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Finding Paid Work Between Writing Gigs

freelance writing workHi Anne,

Hey, how’s it going? I just wanted to tell you I landed my first freelance stint – rewriting a website. I guess I was desperate so I took a really low rate… but I’m negotiating with him now and hopefully he’ll throw me some more work… 😉

In the interim, do you have any sources for more ‘grunt’ work like word processing, data entry, and the like?

I’m so broke now – Long story short I just moved to Maryland but finding a real job despite my experience is quite a chore. I’ve had a handful of interviews in 2012, but no offers and very little work.

I just need something to keep me going and help support my family.

Hope all is well!



Hi BG,

A big congratulations on landing your first gig. Do a super job and get a good recommendation that can go on your website and never charge so little again.

Keep marketing your services – every work day. When you get a little extra money to invest in your business, consider Lori Widmer’s excellent Marketing 365: Daily Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Small Business.

Now for generating cash before your freelancing takes off, I suggest part time work. I’ve done everything from waitressing to telemarketing to support my writing habit. I call these throw-away jobs because I won’t ruin my reputation by taking or leaving them.

If you have any sales ability, a part time sales job can be a lifesaver – just don’t engage in too much wishful thinking with these.

These days I suspect your local craigslist will be a great place to find part time work – assuming you live in a community that’s well served by the site. Local newspapers can also be good sources. Check to see if your area has a job board of some sort – the biggies won’t usually work for the kind of work you’re looking for. The same thing applies if you need to work full time.

As always, telling your friends, family and neighbors you’re looking for work can also help you locate something.

Good luck, and keep writing. Let us know how it goes.

How have you found work between writing gigs?

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Email me, with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll probably get it answered here.


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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • I’m about to go back to school in a writing program that is heavily tech writing-oriented. It will give me a portfolio, an internship (which can be remote), and promises a 95% placement rate. People say “Oh, you can do all this on your own,” but I really can’t. I need this boost.

    In the meantime, I’m looking for something to tide me over while I’m in school. I really think the focus will be helpful. Right now everything is so scattered, I can’t even READ. Once I get going on this, I feel I will be far more competitive than I am right now, with only a content job and a couple of blogs under my belt. Also, I’ll learn something a bit more marketable. And I think there is some guidance about the financials, which I desperately need, because most of it is beyond me.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..4 Ways I’m Relaxing after NaNoWriMoMy Profile

    • Elizabeth, have you tried meditation? I can help reduce that scattered feeling.

      Re tech writing – yes, these days you mostly need a certificate so good for you for going for one.

  • I find it hard not to get discouraged. Someone answered my ad and wanted to know what I’d charge to ghostwrite their autobiography. I said I needed to know how long it is, how soon they wanted it done and how much of the writing they were doing, if any. I said my range was broad, from $3000 to 15,000. This was yesterday. I have not heard back from her. I assume she thought my prices were too high. But I will not write an average length book (300 pp) for less than $3000. And I hadn’t yet given her a quote! What do you think? I really don’t want to work for less than that.
    Marcy Sheiner recently posted..Ghostwriting: How It Works Part IIMy Profile

    • Marcy, I think you’re way under pricing yourself for ghostwriting a book! What does that work out to an hour? $15,000 strikes me as a bare minimum and that for a 200 page book, not 300. I get lots of folks calling and asking what I charge even tho’ I have a range of up to $40,000 posted on my site, http://www.annewayman.com. When they find out how much I charge. Most of them don’t call back, but enough do so I can make a living at it. I do have other sources of income as well, which helps bridge the gap.

  • Oh Anne! How happy I am to have found you this morning.

    I am a (soon to be divorced) stay at home mom, doing a little pre-school substituting, but desperate to make it as a freelance writer.

    I am off to read everything I can find that you’ve written on the subject.

    Martha at Running in Mommyland recently posted..My Life in NumbersMy Profile

    • Did you get the free booklet? That’s got all my secrets in it 😉 – also the 5 Buck Forum (www.fivebuckforum.com) can be a real help. Keep us posted and ask questions.

  • It also helps to view writing as a “real” job if you want clients to look at you seriously. Even if your intent is to freelance while looking for employer-based work, writing is definitely work. Good luck in your pursuit-whatever that may be.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Friday Lite Thanks Guest Bloggers And Starts Walking 60 MilesMy Profile

  • I couldn’t agree more about not charging cheap rates for writing work, no matter how desperate you are. As soon as you start to devalue your work, you make it that much harder to convince clients that you’re worth more in the future. Plus, you are not only devaluing your own work; you’re devaluing the entire freelance writing industry.

    I have had to find what I call “high school jobs” making $10/hour and using very little brain power to help make ends meet. I’m also not above pet sitting or babysitting when things get really low. But if you want my top-notch writing skill, you’re going to pay my going rate, which I think is very competitive.

    It’s like the old adage says, if you don’t value yourself, don’t expect anyone else to value you.

    If you really want to build your portfolio, though, do some volunteer writing work for nonprofit organizations with missions that mean a lot to you. But don’t let somebody else make a profit on your hard work and talent if you’re not getting paid what you’re worth.
    Kimberly Jones recently posted..6 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Freelance WriterMy Profile

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