How To Land A Freelance Writing Gig

freelance writing jobsAfter you read this article, take a look at the category: How To Find and Get Freelance Writing Jobs

So often  new freelance writers will look at the list of freelance writing jobs,  fire off a few emails, get no response and quickly become discouraged. Even freelance writers who have been successful in the off-line world find landing freelance writing jobs listed online daunting.

On the other hand, freelance writers often  email me saying they got one, two, three and even more freelance writing jobs from my posts. What makes the difference?

The Advertiser Has A Problem

The first thing to know and remember is the person who placed the ad has a problem to solve. I know, you’ve got a problem too, but if you focus on your problem instead of the advertiser’s you’re almost sure to fail.

Within the ad for a freelance writer is at least a hint of what that problem is. It may be they need blog posts or articles, or a press release. They might need help writing a book or generating something specific for their website. Freelance writing jobs come in all shapes and sizes.

Demonstrate that you can solve their problem and they are likely to hire you.

Follow Writing Ad Directions Exactly!

The first mistake writers often make is not to follow the directions in the ads exactly! You’ve simply got to follow the instructions. If the ad for a freelance writing job says “no attachments” and you attach your credit list or a sample, your email won’t even be opened before it’s trashed.

If the ad requests you to send your resume or a sample in the body of an email, do it just that way. Sure, pasting an article into email is messy at best, but if you copy it first into NotePad or some other strictly text editor, you’re likely to get more readably copy. Email youself a copy of what the email you intend to send first to make sure it looks reasonably okay.

You will occasionally see ads that ask you to use snail mail – if you want that freelance writing job, send it by snail mail.


Paying attention to their directions is part of the way you demonstrate you can solve their problem.

Don’t Ask For Additional Information

I can’t tell you how many people have written me complaining they’ve responded to ads by asking for more information about the advertised freelance writing job, only to receive no reply at all.  Remember, you’re job is to demonstrate you can solve their problem. When you open by asking a question you’re actually adding to their problems. Besides,  enough people will have gone ahead and cobbled together a response that is actually satisfies the job description in the ad.

Yes, I know. Many of the ads cry out for additional information. They aren’t clear. It doesn’t matter. Asking for more information instead of actually applying is a sure-fire way to lose.

Your goal in your initial response is to get the person placing the ad interested enough to start a dialog with you about the job. It’s after that conversation has started that asking questions is both acceptable and advisable.

Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Skills

Don’t waste your time applying for freelance writing or editing gigs you have no qualifications for at all. It’s one thing to stretch, and another to over reach.

If, for example, you’re tempted to apply for a writing job writing white papers, and you’ve never read one, don’t bother. Skip this ad, find some white papers to read and decide if learning how to write them is something you want to pursue. If you do, take a class, or find someone you can help write at least one white paper.

On the other hand, almost anyone who can construct a complete sentence can write the short articles that are aimed at search engine optimization. Use good judgment about the ads you want to reply to. From article writing you can move to other higher paying gigs.

What Should You Do?

So, what should you be aware of as you craft your reply? Keep these things in mind:

  • The advertiser has a problem. If you can demonstrate that you can solve it, you’re likely to get the job.
  • Pay attention to the tone of ad and try to match that tone in your response.
  • Take time to craft your response. Make sure you demonstrate you understand their problem and can solve it for them. Do this and you’ll stand out.
  • Respond the day or the day after the ad appears. Most ads get hundreds of responses, sometimes thousands. The advertiser will often quit reading responses after a day or two.
  • Don’t expect to hear anything from your response unless they are interested. Sure, it would be nice if the advertiser at least let you know they’d gotten your application. It doesn’t work that way. Usually you won’t hear a thing until and unless they want to take it to the next step. That lack of response is usually more about the number of replies than anything you’re doing wrong.
  • On the other hand, if you’ve replied to a lot of ads and you believe you’re qualified for, get some help with how you’re crafting your response.

You Need Your Own Website!

If you’re serious about being a freelance writer, editor, blogger, translator, etc., you simply must have your own website, with your very own domain name. Sure, once and awhile some ad will state they don’t want links or to look at a site; most do. And once your site has been up awhile, potential employers will begin to find you on their own. I’m always amazed at how many find me at www.annewayman.com.

If your name is available, use it, or some derivitive. It gives people a way to find you on their own. If that won’t work, pick something that’s easy to say and easy to spell.

Read You’re a Writer – You Need a Website! to get an idea how to get your own site up and running.


Here are two additional suggestions to help you get a freelance writing job:

  1. The category, How To Find and Get Freelance Writing Jobs, has all the articles about finding and getting freelance writing jobs on this blog and there are quite a few.
  2. The 3 Keys to Making Your Writing Pay! - free ebook by me and a free subscription to our newsletter.

I no longer post freelance writing jobs. You can purchase the ebook with all the links I used plus other helpful information.

Subscribe to the newsletter and/or subscribe to the RSS Feed. (You may also want to read RSS for Writers.)

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    { 37 comments… read them below or add one }

    Pam October 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Anne, Did you see my previous question about business cards? I can’t find your article. Can you tell me where to find that again? thanks

    Reply

    annew October 26, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    yes, answered where you posted, in fees: http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/setting-fees/

    Reply

    Loulou Issa October 22, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Hey Anne (and everybody else),

    I really enjoyed reading this article.

    I was just wondering if you might be able to help me. I’m a 20 year old senior studying Mass Communications and I have freelanced for the Sarasota Herald Tribune for a year or so. I had to quit because I moved to another city in Florida. It has been REALLY hard trying to get another freelancing job with newspapers, magazines, etc. The problem I am finding is that a lot of the publications (especially magazines, which is what I have really been trying to aim for) really want their writer’s to either be very knowledgeable about one subject (such as parenting, nutrition, ect.,) or to be very well-rounded, with a lot of experience. I have not even been able to take a minor or study anything else besides Mass Communications and really do not know a lot about one particular subject. I really hate that I did not expand my education to something else besides writing. Do you have any advice that could help me find where to look or how to begin anew? Writing is a passion of mine and I believe I do it well. However, if I am limited to what I can write about then what can I do at this point in time?

    Reply

    Michael August 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    I really enjoyed reading over this layout of things to do when trying to land a freelance writing job. I have experienced some problems from time to time finding a job as well. The main directive for me is to remain focused but as you pointed out sometimes its much to easy to get caught up in our own problems.

    I will from now on keep my eyes peeled for a problem that is stated in the posting and maybe it will help me land a job. I love to type, write, and talk so when I get in front of a paper, screen, or people I tend to just let loose.

    Thanks for this very informative guide.

    Reply

    annew August 26, 2010 at 8:35 am

    You’re more than welcome Michael.

    Reply

    Roy DSilva July 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm
    Roy DSilva July 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Great tips as usual, and I cannot agree more with the one that says that a writer should have their own website. That’s true, domain name and all, you should have them all right. Here’s some quick reasons why one should:

    It’s findable: Would you remember a site better if it’s annewayman.com or annewayman.blogspot.com, or annewayman.wordpress.com. It’s a brand new Internet world and size does matter. A smaller name means lesser chances of typos and therefore more visitors!

    It’s cheap: Yea, we all lived through those days when making a website (read portal) was like $1000 investment and then $50 per month or something. But today, we can book a domain name at $15 and get unlimited hosting at $9. So, considering everything is good , you have a good advertise right there – and a dynamic one at that.

    You learn a lot: If you are someone who likes adding badges to yourself, here’s your chance to add a ‘pro blogger’ badge to your already glowing profile. WordPress is free, just check if your host provides WordPress support. If it doesn’t its Neanderthal and you don’t need it on your hands.

    Not only do you learn about WordPress and other blogging software, within six months – if you pay attention – you will atleast be able to read Greek like Google Analytics, affiliate marketing, contextual advertising etc.

    Reply

    Anne July 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks Roy… love it when folks agree with me.

    Reply

    Amanda June 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I love your site Anne — so many questions I’ve googled online lead me back here. Thank you! Wishing you continued success~

    Reply

    Kristen Schade April 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    In your statement above. Under “You need your own website”.

    Sure, once and awhile some ad will state they don’t want links or to look at a site; most do.

    It should be “once in a while”.

    Reply

    Anne April 13, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Kristen, you’d probably make an excellent copy editor… and there’s a market for copy editors too.

    Reply

    Hamza April 7, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Okay I Will Thanks Today Was My 9th Board Paper Huh ! I’m Very Tired Well Thanks For Replying I Will Find.

    Reply

    Hamza April 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Thanks For Replying

    Where can i get designing jobs/projects.

    Reply

    Anne April 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

    google web design jobs and see what you get… not really my areal.

    Reply

    Hamza April 5, 2010 at 5:53 am

    I can design webs
    I can write helpful content
    i just what to conform that do usa or other countries companies pay me ? in pakistan because pakistan is very bad targeted nowadays
    And to know english is not an big problem i am doing english language course.
    And http://www.hammadhosters.com is designed by me

    Reply

    Anne April 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Hamza, you might get some design work here, but until your English is much better you’ll be more likely to get writing jobs in your own language.

    Reply

    Hamza April 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Admin i want to know that i am from pakistan and i want to ask you that does it works in pakistan and my english is not so good so can i earn money to :( i really need to cover/help my family and i don’t know any thing about freelance can u help me i really respect you

    Reply

    Anne April 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Hamza, I don’t know what sort of magazines and publications you have in Pakistan, but they all need writers and so do websites there and businesses there so you can learn what you learn here and at other sites to apply there in your country and in your language. Keep us posted on your progress and feel free to ask questions here.

    Reply

    joel April 5, 2010 at 7:42 am

    found you through SEO. Waiting to hear from them any moment. Glad to be here too :)

    Reply

    joel March 30, 2010 at 9:01 am

    just applied for a freelance writing job today, my first for a newspaper and this is the 1st site i stumbled upon while finding my way in freelancing. This is not the last of me

    Reply

    Anne March 30, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Great to have you here Joel, how did you find us? When will you know about the job?

    Reply

    Elizabeth July 22, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Hi, Anne: I follow your blog with interest. Good information, thanks. A question about setting rates. What would be a reasonable rate for a short post, say 300-500 words (assuming some but not extensive experience) on the part of the writer?

    Thanks,

    Elizabeth

    Reply

    Anne April 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I’m going to answer this in a post.

    Reply

    Tumwesigye July 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for your effort to help people around the world. I look forward to keep in touch on this business.

    Reply

    Anne July 7, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    The net makes it truly a world ’round

    Reply

    admin April 25, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Alia, thanks so much for letting us all know. You show great wisdom with the advice to be patient and tenacious.

    Reply

    Alia Curtis April 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for supplying job information. I have been searching your site for a long time. I recently landed a great tech writing contract with UniGalatic Science Travel Magazine that will be out in May and is on Amazon.com

    Oftentimes we writers have to be patient and tenacious. It is a long, difficult road, but it it is your dream, it’s worth it. Thank you again for making the road a little easier to travel.

    Reply

    admin March 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Jennifer, thanks for the heads up… http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2008/11/youre-a-writer-you-need-a-website-or-better-yet-your-own-blog/

    is the link and it’s fixed in the article

    Reply

    Jennifer March 24, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I wanted to look at your article, “You’re a Writer–You Need a Website,” referenced in this article, but the link was broken. Is that article still available? Thanks for all the great information you provide on your sites.

    Reply

    admin December 29, 2008 at 2:00 pm
    Niki December 20, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I can see that a writer’s website is useful because it contains writing samples, a visual example of what the writer can do. What sort of content would be useful for the website of a copy editor who is not particularly interested in becoming a writer?

    Reply

    admin November 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Doran… thanks

    Satish, I don’t have any good sources for non-us freelance writing markets… do you have any suggestions? I’d be happy to include them if I could find them without hours of searching.

    Reply

    Satish November 17, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    If some information on non-US market for writers can also be included, your site would be very comprehensive. In any case, I have been regularly visiting your site and would continue to do so.

    Reply

    doran November 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Great article. I appreciate all the help you give us beginning writers. I was doing the ask for more info thing…now I understand why I may not have gotten as many replies as I would have liked.

    Reply

    admin November 9, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks Nina, love the name of your blog!

    Reply

    Nina November 9, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I got your link from freelance writing gigs. This site seems to be very valuable and loaded with a lot of information. Thank you for the dedication you put in developing this site. I will look forward to the newsletters with job listings.

    Thank you,

    Nina Lewis
    http://www.serenelivingblog.blogspot.com

    Reply

    cyra miles November 9, 2008 at 5:09 am

    Hi,

    I happend to browse your site. Contents are valuable. I’ll be visiting your site constantly.

    thanks

    Cyra Miles

    Reply

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