Lessons from my Early Freelance Writing Career

Being a freelance writer brings with it images of sitting at home, perhaps in your own office if you’re lucky, busily typing away on a laptop. Or maybe, as I used to think, of sitting in cafes, sipping coffee as you write, and looking cool, like a writer.

The reality is often very different. It takes hard work.

How I started my Freelance Writing Career

I’ve always been writing. From stories when I was a kid, a diary through my teens to the stuff that I write now, I always have a pen in my hand or tapping away on my laptop.

I began getting paid for writing years ago, when I was looking for ‘work from home’ jobs that would fit with family commitments. I was on the internet, and noticed an advert at the bottom of the page for Freelancer.com. It’s a website where people post jobs, from writing to web design, and freelancers can bid on those jobs. The employer then selects their preferred candidate to do the job. I joined Freelancer and got the first few jobs under my belt and started to build a good reputation.

What I Learned

Freelancer.com is not without its problems, and there is much that could be done to improve the user experience. While there are some genuine projects, you really have to sift through the crap. Some employers are very rude, want you to work for nothing, or are out to scam you. I was ripped off a few times, but it made me much more careful about what jobs to do. I only take genuine work from employers who have been rated, and never start a job unless payment has been put in escrow or ‘milestones’ first. Nowadays, I no longer use Freelancer.com, but it did put me in contact with a few clients who I still work with today.

Another good website for freelancer writers in the UK is People Per Hour. I have found the jobs to be genuine and they payment rates are higher. There seems to be a better vetting process for applicants.

I have written countless pages for websites, blog posts, and product descriptions. Over the years of being a freelancer, I have done my time in the writer’s sweatshop.

Being a freelance writer, I have discovered, it not just about being a good writer. It’s about being a good crap detector.

You want to avoid those jobs where you spend your time slogging your guts out for employers who expect exceptional work for a low rate of pay.

For all its ugly points, Freelancer has given me opportunities that I would never have got otherwise. One project I had from Freelancer was to write some articles on agriculture. This was right up my street, as I’m a born and bred rural girl. This allowed me to combine my passions and interests with what I was writing about, and my articles were published in my name. This employer was a publisher, and I approached them with a book idea. They agreed.

I spent a busy year and a half researching and writing my book, while fitting in smaller, paid writing jobs to keep me going. Now I am a published author. My ambition is to write more books, to share my knowledge and interests with other people, and earn a living do doing so.

The problem with being a freelance writer is that you can never be sure where your next job will come from. The lack of a regular, reliable income is not fun. However, over time you will build your client base to a point where you can earn a decent income.

The question of can you really earn from being a freelance writer depends on how motivated you are. If you put the effort in, the hours of writing time at the laptop, then yes! You can earn a decent wage. But you have to be on the hunt for new opportunities, and you have to have a bit of luck.

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