Are you interested in how to start freelance writing as a side hustle?
I started freelancing as a side hustle with a toddler and a newborn in tow. My kids are now tweens and my side hustle has grown into a six-figure business.
There are plenty of great reasons to consider freelancing if you’re a stay at home mom looking to make extra cash or a working mom who’d rather be home with your kiddos.
Here’s what I love about freelance writing:
- You can set a schedule that works around your family instead of trying to plan your life around an employer’s hours.
- There’s awesome money-making potential.
- It’s a way to be creative and learn about things you’re interested in.
- You don’t need professional writing experience or a journalism degree.
That last one is a biggie. I’ve met a lot of moms online who want to try freelancing as a side gig but think it’s not for them because they lack experience.
And that’s just plain silly.
Really, no rulebook says you can’t make money freelancing (and in some cases, lots of it) just because you’ve never done it before. So, if you want to know how to start freelance writing as a stay at home mom and make your first $100, I’ve got you covered!
How to Start Freelance Writing From Scratch
Building a freelance writing business and simply getting your feet wet to make your first $100 are two different things. So I’m going to keep it quick and dirty and share my best tips for how to be a freelance writer.
Ready? Here ya go!
1. Figure out when you can find time to write
Being a mom and a freelance writer means I have to be great at managing my time. And if you’re just starting with freelancing, you’ll have to come up with a schedule that works for you.
So if your kids are younger, you might block off time while they’re napping or after they go to bed at night to work on writing. And if you have school-age kids, mornings or afternoons might be better for you.
Whatever schedule you choose, try to be as consistent as possible in showing up to work on writing. Which might not always be easy if you’re a busy mom. But the more you can nail down a routine, the better.
And think about what your goals are. Knowing how to start freelance writing is just one part of the equation–you should also know why you want to do it.
For me, it was all about making extra money as a stay at home mom. And it might be the same for you. So get clear on your goals as you dive in.
2. Find a writing mentor
Freelance writing is a lot like blogging–there are a handful of pros out there who really have it all figured out. If you were planning to start a blog (which is another great way to make money as a stay at home mom!) you’d pick some blogging gurus to study and follow, right?
It’s the same with freelance writing. You can learn so much just by studying the right people.
For example, when I first started freelancing, I was an avid follower of Carol Tice. I learned so much about what to do (and what not to do) as a newbie freelancer.
So my best tip is to find a freelance writing mentor or two of your own you can learn from.
(And if you’d like to learn from me, you can check out my other site, Write to Six Figures. It’s all about leveling up your freelance writing income!)
3. Decide what you want to write
There are lots of ways to get paid to write online and you could try one of them or all of them. But if you’re looking for a shortcut to how to start freelance writing, I suggest picking one thing to master in the beginning.
Blog posts are a great beginner option. And if you already have a blog, then you have some built-in writing experience.
Also, think about the topics you want to write about.
As a freelancer, I write about small business, personal finance and investing. That’s what I was interested in when I first started writing for money so it was a natural fit for me.
But you might be more interested in writing about parenting or natural health or tech. And of course, you might decide to try writing about anything in the beginning if it means making money.
I totally get that. But just keep in mind that the less you know about a topic, the more you’ll have to research it when it’s time to write about it, which can slow you down.
4. Get a couple of good writing samples under your belt
One thing they don’t tell you about how to start freelance writing and make your first $100 is that you’ll probably have to do some writing for free in the beginning.
Why? Because it’s tough to get freelance writing gigs without having a sample or two to show to clients.
So the next step for starting your freelancing side hustle is to put together a mini-portfolio.
For example, your portfolio could include:
- Blog posts from your blog
- Guest posts you wrote for someone else’s blog
- Articles or posts you published on a free site like Medium
Ideally, you should be able to share links to writing you’ve published online with clients. But what if you don’t have any?
There’s a simple fix. You can just write up a sample or two and save it as a PDF to share with clients.
But what do you write about?
Honestly, you could make your samples about anything but your best bet is to make it relevant to the kind of freelancing gigs you want to try to get.
So for example, if you want to write for parenting websites then you could write a short blog post about potty training tips or ways teens can make extra money. Just make sure that whatever you write is your best work.
5. Start looking for freelance writing jobs to make your first $100
If you’ve got an idea of what you want to write about and a few samples, you’re ready to take the next step and start making some money.
That’s kind of the scary part. Because you have to go out and look for freelance writing jobs and apply for them.
It can be a little intimidating having complete strangers read your writing samples in the beginning. But the more you’re putting your writing out there, the easier that part gets.
So where do you find freelance writing jobs?
Job boards are a great place to start if you want to make your first $100 fairly quickly. Freelance writing job boards and remote job boards can be a gold mine for turning up gigs you can apply for as a beginner.
Here are some of my favorite spots to pick up freelance writing jobs:
- Virtual Vocations
- Journalism Jobs
- ProBlogger Jobs
- Blogging Pro
- Freelance Writing Gigs
Some of these sites are free to use, others are paid. I suggest checking out all of them to see which ones might work best for you.
Here are a few tips for using freelance or remote job boards wisely:
- Read the job description, then read it again.
- Check the rate to see how much it pays. (Remember, you’re looking for gigs that pay $100 or more.)
- Follow the directions for applying.
- Watch out for red flags, like ads that ask for money upfront.
And one more tip: don’t skip out on applying for a job if you’re not 100% qualified. If I had let that stop me from applying for jobs when I was learning how to start freelance writing, I never would have gotten anywhere.
What about freelance writing bidding sites?
I see a lot of freelancers asking about sites like Upwork and whether they’re worth it.
And honestly, you’ll get different opinions. One very well-known writer swears by Upwork. She coaches other beginning writers on how to start freelance writing through the platform.
The upside is that you can make money with Upwork pretty quickly. If you’re looking for some fast cash right out of the gate, you can find it here.
But Upwork can limit you if it’s the only place you’re looking for work. If you want to make real money for the long-term, then you’ll want to skip ahead to the next step.
6. Learn to pitch
Once you’ve gotten a feel for how to find freelance writing gigs on job boards and you’ve considered Upwork, you can start branching out. That means learning how to pitch.
Pitching is just selling yourself to companies or brands you want to write for. If you’re a blogger, then you’ve probably already done it a time or two when trying to land sponsored posts.
The hard part is figuring out who you want to pitch to.
Some pro freelancers will tell you to pitch to anyone and everyone in the beginning. And that’s fine because here’s a secret about freelancing: it’s all a numbers game.
The more you pitch, the better your odds of landing a gig and banking $100 or more for an assignment.
If you just want to start making some cash from your writing to help out with the family budget, then by all means, pitch away. But once you start getting established, you can fine-tune your strategy and start narrowing down the kind of clients or jobs you want to pitch.
Here are a few tips for writing a pitch:
- Send your pitch to the right person and use their name in the greeting
- Keep it friendly and professional
- Make the pitch about the client and how you can help them, instead of telling your life story
- Keep your pitch short and sweet
- Close it by telling them what to do next (i.e. email you to schedule a chat)
- Be confident!
That last one’s important because you really have to believe you can make your first $100, $1,000 or $100,000 as a writer. If you’re not confident it’ll show up in your pitches and you’ll have a hard time landing any gigs.
Other freelance writing tips
Here are a few more things to know as you work out how to start freelance writing:
- Make sure you have a PayPal account so you can get paid once you’ve earned your first $100.
- Start connecting with other freelancing moms and writers on LinkedIn and Facebook groups. (This is a great way to make writer friends and land writing jobs!)
- Remember that if you make more than $600 a year freelancing you have to report that income on your taxes.
- Work on becoming an expert in your topic–that’s key to making more money as a freelancer.
- Set a goal for the money you’re making, like adding it to a high-yield savings account for emergencies.
Helpful tools for new freelance writers
Make Even More Money Freelance Writing
These tips can help you figure out how to start freelance writing so you can pocket that first $100. And that’s a pretty sweet feeling if you’re living on a tight budget!
But if you want to expand your horizons and consider freelancing as a business, I’ve got something you’ll want to check out.
It’s a free email course that covers all the basics of how to start freelance writing in detail. So if you’re serious about becoming a freelancing mom, then go check it out!