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How I’d Look For A Freelance Writing Job

searching for a writing jobIf I were looking for a freelance writing gig today this is how I’d go about it:

  1. I’d decide exactly what kind of writing job I wanted. For me that’s always freelance. In addition to that I’d clarify what I was after – copy writer, corporate writer, magazine article (and what topic I wanted to pitch), ghostwriting a book, speech writing, marketing communications, technical writing, etc. etc. etc.
  2. Next I’d do some online searches for key words in the area I wanted to write.  In general I wouldn’t be looking for a specific gig at this point. Instead, I’d be working to get a feel for what’s going on in that writing area.
  3. If I found a particularly productive search term I’d add my locality to it and see what comes up.
  4. When I found a productive search term I’d create a list with phone numbers and addresses.
  5. Once I had a list of 10 or 20 places or companies, I’d pick up the phone and call each one. When the phone is answered I’d say something like:

Hi, my name is Anne Wayman. Who would I talk to about (writing copy, doing an article about xxx, ghostwriting, etc. etc. etc.)? Then I’d shut up.

The person who answers is likely to be a receptionist who won’t know exactly what to do with me. As I wait I increase my chances she’ll either tell me who I need to talk with or put me through to that person. When I reach that person I make my pitch in as few words as possible, maybe something like:

Hi, my name is Anne Wayman and I write good copy. Are you the one I should be talking with about doing some freelance work for your firm? Then I’d shut up.

The rule is to be brief and ask a question that can’t be answered with a yes or no.

When someone said no, I’d tell them I was sending my business card which has my website on it for their reference, thank them and get off the phone. Then I’d snail mail two or three of my cards with a nice note, thanking them for their time. I’d do this even if I never got past the receptionist – sending a receptionist a nice note and some cards can result in business.

If someone sounded like they might be interested I’d ask them what the next step should be, then I’d follow up as they indicated I should. I might push just a bit for an appointment if it’s a local company, but mostly I’d let them guide me.

It’s actually pretty simple. Not easy; I know calling strangers isn’t fun, at least not until you get started. If you call five or 10 a day you’ll probably land something in a week or two.

If calling isn’t practical, snail mail a note with some business cards. Snail mail is unusual enough to stand out these days.

Keep up this sort of campaign and you’re likely to end up with more business than you can handle.

I’ve created some sample market searches for you.

How do you find markets for your writing?


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • T

    I like bow & arrow! Good visual. Quality vs. quantity, also, I suppose you could say. I had to learn the hard way that pursuing too many leads simultaneously (and then saying yes to all of them) is not the best approach for me. And you’re right about the cold-calling, Anne. I do believe it gets easier with time. Had not thought of sending a follow-up thank-you—great tip. People like to work with courteous professionals.
    .-= T´s last blog ..Thanksgiving & Other Writing Prompts =-.

    • Anne

      Yes, it does get easier, except when it doesn’t 😉

      • T

        I had to overcome outright anxiety attacks over cold calling — hands shaking, palms so sweaty I couldn’t hold a pen, heart pounding away at a rate that made me wonder if my next call would be to 911. Then I finally asked myself, “What the heck am I afraid of?” After I plunged ahead and did not die or have an irate receptionist materialize in my office to berate me in person, then it got easier.
        .-= T´s last blog ..Thanksgiving & Other Writing Prompts =-.

        • Tiffany

          LoL. Great point, T. Cold-calling may not be so bad afterall.

  • Bow-and-arrow approach?
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • T

    Thanks, Anne! Number one is where I definitely need to do some work. I’ve been so intently focused on finding work–any work–that I’ve been chasing after everything I felt I could write. Reading this made me realize that I’ve got to narrow things down and focus rather than taking the shot-gun approach.
    .-= T´s last blog ..Thanksgiving & Other Writing Prompts =-.

    • Anne

      Yes, I could have said a rifle approach works better – what’s a non-gun metaphor – target? Anyway sounds like you’ve got the idea. Let us know how you do this.

  • Grazie 🙂
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Not Exactly Beach Weather =-.

  • Hi Anne:

    Really appreciate your insight. I don’t know if it was just a glitch but the sample market searches didn’t work. Have a great Thanksgiving!
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Not Exactly Beach Weather =-.

    • Anne

      Cathy, you’re right, the link didn’t work, now it does. Thanks

  • Great tips for finding freelance writing gigs. I never thought about adding my locality to my search. I guess it’s time for me to pick up the phone. I mostly email my resume, cover letter, and or query letter (follow instructions) because I’m answering ads or sending to editors. It’s time to do an internet search and call local companies.

    I’ve also found LinkedIn to be very helpful, more helpful than Facebook. I’ve joined a few writers groups, and they post jobs. Plus, you get to connect with other writers around the world. I must say that I am enjoying LinkedIn. Glad I gave it another chance.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..National Freelancers Day in the UK =-.

    • Anne

      Rebecca, let us know how picking up the phone works.

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