Side Hustle Stories: How to make money as a freelance writer … this week.

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This article is part of the Side Hustle Stories.

What I love about freelance writing is that the barriers to entry are very, very low.

If you can type, then you can get started today if you want.

What I hate about freelance writing is that there are all sorts of people who believe they are “experts” because they can write.

To give you the story straight and only provide you with practical advice, I’ve called in Ali Luke.

Ali is consistently featured on popular blogs around the web and is one of the more well–known writers in the industry. (In fact, she contributed to Passive Panda’s Freelancing Series.)

Due to her experience — and because she teaches writers as well — she seemed like the perfect person to write this article.

Here is Ali’s story in her own words.

What she does

I do a whole mix of things!

I get paid to write for a few blogs and I sell ebooks — including The Blogger’s Guide to Freelancing. I also run ecourses and I coach writers.

I started out with the paid writing, though, and that’s been a consistent source of income for me for over three years now.

What she gets paid

I typically get $40 – $60 per blog post of 600 – 800 words.

I write fast, so it takes me under an hour to write and edit each post.

How you can get started as a freelance writer

The great thing about the blogging world is that it’s very easy to get a foot on the ladder — unlike traditional journalism or publishing.

Huge, well–known blogs like Copyblogger will take guest posts from total newbies … so long as they can write.

I normally advise that would–be paid bloggers build up a relationship with an editor first, before asking for work. If you’re keen to start making money this week, though, you can speed things up a little.

It’s really just a two–step process.

  1. Look through the blogs which you’re already familiar with. Which of them use paid writers? (You can usually tell by regularly recurring names — and many sites will have a page aimed at would-be contributors.)
  2. Write a short, polite email to the editor.

You can use something like this as a template:

Hi ___,

I really enjoy reading [name of the blog]. I’d love to write for you, and I wondered if you’re open to taking on paid writers at present? [Note: modify this sentence to suit you and the blog — if they’ve recently advertised for paid writers, obviously make reference to that.]

I’ve attached a couple of samples of my work, so you can get an idea of my style. I’ve written for [name any blogs/magazines/etc that you’ve written for in the past].

A couple of topics I could write about for you are [suggested post title] and [suggested post title].

Let me know what you think!
[Your name]

Obviously, if you already know a particular editor (perhaps you comment regularly on the blog or you follow them on Twitter) then your pitch is more likely to be successful.

Finally, there are several job boards devoted to blogging jobs. However, the advertisers often get inundated with applications, and you might not hear back for several weeks (if at all).

My two favorite sources of job listings are:

Your thoughts?

Thanks so much to Ali for the tips!

As you can see, there really is no reason you can’t start freelance writing this week. Extra income is just a few keystrokes away.

Have thoughts or suggestions of your own? Leave them in the comments below.

20 Responses to Side Hustle Stories: How to make money as a freelance writer … this week.

  1. James – I hate to blatantly self-promote, but I’ve been writing about this exact same topic this week, and thought your readers might find these articles interesting.

    Basically, I’ve been sharing pretty much everything that went into turning my first freelance writing gig into a five figure business. The first two parts are here, and the last part will be up tomorrow:

  2. Tom Owens says:

    Yea, Ali! Lots of good ideas. The best point is that time is money. Too many freelancers are hung up about “pay per word.” What matters is pay per hour. And fun per hour! I think Ali has both formulas mastered.

  3. Tiffany says:

    Great article. I have been a freelancer for awhile now but just got into blogging. It goes okay somethimes, not so great others. But the writing is what I want to do so the writing is always fine by me.

    • James Clear says:

      That’s great Tiffany! Keep at it.

      And be sure to check out some more articles on Passive Panda. They should help.

  4. Prime says:

    It really boils down to having and maintaining a relationship with editors and/or bloggers. Of course skills and working ethics matter. But no one will give you their business if they don’t trust you.

    • James Clear says:

      So true. People like doing business with other people … and usually that’s limited to the people they know and like.

  5. I think there are two things that will determine whether your not you are a successful freelance weriter. Actuall three:

    1. Planning
    So many people jump into freelance writing and they have no idea what they are doing. Planning first save time, money, and costly mistakes.

    2. Honest
    There’s nothing that hurts a company more than a bad review. Being honest will help you build repeat clients and good reviews.

    3. Endurance
    I’d say 70% of people who try give up within 12 months.

  6. Dani says:

    Seriously, every post you’ve written lately has been so helpful to me. I am so digging this. Thank you!

  7. Sheila says:

    Thanks for this by Ali. I learn so much from all your posts. Thanks for sharing some great information!

  8. Ali Luke says:

    Thanks to James for the interview, and to everyone for the comments! :-)

  9. Peach says:

    Doesn’t pass the smell test. In 30 years as a professional writer I have never pitched an idea, written the item, and been paid for my writing by a publisher in a week. I’m afraid I don’t believe that Ali Luke has either. This industry doesn’t work this way. If you need fast money this week, then you would be an idiot to chase freelance writing.

    • James Clear says:

      Hi Peach,

      Thanks for your feedback. It’s always nice to hear from someone in the industry.

      I have two thoughts.

      1. Just because you haven’t heard of it happening, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. I’m not saying it’s easy or frequent for someone to get paid within 1 week … but it’s certainly possible.

      Also, I believe Ali was simply saying that you could certainly get your freelance writing career started in one week — not that you would be making a consistent income within 7 days.

      As a side note: I have personally pitched multiple blogs and websites on articles and had them accepted, published, and invoiced all within one week. Typically the invoice isn’t paid until a week or two later, but if the timing was right I suppose it could all happen within one week.

      2. I feel like getting hung up on whether or not this happens within 1 week is missing the real point of the article. It’s not about whether it takes 1 week or 1 month or 3 months. The point is … it’s entirely possible to make a nice side income (or full time income) as a freelance writer. I’m sure you can respect that given all of your experience.

      I worry about someone reading your comment and thinking, “Oh, well, it sounds like this doesn’t work. I shouldn’t even bother.”

      Results come at different speeds based on the person and circumstances, but I have seen over and over again that Passive Panda readers have been able to generate a consistent income as a freelancer.

  10. Andrew says:

    James what you said is true regarding Peach’s comment about not being able to make money the same week. I sometimes read multiple positive comments about why something works. But it will be that ONE comment that says why it CAN’T WORK that will keep me from trying something new. Why is that?

    • James Clear says:


      I think it comes down to mindset. Don’t go searching for reasons why you can’t do it — that’s when that one negative comment sticks out. Instead, search for a reason why you can do it. Look for evidence that other people have done it before and then tell yourself, “See, it is possible.”

      If one person can figure it out, then so can you.

      In other words: Let the doubters have their own fun. You have work to do.

  11. Kami says:

    @Andrew, I think we’re trained to think that anything ‘outside the box’ is a hairbrained scheme. When I tell people that I’d like to work part time, being single with no children, they look at me like I’m crazy. To which I say, where is it written that I have to do things just because that’s the way they’ve always been done? That’s the stupidest reason to do anything.

  12. I have heard some amazing stories from freelancers who have been successful in their craft in writing. This is good info. Will check it out and hopefully earn a few hundred dollars or more a month, which would greatly help increase my income on the side.

  13. Carla says:

    Freelance bloggers have the potential to earn a full time income from home but it’s really important to work hard and build your clientele.

  14. Sanjeet says:

    Ali gave a nice view & suggestion about freelancing. Thanks to her.
    Hey James.. my comment on your post “Succeed” is still pending for moderation :D Please approve it.

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