Finding work as a freelance writer can be tough. It’s easy to make mistakes or get confused, but finding work isn’t impossible--otherwise, why would I be writing about it? There are plenty of ways to find work. Let’s go over a few of them, so you can get your writing on.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Where you can find freelance work
- Why you should niche-down
- How to start your portfolio for free
Build up a Portfolio of Written PiecesIs there anything worse than applying for entry-level jobs that also require two years’ experience?
One of the perks of starting a freelance writing career is that you can get your own portfolio together quite easily--even if you haven’t had a paid writing job yet!
Your portfolio can be completely free, you’ll only need a few word documents of your best quality work that you can send to editors and hiring managers. Although you would benefit from putting a few dollars aside and hosting your own basic website to host your work on.
As someone who has hired before, receiving links to published articles feels more legitimate. But if the quality of writing is great, I wouldn’t let a portfolio of Google Docs stop me from hiring someone who’s good at what they do.
You can also build your portfolio on a free publishing platform like Medium. In fact, there are a bunch of great freelancers who use Medium as a way to promote their work.
Another way to pad out your portfolio is to look for guest posts. A guest post is when a blogger or website owner accepts a post from another writer. It’s an old-fashioned win-win; the website owner gets free content for their site, and the writer gets featured in front of a new audience. Being published on someone else’s website is a great way to build credibility.
Your portfolio will get better over time, so don’t stress about not having guest posts or a viral Medium-published post. Instead, get applying as soon as possible and get your name (and work) out there!
Prepare a Writing ResumeA writer’s resume involves more than just a portfolio. You’ll give the hiring manager or editor a little more information about you and your work.
Now, when you’re starting out, your portfolio will speak a lot louder than your resume will. In fact, some editors won’t even look for a resume and go straight for a portfolio. However, you don’t want to be frantically typing one up when someone does ask you for one, so it’s best to be prepared.
A writing resume is also incredibly handy when registering for freelance websites. When you sign up for freelancer websites (more on those in the next section), you’ll have to create a profile that hiring managers can glance over.
If your resume is up to date, you’ll simply have to copy and paste the desired information into your profile, which will streamline the entire process--that’s great if you’re applying to multiple sites.
Check out Freelancer Sites
Sure, you can advertise your services on your own website, but I wouldn’t solely rely on that. Finding freelance writing gigs is simply a case of knowing the right places to look. Here are a few of the more popular job boards out there.
Upwork is one of the biggest platforms for freelancers on the internet. There are countless gigs on the platform at any one time.
Upwork, like a lot of marketplaces, takes all sorts of jobs and freelancers on board. There’s a lot of competition on the site, so, while you’re starting out, you may have to take some low-paying gigs. Once you’ve got a reputation and some positive feedback, you can start applying for higher-paying jobs.
If you’re an absolute beginner, you can get some quick experience on Upwork, and some writers do make a great living on the platform.
Reedsy is a great platform for publishing professionals and freelancers to find work.
Reedsy is more suited to long-form ghostwriters, compared to writers looking for a blogging or content writing job. If you’re looking at becoming a ghostwriter, Reedsy is a solid choice.
ProBlogger Job Board
Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger Job Board is one of the best job boards out there for freelancers. Unlike other boards, it costs publishers a fee (usually around $70-100) to publish their job offerings. This extra hurdle usually weeds out a lot of low-paying websites and generally crummy jobs.
There are a lot of experienced writers who use this job board to get short-term and long-term work. The site is definitely worth a look, with new jobs posted daily.
Again, Fiverr has a lot of freelancers on the platform, so it can be hard to stand out, especially seeing the huge range in prices. However, Fiverr does have a ‘Pro’ platform that allows you to set a higher rate once you have some experience.
Freeeup (yes, there’s an extra e) is another marketplace, but there are a few main differences to the other freelance marketplaces.
For starters, Freeeup’s freelancers are vetted, meaning that only the best will get on board. This is great if you don’t want to compete with less-skilled writers who charge unrealistic rates.
Freeeup also introduces suitable freelancers one-by-one to the person who posted the job. That way you’ll be looked at on an individual basis and won’t be one of the thirty people who apply for a gig.
Be Professional When Applying for Jobs
Here are some tips for answering freelancer job postings on marketplaces:
- Answer job postings personally. More than likely, the person posting the job will leave their name. Make sure you use their name when replying.
- Give a pitch specific to the job. It is tempting to have the same copy-pasted response for all writing jobs. While it’s handy to have a loose template you can use for responses, you’ll want to tailor it to the specific job.
- Attach your portfolio. Attach your portfolio in your first message. Otherwise, you’re hoping the hiring manager responds to your original message asking for it.
- Make your pitch short and to the point. There will be many applicants for writing jobs, so make sure your application doesn’t waffle on too much, otherwise there’s a chance the hiring manager will read the first line and skip the rest.
- Make sure you don’t have any spelling mistakes! I know this sounds basic, but you’ll be surprised how many typos slip through.
Be ReliableSo much of the freelance writing world revolves around those who are reliable. You’d be surprised to know that by being a good, reliable writer, you’re better than 95% of your competition.
Keep communication open with the person hiring you. If you have any questions let them know.
Also, make sure you keep to your deadlines. For many sites, the article getting finished is usually step one of a large process. After writing, your article will need to be edited at least once, formatted, uploaded, and there’ll need to be relevant images created or sourced. So, by being a day or so late on your delivery, you’ll hold the entire process back.
Once you start putting out great work and are pleasant to work with, you’ll get recommendations and positive reviews. From there, you’ll start to get more and more work. You’ll also notice that if you’re producing good work, website owners and editors will hire you multiple times and maybe even put you on a regular contract.
Pro Tip: Choose a Niche… Trust Me
Just like any business, as a freelance writer, you’ll want to specialize in something.
Pick an area that you’re knowledgeable in or passionate about and write some sample articles about that. When it comes to landing jobs, targeted pieces will get you much further than general creative writing samples.
That way, when you get to the point where you’re marketing your services or applying for gigs on marketplaces, you’ll be able to show your expertise.
To find your niche, use what you’re experienced in writing about. Or, if you’re starting out, what you’re knowledgeable in compared to the average person. Usually, if you’re writing as a side-hustle, your day job is a great place to start thinking about a niche. For example, a teacher may specialize in education or book blogs.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to solely apply for work in your niche, but giving yourself a specialty is important when you’re looking for decent writing gigs.
In this article, we went over a few steps that you should take to start your freelance career. Even if you’re not getting hired at the start, make sure you continue to write, as it’s the only sure-fire way to get better.
Dave Chesson is the book marketing Super-Nerd behind Kindlepreneur.com. His focus is on providing in-depth, actionable information for indie authors, such as his recent guide to book writing software. His free time is spent reading, immersing himself in sci-fi culture, and spending time with his family in Tennessee.
Thoughts here? What tip or resource did you find most helpful?
Image credits: Pixabay.com