Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources


This post was first published in 2010, and rewritten/updated in 2016.

This is the guide which I wish I’d had when I was getting interested in freelance writing. It’s a step by step walk-through for the adventure that lies ahead of you.

You’ll find tips for each stage of your journey, and summaries of great resources to help you along the way.

Tip: You may want to bookmark this post or even print it out, so you can come back and dip in at each new step of your journey.

Ready to get going?

Step #1: Is Freelancing for You?


(Image from Flickr by Jeff Kubina)

In medieval times when knights roamed the land and fighting was done on horseback with a long pole known as a lance, the mercenaries of the time were referred to as ‘free lances’.

That quote (from freelancer extraordinaire, Collis Ta’eed of Envato) pretty much sold me on freelancing. I get to follow in the steps of knights and mercenaries; what’s not to like?

You can’t know for sure whether freelance writing is for you until you try it out. That said, you’ll want to think about:

  • Do you enjoy writing?
  • Are you any good at it? (You don’t need to be Shakespeare, you just need to be able to write clearly and competently.)
  • Would you like to work for yourself?
  • Are you prepared to keep learning?

You don’t need to be certain in order to start, but if you can answer “yes” to all or most of those, you’re probably going to get on well as a freelance writer.

Further Reading:

Is Freelancing Right For You? – an in-depth look at freelancing by Vandalay Design, running through the key reasons why you might be thinking about freelancing, and giving balanced advice (with a firm look at some of the potential downsides).

7 Terrible Reasons to Become a Freelance Writer – straight-talking myth-busting from the indomitable Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing. Carol also has a brilliant (and free!) ebook available, 100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered, that I highly recommend to all freelancers, whether you’re just thinking about it or well on your way.

11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing – by Dean Rieck on Copyblogger. If you think you need to brush up your skills a bit, this post is a great place to start.

Step #2: Before Your First Client: Working for Free

typing(Image from Flickr by plugimi)

If you’re new to writing and don’t yet have any published pieces at all, you’ll need to do a small amount of work for free, to build up a portfolio. Charities and non-profits will be hugely grateful for your help, or you could guest post for larger blogs (which will normally give you a byline and a link back to your website).

However … don’t quit your day job yet! When you’re producing something for free, your “clients” won’t be too demanding. Once you’re being paid for your writing, your skills, professionalism and your client management all matter much more.

Also, don’t spend long at this stage. Three good pieces for your portfolio are definitely enough. Ask your client for a testimonial that you can use on your website (most will be very happy to oblige) and you’re ready to tackle paid work.

Further Reading:

3 Times Working for Free Can Help Your Freelance Writing Career – by Jessica Lawlor, on The Write Life. Good tips on when you’ll want to consider doing some free work.

Should I Work for Free? – a fun (but also useful) chart that helps you assess any given opportunity to write for free to see whether you should go for it or not.

5 Non-Icky Ways to Ask for Testimonials by Chelsei Henderson, on FreshBooks. If you struggle with the “asking” bit of getting testimonials, then there are some great suggestions here.

Step #3: Creating Your Website

keyboard(Image from Flickr by William Hook)

Even if you’re only working part time, you’ll want to look like a professional. Reasonably enough, potential clients will want to feel confident that you’re up to doing the job they have in mind … and that means creating a good first impression.

Online, it’s easy to look the part without necessarily spending a lot of money. A website is pretty much essential:

  • Clients expect it
  • You’ll have a 24/7 showcase for your work
  • New prospects will visit your site every day (especially if you have useful content there, perhaps in the form of a blog)

Of course, you could spend thousands on getting a website designed and created. But for most freelance writers, that’s not a realistic start-up expense. You’ll want a route which lets you do most of the work yourself – but with a clean, professional-looking result.

Setting Up Your Business Website

This is the easiest way I’ve found to get a nice-looking, robust, website together.

If you go through this “50% off” link, you can (currently) sign up and get $50 off for your first year of hosting … and a free .com, .net, .org, .info or .xyz registration thrown in. Note: I’ve been using Dreamhost since I started freelancing, and have a full review of my experiences with them here.

  • Install WordPress using the “one-click install” feature.

Why WordPress? It’s free, it’s powerful, you can customise your site in any way you like, it’s fairly easy to use, there are tons of articles and tutorials about it on the net. And Dreamhost lets you install it by clicking a button: no need to touch a line of code.

  • Get a great theme.

I’d really recommend paying for a premium WordPress theme; it will cost you a bit of money, but it’s well worth it for the high quality and technical support. I currently use Michael Hyatt’s Get Noticed! theme (from $197) here on Aliventures, and I’ve been very happy with it.

If that doesn’t look like a good fit for you, there are plenty of other premium themes out there. ThemeForest has some fantastic ones, though you may have to dig around a bit to find writing-themed ones.

Note: If you really don’t have the budget to pay for anything at this stage, set up a free website with They’ll host your site for you. You’ll have “wordpress” in your URL (unless you pay for a domain name, which costs $ for a .com) … but this is definitely better than no website at all.

What To Include On Your Website

You can either write the content for your website directly into WordPress, or write it in a word processor. WordPress has a “paste from Word” feature which preserves formatting.

The exact pages you have will depend on what sort of freelancing you do, but a good start is:


A quick introduction to who you are and what you do. Tip: don’t offer every kind of writing under the sun (with editing and proofreading thrown in too) – clients want a specialist, not a generalist.


Include examples of your best work: photos, screenshots, or links to pieces online. Pro bono work or mock-ups are fine.


Quote satisfied customers. You can ask the people you’ve worked with for free (see #2) or any paying clients you’ve had. Get permission to use their name, and if possible, a photo of them or a link to their own website.


Make it very easy for prospective clients to get in touch. Add a contact form (if you’re using WordPress, the Contact Form 7 plugin works well). Give your email address too. If you’re comfortable putting your phone number online, add that.

Further Reading:

WP Beginner –  a whole site/blog. If you want to learn how to customise some particular bit of your blog, WP Beginner (WP stands for WordPress), this blog’s likely to have the answers in a nice, clear, easy to follow tutorial. They offer free blog set-ups, and can also transfer your site from to self-hosted WordPress for you.

Five Tips (and a Bonus) on How to Write a Fantastic About Page – by James Chartrand on Write to Done. Great advice on putting together an “About” page which will encourage potential clients to hire you.

An Online Portfolio Can Change Your Career: 10 Writer Websites We Love – by Nicole Dieker on The Write Life. The writers’ websites showcased here are all very different … but all work. If you want some website inspiration, this is a great place to get it!

Step #4: Your Social Media Presence

socialmedia(Image from Flickr by Saurabh Goswami)

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Google+. There are so many social media sites that it’s hard to know where to start. As a freelancer, it’s especially crucial that you manage your time effectively – and constantly updating half-a-dozen different social sites isn’t the best way to do that.

On the other hand, having some social media presence is vital. Prospective clients who follow you on Twitter are likely to be well-disposed to hiring you. And if your current clients become “fans” of your business on Facebook, their friends might well check you out.


I’d really recommend having a Twitter account. It takes minutes to set up and seconds to maintain. It’s a great forum to let people know that you have a new blog post up, or to announce new services or a sale. You can also follow other writers and freelancers (like me!) – it’s a great way to get to know people in your field.


You may want to have a LinkedIn profile. This site has historically had a much more corporate focus than others, and it lets you list (and ask for testimonials from) the colleagues you’ve worked with in the past. If you plan on working with organisations rather than individuals, LinkedIn may be a great fit for you.


It’s a good idea to set up a Facebook page for your business. Many people – especially those outside the techy world – use Facebook rather than Twitter, and may well prefer to contact you via a Facebook message than by email. You can find the Aliventures Facebook page here.

Whatever form of social media you use, think hard about the message you’re sending with your updates and whether this fits in with how you want to brand yourself. Tweeting about your hangover on Monday morning might not fill your clients with confidence…

Further Reading:

10 Top Twitter Tips to Improve Your Engagement – by Josh Sayers on Problogger. This great and up-to-date post offers lots of practical advice on getting more from Twitter.

How to Use Facebook Groups to Find Your Next Freelance Writing Gig – by Kelly Clay on The Write Life. You don’t even need a Facebook page to start getting work via Facebook: Kelly explains how.

LinkedIn for Freelance Writers: EXACTLY How I Use LinkedIn to Land High-paying Clients – by Jorden Roper on Writing Revolt. Great advice on avoiding bland writing in your profile and on using LinkedIn posts to impress.

Step #5: Finding Your First Clients

clients(Image from Flickr by Lars Plougmann)

So you’ve got a website set up, and you’ve done some pro-bono work for charity or friends. You can devote a few hours a week to freelancing – but how do you get clients? Who’s actually going to pay you for your writing?

LOOK OUT: Be wary of sites like Upwork (a merger of Elance and oDesk) where freelancers bid to get clients, and content mills like Demand Studios. If you’re really just getting started and want to spend a few weeks building up your skills and confidence, these may be OK … but they’re very unlikely to provide you with a good, professional rate for your work.

There are hundreds of ways to find clients – and the more you can put your name out there, the more likely people are to think of you when they need a writer.

Your Current Contacts

When you’re starting out, send an email to anyone who you think might be interested – or who might have leads. Family and friends will often want to help out. Keep it brief. Here’s an example:

Hi! You may already know that I’ve recently launched my own business, Flying Ducks Copywriting. I specialise in jargon-free, reader-friendly copy for websites, and I’m particularly keen to work with small businesses and not-for-profits.

If you’ve got a website that needs sprucing up, or if you keep meaning to get round to writing the content for one and can’t find the time, drop me a line! Or if you have any friends who need a copywriter, please forward this email on.


Job Boards

A number of sites have job boards where clients advertise a gig, and freelancers apply for the job. Pay rates vary, and competition can be stiff for the best jobs.

These are a couple you can try. Note that some private sites, like Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers’ Den, have exclusive jobs boards that are likely to offer much better quality opportunities.

ProBlogger jobs board. Some of these are low paid or paid based on page views (which may be very low if the site isn’t well-established). There’s the occasional gem, though. Worth keeping an eye on!

Freelance Writing Gigs jobs listings. A human-aggregated list of jobs posted around the web, posted each weekday. Great way to filter down the mass of information into something useable.


I’m guessing you know roughly what a blog is. Clue: you’re reading one right now. 🙂

A blog is part of a website which is updated with new material on a regular basis. The newest blog posts typically show up at the top of the page, with older ones further down and in the archives.

Blogs can be used for a number of purposes – they can be a hobby, or a means of making money in themselves. As a freelance writer, your blog will do two key things:

  • Showcase your writing – particularly important if your portfolio is sparse or non-existant
  • Attract potential clients – through search engine traffic and regular readers

There’s tons of great advice for would-be bloggers out there. The blogging community is also a great one to be part of – exciting, welcoming and supportive.

But … don’t forget your reasons for blogging.

Aim your blog posts at your clients. Think about:

  • What questions do they typically have? (Perhaps quite basic ones about grammar or sentence structure.)
  • What content would interest them? (A post ranking your favourite 18th century novels might be what you find fascinating, but it’s probably not what your typical client is looking for.)

Many newer freelancers fall into the trap of writing for their peers, rather than their clients. You might well get some comments and attention – but you’re unlikely to make sales.

You can also guest post on large blogs, which I’ve found to be a great way to both grow the readership of my own blog and to bring in clients.

Further Reading:

30 Ways to Find Your First Clients and Help Others Find You – by Regina (of Plenty of different ideas to try, with clear explanations on how to go about each.

Top Tips to Help You Nail That Blogging Job Application – by Steff Green on ProBlogger. This is focused on finding a permanent blogging job as an employee, though plenty of the tips apply to freelancing jobs too. If you decide to transition out of freelancing, or if you want a part-time day job, this could be a great route for you.

How to Land a Guest Post Every Time: 21 Secret Tips – by Mary Jaksch on Write to Done. Lots of insider tips from a busy editor of a popular blog … learn how to make your guest post pitch stand out from the crowd.

Step #6: Working With Your Clients

fingers-crossed(Image from Flickr by ~*Gillian*~)

Having clients is, of course, great! But it does throw up a few tricky questions:

#1: How Much Should I Charge?

This can be a tough one, especially if you’re British (like me) and don’t like talking about money!

A good place to begin is to look at what other freelancers charge (some list rates on their websites; otherwise, ask around).

Ultimately, though, you’ll need to:

Pick an hourly rate. Remember that you won’t be able to do 40 hours of paid work a week – 20 is more realistic. (Allow for marketing, admin, professional development, and down time – writing is tiring.) $30 per hour is a perfectly realistic starting rate, though, depending on your experience and qualifications, you may want to go higher.

BUT … where possible, charge by the project, not by the hour – especially if you’re a fast writer. Telling clients that you charge $30/hour isn’t very helpful: if they’re not writers, they won’t have much idea how long it takes to write, say, a 1,000 word blog post. Figure out how long it takes you to write that post (perhaps two hours) and price accordingly.

#2: What’s a Sensible Deadline?

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

(Douglas Adams)

Some writers need deadlines to work. They thrive on all-night sessions and last-minute heroic efforts.

When you’re working for clients, that’s not the best approach. Sure, you might think you’re going to have all day Tuesday to write – but perhaps that’ll be the day your creaking computer finally gives up, or the day when your kid is home sick from school.

When you’re agreeing a deadline with the client:

  • Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need.
  • Consider charging extra for a “rush job” – if they want it by Monday, they’ll probably be happy to pay you more for working a weekend.

#3: Do I Need a Contract?

Confession time. I only tend to sign contracts when I’m working with a bigger business. The bulk of my work is with individual editors of various websites and blogs, and I trust them to pay what we’ve agreed by email. If it’s a large piece of work, or if they’re a new client, I often ask for half up front.

But… it is good practice, for many reasons, to have a contract. If nothing else, it makes you look more professional. Your contract doesn’t need to be anything fancy: try the template in the “Further Reading” section below.

Further Reading:

How to Confidently Set and Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates by Sarah Greesonbach on The Write Life. Sensible and practical suggestions about setting your rate for the first time … and putting it up as you become more experienced and in demand.

5 Things to Consider When Negotiating a Deadline With Your Client by Samar Owais on The Writing Base. Great advice on thinking through deadlines, and on what to do if it looks like you’re going to miss one.

Example of a Basic Contract for Freelance Writers on Freelance Writing Jobs. This is a very simple, straightforward contract that you can modify for your own purposes.


Step #7: Sending Invoices and Getting Paid

coins(Image from Flickr by Jeff Belmonte)

Invoices aren’t scary. They’re essentially just a sheet of paper laying out what work you’ve done, what you’re owed and how you can be paid.

(You can swipe my invoice template here – feel free to build on it for your own invoices.)

If you’re super-organised, there’s lots of software which lets you track billable hours and generate invoices. I’ve heard good things over the years about FreshBooks, which has a free trial.

If you’re working for individuals rather than companies, you may find that a PayPal money request, or an email, suffices. (I’ve even had one client ask for an invoice by text message.)

Getting Paid

In my experience, most clients pay very promptly.

But what do you do when a client doesn’t? First, check that the due date on your invoice has actually passed. It’s easy, especially when you’re new to freelancing, to want instant payment – even when you’ve allowed 30 days.

Second, send a polite reminder. “Were there any problems with the invoice? I haven’t heard from you yet about payment, which is now two days overdue.”

Third, keep reminding. If you don’t get any response, look for other avenues to contact the client – Twitter or Facebook can work.

Usually, you’ll get your money around the second stage: your invoice is just buried in your client’s inbox – they weren’t trying to get out of paying.

In my experience, non-paying clients are a tiny minority. If you’re particularly worried about this:

  • Ask for 50% of your fee up front (this is a good general practice anyway)
  • Check them out online – you may be able to find the names of other writers who’ve worked with them
  • Weed out problem clients in advance. You don’t have to accept everyone – if someone gives you bad vibes, turn them down (see the Further Reading for more on that).

Further Reading:

I Don’t Want These Clients! – post from Anne on About Freelance Writing, setting out the types of problem clients you’ll want to watch out for.

Awkward Business Conversations: How to Say No to a Potential Client – by the ever-fantastic Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz. Yes, you are allowed to turn down clients! Here’s how to do it gracefully but firmly.

The Last-Ditch Letter That Might Help You Get Paid – a sample letter from James of Men with Pens for the (unlikely) chance that the worst comes to the worst and it looks like you’re not going to get your money.

Step #8: Prepare to Go Full-Time

thinking(Image from Flickr by karola riegler photography)

You’ve made it through the first stage of your journey. You’ve scrambled over obstacles and tackled some nasty monsters. You kept going even when everything seemed too hard.

And by now, you’ll have the answers to a couple of crucial questions…

Do You Like Freelancing?

You won’t necessarily have loved every minute of it. But look for a sense of fulfilment and fun in your work.

If you found that dealing with clients terrifies you, or that writing feels like a chore once you’re treating it as a business, then ask yourself whether this is really the path for you.

Can You Make a Living Freelancing?

However much you love writing, a part-time stint may reveal your particular style really isn’t in demand, or that the admin side is such a headache that you end up working long hours for very little money.

(A caveat: You may well have started off at a low rate, perhaps $20 or $25/hour. You will be able to raise this as you get more skilled, and as you get more recommendations. I wouldn’t recommend quitting and raising your rate all at once, though: get your rate up first, then think about leaving the day job.)

Hopefully, you’re enjoying freelancing, and making some money (even if it’s not much yet). Writing brings you alive. It’s what you were meant to do.

Not all freelancers want to quit their day job; some enjoy the job and enjoy freelancing on the side. But many decide that they want to take the plunge and launch themselves as full-time freelancers.

It’s an adventure – a great one. But with any big adventure, it pays to be prepared.

Here’s how:

Get Hold of Some Solid Resources

Depending on your particular flavour of freelance writing – and your current skills – you may want to buy books on copywriting, grammar, blogging, websites, article writing and more. Ask around online for other freelancer’s recommendations.

If your budget is tight, try your local library – though bear in mind they may not have anything very recent, so if you’re writing online, you may want to look elsewhere.

These blogs are also excellent ones to read on a regular basis:

Make a Living Writing

The Write Life


Build Your Emergency Fund

Once full-time freelancing glitters as a possibility on the horizon, start saving. Good places to begin:

  • Put your part-time freelancing income into savings.
  • Resist the lure of shiny new gadgets. As a writer, you can work on a fairly old computer – you don’t need a ton of memory or a super-fast processor. So long as your equipment is reliable, it’ll do.

Talk to Your Loved Ones

This is tough. And I’ll be honest with you – a lot of people don’t “get” freelancing. You’ll probably have some family members and friends who think you’re totally crazy to quit your job.

But you’ll almost certainly find that many people are much more supportive than you’d expected.

My husband backed my freelancing right from the start (I now know he had serious doubts at the time – but he didn’t voice them). The rest of my family took a little while to grasp that I wasn’t simply looking for a different job… but they’ve been hugely supportive throughout.

If you suspect that your nearest and dearest will struggle to understand why you want to freelance:

  • Start talking about your part-time freelancing early on. Mention how much you enjoy it, and how it pays twice as much per hour as your day job.
  • Get the most supportive and sympathetic people on board. If your dad sees that all your siblings think it’s a great idea, he’s more likely to understand.
  • Be prepared to quell people’s worries. Explain that you have money saved up, in case business is initially slow – and that, in a worst case scenario, you could just get another full-time job.

Cut Down Your Hours at Work

If you have any option to, don’t quit straight away. Cut down your hours at work instead. Ask to work 3 or 4 days a week instead of 5: you’ll have the safety net of a regular income, along with extra time to devote to building up your freelancing.

That’s not possible for everyone. I ended up taking six days of holiday over six consecutive weeks to try out something similar. You could try:

  • Booking off all your Fridays for a month, to freelance
  • Take a week’s vacation to try out the full freelancing lifestyle
  • Negotiate slightly changed hours: perhaps working 10am – 6pm so that you can do a couple of hours’ freelancing in the morning

Further Reading:

Emergency Funds: How and Why You Should Get Started Right Now – a  post by Trent Hamm of the popular personal finance blog The Simple Dollar. This isn’t freelancer-specific, but it’s solid advice on an emergency fund.

The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferriss’ popular book has some more radical suggestions on how to shift away from your day job (like asking to telecommute so you can get your work done in fewer hours and spend the rest of your time on your own projects). Not for everyone, but worth a look. My review is here.

Career Renegade – this book by Jonathan Fields has some great advice on how to talk to your loved ones about your plans to quit your day job. (The book has a ton of other useful info too; you can read my review of it here.)

Step #9: Freelancing Full-Time


(Image from Flickr by jnyemb)

You’ve taken the plunge. You’re a full-time freelancer – the majority of your income is from your writing.

(There’s nothing stopping you doing something else on the side, for regular cash flow. When I first started freelancing, I spent two afternoons a week childminding for a bit of extra money.)

Of course, your adventure isn’t over. Full-time freelancing might be what you’ve dreamt of doing for months or years – but you’ll find yourself facing some new challenges along the way.

Getting Your Work Done (Without the Stress)

Time management. Self-discipline. Focus.

These aren’t words that come easily to writers. Your freelancing relies on a certain degree of creativity – even if you’re writing something fairly mundane, you still need to put words and sentences and paragraphs together.

Writing takes energy. That means:

  • You can’t write for eight hours solid
  • There’ll be some days when you just feel flat
  • You’ll have “peak” and “trough” times for your writing

A lot of time management and productivity advice is aimed at corporate employees, not freelancers. Here’s what typically works for writers:

Find your peak productive hours. Charlie Gilkey has some great resources for this at: How Heatmapping Your Productivity Can Make You More Productive.

Protect your writing time. Avoid interruptions (phone calls, flatmates). Avoid distractions (Twitter, email). I work in Pomodoros (25 minutes focused work; 5 minute break) a lot of the time. These days, I have to pay for childcare so I can write, which focuses the mind impressively!

Be organised. A paper diary and a to-do list in your notebook may well be enough. Just have some method of tracking projects and deadlines – constantly thinking “Did I forget something?” or “I must reply to that email” is a huge distraction. After using The Journal for my calendar and to-do list for years, I now use Nozbe.

Give yourself margins. As well as leaving some slack in your deadlines, which we covered earlier, make sure there’s slack in the other areas of your freelancing. Keep some money in your emergency fund, for instance.

Your Companions on the Journey: Other Freelancers

If you’re used to working in an office environment, you’ll probably miss having colleagues around – especially if you’re on your own at home during the day.

Even if you’re fairly introverted (and a lot of writers are), you may well like having people to chat to and brainstorm ideas with.

The good news is, you do still have colleagues. They’re your freelancing peers: other writers. They hang out on Twitter, write blogs, participate in forums, go to meetups and conferences, and more.

Sometimes, you’ll cross paths with someone briefly. Other times, you’ll make a new friend for life. You might well find a business partner or mentor who’ll walk your path with you.

Avoiding “Feast or Famine”

Talk to most freelance writers, and they’ll mention times when work just dried up – clients went out of business, no new leads came in, their marketing efforts got nowhere. They’ll also often have times when they were overloaded with work, and even had to turn down new jobs.

This is the “Feast or Famine” cycle. When you’re really busy, you don’t have time to market yourself and find new work — causing  a dry spell once the busyness is over.

To get your work on a more even keel:

  • Look for a mix of longer and shorter term gigs. Blogs and magazines, for instance, might want weekly or monthly pieces; clients looking for web copy may just want to hire you once.
  • Encourage referrals. Ask your clients to recommend you to friends. (You may want to offer an incentive, like a money-off voucher for them and their friend, but simply asking is often enough.)
  • Keep up your marketing – even when you’re busy. You can often get ahead in a dry patch; perhaps writing some posts for your own blog, or guest posts for others.

Further Reading:

My 15 Major Lessons Learned From Freelancing in 2015 – plenty of honest and practical thoughts from Lizzie Davey of Wanderful World. If you’re yet to take the full-time plunge, this will give you some idea what to expect; if you’re already there, you may well pick up some new ideas here.

How to Market Yourself as  Freelance Writer: 4 Mistakes to Avoid – by Katherine Halek on The Write Life. It’s easy to get things wrong when you’re new to marketing: here’s how to steer clear of some common mistakes and pitfalls.

Six lessons learned from five+ years of freelancing – a warts-and-all account from the wonderful Michelle Nickolaisen. If your freelance journey has been a bit up and down, rest assured that’s normal!

Productivity for Creative People – a fantastic book from poet and entrepreneur Mark McGuinness, with lots of sympathetic and practical advice for freelancers or indeed anyone who writes.

Step #10: Keep Learning

magazines(Image from Flickr by splorp)

Whatever you want to learn, there’s almost certainly a book (or a dozen books) on it. If your budget is tight, try your local library – they may be able to order something in for you.

There are lots of magazines aimed at writers, too – here in the UK, Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine are good.

And then, of course, there’s blogs…

You may have noticed that quite a lot of the “Further Reading” resources are from a relatively small handful of blogs. Why? These are valuable, reputable sites with really good articles – well written and packed with expert advice.

(Though, if you think I’ve missed out anything stellar, just add a link in the comments!)

These are the blogs I highly recommend for freelance writers. Ideally, you’ll want to get their RSS feeds or subscribe by email – but if not, make sure you visit regularly.

Oh, and … if you’re not already signed up for my newsletter, join here (and get several mini ebooks absolutely free).

Where Next?

What stage of the freelancing journey are you at right now? What could you do this week to take your next step? Figure it out, and make it happen. 🙂

Thanks for commenting! I read all comments, and reply to as many as I can. Please keep the discussion constructive and friendly. Thank you!

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60 thoughts on “Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources

  1. Stunningly useful blogpost here, Ali. You’ve worked so hard to collate all this! I wish I’d had all this information to hand when I was setting up fictionfire! With regard to tweeting, Nick Daws is worth following. As you know, I already follow Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn – she’s highly productive and very helpful.

    • Thank you, Lorna! I wish I’d had to back in the day, too.

      Great tips on Twitter people; thanks! (@nickdaws and @thecreativepenn for anyone who wants to add them)

  2. Wow, Ali, great post! clear, concise, thorough and detailed. I’m still new to blogging, and writing, I’ll be coming back to this post often.


    • Cheers Zac! Glad you liked it – and hope it helps you along the blogging/writing path. (I’ll be following up with some – rather shorter! – posts in upcoming weeks…)

  3. An excellent resource Ali – I’m just about to send the link to a friend who is thinking of taking the plunge. We’ve already talked in detail about how she should do it, but you’ve hit on some things I hadn’t thought of.

  4. Terrific post indeed, and I noticed your reference to Elance early on. This is where I got my start and I think it’s a great place to get your feet wet (since the marketplace is ripe for the pickings) before branching out to secure the more lucrative business that – in many cases – requires an experience-laden portfolio…

    • Cheers, Jesse! It’s good to hear about your experiences with Elance – I’ve heard some positive things and some considerably less so, and haven’t used it to find work myself. Glad it worked for you! 🙂

      • I urge you and others to give it a shot – if even for a few months. If nothing else it helps hone your proposals and is a pretty good way to boost your portfolio/testimonials. And for those starting up, it offers a great place to slowly enter into the “freelance market” with a very strong customer support system and an escrow system that I have now successfully made use of twice (unfortunately!) It’s not for everyone, and many will find the more lucrative bids beyond Elance’s virtual walls, but I’d argue that it still has its benefits.
        .-= Jesse Green´s last blog .. =-.

  5. Ali,

    This piece was long overdue, but the hard work shows.Probably, it took a while longer due to other priorities in your life.

    I like your attention to details. The information you have put together adds value.

    And you get straight to the point without beating about the bush. We appreciate it.

    I think it is also a good idea to rope in the services of other experts and blogs. Have a good one. Cheers!

    • Yeah, sorry to keep you all waiting! I had a lot of other things going on (like my own freelancing work ;-))

      Glad you liked the piece! 🙂

  6. Great post Ali, a huge amount of resources to go through!

    With regards to telephone number, you can have a free non geographic run over the top of your normal telephone line from Switchboard Free.Having a number that isn’t a mobile number makes you more credible to a lot of people, so I would have one.
    .-= Sarah Arrow´s last blog ..Citing your sources when blogging =-.

  7. Hey Ali this is an awesome post. I’d like to add some thoughts to #3: Creating Your Website. I love Thesis as well but I think most people will find that more advanced customizations will really be out of their reach. The feedback I get is, “Hooks and custom functions? Can I just use the regular functions?”

    FreelanceFolder has a theme that’s designed to get all the basics for a freelancer up and running (without any code). On top of displaying your portfolio, you can also create proposals and invoices all from within WordPress. It’s called the Client Machine and is available at

    Finally, I’ve been writing a series on Simplifying the Steps To Creating Your First Website. Check it out if you’re planning to create one:

    Cheers and keep up the fantastic writing Ali!
    .-= David Wang´s last blog ..DIY Website Options- What You Need To Know =-.

    • Fab addition, thanks David! I’ve heard great things about the Client Machine – will take a further look at it and add something into the post.

      Thanks for the link to your series; looks really comprehensive. Nice work. 🙂

  8. Pingback: The Huge-Ass List of Job Hunting Resources « After Graduation
  9. What a phenomenal post this is, Ali.

    While I never want to be a freelance writer in any full-time sense, I’d love to get to the point of being able to be paid for pieces in various on- and off-line publications. Your guide gives some fabulously, practical advice that really helps with that ambition.

    Thanks so much for writing.

    • Thanks, Christine! Really glad this was helpful. Lots of the writers I know freelance on the side of other things (and frankly, it’s never been full-time for me either — I’ve always been studying as well as freelancing, or engaged in slightly more entrepreneurial things).

      Best of luck with your own writing!

  10. I have to agree with everything in this post.

    I quit my job not too long ago and am struggling to find work. I’ve already carved out a niche but can’t seem to make contact with people who can give me work. It’s frustrating but the key is to just keep on moving forward. This is what I set out to do and there’s not turning back.

    Shruti’s last blog post ..APSC Various Posts Recruitment 2013 – Apply for 309 Post –

    • Shruti, good luck! It does take time and I’m sure almost every freelancer out there will have had a similar experience when they started out.

  11. Hey Ali,

    Awesome post about starting out as a freelancer. A very motivated, hard worker can start their own freelancing business. However, new businesses fail often, and freelancing is no exception. It takes an extremely dedicated individual to become a freelancer.

    Thanks for sharing your insight,

    • Thanks Dennis! It does take dedication … but I think freelancing businesses have a big advantage over many others as they’ve got such low start-up costs. You don’t need a lot of capital to get started — making it easier to succeed.