Whether you have a full-time job or are trying to carve out your path as a solo entrepreneur, freelance writing can be an excellent way to make some extra money. Many freelance writers who start small can grow their freelance writing income into full-time gigs, trading corporate cubicles for remote work on their own schedules.

Sure, in the age of generative artificial intelligence (AI), you might wonder whether there’s still room for skilled writers to create blog content, landing page copy, e-books, emails, and other marketing collateral.

However, you can take comfort in knowing that the world needs freelance writers who can conceptualize copy from start to finish, draw conclusions, make predictions, and otherwise humanize an art that, before AI, was 100% human-driven. With the following guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating freelance income on your terms and, if you choose, ditching your 9-to-5 favor in favor of work that aligns with your goals, needs, and lifestyle preferences. Let’s get into the details.

What Is a Freelance Writer?

By definition, a freelance writer is anyone who performs writing work as an independent contractor. Freelance writers can include:

  • Content writers who specialize in search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Technical writers who create product manuals, technical documentation, and other types of technical content
  • Copywriters who write marketing copy, such as ads, landing pages, emails, and website content (see Mandel Marketing’s copywriting services)
  • Ghostwriters who write under another person’s name
  • Content marketers who offer multiple services, including SEO-driven copy, social media content, and marketing copy, often combined with marketing strategy (see Mandel Marketing’s content marketing services)

As opposed to full-time writers who work for a single employer, whether for a marketing agency or an internal marketing team, freelance writers may work for multiple clients. They typically set their own rates and choose how much or how little they want to work.


→ Need to improve your writing? Check out An MFA For Your MBA, by Phillip Scott Mandel, out now!


Career Outlook for Freelance Writers (In the United States)

So is becoming a freelance writer a good idea? Well, from a lifestyle and psychological perspective, we can’t answer that for you. But we can tell you what the data looks like, from a career perspective:aAccording to the Digital Nomad Cafe Podcast, as of 2020, there were over 44,000 freelance writers in the United States, an increase of 8% since 2011.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 4% increase in jobs for writers and authors between 2021 and 2031, equating to 5,900 new writing jobs.

Statista also reports a total count of over 76 million U.S. freelancers of various kinds as of 2024, and by 2027, it’s expected that freelancers will make up over half of the total U.S. workforce. No doubt, there are many freelance writers in that mix, making their way as independent creatives.

How to Become a Freelance Writer

If you’re considering becoming a freelance writer, there are a few steps you can take to set yourself up for success.

1. Identify Your Niche

Before diving into a freelance writing career, explore potential niches. What areas of expertise do you already have? What issues fire you up? Whether you want to be a generalist who covers a wide variety of topics or a specialist who writes within a specific industry, the beauty of this stage is that you get to decide what areas to pursue.

When you’re starting out, you might want to test the waters by writing on various topics. Over time, you can carve out a niche and potentially command higher rates.

2. Build Your Skills

Practice makes perfect, and the only way to hone your writing skills is by writing as much and as often as you can. Set aside time daily and weekly to write, experimenting with different writing styles and formats — from blog content to advertising copy. Each type of writing has nuances, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the requirements of various types of content.

In addition to developing writing skills, now is the time to practice time management, organization, and client communication. As you juggle multiple projects and deadlines, you’ll need to master these skills and recruit technology tools for project management, client management, invoicing, estimates, taxes, and other areas of your business.

3. Get a Separate Bank Account

It might seem insignificant when you’re barely scraping by as a freelance writer, but separating your business and personal finances is critical even early-on. As a freelancer, you won’t have taxes withheld from your earnings, so you’ll need to keep track of your profits and expenses for ease of reporting at tax time.

You may wish to consult with a tax professional and an attorney who can help you sort out tax and legal matters, including the best legal structure for your business. They can also help you create systems and processes for tracking and reporting income and losses.

4. Create a Portfolio

Most freelance writers have online portfolios showcasing their best work, with links to writing samples and information on their backgrounds and services. Your portfolio should demonstrate your writing expertise, abilities, strengths, and versatility, with samples covering different topics, styles, and formats.

If you’re just getting started and don’t have many samples, consider writing spec pieces or guest blog posts to build your portfolio. (Check out the next section for help building a solid portfolio that attracts attention.)

5. Network

Freelance writing can get lonely if you lack a support system. As you hone your craft, connect with other freelance writers through social media platforms, online forums, and writing groups. Seek peer support for valuable insights, referrals, and potential collaboration opportunities.

Often, writers may come across writing gigs that don’t quite fit their expertise or that they can’t take on. If you stay top-of-mind with other writers, they’ll likely be happy to refer business your way.

Crafting Your Profile and Portfolio

Don’t let being new to freelance writing stop you from building an impressive portfolio showcasing your talents. Follow these tips:

  • Write a professional bio. Introduce yourself by highlighting your name, expertise, and the factors that set you apart from other writers. Emphasize your unique selling points, whether a niche specialization, industry experience, or writing style.
  • Curate your portfolio. Choose high-quality pieces that showcase your best work and demonstrate your range as a writer, with samples that cover various topics, writing styles, and formats.
  • Join freelance platforms. Set up profiles on Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr to highlight your services and connect with potential clients worldwide. Optimize your profile with relevant keywords, skills, and experience to help attract potential clients searching for your services.
  • Add testimonials. Request feedback from satisfied clients to add credibility and social proof to your profile and increase your chances of winning new projects.


→ Interested in Freelance Writing? Read about 10 thought leaders’ experiences with freelancers.

Earning Potential of Freelance Writers

Various factors influence the earning potential of freelance writers, including years of experience, background, specialization, and geographic location.

Writer Elna Cain reports that 34% of writers charge between 5 cents and 20 cents per word — and that’s a useful starting point for determining fair rates for your work. However, remember that the more experience you gain and the more confident you are in your skills, the easier it will be to ask for (and know) your worth.

Indeed, while some writers may earn modest incomes, others earn six-figure incomes by offering additional services. For instance, some writers may join forces with other specialists, such as ad managers, to offer a wide range of digital marketing services.

The important fact to remember is that there’s no limit to your earnings when you are your own boss. With dedication and hard work, you can meet your goals, no matter how small or grand.

Factors Influencing Freelance Writer Income

  • Experience: Seasoned writers with a track record of success in their industries often command higher rates due to their expertise and credibility.
  • Niche: Writers specializing in niche topics, especially in lucrative industries, typically earn more than those in oversaturated markets.
  • Client base: As you build a loyal clientele, you may secure long-term contracts to generate reliable income.

Finding Freelance Writing Jobs

Now comes the fun part: getting hired. It might not happen overnight, but with persistence, you can start landing clients, earning repeat business and referrals, and making a great income as a freelance writer. Here’s how:

  • Join freelance platforms. Upwork, Fiverr, Draft.co, and other freelance platforms open the door to clients worldwide. While some platforms allow you to bid on projects, others may require writing tests to join and begin accepting work. When bidding, focus on writing tailored proposals demonstrating how to deliver value to increase your chances of winning bids.
  • Explore job boards. ProBlogger, All Freelance Writing, and FlexJobs are just a few job boards where you might find relevant job postings.
  • Join writing communities. Platforms like Reddit’s r/freelanceWriters and writing-focused Facebook or LinkedIn groups often share job leads, networking opportunities, and helpful insights from experienced writers. Participating in these communities can help expand your job search and foster a supportive network of peers.
  • Pitch to publications. What trade journals and websites exist in your niche? Research them to discover writing and submission guidelines, best practices for pitching, audience targets, and content style. Tailor pitches for each publication, and follow up consistently — you’ve got nothing to lose. (Want to pitch an article to Mandel Marketing? Contact us!)

FAQ About Freelance Writing

How do I determine my freelance writing rates?

Your experience, project complexity, and industry standards all factor into your rates. Research the going rates in your area of expertise, and set competitive prices based on your skills and expertise.

Do I need a formal education in writing to become a successful freelance writer?

Skills often trump formal education in freelance writing. You can improve your writing skills through writing courses, workshops, and practice.

How do I handle revisions and feedback from clients?

Revisions come with the territory. Be courteous, responsive, and open to feedback, and deliver revisions efficiently to ensure client satisfaction.

What are some red flags to watch out for when accepting freelance writing gigs?

Beware of vague project descriptions, unrealistic expectations, and requests for unpaid work. Be willing to cut loose anyone who attempts to work outside the project scope.

How do I manage my time effectively as a freelance writer?

Create a schedule, stick to it, and prioritize tasks. Set boundaries to avoid burnout and maintain work-life balance.

How can I expand my freelance writing business and attract more clients?

Network, build a strong online presence, and offer additional services. Leverage client referrals and testimonials to attract new business.

What are the pros and cons of specializing in a specific writing niche versus being a generalist?

Specializing can establish expertise and attract higher-paying clients. Generalizing offers versatility but may face more competition.

Can I freelance while working a full-time job?

Balancing freelance writing with other responsibilities is possible with good time management.

What resources can I use to improve my freelance writing skills?

Explore books, online courses, podcasts, and writing communities for ongoing learning and development.

Start Your Freelance Writing Career

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to start freelance writing, let this article be the spark that fuels your new venture. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, there are ample opportunities to make your mark as a solo business owner. What better time than now to pursue your freelance writing dreams?


→ Need some inspiration? Check out these 30 business writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing!