Now that you’ve decided to start writing freelance and to finally get started on your dreams of working on a beach in Bali or Phuket, you’ve begun building your writer’s website. Your portfolio is in place and your email is all set up. But the crickets are chirping: why is it so difficult to even start finding work?
Fret not, there are a dozen ways to skin a cat and probably more ways than that to find clients that are looking for you to write for them. If you’ve been wondering how to find freelance writing jobs, here are some of the best routes to try:
1. Asking family and friends
A great, easy way to start looking for jobs can be simply to ask family and friends if you can write for them. Often, we know someone who owns a small business or is working for one, and who may need help with advertising. This is an opportunity for you to start writing SEO blog articles or landing pages for them, to help drive traffic to their business, or maybe you can help them start and maintain an email list too.
Make a post on social media like Facebook, or contact them personally. Just remember to keep it friendly and don’t push or you may very well find yourself straining relationships you had wanted to keep.
2. Write for community or local organisations
Are you part of a church perhaps? Or know a non-profit organisation in the neighbourhood that needs help with materials or grant proposals? You can get a kickstart in your job finding process by dropping these local groups and organisations an email asking if they would like a writer. Often these groups have a newsletter or mailing list that they need updating, or they require some simple reporting done.
Local groups are also often easier to approach, as you can offer to meet up to discuss details more conveniently, and in a more informal location such as a coffee shop.
3. Job boards
Over the years, remote work has become more and more popular, and job boards have popped up across the internet to match this demand. The most famous job boards are perhaps Freelancer.com and Upwork. There are several hundreds of job offers a day seeking remote workers to perform tasks from PowerPoint designs to ghostwriting books.
It’s easy to get started with an account on one of these sites and to start applying through the job listings posted. However, the downside is that you will often need to sift through several lowballing offers, which can offer as little as a dollar per article, as the listings sometimes come from low-income areas in underdeveloped countries, where the expected rates are below standard compensations.
Another key to succeeding on job boards is to have patience and to reach as many job posters as you can. Many of them receive an overwhelming amount of applications for their listings, and it’s your job to make sure that they remember you and contact you back.
4. Cold pitches
Instead of looking at job offers on sites, another way you can look for writing jobs is to send emails to companies offering your services. These are called cold emails, or cold pitches, and are the internet equivalent of the old school cold-calling that used to be touted in business circles. This can be an effective method to land clients, but on the other hand, it can also be a little intimidating to face your targeted company’s rejections.
Warm up the pitches by researching the company first, and talking to them about what you can do for them, rather than simply droning on about yourself and your accomplishments. It’s also okay to send a few emails following up and checking in on progress, especially if they haven’t had the time to read your emails more carefully or even to reply them.
5. Finding companies
So you decided to cold email or cold call companies. Fantastic! The problem is, where do you begin to find them?
Start with your samples and your forte in writing. What niches do they belong to? Check out companies in your field and make a list of them. See if they have any blogs that need updating or wherever you think your services will be a great fit for them.
Again, it can be easier to begin with local or smaller companies and expand from there.
6. Writing for publications
If writing for companies doesn’t take your fancy, you can tackle writing articles for publications instead. There are magazines, newsletters and all sorts of publications in almost any field you can think of. The trick is to really dig into your niche and find out what is being published in it.
Look up trade publications for more obscure niches, or research various internet-based publications that offer good pay rates for articles. It is often more helpful when you understand the tone of the publication and what sort of work they are looking for. Pay attention to their submissions page, or if they don’t have one, consider emailing their editor.
For magazines, editors often prefer if you email them with ideas and pitches for a couple of articles – although if they state that they aren’t accepting unsolicited submissions at the moment, do listen to them!
7. Applying to content writing companies
Aside from job boards, cold calling and pitching magazines, there are also content writing and marketing companies. Often, companies don’t know where exactly to go for their marketing and copy needs, and so they approach companies like Copify to help generate traffic-boosting content for their site, blog or email lists. Beginner writers can find it useful to apply to such sites because it means that they don’t have to spend their time marketing – they can simply take on assignments from the content company and start writing.
Requirements can vary – some companies only require writers to take a short sample test, while others like ClearVoice ask for samples of works published in established magazines or sites.
8. Should I work for free?
Sometimes, situations arise where you end up asking whether the exposure is worth the lack of money for your work. It’s difficult to tell when it’s worth it, especially when there are many people who don’t feel that your writing is worth their money and treat it as something they should get for free.
This will be an individual choice for every writer. Perhaps if it’s a nonprofit organisation that you feel would add immense value to your portfolio, go for it. But if you feel that you’re going to be unhappy writing for your uncle’s best friend’s business for nothing, it’s okay to reject that too. Remember that your work takes time, effort and skill.
Regardless, the most important thing is to just get started with writing and to start looking for jobs today. If you’re interested in finding compelling work, why not try writing for Copify?