I recently had a reader email me asking for advice on how to break into freelance writing. I sent her some information and thought maybe others might be interested so I decided to expand the information and write a blog post.
Freelancing is tough but the good thing about it is anyone can do it. You don’t need a degree and you can work from anywhere. The best advice I can give you is learn all you can.
There is a lot of free information on the internet from established freelancers. Get on their mailing list and learn from them. In time spend some money for a class or two.
Here are a few things to get you started.
Start a blog
Set up a blog and get on the web. You can blog about anything but you need to do a little research and find something that not only interests you but that people will read. If it is Travel then do something like, Travel in Eastern Europe, Luxury travel, Adventure travel and so on.
If fashion, then Fashion targeted to a specific group. Set up a page where people can contact you and a page to advertise your services. A lot of people will advise you to find a niche if you are going to blog about anything.
A general blog about travel or fashion or whatever topic is okay if you are going to concentrate primarily on your blog but if you are setting one up for the purpose of freelancing then getting specific in a topic is better. Being concentrated on a specific niche will put you in a better position to attract freelance jobs in that niche.
Content Mills are notorious for low paying jobs. If you have looked at freelance writing jobs on the internet I am sure you have come across an ad like this:
“Freelance writer wanted. Needs to have Journalism degree and can write in AP style, meets deadlines and produces world-class writing with zero mistakes that doesn’t need editing. Can research topics, write a minimum of 1000 words per article and is capable of producing 5 articles a week. Pay is $10 per article”
What? No Pulitzer Prize requirement?
The mediocre job boards are full of ads like that and the sad part is that someone, somewhere is willing to settle for that pay.
Elance, People-per-Hour, Freelancer, O-Desk and the like are not going to pay a lot of money but you can occasionally find a good job there. The problem is you are competing against a lot of people for the job and a lot of those jobs are low paying positions. Instead look at some companies where you live that have their own website. If they have a blog read it, see what they write about and approach them with an idea for an article. If they don’t have a blog contact them and offer to start one for them and write the content.
There are also a lot of job boards that do offer decent paying jobs.
A few of them are:
There are a lot more but you that should give you a good starting point. Also do a search on Google for what you want to write about such as ( “write for us” travel or “submission guidelines” business blogs ) experiment with the search and you will find some good sites needing freelance writers .
Target magazines that you want to write for. Easily said huh? Well there are resources readily available that can get you started. A few are:
Who Pays Writers a crowd sourced list of magazines that pay writers.
All Indie Writers has a huge list.
Find blogs that are in your area of interest. Read the blogs and leave comments. Those comments can’t be “great article” or something similar. Instead put some thought into the comment. Tell the author why you agree or disagree, add to the discussion, ask an additional question or a comment about how the article helped you in some way. Blog comments will get your name out there and make it easier to approach the blog owner for a chance to write a guest post for them.
While most blogs don’t pay or pay very little the benefit to you is getting your name out there. Most of the time you will be able to have a short bio at the end of your article and put a link to your blog where people can find you. This will help in driving traffic to your blog and help in attracting potential clients that need freelance writers.
Get on some email lists of successful freelancers.
People like Carol Tice, Kirsty Stuart, Gary McLaren and Mridu Khullar Relph.
You will find by reading and following these successful freelancers that most offer a ton of great resources just for signing up and following them. Free resources such as links to paying jobs, how to pitch stories, how to write a Letter of Introduction and more.
Get your blog started and write 500 words every day. Whether it is freelance writing or blogging you will find one common thing preached by almost everyone. Write every day, write and then write some more. By writing every day you establish a pattern, you get better and you get more comfortable in writing. Write a story for your blog, offer to guest post on other blogs, start an e-book about anything that interests you but write something every day.
When you do write, edit everything so there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. You will get your name out there and eventually find some paying jobs.
Photo credit: RaeAllen / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Great article. This is exactly what I did. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by Marc
This is a great post for newbies! I never realized, or understood, the importance of guest posting until I actually started doing it. It’s nice to be able to provide links to your work, that was featured on popular sites :), to prospective clients.
Hi Iva, thanks for stopping by. You’re right guest posting is a great way to get your name out there.
Interesting post Bob, something I may be interested in doing in the future. And good to know that the blog can a be stepping stone to doing that. I’ll have a look at some of those links.
Hi Frank, thanks for stopping by.
Mary @ Green Global Travel says
It’s daunting for first-timers to launch into the freelancing industry, what with so many options and paths to take. These are some great starter tips, Bob!
Thanks Mary, It is definitely a journey and an ongoing process. I am continually learning and adapting.
You shared some valuable links in there Bob. Thank you.
Glad you found it useful Charlie
Ligaya Dellosa says
Hello, Bob! I loved your article “Why the Philippines suits me”. I am from the Philippines and I agree with your article. Our country has the most beautiful beaches. People are generally friendly and helpful. I laughed about the “Filipino time” – that is what Filipinos are known for, although having stayed in the USA for 30 years, I don’t like it! I have been traveling a lot and have always wanted to do freelance writing. Your tips and suggestions are greatly helpful. I have not posted anything yet but I look forward to doing it soon! Thank you!
Hi Ligaya, Thanks for stopping by. After being there for awhile I kind of got used to “Filipino time” but it was a little frustrating at first. Would love to get back to the Philippines. Glad you found the articles on Freelancing helpful.
Lee @EatTravelCook says
What’s the thing in your first image sitting on the table behind your laptop? just curious. Thanks for some good resources here… signing up now for them!
I believe it is a web cam, but since my office doesn’t look this nice, the photo is a stock photo. Sssshh…. don’t tell anyone.
Suny | Low Cost Flights Tickets says
Great Points, thanks for sharing the wonderful blog comments!
Really handy and useful info! This is probably one of the best articles I’ve seen on freelancing for newbies! It’s awesome you honestly share all these tips with others! I’m not a freelancer myself, but got excited to explore the links you’ve provided – it’s always good to have more job options!
Regards from Spain
This article is very helpful. Thank you for the insights.
Glad you found it useful