Many people who love to write have dreamed of a career in freelance writing. Sadly, most of those people are working in positions that have nothing to do with writing because they don't believe that they can make it as a freelance writer. A few years ago, that may have been true. Today, the internet makes it possible for anyone to start a freelance writing career.

It's important to understand the potential streams of income that come from freelance writing. There are two major possibilities:

1. Someone hires you to write content. You write to their specifications and sell the rights to your work in exchange for money.

2. You write content and place it in any number of places on the internet. You either share or keep all revenue associated with your work depending on the location where your work is published. You typically retain rights to your work.

Some writers choose only to write for those who will pay them an up-front fee for their work. Others choose only to write their own content and then wait to reap the potential benefits of residual income. It's important to choose wisely in order to maximize your time spent freelance writing. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each option.

Writing Content for Someone Else

This is the traditional method of freelance writing, so it makes sense that many would feel most comfortable with this model.

The pros associated with this type of writing are obvious - you know that you'll get paid something before you spend your time writing. In that aspect, writing-for-hire is a safe method for generating income.

However, there are cons associated with writing for someone else as well. The major drawback is that you'll likely sign away rights to your work upon selling it to a 3rd party. This means that you will profit on your writing only one time. A second drawback to this model is that the sum of money that many are willing to pay has been reduced, partly due to the global economy that we now operate in. For example, if you bid to write an article, chances are that you may be bidding against writers in other countries who are willing to work for far less than you are. It's likely that, especially when you first start freelance writing, you'll be doing so for meager amounts of money.

That said, many people still prefer this model because they don't want the risk associated with writing content for themselves. Which leads us directly to the pros and cons of writing content for yourself.

Writing Content for Yourself

There are numerous vehicles online that allow freelance writers to write content and the publish is and retain all or a portion of the income that their work generates - usually through adsense and affiliate programs. Those vehicles can include a personal niche website or blog. They can also include 3rd party websites that allow writers to publish their material and then share a portion of revenues. These sites include eHow, Info Barrel, Squidoo, Hub Pages, Bukisa, and many more.

The biggest advantage to this type of writing is that you almost always retain rights to your work. That means that you are free to place it on another site at a later date, or even to sell it to a 3rd party.

The other major advantage to this type of freelance writing is that you have the option to continue making money on your writing as long as it's published on the internet, also called residual income.

Many writers steer clear of this option simply because they are afraid that their writing will earn them nothing and their time will have been wasted. This is unfortunate since authors who write well and engage in some keyword research can often make far more money in this manner than they would by selling rights to their work for a flat fee.

Choosing Your Method & Launching your Freelance Writing Career

Now that we've covered what options are available to you, let's talk about how you can actually do it. Your first decision must be whether you'd prefer to write for others or yourself. The best option is to decide to do some of both. This allows you to have some guaranteed income while also building your library of work that will hopefully begin to earn residual income for you in the future.

Next, you'll have to find work or websites where you can publish your work. There are many options available. Sites like eLance allow writers to bid on work. creating your own website and/or blog will allow you to post anything you want, and writing for sites like Info Barrel, eHow, Xomba, etc. will allow you to publish work that meets their criteria for a share of the revenue that your writing brings in. When you start writing, consider trying a number of different methods to see what works best for you. Different sites attract visitors with different demographics, so finding the one that best suits you may be a matter of trial and error. That's okay - you are learning as you go along.

If you are serious about a freelance writing career, you may also want to consider starting your own website that promotes you as a writer. You can publish sample work here and use it as a location to send potential clients to view your work. You can also use your business site to drive traffic to other locations on the internet where your work is published.

Now that you've found the places where you will sell or publish your work, you've got to start writing. Set aside a certain amount of time each day or week that you will dedicate to furthering your career. Set goals - both monetary and content related.

Last, stick to it. You may have to bid on a lot of projects before you begin getting work. You'll likely have to publish a lot of content and then be patient while that content waits to get indexed by Google and other search engines.

It will take some time to begin to see success no matter what route you go, but if you are committed to starting a freelance writing career and you set goals and stick to them you will succeed.