I have been working as a freelance writer since January of 2008. Since that time, I have had many friends and family wonder how I got started, how I find my jobs, and (sometimes) how they can get in on the game too. Trust me, it isn't easy. Once you get the hang of it though, you will be able to earn a decent monthly income.
There are no set rules to start writing online. Most people choose to do it for free—they write on social media sites, blogs and post comments on other people's work. If you want to make money from it thought, you may have to dig a little deeper to find the paying gigs.
First, look for reputable freelance writing resources. There are dozens of message board and websites that provide leads for jobs. If you want to maximize your time searching for these jobs, remember that you should never have to pay for job leads! If someone wants a skilled online writer, they won't make you pay for the job.
If you like the thrill of the chase, finding jobs may be simple. It's finding the right jobs that will keep you busy and successful. It's hard to price most jobs when you are just beginning, but if you don't end up with at least a half a cent per word, skip to the next job offer. Many people will try to entice you with endless work, but $1 per 500 words will not pay the bills (unless you have 23 hours in the day to work!).
Another tip that I have found helpful is to do at least some work where you can retain the rights or have a byline. Having a byline will get your name out there so that others looking for writers can easily see your previous work. If you are lucky enough to retain full rights to your articles, you can spin new articles out of the originals by branching off on different topics or aspects of the same general subject.
One last piece of advice—every online writer needs a home. This can be a site that takes all kinds of articles (like Triond, for example) or a blog to showcase your writing. This is a great way to get additional hits for articles that earn residual income from pageviews.