Freelancing sounds very easy, and the advantages of this career choice are actually what they appear to be. You can freely work from the comfort of your own home, or choose to carry your laptop with you and write on the go. In addition, freelance writers often have the opportunity to work their own set hours. But, while it seems like freelance writers have it pretty easy, this is actually one of the biggest misconceptions in the freelancing world.
Difficulties freelance writers face
The fact is, freelancing is not a consistent job. This means that you may get tons of jobs one month, and get none the next. And getting to the point where you get consistent clients is not easy either. With such a wide competition for this rewarding career choice, being acknowledged by clients is considered the hardest aspect of freelancing.
Why is this?
In order to succeed in the freelancing world, you need to have many clients. This will guarantee that you always have consistent workflow, and can finally enjoy the benefits of being a freelance writer. Still, many people give up on freelancing when they are confronted with a lot of competition, missing out on a very rewarding opportunity to work for themselves.
Getting there is not easy, but it is certainly worth it. When you find good quality freelance writing gigs, you can get incredibly high incomes. To help you get to this level, I have created a list of 6 things every freelance writer should do to get clients and build a successful writing career.
The 6-step guide for finding freelance writing gigs
If you are thinking about doing some freelance writing, it is time to take action! Here is what you need to do:
1. Start pitching
There are many ways of pitching, and all of them have their own advantages. Some people will recommend that you start cold pitching, while others will tell you that warm pitching is your best shot at landing clients.
The truth is, this choice is up to you. It all depends on the time you have, your character, or even the jobs you are interested in.
Cold pitching is a very popular way of landing recurring gigs. According to some, if you choose this option, you are competing with a much smaller group of people, which means that you have a higher chance of being employed.
This certainly makes sense. If you apply to jobs directly, you are adjusting your application to their specific job post. This can improve your chances of getting the gig.
While it is a great way to get hired, it can be very hard, too. The entire idea of contacting entrepreneurs, bloggers, businesses, startups, and big companies is a scary thing to do, especially if you are new to freelancing.
First of all, you need to identify good businesses to cold pitch to. They may have a website or blog, or you think they could benefit from someone working on their online presence. These signs are easy to spot once you get the hang of it, but finding clients who need you using cold pitching is very time-consuming.
Once you go through this step and identify companies and organizations, you need to create your cold pitch. For best results, it is recommended to draft up a specific, unique pitch for every company you would like to work with. While the part ‘who you are’ is the same in every pitch, the remaining parts of your pitch must be detailed toward their company and needs.
The remaining parts of the cold pitch should be:
- Where you found the company and why you believe they need help
- How hiring you can help their company
While cold pitching is the more direct approach to getting a job, warm pitching is the softer way. As such, it requires less time, but it is actually a slower way to get a gig.
This does not mean that warm pitching is bad for freelance writers. As a matter of fact, some believe that warm pitching is a slower, but stronger way to create long-lasting relationships with businesses and brands.
How do you warm pitch?
Find a company, business or even a single client who owns a website in your niche. Follow them on social media, make sure to introduce yourself as another expert in the field, and keep an eye on their activities. When you notice something of interest or want to start building a relationship, engage with their posts.
Eventually, this will get you on the prospect’s radar.
So, which one works best?
We’d say – none. The best way to pitch yourself to the clients is to use a combination of the two. Do some direct approach with selected clients, and warm pitch with others. And most importantly, always make sure to pitch your story in the right way.
2. Guest post
One of the biggest mistakes freelance writers do is not writing guest posts. The reason for this is common, and actually quite understandable – no one wants to work for free.
However, what they do not understand is that guest posting for free actually pays off in the long run, and can get you higher on the freelance ladder in a much shorter time. When you guest post on popular websites and related blogs, thousands of people will see your writing.
We can all agree that an online presence can boost your chances of getting amazing clients, right?
But this is not the only benefit of guest posting.
In addition to helping you get acknowledged online, guest posting is allowing you to practice. Writing freely on topics you enjoy instead of being assigned specific ones can be very productive. As a writer, you must make sure to learn ways to stay productive at all times.
Eventually, one of those viewers will be your potential client. In addition to this, posting online can help you build a portfolio, and allow you to share links with your own written content in the form of cold pitching.
Pitching to job ads is very good for your freelance writing career, but if you do not have published samples to show, you cannot expect a client to choose you based on your word only. It is certainly not impossible, but it reduces your chances significantly.
When you do have published samples online and can send a link to the prospective client, they will get an idea of your quality and qualifications as a freelance writer. You’d be surprised how one amazing article can influence the decision of the client, and even the rate for your services.
So, where can you guest post?
The answer is: wherever you want. You can search Google and look for your niche + ‘write for us’. This should provide you with many options of places you can guest post to.
When you are ready to start guest blogging, make sure you have an author bio. You can use this bio with every article of yours posted online, and include a link to your own website for clients to visit. Interested readers are much more likely to open such link in a bio than to look you up after closing the guest post.
3. Create your website and use it
Being your own boss brings burdens of its own, one of them is creating a marketing strategy. In this case, you are not branding a company or business, but actually branding yourself as a freelance writing professional.
As such, you must have a professional looking website to show to clients. And while we mentioned you should use this website in your author bio when guest posting, there are also many other advantages of owning your website. These advantages include:
- Makes you look more professional in front of clients
- Allows you to organize your services and avoid confusion for potential clients
- Convinces more clients to hire you by allowing them to gather all the information they need
- Catalogues your portfolio or samples of your work
- Is a long-term source of clients even in times when you are not cold- or warm-pitching
Maybe you created a personal blog and work on it while developing your freelance career, or perhaps you are writing in it in your spare time. Regardless of your methods, you should definitely use your website to actually offer the services you offer. Eventually, the time will come to invest in a great website and create your professional online presence for everyone to see.
When this time comes, make sure to follow these steps:
Get a hosting account
There are many free and paid platforms for hosting online, so make sure to find the one that best suits you. Perhaps your best choice is to choose an affordable platform over a free blog platform and be able to enjoy the benefits such an account will offer.
If you do this right, you may end up earning five to six figures more because of a very small business investment.
Create an excellent design
Once you have the name and hosting for your writer website, it is time to create a clean, professional, and inviting design to attract potential clients. It won’t really matter how experienced you are if you bomb the visitors with a clunky and confusing website.
Start with your About Me section
The first thing a client will open when checking a writer website is this section. After all, the entire goal of checking a writer’s website is to see who they are and what they do. The next one will be the samples or portfolio page.
Writing about yourself can be tricky, but you really need to do this part right. This section will demonstrate how you can help a client and why they need you over other writers.
If you are unsure or cannot write about yourself, use professional assistance. You can surely find an affordable service in these essay writing service reviews.
Organize and highlight your services
When a person visits a writer’s website, they need to know the website is actually owned by a freelance writer. Make a clear list and organize all your services, and create a call to action that will invite clients to get in touch with you.
Your first aim when creating a website is to convince a visitor to hire you to write for them. Knowing this, including amazing samples of your work is key to demonstrating your qualities.
4. Make connections
Making connections is important in every career, but it is especially important in the freelancing world. Without connections, you cannot get the myriad of clients you need in order to have a steady income.
This step includes connecting with:
Other freelance writers
Most freelancers will tell you that the best way to learn how to become successful in the field is to speak to those who have experience in doing so. And they’d be right. While other freelance writers are also your competition, you can certainly help each other and get the most out of your talents.
So, it is time to stalk a few freelance writers whose writing you like. If they are friendly enough, they will give you their opinion on your starting rate, share some tips and tricks about freelancing, and even answer those never-ending questions you have if you are new to freelancing.
Who knows? Maybe you will even get other freelance writers to refer work to you, or ask you to help them out with a lengthy task. Many successful freelancers offer their coaching and work with others to increase their income!
In addition to cold and warm pitching, there is one modern strategy of meeting potential clients and people in the freelance writing industry. Join Facebook groups where you can find potential gigs, consistent work, and meet people that will hire or refer you to work. Linkedin Groups are great too.
Putting yourself out there cannot hurt. Whichever platform you find for this is one more step towards a successful freelance career.
Friends, family, and acquaintances
You never know who can help you find clients if you do not ask. And the best thing with friends and family is – you don’t even have to ask. All you have to do is let your friends and family know that you are leaping into freelance writing, and they will remember you when an opportunity arises.
Doing this will also allow you to get some samples to use. If you are a freelance writer, you probably won’t be able to use most of the work you’d be selling, especially if you are a ghostwriter. Still, you will need to show samples in order to get new clients.
Writing resumes, cover letters or any kind of texts as a service to your friends and family will not only make you feel helpful, but will allow you to add more pieces to your portfolio. The best part of it is – they will probably not mind.
In addition to people you are close with, you should also inform your past coworkers and acquaintances of your new career, too. They may want to work with you, need your help, or even provide you with a testimonial that will land you your first gig.
Technology makes this part easier than ever. With social media and everyone having their online profiles, you can simply advertise that you are for hire online. Prospects will know that you are offering your services, and other freelance writers will know that you can help them with their writing burden. With social media, you never know where and who your advertisement will reach!
5. Ask for referrals
This step does not apply to writers that are really new to the industry, but let’s imagine you do have an existing client already. If not, you can always ask for referrals from your previous boss, or testimonial from co-workers.
If you have already gone through the first, most difficult stages and landed at least one gig, ask him/her for a referral. This can be scary and some clients will probably be highly inconsiderate towards your effort once in a while, but most of them will be glad to refer you if you did a good job.
You can use all kinds of methods to ask for a referral, whether it is directly through the e-mail or platform you are using to discuss the job, or even social media.
6. Use freelance writing websites
The more you pitch yourself, the bigger your chances are to land more great clients. Therefore, try not to focus on one platform only. Even if you have a sufficient amount of clients from one source, make sure that you have an updated portfolio and profile on others platforms.
In this case, when things start spiraling downwards and you find yourself in a rough patch, you can easily use more platforms to find gigs.
The first place to look for clients is, of course, search engine. Simply looking for keywords like ‘writing jobs’, or ‘write for us’, or whatever comes to your mind, will provide you with a myriad of people and websites where you can find your next gig.
Other than the simple Google search, you should create a profile on many, if not all of the popular freelancing websites online. Many clients will post their jobs on these platforms and nowhere else on the Web, which means that you may be missing out on some great clients if you only look on the search engines.
This job board offers hundreds of different jobs for freelancers, and writing is one of them. There are hundreds of job posts for writing every day, so make sure to look into the news feed as often as you can.
Equally as popular as Freelancer, Upwork is a platform that has joined several past freelancing websites into one. This platform will offer you hundreds of jobs every day, and they offer strong guarantees in terms of payment. We recommend using such safe platforms when working for clients.
Constant-Content is not only popular but actually considered the place where the most serious freelance writers go to make some money. If you were looking for high-paid jobs, this is the place to get some. However, you’d still need a lot of experience and referrals to get these jobs, which means that this website is one to visit when you are already at a higher stage in your freelance writing career.
Solvid is a creative, long-form content creation agency based in London, UK. Having worked with organisations like The Open University, Finteza and Orbitsound, Solvid aims to create content that inspires. On the other hand, Solvid also offers opportunities for talented candidates to join the pool of professional writers.
Many people see Craigslist as a bad website, but we believe that this platform is highly overlooked. You may find some ridiculous request here, or fraudulent links and clients. However, if you know how and where to look, Craigslist is probably the easiest website to find freelancing writing jobs on.
The main appeal of the website is to network people who live in the area, but there are many clients who look for remote freelance writers.
Finally, we have the social media site where you can find amazing gigs – Reddit. Unlike what many people think, this website does not only offer low-paying gigs. If you look closely and often, you may find some excellent clients on this website.
The purpose of this guide is to introduce you to the ways and places to find writing jobs online. Your best strategy in becoming a successful freelance writer is to start strong and be persistent. If you have already promoted yourself as one and have some gigs, this guide should help you achieve more and become a highly successful freelance writer.
So, what are you waiting for? It is time to sit down and take care of your profile, resume, and portfolio. Then, you have to do a great website, create your author bio, and update your writer profiles on some of the most popular freelancing websites.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it. Once you set a good foundation and start pitching yourself to clients, you can see the beauty of being a freelance writer!
About the Author:
Julie Petersen is a freelance writer and an editor. She runs her own blog AskPetersen.com where she shares her writing tips and tricks.