Your Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Freelance Writing Jobs
Wouldn’t it be great to make a living writing? Or to work from anywhere as a digital nomad?
A lot of people think so.
They’re leaving traditional jobs in droves to work remotely in freelance writing jobs and chase the dream of making a lot of money doing so.
It turns out that 36% of the U.S. workforce is now freelancing, and that figure will be 43% by 2020.
Who can blame them? The gig economy is booming and it’s easier than ever to find solid freelance writing work, whether you’re interested in finding blogging gigs, journalism jobs, staff writer jobs, or other work-from-home writing positions.
However, to successfully make it as a freelance writer, you need to find clients.
But how do you go about finding those gold mine clients (especially the ones that are going to pay you enough to live on)?
You might think that finding clients willing to pay decent rates on time would be a needle-haystack situation, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to know where to look.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether you are pursuing freelance writing jobs part-time or you want to jump in full-time, we’ll show you how to be successful and find those coveted freelance content writing gigs.
Let’s find those unicorn clients.
First things first: You want to be sure you’re prepared to search for writing clients. What do we mean by that?
You need to build a presence that clients can reference.
Update Your Information
You need a LinkedIn profile and resume that reflect where you’re at now from a career perspective.
You’re also going to want to assemble a portfolio of writing samples — clients want to see what you can offer when they are considering hiring you.
Create a Website
You don’t have to do this, but if you want to get fancy, it’s nice to have a place to send potential clients to learn more about your experience and writing services.
It also tells clients that you are a serious writer and expert in your field. Plus, you can use it to show off the end results of some of your previous writing jobs.
WordPress and Squarespace are two of the most popular website hosting platforms and are a great place to start when beginning to set up your site.
Not only will a website make you look professional, it will help potential clients find you thanks to good old-fashioned search engine optimization. Make sure to have an effective landing page with all your key information.
Determine Your Market
You need to know what kind of clients you want.
While it might be tempting to jump onto any remote job that comes knocking, it’s better to start building a reputation in a particular niche or industry.
Then again, diversification works well too — but you should still know how and where you want to diversify.
Identify Your Strengths and Interests
In addition to knowing your market from a niche or industry standpoint, you also need to know what you want to do for your clients.
Are you interested in writing articles? Web content? Doing technical writing?
Knowing what type of writing you like to do will help narrow your job search, refine your job description, and save you from wasting time on leads that won’t be a good fit.
You don’t have to have all of that done to get started on the next step, but it’s a good idea to get these components in motion.
Ready to start searching?
There are 10.6 million freelance clients who are looking for writers, designers, and developers.
How do you know which ones are looking for a writer with your skills, or will be a good fit for you?
The best place to start looking for freelance connections is within your network.
Even if you already have a couple of clients you’ve sourced elsewhere, you should still send feelers out to people you already know. Your personal network could where you find some of your best writing jobs.
For the most part, people love helping other people succeed — especially friends, or friends of friends.
Take a look at your LinkedIn connections, email contacts, or people you know through social media.
Who Should You Contact?
Who might be able to introduce you to a potential client? Do you have any mutual connections with “dream clients”?
Reach out to your network and tell them about your goal:
“Hi! I’m [insert name here] and I’m looking for freelance writing opportunities with [X types of clients/clients in X niche].”
Are you wondering if it’s pushy to bother people you hardly know — or haven’t ever spoken to in person? Your contacts will surprise you. You never know which one will help you find your first big client.
Once you begin your outreach, it will all snowball from there. Like we said above, people love helping people.
For some of them, it makes them feel good to help others. For others, it’s an ego boost. Letting people help you is just good business sense. Your business relationships and network connections become stronger when you ask for favors.
But How Do You Ask?
Check out some tips on how to write and send cold emails.
First things first — don’t send a canned message. You’re trying to build relationships with your connections so they keep sending you clients or become clients themselves.
Be genuine, contact people you are interested in working with, and be sure to thank them if they help you make a connection.
Have you read that freelancer job boards are a waste of time?
That’s not always true. The truth is, success with freelancer job boards largely depends on the freelancer.
There tend to be mixed reviews for freelance job boards such as Upwork, Fiverr, ProBlogger, and Freelancer.
There are a lot of negative reviews of those sites.
Here’s the issue: New freelancers pounce on those sites expecting to find great writing gigs in minutes without spending a lot of time. They don’t take the time to find posted opportunities with job titles that fit their experience and pay well.
They wrongly assume that all gigs pay pennies — which many do, but there are also high-paying clients on these sites.
A word of advice: Skip the posts where a company requests everything but the kitchen sink, but isn’t willing to compensate the writer accordingly.
Don’t even waste your time reading through those types of freelance writing jobs as they can be rather discouraging.
Let’s say you find a job posting that sounds interesting — a pet company needs help writing copy for their new website. Now, if you have no experience writing website copy, let alone for the pet industry, don’t get your hopes up high.
You will have to build a reputation by taking writing jobs akin to your experience level, which may also mean starting at the bottom of the pay scale.
Be honest in your proposal. Bid a fair amount — but, again, don’t work for less than what you’re worth.
Get ahead of the game by looking into what is working for other successful freelancers who use job boards.
Here Are Some of the Top Freelance Job Boards:
Freelancer – This one works if you have a solid understanding of the complicated fee structure before you make an account (you can be charged for inactivity). Avoid contests – your goal isn’t to work for free!
ProBlogger – This site was started by a blogger who wanted to help other bloggers succeed. ProBlogger offers a lot of tools to help you, from podcasts to articles and more. Plus, it has great freelance writing assignments you will want to apply for.
PeoplePerHour – They don’t have as many jobs listed, but the jobs they do post are worth applying for. PeoplePerHour won’t even let you bid a project lower than what your writing skills are worth. It stops you and suggests a figure based on your skill level.
Fiverr – It’s possible to make decent money if you approach Fiverr strategically. You have to know what you’re doing. You can break beyond charging just $5, but you have to know how to get there and how to achieve all of the levels.
Sites like those outlined above have filters for job title, location, and even company, which makes it easier to sift through the scads of opportunities.
Most job boards are committed to your security and making sure you get paid. Many of them make the company put in a deposit on the job before you even start.
Job boards are the quickest way to see what kinds of writing work is available today that are waiting to be filled. This is so different than taking a freelance job from a site like Craigslist or content mills.
How to Make the Most of Job Board Applications
What you get out of your freelance writing career is what you put into your freelance writing career. These sites are not responsible for doing your freelance work for you.
They are providing you with a platform on which to find great writing work, but how you leverage each platform will determine your success on it.
You can’t just send out tons of copy/paste pitches. If you do, you won’t see much success on any job platform. The name of the game is to customize your applications or proposals for each opportunity just as you would with a traditional job.
Most of them are from startups or smaller companies. The person posting the position is trying to find the best writer for the job. Put in the effort to learn about the company, what its needs are, and how your writing skill set can help.
Don’t be afraid to bid higher than other people who are vying for the assignment. Most hiring managers assume there is higher quality and value in a high bidder than an underbidder.
Do a mental rundown of the people you have worked with or for in the past. Which ones were positive experiences? For both of you?
Post these to your website or LinkedIn profile along with a high-quality picture of the person who wrote it.
Are you entry-level and don’t have past clients to ask? Ask your past or current coworkers for some positive words.
It’s essential to build your credibility, and social proof is vital in making that happen in the digital age. Much like with selling products, word of mouth and real-life testimonials go a long way.
Write for the publications that your dream clients read. Many industries have several trade publications that serve as excellent tools to inform and educate. Many industry publications also have a social media website or an email newsletter.
Whatever the industry you’re interested in, find out what your dream clients are reading. Then try, try, and try again to write for those publications.
Getting published as a content writer on an authoritative industry blog holds a lot of weight with potential clients and further proves that you can do the job.
It’s a long-game client-finding tactic — but it will bring in your highest paying clients.
Dig your heels in and stick with it. Landing a guest post opportunity in an industry publication is tough, but definitely worth the effort.
Don’t be discouraged or disheartened — the process of pitching editors is time-consuming and can come with repeated rejections.
But, the more you pitch story ideas and write, the higher the rewards you will reap.
The freelancers that make the big bucks still do this on at least a monthly basis, and they get rejection letters too.
So don’t sweat it – keep on playing.
There are many businesses — small and large — that aren’t digitally savvy yet. I know, it’s hard to believe.
Therefore, they likely don’t know that they need any help in the first place. And if they do, they might not know where to get it.
You’ve probably visited a website or two that has made you wonder if the owners never left 1996. The next time you see one like that, offer to update their copy and send them a proposal as a content strategist.
Send out feelers to the small businesses in your area that might need your writing services. Even if they don’t need any help at the moment, they might need something down the road.
If you want to be a successful freelancer, you can be. It’s all up to you.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be.
Don’t be intimidated and don’t be afraid to fail. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s so true in the freelance world. It’s by failing a little here and there that you learn which tactics work for you and your business.
You’ll only get better and smarter the more you try — and fail.
More than half of winning freelance writing jobs is in how you approach them. And we’ve given you the keys to opening those doors.
Start drawing up plans for your networking and job search strategies and you’ll find freelance writing jobs before you know it.
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