7 Must-Have Resources for Your First Year as a Freelance Writer

7 Must-Have Resources for Your First Year as a Freelance Writer

When I kick-started my freelance writing career last year, I scoured the Internet for resources. I asked every freelancer I knew well enough for their recommendations.

I didn’t know much about how to make it in this field. I needed every piece of advice I could find!

Although I’m close to my first anniversary as a paid writer, I’m still constantly searching for these resources.

I’ve compiled a list of resources that have benefited me professionally for other novice freelance writers looking to improve their skills.

1. Your dream publication’s website

This seems obvious, but it’s so-often overlooked.

Sometimes, publication editors offer specific directions on how to pitch to them, such as Jessica Reed from The Guardian and Rachel Krantz at Bustle. Although these editors can be specific, the basic principles apply to others.

You might be making some mistakes these editors don’t like, and guess what? If both The Guardian and Bustle don’t like it, chances are other editors won’t, either.

2. Jessica Reed’s Pitch Clinic

Every week, Guardian editor Jessica Reed reviews a pitch submitted by a freelancer to Medium. If you want to someday score a byline in the British publication, pay close attention.  Reed breaks down each pitch and provides critical feedback section by section.

At the end, she’ll grade the pitch from A to F.

If you’re interested in submitting a pitch you’re working on, you can email her — your query will remain anonymous.

3. BinderCon

BinderCon is a professional-development conference for women and gender-nonconforming writers. Its nonprofit, Out of the Binders, holds conferences twice a year in New York City and Los Angeles, offers workshops, and hosts a podcast, The BinderCast.

At the first BinderCon ever, held at NYU’s campus in Manhattan, I signed up for speed-pitching sessions with prestigious editors at The Atlantic and Guernica. It was my first experience pitching an editor, and it happened to be in person.

As expected of a newcomer and a college senior, I completely flunked both opportunities. But, I received some critical feedback I likely wouldn’t have gotten over email.

To better understand BinderCon’s sessions, check out Women Who Pitch: Freelancing In The Digital Age on Medium. It’s a recap of a freelance writing panel from the most BinderCon in Los Angeles in March 2016.

4. Morning Coffee Freelance Writing Newsletter

Although this isn’t exactly a pitching resource, it’s an easy way to find and score freelance gigs to supplement your income. If you’re lucky enough to land one of these side jobs, the experience will likely benefit you as a novice freelance writer.

The newsletter recently experienced an ownership change. Curator Brian Scott, who recently revived Online-Writing-Jobs.com, has passed the torch — and while there are some changes, you can still expect to learn about paid opportunities.

In between jobs last fall, I responded to a Morning Coffee listing for a fashion blogger.

Although I already had solid blogging experience, I wasn’t well-versed in fashion. But the site invited me on as a contributor based upon previous writing samples. I’m paid a small fee, and my posts go through very little revision and editing.

It’s an excellent source to create my own passive income, based upon however many posts I decide to publish.

5. Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute is a journalism education nonprofit located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Its News University offers training, both online and in-person, at varying prices.

However, there are a ton of free webinars available with a free membership.

I started listening to free webinars while completing homework in college.

By day, I work as a copywriter for a real-estate marketing firm. I’m attracted to real estate-based webinars like How to Use Your Housing Data on Your Beat and How to Cover Housing Stories in Your Community. Because of Zillow’s sponsorship, these replays are available free of charge.

6. Pitching Shark

A college friend who also happens to be a freelancer shared this email newsletter with me early on in my freelancing career. It’s written by Sulagna Misra once a month.

Last fall, I reached out to Sulagna about a pitch that was rejected a dozen times: A few months prior, I interviewed a woman tribal activist while studying abroad in India. She provided me a few tips, but it wasn’t until her next newsletter that I found the biggest advice: She introduced The Establishment’s call for pitches.

Based upon what I had learned from this newsletter and its creator, I honed my pitch and sent it over to an editor at The Establishment. Despite previous rejections, my story found a new home with a warm welcome. It took me ten months to find a home for this one!

7. The Freelancer by Contently

Alongside The Write Life, I started following Contently’s blog, The Freelancer, when I started my career. The site’s articles constantly help me improve how I pitch stories.

I frequently find fellow freelancers covering topics I never considered, such as the best email subject lines and why an editor isn’t responding to my pitch.

Here of some of my favorites.

Contently also offers an online portfolio system to compile your writing samples.

What other resources would you recommend a novice freelance writer?

Filed Under: Freelancing


  • Sean Carey says:

    Another great article, Danielle. I found this one after reading another helpful article you wrote on this site. I’d never even heard about the Freelancer by Contently blog or quite a few of these other resources. I’ve got some new sites to surf tonight. Thanks again! 🙂

  • great suggestions Danielle. thanks.

  • Amy Hardison says:

    These look like great resources. Like Susan, I am a follower of Beyond Your Blog (Susan Maccarelli), and I’m also a huge fan Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing.

  • Neha Srivastava says:

    Great article with valuable resources.

  • Thanks for all these new options to explore – I had only heard of a few of them. I would definitely add the website Beyond Your Blog,an invaluable resource for learning how and where to submit, to this list.

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