You’ve formed your LLC. Your freelance website is up and running. You have a few published samples under your belt that you’re eager to share with prospective clients. You’re excited to finally sit down at your brand new workspace and get rolling on some projects and freelance writing jobs. But, there’s only one problem: Uhhh… you don’t actually have anything to work on.
Oh, yes. “How the heck do you find work?” is a question I’ve heard echoed from pretty much every new freelance writer who has reached out to me. And, believe me, I get it. I was paddling that same boat for months. I had everything I needed to get started—except for, ahem, any actual clients or work.Finding freelance writing jobs can be tough, but it's still doable. Here are some helpful tips: Click To Tweet
I won’t sugarcoat it: Finding freelance writing jobs (particularly when you’re just getting started!) can be tough. But, with all of the tools, resources, and platforms available today, it’s definitely doable.
So, now you’re left with one big question: How exactly do you do it? Wishing and hoping won’t do the trick, my friends. Let’s dig into some of my favorite, tried and true ways to find freelance writing work.
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Let’s start with the most obvious option first, shall we? There are plenty of online job boards that list remote freelance jobs for all sorts of creative professionals—writers included. And, I’ll admit that when I was just getting my freelance career rolling, I relied on job boards shamelessly.
There are tons of them out there, but a few of my favorites are:
These platforms are great for bringing you all sorts of different opportunities in a super convenient, easy-to-use way. But, guess what! Everybody thinks that—which means there’s going to be a lot of competition applying for those very same open projects.
First things first, it’s important that you follow the application instructions. If they want your writing samples in PDF format, send them that way. If they want you to use a specific contact email address to submit your materials, do so. If they want you to stand on your head and sing “When a Man Loves a Woman” at the top of your lungs, you’re going to have to do so (full disclosure: nobody has ever actually asked me to do that, although I sort of wish they would).
If you can’t follow basic instructions, you’ll have a tough time staying out of the dreaded “Junk” email folder.
After that? Well, follow-up is key when you’re dealing with the sea of competition that flocks to these online job boards. Put on your detective hat and do some digging to see if you can find a specific person (my favorite place to search is LinkedIn, by finding the company page and then looking through the employees!) to check in with.
Of course, you don’t want to cross the line and be obnoxious. But, sending a personalized (and friendly!) follow-up message after a reasonable amount of time is a great way to demonstrate your interest in the opportunity and your engagement in what the company is doing.
How can you keep track of when to follow up on certain opportunities? I maintain a simple spreadsheet. In it, I list the name of the place I applied, the website, the date I sent my materials, and who I submitted them to/how I sent them in. Then, I’ll set a calendar reminder (using my Gmail calendar) to follow up after two weeks have passed.
It’s a simple system, but it works! And, you’d be surprised at how many different opportunities I was able to score simply because I was persistent.
I’ve sung the praises of LinkedIn time and time again. But, honestly, it deserves all of the ranting and raving. Hands down, it’s been one of my best secret weapons for growing my freelance business.
I just touched on how I cyberstalk (it’s strictly professional, of course) companies in order to find a personalized contact. But, using the LinkedIn “Jobs” page can also be a great asset to you.
Head to your LinkedIn page and then click the “Jobs” link in the top navigation bar. That will bring you to a screen that looks like this at the top:
If there’s automatically a location entered in the “location” field (thanks, pesky GPS robots), make sure you delete that out. Freelance gigs often aren’t limited by location (most are remote!), so there’s no point in narrowing your search using that criteria.
Then, in the search box, enter a keyword that fits what you’re looking for. As a freelance writer, some of my favorite search terms include:
I always make sure to use “freelance” in the search phrase, so I’m not being lured in by a bunch of full-time offers. Press search, and you’ll be met with pages of results that you can apply for:
Remember those rules and tips we just discussed about successfully using job boards? Well, since LinkedIn is still essentially a job board in this regard, all of those still apply.
However, I’ll add one more to the mix: Ensure that you polish up your LinkedIn profile before applying for any jobs using this platform. After all, that’ll likely be the first place people look when they receive your materials. So, you want it to make the right impression.
Twitter is one of my favorite places—not just for sharing minute-by-minute updates of how adorable my dog is, but for finding freelance gigs as well.
“Wait, what?” you’re likely thinking to yourself now. But, it’s true. I know that many people view LinkedIn as the professional networking site, and Twitter as that casual platform you use to share silly thoughts or memes. However, Twitter can be awesome for finding opportunities that may not appear elsewhere.
So, how? Well, by using exactly what Twitter is famous for: Hashtags.
Every once in a while, I’ll click in the search box at the top of my twitter page and enter in “#freelancewriter”. Now, consider this your fair warning: You’re going to be met with a lot of tweets from other freelancers. However, if you’re willing to invest a little time and elbow grease in scrolling through those, occasionally you’ll land on a tweet from a business looking to hire a freelancer.
I’ve actually scored at least two freelance projects this way. And, while I won’t say it’s an outlet worth checking every single day, it can definitely turn out some awesome results every now and then.
So, let’s say you find a tweet about a freelance writing job you’re interested in. Now what?
In most cases, the tweet will contain a link, email address, or some other information you can use to appropriately apply for the gig. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but make sure to follow their instructions for how to submit your information.
However, after you’ve applied the way they instructed, I recommend immediately following up on Twitter by replying to the original tweet they posted. This doesn’t need to be anything complicated. Instead, just click “reply” on their tweet, and type a message that says something like, “@companyname Just submitted my information. Can’t wait to hear from you!”
Obviously, since this company posted their opportunity on Twitter, they’re actively engaged on the platform. Plus, following up in this way provides a nice personal touch—and an easy way for them to find out a little bit more about you!
This last point is the one that has yielded the most success and the highest amount of projects in my freelance career. And, I think that’s for two reasons: It takes initiative on your end and it’s a proactive approach—it explains to brands or outlets why they need you, rather than you waiting for them to post an open position or opportunity.
So, how exactly does this work? Well, it’s surprisingly simple.
Let’s say I’m a freelance writer with a niche of pet and animal related content. Through my research, I stumble upon this website that is right up my alley: Wide Open Pets.
Great! Now I have another website I can look to for inspiration—and that’s it, right? Wrong, my friends. Instead, when I find a website that trips my fancy, I follow this process:
In the case of Wide Open Pets, they actually have a contributor program you can apply for (I’m hollering at you, writers interested in pets!). Different websites have different setups in this regard. However, if a blog seems like something you’d be interested in writing for, go ahead and pitch your stuff!
It’s easy to think that “freelance writing” means only writing for magazines—whether print or online. But, honestly, content marketing for various brands and businesses makes up the majority of my workload. So, don’t be afraid to try this approach.
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There you have it—four methods (and associated tips and best practices!) to help you scrounge up some freelance writing work, even if you’re a total newbie. Of course, there are other methods you can try. But, these four have proven to be successful for me, and they’re definitely the ones I turn to time and time again.
Are you ready for your homework? I want you to pick two of these methods to try this week (maybe you’ll do LinkedIn and job boards, or perhaps you’ll try Twitter and cold-emailing!), and then pitch your stuff for at least one opportunity you found using each outlet.
I’m excited to see how this all plays out for you, my friends. As always, I’m rooting for you over here!