Guide to becoming a freelance content writer working from home

side hustle jobs

So I see this happening all the time. I either hear or read someone asking aloud what are ways you can make some extra money on the side, aka side hustles. That or I’ll meet people that are looking for a job but can’t find anything so they start looking for jobs that they don’t want to do but are doing it because they need money. I’m starting to see this story repeat itself too many times. My advice to these people is almost always the same, become a content writing freelancer as it is relatively easy and consistent money and you don’t even need a website to get started. As someone that manages a small team of writers, I am aware of what the market rates are and how much demand there is for writing.

In this article

  • How much can I earn as a content writer
  • Define your rate: Price per word vs hourly
  • Niche content writing
  • How to find clients
  • How to find and hire content writers

I just want to point out that as much as I think content writing is easy work, it isn’t for everyone. It really helps if you can type fast and ideally do it without having to look at a keyboard. Most writing projects are not based on an hourly rate but rather a defined output of words so if it takes you 4 hours to complete a 1000 word article that pays only $10 for the article, that is $2.50/hour rate whereas if you could complete that article in just 30 minutes, your hourly rate for that project is $20/hour. If you don’t have good writing skills, these can be learned however it really helps if you have proper spelling, punctuation and grammar. Mistakes happen in writing but ideally you don’t want to have constant mistakes otherwise your clients won’t be happy.

I’ve got a diverse skill-set from making websites, designing them and even SEO but if I had to start a business today without a budget and I wanted it to bring in good money and do it fast, I’d startup a content agency without hesitation. I could try launching an SEO agency or even a website design agency but those are not as glamorous as people think. You can end up with shitty clients and situations like this:

  • People not paying
  • Scope creep
  • Cheap clients
  • Time needed to establish reputation
  • Cheap clients, did I mention this?

Just to clarify scope creep is where you can have a situation where the client just keeps trying to get more time and value out of you without paying you more and the projects take longer to close it out.

When it comes to content writing, things are very linear and what you see is what you get. Someone wants a 1000 word article done by next week? This work is very measurable and you either deliver it or you don’t. If you can’t deliver quality work, there is no shortage of writers that will take over.

So if you want to start a side hustle as a content writer and working from home, I’m going to share my tips on how you can get started. Before I go into the tips, you have an important question to ask.

How much money can I earn as a content writer?

There are many ways you can get an answer to this question but I’ll take some data from a poll done by a blog called Make a Living Writing by Carol. You can find more about her post here

Pay Survey 2019: What 1,400+ Freelancers Get Paid to Write

Data from this survey is as follows:

  • Almost 1/3 of writers earn under $20 per hour
  • 10% earn more than $76 per hour
  • 17% earn $50 to $75 per hour

You can also get your answers on Upwork. Go look to hire some writing freelancers and pick a topic for research. Find freelancers that have made over $1000 and look at their hourly rate. Likewise you could contact them to ask them their rate per word. You’ll see writers at all ends of the spectrum on the low end to the very high end.

Define your rate: Price per word vs hourly

You have to set your rates whether you want to set it as an hourly rate or price per word. Most content clients like to work on a price per word rate because it absolves them from having to check to see if you truly did work for 1 hour and not have to worry about inflated billing. If you can type very fast and are good at writing, your hourly rate could easily exceed $20 per hour.

4 cents per word is $20 per 500 words

Niche Content Writing

It truly helps to define the niche or niches of content you’ll want to produce. In a perfect world, you’d be able to align your hobbies and passions with your writing. A few examples:

  • Love politics? Focus on the niche of politics
  • Love sports? Be a sports writer
  • Love to play slots? Be a casino or slots writer

For every niche that exists, there are website owners in that niche that probably need more content written for them. Not only that when you have a defined niche, it becomes easier to pitch your services to these owners as you can find all the sites in that niche and hit them all up.

How to Find Clients

Finding clients is the easy and hard part of this game. For some people this comes very easy and natural to them, for others this is the part where people can give up easily. Finding clients in my opinion should be easy and you have many ways to do it. Here are a few tips on getting started.

  1. Launch a website
  2. Signup to freelancing marketplaces
  3. Outreach

Launch a website

The truth is you don’t even need a website to be successful as a content writer or even to get started. It still is a good starting point to advertise to the world what you do and by planting this seed now, you never know when you might start ranking in search engines and having clients find you here. A website at least makes you look more professional and you’ll probably be able to use a company email rather than another gmail. This can help build trust as your clients might feel more comfortable trusting and paying you.

Signup to freelancing marketplaces

The list of freelancing marketplaces are truly endless so I’ll make a short list of places and focus on 2 popular sites:

  • Upwork
  • Freelancer
  • Fiverr
  • Textbroker

Upwork

Upwork is one of the top freelancing websites around and it exists for any type of work you can think of from programming, design, content writing, video production and more. You can signup and create a profile where clients can hire you and you can also do the same to hire other freelancers. Upwork allows clients to rate and review their freelancers where that feedback system helps everyone to be accountable and it makes it easier trusting other freelancers when you want to hire them for the first time.

Outreach

In theory, this has to be the easiest thing to do. If you want to find clients for any topic in online gambling, blockchain or real estate. Just try Google.

https://lmgtfy.com/?q=online+casinos

Find all your prospects, visit their websites or social media profiles and hit them up with your pitch. Just try to keep in mind that these websites get pitches all the time so you’ll want to quickly master the art of email delivery and open rates.

Just a few searches in Upwork yields the following data

  • Over 60 writers for hire for ‘casino content’ with an average hourly rate over $50/hour
  • 150 writers for hire for ‘blockchain writer’ with over $60/hour rate with over $10k earned

How to find and hire content writers

I’m writing this section for 2 reasons: Firstly, if you are wanting to find and hire good content writers. The other reason is if you want to see how you might fail a test from someone else looking to hire content writers. I’ll keep this short but these are tips I use when finding good content writers.

  1. Write out a paragraph and make a collection of mistakes and ask the applicant to correct all of it.
  2. Take an ordinary news topic and ask them to rewrite the title keeping SEO in mind but interest as well.
  3. Get them to write a 1 paragraph assignment on something that cannot be copied or generated with content spinning.

When it comes to step 1, this is the easiest and fastest way to weed out people. This will save you time and possibly money in potentially dealing with fraudsters or anyone that isn’t up to the task.