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When I’m trying to find freelance writing gigs, many of the opportunities I discover make me cringe.
If I took these jobs, I’d be on the computer all day long, and get burnt out before too long. I’d be working all day and not earning much. In fact, I’d probably lose heart in my business, and be tempted to quit.
All because I accepted the wrong types of gigs.
I’m sure you’ve seen ads similar to the ones I’m thinking about. These crazy people and business who expect writers to:
- Be on call for new assignments
- Finish a post within a half an hour of receiving the task
- Write for the great rate of $0.01/word
- Produce three posts each day, seven days a week
- Have a massive social media following to promote posts
- Write just for the experience, you know, for free
- Be available for Skype meetings during all business hours
- Regularly research topics in which they have no experience
As a mom to nine, I don’t even bother applying to gigs like these. I know they’ll end up consuming my life.
And life’s too short to spend it all in front of a computer writing about topics I don’t enjoy, for people who don’t care, for very little money.
So, now that you know what kinds of ads I don’t respond to, let’s talk about some details that are essential for when you want to find freelance writing gigs that won’t require you to give up your life.
But first, if you’re looking for an amazing course to help you learn how to get started as a freelancer, I highly recommend Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success. It’s the course I took three years ago, and I made my investment back quickly.
I’m not a doctor or a plumber. I don’t want to be on call. I’m not going to sit around all day at the beck and call of a client.
Similarly, I don’t want to have to rush to knock out an assignment in thirty minutes. Quality suffers when you’re rushing.
So when looking for gigs, I look for ones where the editors are more flexible.
Yes, I have deadlines. I know when my assignments are due, and I get them in on time. But, I help establish those deadlines–and often have a week for each assignment.
That way I can work on it when I have a chance, not when someone else dictates. Make sure that the freelance writing jobs you take on give you the flexibility you need.
Clients Who Aren’t Super Demanding
You can’t always tell what your clients will be like until you’ve completed a job. But, if you find out they’re super demanding, you don’t have to keep working for them. Here are signs I watch for:
- A client who calls frequently without scheduling
- Or emails at all hours and expects an immediate response
- A client who frequently asks for revisions that actually change the scope of the initial project
- Or wants you to just “rewrite” content they’ve found online
- A gut feeling that says no
Trust your gut–if work sounds too good to be true, or something just seems off, it’s wise to listen and at least reevaluate the situation.
And remember to set boundaries–otherwise you’re letting your client know you don’t respect yourself. That means they might not respect you either!
When I first launched my writing career, I took jobs that paid very little. I didn’t have confidence in myself at that time. As I’ve written more and gained experience, my confidence has grown. I know that writing is a skill that shouldn’t be paid for in pennies a word.
As a busy mom, there are plenty of things I can do with my time. If I’m going to take time away from my family to work on business, that task needs to help pay the bills.
Once you’ve gotten your portfolio established a bit and have some clients, it’s time to start increasing your rock bottom prices. Always have a bottom number in mind, and don’t drop below that.
It’ll take more time to find clients. But good (or at least decent) paying writing gigs are out there!
My Best Tips to Find Freelance Writing Gigs
We’ve covered the basics on what jobs not to take, and what to look for. But, how do you go about actually finding the ones you want?
Here are my best three tips for landing good freelance writing gigs.
1. Pitch! Even if you aren’t 100% qualified
If you aren’t pitching, you aren’t going to land gigs. But, often we hold ourselves back, only applying for gigs where we meet every single requirement.
Challenge yourself to apply to more gigs, even if there are a couple of bullet points in the job description you don’t meet. You must:
- Sound confidence in your pitch. Don’t be wishy washy.
- Never ever lie about your qualifications.
- Use terms like “quick learner” or “similar experience” if they apply
Look for gigs that look interesting to you. Because if you enjoy the work, that goes a long way to it not sucking the life out of you!
Wondering where to find gigs?
I used to use Contena almost exclusively as far as job boards go. That way I didn’t have to waste time searching all over the web. But, their prices have raised substantially since then, and they now include a writing academy type thing as well.
If that’s not what you need, or if you’re bootstrapping your business, you can utilize free job boards like the one on ProBlogger instead. Don’t let a lack of funds convince you that you can’t find freelance writing gigs that are decent!
My gigs now come from relationships I’ve built over time. They’re coming from other writers I know, or from clients who I used to work for.
Take the time to build the relationships – that is so important!
Other writers are not your competition. They are your coworkers. Treat them as such and you never know what friendships you’ll create. Or how you’ll get some great leads from these other writers.
You can also cold pitch companies. If the thought terrifies you, think about local businesses you know you could create content for, and start there. Having some background information about the type of content you’d create can help give you confidence. Then you can branch out into other businesses.
Here are some other places to find freelance writing gigs:
- Craigslist (use the “Gigs” section of major cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles)
- Facebook Groups (many people will share their excess work so start building relationships!)
- Social media (search for #needwriters or #writerswanted to start)
- Email newsletters (it’s the only way I advertise that I’m paying for guest posts, and many other small businesses do the same. They want someone who already knows the brand.)
- Business owners you know – they may not need you, but they might be willing to refer you to someone else. Your personal network can be a powerful ally for you!
2. Have Patience
My best freelance gig to date came to me a full six months after I pitched. When I got the email, I had to do some quick research to even remember which company this was.
You never know when the opportunity will present itself, so don’t give up prematurely. While you wait though, keep pitching! You can’t throw your hands in the air and say, I’m just going to wait for them to come to me. It won’t happen for quite a while!
3. Do Your Best, Always!
Did you sign up for a gig that isn’t quite what you thought? Are you undercharging for a piece you’ve already quoted?
No matter what, do your best work. If you are able, finish what you said you’d do. Keep giving your best consistently. Even on the jobs you don’t really like.
Because in freelancing, quality matters. There are plenty of people who can write junk. Don’t be one of them.
Keep doing your best time after time, and eventually people will notice.
- You’ll be more likely to get quality references.
- Clients will be more likely to pass your name along.
- Or give you a promotion and raise.
- And of course, you will feel good knowing that you’ve done your best. Even if nothing comes from it right now.
What Did I Forget?
Are there other warning signs you watch for in ads? What are your best tips for finding great freelancing writing gigs? I’d love for you to add your insight in the comments below.
And remember, if you need a great course that’ll teach you how to confidently get gigs, check out 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success!