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I went to college, majoring in English, and never got anything below an A on my papers.
There’s something about writing that gives me joy.
Maybe it’s the fact that you learn so many new things through constant research.
Or, the variation in topics makes it impossible to ever get bored from writing.
I have a difficult time naming my favorite thing about writing because I love it all.
Which is why I have always known I wanted to be a writer.
But not for a newspaper or journalistic path.
I wanted to do it my own way, with freelance writing.
Several months ago, I left my job as a preschool teacher (a job I loved!) to become a full-time freelance writer.
I work from home, set my own schedule that works for my family, and write about things I love. It’s literally perfect.
I need to mention, though, that I’d been freelancing for a couple of years prior to quitting my job. Becoming a successful freelance writer doesn’t happen overnight.
As with most professional jobs, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up.
Once you get there, though, the view is awesome.
You don’t have to be the world’s best writer and know everything there is to know about grammar.
As long as you have a true passion for writing and the dedication to work hard, you’ll make it.
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And these freelance online writing jobs for beginners with no experience will help you get there.
Get Started with Freelance Online Writing Jobs for Beginners with No Experience
Although I chose to get my degree in English, you don’t need a college degree to become a freelance writer.
In fact, I know many freelance writers with no college education at all.
I knew I wanted a college degree, and I chose to get one in a field that made sense for me and would contribute to my future career, so English it was.
But, don’t feel like you need to do that. It looks great on resumes, but it’s not a necessity.
However, you have to really love writing.
Because that’s what you’ll be doing every day. And you may not always get to write about topics you love in the beginning.
You may be stuck writing about vegetable gardening for a week straight. Seriously, I’ve done it.
But, like any other job you’re striving for, starting at the bottom is how you get your foot in the door and get to where you want to be.
Sometimes, this means working for a super low per-word rate just so you can gain some experience for your portfolio.
There are so many ways you can find online writing jobs, but they definitely are not all created equal. Content mills, for example, usually provide quick, easy work, but pay very little.
Some writing job boards have jobs with excellent pay rates, but the assignments are usually more involved.
Some writers praise content mills and continue to use them after years of freelance writing.
Others despise them and try to steer every freelancer away from them.
These freelancers usually swear by pitching article ideas to blogs and websites, which is a process that takes time and fine-tuning.
You won’t know what the best option is for you until you try them.
Content Mill Jobs
A content mill is basically a website where clients post work for freelance writers to write.
The client posts details about the writing assignment and, depending on the content mill, will place it up for bid, put it into a pool of writers, or assign it directly to a writer.
The content mill is what pays the writer for the work, and the client funds that work by paying the content mill first.
Usually, the content mill takes a cut of the funds, either before or after you complete the work. Most legit content mills are upfront about any commissions or fees they take.
As much as some freelance writers swear they will never touch a content mill, they’re where many writers, like myself, start their careers.
They aren’t the greatest for helping you build your portfolio (most content mill work won’t give you a byline), but they can help you build your income enough to turn writing into a career.
Plus, they give you pretty good insight about what clients look for. You’ll learn about different writing genres, efficient ways to research, and how to manage your time to stay on top of deadlines.
Don’t knock them until you try them. Content mills can be the perfect way to launch your freelance writing career.
Some of the best content mills for beginners include:
- Article Document. (review) Pays according to your writing quality. Some assignments offer you a byline.
- BlogMutt. (review) Pays every Monday after you send an invoice. You can earn more money as you gain higher levels from writing articles and getting articles accepted by clients.
- ClearVoice. (review) You can filter assignments based on your desired pay rate per word, byline, and more. Pays immediately upon assignment acceptance by the client. Its workspace is very clean, streamlined, and easy to use.
- Constant Content. This company frequently looks for new writers to join to meet the needs of its clients. Writers can also get emailed when clients need writers with specific skills to write for their industry.
- Domainite (review). Pays weekly, $1.00 per 100 words written.
- Great Content (review). Pay rate is based on each assignment, ranging between $7.50 and $37.50 for a 500-word assignment.
- Hire Writers. Pays weekly, pay rate is based on your writing quality. Top-quality writers can earn $20 per article, although it doesn’t mention the length of the article to earn this amount.
- iWriter. One of the most popular content mills, iWriter lets clients rate freelancers for their work. Higher levels give you access to higher-paying opportunities.
- Online Writing Jobs (review). Pays weekly and pay rate is based on your topic expertise, complexity of the article, length of the article, and deadline. Typically pays between $15 and $50 per article.
- Passive Solutions (review). Pays weekly for work, rates vary between assignments. Usually has a consistent stream of work available and expects writers to commit to writing at least 10 assignments per week.
- Textbroker. (review) Once you submit a writing sample, your writing will get rated, which affects the quality of assignments you can choose from. Higher-quality assignments mean more money, but you can work your way up to a higher rating. Pay rate ranges from 0.7 cents to 5 cents per word.
- Writer Access. (review) Writers get paid bi-weekly, and pay rates range from 1.4 cents to 7 cents per word, depending on their star rating.
- WriterBay. Pays up to $20 per page for articles in a wide range of categories, from finance to world affairs.
Freelance marketplaces are somewhat like content mills in that they act as a medium between you and clients and take part of your earnings in the form of fees.
But, they’re a little different in that freelancers can search specifically for the type of work they want and what they want to earn.
There’s a bit more control with freelance marketplaces.
Clients post their assignments or jobs to the marketplace and freelancers can bid on them, while sending along their profiles, resumes, and portfolios to the client.
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The client will sift through the applications and choose the freelancer he wants to hire.
It’s important to remember that, when filling out marketplace applications, you are as detailed as possible in explaining your expertise related to the job you’re applying for (even if it’s not much – be honest!).
Make the client understand how your work will help his job and list, or attach, any related published works.
And, don’t apply for writing jobs that are out of your league just because the pay is good. For example, if you write articles mostly related to pets on your blog, a client looking for articles about personal finance is probably wondering why you’ve applied to his job.
I started using freelance marketplaces after “graduating” from content mills, and I still use them today.
However, I’m much pickier about the jobs I apply for, making sure that they match my pay rates and will help me build my portfolio in the areas I desire.
A word of caution: most marketplaces have a no-tolerance rule for clients asking freelancers to perform work outside of the platform.
There’s a reason for this: it protects the freelancer! Most clients who do this have no intention of paying. So, at least until you establish a trusting relationship, keep all work inside the marketplace platform.
The following freelance marketplaces are excellent places to start applying for jobs:
- Freelancer. Fees vary between types of projects. Offers contests for extra money-making opportunities.
- Guru. Guru fees are based on your membership status (if you pay monthly as a member, the transaction fee lowers). Its payment and invoice interface can be a little more difficult to get used to, but it’s easy to search for, and apply to, jobs.
- iFreelance. iFreelance is one of the few marketplaces with no transaction fees for finding and completing work. Instead, you sign up for a monthly plan, which starts as low as $7.
- PeoplePerHour. You can create your own “hourlies” for writing, or respond to others. If you respond to others, you can ask for a down payment, or receive all money upon completion of an assignment.
- Speedlancer. This site is part content mill/part freelance marketplace. You can accept work, but you’ll have to complete it in a specific time limit.
- Upwork. Upwork has a fee structure based on how long you’ve worked with a client that ranges between 5% and 20% of your earnings. The longer you work with a client, the less fees Upwork charges. Includes payment protection, and payments typically take between 5-7 days to process.
Once you gain a little bit of freelancing experience, job boards are an excellent place for beginners to turn to.
The jobs usually have more picky requirements than those from content mills or freelance marketplaces, so it’s good to have at least a few articles behind you for experience.
However, many freelancers think they have to start with a content mill or freelance marketplace to begin writing.
Not true. The number of jobs listed on freelance writing job boards grows daily, and many jobs are always looking for fresh faces, not just seasoned writers.
So, try your hand at some writing jobs using a job board. Again, make sure you stick to what you know.
Applying for jobs way out of your areas of expertise may make you seem desperate and probably won’t win over the client. Save your range for when you have a more built-up portfolio.
Speaking of portfolios, have you started one yet? If not, this is an excellent time to do so. You’re still a beginner, so you won’t have much.
Take 4 or 5 of your best articles and add them so potential clients can gauge your writing style and make sure it’s a good fit for them.
A good place to start a free portfolio is Clippings.me.
You can link to your published works and Clippings will do the rest, like add a description and photo.
Or, upload your own, unpublished articles.
Here are a few of the most trusted job boards to find freelance writing jobs:
- Blogging Pro. Blogging Pro gets updated almost daily with new online writing jobs for all areas of expertise.
- Craigslist. Check your local area for local online writing jobs, or look at metropolitan areas for ones that can be done from anywhere.
- Freelancewriting.com. This board is updated daily and the site also contains valuable resources that help freelance writers get started and succeed.
- Freelance Writing Jobs. Clients place ads on this job board almost daily. You can find a variety of freelance writing gigs here.
- Indeed. Search for “freelance writing” in the job search, and add “remote” as the location to find online writing jobs. Frequently adds new jobs, and some you can apply for using your Indeed resume (so make sure it accurately reflects your writing skills!).
- JournalismJobs. This board is mostly for journalism jobs, like the name suggests, but some companies do use it to hire freelancers for blogs and other forms of content writing.
- MediaBistro. MediaBistro has a lot of jobs for experienced writers, but also has some entry-level work. It’s worth bookmarking and checking out. You can also set up alerts for specific job types.
- ProBlogger. Many freelance writers swear by this job board. It updates its listings daily and always has a variety of quality freelance writing jobs available.
- SimplyHired. SimplyHired is a job search site similar to Indeed where several freelancers have had luck finding writing work.
- Work at Home Adventures. Our job board includes a variety of work from home jobs, but also includes freelance writing gigs.
- Work from Home Happiness. The owner of this board adds freelance writing gigs to the board as she finds them. Search by keyword to find freelance writing jobs.
Websites That Accept Submissions
Beginning freelancers often find “Write for Us” tabs on their favorite websites, but feel as though they don’t have enough experience to impress the editors with their article submissions.
If your article catches their attention and it’s well-written, you absolutely have a shot at getting published.
The only downside of pitching your articles to websites is that you won’t get paid until – and if – the article is accepted.
For beginning freelancers without a steady income, you’ll basically be working for free until you get some accepted submissions under your belt.
Therefore, you may want to pick one day per week (or even just a few hours of a day) that focuses on pitching article ideas or submitting articles to websites.
The rest of the week, focus on the work you know you’re getting paid for.
These websites pay writers for accepted articles, without any expertise requirements.
Basically, if they love your article, they’ll buy it from you, whether you’re a beginner or not:
- A Fine Parent. This parenting site pays $75 per article via PayPal.
- A List Apart. Get paid up to $200 for full-length articles.
- Bless This List. Pays $100 per accepted listicle-style article.
- CollegeHumor. Pays between $35 and $50 per accepted article relating to college life and funny things.
- Cosmopolitan. Pays $100 per accepted essay, 800 words or less.
- FundsForWriters. Pays up to $50 for articles about freelancing experiences and things related to writing.
- Income Diary. Pays freelance writers for accepted articles, and will try to work with them to meet their rates. The website covers a variety of types of articles, from content writing to social media.
- Listverse. Pays $100 per listicle article that fits the humorous writing style of the website.
- Money Pantry. Pays between $30 and $150 per accepted article, no writing experience necessary. Articles must be about earning and saving money.
- Starting Business. Pays $50 per accepted article that relates to starting or maintaining a business.
Follow Reddit Threads
I’m not very active on Reddit, but I’ve heard that this trick has worked well for other freelancers, both beginning and experienced, so I thought it was worth a mention.
Sign up for Reddit if you don’t yet have an account.
Then, follow writer-focused subreddits.
Just be sure to return the favor and post jobs you find for others, too.
Sign Up for Skyword
Skyword is a platform that helps brands find writers to help with their messaging.
Several big-name online magazines and companies use Skyword as their platform for writers to write articles, pitch ideas, etc.
You can set yourself up with a profile on Skyword, indicate your experience, if any, and the industries you write for, and tell a little about yourself.
When brands need content, you could come up in a search, depending on your industries, that matches you as a potential writer for the company.
You’ll have a portfolio right on the platform, which is helpful if you don’t yet have a website to show off your work.
Sell Your Content on RedGage
RedGage is a very different way to make money with your content.
You can use the site to sell your blogs, photos, videos, and links to others.
When you write blogs here, you’ll get visitors to your content.
RedGage pays you according to how many views you get. The more, the better.
This is a form of revenue sharing, which means that RedGage is sharing its advertisement revenue with you, one of the people that creates the content its audience comes to see.
You get paid at the end of the month for everything you accrued during the previous month.
Each user will have a unique rate set that depends on the quality of their work and how popular it is.
Over time, if you have a continuous success rate with your articles, you may see your earnings rate increase.
Once you have at least $25 in your account, you can withdraw your funds on a RedGage card.
Seek Out Content Marketing Agencies
One of the things that worked best for me as a beginner (and seems to work really well for others, too!) is connecting with content marketing agencies.
An agency is usually a group of individuals that work together to create content and strategies for businesses.
Small agencies might have anywhere from 2 to 10 people collaborating on content, while large agencies can have teams in the hundreds.
Targeting small agencies can be good for very early beginners.
Find some agencies on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google searches, and let them know you’re available as a writer if they have a need for another one.
But, don’t be spammy in your contact.
Make sure that, when you email the agency, you come prepared with some sort of writing sample, even if it’s one you whip up for the purpose of applying to agencies.
You should also explain any experience you have within a specific industry, since agencies tend to work with businesses in multiple industries.
It’s possible that, for example, an agency is currently working with a client in the automotive industry, but none of their current writers are experienced in that field.
If you were an auto mechanic or have a lot of knowledge of manufacturers, models, and trims, you might be a perfect fit.
Use whatever expertise you have to your advantage, and you may wind up on the team.
Create a Niche Website
Do you have your own blog? Did you know that owning your own blog is one of the best ways to build your freelance writing portfolio?
Every post you create will have your byline and you’ll show off your writing skills – and areas of expertise – to potential clients. They can even find you through Google!
I recommend using WordPress to build your blog. It automates everything for you – date and timestamps, archives, etc.
And, you can customize it to your heart’s content with professional themes and helpful plugins.
Set up social media accounts for your website: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are among the most important to focus on.
Once you are ready to branch out more, try YouTube or Snapchat!
Make sure you write new, engaging content at least twice per week. This offers the best chance for more views and engagement. The more engaging your content is to your audience, the more impact it will have on potential clients.
How to Market Yourself as a Freelance Writer
So, you have your website set up and running.
Now it’s time to market yourself with it!
This is your chance to get clients coming to you and asking you for your writing skills. This is exactly what you’ve been working toward.
Unfortunately, that also means you have to really put yourself out there. It can be uncomfortable and time-consuming. But, it’s worth it once you gain your own established business as a result.
First, make sure all of your blog’s social media accounts are linking back to your blog.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this.
Your potential clients will have nowhere to go to find out more about you and your work if they can’t find your link.
Also, use hashtags in your social media posts, like #freelancewriter or freelance writer for hire, to let people know you’re in business and open for new clients.
Have a dedicated “Work with Me” page on your website that directs potential clients to the spot where they can find out more about you and the work you do, and contact you.
Continue to add your favorite, and most engaging, blog posts from your blog to your portfolio.
This way, you can direct clients to your condensed portfolio with works from your own blog, in addition to your other published articles across the web.
Until you begin gaining clients through your blog, continue to search job boards, content mills, or whatever avenues you choose, to get paid work.
After you successfully complete assignments, kindly ask your clients to keep you in mind for future work and referrals to other clients. Those who really enjoy your work will be happy to do so.
Setting Up Your Social Media for Success
Setting up your social media accounts to let others know what you do is crucial to your success as a freelancer.
One of the key points of a successful freelance writer is that their an authority in the business.
You might be an authority figure for the parenting industry, business industry, or finance industry.
Whatever it is, your social media accounts should display that.
In your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest profiles, make sure you indicate that you’re a writer in your chosen field.
Share content related to whatever industry you’re in to show that you really dig into that field and know your stuff.
Then, be sure to set up a LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other freelance writers and your target clients, like content marketers or business owners who might need your help.
Stay active on the platform and like, share, and comment on other posts.
You can also get involved in Facebook and LinkedIn groups, which are great for sharing tips with others in your industry and getting help along the way.
Setting Up Writer Profiles and Portfolios
There are a variety of online portfolio services that can help you get a quick portfolio set up for little to no costs.
Building up your portfolio is extremely important when you’re starting out as a freelancer and even after you’ve gained experience.
Your portfolio is where you’ll send clients to see past samples of your work.
If you have no experience or samples you can add to your profile, you can always start with some of your best posts you’ve written for your own blog, or create a few samples of articles, case studies, or other content for fictitious companies.
These are a few portfolio creation sites that can help you get started:
Add Yourself to a Directory
Adding yourself to a freelance writer directory can be a perfect way to let everyone know what you do and that you’re open to opportunities.
The more places that help get your name out there, the better.
Some clients will go straight to these freelance writer listings to reach out to them directly instead of taking time to post job opportunities and read through hundreds of applications.
Here are some directories aimed at featuring freelance writers in a variety of industries:
- AWAI Directory of Professional Freelance Writers
- Writerfolio Freelance Writer Directory
- All Freelance Writing Directory
- Society of Professional Journalists Directory
Some directories may have a fee for getting yourself added, but they’re usually low and worth the cost.
If you already blog, you might have heard of guest posting.
It’s a good technique to use to get your name out there and also get links back to your website from other websites.
You can also position yourself as an authority by posting a blog to other websites that focuses on topics you typically write about.
It also works well for freelance writers.
Once you get yourself set up with a business website, you can guest blog on relevant blogs in your industry by pitching ideas to the editors.
Get a link back to your site along with a short bio, so that everyone who reads your post will see who you are and what you do.
Cold pitching is a great way to score new writing clients, even as a beginner to the freelancing world.
It’s all in the way you pitch.
Cold pitching is basically like sales calling, only you do it through email.
You can look for some companies you might be interested in writing for and then reach out to a relevant person in the company (usually titled a Content Marketer, Content Specialist, or something along those lines).
Send that person an email that explains what you do and who you are, while gently offering some ways you might be able to help the business.
Be careful not to be pushy, and always use a personalized email to connect with others.
No one likes an email that looks like it’s been copied and pasted one hundred times over.
Most freelancers hold off on cold pitching until they’ve built up a portfolio and feel more confident in what they do, but that’s not always necessary.
If you believe you have the skills necessary to do what you say you can do, then it’s worth a try.
Networking with Freelance Writers
Connecting with other writers is a great way to learn new things and make new, beneficial connections that can help you in the future.
When experienced writers end up with more work than they can handle, they sometimes look for other writers to pass the work off to.
It’s a great way to get on the radar of others and be one of the potential candidates they offer work to.
Some of the tips you learn from more experienced writers are also invaluable.
Several LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups are available for freelance writers to connect with each other.
Get Referrals from Friends and Family
Another way you can get referrals for work is through friends and family!
You might have a cousin who’s just starting a website for her business.
Maybe you offer to write some blog posts for her to start getting her content built up.
She loves your stuff and knows you can write, so she keeps you in mind if she has any other needs for her business or knows of anyone else who might need your help.
Although the same kind of process can work with other clients, this referral system is great for beginners who haven’t gotten a lot of work under their belts yet.
Friends and family already trust you, so they’re likelier to pass your name along to someone because they know you’ll do a great job.
Still Need Some Help?
If you still feel a little overwhelmed, don’t feel bad. Although they won’t admit it, most freelancers feel the same way (I did, and still do sometimes!).
Fortunately, some amazing, experienced freelance writers choose to share their knowledge and experiences with beginners.
Elna Cain is one of those freelancers who I’ve looked up to since the beginning of my career.
She launched a course that’s perfect for beginners like yourself, called Write Your Way to Your First $1K.
This 7-week course gives you a peek into Elna’s own journey from the beginning of her freelance writing career.
She takes you on the same path she took, teaching you everything in between. From building your portfolio to pitching clients to setting your own rates, you’ll learn it all from Elna.
But, don’t forget that your career won’t be a replica of someone else’s career. Every freelance writer develops his career differently. That’s what makes you unique and potentially stand out from other writers.
There is no wrong way to make it as a freelance writer. With hard work and a lot of drive, you’ll make your first $1K in no time!
If you’re new to freelance writing, I’d love to know: What made you decide to get started and what are you struggling with the most?
Let us know in a comment!
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