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? What’s the best way to get paid to write?

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.

Start off by determining 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. () Sure, you can write anything, but tapping your lists — i.e., your best subjects — will help you jumpstart your career in a flash.

freelance writing

Now, it’s time to start hustling.

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

  1.  is a paid service, but $5.99 per month is a small price to pay for the knowledge and connections you can glean.
  2. is a peer-to-peer market specifically designed to match freelancers of all stripes with the businesses who need them.
  3. 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. 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.  has tons of helpful hints and tips, and also includes a daily-updated job board.
  6.  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.  offers freelancers a writer guideline database, free monthly newsletter, valuable lists of specified writing markets and more.
  9.  is a traditional job board, but you can find lots of writing opportunities on it.
  10. 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.  has been around for ages, and has time and again proved an invaluable tool — all delivered directly to your inbox!
  12.  publishes a post with some lucrative freelance writing, blogging, and copy-editing opportunities just about every day.
  13. — the paid upgrade has many more opportunities.
  14. 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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155 comments

  • Jeremie says:

    3 lists. I can do that!…

    Thanks for this. You just brought down one of my biggest obstacles; Where to start.

  • Mohammad Sahil says:

    I have some fabulous stories and I want to share them with people. I want to be a freelance writer. What should I do?

  • Lyla Lawless says:

    Hey Hope, thanks so much for this! It was a huge help setting up my site this week 🙂

  • Kris says:

    This is great information and very encouraging! Thank you for sharing this for new writers with a dream, I will be tapping into all of these resources!

  • Camille says:

    Hi there! i aspire to be a writer and i have an overactive imagination for fictions using fantasy, horrors, and mysteries. I know i have a talent for it when i write fanficton and my readers love my work. i am willing to do anything but the problem is I’ve heard and read horror stories that it is a money pit, scams, I’m afraid people will steal my work, etc. That fear cripples me and quite frankly time is not on my side since I am currently unemployed, limited funds and I fear I might lose my house. I also live in Asia and most companies that hire freelancers only cater to those in America (not all but some are REALLY racist). What should I do? I’ve been writing stories since I was in grade school and it was the one thing that made me light up in joy.

  • Afaf says:

    Those are some helpful tips for new writers. As a freelancer I know the struggle of getting new clients and pitching for the first time. It needs a lot of pacience and focus on your goal.

  • Hi.
    Writing is one of the few things in life that excites me. My love for the art of poetry has led me to write them myself. I had this crazy notion that I would publish a book of my very own poems. Lucky enough, I sold over 40 copies at my job, but that’s just about it for now. My question is, how do I attract people to my book in order to generated sales? You see, I have come the the realization that I don’t quite fit into the working environments. People keep telling me to change who I am to be fit for promotions. The sad part is, I cannot change for nothing. I will always be who I am – a writer. Trying to fit in makes me miserable and sometimes frustrated. The challenge for me is that I have no idea how to take this writing to the next level. Help please!

  • Travis Knoll says:

    It really all depends on the kind of work. A writer who lands a recurring gig with a content company or a business might make a few thousand dollars a month, depending on time spent and the rate paid.

    On the other hand, as a new writer pitching publications or blogs, the earnings may only amount to $50 to $250 a month.

    One thing to remember — sometimes you get paid long after the post has published! So you’ll need to have a good budget in place to keep you afloat.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Iyke Michael says:

    Am from Nigeria and I am interested in on written online pls admin keep me updated

  • Barbora Pangracova says:

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  • Congratulations on such excellent content. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Hi C. Hope,

    This is very apt. Making the first $100 then the first $1,000 seems to be one of the hardest moments freelance writers are faced with. I struggled so hard to cross that stage because I had no one to coach. But you know what? I learnt my lessons the hard way.

    Thanks for sharing your thought.

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