Freelance writing is almost certainly the largest and most popular freelancing field out there. It’s easy to see why.
You don’t need to be an expert writer to find success in this field. You need to be good at writing, sure, but even that is something you can learn without too much trouble. Actually, you can pretty much start making money writing online right now even as an inexperienced writer… you'll just need to take low paying jobs. There are a wide variety of gigs available online, from very basic, general writing which is often given to writers in developing countries, to more specialized work that requires experience and knowledge (but also pays a much higher rate).
Writing is also a field that you can learn in and get better at over time. More than anything, being a great writer involves spending time refining your craft and having a willingness to learn. There's no reason you can't start off making .02 per word, and graduate to .2 per word within a year or two. Where else can you 10x your income in 2 years?
The popularity of freelance writing also creates one very serious challenge – competition. Freelance writing is one of the first side hustles that many people turn to, so there are countless people to compete against.
Good writers certainly can get ahead with freelancing, if they put time and energy into the process. I know people who make their living this way. Site owners like myself are often looking for writers, so there is plenty of demand for writing services.
My suggestion? Find freelance writing side hustles that suit your particular skill set or where the level of competition is just right. If you enjoy technical research, go for gigs that require more detailed instruction. These could be product reviews, or top 10 lists about enterprise industry equipment. If you've got more personality to your writing, seek out mom blogs, or ghost writing gigs. If worse comes to worse, you can even try these microtasking websites while you wait to land some writing gigs.
We’re covering many such niches in this post, along with where you can look to find freelance writing work.
Table of Contents
- Freelance Writing Side Hustles By Category
- General Freelance Writing Hustles
- Specialized Types Of Writing
- Finding Freelance Writing Work
Freelance Writing Side Hustles By Category
General Freelance Writing Hustles
The first freelance writing side hustle to talk about is ghostwriting. This is the single most important type of freelance writing because it crops up in many different fields.
Ghostwriting basically means that you’re writing content under someone else’s name (or under no one’s name, on occasion). You get no attribution whatsoever, so the work doesn’t normally help to further your reputation as a writer.
While this sounds unappealing, ghostwriting is also in high demand. It’s easy to see why. When a piece of work is ghostwritten, the client doesn’t need to worry about attribution. They can do whatever they want with the content.
This might mean that the client publishes the ghostwritten work as a book. Other times, ghostwritten work might end up being content on a website or perhaps even an article in a newspaper.
The high demand for ghostwriting can make this a very lucrative way to earn. Some ghostwriting assignments can easily turn into long-term working relationships. Others may lead to more work, as one client may recommend you to someone that they know.
As a result, ghostwriting is still worth pursuing, even though your work is unacknowledged. You may even be able to leverage connections with clients at a later date, such as asking them to write a review for your services or asking them to recommend you to other potential clients.
2. Content Writing For Blogs
Blog writing is probably the most popular freelance writing approach. Creating a profitable blog involves publishing content on a regular basis. At a certain point, it becomes inefficient to make all of that content yourself, especially if you have a firm idea of what you’re looking for.
Outsourcing to writers is a logical step. Blog owners that do this can expand their content dramatically. Choosing good writers means that the content on the site remains high-quality and engaging for visitors.
Some site owners will acknowledge regular writers, perhaps even creating profiles for them. Other site owners will take the ghostwriting approach instead.
Blog writing is a fantastic field for freelance writers, as you don’t need any special skills or experience. Mostly you just need to be good at writing (which is true for any type of freelance writing work).
The other important thing is being willing to learn. Clients tend to vary in what they’re looking for. The more you can understand and anticipate a client’s needs, the easier it is to work with them.
This can even get to the point where you can easily write content based on short and vague instructions, as you already know the general style of the client. Such a relationship is ideal for everyone.
Specialized Types Of Writing
Copywriting specifically focuses on writing promotional materials, including sales emails, attention-grabbing headlines and sales pitches. This is different than content writing, where the emphasis is mostly on informing or entertaining your reader.
Some claims suggest that good copywriters can earn 6 figures with relative ease. And indeed, the role can be a well paying one. This is true for freelance copywriters, as well as those who work for a company.
That being said, copywriting is a skill. It takes time to learn how to be good as a copywriter. You don’t just need to a powerful writer. You also need to be compelling and get just the right message across, often without using many words.
Many people give up early, as copywriting is a results-driven craft. To be successful, you’ll need to be patient, work hard and be willing to constantly learn as you go.
4. Writing Research Papers/Doing Homework
Essay writing, doing homework and writing research papers are all part of a somewhat shady sub-industry in freelance writing. The basic idea is that you’re helping students to complete assignments.
Students turn to this type of service for all types of reasons. Some genuinely want to learn, but they don’t have the time or skills to write their papers well. Others may not be interested in the course at hand or simply do not want to do their own work.
Regardless of the situation, there is a high demand for this type of work.
Just be aware that this is a morally gray area. You’re basically helping students to cheat. If you’re writing an entirely original paper, you’re technically not doing anything wrong, as the student is the one turning it in under their own name.
As far as we know, writing papers isn’t illegal (although, it’s best to check with a lawyer to be certain). Still… earning this way isn’t going to appeal to everyone.
To be good in this field, you’ll need the appropriate skills. For example, if you’re writing research papers for college students, you should be able to write high-quality research papers yourself. This might include knowing academic conventions like APA and MLA referencing.
You’ll also need to do so well enough and fast enough for it to be worth your time.
Honestly, this side hustle is only worth it if you are efficient at writing and enjoy it. After all, there’s a reason that many students don’t want to do their assignments – academic work isn’t something that most people enjoy.
There are two general ways to get started with this field. One is to advertise your services. You could do so on a local campus via word-of-mouth (be careful about this one, especially if you are a student).
You could advertise through sites like Craigslist instead. It can take a while to get going and actually find good clients, so make sure you’re cautious and protect yourself.
The other approach is to turn to specialized sites. EssayPro.com is one example. Sites like this tend to have an area for writers where you can apply.
5. Creating Dating Profiles
Writing dating profiles isn’t a typical freelance writing choice, but there is money to be made. Online dating sites have become a key part of the modern dating environment and many people rely on them heavily.
But, an appealing profile can be the difference between finding love and not. After all, first impressions really are everything.
This is where you come in. A good dating profile helps a person’s true qualities to shine, making them seem interesting and appealing, without sounding like they are being boastful.
To do so, you need to be good with words, while also being intuitive. A client generally won’t be able to tell you what should be in their profile. You’ll need to glean that information from talking to them.
When done right, making dating profiles can be a profitable venture. You could easily charge $50 to $100 for a single profile (if not more), while the whole process might take less than two hours.
Some websites offer the chance to earn by writing dating profiles. You can also strike out on your own as a freelancer.
6. Business Writing
If you have an interest in business, then business writing could be an ideal way for you to make money. This field doesn’t just refer to writing business-related articles. There are many other types of pieces that you might write too, such as business proposals, correspondence, training materials and grant proposals.
Being able to write well is critical in all of these areas.
It helps to be direct and minimalistic too. Business writing tends to be straight to the point. You need to say what you mean without hesitation, as your reader’s time is valuable.
Demand for this type of writing is high, as many people in business don’t have the skills that they need. This is especially true for small businesses that may not have the funds to have people on staff to write what they need.
7. Grant Proposal Creating
Grant proposals are a field all of their own. Companies and non-profits need to submit these proposals to get funding, including government funding and other funding sources.
While large agencies will often have on-staff writers to focus on grants, smaller agencies may not. Specializing in this area can be profitable. It also helps to get your foot into the door for other work from the agency.
This is a field where a college education really does help, as does experience. Agencies often have just one chance per grant application, so they need to be confident that what you will produce is perfect.
One way to get started is by researching the processes carefully and looking for organizations that are just getting off the ground. Many may not have the funding to pay you, but the experience is critical for landing paid work later on.
If you make yourself invaluable to a small organization, you may find that they hire you for other paid work in the future (especially if they do land a grant or two).
8. Business Plan Writing
Here’s another specialized area. Once again, you’ll need to carefully research the processes involved and the approaches that other people take.
Many companies will look for experts for help with business plans. You’ll need decent experience and education to have a good shot at that type of work. Thankfully, there are other options too,
New businesses often won’t have the money to pay an expert for help with a business plan. This is particularly true for anyone who is self-employed. Your services may be desirable even if you have just a little bit more knowledge and experience than your client.
You’ll have to base your fees on the type of client that you’re targeting. Even so, it’s very possible to make money from this type of writing.
9. Research Writing
Research writing can mean many different things, depending on the context and the client. In some cases, research writing may involve examining peer-reviewed papers and summarizing research from a variety of sources. Other times you may be researching information online, focusing on finding answers to questions.
Whatever the context, you are focusing on two areas – research and writing.
You need to be able to find reliable information and highlight the outcomes in your writing. The process is easy (and even enjoyable!) for some people and more difficult for others.
If you are someone who can research easily and efficiently, then this could be a good field for you.
10. Writing Reviews
The name says it all with review writing. Your goal is simply to provide perspective on a given product or service.
Reviews will often be short, perhaps just a few paragraphs long, like those you see on Amazon. While this isn’t a lot of space, you should still be able to cover the most important points about a product.
Reviews for other contexts might be longer. For example, a book review on a blog would often be more than 500 words. A product or service review on a blog could easily be 1,500 or longer.
The length entirely depends on the context. What is the goal of the review? Who are you writing it for?
11. Bio Writing
People need short bios for all types of contexts, such as for a company website or for self-promotion. For example, you’ll often see bios for bands and musicians when they are playing as part of a festival or a lineup.
Many people struggle to write a bio about themselves. It’s tough to make sure your bio sounds good and promotes you well, without sounding dry or boastful.
But, if you have some intuition and a flair for words, writing a good bio shouldn’t be difficult. You can spend some time talking to the person to get a sense of who they are and the parts of their personality that stand out.
Take a look at other bios in their field too. This will help you to get a sense of the desired length and style.
12. Creating Tutorials
If you’re an expert in a particular area, writing tutorials could be an interesting way to earn. While you could write tutorials or instructions about pretty much any topic, the most income potential would be for specialized topics that many people don’t know about.
A particularly interesting way to find work is through sites that focus on this area. TutorialsPoint.com is one example. This site provides detailed tutorials on a variety of topics. Honestly, their selection is huge.
TutorialsPoint.com could be powerful as a side hustle approach, as the site offers between $250 to $500 per tutorial. That’s seriously impressive.
There’s a catch though – your writing has to be technical and in-depth. Take a look at the pieces that are already present on TutorialsPoint.com for an indication. Many people won’t have the knowledge or skills to meet the requirements of the site. For those that do, this could be a very interesting way to earn.
13. Resumes And Cover Letters
Resumes are a great freelance writing side hustle because you’re targeting everyday people, including those in your local area. This can be much easier than trying to land work on a freelancing site.
Making good resumes and cover letters isn’t difficult. You mostly just need to be familiar with a program like Microsoft Word and some basic design principles. There are plenty of resume creation tutorials online that can help you to brush up your skills.
It’s also important to sell your client well. A resume should do more than just tell a company about your client’s job history.
It should make them sound like a great fit as an employee. At times, this may involve being creative with how you focus the resume and cover letter.
As with any freelancing work, make sure clients know what to expect from the beginning. This might include specifying how many edits you will make and the information that clients need to bring. Doing so is critical, as customers can sometimes be unreasonable.
14. Writing Comedy
Writing comedy as a side hustle isn’t for the faint hearted. It is a viable way to earn, but you’ll need to continually develop your skills and be willing to take some knocks along the way.
Regardless of how you try to earn, knowing your audience is critical. People vary a lot in what they find funny. The wrong humor for the wrong audience isn’t going to get you anywhere.
There are various ways to earn from comedy. One is to look for sites that pay for comedy, like Cracked, where they are looking for entertaining writers. You can check out our shortlist of places to get you started.
Breaking into the comedy industry itself takes a lot more effort. You’ll need to work on making connections and may want to take any industry-related position that you can find.
Luck plays a large role in success, so the more connections you have, the better chance that you can find freelance writing work. Who knows, you might even end up writing jokes for a famous series or comedian.
Finding Freelance Writing Work
15. Writing Content For Popular Sites
Many popular sites have sections where you can apply to write content for them. Such sites will occasionally offer writing positions, where you can consistently write for them. But, most of the time, you’re earning on a per-article basis.
The amount you can make varies dramatically. Some sites might pay you just $5 or $10 for a piece, while others may give you $100 or more.
Finding sites to write for isn’t too difficult. You can even just scan sites you like and see whether they have a section for writers. We’ve covered various options in the past too, including the following ones that are particularly interesting.
- SexEtc.org. This site focuses on sexual advice for teenagers, along with other important topics. Content tends to be short, often around 400 words. Yet, contributors earn $75, making this a very well-paying site. The catch is that writers cannot be older than 19.
- SecularProLife.org. This pro-life site pays $25 for quality posts that reflect the site’s pro-life viewpoint. Posts can be of any length, but most of those published on the site are around five paragraphs long.
- Cracked.com. Cracked is an extremely popular site. It focuses on interesting pop culture list-based pieces. Cracked doesn’t provide details about how much you can earn, but they do pay for good content.
- DoctorOfCredit.com. Doctor of Credit is a personal finance site and is best suited for people with a background in the field. While most of the content is written by staff writers, Doctor of Credit does also pay for articles from other writers. There may even be the potential to get ongoing work through the site.
Some sites will allow you to apply as a writer and may give you assignments that match your skills – but most won’t.
A more common practice is for sites to follow a ‘we’ll pay you if it’s good’ model. This means that you need to figure out the topic and write the content, then submit it to them. If they like what you’ve written and it is a good fit, you might get paid for it. If not, well, you don’t get anything for your time.
A rejected piece of content isn’t completely useless. You might be able to submit it somewhere else or even place it on your own website. Even so, there’s no doubt that you’re taking a risk.
You may also find that you need to create and submit articles to a variety of sites before you meet with success. After all, there are many authors out there looking for work.
One good approach might be to focus on the sites that you are the most interested in. Spend some time to work out the type of content that they publish regularly and work on creating a piece that they’re likely to want.
16. Join An Article Writing Site
Article writing sites are one of the fastest ways to get paid from freelance writing. You’ll sometimes hear these called content mills and they churn out content for blogs and other clients.
The sites can be appealing in some situations. There is often plenty of work to go around and you can pick up assignments easily. There’s little waiting to get approved for each article, especially after you have done a few for a company.
As such, article writing sites end up being very flexible. Some even allow you to pick up assignments, do them and turn them in whenever you like – no approval needed. Your article needs to be approved for you to get paid, but it isn’t too difficult to learn what the site is looking for.
The catch is that you’re not earning very much either. TextBroker starts writers off at 0.7 cents per word. That’s $3.50 for a 500-word article. Even if you can write 1,000 words in an hour, you’d still be making well under the minimum wage.
Most such sites allow you to increase your income over time, but doing so is a slow process. Even then, you’re not earning a large amount and you have little control over your income.
Article writing sites like these can be okay for content writing practice or for a little money when you have no other work. Still, they’re best viewed as a last resort.
17. Work For A Specialized Site
Article writing sites are one example of a larger trend. There are many different sites that specialize in a single type of written content. These sites can be interesting places to find freelance writing work, as they already have a customer base.
For example, some sites offer paid book reviews to self-published authors on Amazon. The sites use clever tricks to do so without being noticed by Amazon and seem to turn a tidy profit. Sites like this do pay people to write book reviews, although the amount per review is typically very low.
In a similar way, other sites specialize in different fields, like ones for writing academic essays and for dating profiles.
There are advantages to this type of site. If you can get accepted as a writer, you’ll often have access to a consistent source of work. Your pay rate may also increase over time. Plus, the company deals with all the tricky customer service.
On the flipside, you end up earning much less than what you would on your own. After all, the site still needs to turn a profit. They may have additional costs too. For example, some sites hire editors to check over the content of all writers.
Some such sites can still work well, especially in the short-term. They’re also a good way to get a sense of an industry and the type of writing that clients expect. This type of experience makes it easier to branch out on your own at a later date.
18. Use Revenue Sharing Sites
While I don’t recommend this angle, revenue sharing sites are another way to earn. This style has become less popular over time, but the basic idea is that you’re earning a percentage of the income that your content makes.
The biggest advantage is flexibility. Most sites will have requirements for content, but as long as you fit within them, you can write on whatever you like. Some sites even allow you to put self-serving links in your content periodically, like links to your own website or affiliate marketing links.
The problem is that you’re only going to earn if your content gets traffic. Even then, you’re just getting a fraction of what the host site makes. To make matters worse, many revenue sharing sites look old-fashioned and aren’t likely to attract many readers.
Most of the time, this means that you’re making very little money from your writing.
I wouldn’t even recommend these sites as a way to get your name out there, as you could easily damage your reputation instead of improving it.
19. Freelancing Sites
Freelance sites are one of the most powerful places to find writing work. These sites provide a meeting place for freelancers and clients – and there is plenty of work to be had.
One of the largest examples is Upwork. Like many such sites, Upwork charges fees for freelancers. These fees can be quite significant, but they do help to protect freelancers from being ripped off.
You’re generally just paying a percentage of what you would make from a project. This isn’t too bad really, as you might not have got the project any other way.
The fees mean that freelance writing sites are frustrating in the long-term. Even so, they’re perfect for beginners. These sites give you the chance to learn the ins and outs of being a freelancer. You might even pick up regular clients as you go.
Being successful on these sites does take patience. You may need to start off with jobs that pay poorly and work your way up from there. This is important as your reputation on the site plays a role in the work that you get.
There is also a lot of competition. You’ll need to pitch yourself well for each job that you’re interested in. It can take a while to land your first pieces of work, as you have no reputation on the site. However, the more success you have, the easier it becomes to find work.
20. Striking Out On Your Own
Finding your own clients offers more income potential and puts you firmly in control. Doing so is important for avoiding fees, which is good for you and for your clients.
While doing so gives you more freedom, the risk is higher too. There’s the risk of having clients who do not pay or ones who are unreasonable in their requests.
Being up-front about what people can and cannot expect helps to reduce the risk of issues. You might also charge a deposit or only release the work once payment has been made.
Some freelance writers vary their approaches based on the client. For example, they might charge a partial fee up-front for a new client, but be much more flexible with a long-term client who pays regularly.
Finding your own work as a freelancer will take time, especially at the beginning. Developing your own website is a great way to do this. Your site becomes a place to showcase your writing talents, while you also talk about the services that you offer.
A website also offers the chance to earn indirectly from your writing. You might do so through a combination of affiliate marketing and display ads, or you might try and entirely different approach.
You can market yourself locally too, such as placing ads in local papers and handing out business cards. Craiglist can work too, just make sure that you are sensible and protect yourself.
The best approaches to take will depend on the services that you’re offering. For example, Craigslist works well for promoting resume creation, but you won’t find much work for blog writing that way.
For content writing, you can pitch to websites that publish content regularly. We highlighted some such sites earlier in this post.
Thankfully, you’re not limited to a single approach. You can mix and match how you promote yourself until you find a combination that is right for you. Using multiple approaches at the same time helps to keep the work flowing.
21. Cold Pitching
Many freelancing approaches involve making your services look attractive, promoting yourself well and then waiting for clients to come to you. But, this isn’t the only approach. Sometimes you’ll need to go to clients instead.
There will be many cases where people simply don’t know that they need your services.
After all, writing is a common skill. Some people may not realize that your work can give them far more advantages than anything they could do themselves.
Cold pitching to companies can be powerful when done well. You’ll need to research first. Look closely at the company, where their needs are and how you can help. Work out a pitch that focuses on them, including the benefits that they’ll see from your services.
Developing a good pitch can take time and you won’t always be successful. Even so, this approach