Become a freelance writer

Become a freelance writer — earlier this week, I responded to a question on a popular discussion forum. Someone had asked about jobs for a woman who needed to work from home, due to a disability. I suggested she become a freelance writer. As a result, I’ve received an inordinate number of emails from people who want to know how to become a freelance writer. (For information on why, see Why become a freelance writer?)

It wouldn’t be possible to reply to everyone in a timely manner. So I’m posting my response here.

How to become a freelance writer

You can do freelance writing for a variety of organizations. You’ve probably heard of freelance writers who write for magazines and newspapers. They usually get paid by the word, and, if they write quickly, they can make more than $35 an hour, if they are writing for bigger publications. Writers’ Market has information on rates and publications.

Other freelance writers may focus on health, business, direct mail, marketing, technology, technical writing or other specialized fields. They usually bill out at an entry-level rate of $35, but can make much more than that. I’ve built up expertise in business, direct mail, marketing, and technology. I bill more a *lot* more than $35 an hour. (I also do other kinds of consulting, but at even higher rates.)

When I was still in university, I picked up a copy of Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly. See . This book really changed how I looked at writing and allowed me to start freelance writing. It inspired me and gave me the confidence and tools I needed to start my freelance writing business. Within a couple of months, I was a published freelance writer. My first article appeared in The Ottawa Citizen and I received $80 for a couple of hours of work.

Writers’ Market is another classic book aimed at helping writers get published. I bought my first copy around 1991 and quickly dog-eared many of the pages. If you’re looking for information on fees and rates, it’s a great reference guide.

I have information on how to become a consultant here at However, if you like taking courses, check with your local college or community college to see if they offer courses in technical writing, business writing, or freelance writing. Sometimes, a one-term evening course can give you enough info to help you get headed in the right direction.

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