Freelance writing from home is a career that has proven to be recession proof, as long as you have the skills to write quality materials. In fact, it was identified as one of the top 10 careers that actually thrived during the Great Depression in the 1930s. With a good command of the rules of grammar and a dash of creativity thrown in, you can make a nice living through freelance writing jobs.
How It Works
Freelance writing jobs can be short term or long term opportunities. An employer will hire you for an assignment that can vary from writing one or two articles, to writing all of the content for a website launch. Once you have the parameters of the assignment and the deadline, you research the topic(s) and write the contents for the employer. After submitting it to them, they may ask for rewrites. Once the work is completed, they might have more work for you; otherwise, it's back to the search for the next job.
Building a Portfolio
Most people hire freelance writers based on a portfolio of published work. This creates an obvious challenge when you're starting out. You may have to do some work for free initially, just so you can get some samples published. A good way to do this is to submit some articles to websites that cover topics that interest you. In the best case scenario, they'll publish it and pay you. If they reject it, you still have a sample you can add to your portfolio - which you can now show to prospective employers. Once you do have some articles published, select the best ones to highlight your skills.
Tip: Constantly manage your portfolio. If something is outdated or if your skills have improved, shuffle older articles out of your portfolio and newer ones in.
The web has opened up a host of new opportunities for freelance writers in the past decade. Services like Elance and Odesk are specifically tailored to put prospective employers and freelance writers in touch with each other. You can also search blogs like FreelanceWritingGigs.com on a daily basis to locate freelance writing jobs online. Don't underestimate the value of repeat work. Send follow-up emails to previous employers on a regular basis, just in case they have additional work.
There are a lot of "content mills" that you can find online. They typically offer 1 cent per word, but offer an unlimited amount of work. That might sound nice, but at the end of the day you'll only end up making about $5 to $8 an hour. You'll be better off if you stand your ground and don't work for less than 2 cents per word. That will bring your hourly minimum up to between $10 and $15 an hour. This is actually more money than it sounds like when you're working from home, because you don't have the expense of a daily commute, wardrobe and so on.
Always come to an agreement of payment terms up front; sometimes it will be a cents-per-word arrangement, or a flat fee per assignment. Set firm deadlines for when the work will be turned in and what you'll be paid for it. You can take payments through whichever option you and the employer are most comfortable with: PayPal, wire transfer or paper check.
Marketing Your Skills
Your portfolio is your best friend when it comes to freelance writing jobs. A good shortcut is to build a website showcasing some of your work. You won't attract a lot of business through it, but you can refer prospective employers to your site or blog so they can see your writing style.
You always have to be looking ahead as a freelance writer. You'll be applying for jobs constantly once you get into the groove, so that you don't have any dry spells in between assignments. Set aside time every day to be looking for new work. When you wrap up one assignment, you can then move on to the next.
If you keep your nose to the grindstone, you can initially bring in $1,000 to $1,500 a month at freelance writing from home. It only goes up from there as you improve your skills and land higher-paying clients.