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Top 5 Reasons You’re Not Getting The Freelance Writing Jobs You Want

why you're not getting writing jobsAssuming you’re a decent writer, if you’re not getting the freelance writing jobs you want, there’s gotta be a reason, right?


There are the top five reasons that explain why many writers are fail in the freelance writing job market.

You’re applying for the wrong writing jobs

If you apply for a copywriting job and you’re not even sure what copywriting is, you’re wasting your time. If you apply for an SEO gig and you don’t understand how search terms work, your application will show that and you’ll be rejected. If you don’t know how to write and edit for Wikipedia don’t waste your time trying to land a job editing and creating Wikipedia entries.

You get the idea – apply for the kinds of writing gigs you know you can handle and you can demonstrate that you can do them well.

That doesn’t mean you can’t learn copywriting or whatever. By all means, take a class or two, spend some time learning from a coach or just studying websites and books about the skill you want to develop. Then you can look for entry level jobs in those areas.

Remember, the employer has a problem – you have to demonstrate you’re the writer who can solve that problem to get hired.

You’re not targeting your response specifically 

It’s so tempting to create a generic email to use when responding to freelance writing jobs. Or to send the same writing resume or credit list over and over again.

Don’t. It’s a recipe for how be ignored.

Read the ad carefully. I find it takes two or three passes, sometimes more, for me to really grok what they’re asking for. I then tailor my response precisely for that ad.

That may include picking up a phrase or two from the ad to use in my reply. I also spend some serious time on their website if I know what it is, so I know what they’re doing.  If I can’t figure out what the ad poster wants, there’s no point in responding.

You’re not following the instructions

Many ads spell out how they want you to respond. Some want you to paste your resume or credit list in the body of an email. A few say they want a .pdf attached. Some say call, and many others say don’t.

The quickest way to get rejected is to not follow those directions. There’s really no excuse for this one yet over and over again when I was hiring writers. at least half of the respondents did exactly what I told them not to do. Many editors and employers tell me the same thing.

Do it their way even if you think they’re wrong.

You’re not applying systematically

So many times I hear writers lament about losing a client and having to start all over again looking for a new one. If you’re not systematically looking for new clients, even when you’ve got clients, you’re likely to find yourself out of work, suddenly.

Clients will leave you for a whole variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with your and your skills. They change directions, or go out of business. Or their niece convinces them to hire her. Or they cut back on the project they hired you for, cutting you as well. They get sick, even die. Your only protection is to keep marketing yourself, consistently.

You don’t have a website

I’m sure there are writers out there who get writing jobs of one sort or another without a website, but they are getting rarer and rarer. A website is your portfolio, the place where you tell the world that you’re a writer, where you show off your talents and where people find out how to contact you. Make it easy for the prospective employer or editor to find you and to check you out when you apply. It only makes sense to have your own site.

Each of these items is fixable. You can target your writing job search to fit your skills, and target your response as well. You can follow the instructions exactly. And you can finally get your website up and running. I don’t know exactly how to quantify this, but my hunch is if you do all five things you increase your chances at landing the writing jobs you want by at least 80 percent, maybe more.

You might enjoy: 3 Secrets To Responding To A Freelance Writing Job Ad

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Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer



Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by agnesgtr

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Suzanne

    The first thing I do, when looking for work, is to tell anyone who has ever hired me that I am looking, and the second thing is to start reaching out to people I know through LinkedIn. Last year, I sent holiday cards with my company info to clients and potential clients and landed gigs through that!

  • Michael Davis

    We talk often about where to find the higher paying freelance writing jobs. The truth is, you won’t always find these online. We do try to bring these desirable gigs to you here, and though some might laugh, I know Craigslist often has very high paying jobs. If you want to find the really high paying gigs, you may have to close up your laptop and do some cold calling. If you’re not going to take the time to really look for work, quit complaining the jobs aren’t out there. They are, you just have to stop looking in the “easy”places.
    Michael Davis recently posted..RedXMy Profile

    • Cold calling works! And yes, some of the highest paid writing gigs are found only when you’re offline.

  • Yes, I agree with all of these, Anne. If you have a site in place and stick to a regular schedule for targeting new work, eventually something happens.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..4 Top Secrets of Prolific Content CreatorsMy Profile

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