As a full-time freelance writer for the last three years (and “part time” for six years before that), I know how difficult it can be to find steady work. Some months, your inbox is overflowing and you can barely keep your head above water. And others, you are sitting alone at your computer, listening to the crickets while you cringe at the number in your bank account.
It’s the “feast or famine” way that we freelancers are used to, but it doesn’t mean we should just sit back and accept it.
It IS possible to find more freelance work (that doesn’t suck), you just have to put yourself out there in the right places and be willing to do the legwork!
If you’re ready to find more freelance writing gigs, try some of these tips:
Sign up for networking sites.
Signing up for a few freelance networking sites made a HUGE difference in my freelancing career. After relying solely on word of mouth and a few Craigslist ads for a long time, I was tired of coming up dry month after month. But when I found out about networking sites like UpWork (formerly oDesk), CrowdSource and Guru, my world was immediately opened up to thousands of new clients from all over the world.
Since most of these sites work in both directions – allowing you to apply for jobs AND be contacted for potential projects by clients – you get twice the exposure to new work. And because you have the option to deny applications upfront, you don’t have to waste your time on projects that don’t meet your interests or rate requirements.
When I first broke into the newspaper industry as a freelance contributor, it was kind of by accident. I had been receiving such great responses to my blog posts that I thought I would send a few off to some newspapers and see what they thought. It was a ballsy move on my part and I thought IF anyone got back to me, it would probably be just one of the small, town papers. But instead, the major city paper in my area contacted me and picked me up for a monthly column!
You would think that would’ve given me the confidence to go knock down a bunch more doors, but it didn’t. I actually just wrote for that one paper for about five more years, until an editor from a sister paper contacted me and asked me to string for them as well. FINALLY, shortly after that, I began writing to the magazines in the area and you know what happened? They all brought me onboard! Seriously, like four magazines at once.
That’s why you have to ASK. You never know what will happen until you try! It doesn’t even usually require a formal press kit or something overly time-consuming. I simply wrote each editor a short email that included a link to some of my other work, and offered to show more upon request. So don’t be afraid to reach out!
Use YOUR network.
Now, right away, I’m sure your brain went to social media (we’ve all been trained well). But I mean your real life network. Your family and close friends probably already know you’re a writer. But what about your child’s friend’s parents? The ladies in your class at the gym? Your congregation at church? It never hurts to let as many people as possible in your world know about your writing services, because you never know who might need something.
Once I got the word out, I ended up working with a friend on a book project for a non-profit she works with, wrote two articles for an out-of-state newspaper two years after a friend moved away, and even worked with another friend’s mother as a ghostwriter on her cookbook.
You want to be the GO-TO person in their minds when they need someone for a writing project.
Step “outside the box.”
Meaning, if you are used to writing website copy, but someone approaches you to write a speech for them, don’t just say “I’m sorry, I don’t write speeches.” Sure, maybe you haven’t written speeches before, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t! In fact, the more categories of writing you can expose yourself to, the better! I certainly didn’t think I’d be writing a cookbook, but the opportunity came along, so I knew I had to grab it!
Besides, you may just end up realizing that you have been the next great speech writer all along!
Want more great writing tips? Click here for my FREE writing tips cheatsheet and get more information about my upcoming e-course, Write Right, launching in summer 2016.
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in The Charlotte Observer, Fort Mill Times, Charlotte Five, SOCIETY Charlotte Magazine and Lake Norman Magazine, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com. Her freelance clients span across the US, as well as Australia and the UK, in the fashion & beauty, health & wellness, travel and life coaching industries.
In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house. Quickly gaining recognition in the tiny house community, her posts have been featured on popular tiny house sites like CometCamper, Tiny House Talk, Tiny House America and Tiny House Jamboree.