Freelance writing is great no matter who you are, what you do, or where your career is headed. It is personal and professional, can be done at anytime and anywhere, and will build your authority and expertise. Whether you are evaluating corporate stocks or just mommy blogging, it’s a great path to take. And best of all, it helps pay the bills.
Luckily we are in an era where content is king, so every single company and website is looking for quality articles, posts, and web copy to add to their site. Getting your first freelance writing job is nerve-racking, but it’s well worth the reward of working for yourself and having a beautiful finished product at the end of every job.
Related article: How to Start a Money-Making Blog
No matter what your background is, if you can write well, then you can write professionally. Here is how to get your first freelance writing job:
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Step 1: Evaluate your background and interests
This is the best part about writing – you don’t have to rely on your resume of professional job skills (though that could be a great path). You can finally tap into your love of fashion, your family, social media, or travelling. Whichever direction you choose, make a list of the topics you feel most comfortable with. More importantly, make sure you enjoy the topics because writing can be painful if you aren’t enjoying it.
Step 2: Gather work for your portfolio
To snag a freelance job quickly, you will want to put together a portfolio of your work because most businesses will want to see your writing style before they hire you.
Here are some common writing pieces that can be included in your beginning portfolio:
- From professional experience
- web copy
- marketing materials
- promotional material
- New to the job market
- school papers
- cover letter examples
- extracurricular writings
- short stories
Remember that it’s ok if some (even most) of your portfolio is not directly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Your clients will want a feel for your writing style, quality, and capabilities as well as topic knowledge. The best examples are also online ones, so prioritize anything that can easily be viewed online (it’s great if you can just send them a link).
Step 3: Create new work for your portfolio
Once you’ve gathered everything you already have, it’s time to create some new pieces that can round out your portfolio. These could end up being the most important writing examples in your portfolio because you will have complete control over them.
I am a huge fan of micro-blogging sites (like Hubpages, and Zujava) and had a ton of success using them in my initial portfolio. Many of them are filled with additional tools that can easily add bells and whistles to your articles and posts, which can make them look more professional and relevant. What is even greater is that you can pick your own topics, which can really help you develop an expertise in the area of your choosing. These sites will also pay you for your work if you can drive enough traffic to them (which is easy with social media these days), so you’ll be increasing your potential writing revenue as well.
Related article: How to Make Money Writing Articles on Hubpages
Step 4: Sign up on freelance writing sites
Once your portfolio is ready (it will never actually be complete…you will always be adding to it), it is time to apply for your first gig.
Freelance sites are by far the best place to go for writing jobs, but you could also search the classic job boards like CareerBuilder and Indeed. I am a big fan of Upwork for freelance work, but eLance is also a great place to try. You will create a free profile on these sites that includes your portfolio and then you can apply for jobs immediately. With a complete profile, clients can also find you and offer you specific jobs (this will happen more than you think).
Step 5: Start out working for less
When you are finding your first writing jobs, keep an open mind with what you will charge. This is really hard for most people, especially if you are used to a bigger paycheck, but it’s really important. You need to give yourself time to find clients and get a feel for what type of price range the market can handle. As you gain clients, you will be able to increase your price and only take jobs that are worth it. Before long, you will be making the kind of money you initially hoped for.
Freelance writing is a great way to make money and will open up so many new opportunities you never realized were there. If you’ve got a full time job, it can help you build up your expertise or gain experience in a new area. If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, it will give you extra income and a way to keep your skills up-to-date.