Guide to succeeding as a freelance writer

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Over 57 million U.S. workers are now freelancing, according to Forbes. Freelance writers provide clients with written content and usually work from home or independent office spaces. Many individuals are drawn to freelancing because of its freedom, flexibility, and independence. Others steer clear from it because of loneliness, cash flow issues due to sporadic work, and lack of benefits. This guide will provide you with the resources you need to become a successful freelance writer and improve your writing skills. From networking and educational materials to finding employment opportunities and help with finances, this guide has it all.

The 5 Best Websites For Educational Materials

Becoming a successful freelance writer is not easy. There is a lot to learn and finding the right resources can be challenging. Here are some platforms and online courses that will help you become a better freelance writer.

  • Freelancers Union: Freelancers Union promotes the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. They have a freelancing toolbox where they have educational material and guides on legal, health, money, tax, and insurance topics.

  • Journalism, The Future, And You: Michigan State University has an online course where you can learn about the career paths that are available in journalism, and what opportunities the skill sets of a journalist can offer in other fields. The course explores being an international correspondent, self-publishing in journalism, and how to freelance in the field.

  • Skill Share: Skill Share allows its users to explore new skills, deepen existing passions, and get lost in creativity. They have a page for freelance writers with over 190 online classes. Courses range from kickstarting your freelance writing career to writing a winning proposal for freelance jobs.

  • The Strategy of Content Marketing: Content marketing focusses on creating and distributing content for a target audience. UC Davis has an online course where you will learn the core strategies content marketers use to acquire and retain customers profitably. Enrollment is free!

  • Udemy: At Udemy, you can search from 100,000 online video courses with new additions published daily. They have over 9,000 courses relating to freelance writing. We consider getting started with their course, The Complete Freelance Writing Course, which covers everything you need to know to set yourself up as a professional freelance writer.

Top 5 Tools

There are dozens of tools online to help you write more efficiently, improve your content, and stay organized. Below are five incredible tools that will make freelance writing easier.

  • Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator: This calculator allows individuals to find out the minimum fees they need to charge to reach a set earnings goal. There is also an advanced freelance hourly rate calculator that accounts for additional factors such as savings, goals, and living expenses.

  • Google Drive: Google Drive allows you to store, share, and access your files from any device. Google Drive is a great tool to help you organize every aspect of your business. It can store all of your files and has an excellent search capability that allows you to find what you need in very little time.

  • Grammarly: More than 20 million people around the world use Grammarly daily to strengthen their writing and say what they really mean. Their writing assistant supports clean, mistake-free writing while offering suggestions that go beyond grammar. Their writing assistant scales to work seamlessly across multiple platforms and devices. They also offer a variety of plans to serve everyone’s needs.

  • MindMeister: MindMeister is an online mapping tool that lets you capture, develop, and share ideas visually. More than 13 million people use this award-winning mind map editor for brainstorming, note-taking, project planning, and tons of other creative tasks.

  • WordPress: WordPress is a free and open-source content management system. WordPress gives you everything you need to start your website. They offer free hosting, your own domain, a world-class support team, and more. With WordPress, you can also start a blog, business site, portfolio, or anything else you can imagine. No matter the size of your budget, WordPress.com has a plan that’s right for you.

The 6 Best Networking Platforms

Networking not only helps you improve your skills, learn about helpful tools, and stay on top of the latest trends, but also allows you to meet clients, mentors, and others in your field. Here are six platforms that will make networking much easier.

  • Facebook Groups: There are dozens of Facebook groups for freelance writers. They also have specialty groups like Female Freelancers and Medical & Healthcare Content Writers. Individuals in these groups share helpful tools, resources, advice, and personal stories. There are also groups specifically for freelance writing jobs.

  • Freelancers Union: Freelancers Union represents 56.7 million independent workers across the country. They have monthly member meetups across the country where there 490,00+ members come together, learn from each other, and build a fantastic local community. Best of all, membership is free! They also give their 490,000 members a powerful voice through policy advocacy, benefits, and community.

  • National Association of Independent Writers & Editors: NAIWE is a professional organization for freelance writers and editors. They provide professional support, career development, webinars, and teleconferences to their members. NAIWE members are listed on their searchable database.

  • National Writers Union: NWU is more than just another writers’ organization. It is the only labor union that represents freelance writers working in all genres, formats, and mediums. With more than 1,300 members in 13 local chapters nationwide, the NWU works to advance the economic status and working conditions of writers.

  • Slack: Slack is an instant messaging platform. Slack has dedicated spaces called channels that you can join and talk to other professionals with your interests. They even have specific channels for freelance writers. Here are 14 Slack communities for writers, creators, and media.

  • SPJ Freelance Community: The Society of Professional Journalists has a freelance community that hosts events and programs throughout the year. They have nearly 150 members and offer tools and resources to help freelance journalists be better at what they do.

The 6 Best Platform For Getting A job

Finding freelance writing jobs can be challenging. Luckily there are many platforms that you can use to look for employment opportunities.

  • CloudPeeps: CloudPeeps is a member-driven community of trusted freelancers. It is an all-in-one freelance business management system. They have over 200,000 customers in over 150 countries. One freelancer wrote ““I love how CloudPeeps has a low ratio of Peeps to customers. There’s a great chance I’ll find work, be paid fairly, and actually enjoy the work I’m doing.”

  • Freelancer: Companies, organizations, and individuals use Freelancer to hire expert freelancers for any job. They have a specific section for writing and content with over 65 categories from blog writing and ghostwriting, to poetry, technical writing, and speech writing. Freelancer has live chats, time trackers, and 24/7 support. They have hundreds of freelance writing jobs from $50 an hour. They also have a freelancer community that has guides, tutorials, tips, and resources for freelance writers.

  • Guru: Guru is a platform where employers and freelancers can work together. They have 800,000 employers worldwide, 1 million paid invoices, and have paid freelancers $250 million. Guru also has multiple payment terms and flexible agreements to enable you to work the way you want. You can choose from thousands of jobs under their writing and translation category.

  • Hubstaff Talent: Hubstaff Talent is a free resource where remote talent across the globe can find employment opportunities. You can search for jobs under their writing and content category and filter them by full time, part-time, or hourly. Just set your hourly pay rate, experience lever, country, and language, and find the perfect freelance writing job.

  • Upwork: Upwork connects professionals to businesses seeking specialized talent. More than 60K jobs are posted on Upwork every week. They have a section specifically for freelance workers looking for work. Companies hire writers for content writing, ghostwriting, grant writing, writing tutoring, creative writing, copywriting, technical writing, business writing, and for editing and proofreading.

  • Zippia: Zippia is a great place to find freelance jobs. You can limit your job search to freelancing writing and editing jobs. They also have a separate page on how to become a freelance writer. This page outlines average salaries, top jobs, career paths, and the skills required for a freelance writer.

Taxes and Finances

As a freelance writer, you are your own boss. While this has many amazing perks, it also means you have to file your own taxes and be on top of bookkeeping. Here are some resources that will help you organize your finances and avoid losing money when filing taxes.

  • A Freelancers Guide to Taxes and Business: Freelancers are their own bosses. This guide will help you become aware of tax and business responsibilities to ensure that you file your taxes correctly and promptly, adhering to all taxation laws and regulations.

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping: When individuals are self-employed, they assume all responsibility for income taxes, business expense deductions, and other bookkeeping tasks. Accounting is an unavoidable part of freelancing. However, this page will help you manage these ongoing duties with an organized system for invoicing and bookkeeping.

  • Important U.S. Tax Benefits: The U.S. tax code offers several deductions for self-employed workers. Upwork has an article on the eight most important U.S. tax benefits and deductions that freelancers should know about.

  • Insurance: Health insurance for freelancers can be complicated. Freelancers Union has a great page with information about insurance for freelancers. You can learn about health, dental, term life, disability, liability, accident, and vision insurance. You can also see insurance plan options based on your location, age, and average income.

  • Guide to Taxes: While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you’ll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. TurboTax has a guide on things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes. Freelancing has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time.

5 Best Places To Get Tips

Freelancing can be a difficult field to make a living in. There is a lot of advice out there on all aspects of freelance writing. There is no limit to resources out there promising to make you a successful freelance writer who makes a lot of money. It can be harder to find helpful resources from reputable sources and industry experts.

  • Freelancing Advice You Should Ignore: There is a lot of popular freelancing advice out there. This article has some of the popular freelancing advice you’ll come across that makes great sense, but don’t always work.

  • Freelance Writers Den: Freelance Writers Den is an online community where freelance writers learn how to grow their income fast. Members enjoy monthly live webinar events featuring guest speakers and trainings on various topics related to freelance writing. Events are recorded, transcribed, and archived in the Den Resource Library.

  • Improving Productivity: Do you want your writing project to get moving faster? Daily Writing Tips has a great guide on tips to improve your writing productivity.

  • NaNoWriMo: NaNoWriMo has pep talks, which are inspirational letters written by well-known authors. These letters provide writers with inspiration and motivation.

  • Writing Tips: Insecure Writer’s Support Groups is a home for writers in all stages, from unpublished to bestsellers. Their goal is to offer assistance and guidance. They have a page designated for writing tips.

Research

Researching is an important step in the writing process. You want your content to have relevant, up to date information. Here are a few search engines that you should know about

  • Clearscope: Clearscope is an al-powered platform that makes it easy to get more out of the content you’re already producing. It helps you drive organic traffic to your content by making it highly relevant to what people are searching for. Clearscope is on the more expensive side at $350/month.

  • Google Scholars: Google Scholars is a web search engine where you can search for scholarly literate. You can search across a variety of disciplines and sources.

  • ProfNet: ProfNet is an online community of communications professionals who provide reporters access to expert sources. You can get the right sources that fit your exact needs quickly and hassle-free.

  • SEO Tools: Google has incredible free SEO tools. They have a keyword planner where you can find the right keywords in your Google Ads campaigns. You can discover trends and explore what the world is searching for with Trends.

  • The Free Library: The Free Library is one of the largest online libraries in the world with millions of news, trade publications, newspapers, magazines, and journals. It is a fast and easy way to locate useful information on virtually any topic.

Additional Resources

  • Coppyblogger: Copyblogger teaches people about content marketing. They teach individuals how to create a killer online content and provides them with information that attracts attention, drives traffic, and builds your business.

  • Free Images: Morguefile is a free photo archive for creatives. They are a community-based free photo site, and all photos found in the Morguefile archive are free for you to download and re-use in your work, be it commercial or not.

  • How to Make a Portfolio: WebsiteSetup has a great article on how to make an online portfolio. This guide explains why having an online portfolio is important to your business, sites where you can build one, and how to build your own portfolio.

  • ProWritingAid: ProWritingAid offers world-class grammar and style checking combined with more in-depth reports to help you strengthen your writing. Their unique combination of suggestions, articles, videos, and quizzes makes writing fun and interactive.

Devon Feuer
Devon Feuer
Author