Building a freelance writing career can be incredibly satisfying. Even if you do have experience as a writer, however, chances are that you’ll need to build your reputation from scratch. This is the main reason why numerous freelancers give up on the opportunity – they simply don’t want to make a compromise and work for peanuts in the very beginning.
Some see content mills as a viable option. Many such websites accept writers from different parts of the world and they don’t really have a strenuous application process. The problem with content mills is that they tend to pay quite little.
In fact, some even believe that the days of content mills have nearly come to an end. Only time will tell whether these people are right.
Meanwhile, it’s possible to start your freelance writing career without accepting minimum pay jobs in the very beginning. Here’s how to do it.
Join Websites Like Upwork
Marketplaces like Upwork make it very easy for clients and writers to come in contact with each other. There’s something for everyone – from low-paid entry-level jobs to tasks for experts that even native speakers from the US will be satisfied with.
The cool thing about websites like Upwork is that they feature tests and excellent opportunities for putting a portfolio together. Thus, even freelancers who don’t have an awful lot of experience with clients can showcase their talent.
Just like with all other job-seeking opportunities online, however, finding work on Upwork will require time and patience. Many of the clients are attempting to get complex projects completed without paying anything (yes, 5 dollars for a 1,500-word piece on astrophysics is nothing). Sorting through all of these ridiculous job ads will require time. Still, there are some intriguing opportunities out there that definitely deserve applying to.
Take your time, build a good profile and apply to projects that are a good match to your skills. Once you get that first job, you’ll find it a lot easier to continue applying.
Build Your Own Website
Buy a domain name, get the right hosting plan, install WordPress and you’re done – you have your own website.
Building your professional website and advertising it vigorously (through search engine optimization or social media marketing) will give you excellent opportunities to come in contact with potential clients. In fact, a few of my long-term professional collaborations have surfaced this way.
Make sure that your portfolio is presented and highlighted on the website. You should also consider adding a blog that you can use for the purpose of demonstrating your expertise.
Building your own website and populating it with content is not going to give you instant results. Still, you can start monetizing with adds and getting at least a bit of residual income. Once search engines start indexing your pages, you’ll find it much easier to connect with people through this platform.
A professional website requires a proactive approach. Come up with a monthly content plan and stick to it. Update your social media profiles frequently. Both of these are required to establish your professional reputation and to boost your website’s traffic.
A Strong LinkedIn Profile
Another channel that has helped me acquire new clients is LinkedIn. If you have a solid profile, people will approach you online and inquire about your availability.
Just like building your own website, you need a solid LinkedIn presence in order to make a good impression. Take some time to personalize every aspect of your profile. A few of the essentials to focus on include:
- A strong, concise and descriptive professional headline
- A summary that tells the world who you are and why you’re the right person for the job
- A call to action that’s used in the end of the summary – tell potential customers to contact you
- Detailed description of your experience, including examples and links
- LinkedIn posts that highlight your writing experience
- A well-built skills and endorsements section (you’ll have to rely on people in your network for this one)
- Projects listed in the respective section to give people an even better idea about the type of writing you do
- Some information about your education, if you have a relevant degree
The more information you provide, the more people will be willing to get in touch with you. While some consider LinkedIn to be a completely useless platform, I beg to differ. Very often, people are looking for contractors and freelance workers through this website. Thus, the professional social network can produce some legitimate income generation opportunities.
LinkedIn groups are also wonderful because they can help freelance writers improve their online presentation and they can provide pointers about interesting projects.
Websites and Online Magazines that Pay for Guest Posts
This is another channel that many inexperienced freelance writers have used successfully.
Numerous serious online presentations pay for guest posts and articles. Often, the pay starts at 100 dollars and even more. While such opportunities abound, there are many writers competing to get published. Thus, good ideas and a lot of patience will be required to be successful.
These magazines are different from content mills because they pay a lot for submissions and they also give writers a byline. Apart from providing payments, such writing gigs are also a wonderful opportunity for the establishment of a writer’s reputation.
A simple online search will reveal the big number of online magazines and specialized websites that pay for guest submissions. Do a bit of research and identify the ones that are best-suited to your preferences and your areas of expertise.
Freelance Writing Forums
Freelance writers do share information with each other. Thus, freelance writing forums can provide tons of information for the needs of beginners.
There are dozens of online communities aimed at helping freelance writers improve their skills and find good gigs that aren’t content mills. Many writers also share their experience with scams, difficult clients or websites that pay too little for the type of work they require.
Once again, such communities can be identified easily through a basic online search. Some of the forums that I frequent include the WAHM forum, the All Indie Writers forum, the Freelance Writers Den (you can sign up on the waiting list to get access to the forum) and even the Reddit community of freelance writers.
Starting a career is very difficult but whatever you do, refrain from accepting low paying jobs. If you get started this way, it may be difficult to eventually increase your fees in the future. Spending some time on identifying that first good job is much better than wasting your efforts on three-dollar articles in yet another content mill.