How to Start a Freelance Writing Career


I was several years into the corporate world when I realized I wasn’t happy with the 9-to-5. Once the high demands and the intense pressure of corporate America began affecting me, both inside and outside the workplace, I began wondering if this was all there was. Working weekends and long hours to fulfill someone else’s dreams instead of pursuing my own dreams as a writer wasn’t my idea of success.

I was no longer intrigued with the thought of placing my happiness, self-fulfillment and worth in the hands of someone else. It was time for a change.

Although I understand why most people spend their entire careers pursuing the corporate dream, I like most millennials didn’t want to neglect my passion in order to seek out stability. Instead I chose to take the risk, defy the odds and try my hand at entrepreneurship by creating my own route to success.

I am often asked what it takes to pursue a freelance writing career. Although there isn’t a definitive blueprint, nor is there a right or wrong way to pursue it, I’ll share a few tips from my personal experience on how to master the craft of being a freelance writer, and to be successful in your own right:

1. Research. Always.

Become a student of life by staying up to date on the latest happenings and trends. As a writer, your main objective is to think about the big picture while focusing on what matters to readers. That means constantly finding ways to turn an idea into a compelling story.

2. Send the perfect pitch.

Keep in mind editors receive dozens of pitches and ideas for articles throughout the week. To ensure your idea is the perfect pitch, ask yourself a few key questions: Why is this concept a good fit? How is it relevant to the target audience? Will it resonate with readers? Do your homework.

3. Become one with your audience.

When writing, remain transparent, always keeping the reader high in your mind. Being able to effectively communicate with your audience is vital to conveying your message and establishing a meaningful connection.

4. Create a digital portfolio.

Your portfolio website should consist of clips or writing samples to showcase your body of work and writing style. Not only will it promote your credibility, but at times it is factor that determines whether an editor picks you as their go-to writer for the job or future assignments.

Try blogging or covering a specific niche and add them to your portfolio—you’ll build your brand and expertise at the same time.

5. Boss yourself around.

With the technological landscape of today’s digital age, a freelance writing career allows you the flexibility to work from virtuallyanywhere.It’s important to establish a routine and remain organized in order to meet all deadlines. At the end of the day, Y-O-U are your whole brand.

6. Find a mentor.

Expand your social network andseek out industry leaders or people who’ve done it before you who can dish out advice and guidance along the way. Mentors serve as a listening ear and a voice of reason through the highs and lows, but especially when the going gets a little tough.

As a freelance writer, you have to be willing to overcome the fear of rejection, stay positive and just put yourself out there. Above all else, remain fearless, continuously sharpen your skills, expect steep competition and remember, NO is the name of the game—but it’s never the final answer.

Find out how another SUCCESS blogger quit his job, traveled the world and became an entrepreneur—all before he turned 25.

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Dontaira Terrell is a Florida A&M University graduate and freelance journalist, with a penchant for journal writing, fashion, pop culture and politics. Her love for documenting life’s best moments happened as a youth, consuming local and national news and engrossing herself in a variety of magazines, newspapers and books to read. Writing in her journal is a thing of the past, as she now provides her insights and reporting for companies including but not limited to The Huffington Post,, Elite Daily and

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