How to make a living with online writing

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March 29, 2021
5 minute read

With a computer, an internet connection, and some wordsmithing skills, you can make a living through online writing. To help you get started, you’ll discover below more about online writing and how to use your writing skills to make money. You’ll also find writing tips and tricks to help you make more money as a writer and increase your chances of success.

Online writing for beginners: What to know

Before you dive headfirst down this career path, here are a few things you should know about online writing.

What traits do online writers need?

Online writing isn’t a great choice for everyone. Here are six of the most important traits for online writers to help you decide if you have what it takes.

  1. Enjoy writing: You can fake many things in life, but without at least a mild enjoyment of putting words together, you’ll have a hard time thriving as an online writer. You’ll be writing a lot, so if writing makes you cringe, look for another option.

  2. Good at writing: Clients want to receive work that doesn’t need a lot of editing. If you’re not yet at that level, you’ll want to spend some time practicing before you look for clients. One way to get this practice is to set up your own blog.

  3. Organized: Deadlines are essential when you’re writing. To help keep you on track, you need to stay organized. You can use your calendar, planner, an app, or other similar resources to help manage your deadlines, so you always submit your work on time. Google Calendar and Airtable are popular digital options.

  4. Self-motivated: You typically won’t have a boss in the traditional sense. Looking for clients, finding writing jobs, completing your work on time, and doing any follow-up all fall on your shoulders. If you’re not self-motivated, this career might not be a good fit for you.

  5. Good communicator: When you’re writing online, staying in touch with your clients is essential. You’ll want to make sure you can communicate clearly through their preferred method of contact, whether that’s emails, phone calls, or messaging apps.

  6. Excellent command of the English language: If you’re looking for writing work in the United States, most companies want you to have an excellent grasp of English. Many prefer to work with native speakers. If you don’t yet have fluency in this language, continue working at it. You can also look for writing opportunities in your native tongue. After all, companies all around the world hire writers.

If you have those skills, a future in online writing may be waiting for you.

What tools do you need to get started as an online writer?

Before you begin getting paid for your words, there are a few tools you’re going to need. These are the most essential:

  • A computer. You need a way to type your content easily. The most portable option is a laptop. However, some writers create everything on a tablet with a keyboard or on a desktop. You don’t need anything fancy when you begin, so don’t worry if your computer isn’t top of the line. You can always invest in a better one later. A portable laptop will allow you to work from anywhere.

  • An internet connection. While you can do the actual writing part offline, you’re going to need an internet connection fairly regularly as an online writer. This allows you to find clients, research topics, send invoices, submit your work, and get paid.

Though many online jobs require high-speed internet, online writing is one you can get away with using satellite or slower connections. So, don’t rule out making money online if you live in a rural area.

  • An invoicing system. Know that if you don’t send an invoice, you probably aren’t going to get paid. So you’ll want to have an invoicing system in place when you land your first client. Wave Invoicing is a great free option to check out.

Do you need a website before you start writing online?

Many online writers have their own websites. But is it essential?

No, not technically. You can find clients, create and submit work, and send an invoice without a website.

However, a business website can help you generate leads. Potential clients can find you through a search, and learn more about your offerings.

A website also gives you a platform to host your writing portfolio. And in today’s marketplace, potential clients want to check you out before they begin working with you. Many expect you to have a website so that they can learn more about you.

So although you can get started without one, creating a website should be on your to-do list at some point. Your website doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, making it more attainable than you think.

Do you need to take an online writing course before you begin?

There are loads of online writing courses on the market, each one promising to help you earn money as a writer. You can find classes on how to optimize your content for search engines, help you stay up to date with copyright laws, improve your English grammar, and more.

But, do you need to take an online writing course before you begin? Probably not.

Now it’s true that courses are a great way to level up your skills. They also provide you a shortcut to learning and tried-and-true tips that you can use to get started. If you can afford a course, it’s a reliable way to gain knowledge.

However, if you’re trying to bootstrap your business and don't have a lot of money to spare, you can find the information you need online by scouring free resources. These take some time to research and see, but they can help you learn the skills you need.

You don’t need to have a fear of missing out (FOMO) either. As your income grows, you can decide to take specific writing courses to help you improve even more. There’s nothing wrong with learning new things, no matter where you are in your career path.

How to make a living as an online writer

Step 1: Know how to write for the web

Online writing is any writing you create digitally and submit electronically for publication. As an online writer, you can create blog posts, articles for digital publications, social media content, and more.

No matter the type of writing you’re working on, it’s essential to know how online writing differs from traditional printed material. Here are some writing tips to help you create quality content for online viewing:

Tip #1: Online content is clear and concise. It doesn’t include a lot of fluff. This way, readers can quickly find the information they’re looking for without sifting through a ton of unnecessary words.

Tip #2: Online writing is formatted a bit differently than you’d find in print. There’s an emphasis on readability. Your content should be easy to scan and skim, since readers are unlikely to read every word.

Tip #3: When you include subheadings, bullet points, and images, you make your online content easier to read and digest. White space is also important. You don’t want to have blocky paragraphs without breaks for your reader’s eyes.

Tip #4: To make this happen, write in shorter sentences with shorter paragraphs. You can throw out the rule you learned in English class that paragraphs need to be three to five sentences. Online, that rule simply doesn’t apply.

You can even get away with one-sentence paragraphs when you create digital content.

If you’re coming from an academic background, it’ll take time and practice for you to feel comfortable writing in this style. Just keep practicing, and before you know it, you’ll be churning out quality online content.

Step 2: Pick a type of online writing

There’s a nearly endless list of types of writing you can do. To help you track down the perfect opportunity for you, here’s a quick peek at 20 online writing categories you can try. If none of these seem attractive to you, there are others out there that can capture your interest.

1. News reporter

If you want to write about the facts, you can dive into the world of news reporting. Many media companies hire reporters on a full-time or part-time basis. You can also find freelancing opportunities in this industry.

2. Blogger

Do you enjoy reading blog posts? If you do, you should try your hand at writing them. Many blogs pay for submissions, and you might even land some recurring writing jobs this way. Since there are blogs on so many different topics, you can write about what you’re interested in.

Often, freelance bloggers juggle multiple clients at the same time. This way, you have several income sources, and if you lose one, you can still generate income as you look for another client.

3. Social media content creator

If Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites are your thing, you can get paid to create content for companies to share on those platforms. There are typically two components to this job: creating content and managing networks.

Some companies hire one person to tackle both parts, while others look for creators who specialize in one or the other. You can find full-time, part-time, and freelance positions in the world of social media marketing.

4. Communication specialist

Some companies hire communication specialists to ensure their content follows their marketing plan across the web. If you can write in your client’s voice and help them stay true to their brand as you write, you’ll excel in this role.

5. Grant writer

If you enjoy working with non-profit companies or foundations, you can use your writing skills to help them secure money. In this position, you may also need to identify possible grants the company is eligible for. When you have a grant to apply for, you must follow precise guidelines, or your company won’t get the funding.

Once you’ve developed a name for yourself as a grant writer, you’ll be in high demand. A good grant writer can help get money for the company to grow.

6. Content marketer

Content marketing is a growing field with plenty of opportunities. In this role, you’ll work with companies to create content that’ll help them sell their product or service. This includes creating blog posts, branded articles, social media content, and more. You may also do outreach, connecting and collaborating with other brands.

7. Magazine writer

Blog posts aren’t the only type of digital content people consume online. There are also plenty of digital magazines you can write for.

Before you begin submitting your work for consideration, make sure you take the time to check out the magazine’s existing archives. That way, you can ensure you match the style and tone it’s looking for.

8. Content strategist

Do you like the behind-the-scenes, number-crunching part of marketing? If you do, consider becoming a content strategist. In this role, you’ll create a content marketing plan for others to follow.

Making a style guide, overseeing a team of freelance writers to handle the content writing, and editing that content before publication are all possible tasks you’ll do in this position.

9. Podcast writer

There are nearly 2 million podcasts out there, and this number is expected to grow. Since every podcast needs show notes, there’s plenty of opportunities for you to succeed in this field.

Besides show notes, some podcasters also want help creating a script. Others like to publish stand-alone blog posts as an overview for each episode. With so many options, you can try them all or pick one to specialize in.

10. Scriptwriter

Do you have a favorite YouTube channel? Have you ever thought about the writing that goes into making those episodes a reality?

As a scriptwriter, you can create scripts for video and audio content. This requires adopting your client’s voice so the video is on-brand.

11. Video game writer

If you love all things gaming, consider becoming a video game writer. This niche of the entertainment industry is expected to grow, so the possibilities should keep on coming.

In this field, you can create how-to guides and tutorials to help players improve their high scores.

12. Travel writer

Though travel came to a halt for a while during the pandemic, this industry is slowly recovering. As a travel writer, you can create destination guides, travel brochures, and more.

Additionally, most airlines used to publish magazines for in-flight display. Though these opportunities came to a standstill in 2020, the airlines are creating innovative ways to get these articles to customers going forward. So, keep your eyes peeled for additional travel writing jobs as these publications get back on track.

13. Research specialist

Researching requires sifting through all the information available and picking out reliable nuggets that readers need to know. If you can use online resources to scout out information, and then break down what you’ve learned into simple terms, you can specialize in research writing.

14. Resume writer

You can put your writing skills to work to help people find the job of their dreams. As a resume writer, you can look for clients on your own, or apply to work for a specific company. Either way, your primary goal is to create a resume that helps your clients stand out from the crowd and get hired.

15. Copywriter

Sales copy compels people to take action. If you can create content that encourages people to buy a product, you can make good money as a copywriter. And once you’ve proven yourself to be effective, you’ll have even more companies ready to hire you.

Here are a few things you might create as a copywriter:

  • Copy for a web page
  • Advertisements
  • Brochures
  • Mailers
  • Email blasts

16. eBook writer

If you prefer to write longer pieces of content, you can specialize in writing eBooks. These books range from just a couple of pages to several hundred in length. You can find opportunities in just about any niche, so no matter what you enjoy writing about, you can get paid to create an eBook.

17. Product reviewer

Can you compare two or more products to help readers decide which one is right for them? If you can, consider becoming a product reviewer. In this position, you’ll check out different products and write about them. You’ll dive into the pros and cons of each and point out features that people might not know about.

And since you often get to keep review products, it’s another perk to consider on top of your pay.

18. Technical writer

Can you take complex topics and break them down for the average reader to understand? If you do, you might make a great technical writer. As a technical writer, you can help create instruction manuals, technical journal articles, and other content for companies in medicine, tech, engineering, and more.

This type of writing usually requires a lot of research, so if you don’t enjoy that, it’s probably not a writing type to pursue.

19. Course creator

There is a multitude of online courses available, so students can study just about any topic they want. All of those courses? They need content before students can begin learning.

You can work with companies to write their courses for them. This includes the lessons, workbooks, and other supplemental materials to help students master the content. If you enjoy teaching, this can be a great option.

20. Translator

If you can write fluently in multiple languages, companies will hire you to translate material from one language to another. Since you won’t be creating original content, this position often won’t pay as well as other writing jobs. However, it can be a good fit for the right person.

21. Curriculum writer

Do you have teaching experience? Many educational companies and colleges hire writers to create curricula for their students. And since academic standards change regularly, these companies typically update their materials every few years.

This updating leads to plenty of opportunity for you, especially if you have the academic knowledge to go along with your writing skills.

Step 3: Choose an employment option

Online writers typically fall into one of three employment categories:

  • Full-time employee
  • Part-time employee
  • Freelancer or contract worker

Here’s a little more information about each one so you can weigh the pros and cons and see which is right for you. Then, as you’re searching for writing jobs, you can narrow down the results by employment type to find what you’re looking for.

Full-time employee

A full-time writer typically works exclusively for one company. You would either work onsite or remotely, creating content and digital resources for company use.

Typically, you can expect a steady paycheck. And your taxes are already withheld, making tax time easier for you because you won’t have to deal with self-employment taxes.

Some companies also offer health insurance and other benefits to full-time employees. When you’re weighing your options, make sure to include any benefits package into your compensation for a clear picture of what you’ll get.

However, when you work full-time, you won’t have as much flexibility with how you spend your day. Your company gets to set the work hours, and you can expect to work between 30-40 hours a week.

Additionally, you might need to sign a non-compete agreement. As part of this agreement, you might not be able to take clients on the side. So, make sure you read the details carefully and know what is expected.

If you don’t enjoy searching for clients and want the stability of a regular paycheck, this can be a great option.

Part-time employee

If you don’t want to be tied to your computer all day long, a part-time employment option can be a good fit. Typically, you can expect to work less than 30 hours a week, depending on company policy. You may have a bit of flexibility in your hours with some companies, while others will want you to stick to specific work hours to complete your writing tasks.

As a part-time employee, you can expect a regular paycheck from your employer. You may even have the ability to opt into insurance and other benefits, though some companies reserve this for full-time employees.

If you go this route, you’ll want to read the paperwork carefully to see if you can work on the side or if you’re only allowed to create content for your employer. With the freedom to grow your own business on the side, a part-time employee situation can be a good transition step to help you stay financially stable as you work on your business.

Freelance writer or contract worker

If you want to be your own boss, you can start your own freelance writing business . As an online freelance writer, you won’t be considered an employee of any company. Instead, you’ll find your own clients and work with them on a contract basis.

As you gain experience, you can expand your portfolio, raise your rates, and continue to grow. This employment option offers you the most flexibility, since you can pick and choose your clients and have some say over your deadlines.

However, being your own boss requires quite a bit of administration work and marketing. So, if you want to focus only on writing, it might not be the route to take.

But, if you can handle the paperwork and search for clients without getting frustrated by rejection, there are many benefits to starting your own business. In addition to the ones listed above, you also won’t be limited by a specific salary or have to deal with a boss you don’t like.

If you’re still not sure which employment option works best for you, that’s okay! You can always try one for a while and change gears later.

Step 4: Explore a writing niche

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the riches are in the niches?” It means that when you specialize in writing a specific type of content, you can typically earn more money than you could as a generalist who writes a little bit of everything.

Eventually, you’ll want to niche down your writing business. As a specialist, you can raise your rates and earn top dollar for each piece you create.

But if you’re just starting, it might not be ideal to pick a niche just yet. You probably need a little time to try different writing types in various areas to see what you like best.

When you are ready to pick your niche, you can specialize in either a particular topic or type of writing. This means you could become known as an automotive writer, a parenting writer, or a business writer. Alternatively, you could be known as the best blog post writer, the go-to person for white papers, or a magazine writer extraordinaire.

If you aren’t sure what to pick as your niche, don’t make a decision yet. Give yourself more time to contemplate, research, and try. As you gain experience, you’ll start to see what writing you enjoy the most.

You want to pick a topic that you don’t mind creating a ton of content about. It should also be a topic that you’re knowledgeable in and have experience with. That way, the writing comes more easily, and you don’t have to spend as much time researching the vocabulary and industry basics before you start writing.

Step 5: Create freelance writing samples

Clients and employees want to know you can write. To make sure, they’ll ask to see samples. But, when you’re just starting, you won’t have any pieces to share. To solve this problem, you can purposefully create a few samples in each niche you want to try.

Here are four common methods you can try to generate your first samples.

1. Start your own blog

When you start a blog, you can publish blog posts and other writing samples directly to it. Then, you can easily link to each piece so clients can see your skills.

2. Submit a guest post

If the idea of running your own blog doesn’t sound fun, consider submitting guest posts to popular blogs in your niche. Often you can find sites that accept guest posts, even if they don’t pay for them. While you don’t want to write for free very often, this can be a reliable strategy to get a bylined sample to share.

3. Write on a content-sharing site

You can also generate samples by publishing content on Medium and other content-sharing sites. This way, other people can see your content and have the chance to respond to it.

Here are a few other sites you can submit to:

You can even generate a little bit of revenue from your content on some of these sites as readers share your work. This can help get some funds rolling in while you look for other paid work.

4. Draft a sample in Google Docs

You also have the option to share unpublished samples with your clients. Writing something in Google Docs and sending the link can be a quick way to create a sample. It doesn’t require you to house your work anywhere else or deal with placing it on a site.

However, potential clients can tell that these aren’t live links. Some people prefer only published samples. So, you’ll want to quickly replace these samples with published ones as you gain experience.

If you have a post written out on a Google Doc, you can use one of the other methods mentioned to get a published link. Another possibility is publishing the post on LinkedIn and sharing that link with prospects.

Step 6: Develop your freelance writing portfolio

When you apply for jobs, some clients will ask for your writing portfolio. It’s a simple way to share multiple samples with prospects.

To create a portfolio, you need two things, links to your online content and a place to host your portfolio. Your samples provide the first item. To help you with the second, here are three popular ways to host your portfolio.

1. An online portfolio site

You can use an online portfolio site such as ClearVoice to display your best work. These sites house portfolios for many other writers, and are usually low maintenance. However, there are limitations on how your portfolio looks, and if the site ever closes down, you’ll lose your portfolio.

If you’d like to create a portfolio on a site, here are four other options to consider. Some of these are paid services, while others are free, so check out the pricing before you begin.

  1. Contently
  2. Journo Portfolio
  3. Pressfolios

2. Your own website

You can dedicate a web page on your business website to your portfolio. If you go with this route, you’ll have complete control over what it looks like, so you can ensure it matches your branding. You also won’t have any additional fees to deal with, since you’ll already be paying for your website.

3. Google docs

If you’re just getting started, one of the fastest ways to make a portfolio is to use Google Docs. You can divide your samples into different niches, separated by headings, to make it easy on the eyes. A Google Doc portfolio won’t be fancy, but it’ll get the job done without many technical elements to manage.

5 quick tips for showcasing your words in your writing portfolio

No matter which method you use to host your writing portfolio, you want it to catch the hiring manager’s or client’s attention, so you rise to the top of the candidate list. These five quick portfolio tips will help make that happen.

Quick tip #1: Limit the content. Your portfolio isn’t supposed to display every single piece you’ve ever written. Go through it regularly and cull the links, so you only include the best five or ten samples.

Quick tip #2: Make it easy to read. Don’t make your potential clients wade through an unorganized list of random links. Instead, make your writing portfolio easy to read by dividing it by niche. Also, include the article title, so clients know what to expect.

Quick tip #3: Include the name of each publication. Where were your works published? Include the publication name next to each sample, so it’s easy to tell.

Quick tip #4: Include an image. Links, titles, and publication names can quickly turn into a massive wall of text. Break it up a bit and make it more visually appealing by including a thumbnail image for each piece. To avoid copyright problems, choose images licensed as Creative Commons, unless you have permission to include an image from the publication.

Quick tip #5: Keep it simple. There are some impressive portfolio templates and plugins out there. But, if you’re stressing out trying to create a portfolio, don’t bother with them. Instead, keep it simple. You can always revamp your portfolio later.

Step 7: Set (and update) your rates

When you apply for online writing jobs as an employee, you’ll have less say over your income. Typically, companies have a specific amount they’re willing to pay per hour (or on a salary), and while there may be room for some negotiations, you typically don’t get to name your price.

However, as a freelance writer, you can set your rates. When you’re just starting, a reasonable rate to charge is at least $0.10 per word for bylined work and $0.12 per word for ghostwritten work. This rate earns you between $100 and $120 for a 1,000-word blog post.

But don’t stay at these rates indefinitely. As a freelancer, you can bump your pay up as you see fit. Freelance writers with a bit of experience can easily charge $0.15 per word for bylined work, or $150 for that 1,000-word post. Ghostwritten written pieces usually command rates 20% to 30% higher than your bylined rates.

Expert freelancers with big publications in their portfolio often charge upwards of $1.00 per word. With this rate, you’d net $1,000 for a 1,000-word blog post. But at this level, you may decide that requirements like original interviews, multiple revisions, and more aren’t worth it.

Charging per word isn’t the only option. Some online writers charge per hour or project. You want to explore your options and see which one works best for you.

Typically, an hourly rate doesn’t work out in your favor. When you get better at writing and write faster, you get punished financially with this pay structure. You would earn more money for the same project when first getting started because projects took you longer.

To avoid this dilemma, a project rate is a popular option. You won’t have to be as restricted in your word count, and you and the client both know what to expect when invoicing time comes.

No matter what you decide to charge, make sure you have your terms clearly outlined in your freelance writing contract. Then, send that document to each client for a signature, so you know they agree to the conditions.

Step 8: Find and pitch paid online writing jobs

There are so many different online writing jobs out there. But, how do you go about finding them?

To help you get started, here are five different strategies you can use to find freelance writing clients or companies that are hiring writers as employees.

1. Freelance marketplace

Many online writers get their start with a freelance marketplace. These are companies that help match clients with writers, typically for a fee.

Here are four websites you can check out:

1. Upwork

2. Fiverr

3. ClearVoice

4. Scripted

You may not be able to find the best paying writing jobs on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, but they can help you get some writing samples and gain confidence in your writing abilities.

When you apply for writing jobs on these sites, remember that you’ll be competing against a lot of other freelancers. That means it could take a while for you to learn how to word your application materials to help you stand out and start landing gigs.

2. Job boards

You can find plenty of writing opportunities on job boards. While some boards specialize in gigs for freelancers, there are others where you can find full-time or part-time writing jobs as well. Here are seven job boards for you to check out:

1. ProBlogger

2. Indeed

3. We Work Remotely

4. LinkedIn

5. FlexJobs (you’ll need to pay for access to this one)

6. ZipRecruiter

7. Blogging Pro

When you apply to listings from job boards, make sure you read the requirements carefully. The listing may ask you to use a specific phrase in your email subject line or include a certain number of links to writing samples.

Since there are so many applicants, those who don’t follow the directions aren’t even considered. It’s a simple way for hiring managers to minimize the number of candidates.

3. Blogs that pay for submissions

If you want to give freelance blogging a try, a search engine such as Google can help you find paid work. Type in the niche you want and add “write for us paid” to find various sites that pay for submissions.

Each site manages submissions slightly differently. Typically, you’ll submit a pitch or proposal to a specific email address or use an online form to explain your ideas. For other sites, you’re required to write your whole post first for consideration.

Either way, once you submit, the editor will get in touch if they’re interested. Then you can work out the details of your post.

This can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door and get some bylines for your portfolio. And you never know; if a particular blogger likes your writing, they might ask you to contribute regularly.

4. Cold pitching

If you have a company you’d like to write for, send them a cold pitch. You can ask if they work with freelancers, and explain what services you offer.

To improve your chances of not landing in the spam folder, do your research before you begin. Always send customized pitches, so they don't sound like a form letter. Let your personality shine, and make a personal connection to the company you’re pitching. Show each company why you’d be an excellent fit for them.

It’s important to note that you’ll need thick skin if you cold pitch. Since companies aren’t asking for help, they may disapprove of you reaching out unsolicited. However, despite the high rejection rate, cold pitching can be a good way of landing high-paying writing jobs.

5. Referrals from clients and other freelance writers

Focus on building relationships as you grow your business. You never know when a former client might pass your name onto someone else, or when an overbooked freelancer you met on Facebook might ask you for help.

While the actual writing part of your business is something you do on your own, you can’t grow your business without connecting with others. So join some writing Facebook groups, follow other writers on social media, and always try to stay on good terms with your clients. These connections can pay off greatly.

Another benefit of connecting with others is that you can learn from them. Facebook Groups, Slack channels, and other places where writers gather are often full of writing tips you can glean.

Step 9: Set up a payment system

How do online writers get paid? For full- and part-timers, the answer is easy: direct-deposit or a physical check. But freelancers need to have a payment process in place to get paid.

You’ll first need to generate an invoice for each client you work with. Sometimes, you’ll invoice monthly. Other clients prefer you to send an invoice after each piece of writing is approved. Some writers require half payment upfront, with the other half upon delivery.

No matter what your invoicing procress looks like, you need a system in place to keep your payments organized. Wave Invoicing makes it simple. You can create professional invoice templates, customize your invoices for each client, and keep track of which invoices have been paid versus which ones are overdue. You can even send reminders if you experience a late payment.

Once you get paid, remember to set aside a portion of your earnings for taxes. If this part confuses you, read more about tax tips for freelancers.

Top 3 online writing questions answered

1. Do you need a resume as an online writer?

Some clients and companies ask for a resume as part of your application materials. This means you might need a resume as an online writer.

If you don’t have much writing experience, you might wonder how to create an effective resume. Here are a few tips to help you fill the space:

  • Share how writing played a part in your previous experiences, even if it wasn’t the main focus.
  • Include hobby writing you’ve done.
  • Focus on your skills. Have you completed any college coursework in writing? Do you have excellent editing skills? Show potential clients that you have what it takes.
  • Include a couple of links. If you’re submitting your resume digitally, you can include a link or two to some of your best pieces. This way, your words speak for themselves even if you don’t have a ton of experience to share.

Remember to never lie on a resume. It’s better to be honest and share that you don’t have a lot of experience yet instead of exaggerating or making things up.

2. How can you avoid scams as an online writer?

While you can earn great money as an online writer, unfortunately, not every opportunity is legit. As you search for work, you might run into a few problems that can leave you working without pay, or worse, with your identity stolen.

However, with a bit of common sense and a list of potential red flags, you can avoid those scams.

If a content writing opportunity:

  • Offers really high or low pay
  • Requires lots of personal information
  • Makes you buy something
  • Sounds too good to be true
  • Has a funky email address (typically a combination of random characters)

it’s likely a scam. So use discernment when you apply, and learn to listen to your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

3. How can you avoid freelance famine as an online writer

Another potential problem for freelance writers is the never-ending feast and famine cycle. And while everyone enjoys the feast season, when you’re trying to make a living as an online writer, famines make it hard to earn.

This cycle begins when writers find work. Then, the writing takes up so much time that the other aspects of running your own business get pushed to the side. You’re in writing mode and not worried about marketing or pitching. And since you’re getting paid, you don’t even notice there’s a problem.

But feasts don’t last forever. So when your current assignments wind down or a client changes directions and lets you go, you’ll suddenly realize you don’t have any work. This is a freelance famine.

When you find yourself in a famine, you pour yourself into marketing until your writing quota is filled again. At that point, you stop looking for clients and start writing.

And thus, the never-ending cycle continues. Without intentionality, you’ll find yourself moving between crazy fast seasons and slow times over and over again. But you don’t have to get stuck in this cycle.

To help you avoid the dreaded feast and famine, here are five things you can do.

Never stop marketing

As a business owner, keeping your name out there is essential. Stay active in groups where your ideal clients are. Make an occasional post on social media about your services. Always be marketing, even if it’s on a smaller scale. This way, it’s easier to find clients when you need them.

Level up your skills

As an online writer, never let your skills remain stagnant. Instead, keep learning and improving so you can do more and charge more. Take a course to get better in a specific area, work with a business coach, or stay up to date on best practices on your own. It doesn’t matter which method you use because you want to have an attitude that helps you to improve constantly.

Ask for referrals

If you think your work will dry up, reach out to former clients and ask for referrals. You can also ask your personal network. See if anyone knows of someone who needs writing help.

Diversify your income

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Otherwise, if that basket falls apart, you’ll be left with nothing. Instead, make it a point to diversify. Find multiple clients. Try your hand at affiliate marketing or creating your own products. The more income you have coming in, the better prepared you’ll be if one income stream stops.

Be willing to try something new

As a freelance writer, you grow and change. And, you should be open to trying new types of writing work or exploring additional niches. If one area has slowed down, try something different. You might start offering virtual assistant skills on the side or give ghostwriting a try. You never know; you may decide you really like this new direction and decide to stick with it.

You can make a living with online writing

Online writing is a legitimate way to earn a living. If you have good writing skills, a never-give-up attitude, and a willingness to learn, you can make real money as a freelance writer. The tips above will help you find work and start growing. Then, your possibilities are endless.