The best thing about freelance writing is that you can do it anywhere, any time. It can be either a full-time job or a lucrative side hustle for anyone looking to make a little extra money. It's perfect for stay-at-home parents, students and anyone who has a way with words and wants to turn their passion into a career (or just earn a little extra spending money for their holiday).
If you're interested in freelancing or just starting out, these four websites will give you the opportunity to gain some valuable experience and get paid at the same time. These sites are all legit but the pay can be quite low, especially at first, so I wouldn't recommend handing in your notice at your 9-5 just yet. None of them are 'get rich quick' schemes and you will have to put in the work, but they can help you to make some extra cash to supplement your income and, since you get paid automatically through the sites, there's no chasing up clients about unpaid invoices (always a plus).
Any links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.
Constant Content is a site which provides copy for websites and is always open to new freelance writers. Once you've signed up, you can browse the listings of requested content or submit your own articles and set a price for them. The requests can be quite vague (e.g. "Looking for content for a dating site") or very specific (there was a request for "How to select and buy the right wire rope cutter" the last time I looked).
Obviously, writing articles before you've been commissioned and hoping they'll sell is not a viable way for a full-time freelancer to work; however, if you're just starting out writing as a hobby or you want to to get some experience or build up a portfolio, this is a great starting point. Also, if a client likes your work, they could potentially offer you a regular gig.
Constant Content pays its writers via PayPal once a month and there's no minimum threshold to hit before you get a payout - whatever you've made that month is what you're paid (they do take a small cut for themselves). There's no limit to what you could potentially earn; the more work you do and the more content you sell, the more you'll make. Your writing will stay on the site forever and each article can be sold many times to different companies (unless someone buys a full rights licence, in which case they get - you guessed it - full rights to that piece). I used to write for this site a lot and still occasionally receive an email to say one of my articles has been bought - in fact, in the past month, two articles I submitted over ten years ago have sold. Talk about passive income!
Rev is a company which provides transcription and translation services. Freelancers can apply to work as a transcriptionist, captioner/subtitler or, if you're fluent in more than one language, translator. The work involves writing transcripts of audio and visual files and you're paid once a week via PayPal. Again, there's no minimum threshold so Rev will pay you whatever you've earned the previous week.
You'll need to complete an English grammar test as well as a transcription test before being accepted, and your writing has to be consistently up to scratch once you've started working for them (all completed work submitted is checked by the Rev team for accuracy before being given to the client). The files to be transcribed can be poor quality and some will be more difficult than others to understand, but it does get easier the more you do and as you improve, your speed of working will increase and you'll be able to make more money. Unlike Constant Content, there's no way to make any passive income on Rev - you'll always be trading your time for money, but if you enjoy transcription, this could be a good way of making a little extra cash.
If you're good at spotting typos, incorrect grammar and misplaced punctuation, proofreading could be the side hustle for you. Babbletype requires you to be a native English speaker and you'll have to take a proofreading test before being accepted as a freelancer. You can also apply to be a transcriptionist or a translator and there's usually quite a bit of work available for pick-up; they'll email you every day letting you know which new jobs have been added to the site. There is a 24 hour deadline on all projects.
Just like working for Rev, your work must be accurate - if it's not, it'll be sent back to you for revision and, if you're not finished by the deadline, you won't be paid. Payment is weekly via PayPal.
[Edit: Since writing this post, I've noticed that Babbletype are not currently accepting new applications for proofreaders. However, they are still looking for transcriptionists and translators and I'm guessing will need more proofreaders in the future, so I'm leaving this in the post.]
Any freelance work: Fiverr.com
Fiverr is a platform where freelancers of all descriptions can promote themselves and offer services (known as 'gigs') to people or companies looking for someone with their expertise. If you have a skill someone else may find valuable, whether that's writing copy for websites, editing, photography or anything else, you can potentially make quite a substantial side income selling your freelance services.
You only used to be able to charge $5 for your work, but you can now offer basic, standard and premium packages of your gig and set your rates accordingly (bear in mind that Fiverr will take 20% of the revenue from each gig as their fee). There are three ways you can be paid: through PayPal, directly into your bank account or by Fiverr Revenue Card (a prepaid debit card).
Other Ways for Writers to Make Money Online
Start your own website
If you're serious about freelance writing, it's a good idea to set up your own website where you can advertise your services and showcase your portfolio. If a potential client requests to see samples of your published writing, you can simply send them the link to your site.
Bluehost* is one of the most affordable web hosting options on the market, but also one of the best. Plans start at just £3.26 ($3.95 or €3.58) per month and include a free domain for one year, 24/7 support, one-click Wordpress installation, step-by-step set up instructions, a fast loading time and good security features including a free SSL certificate. It's extremely user friendly, so perfect for beginners or those not so technically minded (if you're anything like me, you just want to write and can't be bothered to spend ages trying to figure out how to work a website) and they offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
If you haven't yet been published anywhere, starting a blog is a good way to practise and show off your writing skills and could help you land your first paying client. Writing guest posts for other sites is another way to get your name and work out into the world. Also make social media accounts for your blog so you can promote your latest posts - I use Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. To get started with Pinterest, I recommend this affordable course* I took last year. If you want to know how good it is, I didn't publish a post for months over the summer yet still received around 10,000 page views on my blog each month - and about 90 per cent of those came from Pinterest. Here's a recent screenshot of my blog's stats page:
I didn't make any new pins or do any promotion of any kind during that time; my old pins just kept being shared and I continuously received traffic from them. It's worth investing that little bit of time upfront to learn how to use Pinterest properly.
Make sure you also set up a profile on LinkedIn with a link to your blog or writer website. This will increase your chances of finding paid work.
Write an ebook
If you enjoy writing, I'm sure you've thought about writing a book at some point. Selling an ebook could be a good way to make yourself some money. Choose a subject you're knowledgeable in and can write authoritatively about. It's easy and free to self publish nowadays - if you use Amazon your book will be available on Kindle stores internationally so you can potentially reach millions of readers in your target audience. It's also a good idea to be on social media so you can promote your book to your followers and get them to help you spread the word.
Let me know how you get on if you decide to try any of these options for your side hustle. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, contact me on Twitter or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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