How Does a Newbie Writer Begin a Freelance Writing Career

| January 21, 2009 | 12 Comments

The other day I was roaming around the internet (goofing off when I should have been writing) and I saw a post from a newbie writer on how to begin a freelance writing career.

I remember many moons ago when I first decided I wanted to become a freelance writer. Basically I dragged my feet until money accidentally started coming in. If I were asked the question how should I start to become a freelance writer, here are a few tips I would give:

  1. Don’t quit your day job. Nothing is more frustrating than constantly checking numbers, looking at rejections and feeling the writing pressure when you first start out. Do yourself a favor and remove the financial stress and strain from freelance writing by maintaining your current means of earning money.
  2. Take advantage of the internet. A long time ago, I would probably have suggested that you begin byLearn reading magazines, newspapers, periodicals and sending query letters. I would have told you to get the latest version of the Writers Market and start doing research on the markets you would like to write for and begin sending effective query letters.That advice has changed. Use the internet to find writing gigs. Sites like, Craigslist and a host of other sites list writing jobs for freelance writers. I got my first paying gig through the Freelance Writing Job database. As a newbie I would stay away from bidding sites until you get a better feel for what you truly want to do and the type of writing you feel most comfortable with.
  3. Join residually paying sites. No longer do you have to worry about building up a portfolio or resume of writing assignments. All you have to do is write quality content for sites like Suite 101, Associated Content, or your own blog to evidence your writing abilities. Back when I started, I created my own website and placed a few articles with my own byline. It worked to get me several writing gigs.
  4. Hone your craft and learn to take constructive criticism. It’s not a personal affront, but any type of artist has to learn to accept criticism if they want to get paid for their craft. If you don’t want to get paid, then criticism is a whole different ball of wax.
  5. Follow and learn from successful freelance writers. Read around. There are plenty of blogs on the internet and websites that offer information and tricks on how to earn money. Most of the information is free.
  6. Do it afraid. If you are a brand new freelance writer, you’re going to be afraid. So you’ll just have to write afraid until you are no longer afraid. There are occasions where I write afraid, but I still write. It’s something like drawing. Before I had kids I used to have time for a hobby and I used to draw. Every time I faced the blank paper, I would get afraid until I picked up the pencil and started to sketch. The more I sketched, the more the fear would dissipate until finally passion replaced the fear. It’s the same thing with writing. Write afraid until your passion replaces your fear. If the passion never replaces the fear, its time for you to consider whether or not getting paid to write is for you.

Success comes when your passion and your desire to achieve your goal is larger than your excuses.

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Category: Freelance, Suite 101, Writing

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (12)

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  1. Do It Afraid. « The Last Word | March 24, 2010
  1. teecup says:

    Hi, Felicia,

    Your post brings back old memories on how I started freelancing. I still consider myself a newbie, so thanks very much for these tips!

  2. Hi Felicia,
    I feel very interested in your book “A motivational Newbie’s Guide to Online Freelance Writing”. Thanks for your kind of free sharing this book. I have started my online writing though have not much progress. I am glad to know you and get useful information from your website. Hope you be happy!

  3. Anne says:

    Hello Ms. Williams,
    I found your web site because I am searching for information on how to begin a writing career. Your site in very good.
    However, I have no writing experience. My writing, thus far, has been my own creative writing and all that I wrote in college, which my professors deemed quite good. I have put off venturing into writing due to my lack of know-how about how to begin. However, I believe I am ready. Can you please tell me….are the sites that hire “essay writers”, etc. for pay…are they credible and a smart route for a newbie to take? Do I submit a sample of writing?
    I would love any more suggestions you might have.
    Thank you for taking the time 🙂

    • Felicia says:

      Hi Anne, there are sites that accept essay writers. I might have a couple in my database. I also think I did a review on one or two (I can’t find the review at the moment). You can also do a Google search using the term “essay writers” or “hiring essay writers” to see what’s available out there. There is quite a bit of controversy regarding essay writing sites, however, as some are known to use them in a less than reputable fashion, so be careful.

      As far as lack of experience, I recommend you jump into the pool. Try sites like Associated Content as they seem to accept all types of writing. Read as much as you can about online writing and SEO. It’s a constant learning process so don’t feel intimidated. If your post here is an indication of your ability to write, I think you’ll do well.

      Browse around on NJFM and read the comments from the readers. They share a lot of first hand experience that will be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If I don’t have an answer for you, I know that my readers will.

      Oh, and BTW, call me Felicia. Ms. Williams is cool and all, but we’re an informal bunch around here. 🙂

  4. Felicia says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Welcome to the No Job for Mom blog. Any advice I would give you as a newbie looking to become a freelance writer is here on the blog. Take a look around. You should find information and resources to help you get started.

    As far as not having a degree in writing, it will only stop you if you let it stop you. I don’t have a degree in writing either.

    Your question as to whether or not you’ll be able to make money to help your family, the answer is yes. However, don’t expect to be spoon fed. You’ll have to go out there to claim your piece of the freelance writing pie.

    I use this blog as a means of sharing my experiences. I’ve made a few good moves and a whole lot of mistakes. I share them both.

    Read not only the blog posts, but the comments from my readers. Click on the links to their blogs as they offer a host of very useful information. Once you’ve spent a little time on this blog and my readers’ blogs, you will know, without a doubt, that you can make money as a freelance writer.


  5. Jessica says:

    Hi I am a 21 year old mother of two is it possible to become a freelance writer if I dont have a degree in writing? Can it eventually one day make some addition income for my family? Just curious..If you would like to get back at me with any advice please email me.

    Jessica West

  6. Kasey says:

    Very interesting article.
    I do believe that fear plays a big part in whether you will be successful or not.

    Kaseys last blog post..How to Deal With Your Auto Insurance Co. After An Accident

  7. Cyn says:

    Right on. #6 is a biggie. After years of stalling because I was afraid of failure (and get this –afraid of success, too…), I finally gave myself permission (I mean a kick in my own pants) to “proceed despite fear.” I’m so glad I did.

    Cyns last blog post..My Big eHow Experiment

  8. Msmayor says:

    Felicia- great tips for a newbie. It seems as if I’m still dragging my feet along taking baby steps but I continue to hoping that my baby moveement become second nature. Thanks for sharing

    Msmayors last blog post..My President is Black

  9. Kristi says:

    Great tips for the newbie and seasoned writer and I second your advice to try out residual sites. In fact, I now devote 30% of my time to assisting clients and the rest to establishing and building my passive income streams. : )

  10. kyo says:

    Great tips! I’m not a newbie anymore, but this would’ve definitely helped me when I first started out.. and the lessons are actually timeless. I love #4. Writers must develop thick skin, but still be able to take in necessary criticism, in order to improve.

    kyos last blog post..beginnings

  11. Shannon says:

    I think that last bit of advice is crucial for LIFE, in general! You can either be fearful and take action — or be fearful and stay paralyzed, never achieving anything. Take your pick.

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