Frequently Asked Questions

Many people keep on asking how to become a freelance writer or how to get started in freelance writingMany writers dream of earning their living writing and say, “I’m going freelance,” or “I’m going to be my own boss.” 


I dreamed of that, too. But I went out on my own without bringing a map along. So I made mistakes along the way and took those hard lessons with me.


This time, I’m going to answer frequently asked questions in the way how I experienced it hoping that this will become an ultimate guide for Filipino freelance writers. This page keeps on changing as I try my best to keep things up-to-date.


Warning, though. Don’t be discouraged if you get many “it depends” answers because that’s the truth. Most of the answers about freelance writing depends on you.


Also, typical of a cornerstone content, this may come in sections and may contain links leading to resources that would explain the idea or topic further. If you have any more questions, feel free to send them to admin@isangmanunulat.com and I'll add it here as soon as possible.

So let's get started.

Outline of Contents

Introduction to Freelance Writing


Who is a freelance writer?

Also known as an independent contractor, a freelancer is a self-employed professional who offers his or her services to one or more companies, often with no long-term commitment to any of them.

How does it differ from a remote worker?

A remote worker is a person who works full-time for a company but doesn’t have to be at a fixed office location everyday.

What is a niche?

A niche is a specialized market or an industry, such as healthcare, software, finance, travel, food, etc. These are vertical niches.

Horizontal niche means you specialize in one type of writing, like blogging, case studies, reports, etc. 

Although newbies tend to go the horizontal niche route, it is not recommended. If you’re starting out, focus on a vertical niche you’re comfortable writing about and write whatever the client needs whether it be a blog, a landing page, or an email newsletter. It’s much harder to get enough clients when you limit yourself to a single type of writing, and easier when you’re writing for a particular industry sector.

Busting the Myths and Misconceptions


Is freelance writing a viable career in the Philippines?

Yes. Contrary to misconceptions that there’s no money in writing, any Filipino writer can make a career out of it. 

Sure, it was challenging at first. Within a year after going freelance, a landlady kicked me out of a boarding house because I wasn’t able to pay rent. I experienced a hand-to-mouth existence during those times.

But now, after learning the tricks of the trade in freelance writing, I can afford to pay for internet connection, app subscriptions, domain name and web hosting, my taxes and SSS contributions.

Do I need contacts within the business or industry I want to write?

Not necessarily. Although contacts within your network are good starting point for referrals, you can write your way inside. Most of the time, writing your way in produces the best projects or clients.

Are there rules to follow in freelance writing?

There may be do’s and don’ts or protocols to follow. They may be even called “best practices” in freelancing. Whatever they are, these are not hard-and-fast rules set in stone. What works with me may not be applicable to you. Therefore, experiment and see what works for you best.

Can I be a freelance writer writing fiction only?

Yes, you can. Although you can get paid writing poetry or short story, most high-paying projects in freelance writing come from copywriting for businesses.

Do I need to have “credentials”/Do I need to be an “expert” on something to become a freelance writer?

Not necessarily, although many people will say to write what you know first. Writing about something you’re passionate about is the best way to start. Over time, you have established yourself as an “expert” in that topic. Then, you’ll start venturing out, writing about other topics in the same or different niche or industry.

Setting Up the Writing Business


Do I need to register my business?

Here in the Philippines, a freelancer is considered self-employed. For tax purposes, a freelance writer should have a tax identification number (TIN) and an obligation to issue official receipts (OR) to their clients for every payment received.

Do I need to register as a company?

As a freelance writer, no. Unless you’re setting up a writing agency and start hiring people which may require you to register either as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, that’s when you need to register as a company.

What about health insurance?

If you’ve been employed before, you might already have, aside from the TIN, an SSS number and PhilHealth number. Once you go freelance, continue paying your monthly contributions on both as voluntary contributions. 

If you think you need more health insurance coverage, you can avail HMO plans from the likes of Medicard, MaxiCare, etc. Also, Artists Welfare offer a health insurance package for creatives.

What should I name my business?

Since you’re self-employed, your own name works just as fine if you’re just starting out. You can always choose another name later, or “do business as” (DBA) another name. 

For instance, Marissa U. Bacsa is my registered business name and it’s the one showing on my OR. But I do business as Isang Manunulat (this website).

If you want to be serious in branding your freelance writing business, choose a business name with keywords that would help clients find you and say what you really do.

Do I need a separate checking account for my business?

As much as possible, yes. Try to keep personal and business expenses separate. This way, it will not be confusing on your part later on.

What tools do I need for running my business?

As long as you have a computer and internet connection, you’re good. Unless your client require you to use specific apps, you should add them to your tools. If your client requires making phone calls, then invest on a noise-reduction headset with microphone and webcam. Your cellphone may not be able to handle the high system requirements of video calls. 

However, at the moment, focus on getting clients rather than looking for the right tools. You’ll meet the best tools down the road soon so don’t worry.

Can I use my pseudonym in freelance writing?

Pseudonyms or nom de plumes are usually used by fiction authors to mask their identity separate from their public persona or known genre. Examples are J. K. Rowling as Robert Gilbraith and Nora Roberts as J. D. Robb.

However, for freelance writing, it is not recommended for business purposes. You will need to reveal your real name anyway once you get paid. Also, having a fake identity might raise suspicions about the legitimacy of your freelance writing business.

What do I need to know about taxes?

For freelancers in the Philippines, there are two ways to compute for taxes. The easiest is the automatic 8%. So you need to set aside a portion of your income for taxes at the end of each quarter. 

At this point in my career, I already hired an accounting firm to do this for me so I could focus on writing. I dream that you could do it, too.

Looking for Clients


How do I find my first clients?

There are two ways you can do this. First, look around in your neighborhood, barangay, or city for small businesses that you think might need your writing service. Approach them or send them an email or letter introducing yourself and your business. Pitch them how you could help them get more clients. 

Second, look online. There are plenty of blogs and websites that offer guest posts. Search for your niche and see if you could send them an email with your pitch. 

Can I look for clients on online job platforms?

Yes, you can. There are reputable online job platforms that announce legit employment such as JobStreet, Indeed, or Kalibrr. However, most job posts found here are looking for full-time employment and opportunities for freelance writers may be limited. But it is still worth checking.

Job posts shown in other job platforms like Craigslist, UpWork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, OnlineJobs.ph, Outsourcely, etc. get many responses so your chances of getting hired (and getting good-paying clients) are slim.

Is one niche enough?

It is recommended to expand your niche up to three. This will keep your freelance writing business thrive as the gig economy and industries seasonally fluctuate.

What if I like to stay as a generalist?

If you want to market yourself as "Jack-of-all-trades, master of none", then go ahead. It’s your freelance writing business anyway. There’s nothing wrong in disproving “the riches are in the niches”. But remember that you may get any traction much longer than anyone else. You wouldn't like to be left behind, would you?

Who do I pitch to when approaching businesses?

If it is a small business, look for the owner or CEO. If there is a marketing manager, then approach him with your introductory email and pitch.

Do I really need to choose a niche for my business?

In reality, it is challenging to market yourself as a “freelance writer” because the term is so broad. Clients are searching for a specific kind of writer like an technical writer, or web content writer, or social media specialist, etc. 


Also, as mentioned earlier, it’s easy to write for a vertical niche, a specific industry, and spread your writing skills horizontally there.

I’m just starting out and a prospective client isn’t in my niche, is it bad to turn him down? 

No, it is not. Remember, “the riches are in the niches”. Writing for everyone and anyone would make your career scattered and you may end up not getting any traction. Focus your writing on a few topics within that niche which will help you gain expertise and impress clients.

Which editor should I pitch to when approaching a publication?

Look for the editor of that particular department (for example: science and technology editor, or lifestyle editor, etc.). If none, approach the managing editor. Seldom you would pitch directly to an editor-in-chief.

How would I know if it is a good niche for me?

Find where your experiences and interests intersect with a topic or industry. More often, this would be the easiest and best-earning niche for you.


Also, ask yourself if there are high-paying clients within the niche. If you couldn’t find one, ask yourself again, “what companies do I love to write for?” Find that company and try to thrive in that niche. But if you’re really unfamiliar with the niche, ask around.

How would I know if I’m pitching my writing right?

The more you pitch, whether accepted or not, the better you’ll become at pitching, so don’t worry. You’ll develop the knack of it.

Creating Your Online Presence


Do I need to create a writer website now even if I’m a newbie?

If you have enough money to spend on a domain name (yourname.com) and web hosting, that’s good. That will make you look more professional. The copies you write on your web pages and blog section may serve as your writing samples.

If you can’t afford a domain name and web hosting yet, refer to the next two questions.

I’m a newbie and broke, what can I do if I don’t have a formal online presence?

Start using your LinkedIn profile for the mean time. Once you get rolling, invest in a writer website.

Can I use my blog as my writer website?

First, you need to distinguish the difference between a blog and a website. A blog is so dynamic that it changes its home page everytime post something new. A website is static and the home page could be an inviting landing page for your client to view what you offer. 

Unless your blog is popular, it’s not ideal to use the blog page as your writer website. But you can use your blog posts as writing samples if it applies to your client’s need or niche. 

To fix this issue, create a “hire me” link that leads to a separate page containing your resume and a contact form.

Can I use my Facebook Page?

No. Facebook pages are more of a fan page, intended to your audience or followers. Thus, I don’t recommend relying on your Facebook Page for clients. 

I have my own Facebook Page but I use it to share my website’s content to drive traffic to my website. But most visitors coming from Facebook are readers and not clients.  

Linkedin is the social media platform of professionals where your prospective clients are waiting.

How can I set up a good writer website if I’m not a technical person?

You could use any content management system (CMS) like WordPress, SquareSpace, or Wix to create your website. It’s easy to use and there are many templates to choose from. You can opt for the free version first where the domain name is yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.wixsite.com/page. 

But once you have enough funds, invest on a domain name and web hosting service. Having your own writer website shows that you’re a professional and takes yourself and your freelance writing business seriously.  

Don’t attempt to create websites from scratch unless you’re a web programmer. Focus on your freelance writing business instead.

Can I use my Upwork (or other online jobs platform) profile?

You can. But I’m not recommending it. These online job platforms showcase resume and job experiences, and you may not be able to show your sample works in full. 

Also, these online job platforms makes it easier to browse through others’ portfolios than to find your contact information. 

By contrast, LinkedIn is a huge platform where great companies are searching for freelancers every day. It’s a much better place to look professional.

Gathering Sample Works


How can I get clients when I don’t have any samples yet?

Be honest in telling them that you’re starting out. If you have some materials written before that you could convert into a PDF file, then use them as an initial sample. 

Or start writing for friends or relatives pro bono. Or simply reach out to clients and ask them for their testimonial. Once you’ve got around 3 to 6 of these, you have your set of samples.

What about writing for content mills as a way to get first clips?

I don’t recommend you writing for content mills even as an entry-level writing job.


Take it from me, I've experienced writing for one. The requirements of content mill work are very different, and rigid. And they pay low like $4.00 USD (now $6.00) for an exactly-500-words article. And even if you write three to four 500-word articles in a day, you'll feel it's not worth it. Thus, it's not a good training ground for newbies. 

Also, you can't use your articles as samples because they're ghostwritten for an end client you don't even know. 


There are websites that allow you to submit original articles for exposure,  but they won't pay you. If another website owner re-posts your article, the website owner will credit you for the article.


This happened to me once when I wrote an article and uploaded it on E-zine Articles. A PR consultant took notice of my article and re-posted it on her website. I saw the article was rightly credited to me but I didn't receive any payment for it. Just a brief online exposure. But I could use this as sample work.

What if I don’t have a byline on my sample works?

You can still use your clips in your portfolio, as long as you didn’t sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that swore you to secrecy that you authored the work.

What about using posts from my own blog as samples?

Yes, you can. It’s better than nothing. 

However, it's not ideal. Clients may get the signal that you didn’t please an editor or marketing manager, so it may not impress them. But if you write engaging headlines and have lots of comments and shares on your blog posts, it could help you lure those clients.

What if my clips are too old?

Clients want to read your work. They might not even care about the date when you wrote it. And if you really have old printed clips, convert them into a PDF file to preserve it.

Does it matter if the sample I do is for a relative or friend?

Not really. If they’ve got a small business, a website, or publish a local newspaper, go for it.

Building Your Network

How do I actually get freelance writing clients?

Maximize your LinkedIn profile. Import your contacts, send connection invites to people, or join Linkedin Groups and then invite group members to connect with you. Once you’ve connected, ask how you can help. Share and comment on their content. Post articles that might interest them. The more you stay on their radar, the more likely they’ll remember to refer you when they hear about a writing need.

Networking on other social media platforms depends on you. There may be clients lurking in Facebook Groups and Twitter that might be interested in your writing service.

What if I’m really shy and don’t like big gatherings?

Networking doesn’t have to be a big event. You can do one-on-one meetups for coffee or after work, or hop on short phone or video calls.

Who should I include in my network?

Aside for prospective clients, you can add a mix of other writers, related service providers such as designers, editors, videographers, and photographers, and people who would know your prospects.

How do I ask for referrals?

Make it mutual. Ask contacts if they are looking for referrals, and if so who’s their ideal client. Then, tell them yours, and that you’d appreciate their keeping an ear out for anyone who needs your type of writer.

What do I say at in-person networking events?

Ask people about what they do and who their ideal client is, so you can refer them. They’ll probably ask you the same. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re a freelance writer. Have one-sentence pitch ready when introducing yourself or your freelance writing services.

How do I build my network online?

Maximize your LinkedIn profile. Import your contacts, send connection invites to people, or join Linkedin Groups and then invite group members to connect with you. Once you’ve connected, ask how you can help. Share and comment on their content. Post articles that might interest them. The more you stay on their radar, the more likely they’ll remember to refer you when they hear about a writing need.

Networking on other social media platforms depends on you. There may be clients lurking in Facebook Groups and Twitter that might be interested in your writing service.


Rates and Payments


What are the “going rates” in freelance writing?

Although there are freelance writing groups that discuss current going rates among themselves, the answer to this question boils down to “it depends”. 

For one, every client-freelance writer relationship or project is different. One writer I know can demand one million pesos for a book project because her writing credentials are that high to reach at the moment (e.g. author, journalist, editor, judge in literary and book contests, etc.). 

On the other hand, there are writers who accept gigs for whatever price offered just to have a job. That is why, the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) has come up with a “standard” that no Filipino freelance writer should accept a writing gig that is worth less than Php 2.50 per word. Is this the going rate? Definitely not.

Should I charge by the word, hour, page, or project?

It depends on the project. Articles are usually charged per word, per page, or per piece. Proofreading and editing are usually charged per page. However, if you consider the time and effort you give on pre- and post-writing tasks (e.g. research, meetings, revisions, etc.), you may want to charge it per hour. 


For newbies, it is better to charge per project. When you work on project rates, you will automatically increase your hourly rate over time. 

How much/how quick should I get paid for writing?

It is all up to you. You are the best person who knows your worth.

What’s a good average hourly rate for Filipino freelance writers?

Based on a DOLE study, Filipino freelance writers get from $3.50 to $40 USD per hour. The rate varies from person to person, and even from region to region. It all depends on the freelance writer's comfort level. 


When I went freelance in 2012, I received $1.50 USD per hour on my first gig. And every time I get a new client, I increased my rate.


Also, I have set my own income goals and promised myself not to accept lower rates.

How do I know what to charge my first clients?

It's easy if you're writing for a publication because they have set rates.

If you're writing for a client, ask how much is their budget for the project. Most of the time, they’ll tell you and you'll just work around that budget.

If they couldn't give you a budget price, calculate your daily rate, and simply charge what you need to pay your bills and maintain the lifestyle you want.

How do I know how long it will take me to do projects?

Create a time in motion by tracking your time. Figure out how long it takes you to finish a task. There are free software out there for you to use. I use OfficeMA.  Next time, challenge yourself to get it done faster and keep improving.

The Writing Process


What’s the best way to make sure I do a great job on my assignment?

Study the publication, the blog, or the company materials you are writing for. How do they start their articles, quote their sources, how long are the paragraphs, and how do they conclude? Take note of their style and tone. Ask for their style guidelines, if they have. Try to imitate that until you get their groove. 

My client disapproved my first draft, and I’m devastated. How can I prevent this problem?

Ask the client why and compare it with the previous discussions. Was there something you forgot to mention? Or did you not understand the style or tone of the content required? Don’t feel devastated. But if you really feel that maybe you are not the right fit for this client's project, politely quit and move on.

I'm in the middle of an assignment when my client decided to stop the project. Will I get paid for my writing?

This is one of the practical reasons of asking for a down payment. Other freelance writers call this a "kill fee". In case of abrupt discontinuation, you're already paid for your effort.


This should be stipulated in your contract with your client. 

What should I do if I’m not sure of turning in my writing to my client?

Have a writer-friend to read your writing and make suggestions. Or, better yet, consider trading services with an editor for a while, while you build confidence.

What if my article gets killed?

If you're writing for a publication, remember that the editor has the final say. Don't feel devastated. 

Also, you may ask them for the reasons why it was rejected. Ask them if you could pull your writing out or have them submitted elsewhere.

What if I don’t have enough article ideas to get assignments regularly?

Try searching topics within the niche your writing by subscribing to Google Alerts or a few RSS feeds. 


You may also try peeking your client's competitors and see what they're publishing recently.  

Have a notebook of ideas to keep those topics you're not using. Who knows? You may find it useful in the future.

What if I take an assignment and then I can’t meet the deadline?

Before taking any assignment, know your capabilities and limitations. Upon agreeing with the client, and you realize that you cannot meet the set deadline, inform the client right away. Explain why it will take more time and don’t worry. Clients are businessmen, too, and they are aware that deadlines are not set in stone. Over time, you will know how much will it take for you to write a piece of literature.

Dealing With Clients


Do I need a contract?

Yes, especially if you really want to get paid for writing. Although there are templates available online, it would be better to draft your own because you are the only one who can specify the things you want. Even a brief email that outlines the word count, deadline, terms of payment and allows your client to respond with “I agree” is fine. 

I devise my own Statement of Work which also acts my contract with the client once signed.

What if the client wants me to be available on nights or weekends, when I want time off?

Your freelance writing business is yours so you’re the one setting your parameters and schedule. There are projects that may require your availability on those critical days, which could work out fine. However, if the client wants you to be available 24/7, then it’s a bad client (and I call them “the Control Freaks”).

Should I get an up-front deposit to start working?

If you’re writing for a publication, you know that this doesn’t work. They will pay upon submission or after publication. 

But with business clients, strive to get an up-front deposit. Fifty percent up-front is typical. Also, this should be included in your contract.

I already sent an invoice to my client, but he hasn’t paid me yet. What should I do?

Go ahead and remind your client about the invoice. Good-paying clients would even apologize and appreciate you for reminding them because they forgot to do so. 

However, if you already sent up to three reminders and they haven’t replied, that’s a bad client right there (and I call them the “Fly-By-Nights”). Realize how you got this client and reflect on what you need to change in prospecting clients in the future. 

Other freelance writers I know have worse situations than this. They had to follow-up their payment from publishing companies (especially in magazines and comics) for months (even years). And I hope this doesn’t happen to you.

Will it be a problem if my client is located in a different time zone?

No. Most clients would require an initial Zoom meeting just to give the general instructions. After that, you’ll just send them the deliverables in a timely manner. They’re more after your output or results.

Although there are clients that require you to operate in hours that would overlap their time zone for an hour or two, that should never be a problem.

However, if you’re not comfortable in working in a different time zone, tell your client immediately and negotiate for your preferred time zone. If not, better quit.

Can I ask my client for a raise in rate?

Yes, you can. If you are working with a client for a long time, why not? Your freelance writing career is your own business. And like all other businesses, you should be growing steadily as you go.

A few weeks or a month right after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I discussed with my client about my plan of increasing my rate. I partially mentioned the economic situation due to the lockdown and ended with the phrase, “I hope you understand where I’m coming from”. He replied and negotiated that the increase will take after the second assignment from the one I was working on. He, too, explained that he needed funds to cover such increase. So, all was well.

Also, do not let your client assume that your rate is the same across all projects. He may know your rate for writing an essay or an article, but he should also be aware that your rate for writing an SEO-optimized web page is another thing.

On the other hand, if you’re taking the generalist approach, it could be harder to build expertise and raise your rates.

Marketing Yourself


What is the one best, free, fastest way to market my services?

There are many free and low-cost methods to market your freelance writing business. 

You could send marketing emails, do in-person networking events, pick up the phone and do a cold call, work on your Linkedin connections, and send media file/PR packs out. Try putting your own business on Google Business or any e-yellow pages for free.

What if I have trouble making myself do the marketing work?

One suggestion is to get an accountability buddy. He could be another freelance writer you can call weekly, to keep you working on your goals. Newbies with a buddy have a much higher success rate than newbies with no buddy.

Copyright Ownership

What is copyright?

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to copy, distribute, adapt, display, and perform a creative work for a period of time.

My client wants to own the copyright of my writing, is this okay?

This depends on two things: (1) the type of your client-writer relationship and (2) your decision to transfer the right.


It is a general rule that freelancers own the copyright of their work and their clients own the product unless it is specified otherwise in the contract.

Can freelance writers own the copyright of their works?

Yes, Section 178.1 of the Intellectual Property Act of the Philippines states that “in the case of original literary and artistic works, copyright shall belong to the author of the work.”

But the law says "literary and artistic works", freelance writers usually write for businesses...

Many freelance writers misconstrue this phrase as limited to literature and the arts, and not including business writing. However, Section 172.2 states that "works are protected by the sole fact of their creation, irrespective of their mode or form of expression, as well as their content, quality, and purpose." Therefore, business writing may be considered literary work.


Avoiding Scams and Rip-offs


How do I know if an online offer of writing work is a scam?

Check the email address and domain name. If the domain doesn’t exist or show up on your browser, it could be a scam. 

Also, try typing “Is [website] a scam?” on your search engine  and see what comes up. 


Of course, if it sounds too good to be true, it could be a scam.

Should sign up on sites that ask for joining fees?

Again, check the website if it’s a scam or not. Over time, you’ll develop a good smell of what’s legit.


For platforms that are asking you to pay before you can see more info and testimonials, it’s probably a scam.

What about signing up on online job platforms?

Most of the bad clients I encountered were found on online job platforms like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and the like. Sure, there might be that an exception or two. But having a profile on these sites signals to clients that you’re willing to be ripped off or work for very low rates.

Overcoming Fear


How do I overcome fear of starting?

It all boils down to your goals. What do you really want to achieve in freelance writing? List them down and focus on the most important ones. Once you have identified one, take it seriously, even if other people in your life don’t.

How do I get started when I don’t feel qualified?

This fear stems from thinking you need to know something else besides how to write well to become a professional freelance writer.


Although there are some requirements shown on job posts like, "must have a knowledge on SEO", or "familiar with Jarvis", etc., you don’t have to. You can ask experts, research, and learn new things.  Your writing skill is what you bring to the table. Start with something you know and feel confident writing about it.

What if I totally screw up an assignment?

Everybody makes mistakes. Acknowledge the mistake, apologize to your client, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. Just don't burn bridges. 

How do I know if my writing is good enough to earn a living?

You’ll only find this out by writing for clients. Clients would give you a feedback about your writing. Just don't take personally, it's more of a constructive criticism of your work. And learn from it.

Over time, you're already earning a living writing.

What if I’m an ESL writer and want to earn writing in English?

I prefer writing in English even though English, for us Filipinos, is our second language. Most of my projects were written in English.


We Filipinos have the advantage of getting freelance writing jobs because we are good in English as compared with other nationals. If your English grammar is good, your writing skill is good, and you can express yourself fluently in English, then you don't have to worry.

Although there are job posts that require native English speakers, this should not discourage you to apply for that job.

How can I get over my fears of failing as a freelance writer?

Start taking action. Believing in yourself and in what you do is already half of the step. The more actions you take, the more you’ll build confidence. 

Think of failures and adversities as blessings in disguise. As Napoleon Hill said, "For every adversity is an equal or greater benefit." 

What if no one takes me seriously?

First, take yourself and your writing career seriously. If you believe in yourself and you're serious about your writing business, others will start taking you seriously. Show, don't tell.

Fear is the number one thing that stops aspiring freelance writers to act. It won’t matter what knowledge and skills you have on writing, but if you’re too scared to go out and get clients, you'll get stuck . So let’s bust those fears!

Do you still have other questions? Send them to admin@isangmanunulat.com and let me get you the answer.