The beauty of freelance writing is that there will always be companies that will need content. Even during the pandemic, I’ve noticed that there’s still a steady flow of clients who are seeking freelance writers.
Believe me when I say there are many ways you can find freelance writing jobs. You aren’t limited to just browsing freelance writer websites and hope a client would end up seeing your writer profile or your proposal.
Some of these may be familiar to you already. But I’m confident that there are others here that are new to you. Look through the methods I compiled here, try them all out, and double down on the methods that work best for you.
Let’s get started!
- Number one rule: Always be prepared
- Never underestimate the potential of freelance platforms
- Send cold pitches to companies
- Send an email to all the tools and services you’ve used
- Stalk other successful freelance writers
- Make it big on Quora and Medium
- Write a case study and run a retargeting ad
- Create a “Hire me” page on your website
- Frequently asked questions about freelance writing jobs
- The possibilities of freelance writing
Number one rule: Always be prepared
It’s tempting to jump right away and try everything on this list. But unless you’re prepared, you wouldn’t get far.
The freelance writing world is saturated. Unless you’re willing to go deeper, you will find a lot of competition on the surface. Plus, it doesn’t help that many clients pay peanuts ($5 for a 1,000-word article) to beginners.
Fortunately, it’s not really hopeless. I should know — I was one. ?
The riches are in the niches
Before you submit an application, email, or proposal, you have to narrow down first the particular niche you will be writing in. Writing “everything” under the sun wouldn’t work anymore if you want to make it big.
Figuring out your particular niche isn’t really rocket science. All you have to do is ask yourself these questions:
- Is there a particular (broad) topic you’re interested in?
- What industry are you most comfortable writing about?
- Are you comfortable writing more than 2,000 words for a single piece?
- Do you have a preferred voice in your writing?
The good thing about this is that you don’t have to stick with your niche if you feel like it’s not a good fit for you. But you should definitely work on a niche and focus on it when looking for freelance writing opportunities.
Build a portfolio on that niche
Once you start connecting with prospective clients, you will find yourself answering the same question, over and over. I found this true whether I’m submitting a proposal on Upwork, chatting with someone on LinkedIn, or replying to an email I got from cold pitching.
Here’s what they usually ask…
Can I see some of your writing samples?
There are a few variations of that question. But the bottom line is the same — they want to check first whether or not you had any experience writing about a particular topic.
Obviously, if you just started out, you won’t have any content pieces to show.
That’s why it’s important that you niche down first. When you have a particular niche, you could then write articles related to it to show to your prospective clients.
Where to house your articles? Fortunately, there are now places where you can upload your articles and have it seen by millions of people. (No, I’m not talking about the free WordPress or Blogger platforms.)
Here are two of my favorite places that I used when I first started out:
With Medium, not only will you be able to house your articles there, you could earn from them too with Medium’s partner program. On LinkedIn, your articles could get seen by key persons which could open more opportunities for you.
So before you proceed, make sure you have a particular niche you would be writing in and that you have articles about that niche on Medium and/or LinkedIn.
This way, not only will you be able to land contracts, but you could earn significantly higher than your peers. ?
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Never underestimate the potential of freelance platforms
I always shake my head every time I hear or read from “freelance gurus” how you should always stay away from freelance platforms like Upwork. I’m not an ambassador of Upwork nor I advertise it, but there’s certainly a lot of opportunities here.
Here’s what I mean:
Opportunities you can find on freelance platforms and marketplaces are low-hanging fruits. You don’t need to knock on (virtual) doors since there’s already a demand. All you have to do is submit a proposal and boom, you got it.
I know I know. You need some sort of proof and validation of what I’m saying. Okay, let me tell you a bit about my own process…
Aside from the other methods I use to find freelance writing jobs, one of the habits I built is to check once a day for 5-10 minutes my three favorite freelance and marketplace platforms:
This little habit of mine helped me bag thousands of dollars a month.
So don’t ever underestimate freelance platforms. There’s a lot of gold in there — if you know how to look and how to work it out.
Further reading: If you’re raving to know how I created my proposal that bagged the Upwork contract I’ve shown above, I wrote an Upwork cover letter that covered just that. I’ve also included a template at the bottom of that article so make sure to check it out!
Send cold pitches to companies
While you wait for replies to your submitted proposals, one of the things you could do is to send cold pitches to companies in your niche. This may seem hard at first glance, but it gets easier the more you do it.
At the same time, the returns could be awesome! Jedha Dening, a freelance health business writer, was able to bag $15,000 worth of writing jobs in just 7 days — all from cold outreach! You can read her story on Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing website.
But unless you’ve got a good system running, cold pitching will eat a lot of your time — from company research to sending the emails to the right people. That’s why it’s better to do one thing at a time.
For example, you can research ideal companies first and their contact persons. Store the list on a CRM like Streak and come back to it later on to send the emails.
Further reading: There are a lot of CRM tools out there. But so far, I found Streak to be the best if you would like to send cold emails straight from Gmail itself. In case you like to look at some other options, I wrote an article where I compiled the best CRM tools for freelancers.
Then, have a goal to send a certain number of emails a day, nothing more nothing less. This is to give way to some other methods you want to try.
To save time, create an outline first of what you would want to say in the email. Save it as a template. This will save you a tremendous amount of time since all you have to do is provide the fill out the details on the template.
Here’s an example of a good template you could use:
Some of your emails will receive a reply and some will not. Streak makes it possible for you to see who has seen your email (with the specific time and location).
But whether or not the email was seen, if you haven’t received any replies, make sure to send a follow-up email.
When it comes to cold pitching, remember that it’s a numbers game. The more pitches you send, the more chances you get that someone will reply positively to your email.
So don’t give up just because you sent 50 emails in a month — that number is too low to give up.
Send an email to all the tools and services you’ve used
This is a bit similar to the one earlier. But this time, you pitch to the tools and services that you have used. Julie Wilson came up with this brilliant idea where she landed over $1,000/month contracts with recurring revenue.
The idea is simple:
- Make a list of all the products or services you have been using, whether online or offline (as long as it fits your niche and interest).
- Then, visit their websites and perform a content audit.
- Send the results to them with recommendations on what to do and a little pitch on how you could help.
For content audit, you could check:
- Whether or not the website regularly updates the blog
- If the website is missing profitable keywords
- The quality itself of the articles and whether or not there’s something you can do about it
There’s a lot of potential here simply because you’re already connected with the product. You’re a customer and you know the ins and outs of the product (sometimes, even better than the in-house team).
Naturally, when you send your pitch, mention how much you love the product as a customer.
Also add that since you’re on the receiving end, you will be able to influence the mindset of the target buyers simply by referring to your own experience with the product.
Stalk other successful freelance writers
I hope other successful freelance writers wouldn’t hate me for this…
But yes! You can certainly use the success of others for your own benefit. All you have to do is to track their footprints and see whether the same companies (and related ones) are in need of more writers.
Please note that this will only work if the companies are still in need of more writers. This isn’t “stealing” someone’s opportunities because companies will not hire additional writers if they don’t need more.
To do this, you have to seek the help of our old friend Google. Simply plug to the search bar the niche or industry you want to write in and add “freelance writer” on the search string.
Let’s try with “technology freelance writer”.
There’s one successful tech freelance writer that’s dominating this keyword. Let’s go to her website and check out some of her past experiences. (For the sake and safety of this writer, I’ll be blurring her name and website name.)
Upon checking out her website, we can see a few testimonials where the clients graciously gave their company name. There’s also a “Sample Projects” page where this tech freelance writer compiled her past projects with links to the client’s website.
Study the content of these client websites and check if there are writer guidelines. See if there’s more you can add. (I’ve checked and many of these websites aren’t regularly publishing blog content. There’s your chance!)
Make it big on Quora and Medium
Both Medium and Quora are awesome places where people drop by to read articles or find answers to their questions. Think of them as free marketing machines solely made for writers to display their skills and expertise.
One of the best examples of this is how Eva Gutierrez went from posting on Quora and Medium to making $7,500/month as a freelance writer (you can read more about how she started her freelance writing business on the Starter Story website).
The way you could land opportunities with these websites may be somewhat indirect. For example, Eva was using Quora to practice her “writing muscles” and get feedback on her writing.
On the other hand, her Medium articles are getting thousands of claps (the equivalent of likes). Many of her articles are also published on Medium publications which helped her writing get exposed to different types of people — many of whom are in need of freelance writers.
Note that this strategy is rather long-term. But if you would like to use Medium and Quora to widen your (virtual) net, you have to…
- Write more about your niche and show your expertise in it
- Treat your Medium and Quora account like your own freelance business website
- Display your title as a freelance writer for a certain niche
Writing on Medium and Quora will not only get your name out there. Eventually, you would become an authority on that niche, as long as you keep on posting articles and answering questions like your life depended on it.
Write a case study and run a retargeting ad
I’ve first heard of this strategy from Kevin Duncan, the guy behind the Be A Better Blogger website.
For this to work, you must have the experience of being able to help someone’s website either grow its traffic or something related to the ROI.
If you want to try this strategy but you don’t have any experience, the best way to do this is to offer a free “breakthrough case study”. That is, to offer someone your free service in exchange for access to the stats and the permission to use it for your marketing. ?
Also, for this to work, you must have a website of your own since you have to know who visited your website and read your article.
To proceed, here are the steps you need to take:
- Create your case study as a downloadable PDF.
- Include a nice call to action at the bottom of the case study and invite its readers to reach out to you if they’re interested in the same results.
- Write an awesome article for your target clients (in your niche or industry) and publish it on your website.
- Promote your article everywhere to reach your target clients (run an ad if you must).
- Lastly, run a retargeting ad (via Facebook or Google AdSense) with the case study targeting everyone who read your article on your website.
Plenty of businesses get clients and customers this way. But in terms of freelancing, I have yet to find a single article where they revealed in detail the value they got from this method…
However, I did find a really good resource on how to do this (courtesy of Brennan Dunn).
Create a “Hire me” page on your website
There are so many reasons why you should invest in a website…
Aside from the potential to earn through other methods (not freelance writing), you can also use it to attract potential clients (like the method you read earlier) and through a “Hire me” page.
The idea here is simple — after publishing value-packed blog posts, some of the readers will reach out to you for potential business. Although you can use the contact form, your hire me page will serve somewhat as a writer profile.
Here’s a good example of a hire me page by Elna Cain:
So how much could you possibly earn just by putting up a hire me page on your website?
Tom Ewer of the Leaving Work Behind blog revealed that his hire me page (now defunct) has earned him more than $100,000 until the moment he deactivated it.
Of course, you will have to make sure that you’re publishing high-quality articles so others would trust you (and find you). The more popular your website gets, the more opportunity you will have as more people (with larger budgets) reach out to you.
Frequently asked questions about freelance writing jobs
Before we wrap this up, I’m pretty sure you still have questions in mind. I don’t profess to be a mind reader, but I’m certain that there are one or two questions listed below that you’re also asking silently.
(If you have additional questions about freelance writing jobs, feel free to ask in the comments section and I’ll be sure to address it and add it here later on.)
Question #1: Are freelance writing jobs legit?
In my experience, I have yet to find a single freelance writing opportunity that’s a scam. But I’m not that naive. I know for certain that there are people out there who wouldn’t hesitate to scam you into working for free.
That said, you have to watch out for signs. Some of these include:
- Requiring you to send a security fee
- Asking you to write a whole piece for free as a test (less than 300 words is acceptable)
- Not using their real names when corresponding with you
If I found a certain client from Upwork, I usually ask him or her to deposit the funds first on Escrow before I start working. If outside the platform, I usually ask for a 50% downpayment as a requirement.
Asking for a downpayment may seem like a big thing. But one thing you should understand is that there’s always a greater risk on our side — the freelancer’s side — than what they stand to lose (reputation vs money).
Although I didn’t experience any freelance writing scam, I had tango sessions with a lot of low-baller clients (those who would pay you peanuts). Make sure to only take opportunities you think are worth your time. ⏰
Question #2: How to get freelance writing jobs if you have no experience?
Everybody starts from somewhere, right? So don’t be discouraged even if you don’t have any experience. All successful freelance writers didn’t have any experience when they started.
Here’s what you could do:
- Start writing and publishing your own articles on Medium and LinkedIn
- Answer questions on Quora (and make your answers as grand as possible)
- Submit proposals to entry-level freelance writing opportunities on freelance platforms like Upwork and other freelance writer websites
- Create your own website, put up high-quality articles, and create a hire me page
When I started out, I did all of these things. I wrote articles on Medium (I even had my own 30-day writing challenge where I wrote for 30 days straight). I also answered questions on Quora. I also started taking up writing work on Upwork.
There’s always something you can do. Don’t hold yourself back just because you have no experience. If you don’t have any, the solution to that is simple — create opportunities for yourself to gain experience.
Question #3: What kind of freelance writing jobs are there?
This is a good question because there really are many types of freelance writing jobs you can take. But usually, you will only hear about blog writing, B2B (business-to-business) writing, ghostwriting, and copywriting.
Upwork divides the writing category into eight subcategories:
The easiest to get started is blog and article writing. You could easily get started with this by starting your own blog on Medium. Try writing articles related to your chose niche. That way, your articles could also double as your writing samples.
Question #4: Where to find freelance writing jobs?
I hope you didn’t skip the article and just went through straight here…
But anyhow, there are different ways to find freelance writing jobs. The easiest one is by submitting proposals and applications to job posts on freelance platforms and freelance writer websites.
Specifically, you can try:
- Freelance Writing
- LinkedIn Jobs
You can also try the methods I shared in this article:
- Sending cold emails to companies within your niche
- Reaching out to the companies behind the services and tools you’re using
- Stalking other successful freelance writers
- Making a name for yourself with Quora and Medium
- Creating a case study and run a retargeting ad
- Setting up a hire me page on your website
Whichever you choose, always try to get the best out of it before you deem it unworthy of your time. Things will work differently for different persons. Just never give up. ?
Question #5: How does freelance writing work?
Okay, I think what you meant by this post is how the system works when you send a pitch on a freelance writing opportunity.
It’s like this:
- You send a pitch/proposal/email to the key contact person or on the job post/ad.
- The poster or the prospective client will reach out to you and ask for more information.
- You could also ask questions about the opportunity and settle down concerns and other matters.
- You and the prospect will negotiate on the rate and the deliverables. (If outside Upwork, my tip to you is to ask for a downpayment.)
- Once your draft is ready, you will submit it to the client. (Make sure to proofread your work!)
- The client will provide feedback and if necessary, ask you for revisions.
- Once everything’s good, you can now send an invoice to the client for the remaining balance.
As you can see, nice and easy. ?
The possibilities of freelance writing
Before I end this article, let me tell you that freelance writing could become luxurious. In fact, I supported my family with just my earnings from my freelance writing contracts. I and my wife were able to quit our full-time jobs and focus on the things we like to do the most.
But not everything is rainbows and butterflies…
At first, you really have to put in more work as you have fewer connections and working samples. But as you become more known and your work gets published in popular outlets, clients will come and find you.
Now it’s your turn…
- Try out the methods listed here, one by one.
- Come back here and tell us which method worked best for you.
Share your thoughts and learnings in the comment section below so others who are still new in this journey would benefit from your experience. ?