13 Ways to Make a Freelance Living

By Colin

The Internet has provided freelance writers with a whole new set of prospects for selling their skills. But while traditional markets will always be the main source of freelance writers’ income, it is possible to increase earnings in other markets using a little imagination and ingenuity.

Here you will find fourteen markets that are always on the hunt for freelance writers able to produce quality, original writing, on a reliable basis. Scan the job boards often enough, and these are the types of jobs that consistently pop up, many of them with excellent compensation packages.

1. Magazines

Magazines are the bread and butter of the freelancing writing industry. Writing for magazines opens you up to hundreds, if not thousands of markets, of all kinds of subject matter. No matter where a person’s interests may lie, it is pretty much guaranteed there will be a magazine for it somewhere.

Wherever your expertise may lie, write about it, and target these markets first. The more you know, the more you can write about, and the more writing you do for a magazine, the easier you will find it to branch out into new markets later on.

2. Newspapers

Newspapers are stuffed with columns, reviews, commentary, and articles on subjects that affect every aspect of contemporary society.

Getting published as a freelance writer in a newspaper is hard going, though, so start locally. Offer your services covering local events for a small fee or a by-line, and get to know the editor. It’s a small world in the newspaper industry, so working your way up is possible, provided you work hard, and network well.

3. Fillers

Another way of getting your foot in the door with newspapers is to write fillers. Fillers are very small pieces used to fill up redundant space on the page, such as brief news items, obscure news, jokes, and opinion, etc.

Editors are always on the lookout for good fillers, so if you can stand out with original writing, and provide their requirements quickly and accurately, you stand a good chance of being considered for regular or more in-depth work when it comes along.

4. SEO Articles

SEO articles, whether for a broker or direct with a client, are a great way of earning money. There is such intense competition on the Internet for traffic and advertising revenue, companies will pay handsomely for a freelance writer that can turn out articles to attract users to their business.

5. C.V.s (Resumés)

Everyone needs a Curriculum Vitae (C.V.), but not everyone can write a good one. Some people would prefer to enlist the help of a professional writer to help them build a quality C.V., and this provides a nice way for a freelance writer to begin earning money.

It’s a good idea to do some research into what makes a good C.V., but with a little practice and common sense it is possible to earn consistently in this market, writing for individuals or businesses.

6. Copywriting

Copywriting under the sales and marketing umbrella is another steady road to earning, though it can require a little more research to get underway.

Anyone who wants to sell something will require a copywriter at some point, and although copywriting is a more specialised area, with a little know-how and creativity, it is a potential goldmine of varied writing and cash flow, if you can get off the ground.

7. Website Content

Any business, organisation, or individual that wishes to promote, sell, or inform, requires a website to do all of these things, and thus the web content writer is in huge demand.

Web content writing pays well, and if you choose to specialise it can provide a great source of income and keep you very busy. Sales and marketing knowledge is a must, as may some basic SEO skills, but very often what is required more than anything is a creative writer that can transfer their enthusiasm onto the web page.

8. E-books

Some people say e-books will replace print, and others argue the opposite. But while the debate rages on, one thing for sure is e-books won’t be going away any time soon.

The best selling e-books are generally how-to or specialised knowledge books, so if you are hired to write one, there will undoubtedly be some research involved. Writing an e-book is no different to writing a traditional book, the only difference being you won’t be able to hold it in your hands when it’s published.

9. Press Releases

Being able to write a press release is a useful method of earning one-off gigs, but in some cases can end up being a long-term source of income. Knowing how to pitch and sell within a press release may require some knowledge of the product or service being sold, but the structure of a good press releases remains the same; who, where, when, why, and what. Do a good job on the first one, and a company may be inclined to use you for the second, and third, and so on.

10. Newsletters

There are hundreds of organisations that want to promote themselves or keep in touch with their client base, and very often newsletters provide the ideal solution.

Writing newsletters is a great way to break into freelancing and gather clips at the same time, and the requirements you need to get started are low in comparison to fillers or other copywriting gigs.

11. Ghost Writing

Ghost writing comes in many forms and pays on a very varied scale. And while it is not for anyone who seeks fame, a lot of money can be earned from it. But while the money may be good, be prepared to receive none of the credit. Be honest with yourself that you can handle this aspect before you take the job.

Ghost writers that receive five figure sums to write a book for a celebrity are extremely rare. Most ghost writing involves writing material on almost any subject. It could be that you are asked to write for someone who wants to expand their business, or who is simply unable to write for themselves.

12. Greeting Cards

While writing greeting cards pays extremely well for so few words, it is also a very tough market to break into. The upside is there is a massive market for this type of writing, as the sale of paper greeting cards for all occasions remains a hugely competitive industry. Editors, therefore, are always on the hunt for good quality, original material.

13. Novelty Tourist Merchandise

Everything with words on it has required input from a writer somewhere along the line. This includes such things as postcards, magnets, bumper stickers, and t-shirts.

This can often be a very well paid area of freelance writing, and requires the ability to write catchy, original phrases and content, time after time. And as with ghost writing, there is usually no credit to be gained other than monetary.

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10 Responses to “13 Ways to Make a Freelance Living”

  • Reem

    These are great ideas to make money freelance writing, however, I’m not sure I know how to go about getting into some of them. For instance, I have no idea how to become involved with greeting card companies, or novelty tourist merchandise among other ways listed. It would’ve been extremely helpful to get pointers on how to get into those markets, because those of us who are starting out are not sure how to go about getting into these markets.

    Great article, though, and very helpful! Thanks!

  • Benjamin Baxter

    Where do I find job boards?

  • Peter

    I agree with these comments. How do I get started? Do you have some sites/url for absolute beginners to freelancing that you could recommend? How did you get your start in the industry?

  • Mindy Rosso

    For those freelancers lucky enough to be creative with art and words getting into the greeting card industry isn’t as hard as it used to be. Open your own online cardstore for free at GreetingCardUniverse and earn up to 56 cents for each card sold. GreetingCardUniverse is a open community of freelance artists who have made GCU the largest greeting card store around – 60,000 cards and 2,000 artists and growing.

    For more info see: http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/community/art_welcome.asp

  • Allena

    BB- my site (click on my name) has a listing of 50 awesome job boards. I lump #6 and #7 together in my head…am I the only one? Same writing, different outlet.

    Anyway, wow I cannot believe this is the first time I’ve been to this site.

  • Michael

    I mentioned some of my favorite writing job boards in my post Entry Level Writing Jobs. I would also mention that though Colin is correct that those writing jobs can pay handsomely, most of them don’t pay handsomely. Employers always seem to want something for nothing, or something for little. They usually discover that “you get what you pay for.”

  • priya

    thanks, these are very nice suggestions but i do not know how to get started. where will i find which magazines need articles? as a beginner how do u get involved in these industries?

  • stefan

    Thank you, the information contained here is worth million dollars in the hands of a beggar.

  • Kennedy Alpha Mamza

    This is where it all begins. Thank you guys so much, am exploring my chances of making a living out of a dream. This adds up to the basics.

  • colin hall

    I was asked to write a story about a friends grandaughter.
    Then I had an idea that I could write a story for everyones grandchild only inserting their own name.
    Now I am “publishing” between ten and twenty a week for friends of friends.
    I make up the stories and they go down well.
    It could turn out to be quite a good business without relying on others to pay me for writing.
    Thought I would tell you, that´s all.

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