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Online Freelance Writer Career Diploma Details

Penn Foster’s Freelance Writer program consists of courses that will cover the publishing industry, how to make writing a habit, the process for submitting manuscripts, what’s involved in working with agents and editors, and more. Penn Foster Career School’s program also includes a Specialization Elective — choose Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction, or Nonfiction.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The program goal for Penn Foster’s Freelance Writer program is to prepare amateur writers to refine their writing style so they can professionally market their work to publishers.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...

  • Identify the stages in freelance writing and publication, including choosing a market, writing an engaging work, and submitting to prospective publishers/publications.
  • Recognize appropriate research techniques for identifying and analyzing the best markets for your writing and to gain information when writing.
  • Comprehend how research can develop and inform writing, and how research sources are appropriately cited.
  • Critique and revise your own writing according to rules of grammar and style in order to create a professional end product.
  • Demonstrate understanding of laws governing writing including copyright and trademark and maintaining careful records of business transactions, contracts, and expenses.
  • Identify your qualifications for a specialized market based on your professional and life experience.

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

This study unit provides everything you’ll need to know about the publishing industry.


  • Identify staff-written and freelance articles.
  • Market your freelance product.
  • Submit a professional manuscript.
  • Work with agents and editors.

Make writing an everyday habit.


  • Gather ideas from other articles.
  • Understand the difference between objective and subjective writing.
  • Learn the essential elements of all objective articles.
  • Discover how to recognize the most marketable types of fiction.
  • Start a notebook or journal you’ll use to keep all of your writing projects.

Review basic grammar elements.


  • Learn how to distinguish connotation from denotation.
  • Increase your vocabulary to use language effectively.
  • Critique and revise your own writing.
  • Write a short feature article.
Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: Winning with Words

Find out how to generate ideas for articles.


  • Get the basics about specialized markets and how to research markets for your articles.
  • Write a query letter.
  • Learn about copyright laws.
  • Set up a home office.
  • Keep accurate records of correspondence with editors and publishers, and tax receipts.

Learn how to use reference materials and resources.


  • Recognize the available specialized periodical indices.
  • Use professional directories to locate expert sources.
  • Understand how to contact recognized experts for information and interviews.
  • Search the Internet, library, the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, and other resources.
Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: Parts of Speech

Identify writing techniques and structural differences in fiction and nonfiction.


  • Trace the genesis of a piece of writing from initial concept to completed work.
  • Learn to critique work—your own and other’s—for structure, focus, and market.
Additional Unit Materials


  • Pocketful of Prose, Volume II
  • Telling Stories/Taking Risks

Supplement: Word Usage

Learn to find information quickly using the Writer’s Market.


  • Understand the terms used in the guide.
  • Request writer’s guidelines from publications and identify suitable markets using the guide.
  • Judge the marketability of your work.
Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: Writer's Market
Supplement: Sentence Skills

Learn to assemble a writer’s résumé and conduct a successful interview.


  • Find out how to get commissions and assignments from editors.
  • Discover how to present your manuscript to an editor in a professional manner.
  • Learn how to supply photographs to accompany articles.
  • Find out how to guard against accusations of libel by maintaining high ethical and professional standards.

Discover how to analyze your life and educational experiences and learn the requirements of the writing trade, technical publications, and house magazines.


  • Learn how and when to specialize in more than one type of freelance writing,
  • Present editors with credentials qualifying you as an expert in your area.
  • Discuss your specialty with editors to obtain publication opportunities.
  • Find out what it takes to maintain expertise in your specialty area.
Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: The Elements of Style

Choose one...

  • Literary Fiction

    Get an introduction to fiction. Learn how to publish children’s literature and short stories. Get instructions on how to plan and write a novel.

  • Genre Fiction

    Learn about fiction genres. Get an overview of the mystery, science fiction and fantasy, romance, and horror genres.

  • Nonfiction

    Get an introduction to nonfiction. Learn all about the essay. Study aspects of feature writing, writing for the media, and writing for business.

Additional Details

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

Surround Sound Support

Surround Sound Support

Whether you prefer chat, text, email, or phone, our faculty is here to help you achieve your goals. Penn Foster students also have access to our expert team of Success Coaches to help with budgeting for your education, career guidance, or simply some extra motivation.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson or take an exam? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.
Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools
Penn Foster Student Community

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Freelance Writer Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Freelance Writer course would look like.
Freelance Writer Sample Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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