There is a well-known catch-22 in freelance writing: You can”t get writing jobs without clips, but you can’t clips until you get a writing job. With that said, it is possible to find freelance writing jobs, especially online. Here are a few tips.
1) Determine what you want to write about.
While there are generalist writers, in the beginning, it pays to choose a niche or two to focus in. Once you have a few clients, you can expand your topic or industry. If you’re not sure, visit a few of the freelance writing job sites (see below) to learn what types of writing jobs and topics are needed.
2) Have a writing Sample. Most companies looking for writers will want clips and/or a writing sample. Sometimes they’ll give you the topic, other times they’ll ask you to submit whatever you’ve got. Write a sample article or two on the topic you want to write about. Treat it like a paying gig, writing the best article you can produce and polishing it. You have one chance to wow a potential client. Don’t ruin it by submitting sub-par work.
3) Create an online presence (and clean up your digital dirt if you have any). Most clients will do a Google search to learn about you. The best information for them to find is a blog/website with examples of your work, a LinkedIn page and other professional resources that has information about you as a writer. What you don’t want them to find is controversy or anything that would have them questioning your character or work ethic. If you do have potentially career-harming material online, delete what you can and add new quality content (through a blog and social media) to push the old bad stuff down in the search rankings.
4) Network first. While there are plenty of sources of freelance writing jobs, networking can be faster and easier. First, as a referral, the client is automatically more open to you, assuming he trusts the person referring you. Second, negotiating freelance writing work directly with the client often leads to higher pay than applying to a job post. Start by letting your friends, family and others in your network know you’re looking for freelance writing gigs and direct them to your website or LinkedIn page. But don”t stop there. Work to build relationships with potential clients, focusing on how you can help them achieve their goals.
5) Go to the source. Search for associations, organizations, websites, magazines and other resources related to the topic(s) you”re interested in writing about. For example, if you want to write about chocolate, visit the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. While some will have information on writing for them, others won”t, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need you. Don’t be afraid to contact the organization to let them know about your services, expertise and how you can help them.
6) Search for jobs on writing job sites. There are many writing jobs on Craigslist and other general job sites, but for best pay, you’ll do better to search for jobs on writing-related sites. Avoid jobs that pay too little or want to pay with ad-revenue.
- Mediabistro.com – You’ll find all sorts of writing-related opportunities. Not all are virtual, so if you”re looking to write from home, you’ll need to search keywords such as “virtual,” “remote,” “work at home,” and/or “telecommute.”
- Journalism Jobs.com – Many writing jobs posted. If you want to write from home, choose the “Telecommute” option from the “Location” search option.
- Freelance Writing Gigs.com – SFreelance Writing Gigs, searches for and posts writing jobs. Most are from Craigslist.
- Problogger.com – Companies pay to have their writing jobs posted at ProBlogger. There are many well-paying gigs posted and many not so great jobs, so you’ll need to research each to find the ones that fit your needs.
- BloggingPro.com – What’s great about this site is that you can search for a variety of writing job types such as full-time, contract, freelance, temp, and more.
- WritersWeekly.com – This site offers freelance markets (i.e. magazines), as well as writing job posts. Most of the job posts come from Craiglist, MediaBisto and JournalismJobs.com.
- LinkedIn Jobs – I think all freelancers should be on LinkedIn as it”s a great place to network, as well as find jobs. LinkedIn has it’s own job board where you can search for writing work.
What about content writing mills and business?
If you want to make an significant income and build a six-figure writing career, you”re better off to avoid content mills and businesses that take on content writers (sell articles to businesses), as most don”t pay very well. I just saw a content creation business that pays it”s best 5-star writers 10 cents a word. That”s $50 for 500 words, which isn”t horrible, but if you”re not a five-star writer, then you”ll make less than $20 for that article. It”s always better to write for a flat-rate.
What about general freelance sites?
General freelance sites such as Upwork (Elance and ODesk), have a variety of writing jobs, however, in most cases you have to compete for the work and often the jobs don”t pay well. With that said, it can be a way to get your foot in the door, get some clips, and later seek higher paying work.
I’ve found writing jobs, now what?
Finding the work is actually the easy part. It’s getting hired that is difficult. Whether you’re pitching a single story or applying for an on-going writing gig, you need put forth a submission that follows the company’s guidelines, highlights your writing skill, and shows why you’re the writer for the job.