How To Become An Online Freelancer

Others can offer you tips on how to make $10,000 in 4 hours a week online (most likely it’s by showing others how to make $10,000 in 4 hours a week online), and I have to admit that my advice pales in comparison to these promised riches. I can tell you that my method for how to become an online freelancer is fairly easily to reproduce, and nearly anyone can do it. It is always interesting to me how many good writers I see trying to make a living on the internet, yet failing miserably. In many ways, they have become the victims of cheap English content outsourcing. If you want to make money by freelancing online you have to find a way to stick out from the crowd, otherwise you will simply be competing for $3 per 500 words and giving yourself carpal tunnel for peanuts.

Make Money Online – The Pot of Gold At The End of The Rainbow

So, you’ve heard there is a big need for writing online, and you have no interest in doing any of that crazy coding or website building stuff. How do you go about finding a gig? Well I would recommend becoming great friends with a guy who does that crazy coding stuff and then go from there;) Barring that, here is how you stand out from the crowd – you create a blog. I know this seems ridiculous, you want to write for others and get paid for it, not sink time into the black hole of time that is blogging. Here is the thing, building a blog is the perfect way to showcase a portfolio of writing. I might even argue that if you have two or three passions that you like writing about, it would be to your advantage to create more than one blog. This is also where, with a small amount of seed money, you can make this whole outsourcing thing work for you. If you head on over to Elance or Odesk you will find a bevy of people who can set you up a pretty decent blog for like $25. Heck, you could probably even find someone on Fiverr to do it for you. WordPress makes blogging so easy, that even I can do it, and the whole process can be outsourced for very cheap. I’m not saying you’ll get a gorgeous world-beating blog out there this way, but you could find something workable. Another option is to use a ready-made blogging platform at a place like blogspot. These platforms are extremely simple, they just aren’t ideal for generating revenue, or presenting yourself as unique.

Use The Voice Young Padawan

online freelance writingBlogging is a great way to sharpen your writing skills and develop this mythical “voice” you keep hearing about. Basically, your “voice” is just something distinct about your writing. It’s tough to teach, but it’s kind of like allowing your unique personality to shine through your writing (when you have a sort of stale personality like mine, your “voice” is to try a little too hard to act cool in order to cover that reality up). You don’t need to be a perfect grammatical writer to write online (at least I hope not, or I am screwed), but you do have to be proficient. If you’re worried about your ability to communicate effectively because of technical writing-related problems, hiring someone online to check out your writing and give you a few pointers is much more cost-efficient than taking a writing course from some pretentious hipster who is a failed writer at a university or college.

To Be an Online Freelancer Go Online!

Once you have identified your passions, become a decent writer, and figured out how to set up a basic blog, start building that online portfolio. I know it seems dumb because you aren’t making any money on these articles and you could be making $5-$10 a piece somewhere else, but trust me, this will pay off in the long run. After you have a solid base, like say 25-30 articles, start “building a presence within your online community.” I know this sounds like I copied-and-pasted that line right out of some guru’s overpriced eBook, but it is true nonetheless. The blogging world is not exactly rocket science. Get out there and “meet” people. Instead of shaking hands and exchanging names that you will forget as soon as you walk away, leave an intelligent comment that is actually relevant to the information presented (don’t be that guy/gal that leaves 11-word comments everywhere in a bid to get recognized). After people interact with you for a little while, you can offer to do a guest post for them, or some other favour. Make sure and remind people you are another personal finance blogger. PF bloggers get so many requests for garbage guest posts all the time,  you have to make us understand you’re cooler than that drivel. I also recommend checking out any ready-made blogging networks and meeting people through the respective forums and online chats for your preferred niche. Again, I know this all sounds like a lot of effort, and a lot like doing all the dirty work to build a blog, but I honestly believe this is the way to actually get paid what you are worth as a writer. Keep lists of all the contacts you make, and always promptly return emails and other communication from them, these contacts will be essential.

Becoming an Online Freelancer vs Owning a Blog

If you don’t plan on making a ton of money off of your blog, you can take your foot off of the pedal a little at this point, and just make sure to make high quality posts. Ignore all these geniuses that tell you to focus on picking keywords, and making sure you post every single day, while reading a million pages on what SEO means. That’s irrelevant to your mission of simply earning a steady cash flow by writing for other people.

So many bloggers crash and burn because they start a blog to interact with others, write about something their passionate about and maybe earn a little money on the side – only to find out there is so much more to it. While some of the dudes/dudettes that own blogging empires might scoff at the idea of specializing in staff writing, I think it has a ton of advantages:

  • You get to focus solely on writing – which is what most bloggers wish they could do.
  • Immediate compensation – no waiting for ads, or shivering at the thought of the next Google slap.
  • Flexible hours that you can work from home.
  • Built in vacations whenever you want them.
  • Tons of free links and networks if you change your mind about wanting to make a real go of your blog.
  • No 6 month delay where you are blogging into nothing wondering if you will even make enough money to cover your small fees associated with running a blog.

Competing With Fiverr Is For Suckers

You can try and build up a following on a freelance website, but the bottom line is that there are a lot of talented writers out there that will be driving down the market through competition. Not just that, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of decent-if-not-great writers willing to write not-terrible content for almost nothing. I don’t recommend competing with them. Instead, use an easy blogging platform to become a somewhat-known and provable authority in your field. Once you snap up a couple of staff writing assignments, I suggest your pour your energy into these. If you do a great job, others will notice and you will have more offers than you know what to do with. Once you have a couple people that trust you with their blog, they will likely recommend you to others and you’re off to the races. You will have a hard time finding places to pay you $20-$30 per post on any freelance site (especially without writing hundreds of articles to build up ranking and testimonials). I have gotten close to a dozen offers like this in the past few months that I’ve had to turn down just due to time constraints. If I wasn’t concentrating on building up my own blogs, I could easily be making $500 bucks a month on the side doing staff writing gigs, and much more if I tried to make a full-time go of freelance work. Word of mouth is so much easier than trying to build a ranking on those big freelance sites. This is a tried and true method, and I guarantee that if you are talented enough you will get noticed if you do things in this manner.

Who knows, one day you might even wind up buying the site you’re staff writing for ;)

 

 

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11 Responses to How To Become An Online Freelancer

  1. This does sound like a pretty good way to get into the online world. If one blogs and just hopes to make money off of adsense then it can be a very long time before one goes from earning $1 per month to earning at least $500 per month.

    • It takes time and persistence Juan, there is no doubt. Whereas, I think if most people follow this strategy they can be making some decent money at 3-4 month range.

  2. I love freelancing. With the internet now and online opportunities it is even easier. I have owned a blog and done freelance writing. I actually think the two work really well together. You can get links to your blog and generate a bigger online income. You also get to know different readers.

    • They definitely do work well together Miss T, there is no doubt! I just know from experience that if you are not a natural programmer, building an elite blog can be difficult. I sometimes think that if I didn’t have a partner, I would be way better off just marketing myself as a freelancer.

  3. Great post..are you hiring at all? :) You make some very good points about freelancing – there’s a ton of people out there willing to do it, and some of them for very cheap. I have been trying to follow these tips since I started my blog, and I think that slowly, but surely, things are coming together.

    • Hey MCB. Currently we aren’t looking to hire anyone, but keep it up. If we ever add another site to our stable we will have a great need for staff writers, and we could probably take a one-time guest post!

  4. @TM- Great post especially the last sentence ;)

    I like the “only” writing part- it’s nice so far- but still busy as ever despite “trimming down” (I honestly have no idea how I managed before you guys took over).

  5. Some great advice TM! I’m actually one of those lucky souls who likes the back-end stuff (coding, etc.) as much as the writing – the only problem with that is that it leaves me with half as much time to do everything! Is the $20-30 per post a pretty standard rate for a staff writer in the PF blog world or is there a lot of variation in that depending on where you are writing?

    • Hey E and M, the cool thing about liking the coding etc, is that you know have two skills to freelance with and market! I think the $20-$30 range is pretty standard right now, but I have recently been getting some higher offers. Don’t forget, you could offer the whole package and freelance building whole sites for others as well!

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