How To: Breaking into Freelance Writing

Writing for a Living

Many people consider writing for a living, but the daunting prospect of making such a drastic life change is not always an easy one to overcome. To make it even more difficult, the best places to write for are hidden behind spam ads trying to get writers to sign up for a blog or buy a service to help them along. Fortunately, I have been writing for awhile now and know about some of the best places to get a start with writing. If you want to make the transition into writing for a living, you might be surprised at how much you can make per hour. The best part is that no degree is required. Seriously, I have never gotten a job because of my degrees; they all just want to see examples of my writing.



Image of oDesk jobs board

Open Writing Jobs

I am listing oDesk here first because I got my real start here with paid writing. It is a meat market for burgeoning writers and those that want copy at the lowest rates. There are gems to be had here, but the majority of jobs require fast writing. Fortunately, the quality requirements are also much lower than most other sites. I was able to make roughly $21 an hour on 1.4₵ per word articles by doing three of them per hour. I felt like I was in a sweatshop at home, and my brain was fried at the end of the day, but the pay was decent enough to keep me until the contract ran out.








Image of Elance's open jobs board

Open Writer Jobs

Elance is much like oDesk in the bidding for work system(Elance actually now owns oDesk, though they are being kept separate). I have clients on Elance that I have been working with for well over a year and will likely continue working with them for years to come. Pay is much higher than oDesk, but so are the quality requirements. With a perfect or near perfect rating from all your clients and a decent history, 10₵ per word is a reasonable rate, and I know several freelancers that make far more than that. Elance takes a bit of finesse when it comes to writing. There are several guides to working the system for the best outcome, all of which focus on different paths to profitability.






Image of work that recently sold or was requested at Constant-Content

Recently Sold & Requested

I was not really enthusiastic about Constant-Content at first. It is very different from the other sites in that writers post their writings first, and those looking to buy bid on them. Yeah, you just write about whatever you want and submit it. So long as it is grammatically correct and not promotional, they tend to accept anything. You also get to specify how much you want to be paid for the article. They boast a high rate of sale, though some articles may take weeks or months to actually sell. I have been very happy with Constant-Content, and I tend to price my articles at 10₵ per word or more. Prospective buyers can make offers below your listed rate and you can decide to take it or not. You have to remember to figure in the fees, though; Constant-Content takes 35% off top.




Image of Textbroker's open jobs board for writers

Open Writer Jobs

It gets no simpler than Textbroker. They give you a test, you write a sample, and they assign you a rating. If you can get to rank 5, you can gain access to work that pays 5₵ per word. For the highest rate, you have to be intimately familiar with AP grammar rules and the use of FANBOYS (coordinating conjunctions). Depending on the time of year, the number of available jobs can vary. There is almost always work to do, but it also tends to be on the most monotonous or painful to research subjects. If you happen to be one of those writers that can write clearly but has shortcomings in grammar, they have a ranking scale that starts at .7₵ per word, which only requires that the writings be “comprehensible.”




Image of Zerys's open jobs board

Writing Jobs

Zerys is one of those sites that looks very promising but never really measures up to a writer’s expectations for job volume. Assignments are very competitive with most jobs only being listed for a few minutes before they are snatched up. Much like Textbroker, rates begin at .7₵ per word but can get as high as 35₵ per word. You can make money if you are swift, but the pressure to grab a job quickly can be a real turnoff.



If you go out and sign up for all of these sites and begin to work each of their systems, you will likely find one or more that suits your style of writing. I, personally, go back and forth when I am looking to quickly drum up new business, though I tend to focus on Elance. Having a website and blog is also a good idea, especially when all your writing is ghostwriting. Confidentiality issues often make it impossible or bad form to share links to work that people have contracted from you. Having your own website means you can show examples of published work with your name on it. Oh, and do not quit your job before you start making money writing; it is just as easy to write a few articles on the weekends and submit them to get a feel for the process before you jump in headfirst. All sites pay out via direct deposit, either through Paypal or directly to your bank account, though some sites like Zerys and Constant-Content pay out roughly twice per month.

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