I was recently reading an email from an entrepreneur I follow—Jessica Stansberry. The whole email was about 4 things she did to shift her mindset and as a result, her business exploded.
The one thing in her email that literally stopped me in my tracks was that she quit thinking about her business as a “little” business.
And hold the phone, friend… That is EXACT-A-LY the thing I've needed to hear.
I've spent so much of my freelance writing business as “small” and “nothing to boast about” because it's still a side hustle for me. And for a while, sure, that was probably the right way to think about it.
And I realized in that moment, reading that email, that I still let myself feel like an imposter, all these years later. I felt like less of a “writer” because I spent all my time writing for other people rather than writing for myself—writing about what matters to me and about how I feel.
All of this made me think of you, gentle reader. Because maybe you're still thinking small and not ready to consider yourself an “entrepreneur” or a “business person.”
But you are!
The moment you launch your freelance writing website, you're a freelance writer.
The minute you hit “send” on that first pitch or apply for that first gig, you're a freelancer.
The first time you tell someone you're a freelance writer, you step into entrepreneurship and freelance writing.
And for every first, there is a moment when we think small and we feel like we're kidding ourselves.
I'm no stranger to this: I've got a ton of experience and lessons behind me, I'm still, you know… thinking small. I don't think about the fact that I know what I'm doing or that, because I'm thinking of myself “only” as a side hustler, I'm rising to that level in my work.
I would be straight-up lying to you if I said I've got it all figured out, but I'm working on it. These are the steps I'm taking to upgrade my mindset and I challenge you to do the same.
1. When you talk about your freelancing work, omit the words “small” or “little” or phrases like “not a big deal.”
I still hold a full-time job, so the “side hustle” fact of my business remains. It might remain for you, too. But that's not what needs to change about how I think about my business.
I am thinking and talking about my business in ways that assume it's going to be – and that it already is– successful. I'm running a side hustle, yes. But it's not “small.” It's a business and I'm remembering to treat it like it's thriving.
Whether you've been hired or are still looking for that first opportunity, don't fool yourself into believing you're just a “small” operation.
2. Tell yourself in the mirror that your business is awesome and super-successful.
This sounds ridiculous but there is something so powerful about saying things to your own face. 😂
Trust me: You can write it down or say it aloud in your affirmations, but actually looking yourself in the eye in the mirror and saying it to yourself makes you believe it on a deeper level.
Here's the secret: If you feel stupid, you're doing it right. 😉
Don't know what to say to yourself? Try this:
“My freelance writing business is not ‘small' or ‘not a big deal.' It's a big deal. I'm going to meet my goals and achieve my dreams because I work hard and I help people [fill in the blank here with what you do].”
I mean, have a real Ron Burgundy moment.
3. Start spending time with other entrepreneurs.
You don't need to follow or necessarily spend all your time with other women, but being part of a dynamic circle of other ladies who are running businesses and who get the ins and outs of business life will build you up more than I can say.
This is especially true when you spend time not just with other entrepreneurs but with other writers. Make freelancing friends, not enemies!
I've been lucky enough to work with some great women over the years and I still try to talk with them on the regular. I'm making new connections this week, too, reaching out more, and befriending a “competitor.” Because you know what? There's plenty of business to go around and we don't do or offer exactly the same things.
Make friends with other entrepreneurs and other writers! It will change your life and help boost your mindset.
So that's what I've got for you. Three simple ways to stop thinking “small” and upgrade your mindset surrounding your freelance writing business.
Give it a try for a few days. Hit me up to let me know how it's going – find me on LinkedIn or Instagram, or send me a message. I can't wait to hear from you.
You may have tried googling “freelance writer jobs” and gotten a lot of mixed results. The moniker “freelance writer” is anything but constrictive and there are so many things freelance writers can do and services we can offer. There’s a fit for every fancy.
I often get asked how to create writing samples and what kind of work is “best” to take on. It got me thinking… Man, I wish I'd had a better understanding of what kind of stuff I could write for my portfolio when I started writing. So, I made a list.
Below, you’ll find an incomplete list of 22 (yes, TWENTY-TWO) freelance writer jobs and a short explanation for each. I’m willing to bet a few pique your interest.
Newspaper, Magazine, and other “Professional” Articles and Essays
This is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway.
Both online and print media outlets are always looking for “outside” voices to tell stories, write journalistic reports, and share opinions. There are tons of calls for pitches on Twitter from editors of every newspaper, magazine and other online media outlet imaginable. Seriously.
The key to landing these types of gigs is to do your research, find the right editor name and email address, and to follow their pitch guidelines (if you can find them, and you probably can) to the letter.
If you don’t follow the publication’s explicit instructions about how to pitch, you won’t be given the time of day. It’s also important to remember that these places get potentially hundreds of pitches every day, too, so you’re just one in a very large sea of many.
Politely follow up and don’t get discouraged if you hear a “no” or don’t get a response at all. Keep at it and eventually, you might find the right person at the right time with the right story or angle.
The best part of these things is that while they don’t generally pay a ton, they have your name on them and you get to fly around the internet tooting your “I’m published in X, Y, and Z” horn.
I wholeheartedly believe that every business needs a blog. This is so important to me that I talk about it all the time. If you like writing long-form, researched, informative content, this is definitely a writing form that should be up your alley.
Landing a client that is interested in having consistent blog content is a big bingo because this often means you have a promise of consistent work for at least a few weeks or months. This saves you the trouble of having to constantly be on the prowl to find new gigs and income.
Blog articles should be a minimum of 500 words (but they can be as long as 2,000 or more) and ideally need to include links to other pages on your client’s website as well as to other reputable outside sources. This is to help them look fair and informed while boosting their long-term search engine optimization efforts.
Email and Print Newsletters
Like blog articles, securing a client who wants you to write newsletters can also be extremely lucrative. I’ve become Instagram friends with a woman who exclusively specializes email newsletters and she’s totally killing it. (Check Lib out. She’s cool.)
Newsletter marketing is an ongoing thing and companies are always in need of someone to help create a strategy and write the copy. You could also learn how to plan and set up email automations – prewritten and scheduled email sequences that are triggered when a subscriber signs up, clicks certain links, or takes a specific action.
In fact, knowing a bit about automations and how to effectively craft them is another service businesses will gladly pay for. If you enjoy strategizing about content delivery, you can up your game by offering email marketing and automation services. This is a great ongoing freelance writer job.
Sales and Marketing Materials
This could take many different forms. You might find you enjoy creating things, like ebooks or journals or quizzes or surveys or coupon vouchers or a whole slew of other things. These materials are used by companies to market themselves every single day.
These things are often called “lead magnets” in the online world. In the print world, sales and marketing materials are literally anything used for sales and marketing. Once again, it’s not a surprise what this means.
From the actual creation of the thing – digital or physical – to the writing that goes along with it, somebody’s got to do that. It could be you. If you’re comfortable using design software like Canva* or if you’ve got a background in more robust systems like Adobe, you could offer a double-whammy to interested clients and handle both the designing and copywriting for their project.
Whitepapers are essentially long-form (think more than 2,000 words) content pieces used by companies to promote specific products or services they offer. (Nonprofits may also use whitepapers.) These are rarely written to entice consumers to buy, but rather for marketing to other businesses.
Want to look over a few whitepaper examples? This blog article highlights a few good ones from big companies like Cisco.
Case studies are, in a way, similar to whitepapers as they serve a specific marketing purpose: They’re basically long-form testimonials for a company. Rather than writing a quick recommendation, case studies focus on specific pain points a customer or client had and how a business helped them solve their issue.
These require interviewing customers about their experience. (Your client may ask you to interview their customer or they may provide you with a recorded interview they conducted.) Your job is to turn it into an interesting cast study article or piece of content depending on your client’s preferences.
While pictures may say 1,00 words, we all still look at product descriptions before we buy things. Someone has to write them!
Product descriptions don’t tend to be high-earners simply based on their length, but if you find a client who has many products and needs descriptions for all of them, that gig could be very lucrative. That said, stores and shops are always adding to their inventory. If you can develop strong relationships with your clients, you’ll be more likely to get repeat business from them.
To pad your product description portfolio, see if you can get some statistics back from your clients. Things like conversion rate (a percentage of how many people visit the product page and ultimately purchase – you want this to be high) and bounce rate (how many people visit the page without taking any action – you want this to be lower) can help you make a case for your copywriting chops.
Media (or press) kits are what businesses use to pitch themselves to press and media outlets. They include company bios, statistics about the person’s or brand’s audience, and a number of different elements that might include notes of their previous partnerships or publication records.
These kits can be used in a couple of ways, too. Some brands use their media kits to pitch themselves as expert speakers or writers. Others may use their kits to court advertisers to buy ad space from their publications.
Depending on the brand or person, the media kit might be short and sweet (check out Jessica Stansberry’s very simple press kit). It might be a very-well decorated press kit like Susue Moore’s. Or it might be an extremely in-depth kit covering advertising pricing, audience demographics, and more, like Oprah Daily, the website covering all press kit materials for Oprah Winfrey’s media empire, or Mel Robbin’s, an internationally-known self-development author and speaker.
These media kits take time to build out and plan. Once again, if you can offer design services, you’ve got one more leg up on other copywriters offering this service. But don’t fret – if you’re not comfortable designing, your services are still in high demand.
Every website you’ve ever visited and read through was written by someone. It might have been a company staffer or it might have been a freelancer. Either way, every single page on the internet with writing had to be (obviously) written by someone.
You could specialize in specific types of website copy, such as “about pages” or any other common page. Or you might specialize in a specific niche and provide copy for company websites in that industry.
One of the best ways to go about this is to ask your clients to present you with an outline of what sections are most likely to be on their website. If they’re working with a web designer, ask for the “wireframe.” If they’re designing the site themselves, ask to see the “dummy” site so you know how things will look, how long your copy sections should approximately be, and where you might need to add little blurbs throughout the pages.
Once again, someone had to write the manual for your Texas Instrument calculator in high school and that new blender you just bought last week.
This may sound especially “technical” but it’s not. Any item that requires a how-to manual or written instructions has a “technical manual.”
This type of writing is generally referred to as “technical writing” and its main goal is to uncomplicate the complicated. It’s very dry language with little or no flourish. Perhaps most surprisingly, this is probably one of the easiest types of writing to break into because it doesn’t often require the writer to match a particular “brand voice.”
Books and Ebooks
Ebooks can be shorter and serve as marketing materials, like lead magnets. (For an example, check out my ebook, 7 Steps to Start a Profitable Freelance Writing Business.) Alternatively, they could be just as long as a printed book, like Kindle ebooks.
Either way, people want to write books but don’t consider themselves “good writers” or want to invest the time it takes to write a book. You could be a book or ebook ghostwriter and make literally thousands of dollars helping others publish their ideas. You may even be able to find postings for these freelance writer jobs on certain job boards. Google “book freelance writer” or “ebook freelance writer” or “ghostwriter.”
Advertising copy is one of the most common things freelancers write, especially if it’s for a special project or sale. It’s akin to copywriting and someetimes these two terms are used interchangeably (though “ad copy” is more specific than just “copywriting”).
This could be something long, like the written content in physical mailers (also called direct mail), or something short and snappy like you often see in sale flyers. If you manage to get feedback from your clients about conversion rates, you can use that to your advantage.
Large companies likely have small teams of people (or just one person) dedicated to running their social media channels (generally called “social media managers”) but smaller companies may not.
Whether they’ve got help creating their images (you could do that as a freelancer, too!), managing posts and engaging with followers, or they just need someone to write the captions, this is a super lucrative freelancing opportunity.
Like with ad copy, if you can track numbers and have something tangible to show for your efforts, you can use that information to gain more clients and raise your rate.
Not everyone wants to hire a PR firm to help them make a splash in the media. Press releases are actually pretty easy to write and the same formula works for nearly every industry. Check out this template from Hubspot to see if this kind of writing is a good fit for you and what you or your client can do to get them in front of a wider audience.
We all know that presidents and other world leaders often don’t write their own speeches (at least not all of them), but that they have a team doing it for them. And they’re not alone!
Plenty of people struggle to write their thoughts clearly or have such stage fright that they need help writing a public speaking script. If you have experience in public speaking or a particular industry, you could easily niche down. Alternatively, your client should provide you with particular talking points so you can craft a thoughtful presentation.
Video has become a dominant force in how we consume media and most of it is scripted in some way. From newsrooms to YouTube videos to advertisements, someone has to make those plans and write those words.
Businesses hoping to make videos for their business on the platform or for their own websites likely don’t have someone on their staff specializing in script writing. Likewise, companies making promotional videos may need help writing scripts for their brands.
If you’ve got any background in video (or radio!) production or scripting, you’d be a natural freelance script writer.
Researchers will often seek help to get their results and findings compiled into written form. These papers may be published in professional or academic journals, among other places.
You likely will need to demonstrate specific previous experience to get hired for these gigs. Depending on your level of expertise in a certain area of study and the budget of the organization that hires you, this could be a big money maker.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Content
There will never be a shortage of people who need to have an understanding of search enging optimization (SEO).
SEO is the “science” behind how brands get found online through search results. There’s a lot that goes into it, from optimizing website pages to checking keywords to writing keyword-based articles and beyond. If this is of interest to you, specializing in SEO will help you stand out from other “generalist” freelancers – bar none. There will never be a shortage of SEO-centric freelance writer jobs (including at companies. This isn't a freelancer-only thing!).
Grants are essentially like scholarships for organizations: money offered by government and aid groups to help fund research and other activities that will benefit the public.
Organizations of all kinds apply for grants and often don’t have anyone on staff whose sole responsibility is completing grant applications to secure funding for their organization. These applications require very special elements and take time to learn.
If you have experience writing grants for a previous employer or nonprofit, you can do it for other groups, too. Even if you don’t have experience, this is a great content-type niche to choose and learn.
As a freelancer, you probably won’t have much need for a resume anymore. (This is one of the many perks of being a freelancer!) But everyone else still does.
People are always looking for help with their resumes. Once again, if you can keep track of your clients’ positive hiring record, you can charge more for your assistance.
Did you know there are people who manage other businesses’ Pinterest accounts for a living? There are!
From creating the images for Pinterest (which you would be wise to offer as part of your service) to writing the captions and scheduling the pins, this is a great way to make money. You’ll need to provide some kind of report each month to show what your work has accomplished for your client, but these don’t need to be fancy.
SIDE NOTE: I spent 6 months in 2021 paying a Pinterest freelancer a whopping $700 a month to manage my Pinterest account. Imagine if you had a few clients paying that much on the regular. You’d be making great money!
Podcast and YouTube Show Notes
Podcasters and YouTubers make the videos and record the audios, but they often aren’t the ones to write their show notes (or edit their content!).
This could be a great opportunity for a long-standing partnership with a client and a great “in” for possible referrals – especially if your person does a lot of collaborations with other podcasters or YouTubers.
So there you have it – 22 different types of content and freelance writer jobs you can master and offer. It takes time to “get good” at any one of them, but the more practice you get, the better you'll be at creating killer content for your clients.
Occasionally, new freelancers or people interested in starting a freelancing business tell me they don’t plan to build a freelance writing website for their budding venture. And when I hear that, my soul cries a little and my ears may bleed.
The truth is that yes, you can technically get your freelance writing business off the ground without a website… but eventually, you're going to want one anyway if you plan to make your biz a bigger part of your life.
Why not start down the right path?
Not to mention, a website gives you a place to:
- Introduce yourself,
- Share your rates (if you'd like – this part is optional),
- Display your writing portfolio, and
- Look professional and show you've got some skills.
Despite what you're thinking, building a website is actually pretty easy and really inexpensive. Here are the basic steps to help you get started on launching your own freelance writing website.
1. Think about what you're going to name your business.
You don't need a fancy business name to build a website. (I once wanted to call my biz “Bold Pen Writing” 🙄 which, I think we can all agree, kind of sucks…).
Start by making a list of adjectives you like that describe your personality or what you want your business to represent. If you know a specific niche you want to write for, maybe consider incorporating that. (Be careful with niches, though, because you don't necessarily want to give the impression you write only for that niche… unless that's your plan, then go for it!)
Once you've got a good list, pull up Thesaurus.com and check out some synonyms for your adjectives. Write down other ones that resonate with you (if there are any).
Now, start pairing the adjectives on your list with words like “writing,” “copywriting,” “content,” and anything writing-related. Keep playing around until you find something you like.
If you don't know what to call your business OR if you just want to be yourself, use your own name! Plenty of successful freelancers do this (including me!) and it works just fine.
2. Search for your chosen website/biz name as an internet domain.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
If you're not ready to pull the trigger on building a website for your business, I recommend simply checking for the URL availability on Google Domains. It doesn't cost anything and will show you whether your website name is available in the format you'd like it to show.
If you're ready to set up your website, I recommend using WordPress.com to set up shop. You don't need a high-powered website with a bunch of bells and whistles right away, so it doesn't make sense for you to sign up for an expensive package from web hosting providers. It's an easy-to-use system and provides you the ability to scale up when you're ready so if you ever need or want more bells and whistles, you can have them.
I recommend going with a “dot com” ending, but sometimes that's not possible. Use your best judgment, but remember you're going to be telling everyone about your freelance writing website. Definitely don't choose something that doesn't make sense, like “dot org!” If you're stuck, try adding a hyphen in your domain name or choose a different ending like “dot io” or “dot co.”
Searching for URLs on Google Domains
Searching for URLs on WordPress.com
Both Google and WordPress will tell you whether or not your clever name is taken (which sadly does happen!) and give you recommendations on how you can tweak yours and get a domain you're happy with.
Below, you can see how this looks on both platforms. I entered the name of this website, KrissiDriver.com (which is of course taken!) to demonstrate the options both platforms will present as alternatives. Google tends to give more realistic suggestions than WordPress… Be careful about using overly-clever workarounds or too many hyphens. You want to be able to tell someone your website URL without having to explain a lot about how to spell it correctly.
Here's what you'll see if your URL choice is unavailable when you're searching on Google Domains.
Here's what you'll see if your URL choice is unavailable when you're searching on WordPress.
I definitely recommend going with WordPress and here's why: You get your domain name for free your first year and your website hosting package (what you pay to WordPress to save your website on their servers) is as little as $48 USD per YEAR. That's less than a month's worth of Starbucks for me!
3. Build your freelance writing website.
Once you've purchased your domain (ideally through WordPress), you can start setting up your website.
WordPress offers all kinds of templates so you don't need to know a single thing about actually “building” a website or how to code. There are lots of free templates or, if you're feeling inspired, you can pay for premium themes (which can be fairly affordable).
Once you've chosen your theme, you can work on creating your pages. You should create:
Don't worry if you're not sure how to organize these or order them. You can always change things later. Taking action is a great first step to getting a website up and running.
As time goes on and you learn more, you can update and improve your pages. Be sure to update your site when you get new pieces to add to your portfolio or when you feel it's time to change your services, raise your rates, or if you're maintaining a consistent freelancing blog.
4. Share your site with the world.
You just built a freelance writing website! You should be freakin' proud of yourself!
Don't be shy – tell everyone. Put a link on your social profiles. Tell your friends and your mom. This is a moment to be celebrated.
Now you have a professional place to point your potential clients and show off your portfolio work when you apply for freelance writing gigs.
If there's one thing I wish I had started doing sooner in my freelance writing journey, it would be to set goals for how much I wanted to earn each year.
When I was new to entrepreneurship, I ran my business like a hamster on a wheel – spinning, spinning, spinning, and nowhere to go.
I had set my rate (kind of…) but I didn't know how much I wanted to make. And because I didn't know how much I wanted to earn, I didn't have any idea of how much I needed to work to meet my nonexistent goal.
Basically, I took on the attitude of “Well, however much work I can find and complete will be great. No need to make plans for these things.”
I was late to the party… But since I started setting income goals (i.e. how much I wanted to make from my freelance work after taxes 😉), things have taken a turn for the better in my business.
Setting goals has been a game-changer and helped me determine:
- How much money I wanted to make and what I might use it for.
- How to set my rate and when I should consider raising it.
- How much work I needed to do each month to meet my goal based on my chosen rate.
Here are a few tips for setting your first freelance writing income goal.
1. Set your freelance writing rate.
Before you do anything, you'd be wise to actually set your rate as a freelancer.
Why do this first? Because you'll need this number to do the math and figure out how much you'll actually have to work to meet your eventual goal. (Moreover, you'll know whether or not you're willing to work that much.)
Let's break this into tangible numbers.
Side Note: I was in the Math Honor Society in high school and any time I get to do actual math stuff excites me. Because I'm a nerd like that. Sorry, not sorry.
Let's say you set your beginning rate at $0.07 per word – a fair rate for a new freelancer. If you write 500-word blog posts or articles (or whatever) at that rate, you'll make $35 per content piece.
Knowing how much you can expect to make per client assignment as you move forward will help you determine how much money you can realistically earn.
2. Pick a reasonable goal number.
Now that you know what your rate is, pick a big amount you want to make over the course of 12 months. Reach high here! Then do the math to see what it'll take to hit it.
Go back to our $35 per 500-word rate example. Let's say you want to earn $1,000 over the course of the year. How much work and/or how many clients are you going to need to find in 12 months to make that happen?
$1,000 ÷ $35 = 28.5 (so let's round up to 30)
You'll need to write about 30 content pieces of 500 words to make $1,000 in a year. That breaks down to:
30 writing gigs ÷ 12 months = 2.5 (let's round up to 3 here)
Three writing gigs a month to make $1,000. Not bad, right?! You could probably do that almost in your sleep.
3. Add at least a third of your goal to your original number.
That $1,000 you want to make? You want to keep all of that, right?
But you've still gotta pay the taxman.
As a self-employed person or contractor, assume you'll be required to pay at least 30% of your earnings back in annual taxes. This is definitely true if you're an American citizen; if you're from somewhere else, there's a high probability that your tax rate is even higher.
So, to be on the safe side, add at least 30% of your “big number” back to your original goal. If you want to be really safe, make it 50%. If you want to be really, really safe (and challenge yourself), double your original number entirely.
Here's our example again:
$1,000 x 30% = $300
$300 + $1,000 = $1,300
$1,300 ÷ $35 = 37.1 (let's round up to 38)
Now we know you have to write 38 content pieces of 500 words to meet your goal and earn enough to pay taxes on it.
4. Incrementally raise your rate to meet your goal faster.
Every time you land a new gig or client, raise your rate a little more. Just a cent or two per word starts to add up. As you gain confidence and credibility, no one will blink when you ask for 10 cents per word. Or 15 cents. Or 20.
Remember to know your worth and don't be afraid to walk away from opportunities that feel like they're not paying you enough. It's your business, so it's up to you whether or not you choose to negotiate your rate with clients. But if you want more money, stand your ground. If someone doesn't want to pay what you ask (not due to true budget issues, but because they just don't see the value in your work), they're likely not going to be a good client anyway.
You might be able to exceed your goal just because you work hard and find great clients. They can be hard to find, especially when you're just starting out – but they're out there.
Taking time to set goals for your freelance writing business is a must because it gives you a clear trajectory to follow and helps you learn how to thrive as an entrepreneur. I wish I'd started setting goals sooner because it would have helped me feel more secure in what I was doing and plan better.
Don't make the same mistake I made – set some goals, set aside money for taxes, and start making things happen.