Freelance Writing for Beginners: Step 1 What Will You Write?

Judging from the FWJ mailbag, new freelance writers join the ranks every day. Problem is, many are unsure of where to start. Unless you know what type of writing you want to do, you’ll sort of wander around aimlessly looking for your niche. Figure that out first. Do you want to blog? Would you prefer to hit the magazines or newspapers? Are you more interested in copywriting for ad agencies? There’s so much to consider before diving in.

Here are a few posts about different freelance writing opportunities for your consideration.

  1. 30 Types of Freelance Writing Jobs and How to Get Them
  2. Blogging for Beginners: Part 1: Choosing Your Niche
  3. You Know More than You Think You Do: How to Find a Niche
  4. 12 Things to Do BEFORE Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs
  5. What’s a Grant Writer and Why Would You Want to Be One?

Here are a few things to think about before deciding what to write:

  1. Where do you want to see your byline? Are you interested in magazine markets or writing for the web. Both have different styles of writing and different rules for querying editors. In fact, in some cases with the web, you’re not querying at all, but rather, applying. Where do the different types of writing fit in your comfort zone?
  2. What is your background? While good writing doesn’t necessarily mean one has to have a degree, your background has a lot to do with the type of writing you choose. If you have a degree in journalism or communications, it makes sense to get into journalistic writing.  If your background is human resources, you might consider resume writing or writing about careers for magazines and web clients.
  3. How much do you want to be paid? The amount of money you’re willing to accept as pay will have a major factor in the types of jobs you wish to choose. For example, web content pays less than many magazine markets. However, there are magazine markets and newspapers – and even staff writing opportunities – that pay the same amount of as web writing. So set your base rate and then determine the types of jobs you want to do. Also, set a negotiation cut off. This is the lowest pay you’ll accept after negotiating with a potential client.
  4. Do you want to work at home or in-house? Freelance writing isn’t necessarily a work from home job. Some jobs require you to be on site every day, while others require you to take meetings. When you’re not writing for the web or certain magazines, your clients may expect to see you on a regular basis.
  5. How often will you be able to write each day? This is important. If you only have an hour to devote to your writing each day, you’re not going to be able to do a whole lot of heavy research for magazine articles or investigative journalism. The amount of time you can devote to all aspects of your writing makes a very big difference.

The web has opened up so many opportunities for writers, which is terrific. Not knowing what to write or where to begin can be confusing for many new freelancers. Take some time to look around and see what’s out there. Learn about the different avenues, venues, niches and genres. Research the types of pay. Learn about the different requirements for each type of gig. Once you’re armed with this knowledge, you’ll have a better idea of where and how to start.

How did you decide what to write? Are there any questions you’d like to ask about getting started?






8 responses
  1. Alex Lim Avatar

    Agreed. Anyone who wants to write with less difficulty should start writing under a niche which you are familiar with. I believe that you don’t have to be an expert to start your own blog, just the competency to answer some queries regarding a particular topic you posted. I think expertise will follow after some years of experience and practice. Just stop thinking and take some action to see some tangible outcomes

    1. chris Avatar

      I agree, procrastination and fear will be a writers biggest stumbling block. Writers can be sensitive people and stepping out is the hardest part. But I disagree about specializing too soon. Who’s to say you won’t change your mind later. Try some things like blogging, or magazine writing heck, why not try writing a book! The point is you won’t know what your thing is until you go and give it a go. Believe it or not, this is the exciting part about writing!

  2. Tammy Avatar

    All I can say is thank you! thank you! for posting this information. I am, (oops, pardon me, WAS)one of those “aimless”, “wandering” writers that didn’t know where I belonged; I am a new freelance writer and having had only 3 actual paying gigs (recommend by my sister to the clients) I wasn’t sure how to apply for a writing gig, wasn’t sure about the cover letters, or pay. I am a stay-at-home (and homeschooling) mother of 4. I love to write, and I consider myself a “research geek” (I love to research random things to learn about) I found this great website about 2 years ago and I’ve learned so much from it. I feel like saying I have my degree in writing from FWJ! Thanks again Deb!

    Oly Wa.

  3. Tammy Avatar

    Alex and Chris,
    You both had really good points!

  4. Elisabeth Avatar

    I just wanted to thank you for the great information that you share here. I have been thinking about freelance writing since college (which was approximately 1 million years ago), but because I was uninformed, I never had the confidence to step out. I thought that I needed a degree in English or Journalism in order to be a writer. I came across your blog, and it gave me some great ideas about how to step into the mix.

    This is my second week as an official freelance writer, and I’m really enjoying myself! It’s nice to get paid to write rather than just write for free on my blog! Of course I’m not making a ton of money at this point, but the experience alone is helping to build my confidence for bigger and better jobs.

    Thank you!

  5. Tania Mara Avatar
    Tania Mara

    I wish this post was around when I got started. Especially because of #5.

    As a beginner, I’d often underestimate the time it would take me to finish the projects. I thought having only a few hours to devote to my freelance writing gigs wouldn’t be a problem, so I’d take up more tha I could handle. I’m happy that I’ve left those days behind, and I truly hope the industry’s newcomers will keep this issue in mind when they make any decisions regarding their new career.

  6. walter ward Avatar
    walter ward

    I have been writing for years now & not once took a chance on freelance writing. I am an avid writer of both short stories, poetry, & original artworks, drawings etc. I am so eager to learn more on freelancing opportunities, & startup. I love the complete art of imagination, creating & continual growth.

  7. Newton Onukwusi Avatar

    I have a friend who is so much interested in guest posting and this post will really go a long way for her so i will be sharing it with her…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.