By Angie Nelson
So you're starting out in the freelance writing business, you're excited about the freedom it offers you, and on your first day you sit down, open up your laptop … and realize you have no idea where to find jobs. Or perhaps you've started writing with one or two and you have no clue where to look in order to expand your business. This is a very common situation for new freelancers. Fortunately there are many writing jobs available if you know where to look.
Employee vs. Entrepreneur Mindset
One thing you must learn early on in your freelancing career is that you are an entrepreneur and not an employee. Most freelancers come from corporate backgrounds and see themselves as employees of their clients. As an employee you were given work, a manual of how to do it, and almost no freedom or creativity in how you did your job. As an entrepreneur you have to hunt down your work, there isn't one set of rules on how to do it, and you have a lot of room to be creative and negotiate. Think like an entrepreneur first and foremost and you will begin to think of ideas for finding work. The following ideas should get you started.
Corporate clients can be used as a catch-all phrase to mean anything from the small business around the corner to large Fortune 500 companies. If you are contacting a business or conducting business-to-business (B2B) prospecting you're targeting corporate clients. And if you're not prospecting corporate clients you should be. Many new freelancers don't realize that some of the best opportunities to find writing work exist within the corporate sphere. Any business with a website needs content in order to be successful and if you become proficient in writing SEO-optimized, reader-friendly content you can market to these businesses. Whether you're an expert cold caller or you just want to send an email and ask if they need writing services be sure to contact them.
Magazines and Publications
Become a master of the query letter and then send as many as you can without sacrificing quality. Sign up for Writer's Market, read books about querying, and pitch story ideas to magazines that focus on subjects in which you have a specialization or for which you have a passion. Hunt down interesting stories, write excellent queries, and send away. Many publications pay $1 a word or more.
You might have your own blog, but what you might not know is that you can get paid to write on other blogs as well. Many top blogs hire guest bloggers or hire content for their sites and most of them pay rather well. You can expect to earn about $50 per post for a blog, although the rates do vary per client. Email some bloggers and ask them if they hire content. Form relationships within the blogging community and you may even get asked to guest blog.
Bidding Sites and Content Mills
This is a controversial topic within the freelancing world, but it is worth mentioning. Bidding sites such as Upwork and content mills such as Textbroker are often criticized as being a race to the bottom where fees are concerned. On bidding sites it's only a race to the bottom if you treat it that way. While sites like Elance generally do pay lower than you might hope for they can also earn you some valuable clients and, if you bid appropriately, they can often be lucrative. Content mills like Textbroker do pay a very low amount. That being said, if you take articles in subject areas in which you are an expert you won't have to do much research, and it is likely that you will be able to write many articles quickly, thereby increasing your profit. Both of these venue types are worth looking into if you work for them strategically.
The Main Point
When it comes to finding writing jobs, the options are only as limited as your frame of mind. The original point about thinking like an entrepreneur rather than employee will often lead you to clients without having to sign up for a million websites and work for a penny a word. Focusing on corporate clients and publications is your best bet, but oftentimes that work comes in slowly, so filling in the gaps with other options is also a good idea. Make sure you have writer's website, even if it's just a one-pager. Think about your ideal client and the industry in which you would like to work most prevalently. As long as you are continually seeking opportunities to find new stories and pursue new prospects, you will be able to find work and succeed as a freelance writer.
Angie Nelson has been a virtual assistant and serial blogger since 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she balances several successful online ventures and still manages to share her passion for making – and saving – money with others on her blog The Work at Home Wife.