If you’ve always loved writing, it makes sense that you want to explore the world of freelance writing. Perhaps you’re already a writer, and you want to pursue a freelance direction. Freelance copywriting offers lots of flexibility for independent workers, but it’s challenging to break into. Today, we’re covering the ins and outs of freelance writing, including how you should apply for work and where to look for it.
First, let’s briefly cover what it means to be a freelancer.
What is Freelance Writing?
Working as a freelancer makes you an independent business owner. You offer writing services to individuals or businesses as self-employed, independent workers. Freelancers often write for multiple clients simultaneously. Some clients will have contracts with recurring work, while others might only be one-off projects.
Freelance writing covers various areas of writing, including the following.
Some of these careers are more niche than others. Ghostwriting, for example, is different from SEO writing. However, you can work in all these areas of writing and choose an umbrella term like ‘Professional Freelance Writer’ as your official job title.
So, how do you find the jobs you want?
How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
Unlike most full-time jobs, you’ll do better with more than just your CV when applying for freelance writing jobs. Before you start the job hunt, you should create a portfolio to show your abilities to potential clients. A portfolio gives you an edge in this competitive environment, demonstrating what you can do as a writer. If you’d like guidance on creating a compelling portfolio, we’re happy to help.
Now, to the job search.
Traditional Job Search Methods
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sites like LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, Monster, or Glassdoor mostly show full-time positions, but you can also extend your search to freelance contracts. You can get valuable insight into the jobs available and what sort of experience and skills employers expect from their workers. Even if you don’t find freelance roles listed on these sites, you might still find potential clients.
Ever heard the phrase, ‘Don’t ask, don’t get’? Sometimes, taking the initiative to reach out to a business can get you freelance work. If you see a listing for a full-time position that interests you, don’t hesitate to reach out to the lister and ask if they might be interested in your services. For some roles, you’ll never know unless you ask.
Just as LinkedIn and Indeed exist for the full-time working world, there are also job search websites for freelancers. Check out Freelancer, Upwork, or Contently for regular freelance gig listings. There are also freelance-specific blogs and social media pages where freelancers can share their experiences and highlight roles for other writers to claim if their schedules are full.
Social media can play a significant role in your freelance writing career. There are pages on sites like Facebook for just about any niche you can think of in the content writing world. There’s the Female Freelance Writers page, Writers Helping Writers, Freelance Writer Academy, The Freelance History Writer, and Freelance Home Interiors Writer. The list goes on and on. Finding a community online is an excellent way of staying on top of new jobs in your area of expertise.
Networking is a crucial part of copywriting. Building relationships with clients impacts your reputation as a writer. Call yourself a freelance writer (even if you haven’t had any freelance work yet). Even if you don’t know anyone in the right industry for your niche, the chances are high that your friends and family will know someone. Ask around and see if they know someone who would benefit from your skills.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your new career direction on social media. Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates let others know who you are and what you’re looking for, keeping you at the forefront of their minds. It could be as simple as your friends from university or a previous workplace knowing just the role for you - so put yourself out there!
Linking back to what we said about ‘don’t ask, don’t get’, one of the most effective ways to get work as a freelance writer is to seek it out. If you have an area you prefer to write about, try to find companies in that field and reach out to their content managers, digital marketers, or other management staff in charge of making decisions about hiring freelancers.
Although cold pitching can be intimidating, it’s definitely worth practising. You’ll probably get rejections, especially early in your career, but each new pitch email or LinkedIn message will help you cement yourself as a freelance writer more and more in your mind. Representing yourself with confidence is an excellent way to convince potential clients that you’re worth working with, and this method is perfect for building your confidence.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of finding jobs let’s talk a little about applying for freelance writing roles.
How to Apply for Freelance Writing Jobs
How you apply to a freelance writing job depends mainly on how you found the job in the first place. Let’s go over a few techniques for job applications.
Applying to a Freelance Listing
On sites specifically for freelancers, like Upwork, clients often have very particular application instructions. Since these sites can be very competitive and some freelancers apply blindly to every listing in hopes of getting one, clients frequently hide special instructions in their listings. Always read the job description very carefully before applying to ensure you know exactly what they want.
On these sites, it’s also common to have to write a sample for a pitch. Be prepared to show off your skill set for any number of topics; you might write about laundry detergents, Spanish holiday locations, or anime. Sites like Upwork are a decent starting point for new freelance writers but try to avoid underselling yourself or giving too much away in your samples and applications.
Applying to a Job Listing
You’ve seen a job listing for a project that you think sounds fantastic, but it’s for a full-time role. Your story doesn’t have to end here, however. Every job posting has contact information for a staff member connected to the role itself. If you’re really passionate about the project or the company, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to this person to see if you can help.
Getting the tone right with this type of targeted cold pitching is essential. You don’t want to come across as desperate for work; it’s instant client-repellant. Emphasise that you’re reaching out because of your interest in the topic - if you have relevant experience to reference here, then even better. Openly invite responses from rejections to feedback to negotiations about drafting a contract.
Applying with a Portfolio Pitch
There are cold pitches and warm pitches. Cold pitches require you to reach out to someone you’ve never spoken to before who hasn’t posted a job listing online. Warm pitching is when you reach out to someone you already have a relationship with to initiate a conversation about working with them.
As mentioned earlier, a portfolio is essential for any freelance writer looking for work. It embodies your work history and gives your clients an initial insight into what you could do for them. When you have a portfolio in order, you’re ready to send some pitches. Send out a few messages/emails each day, introduce yourself, express your interest in their business, and invite them to contact you.
Freelance writing is a viable career option for anyone willing to back themselves. You might be a writer who wants to freelance, or perhaps you’re brand new to the working world and think it would suit you. Wherever you are in your freelance writing career, you’re more than welcome at The Author’s Pad, where writers live and work.
Let’s review some common questions about finding freelance writing jobs.
How do I Start Freelance Writing with No Experience?
Starting freelance writing with no experience is challenging but doable. Put yourself out there and reach out to local businesses you enjoy to offer writing work at a discounted price. Try not to work for free if you can, but your primary goal should be gaining that all-important experience that can lead to recurring work.
Are Freelance Writers in Demand?
There is plenty of demand for freelance writers. The growth of e-commerce means just about every industry needs well-written content that can promote products and improve search engine rankings. No matter your niche, skilled writers can find work at a range of companies for various content styles.
Is it Too Late to be a Freelancer?
Absolutely not. Freelance working has become more common since the pandemic forced so many of us to work remotely. It doesn’t matter how far into your working life you are; freelancing is always an option. Most freelancers transition from full-time work to freelancing in their late-30s and early-40s, but it’s common for younger workers to enter freelance work today. Some freelancers have never had a full-time job.