In ~10 years of professional blogging and writing, I’ve learned a few tips about freelance writing. Today, I’m going to answer some of the biggest questions from aspiring freelance writers and share some top places to find freelance writing work.
Before you get into freelance writing work, here are some things to consider:
What Kind of Writing Work?
Firstly, you need to determine what kind of work you want.
If you are a blogger, there are plenty of blogging and ghost blogging jobs (that is, blogging without credit to your name).
However, you may feel ready to step out of that box and into brand ambassadorship, writing product descriptions, or copywriting. You’ll need experience in whatever area you step into, so if you have any, add it to your resume. If you know of close contacts in these fields, consider offering your services on a limited or low cost basis, once or twice, to get your feet wet. I do not advise making a habit of this but assisting companies and brands is always beneficial.
Pay for writing varies greatly. Some gigs pay by the word, some offer flat fees.
Because competition is stiff, newbies may believe they cannot write for anything more than a few dollars.
My first gig paid $0.05 per word, which is not great but it’s far more than $5 for 500 words.
Another thing you need to consider is that some sites pay revenue share rather than a word count – that is, you get a share of the advertising. Other sites provide reader votes or quantity bonuses, while regular pay is quite low or nonexistent.
While making a few dollars for a post may feel great right now, down the road it’s going to seem like you’ve done a lot of work for almost nothing in return.
Pro Tip: Never Write For Free (Or Cheap)!
You might be beginner who is just trying to break into the freelance writing scene, but, that doesn’t mean that you write for free or dirt cheap prices.
This is a bad practice. You will come across many clients in the job portals and even in Facebook who would ask you to write for free samples. Reject it.
It worked for me for a short time, but if you don’t feel comfortable starting out with such low pay, instead offer to guest post about a topic you are passionate and knowledgeable about. Contributing to something you care about will motivate you to write well and can establish your reputation. Otherwise, you cannot guarantee that the amount of income you receive will be worth your time and effort, and you may be tempted to write a lower quality piece.
Where to Publish Your Sample Posts
If you don’t have a website or your blog is too personal, you’ll need a portfolio of writing pieces online.
Most job ads will request writing samples – allowing you to get a decent gig without much experience. You can create a website easily by following these instructions; or head on to Clippings.Me to upload your writing samples. Clippings.Me is a professional, polished, and targeted for writers. You can load unlimited clippings for free.
Where to Find Freelance Writing Jobs?
In 2008, I landed my first blogger job after months of applying at some of the sites listed below.
I had no prior paid experience, but I did have a track record already as a long time blogger in that niche, SEO and web design experience.
Remember to apply to any job on these boards the same way you’d apply to any other job: write an effective cover letter that focuses on the prospective client, upload a professional resume and submit tailored writing samples.
1. Problogger Job Board
Brought to you by the trustworthy folks at ProBlogger, this board primarily lists blogging work and that’s why it’s the first source I go to. In addition, many of the ads here are fairly comprehensive in telling you exactly what you need experience-wise and pay parameters. Jobs are broken out by blog network positions vs. job offers from companies. Offers plenty of blogging advice on the main site as well.
It’s categorized according to section, “Content Writing Jobs,” “Blogging Jobs,” and so on, allowing you to check out writing jobs that are not strictly blogging but in areas such as translation or educational materials.
You can also subscribe and have jobs delivered to your inbox. The blog also offers lots of advice for landing jobs.
This board is primarily for local work in media, so if you live near a major city or an area they cover, you’ll want to check into these job listings regularly.
They do have freelance work and remote jobs from time to time as well, although many of these are full time gigs in all areas of media. This is a convenient place to search for jobs by location. This site also offers latest news about media and a host of paid training options.
Similar to Media Bistro, this site also allows you to search by job type (blogger, writer). Don’t be intimidated by the site name; there are local blogger jobs available here. Also offers lots of advice and training in the field, as well as journalism news.
Be very cautious with this one but you can find local and possibly remote work on this site.
Often ProBlogger and Freelance Writing Gigs will pick up the quality ads from this site, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t find work nearby through CraigsList. The problem here is that some of these links can be spammy. If it looks and feels like an ad or is simply screaming, “work from home!” you can be sure it’s spam.
This newsletter is subscribed to through FreelanceWriting.com and is an excellent source for freelance blogging work. The weekly email has a short description so that you only need to click on the links that apply to you. This is one of my most valuable resources, so I suggest you sign up right away.
Because of its nature as a professional site, LinkedIn is a great place to search for jobs, detail your work experience, collect endorsements and connect with the companies and fields you’d like to work for. In addition, you select what you are seeking from contacts and how you’d like them to reach out to you.
While it’s not my top resource for finding work, I have landed some interesting projects through my contacts.
This option is going to work best for you if you can take temp jobs on short notice, live near a large city, and are looking for writing work that employs more like full time – that is, working for full days or weeks at a time and most likely onsite for a client. I’ve recently signed up with The Creative Group and Creative Circle.
Where Else to Find Writing Work?
I’ve gotten some of my best work writing for friends and family, for full pay so leave no stone un-turned.
Search for local companies that you’d like to be a part of and hunt for targeted magazines accepting pitches in your niche. In-person events and conferences round out my list of places where I have landed writing contracts.
These sources will get you started in landing your first well-paying freelance writing job and building your skills set.
Other Ways to Find and Keep Writing Clients
1. Have a blog
My first paid gig was writing for a big name brand – American Greetings (AG). Because I had already been blogging for years, I had a leg up on other applicants but I made sure AG knew I was a fan and understood their audience.
Blogging provides great editorial, writing and proofreading experience. Position your blog in the niche you want to write for: lifestyle if you want to work with brands, techie if you want to do science or technical writing, style if you want to work in fashion, etc.
If you are attending events to find brands and companies to work with, it’s not enough to drop your business card and media kit at each of them.
Review who is going to be at the event and select your top 5 or 6 to make contact with. Engage with the brand before you get to the event. Brainstorm creative ways that you can work with them ahead of time and why they should hire you over anyone else. What will you do for them that no one else can do as well?
How Can I Stand Out from the Crowd?
1. Volunteer Where Your Passion Is
One of my current clients kept me in mind because I was passionate about the cause for GMO labeling, just as she is.
I wrote a number of articles in that campaign’s infancy, and she eventually hired me to her team. As a result, bloggers in the natural living sphere know me and hire or refer me to other people looking for writers. That’s because I also keep active in this community, supporting their causes. Don’t just volunteer; become active and engaged with the bloggers who are doing work that you really care about.
2. Over deliver
The old cliché in business goes, “Under promise and over deliver.”
While you should be creatively pitching prospects, promising less while deciding ahead of time to build in “extras” for your client makes you look good and gives you breathing room in case of disaster. For one client, I was her “go to” person for emergencies for a period of time. This can be inconvenient and is not always an option, nor should it be a long-term requirement, but it can build your reputation quickly and easily. How can you “over deliver” for your prospects and clients?
3. Communicate Issues Before They Blow Up
Real life is full of miscommunication, missed deadlines and missed opportunities.
If this happens with a potential or current client, take the high road. Admit when you’ve done something wrong or if you are uncertain. Take steps to make it better. Recently, a miscommunication between two of my clients caught me in the middle. I discussed the issue with both of them and declined a job to keep them happy. They did not resolve their issues, but they appreciated my honesty and gesture.
So far, being honest has never made a situation worse; it has only improved things or ended an unwanted client relationship.
4. Get to Know the Client Personally
When possible, have a direct conversation with your client.
For small clients this is a wonderful way to brainstorm ideas, find common ground and put you top of mind. One of my upcoming clients is a vendor of services for my family, however, we have built a relationship on our common philosophy. When she was looking for a writer, she thought of me. I took what I knew from our time together and pitched her services over and above what she was requesting. Now she is considering me for even bigger responsibilities on her team.
About Gina Badalaty
Gina Badalaty is the owner of Embracing Imperfect, a blog devoted to encouraging and assisting moms of children with special needs and restricted diets. Gina has been blogging about parenting, raising children with disabilities, and allergy-free living for over 12 years. She’s blogs at Mamavation.com, and has blogged for major brands like Silk and Glutino. She also works as a copywriter and brand ambassador. She loves engaging on social media, travel and cooking gluten-free.