This is one of many posts on my blog that will be geared toward offering actionable tips and advice to help others establish a profitable side hustle. I decided to start a side hustle series to help support the fact that not all side hustles or online jobs are scams and to provide valuable information to help you get started and begin making money.
Side hustles have enabled me to increase my debt payments and make my goal to become financially stable and independent more achievable. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am financially if I didn’t have a side hustle and just relied on the income from my full-time job.
Over the past few months, I’ve come across several really informative and well-written articles about side hustle ideas but I always wanted to know more about each opportunity which is why I decided to give more in depth information about each specific side hustle opportunity and how you can get started and become successful.
Today I’ll start with what I know best, freelance writing, then we will more forward and expand from there. If you have any ideas of side hustles opportunities I should include in the series, please let me know in the comments below or email me.
So What is Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is a very popular and profitable side hustle and some writers have even turned it into a full-time career (Update: I just quit my 9-5 job and started working for myself and freelancing full time starting Sept. 1).
I’ve been freelance writing part-time on and off for the past 3+ years and I started during college as an easy way to help pay for some of my living expenses. As a journalism graduate, I’ve always been super passionate about writing and it’s very fulfilling to me.
When I started getting back into freelance writing in February, I decided to take it serious and treat it as an actual mini-business. After a few short months, I’m bringing in more than I ever did at my part-time job and I’m enjoying the work as well.
If you’re interested in pursuing freelance writing as a side hustle, here are some of the main steps you should take.
Decide What Your Niche Will Be
The freelance writing industry is extremely diverse and it’s important to narrow down the topics you wish to write about since the possibilities are seemingly endless. Even if you like to write, coming up with posts, articles and content on a regular basis can be a tedious process.
You should think your area of expertise or something you would enjoy talking about and prepare to write for clients who specialize in that niche. That way, when you have articles due, you’ll be motivated to write and enjoy the entire process from start to finish.
My favorite topics to write about our personal finance, parenting, fashion and basic health and wellness habits. It’s a good idea to diversify your preferred range of topics to avoid burnout or writer’s block. I like how I can alter the topics I write about each week for clients so I’m not just creating various posts about getting rid of debt each week; because that can get old quick.
We all have different interests so it’s a good idea not to limit yourself to just one niche and be more marketable to different types of clients.
Generate Writing Samples
To start bringing in paid jobs as a freelance writer, you’ll need high-quality writing samples if you don’t have them already. About 100% of clients will not hire you if you don’t have writing samples.
Notice I didn’t say 95% or 99% but 100% meaning no one is going to offer legitimate work and pay you to write for them if you don’t have samples that showcase your writing abilities.
If you don’t have any professional writing published online, you can always volunteer to contribute on your favorite websites and guest post on blogs (I’m always open to inviting guests to post interesting articles on my blog). You most likely won’t be paid for your writing at first but think of it as an investment and a way to build up your portfolio so you can get paid jobs.
Establish an Online Portfolio
If you want to get started with freelance writing and land your first assignment, you need to have some form of an online portfolio. Creating your own blog and posting regularly would be the best option because it showcases your skills and creativity along with allowing potential clients to see that you are an active writer.
Even if you only post once a week, establishing a professional and neat-looking blog – along with a hire me page to let people know you’re looking for freelance work – is one of the most effective ways to land new clients.
Don’t believe me? My first official client found my blog somehow, read my hire me page and approached me about my writing services. It was nice to have someone email me about working with them instead of having to pitch someone about my services. That client turned out to be one of the best, allowing me to choose my own topics each week and I always receive payment no later than 1 day after I submitted each article.
If you don’t want to start and maintain a blog, there are plenty of ways to showcase your work. You can use free online portfolio sites to upload or embed your content for others to see. Some popular portfolio sites include:
Get a Mentor or Coach
Still a little lost about how you want to approach freelance writing? If you think you may need additional help and guidance in order to kick off your freelance writing side hustle, you may want to work with a mentor or coach. I spent a few months working with Cat Alford from the site CatherineAlford.com (formerly known as Budget Blonde) through her freelance writing coaching program. She has now made the program bigger and better by turning it into an insightful online course for aspiring writers who wish to land well-paying writing jobs!
It was one of the best things I could have done to get a good start in the field. Cat is an experienced blogger and freelance writer and she helped me avoid costly rookie mistakes and present myself and my work in a professional way in order to land high paying writing gigs.
When I initially started working with Cat, I remember filling out a survey and telling her that my initial goal was to earn $1000/month from freelancing. Then when I got started, I realized how much work and dedication was required and even though I loved my writing jobs, I realized it would be a bit of a challenge to meet that goal while working my full-time job and taking care of my son and I immediately started settling for a lower monthly amount like $500.
Well let me tell you, I earned $500 very quickly and this month I received almost $1000 worth of freelance work assignments just short of $20 so it’s more like $980 (If you follow my online income reports, you’ll see that my earnings have been steadily increasing over time and last month now I usually earn around $3,000+ strictly from freelance writing.
My freelance writing income has tripled in a year because I chose to invest in myself and seek out professional help from someone who already knows the ropes).
I manage my time very wisely so it wasn’t a major struggle to complete the assignments and I’m kicking myself for ever doubting my initial goal.
With freelance writing, it IS possible to earn a decent amount of side income each month and enjoy doing it as well. Cat really helped get me prepared and in the mindset to earn more money from writing.
If you’re serious about making good money as a freelance writer and avoiding all the rookie mistakes that could hold you back, I’d strongly recommend taking Cat’s online course. There are three different levels to meet anyone’s budget and the investment you make in the course will pay for itself time and time again when you start landing new clients and professional writing gigs.
Build Up a Network
Like all jobs, your network can be instrumental in terms of your success. You should establish connections with other bloggers and writers improve your presence on social media and follow the companies and individuals you want to work with. You can also comment on posts on other people’s blogs so they become familiar with you should you ever decide to email them to pitch your services.
Tell your friends and family that you are interested in obtaining some freelance writing jobs and promote yourself on social media and to local businesses and organizations in your area.
By utilizing your network, you’ll be one of the first to find out about unadvertised job leads and find legitimate writing jobs.
Create a Flawless Pitch
In order to land writing jobs, you’ll need to create a pitch to send to potential clients. A pitch is somewhat like a more informal mini-cover letter that highlights your experience and strengths to the reader in one fatal swoop. There are three main components to a great pitch:
- An overview of your experience
- Your strengths and how you would be an asset to the client
- Relevant writing samples
As a bonus, sometimes I add topic ideas in my pitch email to showcase my creativity to the client and plant the idea in their mind to allow me to draft a trial post for their site. After I do a trial post, I can usually showcase my value and reel them in. When you finish creating your pitch, you should edit it carefully to avoid sending any grammatical errors or typos.
Run it through Grammarly which is a free service that will expose typos and incorrect grammar instantly. Since you’re applying for writing jobs, proper spelling and grammar in your pitches is crucial.
It may help to have someone else read it over and search for mistakes or bad wording that can be improved.
Search for Work in All the Right Places
Searching for your first writing job can be a tense process. But it doesn’t have to be if you search in all the right places. Avoid content mills and sites like Outsource and Elance where tons of writers bid on low paying jobs.
Reach out to your network and other writers or bloggers to let them know you are looking for work and if they know anyone who might be hiring. Believe me when I say there are plenty of writing jobs to go around.
You can also join Facebook groups like the Careful Cents Club to help you connect with other writers and soloprenuers when job leads come in.
I know Craigslist gets a lot of flack, but I do check their site for gigs every now and then. In the past, I’ve landed two gigs from Craigslist ads but they both didn’t pay that well. You should watch out for scams on Criagslist and only pursue opportunities that seem legit and pay you what you’re worth.
If you’re looking to earn some extra money on the side (which could even turn into a profitable full-time career, have you ever considered freelance writing? Why or why not? What additional questions do you have about becoming a freelance writer? Sound off in the comments.