How to Land Your Next Freelance Writing Job

How to Land Your Next Freelance Writing Job
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So, you’ve found a freelance writing opportunity that sounds perfect. Now what? You must create the most amazing, impressive, eye-catching application in the history of the world!

Well… not quite, but in the competitive world of freelancing, the pressure to craft the perfect job pitch can feel overwhelming.

The good news? You can set yourself up for success in the world of writing jobs by taking some fairly basic steps:

Follow the instructions

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to follow the application instructions.

If an employer want a particular type of writing sample, send it to them. If a hiring manager wants you to write something specific in the email subject line, do it. I know one company that asks all candidates to include the word “spaceship” somewhere in their application email — just to filter out people with poor attention to detail.

Bottom line: if you can’t follow the instructions on the job posting, it’s a good sign to potential employers that you don’t pay attention to the little details — which are usually make-or-break for a writer. It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people miss this step.

Writing jobs on The Write Life

Pitch yourself well

Your pitch — the email you send to introduce yourself to a prospective employer — is your first chance to make a good impression.

The substance of your email will probably depend on the kind of client you’re targeting and your specific portfolio. However, Tom Ewer — the man behind freelancer blog Leaving Work Behind — suggests all pitch emails should include:

  • Brevity: your email should be well formatted, on point, and packed with information — no fluff. Don’t waste their time.

  • Examples of your work: this is essential. If you have nothing to show them, consider writing up a few example pieces.

  • Background of your (relevant) experience: this shows that you have actually considered their listing — you are not just submitting applications at random.

Be honest about your ability

Freelance writing is a buyer’s market, which means it’s tough to land a job for which you’re not totally qualified. Don’t have the experience yet? Think about taking on a few volunteer or lower-paying jobs to bulk up your portfolio and boost your network.

Also, if you see a dream job that is way out of your reach, don’t just pass it by. Instead, scan through the required qualifications and keep a running tally of what you’re missing. This can help you figure out what areas you need to develop to land future dream gigs. (Click to tweet this idea.)

Kill your portfolio darlings

Many clients will ask for samples of your work. And they don’t want the latest article you dashed off two hours ago — they want your best pieces.

Ten mediocre articles can wreck your chances at a job, while three fantastic pieces can secure the contract. So, don’t be afraid to kill your darlings and only pick your strongest pieces to use in your portfolio.

Don’t get discouraged

You might have to throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall in order for something to stick.

In a lot of ways, freelancing is a numbers game. Success rates will vary depending on your experience and competition in your particular niche, so don’t be discouraged if you’re doing a lot of pitching.

Network

Freelancing can be a solitary lifestyle (and some of us like it that way!), but staying in touch with your writing community is a great way to find out about opportunities.

Join an association, find an online group, attend a meet-up, or reach out to someone you admire for a conversation.

What’s your favorite advice for landing a freelance gig?

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Annie Rose Favreau is a Seattle-based freelance writer, digital marketer, and startup problem-solver. You can find her Twittering away at @A_Favreau.... .

Annie Rose Favreau | @a_favreau

Annie Rose Favreau
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Comments

  1. Excellent tips! Each and every one of them. I think the best thing you can do is network or you’ll have a tough time finding the jobs.

    • Annie Rose Favreau says:

      Thanks Alicia! Glad you liked the tips and I totally agree about the networking–a lot of the time it’s about who you know.

  2. Great tips, Annie! I landed my first job by pitching the idea of how to enhance an area of the magazine, and I provided future articles ideas.

  3. “What’s your favorite advice for landing a freelance gig?”

    Never Give Up Never Surrender (true words of wisdom from Galaxy Quest!).

    Also, if you can, research other work samples your potential employer has published in the past. That way you get an idea of the style of writing they are looking for.

    • Megan DeMarco says:

      Looking at past publications by the potential employer is a great idea. I never even thought of that!

      I am looking to get started in the freelance writing world and these are all creative tips. I’m not sure where I would look to be involved in a group discussion or find someone in my area who is doing freelance writing. Any tips to JUST getting started ..and starting out slow?

      • Ankita Chandran-Dave says:

        There is the Freelance writers den. Also there are lots of freelance writers groups on LinkedIn.

      • Annie Rose Favreau says:

        Try using LinkedIn to find a few freelance writers in your area and reach out to them for an informational interview. Talking with people who are already in the thick of things can be extremely helpful.

    • Annie Rose Favreau says:

      Good advice Katherine. Love the Galaxy Quest quote!

  4. Annie, I like your clear, informative style and tips.

  5. I’m new to public writing and blogging, although I have a degree in English and wrote plenty in university. How and where do you find legitimate freelance jobs? How do you get yourself out there? My current blog’s platform is catered to other travelers, especially in SE Asia. Travel writing is extremely competitive, as I’ve come to find out. How do you make yourself stand out from the worldwide crowd?

Trackbacks

  1. […] How to Land Your Next Freelance Writing Job [The Write Life] […]

  2. […] Freelance writing has been a great career for me. I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning every day. I actually take time to learn more about the writing business and try new avenues on occasion.  I’ve done copywriting, content writing, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, and more. Some of it I loved and some I will never do again.  It’s a personal preference. […]

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