You’re craving a career that allows you to be more creative, gives you greater control over what you work on and who you work with, and provides increased schedule flexibility to boot.
With all of that in mind, you’ve decided that freelance writing is the perfect option.
But…uhh…now what? Getting started is the most challenging part, so how exactly do you go about finding clients, securing gigs, and building a career as a freelance writer? Here are seven tips on how to find freelance writing jobs.
Finding Freelance Writing Jobs
1. Know exactly what you’re looking for.
You know you want to be a writer. But it’s important that you think about what kind of writer. A copywriter? Journalist? Ghostwriter? Someone who specializes in long-form content? Are you open to opportunities in any industry, or would you prefer to focus on something specific—like health and wellness or technology, for example?
There are tons of different opportunities out there, and it’s important to know what type of freelance gigs and jobs you’re looking for so you can better tailor your efforts and filter the results. Take the time for a little bit of self-reflection to determine if there’s a specific skill set you want to utilize or a particular industry you’d like to focus on. That’s valuable information as you begin your search for freelance writing jobs.
2. Start your search on targeted platforms.
Sure, you could do a Google search or peruse any job board and probably find at least a few posted opportunities for freelance writers. But here’s what years of experience have taught me: you’ll spend far too much time sorting through all of those results and doing your best to separate the wheat from the chaff.
A smarter strategy is to focus on sites and platforms that actually specialize in what you’re looking for—like FlexJobs, as just one example that many have used to successfully find freelance writing jobs. Another great job board for freelance writing opportunities is ProBlogger. Using these more targeted types of outlets that specialize in flexible and remote positions not only saves you countless hours, but it’ll also spare you from falling victim to things like content mills and vaguely written Craigslist advertisements.
3. Peruse social networks.
Job boards and platforms often turn up tons of worthy results, but social media is another great place to turn when you’re actively seeking freelance opportunities.
Many companies and publications will post calls for pitches or their open freelance positions on their social accounts—particularly Twitter and LinkedIn. You can search LinkedIn’s job page for key terms like “freelance writer” or “freelance copywriter” to see what comes up. On Twitter, use the search function to look for keywords or relevant hashtags to find any tweets that relate to that type of content.
If you find something, carefully follow the instructions to toss your hat into the ring. If there are no clear directions posted, get in touch to find out how you can submit your own materials for consideration.
4. Don’t forget local outlets.
When people imagine a career as a freelance writer, they often think about writing for the big-name outlets that everybody recognizes. But that’s usually not how freelance careers get started. Like any other career, you need to pay your dues and work your way up.
Personally, I got my start by writing 500-word articles for my local newspaper and a regional women’s magazine. Was it the most lucrative job I’ve ever had? Definitely not. But it allowed me to get experience with writing as a career while also learning a ton about the editorial process.
Put simply, when trying to get freelance writing jobs, don’t be afraid to start small. There are likely tons of writing opportunities in your immediate area—from publications to small businesses that need writing help—that you’re missing out on because you’re too consumed with those better-known outlets.
5. Follow any application instructions.
Duh, right? This one seems obvious. But you’d be surprised by how many people completely ignore the instructions that publications and companies give for applying to a freelance role.
Do they ask you to use a specific email subject line? Use it. Do you need to send a certain amount of published clips? Send that many—and only that many.
It seems like a relatively small detail, but failing to meet these simple requests often leads you straight to the recycling bin. Show that you can follow directions and resist the temptation of trying to find a back door or a seemingly sneaky way to skip the application process they’ve outlined.
6. Make a personal connection.
Checking the boxes that the publication or employer has laid out is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything extra to garner some name recognition and increase your chances of landing that gig.
One of my favorite methods is to interact on social media. I’ll follow the editor on Twitter and let them know how much I enjoyed a recent piece that was published. Or I’ll connect on LinkedIn with a personalized message about how much I love their content.
Again, this shouldn’t be treated as a way to work around the application or submission process that’s already been established. Instead, think of it as a way to lay the foundation of a professional relationship and hopefully get your foot in the door.
7. Pitch the outlets you’re interested in.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: about half of the freelance gigs I’ve landed have been posted somewhere. The other half? I got them by focusing on relationship building and then pitching an idea to that outlet. I know—pitching sounds intimidating. But it’s an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding freelance writing jobs. Sometimes you need to be a little more aggressive than you might be used to.
However, take this as your warning: pitching is most effective when you invest the time to build a relationship first. Cold pitching (meaning sending a somewhat generic email all over the place) usually doesn’t yield great results. Instead, create a list of the publications or organizations you’re interested in writing for and then begin to forge a personal connection by emailing to introduce yourself or interacting on social media.
Is it a guarantee that every pitch will result in getting a freelance writing job? No. But I’m confident that you’ll experience far better results than if you had just jumped right in with a hard sell.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with freelancers—newbies and veterans alike—and they all agree on one thing: finding gigs is one of the hardest parts of the job. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet that will make finding freelance writing jobs easy, but put these tips to work and keep your chin up, and I’m sure you’ll score your first (or another!) client soon.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
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