Side hustle guide to freelance writing by LifeGlitter

There's no need to explain why I think freelance writing is an incredible side hustle. It's pretty obvious, given the fact that I'm sitting here now, writing in an attempt to generate money myself. Writing is cathartic for me, but the bonus is that it helps pay my bills!

There are as many ways to earn income from a freelance writing side hustle as there are grapes on a bunch. You need to find the method that suits your schedule, needs, and wants. The wants are just as important when choosing your side hustle, so if writing's not your thing, don't try to force it. There are tons of side hustles out there for you to try!

What Is A Side Hustle?

A “side hustle” refers to any work or project undertaken in addition to one's primary job or source of income. These can range from freelancing in a specific field to starting a small business or selling goods online.

Writing can be a flexible and lucrative way to earn money on the side, with many options. For writers, a side hustle can take the form of freelance writing, blogging, content creation, or self-publishing. Most writers freelance in content creation or self-publishing.

You may love writing and storytelling but may not be able to do so through your primary job. A writing side hustle allows you to explore your passion more formally and potentially turn it into a profitable venture.

Maybe you've wanted to pursue a writing side hustle as a means of a career change. So many people are discovering that their current job or industry is unfulfilling and not aligned with their interests. A writing side hustle can help you gain experience and explore different writing opportunities before committing to a new career. Building a portfolio and gaining a following will help you later land a job as a full-time writer.

I've decided to start some guides here about different side hustles that have the potential to bring in a full-time income. Most side hustles will be perfect for generating a few hundred dollars a month. If you want to go deeper and more significant, you'll have to start small anyway, right? Right. So this post will delve into the idea of writing as a side hustle.

Freelance writing side hustle, woman at laptop
Photo by Andrew Neel

Types of Writing Side Hustles


One of the easiest and fastest ways to get started with a writing side hustle is to create your own blog. Whether you get your domain and build yourself up as an expert in a niche or start writing about your interests and passions, blogging is one of the best first steps.

Everyone has something to write about, by the way.

  • Homeschooling moms
  • Beauty product fanatics
  • People who love vegan leather
  • Deal hunters who know all the excellent travel hacks
  • … you name it!

It's a little more work than just writing and publishing, of course. Marketing and promotion are critical, but there are so many social media tools available to help with that that there's no excuse not to do it.

Where the money comes in: Without getting too involved in this post, I can tell you there are about a million ways to monetize a blog. Everything from affiliate marketing to selling your own products and services to running ads by Google or another ad streamer.

In the past, I've run blogs that earned me a nice four-figure income every single month. These were typically very niched-down topics, and revenue came from running ads and linking out to products. I've also used blogging to introduce new products and build an audience via email to market directly to them.

Another great addition to this is by pushing your content to a profile on Medium. If you've got a blog that covers multiple topics, having a separate Medium profile for each can help keep things organized and give subscribers precisely what they want. Don't go too crazy, though. We're talking about a situation where you've got a blog that contains pieces on everything from cleaning your home to where the best fishing is in New York. You'd want to separate that into different Medium profiles.

Freelance Writing

Identify your style and niche: To be successful as a freelance writer, it's essential to specialize in a distinctive type of writing side hustle or topic. It's easier to market yourself to potential clients and stand out in a crowd when you're narrowed down and specific. Some niches you might consider include:

  • Copywriting
  • Technical writing
  • Ghostwriting
  • Journalistic writing
  • Product descriptions
  • Resume writing
  • Website content

Or, choose distinctive topics to write about in your side hustle, such as:

  • Healthy eating, diet, nutrition
  • Exotic travel
  • Skincare and makeup
  • Homeschooling
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Personal finance and business
  • Personal development and self-help
  • Entertainment and pop culture
  • Environmentalism (or any -ism related to a good cause)
  • Home and lifestyle
  • … anything you're passionate about!

Build a portfolio. This goes back to blogging in some ways. You will need to showcase your work and create a portfolio with examples of your writing in your chosen niche.

Truth be told, this can be a website, blog, or even a shared document or folder (Google Drive or Dropbox for the win here). Make sure to include samples highlighting your skills, style, and expertise in the specialized area.

Network and find clients. To find clients, network with people in your industry, attend writing events and workshops and join online writing communities. You can also reach out to potential clients directly by sending them a personalized email or message with your portfolio and a pitch for your services.

There are great places to look for freelance writing side hustles. Some authentic (aka non-scammy) places to start include:

  • ProBlogger Jobs
  • Medium Partner Program (You do not need to be a member to join the partner program and earn money. Membership gets you access to paywalled content, and the Partner Program helps you earn from members while perfecting your side hustle writing skills.)
  • iWriter
  • Writer Finder
  • Draft (I used to make well over $1000/mo writing for this company when it was called ContentFly. For some reason, I haven't been seeing much work from here since they rebranded, but your mileage could undoubtedly vary. They pay decently, and their support team is fantastic.)
  • ShoutVox – great hourly base pay, but you need to know about writing high-quality SEO content.

One important thing to remember is that you'll need to spend some time hunting and pitching. When I'm looking to add more projects, I spend an hour a day researching, writing gigs, and sending pitches. When I score a project, I'll scale back but still spend some time looking for new and exciting jobs. Set a goal to incorporate time every day until you have enough projects to fill your time.

Know your worth. Think about your experience, skills, and the type of work you will be doing. Determine how much you want to charge for your services. Be prepared to negotiate client rates, but stick to your bottom line.

You'll find yourself with low per-word rates when you're just starting with a writing side hustle. If you want to take on the work to gain experience and a little money, great! Hold out for more money if you're confident enough in your writing.

Some places start people at $0.02 per word, and others are $0.05-0.10 per word. Once you've got a star-quality portfolio, you can demand more, develop contracts, and boost your bank account! I have had writing side hustle clients who paid me $250 for a 750-word article that took me less than two and a half hours from start to finish.

Manage your time. Balancing the side hustle of writing with a full-time job can be challenging. Add in any other responsibilities on top of that. It's easy to find things falling by the wayside because you think you need to work more and more.

Set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself and manage your time effectively. Use tools like calendars, to-do lists, and time-tracking apps to stay organized and on schedule. Please, don't forget to do laundry, cook, clean up, and all that! Yes, I speak from experience, so trust me, okay?

It's important to remember that being a freelance writer is not only about writing itself. You also must manage your time and your business and ensure you're always on top of your game.

Some things you should make sure to schedule time for, besides just writing and looking for writing gigs, include:

  • Prioritizing tasks to ensure the most important and urgent are completed first.
  • Communicate with clients and your employer to ensure that your writing side hustle doesn't interfere with your job responsibilities. Some companies frown upon their employees having side hustles. This is not to say you have to divulge, but make sure your primary source of income isn't suffering for the sake of side hustle income.

Keep learning and developing your skills. To stay competitive in the freelance writing industry, continue to learn and develop your skills. You'll need to spend time on business (specifically side hustling) and writing skills.

Try reading books, attending webinars and workshops, or taking online courses through Fiverr Learn (from the experts in freelance work) or Skillshare. This will help you stay updated with your niche's latest trends and techniques.

Content creation (e.g., for social media and marketing materials)

Often referred to as copywriting or social media content creation, this may be an excellent niche if you've been told that you have a knack for engaging people.

Everyone knows that social media is where it's at, and for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, words matter. Get your portfolio updated with screenshots of highly engaged content you've posted, and you're sure to grab some attention for this kind of freelance writing work.

I have clients whose entire brand focuses on marketing via email. The same goes for writing emails, by the way. If you can build funnels that convert and write in your client's “voice,” you're on your way to an amazingly lucrative writing side hustle.

Self-publishing (e.g., e-books, print-on-demand)

Something I'll delve deeper into in another post is self-publishing. Depending on your niche, using Amazon's KDP program or something like Lulu to create real books can be amazing. Not only will you then be able to show that you are indeed a published author with books on Amazon, but you'll be able to use those books in promotions like book signings or giveaways.

Challenges and Solutions

Overcoming writer's block and staying motivated

Staying motivated as a freelance writer is a challenge, but with the right mindset, you can succeed.

Try taking breaks and doing something different, change your work environment, or find inspiration through reading. Set achievable goals, celebrate your progress, and remember why you started your writing side hustle. Surround yourself with supportive people and connect with other writers to stay motivated and inspired.

Navigating the business side of a writing side hustle (e.g., invoicing, taxes)

You can't run a freelance writing side hustle without approaching it like a business. Know your worth and charge as such. Showcase your skills with that portfolio (and never stop filling it). Market yourself using social media and build a network of other writers, editors, and potential clients.

To manage the financial side of your freelance writing side hustle, it's crucial to track your expenses and income. The best way to do this is by having a separate business bank account. Whenever you receive a deposit, assign a portion to cover taxes and another to cover any business expenses. This way, you're not dipping into your personal funds to cover the costs of running your side hustle. Seek to set aside at least 25% of your earnings for taxes and a minimum of 25% for expenses. The rest is yours!

Dealing with rejection and criticism

Rejection and criticism can be challenging for any freelance writer, especially when you're trying to grow your side hustle. But don't let that get you down!

When you receive criticism, instead of taking it personally, try to see it as a chance to grow and improve. Think of it as a helpful tool that can make you a better writer.

Rejection happens to all of us, but it doesn't mean your writing is terrible. Instead, use rejection as a learning experience and ask for feedback to make changes for the next opportunity.

It's essential to keep your focus on your goals and not get discouraged by rejections or criticism. Remember why you started your freelance writing side hustle, and keep pushing forward. With persistence, you'll overcome the tough times and reach your goals.

Go get started!

Starting any side hustle can quickly get overwhelming, but trust me, it's totally worth it. The benefits far outweigh the challenges. Working from home can be your new normal if it isn't already, and whether your goal is to turn it into a business or to pay that damn grocery bill every week, a writing side hustle could mean everything.

It's hard sometimes, but remember that success doesn't happen overnight. Building a successful side hustle takes time, effort, and a lot of hard work.

Keep pushing forward, learning from your experiences, and striving to become the best writer you can be. Your determination will pay off in the end, and you'll be proud of what you've achieved.

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