Surprisingly, and despite significant competition, finding work as a freelance writer isn’t all that difficult, if you know where to look (and you write quality content, of course).
There are loads of paid writing opportunities, from guest blogging gigs to more traditional copywriting jobs to ghost writing by individuals, businesses and websites willing to pay for well-written, engaging content.
But just because you’ve officially declared yourself “freelancer!” doesn’t mean that your inbox will suddenly become clogged with emails from clients wanting to give you their money.
In order to actually get hired, you’ll need to do some groundwork and put your name out there. In most cases, you’ll also need to prove that you’re actually capable of doing the job at hand which, if you’re just starting out, can be a little tricky.
But if you follow this step-by-step guide to getting hired as a freelancer, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding well-paying gigs and building up your repertoire of work.
Step 1: Define what kind of work you can (and would like to) do
Do you have experience in the financial industry? Or is travel blogging more your thing? Maybe you’re a tech whizz who also happens to have a knack for content writing. Either way, right off the bat you’ll need to clearly identify your capabilities as well as your preferences.
Initially, you may have to settle for whatever you can get so that you can gain experience, but as your body of work (and reputation) grows, you’ll find that you can afford to be a bit more picky with regards to the work that you do.
Step 2: Get a website or, at the very least, a blog
Having a website or blog not only paints you in a more professional light, it also serves as a demonstrable body of your work.
Trust me, the vast majority of prospective clients will want to check you out by doing research on the web.
To start with, you don’t need to populate it with too much content, but have the following pages as the bare minimum:
- An About page
- A Contact page
- A Hire Me! Page
- If you are able to have a social proof page with some past work, that’s first prize
You can check out my step-by-step guide for building a WordPress site from scratch here.
Step 3: Decide on your rates
Decide on what kind of remuneration you expect for a specific type of job, for example writing a blog post. Spend some time researching what the going rates are for writers with your level of experience, whatever that may be.
And don’t for one minute think that, just because you’re a newbie, you should slave away for $5 a pop working for an unscrupulous content mill. That dog won’t hunt, monsignor.
Step 4: Set up social media profiles
Remember, you’re working towards building a personal brand, so I recommend creating a Facebook business page and a Twitter account exclusively for your freelance business.
Step 5: Invite your contacts to like your business page
Facebook makes this super easy and, depending on the size of your network, you can get a decent following going just by inviting your existing contacts. The benefit of doing this is that many of them will already be familiar with your work and, if you ask nicely, they may be willing to invite their contacts to like the page as well.
You can also send a blanket email to past employers and colleagues asking them to support you by liking your page and spreading the word. It never hurts to ask!
Step 6: Go check out the job boards
Okay, this is where you need to keep your wits about you and do some proper research. There are way too many freelance job boards out there designed to benefit the client, and not the freelancer. These sites force freelance job seekers to undercut each other, ultimately leading to them working for a pittance to meet unreasonable deadlines.
Instead of relying on job boards that clearly don’t have your best interests at heart (and, believe me, there are plenty), rather go check out the excellent Bamidele Onibalusi’s list of quality job boards that writers should know.
Step 7: Send a couple of cold pitches
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know, and you’ll be seriously surprised at how many businesses are willing to give you a chance or at the very least reply to your query.
Below is a cold pitch email template that you can use:
I see that you accept guest posts, and I would appreciate the opportunity to submit a pitch. I’ve attached a final draft for your perusal.
I’ve spent some time reading content on your blog and familiarizing myself with the tone and range of topics.
I am a freelance copywriter with x years’ content-writing experience and articles published on [list if applicable, otherwise just provide a link to your blog or website].
Thank you for taking the time to consider my pitch.
Step 8: Make money and keep building your brand
Once you’ve established a steady stream of clients, you’ll be able to charge better rates and have a bigger say with regards to the kind of jobs that you take on. You’ll also be able to spend some revenue on marketing efforts such as Facebook ads and sprucing up your web presence.
When it comes to actually getting paid, I suggest opening a PayPal account since this is by far the easiest and most convenient way of getting paid across borders.
Good luck. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide to getting hired as a freelancer. Now go kick some serious freelance ass! You can do it!