10 Things You Need To Get Paid Freelance Writing Jobs in 2021

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

So you want to be a freelancer, huh?

In 2021, making money writing online is more lucrative than it has been at any point in all of human history!

True, the internet is only 30 years old, but still.

With the growth of the web, companies are leaving the old ways of marketing behind in favor of digital marketing. One of the biggest and most important aspects of digital marketing is content. The more content a business has on their webpage the more presence they will garner, and as long as the content is of sound quality and properly optimized, it will have a huge impact.

In today’s world, small businesses are starving for writers. They shell out big bucks to web designers to create a ballin website, they shell out big bucks to marketing agencies to handle advertising, and they will do the same for anyone who can provide consistent high-quality content.

But just having writing skills (or in my case, an English degree) is not enough. I have compiled this list based on the endless number of failures I had while attempting to secure paid gigs early on in my freelance career.

You could just start applying to jobs and learn these things through failures of your own, but remember, you’re supposed to work smarter, not harder. Most people learn from their own mistakes, smart people learn from other people’s mistakes.

So without further adieu, here are the ten things you must have in order to make some dough as a freelance writer in 2021.

Google Docs

This one is important. Every, and I mean every, single client that I have ever worked with has had me submit my work to them through Google Docs. For anyone who doesn’t know, Google Docs is a word processing program offered through Google and it is available for use to anyone with a Gmail account.

For anyone who doesn’t want to get a Gmail account… I… don’t really know what to say. I mean, just get one. It’s not a big deal.

Google docs is a valuable tool for a writer as it gives them a platform to create written documents and any changes are saved automatically in real-time. In April of 2019, Google launched offline mode so now your changes automatically save even if you aren’t connected to the internet.

Apart from these obvious benefits, Google Docs provides value to clients as well. In order to build an online presence, companies will often work with multiple writers simultaneously. That means there are a lot of documents flying back and forth between edits, comments, and revisions. Google Docs saves an editor from having to sift through tons of different PDF files or word docs. The Google doc simply exists as a collaborative piece that can be accessed and edited by multiple parties at once.


A lot of writers I know, myself included, pride themselves on being a grammar snob. But even the best of the best miss some things here and there. When you are writing for a client with money on the line, everything has to be perfect. You cannot afford careless mistakes.

Even though there is often an editing and revision process, this is more for content or formatting. Maybe the word count is too high and the client would like you to shorten it a bit, or maybe they want you to break up the paragraphs into smaller chunks. I promise you if a client has to go through and correct you on grammar mistakes they are not going to be happy. Talk about unprofessional.


This one might seem pretty basic but hey, I’m trying to cater to the masses here.

Besides, a list of 10 things sounds way better than 9.

For any super-duper beginners out there, a thesaurus is a must. It will help you replace the same adjectives that you can’t help but use over and over again with other, smarter-sounding words that mean the same thing.

My go-to’s are Powerthesaurus for single words and WordHippo for phrases.

A Portfolio

It goes without saying that a sound portfolio is oftentimes going to be the difference-maker between getting a gig and getting rejected. Most application processes won’t even let you submit an app without providing a portfolio.

The portfolio is to the freelance writer what a resume is to the business professional. Most times these clients won’t even ask for a resume. No one cares that you spent 3 summers working at Banana Republic. All that matters to them is that you have previously published content they can read to try and get a feel for whether your writing is any good.

But what if you don’t have any previously published content? Well, that’s a perfect segway…

A Willingness To Work for Free

This one is painful, like really painful, but unfortunately, it’s just the way of the world. If you don’t already have published work, there is only one way to get it: you have to write for free.

In the first few months after graduating college, I tried to build a portfolio with what I had, and what did I have you ask? Oh, just a couple essays I’d written in college, a handful of short stories, and a half-written novel about vampires.

Yeah, it didn’t work.

In most cases, I didn’t even hear back. When I did it was a rejection. Essays that you’ve written in college are not examples of published work, the academic style is starkly different from the writing style businesses look for.

The internet is filled with small startups who post unpaid freelance gigs. These companies often have yet to make a profit so they can’t afford to pay you. You can take advantage and use these opportunities to get some published content. All it takes is 3–5 articles to build a decent portfolio.

Well, this is it. We have reached the end of the article. I know what you’re thinking, “you promised us 10 reasons, this is only 5. That’s false advertising!”

Fret not! Part 2 is already written and eagerly awaiting your readership. Simply head to my page.



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