Freelance writing is a great gig — you can do it on your own time, generally from your own home, and if you’re talented, you can make significant money. However, many aspiring freelancers quickly find that the real challenge is finding and landing freelance writing jobs.
I’m going to let you in on a big secret: You don’t necessarily need a padded portfolio to get into freelancing — mine was nonexistent when I landed my first paid gig. However, you do need to have writing chops, a firm grasp of social media and, most importantly, passion.
Here are my tips on how to start working as a freelance writer:
Live Your Life — Then Write About It
When you’re first starting out as a freelancer, your game plan is probably:
- Find a writing gig.
- Write the article.
However, this isn’t the way to go about it, especially if you don’t have writing experience. I recommend you flip these steps around — start by doing something you love. Try a new restaurant. Hike a mountain. Attend a seminar. Go to a museum. Live your life! Then, write about it.
Passion is what’s going to make or break a deal when you’re a fresh-faced freelancer. You have to offer the editor something that no one else can, and when you have no experience, you’ve got to make up for it with passion. Do what you love, write about it and then try to get published.
One caveat when you take this approach: You may not get paid for the first piece you offer up. However, the goal is for an editor to love it, publish it and then offer you more work. At this point, payment should be part of your discussion.
Do What You Know
Let’s be honest: We all want to see our work published on Huffington Post or Forbes or Buzzfeed. That’s the big leagues, though, and right now, you’re still playing tee-ball. Stash those big dreams away, and start by doing what you know.
Look for freelance work with local publications and niche sites.
Local publications and niche sites are where you should be looking for freelance work. If there’s a hobbyist site you visit regularly, reach out and tell them how much you enjoy their content. Pitch an idea or two. Even better, send along a whole article for them to consider (unless they don’t accept unsolicited submissions, in which case, don’t do that). Find local magazines, repeat the process. Look for small-scale news sites, repeat the process. Get it?
Do More On Social Media
Digital content and social media go hand-in-hand, so if you don’t already have a social media presence, get one. Twitter is probably the most important, with Instagram as the runner-up.
Why does it matter? In short, because you’ll be more appealing as a contributor if your 2,000 social media followers are going to engage with your posts. The more traffic you can drive to a client’s site, the better! Get out there and build up your following — organically, I might add. “Buying” followers may seem like a nice idea, but anyone who’s familiar with the digital content arena can spot fake followers from a mile away.
Polish Posts to Perfection
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I do. Please, for the love of God, edit and proofread your work. If you can’t write a grammatically correct sentence or craft a well-structured article, editors aren’t going to want to work with you. I know this because I’m an editor. No matter how great your ideas are, I will be hesitant to give you assignments if I know I’m going to have to go over your work with a heavy hand. More work for me means less work for you.
Those are my #protips — they worked for me, so I hope that they can help you, too! Feel free to leave any questions about freelancing writing jobs in the comments.