Freelance Doesn’t Mean You Write for Free

fake moneyBeing a ‘freelance’ writer doesn’t mean that you write for no pay, although it’s amazing how many people think you should!

The definition of ‘freelance” from Merriam-Webster, includes:

  • a person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization
  • a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer

If you are making a living as a writer — or you’d like to — you absolutely must get paid for your work.

How else will you pay for:

  • Daily living expenses (groceries, utilities, and so on)
  • Health care
  • Laptop / printer / phone / other office expenses
  • Your car
  • Seminars, training, and conferences and associated travel/hotel etc.
  • Vacations (if you’d still like to take them)

If just getting started, you can fall back on any ‘free’ writing experience you had in high school, college, or on-a-job to help you build your portfolio, but once you step out and hang a shingle to make a living as a writer, please don’t work for free, for exposure, or for promises of future-anything.

If you need places to start looking for paying work, do google searches on the type of writing you are focused on, the companies you’d like to write for, the locations you have expertise in or want to live, and the industries you like. You can also check out such sites as:

So whether you call yourself a freelance writer, an independent writer, or some mix of the two, you should always get paid for your writing. Exceptions can include: family newsletter, church bulletin, a non-profit organization you support, among others, of course.

Where do you look to find writing-for-pay projects or clients?

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes – and getting paid. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies and individuals tell their stories. You can connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, AlignableInstagram, and Twitter.

10 thoughts on “Freelance Doesn’t Mean You Write for Free

  1. Ok, what if you are like me, almost 50 with no experience? I found one small paying job and that’s it. I’ve tried many magazines and places like upwork, but they want experience. I can’t get a degree as I can only go parttime, thanks to HUD, and I don’t have the right computer. So, how do we get experience if we don’t do it for free? I started blogging just to get writing experience. My health won’t allow me to do anything else but write. Thanks.

  2. I agree with Lisa that the writer/poet/journalist/novelists/playwright whatever is worthy of his hire. Poets, especially seem to be expected to work for nothing. Pop singers, musicians, TV presenters expect to be paid, why not a poet?
    To Stardreams
    I don’t know where you live but here in Britain there are plenty of writing courses some of them online that don’t require a full time commitment or attendance at college or university. Look at the ads in writers’ magazines and see which suits you best. A degree is not essential. Nor, I imagine, is any particular make of computer. You say your health won’t allow you to do anything but write…ie writing is a last resort, not something you are passionate about and really want to do.
    By the way what is “HUD”? Forgive my ignorance I’ve never heard of it.

    • Hi, thanks for your reply. Well, I’m not writing just cause it’s a last resort, it was something I always wanted to do, but I’ve been under other people’s control for 45 years(long story), took me a long time to finally break free. But, now thanks to health, it was the push I needed. I try applying to magazines and such, but I don’t have experience or enough skill, apparently. Thanks for reminding me to check for free courses for skills. HUD is an organization in the US for the poor, it’s supposed to help them, our economy sucks here.

  3. Thank you for this interesting and informative blog. This is something I have struggled with in recent years. As I have become older the passion to write has become stronger. Blogs and Websites are where I express most of my writing BUT on one site I have a collection of Teddy Bear Stories and I KNOW these stories are loved by many. I have received emails about sick children being blessed etc. I would sell these stories as many folks are saying I MUST do but because I love the outpouring on their special place on the site, I truly would not know how to market or sell them. Anyone interested. http://www.golden-rains.com and go to the Bear Collection. In this instance I do freelance and for ‘free’. It is of the heart I guess. Cheers! I believe that any creative person should be paid for their endeavours and paid the correct rate as well. .

  4. actually Freelance doesn’t mean you are only a writer it comprises variety of task, and i just started my freelance website: Rushprime (Rushprime.com) and it is offering several services.

  5. Hi there. As a newbie freelance writer, sometimes it is really hard to get a writing gig. Some would-be employers would hire those experienced ones. How can you get writing (paid) experience if you will not be hired? Some would resort to writing gigs that have low payments. But, there a lot of avenues where you can show your writing skills even if you are just a beginner. I’m starting a new blog https://njfreelanceservices.wordpress.com/, just to develop some skills. Thank you for the information that you have shared.

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