If you like to write and have some basic writing skills, freelance writing may provide you with a comfortable source of income. You can do most freelance writing jobs from the comfort of your own home; all you need is
a computer, an Internet connection and the ability to research topics of interest to you.
Getting Started Writing from Home
To get started as a freelancer, all you need is a Paypal account, a regular bank account and a place to work. Most people set up a home office to do their research and writing. Your home office needs a desk to sit at, a computer to use and access to the Internet. It should be in a quiet place that is free of distractions so that you can focus on the writing you’re doing. If you have children or pets, you may want to close the door of your office while you’re working so that they don’t wander in and out and distract you.
Your computer should be equipped with word processing and spreadsheet software. Word processing software allows you to type the articles you are writing and save a copy to your computer. It’s easier to check spelling and grammar from your word processing software than from the websites you will be using to submit work; in addition, it’s important to save a copy of your work on your computer in case you have a problem connecting to the Internet while you are submitting your work. You can use spreadsheet software to keep track of your earnings and the number of articles you complete each day so that you stay on task and have records to use at tax time.
Optionally, you can use calendar software on your computer to help you schedule blocks of time that you will be working. It’s important to create a schedule and stick to it; otherwise you may not do enough work or may spend too much time on your computer working.
In any case, you will need a Paypal account because the majority of freelance websites pay writers via Paypal. You can sign up for a Paypal account online and link it to your bank account. This will allow you to transfer money back and forth from Paypal to your bank account as needed.
Approximate Start-Up Expenses
There aren’t many start-up expenses associated with working from home as a freelancer. You may want to consult an accountant about how to keep track of your earnings and how to pay estimated taxes, as you will be responsible for these taxes on a quarterly basis. You also will need to pay for high-speed Internet services so that you can quickly and easily access online information and freelance websites.
If you don’t already have strong grammar and writing skills, you’ll have extra expenses that you might not necessarily have otherwise. Some people pay for courses at their local community colleges in writing or grammar, while other people hire a writing coach or other expert to tutor them in writing. You may also want to purchase books about grammar and writing style such as the Chicago Manual of Style.
None of the expenses associated with starting a business as a freelance writer is particularly high; you can usually start writing at home for a few hundred dollars or less.
Licenses and Permits
In general, you don’t need a license to work as a freelance writer. Some states may require you to have a business license, so you should check with your city hall.
The major legal issue facing freelance writers is taxes. Part of learning how to write for cash involves learning how to put money aside for your estimated taxes. As a freelancer, you don’t have money withheld from your paychecks. You also are considered an independent contractor rather than an employee, even if you write for only one writing site. Thus, you are required to pay quarterly taxes four times a year. The best way to pay your estimated taxes is to transfer a portion of each paycheck you receive into a savings account and use it to pay taxes. Consult your accountant for the exact amount to withhold from each check. Your accountant can also help you figure out tax deductions so that you pay less taxes in April and may even get a refund.
Jobs and Earnings
There are several ways to find freelance writing jobs. Some people use services like Craiglist to hire themselves out directly as freelancers. This is a riskier route to take than using websites dedicated to freelancing because you may encounter people who don’t pay you on time or don’t pay you at all. You have very little recourse against such people, other than suing them, while if you work for an established website you will receive your pay through the website and can address payment issues with the site managers.
There are two types of freelance websites that you can use to help you find freelance writing jobs. Some websites allow you to bid on jobs; the highest bidder wins the job. These sites are somewhat risky because you deal directly with the client, with the site acting only as an agent to bring the client and writer together. Other websites act as a middleman; clients pay them to post job listings, and writers find and claim jobs that are of interest to them. Writers then submit finished pieces through the site; if the client accepts the work, the site pays the writer for the piece.
These kinds of freelance writing sites are the best way to get started with writing at home. These freelance writing sites allow beginning writers to learn how to freelance without losing a lot of time and money. These sites also offer writers a level of protection from dishonest clients, as they act as an intermediary between writers and clients.
Beginning freelancers can’t expect to make a lot of money through these sites; new writers often make only a few dollars from each submitted article. However, most freelance writing sites work on a ratings system; freelancers get access to higher paying articles as they complete work and get high scores from clients or the site itself. In addition, as freelancers get a positive reputation with a site’s clients, clients can directly request work from the freelancer. Special requests often pay higher per article than listings on the general job board. Freelancers can hope to eventually make $700 or more per week, depending on how many hours they are willing to work and how many positive ratings they receive.
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