How to Get Freelance Writing Jobs

Freelance writing is a versatile and doubtlessly profitable career. However that first gig might be elusive, and it’s normally a steep studying curve on the way in which to touchdown repeat shoppers.

The fitting steerage can enhance your odds of breaking via, after which fill your LinkedIn inbox for years to return. So how about some suggestions straight from those that maintain the purse strings?

The editors at Cash Beneath 30 have pooled collectively our collective years of fielding pitches, briefing assignments, and negotiating charges to type this insider handbook for neophyte wordsmiths.

Mastering the Outdated-College and New-College Fundamentals

First issues first: You’ll be able to by no means know an excessive amount of about narrative construction, sourcing info, grammar, utilization, punctuation, syntax, and the group of concepts.

Whoa, that looks like quite a bit. And but we wish much more than that.

Editors are searching for out writers who can do greater than write. You don’t have to know every part about publishing, however providing artistic expertise past the written phrase will make you stand out towards the competitors.

Present Extra Than Simply Textual content

For those who can shoot an honest photograph, edit movies, or design some eye-catching graphics to accompany your textual content, be sure that your editor is aware of that.


Protecting au courant of social media traits and figuring out the fundamentals of search engine optimisation (key phrase analysis, web site authority, rating issue, linking greatest practices, and so forth.) will assist enhance the traction of your articles and also can provide help to ship extra profitable pitches.

Being aggressive may additionally imply you’ll should abandon a few of the technophobia writers are vulnerable to. Some websites could ask you to add and publish your content material, so figuring out your means round a minimum of one CMS, like WordPress, would possibly make you a extra engaging prospect for sure publishers.

And — fetch your smelling salts — some HTML gained’t damage.

Portfolio > Ph.d.

A complicated diploma in Early Slavic Literature would possibly make you the lifetime of a celebration. However good writing samples, not a diploma, are what in the end result in writing gigs.

That mentioned, when you technically don’t have to go to varsity to be a profitable author, taking a couple of skilled growth programs in English, artistic writing, journalism, PR, advertising, or enterprise offers you a leg up in case you don’t have a level.

Constructing Your Portfolio

It’s a conundrum as outdated because the quill/pen/MacBook itself: Writers normally want expertise to get expertise. However breaking via is effectively inside your attain.

Begin Small; Begin Native

If you have already got an everyday day job unrelated to writing, contemplate in case your employer runs a weblog, e-mail publication, social media presence, or every other medium that offers you an opportunity to write down some form of printed materials.

At present unemployed? Apply the identical strategy to any neighborhood, academic, non secular, sports activities, or charitable organizations you would possibly belong to. The underside line is that you just’ll be hard-pressed to get freelance writing gigs until you have already got some form of writing pattern to point out, and approaching a company you’re already affiliated with may be the simplest solution to land your first writing duties.

What Do You Actually Know?

After you have some primary writing samples — be they advert copy, social media posts, and even inner firm bulletins — begin on the lookout for possibilities to write down outdoors your circle, however inside your wheelhouse. There are publishing alternatives for nearly each topic underneath the solar, and a few publishers could also be keen to miss a restricted portfolio if in case you have important real-world expertise within the matters they cowl.

Establish what you like and have lived after which discover out who’s publishing content material about that. Are you a budding author trapped within the physique of a automotive salesperson? Your firsthand experience may be extra useful to MotorTrend than a extra skilled author whose closest publicity to the auto business are marathon GTA periods.

Don’t Fear About Charges at First

Though it’s vital for each seasoned author to know their price and advocate for applicable pay, it is best to contemplate writing for low pay and even totally free at first, supplied the content material is printed and credited to you. These preliminary shoppers will likely be providing you with greater than cash. They’re providing you with bylines and expertise, which you’ll want with a view to begin incomes some actual bread afterward.

Uncontrolled laughter


One high quality day you’ll have a gradual stream of paying shoppers. And if at that time in your profession an editor asks you to do an unpaid, ‘trial’ article, you possibly can muffle your laughter whereas drafting your model of the ‘Sorry, I don’t work totally free anymore’ e-mail.

Sourcing Paid Purchasers

When you’ve collected three printed writing samples you’re pleased with, it’s time to let the world know you’re the following large factor, and that they’re lacking out in case you’re not on their roster of freelancers.

A man saying, 'I'm kind of a big deal.'


Begin inside Your Circle

Do a protracted brainstorming session of all of your private {and professional} contacts. Then edit the checklist right down to these whose firms may need want for writing companies of some form. Nearly all of companies create some form of written content material, be they within the healthcare, schooling, tech, finance, journey, or and so forth. sectors.

Then Transfer Outward

Complement your in-network strategy with an out-of-network strategy:

Content material businesses sometimes pay peanuts, however they could be a good supply of gigs early on in your profession. Many businesses function middlemen/gatekeepers with the companies you write for, limiting your contact with publishers and limiting your means to broaden your community. However some businesses encourage you to work straight with the consumer, permitting you to construct relationships which may someday result in a higher-paying contract, sans company intermediary.

Freelance marketplaces have a popularity for low pay, however platforms like Upwork really provide a large spectrum of charges. The number of gigs you will discover are unparalleled, and you may seek for particular subdisciplines like technical writing, copywriting, screenwriting, recipe writing, grant writing, and translation.

Electronic mail subscription companies compile writing jobs from quite a lot of sources after which ship them to you on a bi-weekly or weekly foundation. You sometimes should pay for the subscription, however some, like Strong Gigs, provide a trial interval.

Keep Versatile

Be open-minded in regards to the jobs you are taking, significantly early on in your profession, with respect to each subject material and the format in your work. Later in your profession you would possibly elect to specialise in writing internet or advert copy, technical documentation, UX microcopy, grants, curricula, blogs, and so forth.

Even when you have already got an honest portfolio, take low-paying jobs often for some distinguished, widely-recognized media shops or business manufacturers, simply to have bylines that can catch an editor’s eye.

Pitching and Submitting Samples

Originality Wins

At all times search the location in your article matter earlier than you ship it, and solely pitch matters that the location hasn’t already coated. Pitching one thing {that a} writer has already coated to loss of life won’t solely make you look boring and unimaginative; it can additionally make an editor query your elementary analysis skills.

Even when your pitches aren’t fairly what an editor is on the lookout for at the moment, your originality will nonetheless depart a optimistic impression and hold you in good stead for future assignments.

Don’t Overlook the Why

Too many writers waste their valuable pitch area on what their article concept is. However half of your pitch needs to be about why. Point out why your article concept will get site visitors. Is there search quantity for it? Is it seasonally related? Is it a subject that may be anticipated to develop in curiosity/consideration over time?

And why are you the proper particular person to write down it? Was it impressed by your personal private expertise? Do you’ve previous writing samples in associated subject material?

High quality Over Amount

You may need a prolific portfolio spanning a variety of topics. However no editor goes to learn greater than three samples, and also you don’t need to threat them clicking in your comparatively weaker stuff.


Decide the 2 or three items which are your greatest, which are most related to the publication in query, and that almost all clearly show your suitability for the job.

Be 404 Free

Examine to make sure all pattern hyperlinks you submit work (no 404 pages). Again up all of your printed articles with PDF variations so that you just’ll nonetheless have a demonstrable portfolio even within the occasion that your previous shoppers go defunct, change to a paid subscription mannequin, and so forth.

Be Sensible About Timing

Questioning when to reply to a job posting? Right here’s a little bit of counterintuitive recommendation: Whereas most guides say it is best to get your response to a job itemizing in ASAP, it really may be higher to attend a couple of days. By then, the preliminary avalanche of functions could have ceased, and the exhausted hiring editor will really feel much less overwhelmed and extra doubtless to provide your pitch or utility a critical, unhurried look.

Equally, keep away from sending pitches on Monday and the primary work day after main holidays, once they may get misplaced within the multi-day e-mail pileup.

Lastly, attempt to pitch one to 2 months prematurely of whenever you count on your article to peak in public curiosity. For instance, don’t wait till early February to pitch an incredible couples-themed article matter, as by that point the writer’s calendar would possibly already be filled with lovey-dovey articles.

Don’t Give Them a Motive to Reject You

Your cowl letter or e-mail correspondence with a brand new writer needs to be grammatically and stylistically flawless. You’re auditioning to be a paid author — in case you can’t deal with a primary introductory be aware, why ought to they belief you to deal with a a lot bigger writing mission? Writing a quick however participating cowl letter is definitely a problem, however that’s why it’s so important. It exhibits them what you are able to do.

Keep away from boilerplate. So many functions are thrown within the “nope” file as a result of they used drained, cliché-ridden prose of their introductory letter. (Usually whereas claiming to like language!)

Judge Judy sighing and putting her head in her hands


In case your pitch paragraph appears like a parody of content material advertising evangelism drivel, re-write. For those who can’t make it via your personal cowl letter with out falling asleep, re-write.

And don’t be overly informal in your e-mail. Sure, it’s an off-the-cuff medium, however the identical guidelines apply right here as to a normal cowl letter. It’s your introduction in an expert capability — embrace a correct greeting, a couple of full sentences that specify why you’re writing, and a sign-off. Use these manners your mama taught you.


Construct Relationships with Your Editors

Your editors are your greatest contacts for future work.

When editors are on the lookout for new writers, the very first thing they do is attain out to their editor associates to see whom they advocate. Editors additionally are likely to deliver their favourite writers together with them once they get a brand new consumer or transfer on to a brand new publication.

Bear in mind to speak with assigning editors usually, not simply when pitching. That means they’ll have you ever in thoughts when their assignments want possession. Observe their web site’s output to remain clued-in to the kind of content material they’re focused on publishing, and once they produce spectacular stuff ship them a fast message to provide props.

Be Social

You will get numerous gigs from different writers who needed to flip a suggestion down for no matter motive, and plenty of writers already work (or someday will work) as editors. Your author colleagues are additionally the perfect supply of inside info on what completely different shoppers pay, how a lot it is best to cost for uncommon initiatives, and so forth.

One nice solution to meet different writers is to hitch an area writers’ or editors’ affiliation. These teams usually host networking nights, workshops, conferences, and different occasions, all of which might be an effective way to attach with different writers and be taught what alternatives are on the market. These teams could cost a (generally hefty) membership price to take full benefit, however you possibly can normally attend occasions at a non-member fee with out having to fork over for a full annual membership.

Twitter additionally has a really energetic neighborhood of freelance writers and editors, and following the proper individuals can land you freelance alternatives. For those who’ve garnered some kind of writing expertise in a particular vertical, discover those that work at publications you’d like to contribute to. Ship them a pleasant DM inquiring if they’re on the lookout for freelancers.


For those who’ve labored with a consumer for six months or longer, and so they persistently offer you good suggestions, ask them in the event that they’d be recreation to endorse a talent of yours or write a suggestion for you on LinkedIn, or write a testimonial quote in your web site.

Getting Paid

How A lot Can You Count on to Make?

As a really broad benchmark, new writers can sometimes count on to begin at $0.10-$0.12 per phrase for long-form content material. However charges differ considerably from one writing area of interest to a different, which is, once more, an incredible motive to develop a community of author friends. Undecided what to cost for a job? Ask your colleagues.

You gained’t all the time get a fee that your skills advantage. However don’t ruminate on what you’re being paid when you’re really engaged on a chunk, and all the time submit your greatest work, even when the charges are decrease than what you need.

A woman lamenting that she's underpaid


For instance, let’s say you’ve a aim to earn $30 an hour and you’ve got an article that pays $200. The maths signifies it is best to spend about six and a half hours on that article. But when it requires eight hours to do it effectively, then take the additional time and do it proper. This can provide help to in two methods:

  1. It can put you on higher floor to ask that consumer for a increase.
  2. The higher your work, the simpler will probably be to get the following consumer.

As your expertise degree and portfolio develop you possibly can regularly increase your charges by charging every new consumer slightly bit greater than your final. After you have a full schedule, begin dropping your lower-paying shoppers. You’ll be able to cost on the prime of the speed scale when you’ve extra shoppers coming to you than you possibly can moderately deal with.

A Little Thriller Is Horny

Don’t ship your charges in an preliminary pitch e-mail or submission to a job posting, until particularly instructed to take action by the consumer. It’s higher to attend till after the consumer is focused on your work. It will likely be more durable for an editor to show you down as soon as they’ve seen good samples and pitches, even when your fee is above their typical value vary.

Learn the Entire Contract

Perceive which rights a writer is paying you for. They might be shopping for first-publication rights (which generally means you’re free to re-pitch or re-publish elsewhere after a set time period), or full copyright (which implies they personal the content material). Your contract with the writer ought to make clear what they’re shopping for and for the way lengthy.

Coping with Rejection

Being a contract author is a bit like being a thespian. You’ve chosen a life path that will contain 10 No’s for each one Sure.

There’s a lot you merely can’t learn about that could possibly be the deciding consider whether or not or not you’re chosen for a writing job, and most of the elements in play don’t have anything to do with you or the standard of your work.

Editors are sometimes overworked, burnt out, and normally should make fast choices to maintain up with the fixed movement of the 24/7 information cycle. Our choices are influenced by our schedules, workload for the day, moods, and the semi-blind luck of after we obtain your communiqués.

Some editors could have an aesthetic fully completely different from yours, and, even in the perfect of circumstances, in all probability gained’t like your piece. This doesn’t imply your work isn’t good.

Take each rejection with a balanced mixture of ‘Hey, it’s their loss,’ and a wholesome dose of some ‘How can I make my pitch/resume/writing samples slightly higher subsequent time?’ introspection.

Bear in mind the Different Golden Rule (i.e., the Most Essential Tip of Your Life)

As soon as your writing profession takes off, you gained’t have time to evaluation all the smart phrases above frequently. However it is best to all the time hold entrance of thoughts the next three necessities that editors need from writers:

  1. We wish you to be straightforward to work with.
  2. We wish you to submit on deadline
  3. We wish you to be author.

The key “golden rule” is that you just actually solely want two of those qualities to get repeat shoppers.

For those who’re nice to work with and all the time on time, you don’t essentially should be an ideal author.

For those who’re a sensational author and editors love you, you possibly can in all probability get away with some late submissions (some).

In case your work is as punctual because the Shinkansen and the copy is all the time fabulous as well, editors would possibly undergo via an in any other case unbearable character (however please attempt to be nice as an alternative).

You get the purpose. Two of the three important attributes is all you want in your profession. Having all three will shoot you to the highest of an editor’s checklist and hold you there.

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