Freelance Writing Jobs Online for Beginners
Five years ago, I announced to my friends and family that I was quitting my decent-paying job for an uncertain future as a freelance writer. My decision raised more than a few eyebrows. Why?
I had absolutely zero professional writing experience. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.
Those closest to me tried to talk me out of it. But I knew better. I knew that freelance writing jobs were a legitimate (and even lucrative) way to earn money online. So I persevered.
And here I am, five years later, earning a full-time income with freelance writing gigs. I learned a lot along the way. Failed a few times. Nearly quit more times than I can count. Even took a six-month hiatus to work as a Virtual Assistant. But in the end, I always come back to freelance writing because, for one, it’s what I love to do, and two, there’s never a shortage of freelance writing jobs online (even for beginners!).
So if you’ve wanted to try your hand at writing, but never go for it because of lack of experience, read on. You can start a freelance writing career with absolutely no experience. I did it. And so can you.
Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: You don’t need writing experience or a degree to make it as an online writer. What you do need is a desire to succeed and genuine passion for writing. If you don’t have both of these traits, then this probably isn’t the right online career for you. Without a passion for writing or the desire to do it, you’ll quickly fizzle out and be no better off than when you started.
With sheer determination and a love of writing, you can get started as a freelance writer thanks to the number of online resources available.
How I got started with absolutely zero experience
As I said, I had no professional experience writing. I knew I wanted to be a writer and knew that the online landscape was filled with opportunities. But when you have no clue where to start, you can quickly become overwhelmed with all the resources.
I read just about everything I could find on the subject. And I learned that writers are very passionate about the subject of finding online work. Some swear by content mills and others loathe them. Some only use freelance marketplaces while others won’t go anywhere near platforms like Upwork. Others turn to online job boards and writing resource sites for job leads. So how do you know what works for you?
You don’t. You won’t know until you try them out. And in all likelihood, you’ll find that you strongly prefer one over the others. Does that mean it’s better than the others? Absolutely not. It just means your unique work style and preferences makes it the best fit for you. And, if you’re like me, you’ll use a combination of resources to piece together an income at various stages of your career.
Whatever you choose, remember, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your chosen path. There really is no right or wrong answer as far as where to find freelance writing jobs online for beginners.
Content Mill Jobs
A content mill is a crowdsourced writing platform. Clients go to them, post their writing assignments, and the content mill makes them available to a pool of writers. The client pays the content mill and the content mill pays the writer a percentage (essentially the content mill is the middleman between client and writer).
This is where I (and many others) started my freelance writing career. I signed up for several of them and started earning money that very same week. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t making great money, but I was making money as a freelance writer (which, when you’re just starting out, can do wonders for your confidence!).
I found that starting out writing for several content mills was a way to get quick money, gain confidence, and also improve my overall writing ability.
I also got an insider’s look into what freelance writing jobs were like and how to deal with editors. Although my earnings weren’t huge, the knowledge I gained was well worth it.
I committed myself to content mills full time for about three months. On average, I was able to earn $400 a week (not great, but I was getting paid!) and was well on my way to a freelance writing career.
I can’t speak enough on how content mills are a great stepping stone when starting out. You don’t have to write for them forever (if you don’t want to!). As far as freelance writing jobs online for beginners, they are a quick and easy way to get your feet wet:
- Textbroker (pays up to $0.05 per word & has direct order opportunities)
- Article Document (pays based on quality, has byline and ghostwriting assignments)
- Domainite ($1.00 for every 100 words, pay is weekly, also has editing positions available)
- Great Content (pay based on complexity of assignment, can earn as much as $37.50 for 500-word article)
- Hire Writers (weekly pay, earn as much as $20.00 per assignment)
There are literally thousands of freelance writing jobs online for beginners on the various freelance marketplaces. Clients go to these sites, post their assignments, and freelancers submit their bids and proposals. The client chooses who they want to work with based on the pitches they receive.
I turned to Freelance Marketplaces after my three-month stint as a content mill writer. I set up accounts on several of them and expected assignments to start coming my way. But they didn’t. After submitting as many proposals as I could, I realized that my profile was to blame for my lack of work. One minor tweak to my profiles and the pitches I sent out made a HUGE impact on the number of assignments I was offered:
Tell the client what you can do for them first and talk about yourself second.
Simple, right? Yep. But still most freelancers fill their profile with information only about themselves and fail to mention what they can do for the client. While you may have some impressive credentials, at the end of the day, the client wants to know what you are going to do for them.
So always, always, always write your profile and pitches with how your services will benefit the client.
After about six months of accepting jobs through freelance marketplaces, I steadily saw my income as a freelance writer increase. A year later, I increased my rates by more than 200% from when I first started. There’s more than enough freelance writing jobs online for beginners at these sites:
- Upwork (formerly oDesk, has payment protection, takes 10% of your earnings)
- Guru (payments are made based on completed milestones, fees vary based on your membership)
- Freelancer (has projects and contests available, fees vary on type of assignment completed)
Job Boards and Niche Websites
There are quite a few job boards and niche websites that regularly post freelance writing jobs online for beginners. After I used freelance marketplaces for more than a year to create a full-time income as a writer, I began to wonder what else was out there (plus it got stale paying all the fees!). So I started researching ways to find clients on my own.
What I found really opened up my eyes to the possibility of finding writing gigs without using a marketplace. The sheer volume of blogging, article writing, copywriting, and ghostwriting jobs available was astounding! I had less than two years of professional experience under my belt, but thanks to a number of assignments that gave me a byline, I was able to put together a decent portfolio to show clients.
Perhaps the best advice I ever got (at this point in my career) was from a prospective client. She told me that she enjoyed my cover letter, resume, and work samples but suggested that I put them together instead of sending them over as five different attachments (most clients will prefer you not bombard them with multiple email attachments!)
But how do you get all those things into one spot without using an attachment? A website.
The best thing I ever did to cement myself as a freelance writer for hire was getting a website.
So once you’re ready to start finding freelance writing jobs directly, I can’t recommend enough getting your own website together. It’s amazing how much work you can secure when you have your own site and make it a daily habit to check for leads:
- ProBlogger (has a ton of useful information as well as some of the best jobs posted on their job board)
- Freelance Writing Jobs (handpicked job leads as well as a job board of freelance writing gigs)
- Blogging Pro (a wealth of blogging information mixed with WordPress, plus job leads)
- Indeed (makes it super easy to find “freelance writing jobs”, save jobs, and apply directly on some)
- Work From Home Happiness (as a writer myself, I frequently scour the Internet for freelance writing gigs and am happy to share them with you!)
- Craigslist (check your local market, but also the bigger ones too like New York & L.A., always beware of scams!)
When you’ve really gained your footing as a writer, you can take your personal website and run with it (the sky really is the limit!)
You’ll have to market yourself like crazy in order to get clients to come to you. In recent years, social media has made this much easier. With the right tweet or post, you can capture clients’ attention and get them to seek out your services (remember to keep your profiles professional!).
When you do good work, you’ll notice that the number of referrals you receive from happy clients is enough to keep you with plenty of work (most of the time!).
But remember, when freelance writing (beginner or not) you’ll find work comes in a constant cycle of feast or famine. When you’re in a state of ‘feast’ you’ll be turning down work only to find absolutely no work coming your way the following week.
During periods of famine, I turn to freelance marketplaces and content mills to make extra money. It’s always wise to keep in good standing with multiple revenue streams (the freelance world is so unpredictable!).
And now that brings us to the present. I’ve started this blog. I have a couple of e-books in the works (an excellent source of passive income!). And I have a healthy client roster (a far cry from where I started five years ago). I’ve shared my journey to show that even with absolutely no experience, a freelance writing career is possible and attainable!
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to start a freelance writing career. No matter which path you choose, stick with it. Success doesn’t come overnight (or even in a year or two!). But with a little determination, you can start a freelance writing career.
Looking for more? There are a ton of websites that use freelance writers. Here’s a list of sites — a good jumping off point when you’re just starting out. You can also check out this article for sound advice on finding a steady stream of freelance work.
Don’t forget to check out Elna Cain’s Write Your Way to Your First $1K, a course specifically built for new freelance writers with absolutely no experience. In just 7 weeks, you can learn everything you need to start a lucrative freelance writing career and earn your first $1,000 — no degree or experience required.
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