by Will

May 2, 2019 | Freelance Writing

What is a Freelance Writer?

Written By: author image Will
author image Will
Keep it simple and be consistent is what you'll hear William say over and over again when it comes to content marketing.

What is a Freelance Writer?

A freelance writer is someone who works on a self-employed basis to meet the writing needs of their clients. Through creating their own freelance writing business, a writer can have multiple clients for whom they write different types of literature about a variety of subjects.

In today’s information-oriented world there is a constant demand for high-quality writing across all industries, and freelance writers perform an important role in meeting that demand. Whether it be through magazines, novels, marketing materials, or internet blogging, there are many different ways a freelance writer can earn an excellent living.

What Are The Benefits of Being a Freelance Writer?

There are a lot of great benefits to being a freelance writer, but one of the most popular is the ability to be your own boss. Being a freelance writer you are able to work where you want, choose the kinds of jobs you want, and set your own hours, these are some of the reasons so many people are attracted to this career.

No longer will you be shackled by the 9 to 5 work day and the long commutes, instead you can work from the comfort of your own home at the times that suit you. This is a massive positive for the majority of people who dream of escaping the rat race.

Freelance Writer Relaxing

Asides from the freedom of being your own boss, freelance writing also gives you the opportunity to pursue whatever you are passionate about. If you never stop talking about open water swimming, then freelance writing gives you the opportunity to make open water swimming a big part of your work. If it’s mathematical equations you’re crazy about then you can make that part of your work. Whatever it is you love, you can make it a part of your day to day work.

Of course, it would be quite helpful if you’re passionate about writing as well, seeing as you’re going to be spending quite a lot of your time doing it! You might be thinking back to writing in school right now and be thinking “how can anyone be passionate about writing,” but it’s a very different prospect when you’re writing about something you enjoy (and are getting paid to do)!

We like to answer the question of what is a freelance writer by starting out listing the benefits of a freelance writing career. A freelance writer is someone who’s their own boss, who gets to choose the writing jobs they’re passionate about and work to their own schedule.

There’s always a drawback I hear you say! So here are some of the downsides of being a freelance writer.

What are the Downsides of Being a Freelance Writer?

There’s no job in the world that doesn’t have downsides and freelance writing is no different! The funny thing is, the one aspect that offers some of the biggest benefits is also responsible for many of its downsides, namely being your own boss.

The thing is, being your own boss is amazing. You get to choose your jobs, work where you want, and work when you want, but when you’re your own boss, the buck stops with you! There’s no guaranteed paycheck in freelance writing, so if you’re not bringing in the jobs then you’re not going to get paid.

Unfortunately, being your own boss doesn’t have the same safety nets as when you work in a traditional job. You might have a lot of freedom but that freedom comes at a price. This can be very disconcerting for some people and ultimately is a big barrier to people wanting to become their own boss.

You can never guarantee success, but the chances are the challenges of becoming a successful freelance writer are something you can overcome. It might seem very attractive to be able to set your own hours and work where you want, but we find that the only way to make this gig work is by working exceptionally hard.

Too many people come into freelance writing with unrealistic goals of how great it is to be your own boss. There is a lot of competition in this industry, so being a successful boss means being disciplined with yourself. You might be able to start working at midday and never change out of your pajamas, but is that the best way to be successful?

The best way to avoid the pitfalls of being your own boss is to recognize the challenges and plan accordingly. If you can learn to use your time effectively and create good habits then you’ll put yourself in a good position to overcome the challenges of freelance writing.  

Planning for freelance writing

As long as you recognize that being your own boss has the potential to be a huge negative if it is not done properly and you act accordingly, you should be able to enjoy the benefits that being your own boss brings. Sure, you’re always going to be responsible for making sure you get that next paycheck, but at least you know your destiny is in your own hands.

Why are Freelance Writers Needed?

According to Tech 21st Century, the human brain is loaded with about 105,000 words of information in any 12 hours of being awake. Forbes reports that 90% of the world’s data was generated in the past two years – the fact is, the world has gone information mad.

This is great news for freelance writers! In the past, you would have associated writing with newspapers, magazines, novels, and perhaps advertising, but now, the internet has unleashed a whole new market for freelance writers.

One of the reasons for this is that search engines love content. When you type a question into Google, Google wants to send you to the best article possible to answer your question, therefore there is a huge demand for great writers to write that content (this is a very simplified explanation, but check out Larry’s SEO Guide to Freelance Writing for more information on this.)

Whether you’re a massive company like Coca Cola or a Mom and Pop store selling candy, if you want to rank high up on the search engines you’ve got to put out some great content. While Coca Cola may have a team of writers in their employment, there are a million Mom and Pop stores out there who don’t and guess what, they still have aspirations of ranking well on Google. This is where you, the freelance writer comes in!

As well as the traditional writing jobs, this internet has opened up a number of new services a freelance writer can provide. There’s an ever-expanding number of websites out there, and they all need people to write their site content for them, provide them with blogs, write ebooks, and research white papers. As a freelance writer, you can do all of these things, or, if you like you can even specialize.

The moral of the story is there’s a lot of work out there. Whether you see yourself doing more traditional forms of writing, or specializing in internet work, there are a ton of opportunities. In order to be successful, businesses need great content and if you can provide them with that then you stand to make a good living from it.

How Do Freelance Writers Work?

It’s easy to think of freelance writers spending all their time simply writing content, but that’s certainly not the case. Like any business, you’re selling a product, and your product is your content. Having a product doesn’t make you any money though, so the most important aspect of freelance writing is being able to sell your content.

Like any sale, you’ve got to show how your product can benefit your client, and the best way to do this is by building a great portfolio of work and pitching potential clients. Pitching is a part of freelance writing that cannot be underestimated. Without doing this well, you’re simply not going to be successful. If you want a head start when it comes to pitching then take a look at our favorite pitch.

Asides from writing and marketing yourself, a freelance writer also has to deal with administrative tasks. Of course, you can outsource things like taxes and other general admin work, but may freelancers will do the majority of this themselves. These tasks aren’t particularly glamorous but they’re part and parcel of running your own business.

With so many different requirements on the freelance writer, it can be very easy to get blown off course. Ideally, we would love to spend all of our time working on getting new work and on writing, but there are other tasks that will require our attention from time to time.

This means that one of the most important skills for any freelance writer is time management. You need to learn to be very organized in this job in order to make the most out of your time. We are big believers in setting goals and thoroughly planning our work days out and we follow a 7 step process to ensure we get the most out of our working day.

A freelance writer’s work is not just about writing. Although this is the part that everyone sees, it’s the work that a freelance writer does behind the scenes that can decide whether they are successful or not. In order to make a success of this job, you must be able to market yourself to an extremely high level and competently take care of administrative tasks. The writing might be the glamorous part, but there’s plenty more to freelance writing.

What Types of Freelance Writing Are There?

There are a lot of different forms of freelance writing that can earn you good money. It’s likely you will specialize in a few of these types, but the nice thing is you always have that option to branch out and do something a bit different. Here are some of the most common types of freelance writing.

Feature Writing

This is probably what people think of when they think of a traditional freelance writer. This is where you write feature articles for magazines and newspapers. These jobs are not limited to print media though, nowadays there are tons of newspapers and magazines with huge online publications. These websites often use a team of freelance writers to help produce their content and as a result, there are a lot of jobs going in feature writing.

Copy/Content Writing

As we discussed earlier, the internet has brought with it a huge demand for the services of freelance writers. Virtually every business in the world has a website, often in many different languages, and they all need content. This can include anything from about pages to product descriptions to blogs. These jobs represent a great way to get writing jobs in your niche and improve your writing skills.


Blogging can be considered to come under the umbrella of content writing, but there are a few distinct forms of it. If you’re blogging for a website as part of a wider content strategy then it would probably come under content writing. However, there is guest blogging and your own personal blog which are great ways to make some extra money. By setting up your own blog, you not only create a great platform from which to showcase your work, but you also have the potential to monetize it when you get enough traffic.

Social Media

Just as its a necessity for virtually every business to have a website it’s a must to have social media profiles. Social media profiles form a big part of many businesses’ marketing strategy and they spend big money on producing great content. This creates yet another opportunity for freelance writers.

The demand for freelance writers is growing daily, with job opportunities in all sorts of different forms of writing. You will find that you are naturally better at some forms of writing than others, but don’t be scared to give them all a try!

How Do You Get Paid As a Freelance Writer?

At the end of the day, you can’t be a freelance writer just because you love it, you’ve got to get paid for your hard work. This is perhaps the scariest part of being a freelancer because you’re solely responsible for making sure you get paid. Thankfully, there are a lot of great websites that take care of this and will make sure you get paid for your work.

We find that one of the best ways to find work and know you’re going to get well paid is through paid job sites like Writing Jobs Online and Contena. With these websites, you pay a small monthly fee, but you benefit from a great selection of jobs, and most importantly peace of mind that you’re going to get paid for your work.

That being said, there are plenty of opportunities to work directly with the client without using an intermediary. There are tons of great jobs where you work directly with the client and you can easily sort out payment through Paypal or Stripe.

In most cases, you would discuss a price per article with the client and create an invoice for your work. Some writers may take half payment up front and the rest of the payment on completion of the work. In our case, we normally just take payment on completion of work and we’ve never had any problems with getting payment from our clients.

In terms of how much you charge for your work, there are a lot of different factors that go into this. Of course, the amount of experience you have is going to make a big difference, if you’ve got a great portfolio of work it’s going to be easier to charge more, but if you’re just starting out don’t undersell yourself.

The best thing to do is to work out how long the article might take you, and how much you need to earn per hour. Then do some research on what competitors are charging and pick your price accordingly. Figuring out how much your writing is worth can be challenging to start with but you will soon get a good feel for it.

Person Counting Money

We all need money to pay the bills, so having a good understanding of how you’re going to get paid as a freelance writer is very important. Make sure you’ve done some good research on this and really plan well.


There are many aspects that go into a successful freelance writing business. Of course, writing is an important skill for any freelance writer, but equally important is the ability to market yourself. If you can’t successfully market yourself then it’s going to be very difficult to make good money in this career.

The good news is there are a ton of opportunities for freelance writers today. The internet has greatly expanded the market for freelance writers and now is a perfect time to take advantage of that.

If you are planning on getting into freelance writing the important thing is that you go into it with a plan. Arm yourself with as much research as you can and treat your venture like a business. If you’re willing to work hard and follow expert advice then there’s a great change you can make this career work.

There are so many benefits to freelance writing but it also has its pitfalls. As long as you remain aware of the pitfalls and constantly work to overcome them then you might just find you’ve got yourself a perfect career.

author avatar
Will Content Marketing Manager
Keep it simple and be consistent is what you'll hear William say over and over again when it comes to content marketing.
About the author, Will


William is a super cool guy who does cool stuff all the time in a cool way.

Cool activities include being cool, eating cool stuff, going to cool places.

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