Starting Your Freelance Writing Journey

Starting Your Freelance Writing Journey 
- A Guest Post by Rose Brownlie -

“Words are knowledge and knowledge is power.”

I’ve heard many variations of that quote from a number of different sources, but I first remember it coming from my secondary school, English teacher. She was a wonderful lady who, I think, was looked down upon somewhat by her peers because she dressed like a hippie and lived in a renovated caravan. Her billowing skirts and alternative lifestyle were irrelevant to me though. What mattered was her ability to excite and inspire young minds, and inspire mine she definitely did. I can’t truthfully say that those seven little words alone cemented my desire to become a freelance writer or that it was them that spurred me on to study English at university, but they have certainly stuck with me and first opened my eyes to the powerful and unharnessed nature of the written word.

I’ve always loved to read and write. From a very early age I began collecting books and now (even after the recent purchase of my Kindle) my bookshelves are bowing. Perhaps it was my love of reading that made me want to write a book myself; the idea of seeing my thoughts out there in print for other people to engage with has always given me a heady thrill. As I grew up and began thinking about my career, writing seemed a logical choice for me – for no reason more extraordinary than, like most people, I wanted to make a living from doing something I loved.

It hasn’t been easy, and now at the ripe old age of 29 I still have a long way to go. About five years ago I got my first ‘paid’ freelancing job which was a massive achievement for me, but it took me a long time and a lot of effort to get here. I’ve written voluntary, unpaid pieces for a number of outlets over the years including book review websites, student magazines, blogs, my local newspaper and even a promotional article on a new type of sofa bed! This has helped me broaden my knowledge, hone my writing skills to fit in with different publications, enhance my CV and prove to prospective employers that I’m seriously trying to gain experience within the writing and media world.

At first I still had a 9-5 office job which was my primary source of income and sadly had nothing remotely to do with writing or the creative arts. At first freelancing was more of an ‘added extra’ for me than anything else. With the birth of my first baby, I took a break from my ‘day job’ and hoped that, between changing nappies and night feeds, I’d have some time to focus on my writing career a little more.

Despite my initial trepidation, I now know many writers who also make full time incomes (and good ones at that) from copywriting, blogging, social media, creating written content for websites, editing and selling both fiction and non-fiction material to publications (and indeed getting published in their own right). Freelancing can definitely be a very lucrative business if you can build your client base up.

I’ve certainly found that social media is a great way to gain information and discover opportunities within the writing world. If you consider all of the written information that appears in websites, leaflets, magazines, advertisements, books and so on you can start to get a feel for the prospective market available for freelance writers. Most businesses have a Twitter account now, and by following publishing houses, marketing companies and other freelancers you will definitely get to learn more about their businesses and perhaps be one of the first to learn about any upcoming opportunities.

Needless to say there are also lots of vacancies to be found via a simple Google search with websites such as Craigslist regularly updating freelance writing and editing jobs. You can also advertise yourself as a freelance writer in your local newspaper or on websites such as Gumtree so that potential clients can approach you, but remember that an existing portfolio and proof of experience will help increase your credibility. And when things start to get serious, look into getting a client – they will increase your chances of getting bigger gigs with the more established firms and clients - a list of literary agents can be found in The Writers & Artists Yearbook.

One piece of advice that I’d give to aspiring freelancers though is to remember that you have to remain dedicated. Freelancing requires a lot of self motivation, initiative and discipline. You have to manage your own workload, set (and stick to) your own working hours, control your own finances and engage in a lot of personal research. So if you’re someone who finds it easier to work productively under another person rather than being your own boss then you may struggle with freelancing.

As for me, I’m going to keep pursuing my dream step by step. I’m already on the first rung of what seems like a long ladder, but I hope to continue climbing until I achieve my ultimate ambition of become a published novelist. So remember my name and hopefully one day mine will be one of the books weighing down your bookshelf.

by Rose Brownlie


  1. Thank you again for this post, Rose! So much useful information here. Please consider writing for my blog again sometime!

  2. I needed this post. I've played around with the idea of freelancing, but the whole thing seemed really intimidating. You've taken some of the intimidating part out with this piece. Thank you!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thank you so much for posting this, Rose! I'm hoping to do freelance writing myself, once I finish getting my degree this spring. I've had some general ideas about how I plan to do this, but I haven't had a chance to speak with someone who is actually DOING it. This was super-concise, and very helpful! I particularly appreciated your suggestions about how to build a skill set before you get hired; this definitely seemed like one of those situations where you have to do the job to get the job.

    If you do another post, I'd love to hear some more on this topic! A 'how-to' on resume writing for free-lancers would be a life-saver. Once you've done a few jobs (even non-paying jobs), which ones do you list for potential clients? Do you leave off the sofa bed write-up and just include the newspaper articles, or is all experience good experience? :)

  5. Thank you for this great post! Very informational and helpful. This reminds me of an article I read earlier this year that talked about being willing to do what you love for free before you start getting paid for it. This post touches on the same thing - being willing to put yourself out there and try different things in order to hone your skill and gain recognition! Thank you for sharing your experience with us :)

  6. Very interesting read and great information. Thanks for this, Lauren AND Rose! :)


( hippies always welcome )