I tell all new freelance writers that you gotta hustle to land a freelance writing job.
Writing gigs often just don’t come to you out of the blue. You have to put the work in every day so that you can get on the radar of your ideal clients and land a sweet gig.
But this doesn’t mean you have to slave away hours a day on job boards pitching to anything and everything that looks remotely interesting. While job boards do have their place – it’s how I landed all my clients in the first few months of being a freelance writer – there are a ton of other ways to get paid to write.
Here are four of them.
1. Get Paid to Guest Post
Did you know that you could get paid to build your portfolio? Usually, I tell new writers that the best way to build their portfolio is to guest post.
Most guest post opportunities are free, but there are a lot of sites that will pay you to write a guest post. Pretty cool eh? The advantages to these types of gigs are:
- New freelance writers can earn cash in their first month
- You can use these gigs to help you build a solid portfolio
- It gives you experience with paid writing in terms of pitching an idea, working with an editor and submitting your invoice
- It could eventually lead to a paid writing job
Where can you find paid guest posts? The best sites are the ones that have done all the work for you and have lists of several dozen sites that pay writers for guest posts. Here are four of them:
1. Be a Freelance Blogger
Sophie Lizard’s opt-in freebie is a list of 75 blogs that will pay you $50 or more. This is a fantastic list that covers a ton of different niches from parenting to WordPress, giving you lots of places to guest post.
2. Writers In Charge
Bamidele’s entire site is filled with posts about sites that pay writers. His opt-in freebie is a list of 110 websites that pay, including sites that pay a $1,000 for a post!
Some of his posts that list more sites that pay writers include:
3. The Write Life
The Write life has several posts that list sites that pay writers. My favorite are:
4. Blogging Wizard
Blogging Wizard not only helps bloggers get their blog up and running but also freelance bloggers get their business off on the right foot. Adam Connell, the site owner, has a free opt-in of 35 sites that pay. It’s an exit intent, which means, after you read a blog post or if you are going to leave, a pop-up shows (Psst, I wrote this freebie).
This particular pop-up of 35 sites that pay bloggers shows on posts that are geared for freelancers like this one.
2. Cold Pitching
Cold pitching, or cold emailing, is a secret income generator that not many freelance writers pursue. But, if done right, you can make some sweet cash. Jorden Roper of Writing Revolt, earned $800 in her first month freelance writing by cold pitching.
If you’re not sure what cold pitching is, it’s basically finding companies, bloggers or businesses you want to work with and emailing your letter of introduction and pitch. This tells them who you are, what you do and how you can help them.
It might seem hard to do, but it’s quite easy. The hardest part is actually locating these clients to pitch to. Where do they hang out? Well, the best places are:
Once you’ve located a few potential clients, the next part is finding out who to email your pitch to. Usually you can find this on their contact page or About page.
Sending a cold pitch is a lot different than sending a pitch to a job board. Since a company isn’t actively seeking a writer, your cold pitch needs to introduce who you are while gently nudging them as to why they need a content writer. But, once you land your first client via cold pitching, the next one, and the one after that, gets easier.
Make it your plan to cold pitch five companies a week to get used to the idea and then move up to five companies a day.
3. Social Media
Do you have a LinkedIn or Twitter account? In my two years of freelance writing, both of these platforms have generated thousands of dollars for my business. And, just recently I landed a gig from Pinterest.
And the great thing was that I never directly pitched to these prospective clients. Instead I either warm pitched them or they found me via my contacts.
Since Twitter and LinkedIn have been great platforms to land gigs, here are some ways to use social media to land clients.
One of the first clients I landed on Twitter was for a highly influential blogger. This person private messaged me and we did the whole negotiation on Twitter!
Here are several things you can do on Twitter to land your ideal client:
- Optimize your Twitter profile – use keywords in your description such as, freelance writer, blogger, content writer, copywriter etc… It’s also a good idea to mention your niche (B2B, Finance, Pet etc..) in your bio. Remember to also link to your professional website and use your logo as your Twitter header image.
- Pin your “ad” in case prospects land on your profile page – when I first started out, I pinned my “ad” for hiring me for writing:
- Keep an eye out for lists you’ve been added to – If someone added you to their, “writing services” or “freelance writing” list, visit their profile. See if they are a company, solopreneur or small business. This is a great opportunity to open a dialogue with them on social media.
- Contact them, asking if they need a writer. Here are some examples to help you out:
Love what your company does – do you ever work with freelancers for marketing?
I love your blog/magazine/work – I’m a huge fan! Curious if you ever hire writers for content?
Hey, wondering if you hire freelance writers for your copy/content/blog/newsletter. I can help you out.
- Make sure to share useful posts that could benefit your clients – Things like the latest SEO strategy or content marketing tips (replace those if your niche is much different such as parenting, food, or natural health) can alert prospects and make them start to pay attention to you. By sharing useful tips to help their business as well as let them know you are aware of the latest trends, it gets you on their radar as someone who can help them.
- Use #hashtags to find work – #copywriter, #contentwriter #fashionwriter. Avoid #freelancewriter as you will find lots of spam ads.
- Make a Twitter list of prospective clients – This way your timeline can be filtered to find the tweets that matter the most to you – people that will pay you money.
- Engage on Twitter (this means not relying on automated tweets to do your marketing) – Comment on other people’s tweets or join Twitter chats. Do what you can to make prospects remember you like answering their questions or tagging them when you share their blog posts.
LinkedIn has been a great place for me to find work. So far, I’ve landed three or four clients strictly from LinkedIn. Here are some tips to help you land clients on this platform.
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile – Fill your profile with keywords like: freelance writer for hire, copywriter, editor, blogger, content writer, social media marketer, digital marketer, ghostwriter etc… Make sure to include “for hire” and your niche in your main title:
- Fill out your profile – List relevant freelance writing jobs and make sure to include what services you provide (copywriting for example) in your bio.
- Have clients give you testimonials on LinkedIn – it’s a good idea to ask some of your current clients for LinkedIn testimonials. This makes your bio shine a bit brighter and you can always ask those clients if you can repurpose their testimonial on your site.
- Search on LinkedIn for freelance writing jobs – https://www.linkedin.com/job/home
- Always look at who has viewed your profile – If you think one visitor could be a client, shoot them an email to see if they are in need of a writer.
- Update your LinkedIn profile often – Your connections are alerted to any new jobs you land. This can work in your favor by getting your name out there to existing leads.
- Network – connect to other freelance writers and people in your industry like website designers, social media marketers, editors, SEO specialists etc… Having a list of networks can help you land gigs. This is how I landed one gig on LinkedIn. A fellow freelance writer sent over a lead because she didn’t have time to take on another client. I didn’t know this other freelance writer and asked her why she chose me. Her answer? Because my title said I was “for hire.”
- Accept all invitations to connect – you never know, one of them could be a fantastic client.
4. Your Website
What’s so funny, is that for many new bloggers or writers, it’s totally unexpected. I mean it was even unexpected for me! See, I have another website, Twins Mommy, where I help moms become mompreneurs.
I also share stories about being a mom to twins. A couple months ago I wrote a blog post about what 3 year-old twins say to each other.
Well, later that month, I get an email from the editor of Twiniversity telling me she saw my post, loved it and wants to hire me! I couldn’t believe it.
I wasn’t even LOOKING for work and it just landed on my lap like that. And what’s awesome is that Twiniversity is a go-to site for moms of multiples. They have a huge audience and social media following.
I’ve also landed clients with this blog and continue to do so and you know why? Because I produce consistent posts that get shared and that elicit engagement from visitors.
My posts demonstrates my ability to create share-worthy content and that’s what a lot of online clients want from their freelance writers.
If you want to use your blog as a lead generation tool, start by posting consistently. It doesn’t have to be weekly, but I would strongly suggest once a week. The more content you have, the more opportunity you have to share it and get your name out there.
Above all, treat your blog like a client. Give yourself deadlines and write great posts that can act as a portfolio of sorts should a prospect stumble onto your blog.
If you need more help on writing share-worthy blog posts here are two posts to help you out:
- How to Create an Awesome Blog Post the Right Way
- Use These 3 Ingredients for the Sweetest Bite Sized Blog Post
Wrapping it Up
There are in fact many different ways to land a freelance writing gig that doesn’t include job boards. I’ve listed the top four ways you can get paid to write that are easy enough for novice writers to try out.
By far my favorite is using my blog to land clients. What’s your favorite non-job board way to land a client?
If you’re ready to really earn a living from writing, you can get your step-by-step profitable freelance writing blueprint by joining Write Your Way to Your First $1k. It walks you through the exact action steps you need to take to land clients, tweak your website to increase conversions and get paid to write.