I do a ton of freelancing writing myself, and I have to admit: in the beginning, it wasn’t easy to get jobs. I would send cold email after cold email begging anyone to hire me to write for them. Looking back, I could have saved tons of time and energy if I had a post like this to refer to. This post, by one of my freelancing friends Laura, will reveal 14 sure-fire ways to get freelancing jobs for beginners. If you’re thinking about starting up a freelancing side hustle, this post is for you. Enjoy!
You’ve been dreaming about becoming a freelance writer for as long as you can remember. But, whether you plan to do it as a part-time side hustle or have it be your primary source of income, getting started can be daunting. You may not know how to put yourself out there or find clients. Don’t worry, though. In this post, Laura from Every Day By the Lake will show you 14 sure-fire ways to get freelance writing jobs for beginners, so you can happily work from home.
Get Serious About Self-Promotion
When you first freelance, the idea of self-promotion may make you feel a tad queasy. You might be afraid of what the internet trolls will say. Or, maybe you don’t want to come across as pushy or annoying.
But, if you want to make it as a freelance writer, you need to put those feelings aside and advocate for yourself. You must get comfortable with being a writer and a marketer. Otherwise, no one will be able to find and hire you.
Let’s review some self-promotion basics:
1. Tell the World You’re for Hire
It sounds obvious, but you must make it very clear that you’re a freelance writer for hire. Prospective clients won’t know to reach out unless they see that you provide the services they need. So, proclaim your availability and expertise from the rooftops – and do it often.
Here’s where you should say that you’re for hire:
- In your social media bios and posts
- In online groups and other forums
- In your email signature
- On your website
To make a living, you must hang your freelance writing digital shingle everywhere your potential clients hang out online.
2. Launch Your Website
You need a website. Period. It’s 2021, and people expect you to have one. Chances are, prospective clients will check your website before reaching out to work with you. That means it needs to have these key pages to impress them and entice them to learn more about you:
- About: covers who you are, where your expertise lies, and how you help clients
- Services: lists the freelance writing services you provide, like article writing, blog writing, web copy creation, email marketing, technical writing, ghostwriting, proofreading, etc.
- Portfolio: includes links to your other published work.
- Contact: tells visitors how to get in touch with you.
Launching a website doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can create one in a day for just a few dollars. There’s no reason to put it off, especially since it can help you make money writing.
Don’t worry about getting the layout, colors, and copy perfect for your first version. Your digital home can grow with you and should be updated as you make progress in your freelance business. Once your website is live, put the link in your email signature and online bios. Then, blast it out regularly everywhere you’re active online.
3. Build Your Portfolio
Your portfolio contains your writing samples and serves as your freelance resume, demonstrating your expertise and credibility to potential clients. But, when you’re a brand new freelance writer who’s never been published, you don’t have a lot to put in there. That’s okay!
Many writers start their freelance careers by writing for their own blogs, and you can, too. Choose a popular topic or niche that you know a lot about. Then, publish several thoughtful posts that show off your mastery of the subject as well as your ability to write.
Those initial posts become the starter portfolio that you can leverage to get published elsewhere. Be sure to share what you’ve written everywhere you have an online presence. Plan to keep blogging indefinitely as it can be a great way to drive visitors, or traffic, to your website.
4. Try Guest Posting
Guest blog posts are exactly how they sound: You write articles for other blogs. Although they’re usually unpaid (exceptions exist), you do get something out of the deal. Typically, the other blog owner will link back to your website, which could increase your traffic.
But, new writers get much more than just a link. If the other blog is well-read (which should be your goal), you’ll get lots of eyeballs on your content. Those eyeballs could like what they see, which may mean that you get hired for a new freelance writing job. Plus, you’ll get the bragging rights that your writing is featured on a website other than your own. Just like that, your portfolio expands, and your credibility goes up!
Securing these opportunities takes a little legwork, so you should start the process as you’re writing your initial blog posts. First, you need to find other small businesses in your niche that publish guest posts. To do this, run a quick Google search “<insert niche> blogs that accept guest posts.”
Then, identify each blog owner’s social media handles so you can connect and interact with them. Thoughtfully comment on their posts and share their content with your following. The idea is to get on their radars as someone helpful, knowledgeable, and kind.
Once you’ve built some rapport, contact them and offer to write a guest post for their site. Go the extra mile and suggest topics that their blog hasn’t covered. Be sure to follow any guest post pitching and submission guidelines listed on their website.
If they say no or ignore you, move on to the next blog on the list. Once you have a couple of guest posts under your belt, you’re in a much better position to go after paid gigs. And who knows? Someone you write a guest post for may hire you for ongoing work!
5. Claim and Use Your Social Media Handles
Social media is a powerful tool to build awareness of your brand. And, if you use it well, it can help you get freelance writing jobs. Here’s what to do to make it work for you:
- Register for every possible platform. That way, someone else can’t open an account under your name or your business name.
- Choose a couple of platforms to master first (ideally where your prospective clients hang out). Learn best practices. Build your follower base. You can add in more platforms later.
- Show your personality and be vulnerable, but keep your business and personal pages separate. Unless you’re a food writer, no one cares about what you ate for lunch.
- Post often. Platform feeds move at warp speed, so one or two posts a day won’t cut it. Tools like Smarterqueue can post automatically on a schedule to make this easier.
- Advertise yourself. Share your blog posts and other published content. Declare that you’re for hire and discuss your services.
Bonus tip: Be consistent and patient. It takes time to build a presence. But, if you show up every day, you’ll ultimately end up with a lead generation machine.
Develop, Nurture, and Leverage Relationships
As a freelance writer, you’re a small business owner. But, you don’t operate in isolation. To be successful, you must develop and nurture a vast network of relationships.
Those connections could turn into clients, business partners, service providers, or mentors. But, remember, relationships are supposed to be mutually beneficial. So, give at least as much as you take.
Here’s how to grow, foster, and leverage your network as a new freelancer:
6. Tap Your Existing Circle
Believe it or not, you may have a potential client or two in your existing circle. But, family, friends, and colleagues often get overlooked because the assumption is they don’t need or want your service. Don’t ignore this low-hanging fruit.
Tell the people in your life that you’re going to start freelancing. They may not be able to offer you anything other than encouragement. But, they may surprise you with a gig opportunity or referral to someone else.
The bottom line? You never know unless you ask, so inquire. It only takes a moment and could be what jumpstarts your freelance writing career.
7. Befriend Other Freelance Writers
It may sound counterintuitive, but you should befriend other freelance writers. It’s not as cutthroat out there as you may think. While some freelancers aren’t open to collaboration, most see its value and genuinely want to help others. Many experienced writers make it a point to mentor those just starting, and they could hook you up with freelance writing jobs for beginners.
You can find other freelance writers by searching on Google and social media. But, it would be best if you built rapport before asking for writing advice or job leads. The time and effort invested will be well worth it.
8. Partner with Graphic and Web Designers
What goes together like chicken and waffles? Freelance writers and graphic or web designers! A gorgeous flyer or website without words is ineffective. Often, designers don’t have the time (or skill) to create engaging written content. That’s your opportunity.
By partnering together, you complement each other’s strengths and open up lucrative business possibilities. You can refer clients to each other. Or, you could form a true partnership and offer your joint clients a one-stop-shop for their marketing needs.
9. Get Social on Social Media
As we discussed, using social platforms can be helpful to increase brand awareness and promote your services. But, it’s also a great place to expand your network. Here’s how to grow your circle:
- Follow, friend, or connect with bloggers, freelance writers, editors at select publications, etc. Often, people will follow you back quickly.
- Be engaging. Offer tips and tricks. Ask questions. Be sure that everything you post could benefit your ideal client in some way.
- Be helpful. Share other folks’ content. Answer questions in your area of expertise. Facilitate connections between members of your network.
Again, consistency is crucial. The internet is a noisy place, so you must be continuously visible. Otherwise, as a new writer, you’ll be forgotten.
10. Ask for Referrals
If you already have one or more clients – and they’re happy with your work – ask them if they know other folks who need to hire a writer. If you’re shy, posing this question may make you nervous. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Just send them a short, direct email.
Your clients aren’t going to think less of you. They understand that referrals are a big part of doing business. The worst possible outcome is that they say no. But, one simple question may result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in additional revenue! That’s worth working through your fears.
Pro Tip: Don’t have any current or former paying clients? Ask the bloggers that published your guest posts.
Try These Other Ways to Find Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners
Many of the tactics to land freelance writing jobs for beginners above have a long-term focus. While the strategies work, you may want or need to earn money through online writing faster. The following methods could help you get gigs sooner rather than later:
11. Send Cold Pitches
A cold pitch is when you contact another blogger or editor about your services without solicitation. They didn’t post a job, publicly call for pitches, or otherwise invite you to reach out. They’re not necessarily looking for writers. You just decided that they need what you do or have to say.
A well-crafted pitch can result in a freelance writing gig, but it’s a numbers game. The chances are good that the recipient gets pitched all of the time. So, if they’re not expecting to hear from you, your message is likely to land in the trash bin. That means you need to do a lot of outreach to get any response.
You can increase your odds of catching your prospect’s eye, though. Here are a few best practices:
- Connect and engage with your point of contact on social media before sending your pitch. They may recognize your name when they receive your email.
- Research the publication extensively. Know what kinds of content they publish.
- Offer a fresh angle that builds on what’s been written before or fills in an obvious gap.
- Keep it snappy. Your recipient is busy, so keep your pitch to a few short paragraphs.
- Include who you are, how you found them, what you do, where you’ve been published, your content ideas for them, and how to contact you. Be sure to thank them.
- Make it obvious what you’re pitching in the subject of your email. For a pet blog, the subject line could read Pitch: 10 Things Your Dog is Telling You with Their Eyes.
- Search for (and follow) their pitching guidelines. Ignoring those instructions equals instant rejection.
- Follow up. The recipient may like your pitch but forget to respond. Persistence is key.
A word of caution: Even if your pitch is accepted, the agreement may cover just one writing assignment. You often can’t count on cold pitching to result in recurring revenue.
12. Join Freelance Websites
Freelance websites, like Fiverr or Upwork, connect clients with freelancers. If you create a profile, prospective clients can find you. Plus, you’ll have writer access to view and apply to different types of freelance writing gigs. It’s possible to earn a living from these websites.
However, there are a few potential downsides you should know:
- You’ll have stiff competition. There are lots of other freelance writers going for the same finite number of posted jobs online. It’s hard to gain traction.
- The pay is often low. Clients typically use freelance websites to source budget-friendly talent – which is good for them but not for you.
- The website takes a percentage of your earnings as a fee – up to 20%. Pair that with having to pay self-employment taxes, and the gigs may not be worth your time.
While some people credit their entire freelance career to these writing sites, they may ultimately be best for getting freelance writing jobs for beginners. Once you’re established, you can land paid writing gigs through other methods. That way, you can make (and keep!) more money.
13. Peruse Job Boards
Job boards aren’t just for traditional employment. You can use them to find freelance work. There are job boards, like ProBlogger Jobs, that exclusively feature freelance writing gigs – often for beginners. Other websites, like FlexJobs, advertise a variety of freelance gigs, journalism jobs, and remote work opportunities. You can also search LinkedIn Jobs for freelance job listings. Although it doesn’t have the best reputation, Craigslist is sometimes worth a quick look for freelance writing jobs.
The upside of applying to a gig through a job board is that it’s a warm pitch. The gig poster is expecting to hear from writers like you. The downside is that your application will be one of many. You’ll need to find a way to stand out.
Treat searching for freelance writing gigs like you’d treat searching for a full-time job. Tailor each application you submit to the company or advertisement. Include your most relevant portfolio clips.
You’ll probably need to respond to several advertisements to get any feedback. But, with a bit of luck, it’s possible to land a job quickly. So, peruse the best freelance job boards over your morning coffee each day.
14. Connect with Content Agencies
Content agencies have growing rosters of small business and big brand clients that need written content. That’s where you come in. Working for an agency means you won’t have to find individual gigs on your own. You’ll get assignments from an editor and will likely write for a variety of different clients.
While it’s nice not having to hustle for every assignment, online writing for an agency has one big con for you: the pay will likely be lower than if you landed the client on your own. That’s because the agency is the intermediary in the equation. They charge the client a certain amount for written content. Since they need to make money, you won’t get paid the full amount they receive. Still, agency work could do great things for your freelance writing business.
Being a new freelancer can be overwhelming, especially in finding freelance writing jobs for beginners. Fortunately, whether you’re a freelance writer based in New York, California, Florida, or elsewhere in the United States, there are many different ways you can land work. For best results, use a mixture of long and short-term oriented techniques. And, eventually, try each one of the strategies to see which ones work best for you. Happy writing!
This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.
I’m a highly-praised content writer for businesses and publication editors. I’m also a passionate coach to new and aspiring freelancers and awesome writers.