How to Get Started in Freelance Writing - Craft Your Content
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How to Get Started in Freelance Writing

I often get asked questions like:

  • “How did you get started in freelance writing?”
  • “What does a freelance writer do?”
  • “How can I get bylines in major publications, like you’ve gotten?”

To be honest, I’ve been out of the freelance writing game for a bit of time, and it is a rapidly changing field. It’s part of the reason that CYC articles and courses focus more on the craft and quality of writing, rather than the logistics of freelancing and writing for clients.

Still, I want to help out folks who are just getting started, since I had professional writers who were willing to help me when I was starting out. Without their guidance and unpaid (or paid only in coffee and baked goods) consultations, I might not be where I am today.

How Did I Get Started in Freelance Writing?

I have written a bit myself on freelance writing and (more pertinently to my current focus as an editor and content strategy consultant) submitting guest posts to various publications:

If you are into podcasts, I used to do one with Jess Ostroff Tyson from Don’t Panic Management called The Managing Editor Show. I’m on the first 20 episodes, though the last 9 she did solo are pretty good as well.

Or, you can learn more about my personal story and background in the first episode of CYC’s writing podcast, Writers’ Rough Drafts (my episode is here, and you can listen to 40+ episodes here.)


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How Can I Get Bylines in Major Publications, Like You’ve Done?

In regards to building your portfolio and career, I recommend the stair-step approach. I first learned about this from Rob Walling, as it applies to bootstrapping. The concept is simple: think of how you climb a staircase. Sure, you could jump up 6 stairs, or at least it seems like a fun idea to try. But realistically, most of us climb stairs by going up one-stair-at-a-time.  

Similarly, I have built my clientele and clips the same way. I started out on the ground, and consciously chose to challenge myself just a bit more with each new assignment/task/client. You will always hear about the outliers who landed a byline in The Washington Post with their first pitch ever, but very few are actual overnight successes.

You can hustle up a staircase pretty quick if you want, but long-term success and reputation generally involve a bit more dedication.

That’s pretty much the best advice I can give, from me, about getting started as a freelance writer — whether you are looking to build out your portfolio or land big bylines and clients.

But I didn’t want to stop there. As I noted before, this field and industry are always changing. And since I’ve been working in it for about a decade, I’m not always aware of the changes for folks who are really just starting out.

So I’ve put together a little lists here of some of the best resources and information sources I would recommend to anyone asking me about their writing career.

Which I’m guessing is why you are here!

Freelance Writing Resources

Looking to build out your freelance writing career or portfolio? Have I got links for you…


Writers to Follow and Read

Training & Courses



(Can you tell I like books?!)

If you are here because you want to know what a freelance writer does or what being a professional writer means, I suggest this site. Best of luck.