How to Start Writing Articles as a Freelancer

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Roughly 57 million Americans work as freelancers, according to the Freelancers Union. That's more than a third of the U.S. workforce.

And, with the continual growth of technology and the ability to work from home (or Starbucks), the trend will only increase. While independent numbers don't exist for how many freelancers work as writers, the profession has always lent itself to working off-site.

If you're a writer who wants to segue from contract writing to freelance writing, or, if you're just starting out as a writer, there are many avenues open to you.

Leverage Your Expertise

The first thing to do is hone in on your expertise. If, for instance, you have experience as a technical writer and previously worked in-house for an IT company (or were a staff writer for an IT publication), you would explore your options by joining an industry association such as the Society for Technical Communication.

If, however, you were a journalism major who always enjoyed and excelled at the craft and you're a stay-at-home mom looking to make a few extra dollars, then you should visit one of the many writing job posting sites like Freelance Writing Gigs. Writers should also stay apprised of the industry by reading the publication Writer's Market cover-to-cover. 

Tap Into Your Background and Personal Life

Even if you have no credentials you don't have to give up. Let's say you spent years as an administrative assistant. That means you were exposed to the business world and understand the jargon and inner workings of companies. You might excel at business writing and should try for a gig writing brochures, newsletters, and emails.

People are also hiring freelance writers well-versed in social media platforms. If you tweet, Instagram, or Snapchat a lot (even for fun), you likely have a skill set you weren't even aware of. Employers looking to hire freelance social media writers will often post their openings online on sites like Indeed.com.

Getting Good Clips to Show Employers

Even if you have to do an internship, work for peanuts, or do volunteer work, the first step to getting hired is having a sample of your work (or clip) to show employers. And, the more clips the better. It doesn't matter how recent they are. What matters is how well-written they are and that they show your writing style and diversity.

You can't put together a resume without an example. There's no reason, for instance, to have a website or blog touting your services if you don't have a sample of those services. No matter how stellar sounding your resume or what kind of freelance writing you want, your number one step is having a good clip (or two).

How to Start Acquiring Clips

  • Volunteer for a writing project with a local non-profit.
  • Take the time to write (and perfect) a flawless op-ed style article on a subject. that interests you and convert it into an attractive PDF.
  • Find a well-written paper from college.
  • Use a piece that you've written for a previous employer, even if it was a one-time gig.
  • Start a blog.