If writing is your passion, then becoming a freelance writer is an ideal way to turn it into a career or to supplement your main income. But whether you’re new to writing or you want to enjoy more flexibility after years in-house, embarking on a freelance career can seem daunting, and many often worry about finding work. If this sounds familiar, take a look at our guide on how to get freelance writing jobs.
First, let’s consider the basics…
What do I need for a freelance writing career?
Freelance writing brings flexibility to your day, but in order to make a success of it, there are certain things you need to be a credible writer:
A laptop – A laptop is essential to research, write and save your work, look for jobs, promote yourself, build a website and invoice clients.
Email address – Ensure it is professional and presents your credibility by using your name or business name.
PayPal account – PayPal is the most common way clients will pay you for your business and it is completely free to set up an account.
A portfolio – A portfolio showcases your experience and your writing style and scope. Having an online portfolio makes it easier to showcase your work and experience to potential clients.
Key attributes – A creative flair, excellent grammar and perseverance are all essential things you need to be a freelance writer.
Where and how to get freelance writing jobs
1. Search online jobs boards
Searching various specific and general jobs boards can open up numerous opportunities for you to gain new clients. Finding work through freelance writing jobs boards can help you develop long-term relationships with established businesses as well as start-ups and organisations.
It is important to note that both freelance writing and standard jobs boards are competitive environments, but provided you are a good writer and have an optimised CV, you will have the chance to secure some great paid writing work. It can also help to broaden your search to include terms such as ‘remote writer’, ‘contract writer’, ‘copywriter’, ‘sales writer’, ‘SEO writer’, ‘content writer’ and ‘digital content’.
Here are some websites you can use to start your search:
Many freelancers also choose to look for writing jobs on gigging sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. While these do offer a range of opportunities, it’s important to note some such sites require you to submit a proposal for each job listed. They may even take a cut of your payment or charge a service fee.
2. Write for a content site
As a beginner freelance writer, signing up to content sites such as Copify is a useful means to stretch your writing skills and gain experience writing in varying styles, on a range of topics for multiple clients. To top it off, you will be paid for the writing you do but you won’t have to worry about invoicing clients.
Writing for a content site also allows flexibility as you can take on as much or as little load as you wish. This would be ideal for if you’re wanting to freelance as a supplement to your income. If you have more experience, you might want to send your CV to local or online content agencies who may be willing to add you to their bank of freelancers.
3. Consider cold (and warm) pitching
Cold pitching is a direct, unsolicited approach to companies to gain business. It requires contacting businesses/companies with a pitch proposing how your writing services can help them. A good way to approach this is to research businesses in your niche and find out what you can do for them – maybe you can write a blog post or start a blog if they do not have one. In your pitch, make sure to explain how you found them, who you are and how your service can solve their problems. Be sure to conduct thorough research and start by approaching those most likely to take you up on your offer, such as small start-ups and independent companies.
What Elna Cain terms ‘warm pitching’ is an indirect approach that focuses on building up a relationship with the business or service before proposing a pitch. Follow their social media pages and keep on their radar with small acts of communication. For example, comment on a Facebook post or Tweet with the hope of an answer. This way you can develop a relationship based on your interest in them, and they may well agree to you writing content for them.
4. Set up your own website
Having a website shows your professionalism and can be used as an example of your writing. A website also makes you more accessible as a freelancer because businesses can get in direct contact with you. Make sure your contact details on your website, and the website itself, are kept up to date so that you present yourself as credible and reliable. As a freelance writer, you must build up a trustworthy persona and service to encourage businesses to partner with you.
5. Start blogging
Consider writing your own blog content, giving free insight to your readers and showing your expertise in your field. You can start a standalone blog or incorporate one into a website if you already have one, to complement and link to the services you offer.
You are marketing yourself through the content that you post so the more insightful it is, the more attractive you may well be to companies who read your writing. If you start a blog, finding a niche that you are interested in may help encourage a response from relevant companies in need of content.
6. Advertise your services
Getting a freelance writing job is going to be difficult if you don’t make it known that you are looking for writing jobs. Look and ask around in your local area and tell your friends and family – they may have the opportunity to suggest your services to someone they know. You can also advertise that you’re ‘for hire’ in the local community, through trade magazines or on social media.
Part of advertising yourself online can also include listing yourself on directories. There are lots of freelance directories where you can get your name out there as a freelance writer who is looking for business. If you’re not on an online directory, why not consider joining one such as All Freelance Writing or ResponseSource. Hold The Front Page and Journalism.com are also options if you’re looking for freelance journalism work.
You may even choose to go the extra mile and pay for advertising using Google AdWords. These advertisements will appear when people search for the keywords you use in your advert and can help you stop shouting into the internet void and instead reach your ideal target audience. According to Zara Burke:
“Put simply, AdWords offers precise targeting and measurability, as well as tremendous reach and it’s possible to achieve a high ROI on a large scale.”
Though you can set your advertising campaign in line with your budget, it is usually best reserved for those more experienced writers when combined with other strategies.
Next steps for finding freelance writing jobs
When you’re looking for freelance writing jobs, the key is to stay motivated and keep looking. Ask friends and family whether they need content writing or whether they know about any potential writing opportunities, and make sure your name and services are being advertised on all social media platforms as well as in your community.
So keep on searching and, most importantly, keep on writing. It can take one client to get your freelance writing career on a roll.