Do you want to be a freelance writer but have no clue how to start?
Or, are trying to make some money as a freelance writer and all you’re getting are one-off content jobs for $20? Navigating the world of freelancing can be a challenge if you don’t know where to find jobs or how to have steady work.
I started freelance writing over two years ago. My twins weren’t even two years old when I landed my first client. I was new and made a lot of mistakes.
Looking back now I see the steps that helped me land my first freelance writing job as a writer for an automotive website. Let’s first look at what didn’t work and then what did work.
You Can’t Make a Living With Freelance Marketplaces
The very first place I found work was on iWriter. Now I know this isn’t a freelance marketplace; it’s a content mill. All I knew was that it was easy to sign up and create a profile, look for a gig and get hired.
My first – and only – writing job I had was for a toy product description. It was around 300 words, but it took me hours to write.
Why? Well, I had no idea what the toy was and had to research on Amazon and YouTube to get an idea of its features. I then had to create a small description about the toy using a conversational tone. The client didn’t want just a bullet list of the features or specifications. The client wanted a bit of a backstory to the toy.
I finished the piece and received payment – $1.62 and decided this was not for me.
I didn’t have the time to waste writing for pennies. No way.
I switched gears and signed up to Guru and Upwork (it was oDesk at the time). I created profiles and set my rate and pitched to jobs. I pitched to countless jobs and didn’t land any of them.
I’m not sure why I never landed any of those gigs. It could have been my lack of experience or the rate I bid was too high. I’m actually happy I never landed a gig with Upwork because I think I would’ve totally given up and not have pursued freelance writing.
I realized it was impossible to make a living as a writer since the work on that platform was ghostwritten and your pay is based on your rate and not the value you place in your content.
Letting Doubt Stop Me
One thing I had to battle with as a new writer was the constant doubt I had. I felt like an imposter and knew I didn’t have the credentials to back me up.
Why would anyone hire me? I’m not a journalist. I’m not a good writer. I’m an introvert.
For a while, I was paralyzed, and my doubts took over me, but with some much-needed pep talks by my husband I was able to snap out of it and get back in the game.
Here is what helped me land my first freelance writing job.
I Created an Online Presence
I learned early that to make it “out there” as a freelance writer (away from Upwork and other freelance marketplaces) I had to make a name for myself.
I decided to set up a Twitter account and LinkedIn account. I also knew I needed a home base or a website for my services.
At first, my niche was generalized. I didn’t want to pigeonhole my service and felt that if I was just a “content writer” that ANYONE would hire me. I now know that that’s the wrong way to approach freelance writing, but back then I still managed to get clients, so it didn’t hold me back that much.
So, my website and my social media profiles helped me get online, but I still needed a way for prospects to find me. They weren’t going to stumble on my site anytime soon.
I had to find a way to spread the news I was a freelance writer.
I Strategically Guest Posted
Can I tell you a secret?
When I first started out as a freelance writer, I looked up to a lot of other freelance writers. I studied their website, their copy and where they were writing.
Then I researched if those places hired or accepted guests posts. If that successful writer published on Social Media Today, you bet I will try that too was my philosophy back then.
I made sure to write guest posts in my niche back then (health and parenting) and guest post on sites that I saw other freelance writers guest post on (like Social Media Today and Brazen Careerist).
During this time I started a blog but mostly blogged about the world of freelance writing since it was a new passion of mine and I wanted to write about it. So in a month or so I had several guest posts out, started a blog and was ready to start pitching.
I Pitched Hard
I learned that the more I pitched, the better chance I had at landing gigs. But, in the beginning, I just pitched to ads I liked and were in my niche. Those pitches were for a lot of health and parenting blogging gigs. The pay wasn’t the greatest ($25 a post), but I just wanted to land a gig.
I also did some cold pitching and pitched to educational companies that used Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Since my educational background is in Psychology and ABA therapy, I thought there might be a need for a content writer that understands the principles of behaviorism.
After a while though, I wasn’t getting any responses to my pitches. I had to make a change. Right then and there I decided that I had to pitch to jobs that weren’t in my niche, but were still interesting to me.
I pitched to job ads for a:
- Canadian living writer
- Pilates writer
- Article writer for a refrigeration company
- Pet writer
- WordPress theme writer
If I was remotely interested in it, I pitched to it. And one of my pitches caught the eye of the editor for an automotive enthusiast site. Soon after I had an inquiry for social media writing and editing.
I found new confidence and started getting inquiries for eBook formatting and eBook cover design. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do all this fun stuff. I love creative work and writing. I finally found a path to getting paid for my value and making a living as a writer.
I wasn’t scrambling trying to land a gig for $25. I was making $100 a post, then $120 and I kept moving up and up and recently, I made $600 from a post under 1500 words.
My way was working, and I found a framework, or blueprint, that can work for anyone.
What Are You Waiting For?
My blog is filled with information to help you get out there and land a freelance writing job. But, don’t you want more? Don’t you want to know how to build a successful freelance writing business so that you can make a living as a writer?
Over to you – tell me what you’re doing to land your first gig.
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 as a writer.