Online Writing: The beginner’s guide

Online Writing

Are you passionate about writing but never used your skills? Online writing might be perfect for you. All you need is a computer, a stable internet connection, and a desire to play with words!

What is online writing?

Online writing, or digital writing, refers to any text developed for digital devices, such as computers, laptops, or smartphones. The biggest challenge is providing compelling content that matches human speech and search engines’ demands. The result is a format that differs from creative fiction or academic writing.

Skills, tools and training

Just like any other profession, online writers must have a specific set of skills and tools that will help them succeed.

Writers’ traits

There are many millions of writers out there. However, only a few become successful. Why? Being an excellent writer will help you. Yet there are other traits just as important.

Freelance writer
Photo credit: Ansori Zakaria / Vecteezy

Passion for words

Yes, it seems obvious, but it makes all the difference! If you’re passionate about writing, your readers will feel your enthusiasm. They will look forward to reading your next piece! So, you must write about what you know and what excites you.

Mastering English

The demand for online writing jobs in English is larger than in other languages. So, to be successful, you must fluently write and speak in English. However, if this isn’t your native language, you can start by finding jobs in a language you feel most comfortable with. The goal is to deliver high-quality content, regardless of the language you’re communicating.

Crystal-clear communication

Great communicators, such as Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, taught us the importance of clarity, empathy, and confidence. They knew what to say and how to do it.

As an online writer, you must communicate your ideas following the same principles. Your content must sound confident, be clear and reliable. It will be easier for your message to get through, and you’ll build an empathetic relationship with your readers.

Great organization skills

A well-structured article requires proper research and planning. Since you might be working on different projects or with several clients simultaneously, your organisational skills will help you communicate your ideas and perfect time management to guarantee you meet all deadlines.


Working as an online writer means that, most of the time, you’ll be working by yourself. As a result, you’ll be responsible for managing your clients’ requests, promoting your business and, of course, finding the time to actually write. 

It is why you must find motivation from within. Focus on what you enjoy doing. Have your goal in mind and track your progress. In no time, you’ll see how easy it was to complete that project.

Accepting criticism

Although you might find your form of writing is perfect, there’s always room for improvement. Don’t take criticism personally, be open-minded and listen to what others say. It will help you meet the job’s demands, satisfy your clients and hone your writing skills.

Writers’ tools

Long gone are the days when pen and paper were all you needed! Nowadays, to outstand among successful writers, there are other work tools you must consider.

Typewriter Working
Photo Credit: Xiaiamoon | Vecteezy

Desktop or laptop?

As a professional writer, you’re privileged to work anywhere in the world… as long as you have a laptop. If becoming a remote worker or digital nomad isn’t in your cards, you can choose a desktop or a tablet with a keyboard. 

As a novice writer, focus on finding a device that suits your current needs. As you develop your writing skills and retain more clients, consider investing in better equipment. This way, you’ll save some money and scale your work tools as you go.

High-speed internet connection

A stable and reliable internet connection is paramount to any online writer! Before starting, be sure that your internet speed supports your demands. If it’s too slow, ask your internet service provider which options their offer for an upgrade. The last thing you want is missing a deadline because your internet connection is faulty!

Writers’ training

You don’t need a college degree to start your writing career. Your passion for words will fill up your path to success! Yet, some training will come in handy!

Many writing jobs focus only on your skills. Clients aren’t that interested in your education as long as you can deliver high-quality content. However, now and then, you will have to show your credentials.

Clients may ask you about your job experience and college education. They want to be sure you know what you’re writing about and the best way to do it. Because of this, a degree in communication, journalism or any other degree in writing is often requested.

As an alternative, you can enrol in an online writing course. These aren’t as in-depth as a college education, but they offer a quick overview. In a short time, you’ll be ready to get your first job as an online writer.

Digital platforms like Udemy or Coursera are great places to look for some of the best online writing courses.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

Stephen King

The online writing style

Reading on paper is much different than reading on a computer. In fact, human eyes aren’t ready to focus on a screen for too long. Because of this, the writing process follows a set of guidelines designed to help readers.

Before you get started, here’s writing tip you must have in mind as an online writer.

online writing
Content writing is diferent of any other writing styles.

1.    Focus on your target audience

Your readers must be your number one priority! Who are they? What do they need? Why should they read what you have to say? Your writing services must be clear and help your readers find the answers they’re looking for.

Besides, it’s important that they feel you’re trying to help them. So, avoid made-up sentences, such as “we offer” or “we provide”. Show your readers how they can use that information to their advantage. Put the emphasis on them, using the pronoun “you”. They’ll feel you are speaking directly to them. Just as I’m doing to you now!

2.    Offer clear information

Your readers know what they need and want it quickly! So, your mission is to offer them crystal-clear information fast. Avoid ambiguous sentences so that your readers complete their quest successfully!

Re-reading your online articles before publishing helps you guarantee words are in the correct order. Also, you can check if you’re using pronouns and determiners correctly. Be sure that your readers know to whom you’re referring.

3.    Build a classical three-act structure

The power of three isn’t a myth! Psychologists state the human brain finds it easier to retain new information presented in patterns. It’s our way of determining what is safe and reliable.

When it comes to forming new memories, three is the perfect number! It’s more satisfying, balanced and effective. The three little pigs. The rule of thirds. The Holy Trinity. These are only a few examples of how this simple formula helps us navigate society.

An as online writer, you must take full advantage of the power of three. With the classical three-act structure, you’ll build engaging, high-quality content. Start from the beginning, develop the middle and build up to the end. This simple structure will be your path to success!

4.    Focus on one topic at a time

When you try writing about everything, you end up writing about nothing! Confused? I’ll explain!

If a topic is too broad and involves other concepts, you can easily get lost while trying to mention every detail. The key is to define a well-thought-out structure. Divide your content into sections. Then explore what you believe is relevant to the central concept. You can write everything else later in a different piece.

This way you’ll guide your readers through the content. Also, it will be easier for them to retain your message and focus on what they’re reading.

5.    Write shorter sentences

Online readers have a short attention span, meaning they won’t read every word. Unlike creative writing, online writing thrives on short sentences. These are easier to read and understand. To succeed, try using simple words and keep adverbs to a minimum.

6.    Use the active voice

As an online writer, you want to speak directly to your readers. It’s the best way for your message to get through! So, how to do it? Take advantage of the active voice. Writing something “can be done” sounds impersonal. Who’s going to do it? However, if you write “you can do it”, you’re empowering your readers. You’re telling them they CAN do it! The active voice helps write clearly and in a more engaging way. 

7.    Plan your words

It would be much easier if you could simply trough random words into a blank page and call it content. Yet, good writing demands all your attention when planning.

You must be consistent. This means using similar words so that your readers clearly understand your message. Yet, you want them to keep reading. For that reason, you must vary your vocabulary so that your content doesn’t become boring!

Pinpoint the relevant terms when developing your own blog to show your online writing skills. The ones you cannot change. Stick to the listed words when writing. It will help you be consistent.

Also, it means you can use synonyms in all other words that aren’t on your glossary. If you define yourself as a content writer, avoid using other terms, such as copy writer. Although similar, these aren’t the same and may confuse your audience.

8.    Simplify technical terms

Everyone goes online searching for specific information. So, use simple words. Not everyone is a rocket scientist, but many would like to understand how it works.

As an online writer, you have the opportunity to help people understand how the world works. Your skills will allow you to translate technical jargon into common everyday words everyone can understand.

9.    Make your content reader-friendly

Long and dense paragraphs frighten the most avid reader. So, your mission is to guarantee they read your content until the end. How? Make your text scannable!

  • Use bold and italics to emphasize the most important ideas;
  • Include white spaces on the text;
  • Take advantage of the lists and bullet points;
  • Use headings and subheadings to build a structure.

These strategies will make your content easier to scan. This way, readers will get the message, even if they don’t read every word!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Online writing is more than combining a few words. You have to capture your readers’ attention and make your content available. It is what SEO allows you to do.

Photo Credit: Macrovector | Freepik

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. It refers to improving a website to rank higher on search engines. This strategy is widely used in digital marketing to increase visibility, build brand awareness and convert visitors into customers.

The more visitors and referrals your content has, the more likely search engines will see you as a reliable source of information. However, it doesn’t happen overnight! In fact, it may take a while until the first results show up. Be consistent, write high-quality content and show your readers your finest words. In time, you’ll get to the top page!

Why is SEO important for online writing?

Simply because it helps you build content that it’s easy to find, read and understand! Besides, it helps rank on the top pages of any search engine! As a result, you’ll get more visitors and potential readers checking on your latest content.

How to write bullet-proof SEO content

As an online writer, your mission is to write content that pleases both humans and search engines. Because of that, I’m showing you a few tips you must remember.

Writing SEO content takes take and effort.

·         Focus on your readers

Yes, you want to please search engines. But your readers are real human people! So, you must write to them first! SEO writing means your content is light and easy for people to understand. And this must be your primary goal.

Ask yourself why people should read your content, how they can use and how will it improve their daily lives. If you focus on solving people’s enquiries, all you need is to publish your content in a way search engines notice it!

·         Define your target keywords

People go online searching for information for various reasons. Some only want to learn more about something they saw on the news. Others want to book a hotel room and search for the best deal. The words each people use are different and show a different intention.

When you’re analysing keywords, you decide which is the best match between your reader’s search intent and your content. By doing so, you’ll be one step closer to your readers.

Fortunately, search engines have evolved to offer more than results based on exact-match keywords. It means that you can also target complete sentences and related words. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to increase your visibility and find more readers.

However, you must avoid stuffing keywords into your text. These must find their way naturally into your content. Similar to what happens when humans speak. If your writing sounds like a robot, search engine algorithms will notice it, and your SEO strategy will fail.

·         Always write original content

As a professional writer, you’ll be challenged with new projects daily. There will come a time when a client will ask you to rewrite an article or write about something already published.

When this happens, you don’t want to be known as the one who wrote what everyone else is saying! Besides, your readers long for something new. They want to hear what YOU have to say!

You can write the same idea in a million different ways! Use your skills to find a new angle on the same subject. Change the reader’s point of view. Use a different structure. Include your ideas!

Moreover, search engines thrive when it comes to original content. It will help you boost your credibility and reputation as an expert in your field!

·         Aim for long-form content

When you build a longer piece of writing, you increase your chances of getting high-quality backlinks, targeting a broader range of keywords and generating more organic traffic.

Simply put, it means that, with a little effort, you will increase the odds of improving your visibility, finding more readers, and becoming an established authority.

·         Use visual aid

I know… writing is your passion, and you’re eager to show your work! But, let’s be honest… none of your readers is excited about a dense text that is hard to read. Instead, you can show off your writing skills using visual content.

How? Use images that stand for your words! Consider using relevant photos, infographics, videos or any other type of media that will make your message clearer.

·         Check your content’s readability

It will help you guarantee your readers understand your writing! Besides, it is vital for search engine optimization.

To guarantee the best readability score, always have in mind a few details:

  • Write shorter sentences
  • Use the active voice
  • Prefer simpler words
  • Keep adverbs to a minimum

This strategy will help your SEO content strategy. However, it’s hard to tell if you’re on the right track. Online, you’ll find plenty of readability tools to help you identify the pain points you must improve. Take advantage of these fantastic tools to create great content.

·         Define a link building strategy

Besides writing content on a targeted keyword, you can also use a link-building strategy. It helps you establish a website’s authority and improve your ranking position. 

A way to do it is to find relevant, high-authority websites and linked them to each piece of content. Alternatively, you can write a guest post, interact with others on related blogs, request backlinks or even upload videos.

·         Optimize your meta-descriptions

Meta descriptions are critical in your SEO content strategy. Meta descriptions are a small line of text search engines show right after your killer title. Besides alluring people to your writing, it’s the perfect opportunity to stand out on the search engine results page. Be clear. Be concise. And use plenty of keywords to improve your ranking position.

Forms of writing you can try

Once you get started, you’ll find endless types of online writing. Yet, you must be honest and recognize you can’t write about everything. There must be topics that you have deep knowledge or experience of. Aim for those. You’ll have better chances to succeed! To help you get started, I’ll show some of the most popular online writing types.

1.    Ghostwriting

It’s one of the most popular options in online writing, especially if you’re a beginner. Although you’ll be writing on behalf of another person, ghostwriting is the perfect opportunity to show off your skills. 

2.    Blogging

There are literally millions of blogs online – and the number increases as we speak. So, blog post writing can be your shot at online writing. Search for the topics that you care most about. Check if those blogs pay for submissions. Show them your best skills and why they should hire you!

3.    Copywriting

Do you have sales experience and a passion for writing? Copywriting will suit you like a glove! This form of content marketing is used in digital marketing to create copy or text that compels people to take action. It can be anything, from a vacuum cleaner to a fundraiser campaign. The best part is that copywriters are in great demand from companies worldwide. Take your chances and explore your writing skills.

4.    Social Media 

As a technical writer, you provide complex information in the simplest way possible. Although it’s usually related to writing user manuals, technical writing covers an array of formats, such as product descriptions, business proposals, and reports. Computer engineering, robotics, finance, biotechnology and medicine are among the most requested fields of expertise.

5.    Technical writing

As a technical writer, your job is to provide complex information in the clearest way possible. Although it’s usually related to writing user manuals, technical writing covers an array of formats, such as product descriptions, business proposals, and reports. Computer engineering, robotics, finance, biotechnology and medicine are among the most requested fields of expertise.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.

Unknown Author

Online writing career options

As an online writer, you’ll find plenty of job opportunities. However, not all of them are the same. 


If you want to be your boss, freelance gigs might be perfect! You’ll be free to manage your schedule and decide which projects to take on. Additionally, you will work with several clients, allowing you to diversify your income sources.

However, this also means you’re responsible for your freelance writing business. For that reason, you’ll have to play different roles to succeed.

Becoming a successful freelance writer, means you are a manager, accountant and customer service representative. But, most importantly, you’re the writer! So, you focus on your craft without neglecting other parts of the business.

As you become an experienced writer, you can outsource some tasks. It will give you more freedom to write! Besides, you won’t have to worry about payments, taxes or marketing. Your team of experts will do the work for you!

Full-time worker

Working as a full-time online writer means having a steady income, working between 30 to 40 hours a week and having a couple of days off.

Most likely, you’ll be working exclusively for a company while creating different types of content. It ranges from blog posts to social media or email marketing, meaning you must be flexible and adjust to each new challenge.

Some companies offer you a fully-remote position or a hybrid work model instead of coming into the office daily.

Part-time worker

Companies hiring part-time employees will ask you for 20 to 30 hours of your time per week. And, since you’re keeping a full-time job, be sure how much time you can dedicate to a side hustle. The last thing you want is to fail on all fronts!

Alternatively, you can write as a part-time freelancer. This way, you can decide how much time you want to spend on your side hustle. Maybe it’s your chance to become a successful freelance writer!

However, before starting, keep an important detail in mind. Avoid conflict of interest while working as a full-time and part-time writer. Some companies require exclusivity, which might prevent you from working somewhere else.

Finding your first online writing job

Now let’s get to the fun part! 

The laptop is ready, the wifi is top-notch, and you have never felt so inspired to start writing. There’s only one thing missing… finding your first paid writing job! Come along, and I’ll tell you where to start!

Writing Job
Photo Credit: PCHVector | Freepik

·         Use freelancing platforms

These are great for beginner writers. Websites like Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer post new freelance gigs daily, requesting different skills and expertise.

Sign up. Build a profile. Start pitching your best offer. It may take a while before you get noticed, but once you do, you’ll have plenty of work!

Although you can join these platforms for free, you must pay a commission based on your earnings. It’s a payment for connecting you with potential clients. Before diving in, check the websites’ payment and invoicing policies. Each platform has its own rules.

·         Writing guest posts

It’s common for bloggers. When you’re starting, it’s an opportunity to find an audience. Later, while writing for your website, it’s a great way to build organic traffic.

Regardless of your career stage as an online writer, writing a guest post will put you on the map and help you hone your skills.

·         Apply for online writing jobs

An online job board, such as Indeed, Glassdoor and Flexjobs, is another way of finding your first writing job. Companies will publish their job openings, stating the needed skills and job requirements. All you need is to apply and wait for their contact. 

·         Create a portfolio

While applying on a job board, some companies will request writing samples. Since you’re just starting, consider building a blog where you can write about what you love the most. As an alternative, you can create a portfolio. It’s a great way to show your writing journey.

·         Build your own website

Any reliable business has its website. So, why shouldn’t you?

Building a website is the best way to establish a reputation as an online writer. It’s your chance to tell your clients what you do and show your writing. And since the website is yours, you can decide what to write!

Once you get your first clients, invite them to write you a review. Presenting your clients’ feedback is modern-day word-of-mouth. When potential clients see positive reviews, you increase your chances of finding new projects.

Setting your rates as a freelance writer

Telling other people how much your writing is worth is probably the most challenging task for freelancers. You don’t want to overcharge your clients and scare them off. Also, you’ve put your soul into that piece and don’t want to be underpaid! To make things harder, some jobs are paid by the hour, while others are per word.

So, how can you solve these dilemmas?

Writing online will take you across the globe, especially when you’re freelancing. As a result, you’ll notice how much rates can vary. Next, I’m presenting you with some tips you can use to help define fair compensation for your work.

Freelance Writer earnings
Photo Credit: PCHVector | Freepik

Types of online writing rates

Before deciding how much you should charge, you must know a few rating options available. 

·         Flat rate

It’s a usual option most clients choose when there’s ongoing work. You agree to a total amount and get paid when the project is complete.

·         Hourly rate 

It means you are paid per hour. It’s a great option, especially when you’re just starting. However, instead of getting paid for your knowledge and expertise, you’ll be paid for how fast you can complete a task. Consequently, as you gain more experience and become familiar with your client’s writing style, you’ll earn less for the same work.

·         Per-word rates

Along with hourly rates, per-word pricing is probably one of the most used options in freelance writing. Why? It’s easier to explain to your clients how much your work is worth!

Clients have no idea what it takes to write the killer content they requested. Thus, if you propose a 30$ rate for a 500-word article, it sounds better than charging 40$ per hour. This way, your client will get a sense of paying less for the same freelance writing job.

However, the biggest downside in per-word rates is that not every word is worth the same! In case you’re wondering, I’m not referring to fancy words. What I mean is that some projects demand more research and planning. You’ll need more time to create high-quality content. Eventually, you’ll get less money for the time you spent writing.

How to set a fair rate

Putting a price tag on your work is challenging, especially as a beginner. Yet, there are a few helpful criteria you can use.

Project scope

Before accepting a new freelance writing job, you must know your client’s expectations. Ask them for a detailed brief. If you address all the right questions in the beginning, it will help you save time further on. So, you have all the information you need before starting.

Ask your client some of the following questions:

  • What is your client’s goal;
  • Who is your target audience;
  • What is the user intent;
  • Where the piece will be published;
  • How long should the content be;
  • Which is the writing tone;
  • What are the SEO demands;
  • When is the deadline.

Once you’ve gathered this information, researching and writing will be easier and faster!

Previous work experience

Even if it’s not writing-related, your past working experience will help you define a fair rate. You can be a rookie writer and a seasoned professional simultaneously. Using your work experience to land your first freelance writing job is a great strategy to find your niche. Clients will see you as an expert and will be more willing to pay more for your knowledge.

Thus, when pricing your work, always consider your experience with the subject. Are you new to the topic? Are you so familiar with the theme that you’ll only need a little research?


Like other services, the balance between offer and supply will help you define your rates. Highly specialized companies, such as pharmaceutical, often require technical writers with specific knowledge. When such skills are rare, they become more expensive.

So, when accepting a new project, always consider the complexity of the subject. Usually, when there’s little research involved, the rates are lower. For you, this means finding a balance between your knowledge and expertise and the content research needs.


If you’re reaching your first clients through freelancing platforms, you’ll find companies based anywhere in the world. And the rates they’re paying reflect their company’s location. According to Salary Expert, freelance online writers earn 35$/hour on average in the United States. However, in Portugal, the average compensation is 15€/hour. 

As you can see, the rate difference is huge! However, it’s based on the country’s cost of living, company size and budget available.

Taxes and expenses

To succeed as a freelance writer, you must know the minimum amount needed to keep your business running. It includes paying taxes and all your business expenses. So, you must consider the cost of work tools, such as an internet connection or the electrical bill.

However, there are other things you should have in mind! Would you like to take some time off work? Do you have health insurance or a retirement plan? What are your daily personal expenses? All these details add up to the final rates you will charge your clients.


When you’re passionate about words and writing comes naturally to you, online writing is the perfect opportunity for professional growth. Worldwide, companies in all industries demand skilled writers to help them connect with their clients. And you can be one of them!