Freelance Writing Jobs - Journalism, Content, Copywriting, & Blogging Gigs
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If you’re reading this, you want two things – to make money, and to make it with your writing. Our mission at FreelanceWriting.com is to help you do just that. If you consider…
If you’re reading this, you want two things – to make money, and to make it with your writing. Our mission at FreelanceWriting.com is to help you do just that. If you consider yourself to be a writer and want to earn money as one, start with these 10 steps to get a freelance writing job.
1. Have a freelance writing specialty
The best way to get paid for writing is to know a lot about something and to have the ability to tell people about it. For example, we know a part-time freelancer who made $50,000 one year. He almost stumbled into it, coming across an ad requesting articles in a trade magazine while at his previous job. Well, the magazine specifically addressed his trade and he was an expert, so he sat down, wrote a highly informed piece, and a few weeks later he was published.
|Student Life and Education||Home and Garden|
|Women||Fiction and Creative|
“Wait!” you might exclaim, “I don’t have a specialty, and I’ve also heard you should write what you love.” Chances are, however, that you do have a specialty – you just don’t know it. If there is something you love, you likely know a lot about it. Even if you’re a high school student, you probably know tons about high school, or youth culture, or any number of topics that affect you every day. Just be sure to avoid thinking that because you enjoyed, for example, a sci-fi novel, you should get paid to contribute to science websites. Perhaps you can land a freelance writing job as a science writer later on, but not until it’s your specialty.
2. Get a freelance writing job by writing something fresh
So you’ve found your specialty, and now you’ve found a site or a newspaper or some kind of publisher where you think your potential piece will fit. Before you fire off a query, however, figure out if they even need it. You need to ask, “have they done this before?”
Maybe the publisher has, and that’s okay. If it’s been a year or so since they last broached the topic, maybe it’s time to rehash it, especially if it was successful or interesting. However, if, say, Gamespot did an article about the current state of racing simulators just last month, maybe hold off on sending your version (that is, unless yours is contradictory or brings new info to light). If the publisher hasn’t ever written on your topic, send a query, but also consider there may be a reason they haven’t given your idea attention. Ask yourself, “will this be interesting to the readers of this publication?”
3. Make sure what you’re writing is appropriate
Again, before you send your query off, you need to ask yourself whether it’s appropriate for the publisher and their audience. Perhaps you’re thinking of sending that query to Gamespot about racing games, but you find yourself thinking more about specific cars. Consider that it might be better to write for an automotive website instead. Also, you need to make sure what you’re writing is neither too specific, nor too general for the publisher and the audience.
So how do you know your article is appropriate? In short, gauge your target publisher and audience. Be familiar with their previous work, read their page or a few issues, and dig around. If your target is a website, see who links to them. If it’s a magazine, look at their ads. It’s critical you know what a publisher expects and who reads them.
4. Crush the query
Once you have a grasp on who could publish your work, send them a query letter or email. Wait, don’t just send a query letter, send them an epic query letter. Even backwater, poorly written websites get dozens of article or story pitches a month – if you want to get yours out there, your query needs to be a minor work of art itself.
Again, how are you expected to pull this off? First and foremost, don’t make any stupid mistakes. Know your grammar and mechanics (and we mean really know your grammar and mechanics, don’t just assume you do), have some style, and be clean and crisp. Beyond this, inspire confidence in your abilities and ideas. You went to all the trouble of writing a piece, so you should be able to articulate why it should be published. Finally, be exciting. Write your query to get the publisher as worked up about your topic as you are. Pull that off, and you’ll probably get more than one piece published.
Killer Query Checklist
Check grammar and mechanics
One page only!
Explain why they should publish
Get publisher excited about piece
5. Be right
When asserting anything, make sure you’re factually correct. You’d be surprised how often people will spout off on a subject they only know in passing. Before you write, read. Do research. As you write, check your assertions relative to up-to-date sources. Even if you’re writing an OpEd or subjective analysis, the underpinnings of your thinking will have some assumptions. Make sure those are as concrete as possible.
Also, be convincing. Use strong language and active voice. Avoid qualifying your statements. If you’re an expert on your topic, be assertive and let readers know you’re the authority. A weak voice will never make print, so be in the know, and show everyone that you are.
6. Have previous writing experience
Redundant it may be, but being able to cite previous freelance work will help you greatly in trying to get published, especially for landing paid projects. Publishers prefer to know they’re not the first to make a gamble on a writer, and as such, writers with experience are more likely to get hired. This unfortunately poses a problem if you haven’t produced published work before. Where should you start?
There are a number of angles where you can start building experience before delving into a niche. We recommend looking into copywriting, business, and technical writing as they’re often paid, always in demand, and require less experience. Also, look into the jobs we offer here at FreelanceWriting.com, as well as other platforms like Upwork, Craigslist, or FreeLancer. See what kind of projects you can start with, practice, gain confidence, and before long you’ll have filled out quite the freelance writing resume.
Places to get easy experience
- Copywriting, business, technical writing
- Upwork, Freelancer, Craigslist
7. Be patient, but not complacent
Here’s a certainty of freelance writing – you will get rejected. Another thing – publishers will string you on for weeks or months. Negotiations can fall through. Publications end up not publishing even after accepting. All of this stuff happens, and a lot of the time you can’t control it. Just remember to keep up your solid work, be sincere, positive, and upfront with publishers (even when you’re mad at them).
However, don’t do it forever. Say you’ve submitted work and more than one edition of a publication has come out without your piece; in that case, just move on. Chances are someone else will appreciate your work. Just don’t make the mistake of waiting for someone else to get excited about your writing – go out and find those people.
8. Market yourself
If you’re serious about making a go of a freelance writing career, you need to make sure you have a strong online presence. First, start a blog and make a habit of publishing good content regularly. Next, up your social media game – obviously Twitter and Facebook, but LinkedIn will be critical for potential employers.
Once you have that all done, make sure you have an online “portfolio” that includes previous writing experience, samples, your blog, etc. An important ace in the hole is referrals – on your blog or website, have referrals visible, and in all queries, mention that you have referrals available. Be active on FreelanceWriting.com, as well as an active member of whatever community or organization you’re trying to target.
Must haves for your portfolio
|Writing Samples||Author Bio|
*If you don’t have all these when you first start, don’t worry. Just make sure you accumulate these necessities as your career progresses.
9. Be great
Basic, yes, but being a great writer is the most important “tip” for landing a freelance writing job. And you’d be surprised with how many “writers” think they can throw down because they have a laptop. If writing is your job, aspire to be great at it.
Obviously “great” can mean a lot of things, so as a freelance writer, what should you go for? The most important aspects are clarity, engagement, and at least a touch of style. Also important is the readability – 19th century style, page-long-sentence pontification isn’t fun for anyone unless you’re Herman Melville. And, of course, your fundamentals have to be perfect.
10. Have confidence and don’t quit
Finally, have a little faith in yourself and your abilities. Having followed these steps will ensure you are prepared for the world of freelance writing. Furthermore, the more you write, the better you get. Even when it’s difficult early on, remember that you will get better. As a wise dog once said, “sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” Keep it up.