When I started out freelancing as a writer, I was so excited about how I was going to be my own boss and cut out annoying work commutes, I told anyone who would listen, about my plan. Finding freelance writing jobs from home was my ultimate goal. I soon discovered, though, that most people tended to be skeptical; freelance writing didn’t seem to have a reputation as a career that helped people make enough to actually live on, especially if you’re freelance writing from home.

It’s a reasonable position to take — before the Internet, landing well paying freelance writing jobs from home certainly was a tough proposition. Today, for the dedicated freelancer, it can be a very well-paid, whether or not you choose to work from home. If you have no idea how to get started, here’s a plan.

Think about what you bring to the table

Think about your life story: Writers bring to the job far more than just an ability to write; they bring their personality, education and experience of the job market, as well. You should put down on paper the directions in which your life story has taken you so far in these areas. You should also write out the kinds of personal experience and exposure that you have gained as a result.

Write down what inspires you: You don’t need to be an expert in the fields that you wish to write about. You simply need great depth of interest that would make yours an inspired voice when you put in some research, and begin writing. Whatever serious issues, subjects were fields of study inspire you, you need to make a list of them, and begin reading up.

Think honestly about what really interests you: Whether you like to fantasize about winning the lottery or daydream about being a farmer, it matters to your freelance writing career. Whatever truly touches you on a personal level — whatever you like to watch videos on YouTube about when he have nothing to do — is something you should encourage. You should put them down on a list.

I learned that these lists that I built up were wellsprings of inspiration — they were what I brought to the job , things that no one else had. True interest shows; writers should always write about what they truly love. When they do this, it shows. It is this kind of interest that shines through, and pulls in assignments.

Before you start, make a name for yourself

Once you begin focusing on the subjects that inspire you, it’s time to find a place for yourself in the world — the kind that brings you recognition, followed by jobs that pay on a regular basis. Recognition matters — it can open important doors for you, and it can help you feel the confidence in yourself that you need to keep going.

Looking for contests

One of the best ways to gain recognition (and money while you’re at it) is to enter a writing contest. There are any number of these, many national, and hundreds of local ones. You’ll find several, searching on Google for writing contests. If you’d like a list of some of the best national contests that get you started, you should consider these: Gray Wolf Press Nonfiction, Real Simple’s Life Lessons Essay Contest, Brooklyn Nonfiction Prize, and Friends of American Writers Chicago Awards. These contests are open to both professional and amateur writers who are just getting started, and they pay thousands in prize money.

Contests can help in so many ways

Not only do contests help you win money and make a name for yourself, you always get critiques from the judges who judge these contests, too. Critiques can be invaluable as a way to gain a realistic idea of your strengths, and where you need work.

You also want to waste no time starting with writing gigs

I always favored the idea of taking many different paths to making a writer’s income. I wrote for content mills where I made no more than $15 an hour (to make sure that there was money coming in each day), and I kept trying to make it on various blogs and magazines that accepted content from freelance writers. I never stopped trying to move up in my world.

Content mills are nothing to turn your nose up at — they offer you the ability to write quickly for some cash; they are perfectly legitimate work. IWriter, Elance, UpWork, Ghostwriters, Textbroker and many other content mills help you put food on the table. While you do this, though, you should keep an eye out for better opportunities.

Constant-Content, a content ghostwriting website, allows you to write high-quality work, and set your own prices. Writers Market, Blogging Pro, Pro Blogger, help you with quick, one-time gigs as you make a name for yourself. If you’re anxious to put out content that truly wins you a following, you should look into paying for memberships on LinkedIn, Free Trade Publications, Free Trade Magazine Source, Free Trade Magazines and other such destinations that offer paid, high-quality writing jobs.

You do need to know how to apply to these gigs

Applying to freelance writing opportunities, you aren’t usually expected to submit a formal application, the way you would applying to a regular job. Resumes, qualifications and statements of experience are usually not a part of the selection process.

What you need to do is to prove your ability when it comes to writing, and your ability to come up with ideas. One of the best ways to go forward is to study the publication that you’re applying to, and pitch the best, innovative and creative ideas for articles that you think they could use. You should throw in links to a couple of published articles, as well, even if they’re only on your own website. It’s your ideas that will get you hired.

You could consider other kinds of writing

Not all freelance writing tends to be article-centered. Other kinds of freelance writing jobs exist, as well.

If you like technology, for instance, and have talent when it comes to explaining technology well to beginners, you could find great opportunities working as a technical writer. While most jobs do require you to go in to work at an office for 3 to 6 months at a time, some do allow you to work from home once you show up for an initiation period.

Work in instructional design is available to the work-from-home set, as well, as are jobs as caption writers, television writers, radio writers and sportswriters. While it can be difficult to start off getting any employer to allow you to work from home from day one, you can usually come upon these ones you make a name for yourself.