So You Want to Become a Freelance Writer? Part 3: Finding Gigs

You’ve decided to start a freelance writing business and have considered the kind of writing and the niche(s) you want to pursue.

Part 1: Learning about the Business

Part 2: Choosing What You will Do

If you’re like most freelancers, you’ll probably work from home. Although you won’t need to do many of the items in setting up a self-publishing company, you may want to review the list for things that apply, such as getting a business checking account and phone line and setting up a bookkeeping system.

You’ll also need to determine your freelance writing rates. You will find excellent advice on setting rates on some of the sites mentioned in Parts 1 and 2 of this series. When you’re new to freelance writing, you can’t expect to charge the same as someone with many years of experience. However, you need to determine what you’re worth and charge accordingly.

You’re eager to get started … but where do you find jobs? Remember, you can find work both offline and online.

If you want to write for publications such as magazines, Writers Market is a valuable resource, though it does require a subscription.  I recommend the online edition as it is continually updated, and the print edition is published only once a year.

Tips for finding freelance writing jobs offline:

  • Use your contacts and let everyone in your circle of influence know about your new business. You might be surprised to learn that someone you know works for a company looking for a freelance writer.
  • Let the people you do business with know you’re a freelance writer. Your vet or the dry cleaner may be planning a brochure or an ad campaign.
  • Network in your community. The next person you meet at your local civic group could become your best client.
  • Volunteer for organizations and causes you believe in. Although I don’t usually recommend writers give their work away, I advocate pro bono writing for charities you support. You are likely to meet people who can help you build your business – either by hiring you themselves or by referring you to others, and you can use the work you’ve done as clips for paying jobs. And you’re contributing to a worthy cause while you build your business.
  • Advertise in free or inexpensive venues – a classified ad in your neighborhood newspaper, flyers on public bulletin boards, or a listing on craigslist.
  • Cold call businesses in your niche. You can make contacts by telephone, letter, or e-mail. Few people enjoy cold calling, but some writers find it effective in finding unadvertised work. Keep the contact brief and professional. Be prepared for a lot of rejection but remember that every “no” is just one step closer to a “yes.”

Resources for finding freelance jobs:

Note: not every site will be appropriate for every writer. Visit the various sites and see which ones post jobs appropriate for your specialty, niche, and skill set.

All Freelance Writing Jobs – job board and regular freelance job listings

Freelance – jobs posted online and in a weekly newsletter

Freelance Writing Jobs – daily job postings and plenty of excellent advice for freelancers

Hubstaff Talent – free resource to match remote talent with companies needing their services

Sunoasis – job board for writing and journalism jobs with a special section for freelance jobs

Top 10 Freelance Writing Job Sites and 10 More Freelance Writing Job Sites – Listings of job sites (some of which are included elsewhere on this list plus several that are not)

Worldwide Freelance Writer – databases of markets categorized by topic; free database has fewer and lower-paying markets than subscription database

Writer’s Weekly – freelance writing e-zine with new jobs and markets listed weekly

You can also look into some of the bidding job sites. However, I haven’t used any of these sites in years; my experience with them was not favorable; and I’ve heard a lot of negative reports about the very low prices of most jobs offered. If you’re just starting out in business, give them a try if you choose and make up your own mind. Concentrate on free listings, though, and beware of paying high fees just to access jobs that may or may not be suitable for you.

Strategies for success in finding freelance projects:

Establish a “looking for freelance work” routine. Market yourself even when you have plenty of work.

Build long-term client relationships. Spend less time marketing and more time earning with repeat business.

Where are your favorite places to find freelance writing gigs? Please share with us in comments.


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