Making money writing from home is how I got my start and a great way to make money as a side hustle or a full-time job
I have been writing from home as a freelance investment analyst for more than five years and have probably seen just about every scam out there.
I started freelance writing on Seeking Alpha in 2011 and have written for more than 100 websites and publications since.
It hasn’t always been ‘the easy life’ freelance writing online. I can relate when people wonder if you really can make money writing online or if it is just a fantasy. But I’ve also made a lot of money writing and can truly say that anyone can make money writing from home.
In fact, I’ve made well over six-figures as a freelance writer and it led to my work-from-home business making just over $32,000 in the first three months of this year alone.
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A recent article walked through the general process of making money freelancing. I got a lot of questions about how I got started and how to specifically make money writing online.
So here it is, everything you need to get started as a freelance writer and make money.
Making Money Writing from Home is Not a Get Rich Quick Scheme
First off, unless you have already been publishing in the traditional media (newspaper, magazines and books) for several years, don’t expect to make much money writing from home at first. Like any job, you’re going to need to build your credentials and work up to higher-paying jobs.
I first got started writing from home in 2011 writing online for the investment website Seeking Alpha and other stock market websites. I had worked as an equity analyst several years before and was studying for the Chartered Financial Analyst designation so writing about stocks and other investments was pretty natural.
At the time, Seeking Alpha was paying contributors $0.01 per page view their articles received. Averaging out my pay across all sites, I was making about $65 per article of 1,000 words which would take upwards of two or three hours to write.
I was making good money as an economist so $20 an hour wasn’t much but I enjoyed writing about stocks and Seeking Alpha was quick to pay each quarter.
I posted some articles on higher-profile sites like Morningstar without pay but for the exposure. This really helped to get my name out there and I was invited to be a panel member at a Bloomberg conference in New York on investing in Latin America.
I had written one of the first real reports on a new market concept about investment integration in South America and had gotten noticed by one of the editors.
Easy? No, I spent three weeks researching and writing the report. All of that time was unpaid. I saw the topic as something in which I could make a name for myself and put in the time to become an expert.
That’s really what you need to do in the beginning, find a topic that is at least somewhat popular and establish yourself as an expert. You may not get paid for the reports or writing from home at first, instead just posting to websites to build your name, but you will eventually get noticed.
I stopped writing for Seeking Alpha back in 2013 as I started charging higher rates than the website could pay out. Seeking Alpha is still a good source for investment writers though I’ve heard complaints about how long it takes to get an article through editing.
For other freelance writers starting out, I would recommend two resources that will probably be the most efficient source of your time looking for online writing jobs.
The Problogger job board has always been a decent source of legitimate writing from home projects. You can try freelance sites like Upwork but I’ve found that the vast majority of jobs never get filled or get taken by lowest-cost providers.
Your other resource will be bloggers that may be willing to hire you as a writer or getting smaller jobs on Fiverr.com. Search around the internet for blogs within the niche you want to write and reach out to offer your services.
Don’t expect to earn much at first but it will be a good way to build your skills as a writer while not having to do too much unpaid work.
Writing from Home as an Ideal Source of Income
The internet has opened up a new realm of opportunities for freelancers. Gone are the days when people had to spend money on building their own website or purchasing business cards, they can now get paid an income from home by writing articles online. While some may be wary of this type of job due to security issues and lack of supervision, there are many reasons why working from home is actually beneficial.
First, there is no need to buy any technology or software. The majority of websites that hire writers offer open-source programs for both Windows and Mac computers so you won't have to invest in expensive hardware any time soon. There are also phone apps available that allow you to text while blogging on your computer so if you don't want the distraction of the television but still want to stay entertained, this is a good idea.
Additionally, there is no need for an internet connection at all times. Most work from home writers do not necessarily go online all day long. You can set your own hours and choose how much work you put in per week. If you have a day job or other obligations during the week, writing at night once everyone has gone to bed is a great way to keep busy while having some family time as well! If you find that your family is busy during the day and you're stuck at home, take advantage of that time where everyone is gone to write articles. The great thing about writing online is that it truly is flexible so you can choose when you want to work while still earning money.
Flexibility wise, many websites that hire writers offer a high payment for what you produce. Some pay as much as $20-35 dollars an hour depending on the quality and length of the article. While this may not be life changing money, it certainly beats working at any other minimum wage position which could potentially turn into full time hours if you want them.
Not only can you save up your money and invest it in something special or just start saving for retirement, but writing from home is also very easy to get into. Many people worry about “getting their foot in the door” so to speak with potential employers, but there is no such barrier with online businesses. Most sites that hire writers are strict about quality but are also lenient with deadlines. If you have a day job, do not expect to spend the entire night writing an article that has to be done by midnight prime time. However, if you would like to dedicate one or two hours after work and on the weekends, this will more than suffice for your first assignment and then some!
Writing from Home Money will Come…Eventually
After I appeared on Bloomberg, the job opportunities started coming in more regularly. I was still working full-time but was slowly converting my hobby/side-gig into a legitimate money machine.
I got several contracts to write for websites on a regular basis, for rates of between $70 and $150 per article. Besides the higher pay, I was also able to decrease the amount of time it took to write each article.
I was finally able to transition to writing online as a full-time gig in late 2013. For those looking for the easy life, working for yourself as a freelance writer is certainly not the answer. You might be able to go to a 9-to-5 job and only put in four or five hours of real work a day, filling the rest of the day talking with coworkers or just staring at your computer.
Working as a freelance writer means that if you're not writing, you're not getting paid. You may be making decent money per article or report but if you only write a few per week, you still won’t be able to pay the bills.
Over the last six years, I have written more than 1,500 articles, 11 books and 30 research reports. I have only been stiffed on two reports before I instituted a payment policy of 50% in advance. I now write upwards of 15 pages a week on paid contract work and make a little over $45 an working about 15 hours a week.
That doesn't include the five blogs I own and the 30 pages of content I post per week. Running your own blogs can be just as rewarding as freelance writing but it will take a little longer to get going. Stick with it though and you'll make much more on your blogs than with individual writing jobs. I make thousands a month from the blogs and it's recurring money compared to the constant need to look for writing jobs.
Check out this earlier post on how to make money blogging, including how to get started and how to get Google love for your blog.
Some final pointers on making money writing from home:
- If you don't feel like you're ready yet, check out some of the online courses on Udemy to learn the skills you need for writing from home. You can get hours of video courses for less than $20 and really improve your skills.
- Set a process and format for your articles or reports. Setting this process and format will help you really reduce the amount of time it takes to put something together. I know a lot of writers that take upwards of ten hours to write an article because they do not have a process. I can usually write up a good two-page article in about two hours but it will take time to get to that point.
- Do your research first and then cut it off. Resist the temptation to constantly go back online to get more facts or research for an article. Do the research you need for your idea and then write up what you have.
- Format your article out first with headings that will be your main ideas and notes on supporting information under each heading. You will put a summary and a closing in as well but these can be written after everything else. This will help your article have a coherent structure, making them easier to read and write.
- Part of working from home is being organized. Check out QuickBooks Self-Employed to help track your business income and expenses to make sure you are making as much as you can.
- Just keep writing. Even if you feel like you need more information or want to change the direction of the article, just write it up without stopping. Once you are done, you can go back to review and edit. The constant stopping to change a theme or get more data is what takes many new writers hours of time to produce one article. Writing from home can be a great way to make money but you need to get comfortable with the process and stick with it.
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Whether you’ve been writing for years for a traditional print employer or are just starting as a writer, freelance writing online can be a great way to make extra money or start a whole new career. Success doesn’t happen overnight but give it a year and you’ll be earning higher rates for your work. Freelance writing offers the benefit of being able to work anytime and anywhere you want, giving you the financial independence you deserve!
Read the Entire Work from Home Series
- Work From Home Office Must Haves
- Work from Home Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree
- 5 Productivity Tips to Work from Home [Get More Done!]
- 7 Part-Time Work from Home Jobs that Start this Week
- Fiverr Review: What Makes Fiverr a Great Freelancing Platform