How to Make Your First $100 as a Freelance Writer

How to Make Your First $100 as a Freelance Writer

We’re artists, passionate about our word-crafting. This industry is such that we’re almost afraid to say we want to make a living writing, because so few people do. And those fearful of writing for a dollar are the ones not making the bucks.

But how do you get started from scratch? How do you become a freelance writer with no experience? What’s the best way to get paid to write?

How to become a freelance writer

Start by analyzing your assets and setting goals, while at the same time remembering that long-term dream that drove you to enter this profession in the first place. In other words, it’s all about organization and drive.

Determine the following:

  1. Your long-term goal;
  2. How much money you want to make in a year, in two years, in three years; and
  3. What you’re willing to do to make the bucks.

There’s a reason that last one sounds like a hooker (yes, as in prostitute), because that’s what you’ll become if income is your immediate desire. You need to be willing to write almost anything, because you must be recognized as a writer first and foremost before you attempt to become a NY Times Bestseller novelist or world-renowned blogger.

At this point, most new writers are spinning in place, wondering how the heck to get started. Your fingers are itching to write, but you have no outlet. You have no idea how to become a freelance writer. You aren’t sure where to start or what to write about.

And that’s OK. We’ve all been there. Take a deep breath, slow down, and look within — and don’t make the mistake of thinking you have a drab life or minimal knowledge.

You’ve got tons of interesting things to say, and we’re going to make it easy for you to find them. Here’s how.

How to become a freelance writer

List three assets that define you. Those could be life events, personality traits, interests, experiences, other careers or professions, leadership roles you’ve had, your education, etc.

Next, list three things about life that inspire you. For example: parenting, nature, religion, charity, freedom, military, etc.

Now, list three things you dream of. These might include retirement, publishing, grandchildren, traveling, marriage, financial success, sustainable living, etc.

From these three lists, you amass a wealth of topics to address. This is your expertise.

From here, you’ll start seeking markets — because girls and guys, when you want to earn money with your words, you have to seek clients. They aren’t going to magically come to you… at least not at the start.

But there are parties out there who will pay for your written knowledge, whether they’re businesses who require copywriting for their newsletters, websites and advertising, or magazines that seek freelance features. By focusing on your areas of expertise, you can start to make yourself into a marketable asset. You need to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. (Click to tweet this idea!) Sure, you can write anything, but tapping your lists — i.e., your best subjects — will help you jumpstart your career in a flash.

Now, it’s time to start hustling.

Here are some great places to find freelance gigs and magazine markets:

  1. Writers Market is a paid service, but $5.99 per month is a small price to pay for the knowledge and connections you can glean.
  2. Upwork is a peer-to-peer market specifically designed to match freelancers of all stripes with the businesses who need them.
  3. Contently is a great spot to host your digital portfolio once you start amassing some clips, but it can also bring you even more work — the site puts your existing pieces in front of the businesses who might want to recruit you, and gives you an opportunity to pitch directly to their content requests.
  4. Craigslist can be a great resource, although there are some caveats. First of all, avoid those who ask you to write pieces on a topic as part of the application — they’re likely just gathering free material. Also avoid listings that lack real-people connections.
  5. Blogging Pro has tons of helpful hints and tips, and also includes a daily-updated job board.
  6. ProBlogger’s job board is one of the best places to find long-term freelance writing work, no matter where you are.
  7. is similar to a few other writers’ resources websites on this list, but also has a well-kept and frequently-updated jobs list.
  8. Worldwide Freelance offers freelancers a writer guideline database, free monthly newsletter, valuable lists of specified writing markets and more.
  9. Simply Hired is a traditional job board, but you can find lots of writing opportunities on it.
  10. FlexJobs is another good one for writers. It’s specifically a board for remote work, but since writing fits that bill, you can find lots of writing gigs in its listings!
  11. Morning Coffee Newsletter has been around for ages, and has time and again proved an invaluable tool — all delivered directly to your inbox!
  12. Freelance Writing Jobs publishes a post with some lucrative freelance writing, blogging, and copy-editing opportunities just about every day.
  13. LinkedIn — the paid upgrade has many more opportunities.
  14. Free Trade Magazines offers free subscriptions to magazines you won’t find at the newsstand — and which often need freelance writers to flesh out their content base.

What about that dream project? That award-winning novel in your head?

That’s your dessert each day. That’s what you fuss over once you’ve put in your time bringing home the bacon.

Plus, if you play your cards right, you can sell “fun” writing that relates directly to your interests. Here are a few roundups of magazines and outlets that are paying for personal essays, travel writing and short fiction:

Where to Submit Short Stories: 23 Magazines and Websites That Want Your Work

19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays

34 Travel Magazines and Websites That Pay Freelance Writers

Don’t get depressed that you’re abandoning your artistry, because you’re not. On the contrary, you’re building a foundation for it. Once you become adept at freelancing, you not only have income to use for your dream project, but — surprise! You’ve vastly improved your writing skills. And people now identify with you as a professional writer.

This post originally ran in August 2013. We updated it in June 2017.

Filed Under: Freelancing
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  • Abhishek says:

    Rightly said. The lost of free websites you have mentioned here is quite impressive. I too feel that instead of waiting for jobs on commision based websites on should also check out free listing and portfolio websites to get more freelance work opportunities. I’ve also written a bit about it on

  • Steve says:

    Thank you for your advice, especially appreciated the idea of ‘long term’ investment building a social network of people who can say they like your work, (payment would generally indicate that view). But where I am stumped with my writing is I do it more as a passion, something I don’t feel I can turn on, even for money. I just write. Admittedly not as often as I like at times but as I say it seems to be a mood thing. And the reason I do it is because I like the views I see of life and I like to translate that to pen and paper. I’m also in no hurry to finish some of my ‘projects’ 🙂 Maybe one day. And when I do I’ll bear these tips in mind. Thanks again.

  • bryt says:

    Thank u so much for this wonderful post. I registered with Elance but didn’t know how to start. With this i can now.

  • Angy says:

    I made my first $100 at Writerslabs. It wasn’t easy, but I did the trick!

  • LexiDM says:

    I have always been really deeply in love with writing and have done several writing things (I always wanted to write books) in which i’ve shared. I got good feedback some asking for more of my writing and myself asking more from myself. I really want to be a writer I always wanted to be a writer it’s something I desperately want and dream of. I think becoming a freelance would be a good step to learning more skills as a writer and good source of beginning income. However I don’t have the know how to really get started. I really want to do this I really want to put myself in the field and learn what I can. I feel I need more specific advice on how someone so novice and green can make decent headway as a freelance writer. I’d really like some further advice if possible. Anything would be appreciated!

    • C. Hope Clark says:

      Your goal is to learn how to write – the basics. As for creative writing, consider Fiction University for lessons and advice. Then read great writing and practice. Enter contests. But do not expect to earn money for something you have not mastered. Anyone hiring a writer, wants someone skilled. Work on your skills and don’t let the noise of the Internet lull you into thinking it’s easy to earn a dollar right off the bat.

  • Colleen says:

    I love this site! It is so practical and filled with great advice. I’m a part-time freelance writer and have worked to slowly build my portfolio of samples by focusing on a couple of topics that I knew about, was interested in, and required minimal research so I could crank out articles with only a few hours to devote each week. It’s been a slow but rewarding process. On my blog, I posted 5 tips for someone just starting out and not ready to quit a day job quite yet. Wanted to share here to provide that perspective!

  • edward says:

    You can Earn lots of money if you work this company there you can write papers and earn thousands of $

  • Dale says:

    Obviously I’m new at this, but I find a lot of these posts and comments to be most intriguing and informative. I want very much to be a writer, but have met with what some call “Writer’s Block” wall! Frustrating as it may be, I somehow manage to find ways of breaking through that wall. C. Hope Clark, you have opened my eyes to a couple of ideas but I believe I would need your professional advice on how I could advance my skills as either a copywriter or possibly a science fiction writer – these are the two niches I have been interested in. Making money is, of course, a given, but I need to better my skills before I can reach that particular plateau.

    Writing has always been my passion and enjoy it very much. Most of the writing I’ve done has been my science fiction writing, but my eyes have been opened recently to copy-writing. This type of writing seems to offer a potential for making a fair amount of money, but it involves a more definitive type of writing and marketing. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    • C. Hope Clark says:

      Yes, there’s a huge difference between scifi and copywriting. With scifi, you need to study the scifi craft, especially reading what you consider good scifi work. You also need to study basic storytelling skills. The basics apply to any genre. Fiction University is a great website for that purpose.

      With copywriting, you have to learn how to meet a client’s needs and write with diversity. They are hiring you because they don’t know exactly what they want to say, so you’ll have to held them understand as well as write their work. Peter Bowerman, The Well-Fed Writer is a great copywriter. You can connect to him through his banner on my website – on the right hand side.

      You are wise to take the time to learn how to write. The money has to come way after that. Good luck.

      • Rachel Nichols says:

        Hi Hope. Loved your book The Shy Writer. What would you recommend for someone who wants to brand themselves for two genres–say creative nonfiction and poetry on the one hand (neither enough to live on)–and blogging for online businesses that pay a living wage? Should I use different names for the different roles along with different websites or would that only add to the confusion?

        (My goal is not to fool people, but to show the role I’m playing. Kind of like when an actor switches hats or masks.)

  • Juliana says:

    I am confused as to how to get started. It seems that in order to get hired as a freelancer you have to have experience, but in order to have experience, you have to get hired.

    • C. Hope Clark says:

      You start off with pitching a piece you’re truly an expert in, or about an experience that you endured. You pitch so grand that the editor doesn’t ask for your publishing history because you just knocked his socks off with a pitch he wants. That’s why writing a great query is what matters most.

  • Freelance Jobs says:

    Hello, I got me very interested about become a profesional writer and to gain some extra money,
    I would like to be self employed freelance style, I’ve been looking at ways to get new offers and now I’m working with this site about
    I do not know if it is good idea but now has worked for me

  • Douglas Oerly says:

    I have always dreamed of being a writer but it never materialized. Now at age 53, I have had some articles published in a small weekly free newspaper concerning computer and computing related subjects. My career has been in the computing industry where I have been everything from a programmer to a project manager as well as networking and repair. I have written user manuals, documentation, and hand-outs for a class I ran for new programmers concerning structured program design. I have always found writing easy and can throw together a well written article concerning any subject. Does this sound like I could be successful in blog-writing? I just started looking into this subject and am skeptical about it, especially after viewing some jobs. To top matters off, I have no experience nor any kind of a resume entries concerning this field.

  • Made Sandat says:

    Dear C.Hope Clark

    Oh… Writing writing writing… Earning earning earning…
    You know, I always try to do these two things from July this year. After 4 months searching I found a light from HIM that I decided the right way, to earn through writing. I’ve started to make a blog and pour everything in my mind into my madesandat blog. Until now, I don’t earn any money yet. But, I will keep learning and trying since I chose to be a writer and had left my monthly-earning job. So, now I write but not earning any dollar yet. I hope that I can share everything in my mind to the world soon. Thank you for your article, Hope Clark. It encourages myself to be more optimistic and more productive and to find ways when I get stuck in writing.

    In a big try to prove myself,
    Made Sandat

  • J. Prasad raman says:

    I am a writer since five years. If you want to read my articles, please open my Fb jeprasad raman

  • Allisa Johannson says:

    Thanks for sharing the informative material. I really enjoyed this post. I also suggest the readers of this post to visit the link: for a legitimate writing job. If you are serious you can earn up to $200 per day.

  • Doug Rice says:

    Well, I purchased your book for 19$. I’ve been told that I have the skill to become a decent writer. My wife is pushing my interest and so I’ve decided to take the plunge. Thanks for the resources.

  • Cebu Nomads says:

    Inspiring article. I experienced being an article writer before and put gigs in fiverr. I made few hundreds (not enough though to stop my offline career). Sadly I have to give up this online passion because of my offline career that was so stressful and burning me out mentally, I couldn’t even churn out a single line in any topic. I just wanted to sleep and drop any sign of technology. I wanted to be passionate about it but during that time I was feeling drained all the time. Writing quality and original articles or blogs really need time and mental strength.

    I’m restarting again because I really love writing my opinions. And this time I am taking it slow. I just started a blog about my hometown (just a week old) to test how am I mentally and commitment-wise am I ready to restart looking for freelance jobs.

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