How a freelance writer finds paid work

how does a freelance writer find paid work_ by Melinda J. Irvine

It’s one of the first questions we all ask when starting our freelance writing career — how exactly does a freelance writer find paid work? Sure there’s a million places you can write for free, but you don’t have a proper writing business until someone actually pays you for some copy.

This blog outlines 10 different strategies for finding paid work as a freelance writer — it’s for new freelancers or anyone thinking about a writing side-hustle. There are no ‘magic links’ in this post that will lead you to the Promised Land of well-paying writing jobs, but it will open up ideas for how you can begin to develop (or expand) your own client base.

1. Online job sites

There are thousands and thousands of writing assignments posted everyday on freelancing sites and job boards. Places like Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru are great for beginners as there are usually tons of jobs and the whole system is very structured.

Open a free account, write yourself a decent profile, post a photo, create a portfolio, and you’re ready to start bidding for jobs. If you’re a beginner freelancer or just starting your writing side-hustle this is the perfect place to learn how to create a successful business proposal, follow a project brief, and engage with clients during the editing process.

Try these as a starting point:

Be warned, many of the jobs are very low paying — especially when you are being charged up to 20% commission by the job site, monthly membership fees, GST, bank transfer charges, and PAYPAL fees. It’s a good starting point, but not the longterm strategy of a 6 figure freelancer.

PS: Also try Craigslist in your region.

READ MY EARLIER BLOG: Finding Clients: 13+ Jobsites for Freelance Writers

pitching professional publications for writing work -- by Melinda J. Irvine

2. Pitching publications and journals

Once you have a solid writing portfolio you can start pitching magazines, newspapers, eZines, journals, professional blogs, and websites in your interest area or professional niche. It’s very cool to see your first ever published story with a byline that includes your name, photograph and bio.

If you’ve no clue where to start, try googling ‘write for us xxxx‘ inserting your niche instead of the xxxxs. For example: write for us travel blog, write for us pets, write for us real estate market Sydney. A lot of the websites you uncover will be asking for free copy in return for exposure, but there are still heaps of sites that pay.

You might also consider buying the latest edition of Writer’s Market, which includes an extensive directory of publications that pay — including rates, submission procedures, and key contact details. But before you go rushing off to prepare a submission, take the time to read the magazine, blog, or publication to get a feel for the type of writing that might appeal to the audience (and the editor).

CHECK OUT MY POST: Get Paid to Write Your Personal Story

leveraging your contacts for writing work -- by Melinda J. Irvine

3. Professional network

Every freelance writer should be leveraging their professional (and personal) network as much as possible — without being officious. You’d be amazed at the places you can find paid work just by letting people know that you’re now a writer for hire.

Don’t be afraid to:

  • Email your old boss as well as former co-workers, managers, and clients with details of your new profession — remembering to place the focus on how you can help them out with your writing skills.
  • Pester everyone in your immediate family — uncles, brothers, cousins, in-laws, nieces, grandparents — after all, it’s family.
  • Update your Facebook profile with details about your writing profession.
  • Ask any or all of the above for referrals.

Once you start building a client list be sure to ask for written recommendations and testimonials to place on your website or FB page.

using Linkedin to find writing work -- by Melinda J. Irvine

4. Linkedin

Linkedin is the world’s largest professional network and an excellent place for finding new writing clients and freelance writing jobs. Create an outstanding professional profile with a high-res business headshot — remembering to use keywords that indicate you’re a freelance writer.

Once your profile is setup you can find writing gigs in number of ways:

  • Searching the jobs board using keywords and filters.
  • Setting your profile to indicate you accept free messages and business enquiries, are open to job opportunities, and willing to work remotely.
  • Using the profile feature area to list each of your writing services.
  • Being an active member of various business groups.
  • Attending Linkedin meetups in your local area.

Your Linkedin profile also includes a portfolio area where you can attach samples of your writing, or link to completed assignments and client testimonials. Don’t forget to ask your connections to write you a Linkedin recommendation – and publish it to your profile.

5. Writer website

Everyday potential clients are googling ‘content writing service’ or ‘find a copywriter’ or ‘web writing Australia’ et at — how about creating a slick writer website that outlines all your writing services? Research the keywords that suit your professional niche, then implement a solid blogging or social media strategy and you can have writing clients coming to you.

READ MY POST: Freelancing: why you need a writer website

cold calling for writing work -- by Melinda J. Irvine

6. B2B Marketing

How about marketing your writing services directly to small or corporate business? It’s not for the faint-hearted and you need to be clear about your professional niche and specialty area before you start. You should also have a set of professional marketing materials ready to go.

Let’s say you were interested in writing for medical practitioners, you might look through your local directory (or just use Google) for names, phone numbers, and the addresses of medical clinics. Once you have a prospect list, your efforts could include:

  • Cold-calling the clinic to introduce yourself and asking for an email address.
  • Sending a series of email auto-responders introducing your writing services.
  • Following up the email auto-responders with a hardcopy letter of offer.
  • Visiting the clinic in person.

This type of marketing works best when you’ve researched your prospect and have a clear vision of how your writing services will help the business owner increase their sales, improve their administrative procedures, or save them money.

READ MY POST: Creating great marketing tools for your freelance writing business

7. Networking Groups

Attending business networking events is an excellent platform for any professional writer to find clients — especially B2B copywriters, technical writers, and web content writers. Try your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary chapter, BNI or Business Women’s Group. But don’t expect to turn up once with your business card and be flooded with work — you need to become an active member of the group.

Start attending weekly meetings and special events, taking the time to get to know people. Of course you’ll be exchanging business cards, but rather than spending the whole time gushing about how much you love writing, you’ll have better results by listening and a getting handle on what what people do (and how you can help them). Once you’ve been attending meetings for a while you generally get an opportunity to make a full presentation to the group about your writing services.

8. Online Advertising

Paid advertising is another possibility for finding writing jobs. I’m not suggesting that new writers are in the best position to lash out on advertising, but Google, Bing, and Facebook pay-per-click ads are still possibilities.

Google your own writing service niche (using a variety of keywords) and see who’s paying for ads. Pay attention to the content of their display ads and visit their website to see how you measure up. Remember: if you do decide to take out some online ads, these are the people you’ll be competing with for clicks.

9. Facebook groups

As of 31 October 2019 Facebook had 2.45 billion monthly active users, and many of these are active members of Facebook business, community and interest groups. To find paid writing gigs, join groups that represent your target customer demographic and start interacting with members.

Participating in a Facebook group should be approached in the same way as a business networking event — share helpful tips, respectfully participate in group discussions, and quickly respond to callouts for writing services.

10. X-Factor

And finally, the magical X-Factor — let me explain it in a story.

One day (about 10 years ago) I was sitting in a coffee shop in a small QLD country town. It was pouring rain outside (and I was busy pumping out copy on my laptop), but I happened to overhear a young woman (seated at the table behind me) talking on her cellphone about submitting a resume and needing time to get it prepared.

While she was still on the phone I reached into my wallet, pulled out my business card, turned around, smiled, and handed it to her. She immediately grinned, put her hand over the talkie bit on her phone, and whispered ‘Really! You do resumes?’.

That’s the X-Factor. Turns out that young woman was an actor who had been on maternity leave and was ready to get back to work. I was thrilled when she hired me to write her resume and job application letter — and even more thrilled when I saw her on a major TV network as a news anchor a few years later.

There are writing jobs to be found everywhere you can possibly imagine. Make the X-Factor work for you by writing every day, building a solid writing portfolio, and believing in yourself — because your next writing job may not be clearly posted in a Facebook group, it could be sitting behind you in the café — or standing next to you in the supermarket.

Get writing, friends.

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