As I outlined in Wired, it's not necessarily easy to make it as a freelancer. I thought I'd list out a few things to give you an idea of how to go about it.
1) You need a network.
Join blogging groups and writing groups, but not for share for shares or follows for follows. Participate as if it were a social group. Leave links for contests and open calls that you find. Ask questions about your pieces. Start discussions about things entirely unrelated, to help people relieve stress (okay, make sure they're tangentially related). Anyway, build a group around yourself, going through the same trials and successes. It's important. So many times you need an intro to
an editor or can give one. We have to help each other out.
2) Submit, submit, submit.
I get rejected a lot. Like, a lot. Sometimes, editors tell me never to talk to them again. Ever. (oops, on that one). And I keep going. Because sometimes they say yes. And if they don't, sometimes, someone else will. People say this all the time, but I've been keeping a record since June of my pitching numbers, weekly. Here they are, so you can get a feel of what I really mean:
Okay, final step: Don't expect to make good money off the bat, but put a cap on how much you'll do for free.
When you're building your platform, it's tricky because, yes, you need exposure. But at the same you can't let the aggregates own you. Don't think you aren't worth money. After you have the bylines you need, try the paying publications. They are out there, and they are accepting pitches.
Even when you are writing for paying publications, though, the money is inconsistent. Some weeks I make nothing. Like, literally zero dollars. One amazing, magical, unicorn week, I made more than $1,000.
Make sure you set aside a chunk for taxes. You do not want to be screwed come January.
Remember to follow your checks. Some publications pay through paypal, but many others do physical checks or direct deposits. There are usually contracts involved, and you have to send invoices through whatever system the specific publication you wrote for has in place.
You sometimes won't get paid for months, but you will get paid, and you will get started. It's a rough world, and you have to have patience, stamina and perseverance. But you can do it. If I can do it almost anyone can.