Since you can’t have a career in freelance writing without actually doing some work, this article will talk about the multitude of rocks you can turn over to find writing assignments.
You must first decide if you want to be a niche or a general topic writer. A niche writer specializes in a specific topic or category of writing. For example, if you have experience in the medical industry, you could specialize in writing on medical topics which would open doors in the lucrative pharmaceutical industry. Or if you have a way with convincing people to buy stuff they don’t need, you could be a copywriter.
The benefit of specializing is that you only have to be an expert in one topic plus you are able to command higher rates because of your knowledge. On the other hand, you are more likely to run into a work shortage when times are lean.
A general topic writer is just as it sounds; a writer who writes about a little bit of everything. The great thing about this is that you are able to build knowledge across many different areas which make finding work a little bit easier. The major drawback to this is the consumption of time learning all of the different disciplines and the possibility of being passed over for an assignment for you lack of expert knowledge in a particular field.
Most writers start by getting involved in many areas and eventually settling on a niche. It is a good idea, however, to start with what you are comfortable with and then go from there.
Once you’ve decided on where to start it’s time to go looking. Here are some places to where you can find jobs.
1. Job boards and banks
Job boards, such as the Grindstone and job banks like Careerbuilders, exist solely to display job opportunities. Unless the job board is specific to the writing industry, however, it can be a little tough sifting through the multitudes of jobs to find ones in the industry. Luckily many job boards have a search function that makes this a little easier.
2. Writing Magazines and Newsletters
Many writing magazines and newsletters have a marketplace section, usually in the back of the magazine, where individuals and business sell their services. Some magazines even have a job listing section. Check the ones you like to read to see if anyone is hiring.
3. Writing Websites/Communities
By far the best place to find work, a good portion of writing communities have a section dedicated to the listing of relevant jobs. This makes finding work easier as you don’t have to sift through thousands of other listings for the few golden nuggets. An added benefit is that the community is there to advise you whether the job is a good opportunity or not.
4. Freelance Bidding Sites
Sites, such as iFreelance, puts jobs on the auction block and those interested in getting it bid on it with their price. The person with the best mix of skills and pricing usually gets the job. Be aware, though, that some of these sites do charge for access so be sure to investigate fully before signing up. Not only that most clients who go the bidding route are usually looking for the lowest price so you may not make as much money if you tend to be on the higher end of scale.
5. Internet search
Sometimes a good old fashion internet search will bring in writing opportunities. Searching for keywords such as “writing jobs” or “writing opportunities” will do the trick. Other times, however, you may have to do a specific search for publications such as “ezines” or “newsletter” and look through what comes up to see who is hiring.
6. Direct contact with the business
Otherwise known as cold calling, this is where you directly contact a publication or local business to see if they have any work for you. I’ve done this to a lesser extent in the past for another writing site I used to own. I would send a polite email to the owner of website in the topic I was interested in and asked if they needed writers.
The best way to go about this is to identify those websites and businesses that would benefit from your skills. Once you have done that, find the person who is responsible for making the hiring decisions and speak directly to them. Your first contact should be solely to find out if they use or have an interest in your services. If they are, then follow up with your marketing materials. If not then move to the next prospect.
7. Writer’s Market book and site subscription
Writer’s Market is the freelance writer’s bible. It’s been around since 1921 and is a resource your writing office cannot be without. As well as offering a host of articles about freelance writing from seasoned writers, the book also provides a comprehensive listing of magazine and book markets to which to submit your writing.
In the last few years, Writer’s Market has provided a job board for freelance writers. There is a fee associated with membership but it is well worth it.
Putting out a call for work is perfectly acceptable. Just be smart about how you do it. Some online job boards and writing communities have places where you can post your portfolio for consideration. Having your own personal website is always a good idea as well as keeping a blog. Don’t be afraid to take out advertising in places that target the market you work in both online and off just be prepared for the flood of writing assignments that may come pouring in.
One of the perks of having a network is getting recommendations for jobs. You should make it your business (as part of marketing yourself) to become known for good quality work which will make it easier for others to recommend you to potential clients. Just be sure to remember to follow up with a thank you to the referring member of this particular well will dry up real fast.
Another way to open the job flow is to form a referral partnership with businesses in your niche. You can offer anything to a percentage of the sale, a discount to the referred member or even referrals back to the business. There may be some legalities involved with this type of arrangement so be sure to check with your attorney before going forward.
10. Subcontracting for other writers
Sometimes writers get such a huge feast that they can eat it all alone and thus must recruit help. Don’t be afraid to send a friendly message around your network of writer buddies that you are available if they need help. And don’t be afraid to return the favor if you find yourself swamped with clients as well.
As you can see there are many places in which to find work. The real challenge comes in first getting the job and then keeping the client happy, a subject we tackle in the next article in this series.
Just in case you missed any, here’s a list: