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The Ultimate Freelance Writing
Career Guide

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: September 03, 2020
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Freelance work in any field can be exciting and can offer you freedom that you might not have with a typical 9-5 job. On the other hand, it takes a lot of discipline — and maybe even a bit of luck — to earn a good and steady income. Freelance writers are more in demand than ever in the information age, and more people are entering the exciting world of working as an independent writer. Whether you are just starting out, or you are already well-established and have regular clients, you’ll find some valuable resources in this guide. Use these links to look for work, build your experience, network with other writers, and find helpful tools.

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Networks and Organizations

Use this section to connect with fellow writing professionals. Find forums where you can share your freelance triumphs and tragedies, get and give advice, and even ask for critiques on your latest work. You’ll also find a worker’s union that you can join to help create a louder voice for freelancers in the workplace.

Freelancers Union — The Freelancers Union was created to represent freelance workers in government and in the workforce. Even as a non-member, you can use the site to get updates on policies that could affect you as a freelancer as well as lots of great tips for improving your productivity.

Absolute Write Forums — Stop by this active forum to discuss things with fellow writers. You can ask questions, vent about your frustrations, brag about your victories, or just chat about current events. You may have to register before posting, but it’s totally free to join.

National Association of Independent Writers and Editors — Enhance your credibility and network with thousands of other writing professionals by joining NAIWE. You’ll get access to training materials, your own website where you can connect with potential clients, and expert tips from successful peers.

WAHM Forums — Though the site is called Work At Home Moms, any freelancer will find plenty of great conversation and sound advice in the forums. Browse through current threads to see what other freelance writers are saying, or start your own to ask a new question.

Tips and Advice

When it comes to freelancing, getting the right advice can go far in advancing your career and increasing your earning potential. It’s not hard to find blogs and sites promising to help you make money from home or to show you exactly how to get rich as a freelance writer. What can be difficult, however, is finding sound advice from real experts. Look to these sites and pages for truly helpful advice and valuable insights from successful freelancers.

The Well-Fed Writer — Bookmark this blog for a steady stream of helpful tips and resources to help you provide a great service for your clients — and get paid accordingly. Freelance Writing Resources — Here you’ll find plenty of expert advice for the freelance writer, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned freelance veteran. Find out about current copyright laws, get tips on improving your craft, and learn useful time-management strategies.

12 Time Management Tips — These tips come from a brainstorming session with several freelance writers. Among them are some excellent strategies for overcoming the most frustrating time management dilemmas. Click around for other wisdom-filled articles for freelancers.

Productivity Tips — It can be incredibly challenging to be highly productive without compromising the quality of your work. If you can master this, you’ll be well on your way to freelance success. Use the tips in this article to get you there faster.

Research Tools

Your writing is often only as good as your research. No matter how eloquently you convey it, wrong or outdated information isn’t going to impress anyone. Show your clients and your readers that you’re on top of things by always providing accurate and up-to-date information. Today’s reader doesn’t have the patience for stale statistics or for yesterday’s news. Use the resources in this section to find research materials and credible sources for your work.

The Free Library — Get access to millions of texts from classic literary works to industry-specific periodicals. Search by keyword or just browse through their extensive collection. All content on the site is entirely free to access and use.

Google Scholar — Looking for scholarly articles to quote or credible studies to harvest information from? Just enter your search terms and Google Scholar will provide pages of results without you having to get up from your chair.

Pixabay — Finding awesome pictures to accompany your work can be tough, and quality images can be expensive to use. Pixabay offers an array of high quality images that are available for free, so you can get great photos without worrying about copyright issues.

ProfNet — Need a credible source for your story or article? Try ProfNet. You can submit a question for free, and get matched with experts who can give your story the expert insight it needs.

Freelance Writing Tools

In this section, you’ll find all kinds of helpful tools for the freelance writer. Create a website the easy way and get the tools to find out what you can do to make it more visible to potential clients. There’s a free calculator to help you ensure that you’re not undercutting yourself when setting your rates, a keyword density tool for SEO writing, and even a free editing tool to help you polish your work before submitting it.

Google Analytics — Use Google Analytics to track visitor behavior across your sites and apps. Get accurate, integrated data to help you improve your marketing tactics and grow your freelance business.

WordPress — WordPress provides everything you need to build your own site: hosting, templates, and plug-ins galore. The fill-in-the-blank model makes it easy for even a first-timer to create a professional looking website.

Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator — This fun tool from All Indie Writers can be used a couple of different ways. Use it to figure out a basic rate to charge on your next job or to figure out what you need to make in order to reach your specific goals.

Hemingway — Hemingway is an app that helps you edit your work. Going beyond spellcheck, the app makes suggestions on things like sentence structure and use of passive voice.

Keyword Density Analyzer — Whether creating content for your own site or writing SEO copy for a client, use this tool to determine your keyword density. Just paste your work in the field, adjust the settings to suit your needs, and get instant (and free) results.

Finding Work

If you’re just starting out and looking for clients, there are a lot of places you can go to connect with people who need a writer like you. While it’s great to have your own website and find work on your own, that can be easier said than done — especially if you aren’t established in your career yet. Use these sites to find quality clients and get to work right away. A huge benefit of finding work through sites like those listed in this section is that they offer helpful tools like workrooms and job progress trackers. They also make it easy to collect payments by using escrow systems and guaranteed funding.

UpWork — UpWork provides a platform for freelance workers and clients to connect. Create a freelancer profile, and start searching for jobs.

Freelancer — Start an account with Freelancer and apply for jobs right away. One unique feature of this site is that there are contests you can participate in that not only pay the winner, but give you the opportunity to showcase your skills and stand out from other applicants.

Guru — Many freelance writers find a steady stream of work on Guru. Set up an account, find work, and build your reputation on the site to attract more clients.

Freelance Writing Jobs — Use the job board on this site to apply for freelance writing gigs with companies around the U.S. You can also find advice, insights, and links to other job-finding resources on the site.