8 Ways to Find Freelance Writing Jobs (As a Beginner)
We put out an article on how to become a freelance writer, and today we are going to go more in-depth and talk about where exactly you can find freelance writing jobs.
Building Your Skills
We’ve done a lot of articles on freelancing platforms and where to find freelance jobs online. And we’re going to cover some platforms you can use to find jobs later on in the article. But before we get into that, let’s talk about some other ways you can build your skills as a freelancer.
1. Start Cold Pitching
If you are just getting started in writing, reaching out to small businesses is a great strategy. Small businesses are more likely to work with someone who is just getting their start, especially if you are charging a lower rate as you try and build up your portfolio.
Consider going directly to small businesses in your area and proposing work for them. Make sure to come prepared with some examples of exactly how your writing could benefit their business. Come with a portfolio and perhaps even a business card.
2. Network, Network, Network!
In our last article on freelance writing, I talked about the importance of networking as a writer. Here’s the mistake most writers make when it comes to networking: they network with other writers. This will not make you any money.
Being in writing groups can be great to improve your writing and find solidarity. However, it makes no sense to turn to other writers in search of writing jobs. After all, writers create their own work. Another professional writer is the LEAST LIKELY person to hire a freelance writer. Also, if a professional writer comes across a writing job, they are going to apply to it. Asking writers to connect you to their own clients is basically like saying: “Hey, I know you did the work of finding and building a relationship with that client, but can you let me undercut your rate so that I start making money from them and you don’t? It’ll be great because then I don’t have to do the work of finding a client myself.”
You should be networking with people in your niche who don’t write and are willing to pay you to write for them. As a writer, you should have a niche (or a collection of niches). If you write about tech, join tech networking groups. If you write copy for businesses, join entrepreneurship groups. Network with your clients, not your competition.
3. Pitch To People You Know
Look, working for friends and family can be more complicated than working for a stranger. You have to be careful that you aren’t pressuring people to buy work from you if they don’t have a need or if you aren’t a good match. However, you shouldn’t completely write off friends and family as a potential source for clients.
Even if they don’t hire you directly, they might know people who are looking for your services. For me, a family member referred me to my first client. After I did a couple pieces for him and she had a bad experience with some other writers, she offered me the opportunity to write a piece for her. The trial project went well, and we’ve been working together ever since.
Freelancing platforms are hands down one of the best ways to work your way into the freelancing world. Once you have built up a portfolio and have some experience under your belt, you are ready to jump into the world of online freelancing. Here are some of the platforms we recommend for freelancing writers just getting their start:
Upwork is definitely one of the best freelancing platforms out there. In an effort to stay competitive, it has even adopted Fiverr’s gig-based economy by allowing freelancers to create project packages for clients to browse. It also uses an application and bidding system which allows clients to post jobs and freelancers to apply directly for the work. Upwork has now also integrated a kind of “agency model”, where people directly connect compatible freelancers to potential clients.
Upwork also offers a variety of ways to charge. However, I would say that their charging setup is one of the downsides that I see as a writer. Even though you can charge per project, the platform overall definitely tries to push freelancers towards charging per hour. It will ask you to list an hourly rate on your portfolio, no matter what type of work you do.
As a writer, I have always charged per word. I, personally, am not a big believer in the model of exchanging money for time. I also think that hourly rates tend to unfairly punish efficiency and reward inefficiency. In my view, clients should pay me for the product I am providing, not for my time. What might take me two hours to write could take my client ten hours to produce themselves. And even with additional time put in, some clients would never be able to achieve the quality of writing I am able to provide. That is what they are paying for.
Hopefully, in the future, Upwork will become even more writer-friendly by allowing per-word rates and not requiring an hourly rate to be displayed on all user profiles. Even despite this small hiccup, Upwork is still one of our top options for freelance writers.
I personally think that Fiverr’s gig-based system is perfect for writers. On Fiverr, you are able to post “gigs” to do specific work. And boy can you get specific! A personal favorite Fiverr gig of mine is the people who ghostwrite love letters or wedding vows on Fiverr. If there is a type of work you are looking to do, you can post it on Fiverr.
The nice thing about Fiverr’s system is that it easily enables writers to charge based on the work they are producing, not the hours. In fact, there isn’t really an option to charge hourly. The differentiating factor between a writer’s “basic”, “standard” and “premium” packages on Fiverr typically comes down to three main things: word count, amount of revisions permitted, and turnaround time.
For me, this is a perfect setup. A longer word count, multiple revisions, and turnaround time are exactly what clients should be paying extra for. Also, Fiverr makes it super easy to create custom requests and projects. So really your gigs will often just be a jumping-off point for connecting with your clients. You can easily price out your work based on the individual project needs.
One last point about Fiverr: it allows you to charge as little as $5, so it is great for beginners who really just want to build their experience.
LinkedIn has started its own version of a freelancing platform, much like Upwork or Fiverr. That’s one option you have when using LinkedIn to find writing jobs. Another option, though, is to contact businesses directly that might need your help.
One of my friends did this with his video-editing business. He messaged more than a hundred individuals about his qualifications and his willingness to do editing work. Now, people have mixed feelings about “cold calling” (or “cold messaging” as we can call it now). However, as long as you aren’t spamming people and are being genuine, emailing people directly offering your services can have positive results.
Facebook is the online foundation upon which many small businesses are laid. Finding businesses that might need your help on Facebook and reaching out directly to them can be a great way to find potential clients.
One limitation of using freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr is that you are only going to have a chance to connect with clients who are actively searching for freelance writers. A lot of small businesses are figuring things out as they go along (just like how you are as a beginner writer). Some businesses might want to create a website or a newsletter but think it’s impossible because they have no idea how to write product descriptions or newsletter copy. These people might be in desperate need of a “content writer” or “copywriter” but have no idea what those jobs are called or where to look for them.
Not every writer is going to want to work with “green” clients. It can be challenging to write for businesses that are still trying to figure out exactly what they want and need. However, if you are just getting started, learning how to communicate and sell your services to companies in this sphere will give you the opportunity to capture a client base without any competition.
8. Any Online Space
Okay, yes, this is broad but it is true. You can find potential clients ANYWHERE. I am working on starting up a podcast as a passion project and was asking a question about audio editing on Reddit. Someone reached out to me directly and said they were a freelance podcast editor and offered their services. I was so relieved, and I’m planning on taking them up on their offer.
Think about where your potential clients hang out. If you write product copy, maybe spend some time on forums of entrepreneurs set on building online stores. If you write newsletters or blog posts, find online communities for professional bloggers. For YouTube scripts, spend time in the places where YouTubers network with each other. When you see someone with a need you can meet, reach out to them! You never know where it might lead.
Shoot Your Shot
You are never going to find any freelance writing jobs if you don’t apply to them. Clients are not going to show up knocking on your door just because you want money. You have to take action!
A big part of being a writer is rejection. Novelists often have to send their books to dozens of publishers before they get picked up. For freelance writers, we have to reach out to dozens of clients before we find a good match. Finding clients is kind of like fishing. You can’t just cast your line once and then give up forever because you didn’t get any bites. You have to keep trying, especially in the beginning.
And remember, so long as you have the writing skills, it will get easier. It might take a ton of work to land your first couple of clients but as you build up a client base and gain a reputation, the work will start flowing in. The more work you do, the easier the writing will be. And the more you put yourself out there, the less scary it will get.
As Nike says: Just do it!
And if you feel like you need more help in getting your freelance business started, download our FREE guide on how to become a freelancer in 30 days. Freelance writing isn’t that different from any other type of freelance work, and you can easily use our general freelance advice to start and grow your company.