How to

3 Things I’ve Learned as a Freelance Writer

Have you been trying to figure out how to be a freelance writer?

It was only a few years ago that I left the full-time grind. Now when people ask me “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done,” I don’t need to search for an answer.


So, while I feel brave and I love my life, the first six months were pretty rough. Here are three things that might help you in deciding if you should become a freelance writer.

1. You need a workspace.

No joke, it took me seven and a half months to finally take the advice that literally every successful blogger has shouted from their rooftop. For the first seven months, I woke up every morning, planted myself on my comfy couch, and got to work.

Except it was more like 73 seconds of work and then two episodes of MasterChef. Rinse, repeat, day after day.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t getting anything done. I always finished my paycheck work, even though I would last-minute scramble at the end of every week. I tried making time to send proposals or get my guest posts sent to prospective bloggers, but I inevitably felt like I had no time.

But People.


I sat on my couch all day, in my pajamas, eating and watching TV and sometimes throwing in a little work. I had nothing but time.

I wasn’t being honest with myself because I preferred comfort to honesty. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my career. I was not willing to exchange my career for 68 Jenna Marbles YouTube clips.

At first, I tried making myself a little Excel spreadsheet schedule. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to advance my career, it was just that I didn’t know I had to get off my couch to do it.

I spent a lot of time reading successful bloggers posts with lists of do’s and don’ts. One “do” that was ever present on everyone’s list was to use a dedicated workspace. I didn’t think it mattered that much.

I was SO wrong.

Over this past summer, I rebuilt my home office from floor to ceiling.

And I have to tell you something. I have not been this productive in my career of freelancing. Let me tell you what I’ve been able to get done since then, just by moving my ass and my laptop to a dedicated workspace.

  • I’ve picked up more clients than I can handle and even became a mentor and coach to other freelance writers.
  • I’ve reignited my passion for creative writing and have been submitting short stories to journals.
  • I send proposals five days a week to potential clients.
  • I take classes to up my game in branding and blogging.
  • I upped my social media game.
  • And more stuff that is less interesting.


I wish I had known the impact of a dedicated space eight months ago. But I know now, and every evening I make sure to get all of my work done, I close my laptop, and then retire to the couch with my husband, ready and able to fully focus on disconnected family time. (BONUS!)



2. You have to be social as fuuuuuck.


I used to scoff at the job listings for “Social Media Coordinator” because I thought to myself how hard is it to keep up a Twitter account?

I was so wrong, and I am eating my words, and I apologize to all social media superstars out there! I am so sorry. I had no idea how time-consuming social media is when you are building a business or brand.

Did you know you have to actually BE social, and not just promote yourself? I didn’t. Not at first. But now I am working on truly connecting with other writers and cool people.

I can tell you with confidence that if you are creating a freelance schedule for yourself, you need to block off one entire day to devote solely to social media.


3. You do not need to keep spending money to make money.

I wasted a lot of money on things I most definitely did not need in the first six months of freelancing. I spent money to join certain groups that I hoped would lend me credibility, like the Editorial Freelancers Group. It’s nothing against any of the groups themselves.

I am a leaper. I never look. Most times it works out for me, so I keep doing it.

Leaping into financial stress was not a good idea. I paid for so many subscriptions that I  didn’t need because I thought that was the only way I could find decent work. It’s not! There are so many ways to find jobs without paying a dime. 

You don’t need to start buying fancy software, or fancy graphics. The only money I needed to spend was to launch my website. I think website hosting costs something like three dollars a month.

It’s like taking your SATs after you’ve gone and bought a fancy laptop to study, and pricey fountain pen to circle your answers. Those things are nice on their own if you can afford them but they are not necessary to ace the SATs.

Okay, recap!

Treat yo’self! To a private work area.

Start connecting with other people in your niche and remember, GIVE TO GET. You give first, you get second.

Keep those dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.

I’m thankful it ONLY took me seven or eight months to learn these things (and I consider myself a fast learner!) Get excited about social media and reading other cool blogs and sitting at a badass boss desk and saving your money!

These are three basic steps to being successful in your freelance journey, and I hope you consider it the bravest thing you’ve ever done.

How to, Portfolio

First Steps to Becoming a Freelance Writer

Do you feel it? I felt it!

It’s the freelance writing life, whispering your name.

I have tons of advice and info to share with you on getting out there and making it happen. With clients of my own, sometimes it’s hard to find time to sit down and reply to emails that don’t require my immediate attention.

But I want to let you know something important. Your emails this week, and last month mean the world to me. I read them all. Every single one warms my heart.

I see you. I hear you. I am here for you!

The very first thing I did when I decided I needed to leave my corporate desk job was TELL. EVERYONE.

I told everyone that I was attempting to make a jump into the world of freelance writing.

Tell people about your plan and ask them to share the news.

First, that’s what’s going to make it feel real. You’ve put it out into the world, and now you can’t take it back.

Next, you have to make it happen. The second thing I did was go through my Facebook friends list and ask anyone if they had any writing that I could do for them.

I offered to write or rewrite wedding brochures, website content, newspaper articles, anything at all that I could put in my portfolio.

I offered them my services for free on one condition: They had to leave me testimonials. I needed proof that my work was good!

This led me realizing I wanted a website of my own.

I am going to write another piece next week on how I built my own website with no experience, but for now, we’re going to skip ahead to your portfolio.

Your Portfolio

This is a collection of your work that you will use to showcase your skills. If you have no bylines* (and if you’re brand new to the industry, you probably don’t) you can create sample work.

When I started, I created a fake wedding brochure, an article about the customer service industry, and a pop-culture piece on Tyra Banks. I put these in my portfolio.

I would recommend you choose one lane and stick to it. I was all over the place in the beginning. 

*A byline is exactly what it sounds like: A BY line. By Chandi Gilbert. There’s my byline!


Finding a Niche Versus Being a Generalist

If you’ve been googling how to become a freelance writer with no experience, you have probably seen a dozen articles on the importance of finding your niche.

If you have a niche, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s great too!

Are you an expert in anything?

Many freelance writers have a niche or an area of expertise. Some writers call themselves generalists and are open to writing about many topics. There are pros and cons to both.

How to Find Your Niche as a Freelance Writer

Answer this: What subject do you know a lot about? Be very specific. (For example, I love jewelry, but I really love talking about how certain gemstones look on different types of metal.) You know more than the average person when it comes to THIS.

And now: What subject do you love to talk about? You could happily write about THIS and never get bored.

Your next step should be to visit websites that appeal to your niche. Find out what they are missing. For instance, you might find that a company doesn’t have a blog. This is where you make your move. You’ve successfully found a gap in the market.

If you find that your niche seems too specific, and you aren’t finding gaps in the market, it’s time to broaden your search. OR this could be the perfect opportunity to create your own market for your specific niche.

Your Expertise + Your Passion + Gaps in the Market = Your Niche



Being a Generalist Freelance Writer

This is who I am. A lot of people out there will tell you that you won’t succeed unless you have a niche.

That’s not true.

Many clients seek out generalist writers who are comfortable writing about any topic.

I have a long list of credentials and areas of expertise now that I’ve been a generalist writer for a while.

I can look at a job board and comfortably apply to five or six jobs in different areas because I am a generalist writer. I love learning new things all the time.

If you don’t enjoy researching new subjects, being a generalist writer is probably not for you.

Either way, there is plenty of work for both types of freelance writers.

Do I Need a Blog to Become a Freelance Writer?

No. But could it help? YES!

I get clients simply because they like my blog. 

If you decide to start a blog, focus your efforts on creating content that shows your writing style. There are a lot of clients that don’t care if you have nothing in your portfolio as long as they can see something you’ve written. Also, keeping an active blog shows that you work consistently on your craft.

What if I Don’t Know What to Write?

Ask yourself what your ideal workday looks like. If you like the idea of working virtually with others during set times (like Monday through Friday, 9 to 5), there are lots of clients who are looking for you.

Maybe you want to be able to take a break every hour, noodle around the house, only work from midnight to 3 am…there are plenty of clients who don’t care what you do or where you are as long as you get your work done.

There are lots of different types of writing for freelance writers.

  • Whitepapers
  • Press releases
  • Blogs
  • Social media posts
  • Ghostwriting
  • More!

(If you want me to explore all these types of writing jobs, send me an email or leave me a comment!)

Your Internet Presence

I’ve said it before: I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I just don’t get pleasure from those kinds of interactions. HOWEVER…as a freelance writer, you must have an internet presence, specifically on social media. Eight times out of ten a client will request that you include social media links in your resume or cover letter.

It’s time to take a serious look at your internet identity. For instance, if you want to be a serious, white-paper-writing professional, make sure your public persona reflects that.

My persona is really just me being me. That’s how I sell myself. My smile is my tagline. My whole brand focuses on being genuine.

Whatever you want to convey to potential clients, make sure your photos, bios, tweets, etc., reflect that.

The other significant reason I keep a social media presence is for networking opportunities. I have a wonderful network of friends in some of my Facebook groups. I’ve found a lot of work that way.

To wrap up this blog post, I will leave you with some links to my favorite job boards.




Craigslist in your local area

Upwork (Where I got my start and still find work)


My next post will go into whether or not you need a website as a freelance writer.

What else do you want to hear about? I want to hear all about it! (Ya’ll have been great about emailing me lately and telling me exactly what you want to know! I LOVE IT!)

Simple Snips


For my first Simple Snips, Templates & Tips, I’m going to give you a ghostwriting questionnaire template to use however you’d like. I don’t own this content, and most of it is stuff I have collected at different times, through other websites and other bloggers. I have cobbled together a questionnaire that I send my ghostwriting clients. I change this up whenever I find something I want to add or remove. Feel free to do the same.

There is no science behind this. You have to ask yourself “How am I going to get to know this client?”

You can use this as a guide, a starting point, or a template that you use forever.


Download a copy of my Ghostwriting Questionnaire here.


How do you get to know your clients? Do you prefer email, telephone, or something else? I want to know!

Do you need some help with the written word? Do you want to hire a freelance writer for your business? Do you want to talk about how gross sushi is? Email me at or subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter for quick and simple tips on how to improve your writing.

About Me, How to

Here are 9 tips that will encourage you to get some work done today


I am lazy, but I get paid, otherwise I never would have been able to leave my 9-5 office job. I’ll be honest, though. The first few months that I became a freelance writer, I went crazy. It was joyous.




My dogs became my co-workers. I watched The Office on repeat while I browsed Facebook and Reddit, with numerous Word documents open in the background, pretending like that somehow qualified as work. I wore pajamas five days a week. I rarely left the house even though I kept telling myself (and anyone who would listen) how much free time I was going to have to run errands and keep appointments when I started working from home.


But then Thursday would roll around and I would start freaking out because I was going to have to explain to my amazingly patient and unfailingly supportive husband that my paycheck was going to be “kind of small” this week.


And then I had to tell him that again the next week, and the next.


I kept telling myself that my happiness was worth a smaller paycheck, and making sacrifices. And it was! It still is! But eventually, my sheer laziness caught up with me. Our bills that used to be comfortably paid every month were rolling in fast and furious like a Vin Diesel franchise, and for the first time, I wasn’t sure how they were going to get paid.


And it was my fault.


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