Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living


Moneymagpie Team


8th May 2024

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Updated 8th May 2024

Online freelance writing is a great way to earn additional or full-time income, and you don’t even need to leave your home to do it.

There are countless opportunities out there, you can work as little or as much as you want and you can make in excess of £100,000 a year if you develop a good marketing strategy and work hard. The first few years will be tough as you find your feet, but the flexibility of online freelance writing and the higher fees you can charge when you’re established make the work worthwhile.

Here’s everything you need to know to make money online freelance writing.

 

What is Freelance Writing?

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

Simply put, a freelance writer is someone who writes for money but isn’t tied to a single organisation. A freelance writer offers their services to anyone who needs some writing done, and will often work for several companies at a time.

It’s often said that freelancers are their own boss and that no one dictates what they do. This is true, to an extent. But freelancers actually have many different bosses. And they need to meet deadlines and to work to specifications just like any other employee.

Online freelance writing jobs come in a variety of forms. The most common job is content writing. There are are over a billion websites out there and they all need content. A freelance writer is often the one tasked with creating that content.

Other jobs include:

  • Novel Writing: Ghost-writing personal memoirs, fiction/non-fiction for publishers.
  • Script Writing: Everything from TV pilots and film scripts, to commercials and animations.
  • Marketing (also called copywriting): Press releases, brand stories, slogans.
  • Academic Writing: Academic non-fiction, peer reviewed study write-ups, essays.
  • Technical Writing: Instruction manuals, how-to guides.
  • Legal Writing: Terms and Conditions, privacy policies, long-form contract writing.
  • Editing/Proofreading: Correcting all of the above.
  • Critiquing: Providing advice on personal projects (novels, short stories).
  • Consulting: Providing guidance on publishing, writing, SEO and more.

 

What Are Freelancing Platforms?

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

When it comes to the concept of online freelance writing, it usually revolves around something known as a “freelancing platform”. This is a service that acts as a bridge between the client and the freelancer. These sites include those like Upwork, Guru and Freelancer, but not all should be judged equally as many are hard work for little reward (and some are downright scams).

You can use a freelancing platform to showcase your abilities like you would on a CV, and you can also use them to find jobs.

Clients post job availabilities, writers apply to these, and the clients interview them. All of this is done through the platform, including the interview itself. And when the writer is hired, the platform continues to act as an intermediary.

If the freelancer and client agree a fee of $100, then the client must pay that $100 upfront. The platform will then hold that money in an escrow account, sitting on it until the job is finished. Upon release, the platform takes a small percentage as their fee and the writer gets the rest.

Watch out for red flags, which include: sites that ask you to write articles in the hope of selling them (ie they only pay you if it sells); sites that require a monthly fee; platforms which have negative reviews on sites such as Glassdoor; very low fees for writers (such as those offering just a couple of dollars for a hundred words).

What Do You Need to Get Started?

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

There is very little you need to get started as an online writer (apart from talent!). Basically you need:

  • Computer: You don’t need anything flash. If it connects to the internet, it’s good enough.
  • Word Processor: Clients will usually expect to receive work in .doc or .docx form. However, most word processors can convert, so you don’t need MS Word. There are free alternatives out there, like Google Docs. If you’re sharing a Google Doc with a client, always paste your work into a new document when you send it – that way, the client can’t see your edits and writing process while you work.
  • Planner: When the jobs roll in, it’s easy to lose track. So, make sure you stay organised. A wall planner and a paper planner are both useful – carry one with you and keep the wall planner above your workspace at home to quickly refer to for deadlines.
  • Bank Account/PayPal: You will need a bank account for clients to pay you, or sometimes a PayPal account to receive payments. Stripe is a useful payment platform if you want to write for international clients, as it gives you an IBAN number to take (for example) US payments as if it’s a US bank, which helps keep transfer and conversion fees down.
  • Zoom: Many clients will want to connect with you via Zoom to talk through projects.

You’re also going to need to sign up to online freelance writing job platforms like UpWork. This will take a bit of time, especially as you create your sample articles or upload previous work to show clients your portfolio, so make sure you leave plenty of time for this as it will be what makes a client choose you over someone else.

What Will It Cost Me?

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

Online freelance writing job platforms like UpWork will take a percentage fee. This might be the same percentage for whatever you’re paid (5% whether you’re paid £5 or £5000) or it can vary by price brackets so the more you earn, the less you give the platform overall.

These platforms aren’t the only way to find work, either. You could invest some money in placing strategic advertisements in trade magazines if you specialise in copywriting for a particular industry, for example. You could also benefit from attending local Chamber of Commerce business networking meetings (or similar – most towns and cities have several business-to-business events you can attend to meet business owners) so set aside some money for these, too.

What Can I Earn?

MoneyMagpie Freelance earnMoneyMagpie Freelance earn

When you’re starting out, you will find your rates start around £25-30 an hour. With even six months’ experience, you can rapidly increase your rates. The most senior freelance copywriters earn up to £2,000 a day. It is easier to get to these kinds of rates if you already have specialist knowledge in a particular industry, and you target specific niche clients in this area. Specialising is the quickest way to earn more, as people will value your experience and knowledge in the field.

Despite online freelance writing being remote and worked from anywhere in the world, you will have an advantage to increasing your daily rates if you can sometimes travel to meet a client. People who live in London, for example, can charge a higher rate (because London) and visit offices for in-person meetings, which helps clients feel like they’re getting more value from you. If you don’t usually travel to meet a client but one requires you to, make sure you have a stipulation in your contract that they will pay for travel and accommodation expenses on top of your daily rate.

When setting your rates, it’s really important to build in time around your quote. If you think writing a 500-word blog will take you three hours, assume it will take four. This is because, sometimes, you might only take a couple of hours and sometimes it will take you six – so it needs to average out to include the time it takes you over a number of projects rather than a specific one. Building in spare time into a rate quote also covers time you’re not writing – such as back and forths with the client about the project brief, which is easy to forget also counts as work.

 

Creating Your Freelance Writing Portfolio

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

Your online portfolio is your CV – it is what will make clients choose you over others, particularly if you’re using an online freelance writing job platform. Use articles, pamphlets, instruction guides or whatever else you’ve written for businesses to date (without including any confidential business information). If you have never written for businesses before, you can write sample articles ‘in the style of’ as examples of how you can change your tone and writing type for each different client.

However, strangely, you will also need to make sure your online portfolio is visual. Photos that represent your work (such as screenshots) can sometimes be required to create a visual portfolio that then leads a client to request your samples to read.

Your portfolio needs to be visual. You’ll be prompted to upload documents and writing samples, but no one pays attention to these. In fact, if a client wants to read a sample they will expect you to send them one during the interview.

Also, see our article on how to make money writing short stories here

Staying Employed

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

Freelancing will open a lot of doors. It will introduce you to publishers, publicists, web-masters and business owners. If you stay connected to all of these, using social media to keep them close, then a simple job could lead to something massive.

Work will dry up on occasion, but the good thing is that this rarely happens once you have an established profile. Until you get to that point, here’s what you can do to keep the work coming:

  • Ask: If a client promised more work that they didn’t deliver on, ask them about it. If a client who gave you a lot of work in the past suddenly stops messaging you, email them. It’s best to give them a friendly nudge in the form of a catch-up message, following it up with a simple, “If you need anything done, you know where to find me”. You’d be surprised at how often this works.
  • Focus on one site: It seems counterintuitive, but if you focus on one online freelance writing platform you’ll have more work. The effort you put into a single platform shows, and this is what prospective clients want to see.
  • Keep applying: It doesn’t matter how many projects you have right now, you should always find time to send more proposals, apply for more jobs and sit through more interviews. You might be busy now, but soon you’ll meet those deadlines and collect your money, and then you’ll realise you have nothing else to do. Build time into your weekly schedule to do marketing outreach, both keeping in touch with previous clients and also finding new ones.
  • Lower Your Rates: If you’re struggling to find work, reduce your rates slightly to get the ball rolling again. It’s better for work at a reduced rate than not to work at all. You can always kick that project to the curb when a better one comes along (just make sure you finish it first).

Long-Term Clients and Long-Term Success

Not only will a good client continue to provide, but they’ll introduce you to other clients and open many doors.

Whether you work on an online freelance writing platform like Upwork, or you do all of the legwork yourself, keep the following in mind:

  1. Always go out of your way for a client you respect. Never take liberties and apologise profusely if you make a mistake.
  2. Always be prepared to strike a deal. Offer cheaper rates for bulk jobs in the hope they will increase your workload.
  3. If you haven’t heard anything for a few weeks, send a message to enquire if they have anything available. In a competitive marketplace, freelancers can be forgotten.
  4. Give them advice. You’re the expert here, so if you notice an area of their site that could be improved or added to, tell them. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll get more work.

Alternative Income Streams

Online Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a LivingOnline Freelance Writing: Make £100+ An Hour Writing for a Living

The work isn’t always going to be there. It’s important to keep trying, because it’ll get easier. But there are also other ways you can make money.

So, if you have the time but you don’t have the jobs, and if you’ve done all you can in terms of applying and being interviewed, you can try some of the following:

  • Search “write for us”: More and more web-masters are turning to online freelance writing platforms to source content, but there are still sites that wait for the content to come to them. These sites typically pay well, and if you Google the phrase “Write for us”, you shouldn’t have an issue finding them.
  • Websites/Blogs: If you don’t know anything about SEO now, take your downtime to learn all about it. It will add an extra string to your online writing bow, and help you produce content that delivers trackable results for clients when you get them.
  • Flipping Sites: Flippa is basically eBay for websites. You can buy and sell all kinds of blogs, high-profile domains and established online businesses. You can buy poor-quality sites, rewrite the content, do some more and sell them on. It’s just like Homes Under The Hammer—if you have the capital and you can cut costs by doing the work yourself, you’ll turn a profit.
  • Contribute: Contributors to sites like Huff Post do not get paid. However, they are allowed to write what they want (within reason) which gives them an opportunity to embed links in their articles. There are countless clients on online freelance writing platforms seeking freelancers who can get a single link on Huff Post. If you’re a contributor to this site, you can get anywhere from $200 to $500 for that link, and you only need to write a short article in order to post it. Forbes pays even more and works in much the same way.

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