Freelance Writing Jobs for Newbies: Landing Your First Client

NewFreelancewritingjobs

Checking freelance writing job boards is something every freelance writer has to do, whether you are just starting out or already an established writer.

For beginner freelance writers, like myself, the road you take to success will vary from one another, but we all have the same goal for our profession: to get paid what we’re worth.

You may be wondering, then, how do you get your first high paying client and how long does it take (I know I did when I began freelance writing).

I’ve been freelance writing for under a year now, and I’ve learned a thing or two about scoring a gig. When I began my career as a freelance writer, I didn’t know where to start. I began searching online to find out and many of my searches led me to content mill sites like Guru or Upwork.

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I decided I might as well create a profile and try to get some projects under my belt. I had yet to secure any guest posts at this time, but I was excited to get paid anything for my writing.

I pitched to various job ads, but didn’t receive any responses. I was new and didn’t know how to sell myself.

I decided to look more into freelance writing websites to learn more about this profession. I started reading Francesca Nicasio’s site, Be a Freelance Writer and Sophie Lizard’s site, Be a Freelance Blogger.

I learned that freelance writing and blogging pays a lot more than $10 for a 500 word article or post. I also learned that branding yourself and using social media can help in securing a sustainable rate.

How do you land your first client that pays top dollar?

If you’re new to freelance writing and want to know how to land a client that knows your writing is worth more than $.03/word, my blog series will help you navigate the beginnings of freelance writing success.

My blog series, Freelance Writing Jobs for Newbies, will cover how to land a well paying client and once you have a client, how to strategically navigate the steps to getting paid what you’re worth.

Why Freelance Writing?

There are many reasons why someone would choose to get into freelance writing. For me, I wanted to stay home and raise my twins and what better way to do that than with a home based business? Other people may have a full time job and moonlight on the side as an online writer.

Dipping your feet and testing the waters before you fully commit is a great way to see if freelance writing is really what you want.

I’m fortunate enough to have a husband that can support us, so when I began my venture as a freelance writer, I didn’t have to worry about scoring gigs right away. I was able to ease into this profession and gather as much information about freelance writing and blogging as I could.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s hard work. Not everyone is cut out for freelance writing full time. According to Jennifer Mattern of All Indie Writers,

Many, if not most [freelance writers], will fail within their first few years.

That’s a tough pill to swallow. I think the main reason people give up freelance writing is because:

  • They burn out from having to write daily
  • They keep selling themselves short and never ask for more money
  • There are too many months without steady pay
  • Too many bad clients that don’t pay on time

Being a solopreneur is daunting and scary for many people. Not only do you have to hustle for steady work, but you have to craft your writing skills while branding yourself all with the added risk of not getting paid.

It takes a persistent and strong individual with a passion for the entrepreneurial lifestyle to cut it as a freelance writer.

But even if you decide to be a freelance writer or blogger full time, don’t consider yourself one until you get paid for your writing.

What are the steps to landing your first real paid client? There are 4 steps I did to secure my first client.

1. Build Your Portfolio

For budding new freelance writers like yourself, you want to attract clients that pay what you’re worth. A great way to do this is to have a portfolio showcasing your best written work.

A lot of would-be writers don’t have a portfolio (because they don’t know how to get a portfolio). By having a portfolio, small businesses can weed out the freelancers that make what they do a business from those that make it a hobby.

So how do you build a portfolio if you’re brand new to freelance writing and don’t have any sample works or published works to provide? Here are three ways you can quickly build your portfolio.

1. Write Guest Posts

Guest posting is a quick way to grab clips and put them up on your business website. Although you won’t be getting paid for your articles, what you will gain is a portfolio of your best writing in your target niche or niches.

Another added benefit for new writers is an author byline. If you want to promote your services, this is the best place to briefly let someone know:

  • Who you are Let people know that you are available for freelance writing. Why is this important? Because it lets prospects know that you can take on more clients and that you aren’t already working for a company.
  • What you do – Be specific on what areas of writing you provide. You can also mention specific niches that you write about as a way to target certain businesses.
  • Where they can reach you and any extra information – Link your contact info or social handles to make it easy for prospects to contact you.

When you put it all together, you might have something like this:

I’m a freelance writer for hire that provides blog posts, articles and site content for businesses. I’m an expert in natural living, parenting and career advice. For more information on my services contact Elna and sign up to her free email course Get Paid to Write Online.

Some websites require a short author bio of 2 sentences, so make sure to provide as much relevant information as you can without sounding too wordy.

How do you find websites that offer guest posting?

You can simply search, guest post (niche) website or write for us (niche) website into Google.

Another great resource is Sophie Lizards free guide to paid guest blogs. Yes, you saw that right. There are some websites that actually pay $50 or more for a guest post.

What better way than to get paid while you’re building your portfolio? It’s a win-win situation.

2. Write a Blog

Many successful freelance writers have a blog so why not do what they do? If they’re successful follow in their footsteps, is something I always tell myself.

A blog is nice to have because it helps new writers become better.

How does a blog help you become a better writer? Because you are consistently writing and holding yourself accountable for providing quality content.

A blog can also act as a portfolio if you haven’t scored any guest posts yet. If you decide to use your blog as your portfolio, treat your blog like a paid client– take the time and lay out your plan for each post and stick to a deadline. And above all, make sure you provide relevant content on your blog and promote it as you would a paid clients’ work.

Finally, a blog can help you land clients. When a prospective client sees you have an active and current blog, they may be more willing to hire you for your services. They may think if you can create a blog that has comments and social shares, then you can definitely do it for them.

3. Do Pro Bono Work in Your Communities

One last way to build your portfolio is to do some pro bono work in your area.

Dedicate your time and words to charitable causes in your community. Your local newspaper, church newsletter, not-for-profit organization’s paper or your community outreach resource guides may need some written content. This is a great way to get your name out in your city while at the same time building your portfolio.

How do I get my offline work on my online portfolio?

Many of your local community organizations are online and it will be easy to link to their website or even a PDF document containing your written work.

You may even find a paid gig once you start reaching out to your community. The main thing to focus on is providing quality written work so that you can showcase them on your portfolio.

 2. Use Social Media as a Marketing Platform

There are many freelance writers who don’t use social media to its fullest. And that’s okay. If they are getting consistent work without using Twitter or Google +, they don’t need to fuss about creating a social profile.

But for many new freelance writers who lack paid clients, an easy way to let everyone know you are a freelance writer for hire, is to set up social profiles on all the major social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Having a social presence online is something many online businesses require of their freelance writers. In fact, my first client mentioned in their ad that they wanted a social media maven. In essence, businesses want traffic and they want a writer that can bring in unique visitors and drive their traffic.

Where to start?

The two social media sites I would suggest for new freelance writers are Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter is a great way to market your content and connect with editors and small businesses. LinkedIn is a great place to find clients that know the value of content and will pay top dollar. It’s also a great place to use as your online CV and résumé.

 3. Look Locally for Clients

A great way to score awesome gigs is through local businesses. You can go to individual small businesses and pitch to them or you can do what I did to try to score a handful of clients with one pitch.

If you want to land consistent online work with a handful of high paying clients, the best place to pitch, is to website development companies.  Many of these companies have long term clients that value an online presence. You can definitely tap into this by pitching to the directors of a website design business telling them that their clients need your content creation services.

I recently introduced myself to a local website development and got positive feedback. I’m looking forward to collaborating with them in the New Year. If, for some reason, it doesn’t pan out, there are other website development companies I can proposition in my city.

4. Selectively Hunt Job Boards

Now I hope any new freelance writer who is reading this knows I am not talking about freelance marketplaces like Elance, Guru, Upwork or any other places with low paying job ads.

What I am talking about is going to job boards where the top paying clients go to. These job boards, post ads for bloggers and freelance writers with rates starting at around $50 per blog post or article.

So what job boards am I talking about? My go-to job boards are:

Check out my step-by-step guide on an insanely fast way to find a freelance writing job.

Other great places to find your first client is through Facebook groups. I often visit a Canadian job board business page and a Facebook 4 Freelancers group. These boards may not have high paying job ads, but it’s always a good thing to stay connected and you never know, a high paying client may spring up!

Twitter is also another place to hunt for clients. I follow @jjobs_tweets, @FreelanceWJ, @TweelanceWriter @WhoPaysWriters.

As I mentioned before, LinkedIn is a great way to find small businesses in your niche that you could introduce yourself and pitch your services to.

You’re On Your Way to Success

I used these 4 ways to get my first high paying client. You might be wondering how long did it take me? For me, it took me 2 months to secure a winning portfolio, build up my brand and let businesses know I am a freelance writer for hire through social media. Soon after I landed my first client.

Once I had these in position, I was able to pitch to well established companies because I had the credibility to back me up.

As  mother of twin toddlers without a journalism degree, I was able to secure high paying clients with my quality content and marketing ability in 2 months.

If you follow my simple steps to success, any new freelance writer can land their first high-paying client in no time.

In part two of my blog series, Freelance Writing Jobs for Newbies, I will focus on the client meeting. What questions should you ask prospective clients? How do you sell yourself? All these and many more questions will be answered in my next post. Stay tuned!

If you’re a new freelance writer, what did you do to land your first client? Is there anything else you would add?

Comments

  1. says

    Totally digging each tips Elna! I’d say it’s key to be clear on the specific job you want; if I’ve learned one thing over the past 6 years online – 3 of which I was freelancing – it’s to be not a beggar, but a writer with authority. Like, accept and act on exact matches and let go anything else. For example, Kelli – my significant other – just applied for a job and received an opportunity to write a post. It was not a match, as the nature of the feedback she received indicated that it wouldn’t be aligned with how she likes to write. So, she let it go, and now she has established greater clarity in her choice of jobs. In essence, she made it so much easier to find more perfect matches, and so much easier to let go non matches immediately.

    I don’t play around. I work with clients who vibe with me 100%, and I let go other clients. Our energy sets all this up and 99.99959999% LOL!….new freelancers take the “beggars can’t be choosers” mindset which is 10000% wrong if you want to really grow a successful, prospering business. Many folks look at me like I’m alien, wondering how in the heck a pro blogger who freelances can live in a beach front home in Fiji for 4 months, but it’s this level of posture, authority and clarity which I regularly display which helped me to engineer this really, really neat lifestyle.

    Was it comfortable, turning down jobs when I felt that I needed them? Hell no! But it was freeing, and it developed in me the habit of being Uber clear on jobs I wanted to work, and clients I wanted to work with, and also, letting go folks who weren’t matches, so I didn’t do the energy drag thing that most freelancers do, desperate to get jobs. Let go desperation, have posture, and you’ll find that as you write, and write some more, improving your writing game, that perfect matches client-wise will find you.

    Thanks for the tips Elna!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted… Review of I Will Teach You SEO

    • says

      Ryan,
      You’ve made some great points about having the “balls” to be a freelance writer LOL. Every solopreneur has to have that mindset in order to be successful, like you mentioned. You’re in control of your workload and you can choose who you want to work with. Don’t settle. Ever!

      Thanks for commenting on my post! Appreciate it!

      Elna

    • says

      Hi Gina
      Glad you made if over to my blog! Thanks for your kind words.

      Being a new freelance writer can be overwhelming but with the right attitude and passion, you can achieve success!

  2. says

    I love Sophie Lizard’s site! Most writers (and non-writers) are surprised when I tell them my first clients came from Craigslist. It seems like an unreliable place to find legitimate work, but my first client (who I worked with for 6 years) was acquired there. I also found a politician on Craigslist who needed a brochure made for his campaign. Since I was just starting out I did it for free, it was a great addition to my portfolio and helped to provide samples for future paid clients.

    • says

      Great resource Tara Lynne!
      I don’t always scout Craigslist but I hear you can find great clients that pay well. I will remember to check there next time I go job hunting!

      Thanks for coming on over and leaving a comment! It means the world to me. I actually was looking at your site and am in awe of you! You are truly a freelance writer! Great portfolio BTW.

      Looking forward to networking with you!

      Elna

  3. Sajib Mannan says

    Very well written. Clear and concise. This is the most simpliest article written for newbies on web. Really appreciate your effort. Great work.

  4. says

    Great tips for newbie writers. Thanks, Elna
    “Twitter is also another place to hunt for clients. I follow @jjobs_tweets, @FreelanceWJ, @TweelanceWriter @WhoPaysWriters.”
    Twitter is one place, I still need to check out.
    Kashmira Palsetia recently posted… AMAZING MOUNT ABU

  5. says

    Hi Elna,

    I want to thank you for writing this series for those of us thinking about freelance writing.

    There are some really useful ideas for building for your profile and therefore your creditability. I wonder how many people overlook local options?

    I look forward to reading the next in the series.

    Jo
    Jo Cross recently posted… Resolutions or Goals?

    • says

      Hi Corina!
      Thanks for your comment! Thanks for subscribing too! Glad you liked my blog series! Glad we are in a mastermind group together! Can’t wait to learn from each one of you fab ladies!

  6. says

    Elna, thanks for sharing…!

    Actually, I’m not a writer, but I love writing jobs. You know..? Every time, I wrote my blog post, it always has content mistakes of grammar errors. I have submitted my last post on Kingged dot com, and then I got some negative comment about my badly writing.

    I want to know that it is possible to improve your writing, or how to learn to improve writing skill faster.

    Also, thanks for sharing..! I love what you wrote about, especially at what you have mentioned about how to build portfolio.

    Sure, I will follow you advise. Now a day, I’m trying my best to get my guest post approve on other bloggers’ blog. This month I have done one…
    Kimsea Sok recently posted… 6 Monster Blog Marketing Mistakes You Have to Stop It

    • says

      Hi Kimsea

      If you find that you have grammar mistakes, there are free editing tools online like PaperRater. You could also pay a little bit of cash and go with Grammerly. Both are great editing tools to use to help with your writing.

      Thanks for singing up to my newsletter! Glad to know you enjoy my posts.
      Elna

  7. says

    Good tips here – thank you. My situation is rather different as I set out to build a portfolio to ensure a small extra income in retirement. I gave myself 5 years, which in hindsight was far too long. I have utilized local businesses and contacts and have ‘advertised’ my freelance services through all social media outlets. My income is not huge but steady and more and more clients are contacting me. So in less than a year I have exceeded my expectations and income.
    I am positive about the future with a cushion income for retirement.
    Mandy Eve-Barnett recently posted… Guest Post with Andi O’Connor – Character Creation…

    • says

      Great Mandy!
      Advertising that you are a freelance writer to local businesses is a great start. Social media is also a great place to promote your writer website and services. In fact, most of my clients found me via social media.

      I’m glad my post helped you out!
      Elna

    • says

      Ha, thanks Cat!
      Twins are sure a handful, but I’m doing the best I can freelance writing while they nap and sleep. Not sure what I’ll do when they drop their afternoon nap!
      Elna

  8. says

    I am looking for creative writing training(novel writing), cause you can only teach yourself so much until you need outside help!. . Has anyone had any positive experience with such a service that they would recommend?.

  9. says

    Wow Ena!

    Those are four smoking hot, and thank goodness, non techie tips!

    You can really sink your teeth into what you’re sharing!LOL!

    BTW,I quickly clicked over to Sophie Lizards blog and let me
    tell you, that lady writes some awesome headlines that definitely
    draw you in!LOL!

    So I’m definitely gonna be checking her site out, after leaving here!So
    thanks for mentioning her site!

    I just like the fact that your approach requires one to keep moving forward
    and not waiting til you have or even most of the answers!

    You were willingly to pro-actively move off center, even though you didn’t
    initially have most of the answers!Great post!

    Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!
    Mark recently posted… Who Says You Can’t Learn Three Powerful Marketing Lessons From A Really Bad Personal Relationship?

  10. says

    Another great post with plenty of actionable tips! I especially loved the section about the importance of having a blog. It’s like having a regularly updated portfolio of your work, and is a great way to show prospective clients what you can do when you don’t have many clips under your belt.

    When I first started freelancing, I did a lot of work for content mills and random people on Craigslist – both of whom were quite opposed to paying writers what they are worth. I thought it was totally normal to earn $10 for a well-researched article or blog post of 800 words. I would spend all day writing big batches of these posts, just so I could earn $100. It was exhausting, disheartening, and pretty boring.

    That’s when I really got serious about freelancing and treated it like the business I wanted it to be. I put in a lot of research, created a website, and started a new blog. My content mill work was ghostwritten, and none of it could be used in a portfolio for 36 months. I used my blog to showcase my writing. I did guest posts, wrote for Lifehack, and posted to BlogHer quite a bit. When my posts on BlogHer were featured, and my Lifehack influence grew, I started getting some real clients.

    Your job board list was especially great. I would add Gorkana Jobs to that list. It has regularly updated job postings for practically every niche.
    Alexia P. Bullard @AlexiaPBullard recently posted… Freelance Marketing 101: Finding Better-Paying Clients

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