Freelancing is a thrilling yet terrifying line of work. Getting started as a freelancer is the most difficult and challenging step. Especially if you’re coming from the stability and predictability of full-time work, freelancing can seem vague, threatening and terrifying. When you’re just beginning, you’ll be on a constant hunt for freelance writing jobs. Let’s consider some popular ways to can find freelance writing jobs for beginners and get your career off the ground.
Use Freelance Writing Job Boards
When you’re first starting out working as a freelance writer, your number one source for jobs should be freelance job boards. There are a few well-respected sites that will help you both get a job and get a handle on what people are looking for.
You should also examine these posts carefully to understand why people hire writers and what they want from their perfect author. You can use this information to craft pitches in the future by appealing to commonalities among writing clients.
Popular freelance writing boards include our own freelance writing job board as well as other job boards:
Examine Gig Websites
Websites like Upwork can help you find the work. While these sites have often earned a fairly mixed reputation, plenty of folks earn a profitable living connecting with clients through these tools. Keep in mind that these companies often take a percentage of your earnings or charge a fee in compensation for connecting you with clients. You might find that you grow away from gig websites as your career progresses, but they’re an excellent way to get more comfortable with pitching and pick up a few jobs here and there.
You might also look at specialized job boards dedicated to flexible work. One such is FlexJobs, which is a great resource for temporary and telecommuting work. While there is a fee for an ongoing membership, many high-quality, flexible positions are only posted here.
Pitch to Clients
Whether cold, warm, or hot, pitching is a crucial activity for successful freelance writers. It’s also the most intimidating way to try and find jobs. You won’t have much success at first, and many writers find the whole process distastefully commercial. But the most successful writers work hard to improve their pitching skills.
Pitching is all about selling yourself successfully. You have to imagine what your client needs, then explain how you can fill those needs. It’s important to have a website with a decent blog, some clips, and a one-sentence summary of what you do and why you’re good at it.
When first starting out, you’ll probably want to get some clips under your belt before you start pitching. First, few folks will hire you without some proof that you can write. Secondly, it’s hard to know what clients need until you’ve worked for one or two. If you don’t have any clips at first, instead write a short sample of the type of work you’re pitching. This way, your client can trust that you’re not a con artist or hack.
You’ll want to think carefully about who you’ll pitch to. Pitching is, in part, a numbers game, but more is not necessarily merrier. You need to send out enough pitches to be successful, but you’ll have a higher rate of success if you pick your battles. Don’t send a generic email to 50 clients: instead, find and research five potential clients and send them excellent pitches. Generic pitches almost never work, but targeted pitches can gain you a job or two.
When you’re getting started, you might consider pitching to local web design firms (which have a huge need for content on client websites) as well as websites and blogs. Always make sure to thoroughly research the brand and needs of any clients before you start pitching, to save time and focus your efforts.
You can also pitch directly to publications, like websites or magazines. Take a look at our list of 100+ websites that pay freelance writers in 2018.
Cultivate a Specialty
When pitching, you want to think about why you are uniquely suited to promote or explain the client’s products or topic. It can help to cultivate a specialty, creating an area where you are uniquely knowledgeable and skilled. It works best if you focus on an area that you’re already interested in. For example, if you’re tech-savvy, find clients in that sector that could use your skills.
You can further expand this recommendation by focusing on a particular type of writing. It might be feature writing, academic writing, content writing or how-to writing, but having a specialty will help convince new clients that they can trust you to handle the work well.
Write Free Guest Posts
Guests posts can be a useful tool for promoting your writing expertise to a wider audience or getting your foot in the door with a new publication. When you write a free guest post, you essentially pitch a post to another blog instead of a client. Many bloggers will publish guest posts as their own special unpaid category. You can use these to grow your clips or get your name in front of a new audience.
It’s worth mentioning that guest posts don’t have a sterling reputation, and some writers avoid them completely. It’s been said to have “peaked” several years ago, and it’s dropped in popularity since then. However, it is still a good way to build your portfolio, so make sure you put your best foot forward.
Find Recurring Gigs
When you first start writing, getting reliable income can be a major challenge. If you land some recurring writing gigs, this can be a big help in stabilizing your income. While these posts might not be as lucrative as client-focused posts, they’re often bi-weekly and predictable. You can also use these posts as clips to demonstrate both depth of experience and reliability of character.
Better still, working with one site will often open up doors to other blogs and websites, expanding your writing domain gradually and naturally. Be ready for opportunity when it comes, and don’t be afraid to try something new or frightening.
Also take a look at our guide: The Secret Sauce to Freelance Writing on the Side