How to Become a Freelance Writer

Freelance Writer
Freelance Writer Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$73,860
Avg. Pay / hour$35.51
Education4+ Years

Freelance Writers are professionals who focus on writing a variety of content for their clients.

These individuals are self-employed and must constantly work on acquiring new clients, managing their relationships with established clients and managing many aspects of their business, on top writing for projects that they have been hired for.

Individuals who want to become a Freelance Writer will need a combination of personal characteristics, a background in writing and a postsecondary degree to succeed in this profession.

Individuals will also benefit from networking with professionals seeking writing services and using some basic marketing techniques to attract new clients.

Education Requirements to Become a Freelance Writer

Individuals who want to become a Freelance Writer are encouraged to complete a postsecondary degree.

In addition, individuals are encouraged to work on a portfolio showcasing their writing skills to present to potential clients.

Creating a writing portfolio can be done by gaining hands on experience by completing writing projects.

In addition, certification is available for individuals who want to focus on a specific type of writing.

Employers look for individuals who have an extensive background in writing.

Individuals who want to become a Freelance Writer are expected to have a bachelor’s degree.

Individuals who are working on their undergraduate degree can focus on a degree in English, journalism or communications.

Although employers seek candidates who have a bachelor’s degree, individuals without one can also pursue a career as a freelance writer as long as they have the work experience and the writing skills to complete writing jobs.

Individuals can pursue the following internships, whether completing a college degree or not, to gain experience:

  • High school or college newspapers
  • Publishing companies
  • Advertising companies
  • Radio or Television
  • Magazines or newspapers
  • Creating an internet blog

Through many of these internship opportunities, individuals may gain experience gathering research information on topics, perform interviews, write stories and gain experience in the publishing field.

In addition, individuals who seek to gain experience by managing a blog can stand out by writing high quality work, creating a following and work on writing from a unique perspective.

Individuals who want to become a Freelance Writer and focus on a specific type of writing will have better prospects if they are certified.

One type of certification available is for grant writing.

Grant writers work with agencies that are funded by government or individuals grants.

The Certified Grant Writer is a certification for individuals who want to write grants.

Freelance Writer Job Description

Many individuals who are drawn to this profession may already know that one of the main perks is a flexible schedule.

Although this is true, Freelance Writers wear many hats to ensure they are constantly working on writing projects.

The main areas these professionals focus on include: finding new clients and writing projects, writing according to their client’s specifications and managing the business aspects of their sole proprietorship.

Individuals who want to become a Freelance Writer must be able to meet deadlines, have the ability to self-edit their work and be able to work independently with very little feedback from their clients.

Freelance Writers are encouraged to use their interpersonal skills to retain clients to help reduce the amount of time spent finding new clients.

Freelance Writer Salary and Career Path

Wages will heavily depend on the quantity of work an individual completes throughout the year.

Many Freelance Writers work in this profession part-time, which reflects on this source of income.

Individuals who worked as a writer full time in 2012 earned a yearly salary of approximately $55,940.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including professional reputation, amount of work one completes and number of clients an individual has.

The job outlook for writers and authors, including Freelance Writers, is expected to grow at a slow pace.

This profession is expected to grow by 3 percent through the year 2022 which is a slower rate when compared to other professions.

Because many individuals are drawn to this profession, individuals entering this profession should expect some competition.

Freelance Writers are professionals who are experienced in working individually to create a variety of writing material for their clients.

These individuals are self-employed and are constantly working to find new projects to write, networking to find new clients and managing the ins and outs of having a sole proprietorship.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$103,980
New Hampshire$60,030
New Jersey$80,690
New Mexico$69,330
New York$91,280
North Carolina$67,560
North Dakota$53,350
Rhode Island$67,260
South Carolina$53,430
South Dakota$56,590
West Virginia$65,260
Puerto Rico$43,770

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $103,980.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $103,980
New York - $91,280
California - $90,970
Connecticut - $82,750
New Jersey - $80,690
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Writers and Authors, OCC Code 27-3043, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a freelance writer do?

A freelance writer is a self-employed professional who produces written texts that are needed by the clients.

A lot of freelance writers work from home; however, they can also rent office space.

A professional might have one huge client that provides ongoing work or a few smaller clients.

It is the freelance writer’s choice whether he or she wants to specialize in one single topic or work as a generalist.

A professional should also be able to market himself and the skills that he possesses.

In most cases, a freelance writer would be creating various content pieces; sometimes the writer can also be asked to write a copy of a certain article, a press release or another written piece.

How much do freelance writers make?

On average, a freelance writer can make a little more than $40.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $18.000 and $81.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the sphere, the location and so on.

Writers that work in California and Colorado, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level freelance writer can earn around $10.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $57.00 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a freelance writer?

There certainly are freelance writers that can succeed thanks to their talent and initial skills; however, in most cases, a certificate or an undergraduate degree will make you more competitive in the job market.

A short-term writing certificate program can cost you a few hundred (or thousands) of dollars.

You might want to go for an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in writing, English, communication, journalism or a related field.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

What is the demand for freelance writers?

Between 2012 and 2022, the freelance writer job market is expected to grow by 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

That is a little slower than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The competition in the industry can become extremely high (especially, for full-time jobs).

How long does it take to become a freelance writer?

There is plenty of writing certificate programs; the short-term ones can last for only a few weeks or months, while others might require a year or two of your time.

It will take you 2 years to acquire an associate’s degree and 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

However, freelance writing is mainly about gaining work experience and creating a great portfolio; so, an aspiring writer has the chance to succeed even without formal training.

Jamie Willis
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