Originally published on January 20, 2017 @ 7:30 am
One of the first questions new freelance writers ask me is “how do I find clients?” They know how to write, they know they want to get paid to write, not they just need to figure out how to get from step A to step B and find those freelance writing job.
It can seem overwhelming, but truth be told, it's not as prohibitive as you might think. In fact, being a freelance writer actually grants you more opportunities. But it's going to take more than just being a good writer.
It's also going to take some good research.
Can Anyone Be a Freelance Writer?
Being a freelance writer doesn't require any special training, college degree, or formal education. And because freelance writing is open to so many people, that's what makes it such an appealing career to get into.
But, being a freelance writer is still going to require you to develop certain skills (don't worry – they're all pretty easy to learn):
- Spelling and grammar skills – although this is probably a given, most freelance writing jobs are going to require that you know and use proper spelling and grammar.
- Organizational skills – chances are, you're going to need to be able to juggle multiple projects at a time, which means you'll need to track each one separately and store their files in a way that makes delivering them easy.
- Motivation – freelance writers need to be able to motivate themselves through their projects. And believe me, not every project is going to be exciting.
- Invoicing – you're going to need to know how to invoice strategically to keep the money flowing in. Most freelance writers split up their invoicing – collecting a fee up front and the balance upon delivery – but this can leave you without stable pay for the time in between.
- Productivity and writing efficiency – it's not enough to just be able to write fast. You have to be able to keep the words flowing consistently if you want to make consistent income. And this means training your muse to work on your command and not the other way around.
How does Freelance Writing Work?
As a freelance writer, you work for yourself rather than for an employer. And you get paid by providing writing services and content to other businesses.
This also means that as a freelance writer, you'll double as a marketer. You'll need to market your services and writing abilities so the businesses who are looking to hire a freelance writer will be able to find you.
What Types of Freelance Writing Jobs are Available?
One of the major draws for freelance writing is just how much variety there is between project types:
- Blog posts
- Product descriptions
- Ad copy
- Newsletter content
- Creative writing projects
- Case studies and reports
- Social media captions
- Feature articles
As long as the internet remains a central part of how we live and work, there will always be a need for writers who can help businesses deliver their messages to their clients.
How do you Find Freelance Writing Jobs?
So, you know the jobs are out there — how do you find them?
There are plenty of places to turn to when you're ready to start getting paid to write.
Build a Website
The best and most sustainable way to find clients is to have your own website.
Building a website gives you several different benefits and unique advantages over freelance writers who don't have a website of their own:
- A place to house your portfolio – whether you want to display testimonials, case studies, or just some simple writing samples, having them on your own website is a great way to display them exactly as you want them to appear.
- A place to display your expertise within your niche – whether you're writing and posting helpful tutorials, blog posts, or other features on your site, each one will help convey not only your writing skill but also demonstrate your expertise within that niche.
- Virtually no competition – while getting clients to your site might take a bit of work, once they are there, you're the only voice they hear (unless, of course, you have some guest posts on your blog).
- Building authority – it's no coincidence that writers with their own website often get the luxury of demanding higher rates than those relying on other platforms.
Of course, it can take a long time for your website to start gaining traction enough to really build up a stream of clients for you. So, in the meantime, you will also need to rely on other tactics with more short-term results.
Just don't forget to make time to revisit and build your website regularly. Your website won't do any good if you just build it and forget it.
Job boards typically fall into two types: paid or free.
The free job boards typically make their money by charging the client for their listing, although sometimes they also take a cut of the final fees that you would charge the client. Unsurprisingly, these types of sites get thousands of new freelance writers signing up for them a day, so the competition for any writing project tends to be a bit steep.
Paid job boards make money through membership fees. And because of the exclusive nature of those membership fees, that means the quality of job posts are also generally higher, as is the quality of the writing force. Competition on these sites takes on another form: instead of trying to stand out among a sea of freelance writers of varying skills and expertise, you're trying to stand out among a smaller pond of really good freelance writers.
Here are a few of the best job boards for finding freelance writing jobs:
- Solid Gigs. Solid Gigs is more than just a job board. They curate and pass on the top gigs to their members. Additionally, members get access to over 100 valuable resources and training modules to help them flourish and get better clients.
- The Freelance Writer's Den. Although the waiting list only comes open a few times a year, you can get onto the waiting list whenever you like. Once in, you'll have access to what is probably the best job board available (filled with pre-screened, pre-vetted opportunities from resources like Indeed, GlassDoor, and FlexJobs). Not to mention three live trainings every months – it's no wonder so many freelance writers love this site.
- The Morning Coffee Newsletter by Freelance Writing. Freelance Writing is one of the longest-running job boards that I can remember, so they have built up quite a reputation for hosting quality jobs. Signing up for the newsletter brings those jobs to your inbox, but you can also check out their job listings online whenever you need to.
- BloggingPro. The BloggingPro Job Board is probably one of the most recommended job boards out there (nearly every freelance writing website out there will list this site as a valuable resource at least once). In addition to online, remote work, BloggingPro will also list location-based jobs as well.
- ProBlogger Job Board. When it comes to a reputable and free job board, ProBlogger is one of the top. Businesses of all niches and markets have positions posted for content. Like other free job boards, there are quite a few low-paying jobs posted. But with some patience and careful thought, you can also find some really great jobs with decent (and even top) pay as well.
- All Freelance Writing. One of the things I like about All Freelance Writing is that they've included a payment rating system along with their listings. Browse through and you'll see what I mean. But, because they charge clients a listing fee just to have their job posted, most of the jobs are legitimate. So you can rest easy knowing that you're not likely falling victim to a scam.
Don't have time to go through all these job boards?
No problem!! Trying to find freelance writing jobs shouldn't be a full-time-yet-unpaid job by itself.
I've put together a job feed to help you find freelance writing jobs from some of the top sites. And I update it daily so you can find what you're looking for, then easily click to go to the right site to apply.
Content mills are places that hire a lot of writers so they can continually pump out new content for their clients. So, instead of working directly with a client, you would be fulfilling an order that the client placed with the mill.
In general, these sites do not pay their beginning freelancers a lot of money, but there is usually a bump in pay once you start building a reputation with them. So, the real trick to earning good money with these sites is to be discerning and only choose projects within a certain niche.
If you stick with topics you know you can write quickly, you can probably build up the needed reviews pretty fast and earn those higher rates.
Cold Pitching through Email
Want to know one of the scariest things you will ever do as a freelance writer?
Write an email to a company explaining why they need to hire you as a freelance writer – without even knowing whether or not they are looking to hire a freelance writer!
Some of them won't even know they need content! So then you've got a double whammy to fear. It's one of the reasons so many people prefer to go to job boards and content mills – at least there you know you're talking to people who want content and are hiring.
But, in reality, cold pitching through email is much easier than it might seem. For one thing, it's a chance to express your knowledge and expertise not just as a writer, but in their industry as well.
And for another thing, there's virtually no competition. Like your website, your email contains only you – no other freelance writers fighting for that position and promising the world.
Just you and your expertise.
Social Media Marketing / Building a Writing Platform
No matter where you decide to start looking for work, you'll need to build up a solid writing platform using social media. By having a solid online presence on different social media channels, you increase your chances of building a solid relationship with your clients, leading to more repeat work and long-term clients.
Which channels should you be on? That is going to be completely up to you. However, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are some of the favorites.
I don't recommend starting off with paid advertising right at the beginning. However, a few well-timed ads on Google, Facebook, or Pinterest can supplement your writing platform and bring in new clients.
The key to getting a return on your paid advertising is to make sure you are embedding the needed tracking codes onto your writer's website as you build it out. Facebook, Google, and Pinterest all have codes that allow them to track movement across your site, which you can then use to retarget people for advertising your services.
Should you Pay to be a Freelance Writer?
The short answer is “no.” But the long answer is “you might have to make some strategic investments.”
For the most part, money flows one way when it comes to writing freelance: from the client into your pockets. And you should never, ever pay money to be able to work for someone.
However, that doesn't mean you'll never pay anything to find work. For example, some of the job boards I listed above have membership fees before you can access their list of jobs.
Should you pay to access available job listings?
That's going to depend on you. Would you pay to access job listings in Craig's List? Probably not. But would you pay a virtual assistant to scour through Craig's List and send you only the best job listings, which would then save you time from having to sift through them yourself?
That might be a service worth investing in – especially if you're spending too much time trying to sift through those types of job listings yourself.
Should you Write for Free?
No other career is expected to take on free work in the name of building “exposure,” and I don't believe freelance writers should have to write for free either.
- No unpaid writing “tests.”
- No unpaid writing samples.
If you are going to write for free, write for yourself, not for a client:
- Maintain and regularly update a blog.
- Submit guest posts to other websites and blogs.
By doing these things, you will be able to get your name out there faster, build authority both as a freelance writer and within your chosen niche, and (best yet) you'll have an ample supply of “samples” that potential clients can use to determine your skill, knowledge, and ability.
Other things to Consider About Finding Online Writing Jobs
No matter which sites you have a profile on or how you go about pitching to new clients, make sure it is easy for them to get more information about you without necessarily having to contact you.
There's an old sales tactic that many people still cling to, even to this day. And that is to write just enough to elicit curiosity, but not enough to answer all the questions. The idea is that potential clients will read something, get curious, and be forced to then contact you with their questions.
The problem is that this tactic doesn't work anymore. Potential clients don't want to jump through hoops to find out more information about you. And they aren't going to fall for the bait and contact you so you can try to sell them on something.
So make it easy for them to find out everything they need to know:
- Have a well-thought out and well-written bio on any job board site(s) you might join.
- Use a chatbot attached to your Facebook Business page to help answer questions and nurture leads.
- Make sure your writer's website has a strategic and compelling About Me page.
Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts about freelance writing that you might like: