How to Become A Freelance Writer With No Experience: 18 Writers Tell-All

Becoming a freelance writer is many people’s dreams. However, how to become a freelance writer with no experience is downright daunting. Getting your first paid writing gig is a big accomplishment and a milestone for many people wanting to develop a writing career. We asked 18 writers how they found their first paid freelance writing job.

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I think my first paid writing gig was for BlogHer (now SheKnows). I had written and published lots of posts there with several being featured by them, which included them sharing on social networks and making more prominent on section pages. I had focused on the Family and Blogging sections and the editor of the Blogging section reached out and asked me to pitch some ideas. It was an exciting $50 check to get in the mail!

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—Susan Lee Maccarelli, Beyond Your Blog

I owe my first paid writing gig to Susan Lee Maccarelli. I had a self-published article go fairly viral, and she connected me to Scary Mommy for a republication. Through her amazing platform, of Beyond Your Blog, I learned all about the world of freelance writing. I decided to focus my efforts on submitting to SM for paid pieces. Now I’m on staff, and it all goes back to one kind and helpful woman who made it her job to pull others up.

—Mary Katherine Backstrom, Mom Babble

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I owe my first paid gig to Mary Katherine Backstrom and Ashford Evans. It was a small piece for Easter about my son learning about the bunny that Ashford sent to MK for Mom Babble. It was so exciting for me!

—Lauri Walker, Mama Needs A Nap

It’s how I first became “Little Miss Menopause” — a company specializing in products that ease the “change of life” for women wanted me to make hot flashes and muffin-tops funny in their weekly blog. I always say thank goodness I didn’t get hired by a tampon company or I coulda been “Little Miss Menstruation!” 

— Stephanie Mark Lewis, Once Upon Your Prime

My first paid gig was for the inimitable xoJane. I pitched the lead editor thanks to Stephanie Mark Lewis’s encouragement and feedback! It was a one-time thing, but I pitched them again shortly after and got a yes again.

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—Glynis Ratcliffe, GlynisRatcliffe.com

A mommy blogger had been following me and reached out. She asked if I’d write one piece a month for her blog for $75 a post. It was a perfect match for quite some time and I had free reign of topics and writing style!

— Alison Chrun, Appetite for Honesty

My first paid writing gig was with Scary Mommy. Another blogger told me about the site and that they paid. I️ submitted and they ran my piece – it was awesome! After that I️ was approached by a parenting website to write monthly articles. I️ was paid $100 and it was the best money ever because I️ was writing about the thing I️ love the most — my kids!

—Kristen Miller Hewitt, KristenHewitt.me

My first paid gig? I think another writer referred me. It got me my first weekly column which gave me lots of practice with meeting deadlines, taking direction and learning from a talented editor while making a little bit of pocket money.

—Alison Tedford, Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops

My first paid writing job happened back in 2011, after I’d had my blog for a year — it was a food article for Frederick Magazine (a print publication). They found me and asked if I’d write for them. I ended up doing a few more articles per year through 2016, though the majority of my side income comes directly from my blog, by way of sponsored content and ambassador opportunities.

— Liza Hawkins, (a)Musing Foodie

I used to Google “write for us” and came across The Richest when they were paying $50 per article for entertainment/celebrity pieces (mainly listicles). I thought it would be quick, mindless work and emailed saying I really liked the site. Did it for a few months and paid for things like my kids Birthday parties, etc.

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— Shanon Lee, My Love 4 Writing

A friend told me to submit something to Scary Mommy. I did not understand the whole process but they were very understanding. I was lucky they took my first piece I submitted!

— Whitney Fleming, Playdates on Fridays

I’m kinda small fries compared to all these peeps but I found mine by having twins!! Ha. I submitted an article to Twiniversity right after the boys were born and the rest is writing history. 

— Mikenzie Melius Oldham, Me and All My Boys

My first paid piece was on Mamalode. After that I found Beyond Your Blog and started trying to find paying places that way. I worked for Nickmom writing humor bits for their cartoonists for a year before they shut down, and also wrote for Scary Mommy with some regularity.

— Kristen Mae, Abandoning Pretense

I submitted an article to a regional parenting magazine asking simply for the opportunity to be published (no money). They loved my piece and then asked if I would take an assignment and of course I said, yes. That led to lots more work for pretty measly pay, but it got me started. From there I was able to pitch bigger magazines because I had clips.

— Cara Achterberg, www.CaraWrites.com

After much encouragement from friends and family, I literally Googled “paid writing opportunity” and stumbled upon Susan Lee Maccarelli’s site Beyond Your Blog. One by one I pitched (after Googling what a pitch even is) to any sites I thought might fit my voice. A bunch of rejections later, my first paid piece went up on xoJane and the rest is history.

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— Sarah Bunton, SarahBunton.com

I started with the content mills — places like Textbroker and the oh-so-icky iWriter. I basically applied anywhere that paid for articles, even ones that paid less than a penny per word to start. I tried blogging, but didn’t have the patience, so I moved on to self-publishing because that’s where my heart is. Not quite making a living with the books yet, but well on my way!

— Jessica Brooke Padgett Woods, RubyBlaylock.com

‪ My very first writing-related paid gig came from someone recommending me to another author for some critique work. We ended up working through two of his novels and a collection of flash fiction. I love reading.‬

— ‪JJ Moore

My first paid piece was writing for Sammiches & Psych Meds and then this summer I started writing memes for Grown and Flown and that evolved into a full time job. I manage their social platforms and write their memes. My FB page is going to slowly die now, but I’m thrilled to have this gig.

— Lauren H. Lodder