Strategies to Learn and Grow Your Freelance Business: Part II

By James McKenzie

In Part I of this article, we talked about laying the groundwork for a freelance writing career; this included networking, speaking to a mentor and reading good books. These strategies tell you what you need to know about freelance writing, but now it’s time to put that knowledge into action. Where and how do you land your first gigs? Every new freelance writer has this question, and if you do some homework, you’ll find the answer. Here are a few places where you can land your first assignments.

Writing for Content Sites & Marketing Firms

In the freelance writing world, content sites are known for their low pay scale with many paying less than five cents per word. You have to work hard to move up that scale, and by that I mean getting good ratings on your first few assignments so you can qualify for higher paying gigs. Textbroker is one such company you can look into. Keep in mind they have sites in the US and the UK. The US one only accepts US citizens, but the UK site accepts writers from other countries, including Canada. Texbroker covers a variety of topics, and writers can choose what requests they want to work on. An alternative option is iWriter. They are much less restrictive, but check the website for requirements.

I should mention here that working for content sites is not a sustainable strategy for the long term. Many professional writers would not work for such sites (especially for such low rates), so you should eventually move on from them if you are serious about writing for a living.

Marketing firms are often looking for freelance writers to help with some of the workload. It’s also worth checking out Craigslist, Indeed and similar sites with searchable job categories, where marketing firms often post jobs under the “writing” category.

You can check out job postings that are open to international writers, but job boards that are only open to Canadian writers tend to offer better pay rates.

Writing for Self-Employed Professionals

Small business owners have websites but may not have the time, interest or skill required to update them regularly. As a result, they may be happy to pay a professional writer to write posts for their blog or update their web content. You can give them a call or send an email offering your services depending on your style or preference.  If you can, mention a post they had written that you like.

Writing for Magazines, Newspapers and Blogs

These are the more traditional avenues for both seasoned and new writers. Because there are hundreds of publications (both electronic and print) that are always accepting articles, it’s a great opportunity to get published. Also, most of these publications give you a byline and even a short bio which helps you market and promote your writing to land more clients. The standard way to approach these publications is by sending a query letter either in print or electronic format. It is important to read the query instructions carefully before pitching to the editor.

Prospecting

Approaching any of these groups for freelance gigs takes time. The number of hours you  devote to these strategies depends entirely on your level of personal commitment and your schedule. I’d recommend a minimum of two to three hours a week as a fairly good benchmark.

It is best to develop an efficient system for whichever strategy you undertake. Have a resume/writing sample ready whenever you are applying for an online writing job. If you plan on calling or sending e-mails, have a pitch that you are confident using.

Rejection can hurt, but having a standard approach helps you to move on quickly (instead of brooding over what went wrong). I usually get one or two responses for every 25 pitches I make.

It’s always important to follow up. Just because you’re ignored the first or second time doesn’t mean the prospect is dead. Chances are they didn’t receive your query or they may be so busy that a gentle reminder is in order.

Stick to the process you have created, and in time you will see the results!

James McKenzie is a freelance writer with experience writing for a variety of industries.