seeking to find ways to move beyond a $25 weekly income with a content mill, to perhaps triple that amount. I am 4-months into the freelance writing world after having been a medical transcriptionist for 15 years.
    My wife, also partner in life instead of crime, -- has been very patient but know this is not intended to last indefinitely! Home improvement articles, car model evals, business bios, general health articles are seemingly my comfort zone!
    Are adverts on sites like simply hired,, employer network, helpful in one landing a gig?
    I found Michigan Works to be ineffective for me.
    I am visually impaired, early 60s, so working from home with a site using text-oriented parameters is best for me. I will say textbroker fits the bill for the most part in ease of use.
    Your comments when convenient would truly be highly regarded!
    Kind Regards,
    David Russell
    Southeast Lower MI

  2. Hi David - There are a lot of websites that post freelance jobs such as Craig's List, Indeed, etc. I have found Craig's List to be the most useful for local freelance options. I also recommend reaching out to small businesses who operate in your area of expertise and offering blogging content to keep their business relevant. You can also look into freelance copywriting or doing some deeper journalistic pieces that you pitch to magazines, which tend to have significantly higher pay rates than content writing jobs. Good luck. -Jacki

  3. Hello Jacki, I had a couple articles posted since commenting on your blog back in January 2015. One was about the local high school robotic club and the other was a Letter To The Editor. I am taking some courses through Ed2Go, and have a couple things pending publication that were advertised in Morning Coffee Newsletter; also listed myself with for writing health articles. Generally, I am hopeful that more opportunities will be found.
    Are you still blogging?
    I wish you all the best!