When you’re just getting started, freelance writing jobs entry level positions seem far and few between. Or impossible to find. And perhaps even like an enigma or puzzle that only a few people can unravel.
But there is hope! You can become a part of this mysterious club and get started freelance writing! You really can!
Here’s my three-step formula for finding writing work at the beginning
I’ll outline my recommendations here but keep reading as I’ll go further in-depth on each of these points, plus link to other resources you can use for deeper study.
- First, use job boards to sleuth out good leads (with a few caveats)
- Second, network with key influencers and freelancers to gain visibility in your niche (without being desperate)
- Third, create and optimize your online personas. This includes your website, your social media profiles and your portfolio.
Alright, let’s look deeper at the top three ways I found work as a freelance writer when I first got started.
Step 1: Use job boards to sleuth out good leads (with a few caveats)
When I first decided I wanted to be a freelance writer I had no idea what to do next. So I browsed listings on Craigslist. I Googled “how to become a freelance writer,” and “freelance writing jobs entry level.”
And because I had no inkling of what a good rate was (and no ability for discernment for red-flag clients), I just responded to whatever I found that seemed interesting.
Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I still think freelance writing job boards are a good place to start when you don’t have writing work.
However, you have to devise a system for filtering through the gigs and separating good from bad.
I’ve written more extensively on the topic of how to find great freelance writing work so I’ll send you there if you want to learn more about job boards, which ones I recommend and what type of red flags to watch for.
The good thing about job boards is it helps you connect with people or companies who are actually looking for writers. It’s super helpful when you don’t know where to start.
Another good thing about job boards is it teaches you about the types of writing people are looking for or think they need.
Many writers start out thinking they’ll be successful if they write about anything for anyone. And that certainly may help to get you started.
However. The truth is, the generalist approach isn’t sustainable. You’ll end up having to learn new styles of writing on new topics for every project.
While it’s fun and interesting at first, you’ll end up spending so much time learning and re-learning your hourly rate will be decimated and you’ll burn yourself out.
Sorry if that’s an inconvenient truth. Or is the saying unpopular opinion?
You may disagree (and, in fact, I hear from many writers that this is their approach) but the freelance writers I know who are making a living from their craft aren’t doing this.
They specialize. They develop a niche and expertise. And they market themselves with confidence.
All this to say, job boards are a good place to find work if you know what to look for. Don’t discount them but also don’t rely solely on them.
Why? Because you’ll usually find better clients and better pay from using more eloquent prospecting methods.
Extra credit: Creative Ways to Make Money from Freelance Writing
By the way, I curate a job bank for the Canadian Freelance Guild and my goal is help freelancers find great gigs faster by doing the filtering for them.
Step 2: Network with key influencers and freelancers to gain visibility in your niche (without being desperate)
If you know me at all, online or offline, you’ll have heard me ramble about how important networking is. In my opinion, networking with freelancers is the best and fastest way to grow and scale your writing business.
But how do you do this without seeming desperate? And how do you network in an equitable way where you’re not only taking but you’re also giving to the community? Because being a literary citizen is important.
Here are my quick tips for networking the right way
First, approach networking with an abundance mindset. In every interaction ask yourself how you can contribute to the greater community.
What this means is you don’t approach interactions looking only for what you can get from the relationships.
Which brings me to my next point.
Second, think of networking as relationship building. As in, building relationships with potential clients, people in your industry and with other freelancers.
Be a kind. Be helpful. Find ways you can be a friend and support, regardless of whether or not it gets you immediate work.
I know this seems counter-intuitive but it honestly works. It’s genuine and it’s long term.
Also, it is completely opposite of the bro-marketing and scammy sales approach that so many people use. That approach is honestly gross. Please don’t take that approach.
Third, be helpful. When you’re new to the industry and just meeting people, watch for ways you can help other people.
Give before you take. Get to know people slowly and be genuine. If you can help someone with their particular pain point, then do.
Be generous with your help! They’ll remember this and may help you out down the road.
But remember, you’re not being helpful so you can get something from the arrangement. You’re being helpful to be kind. To get to know others in your industry. And to become visible.
Extra credit: Want to up-level your freelance writing game? Focus on building relationships with “connectors”
Think of it this way, if an opportunity came up that you couldn’t take, who would you rather pass it on to: a friend who you trust and you find genuine and honest or a colleague who acts from motives of selfish ambition?
It seems obvious.
Be a helper and it will come back to you.
Step 3: create and optimize your online personas. This includes your website, your social media profiles and your portfolio.
Before I go too far hear this: you don’t need to be online to be a successful freelance writer.
However, branding yourself as a freelance writer and having that brand extend to all of your online assets certainly elevates you and your business.
So it’s a next level thing. You can get started without it, but you’ll be able to up-level faster with it.
Think of your online presence as one big business card. You don’t know where people will stumble across you but wherever it is, you want to present a professional image.
Do an audit of your online assets and access how you show up online to someone who doesn’t know you at all.
Would what you present online convince them that they should hire you and trust you with their business?
If so, good job! Keep tweaking and optimizing and showing up consistently.
If not, don’t despair. This is fixable. But you should get fixing it.
Extra credit: Five Tips for Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles
Many new freelance writers feel like they should start a blog or have a porfolio site in order to showcase their skills. And sure, those things are great and helpful.
But you have to keep them focused and consistent. So only invest in a blog or portfolio if you’re able to keep it up-to-date.
A simple writing website may be a more sustainable investment at the outset. Here are a few tips for what to include on your writing business website.
Find great freelance writing jobs entry level ideas to get your career started
When you’re just getting started as a freelance writer STARTING is the biggest part. Don’t worry about your logo or your website or your Instagram handle.
Seriously. Those are distractions. Just get started.
From my years of experience of being a freelance writer for hire, I’ve learned which activities lead to paying work and which ones are busywork.
But with so many people making noise about how you “need” to do this or that, it can feel like you do need to engage in all of these activities.
Apply critical thought every time you’re told you should try this or that to find new clients. It doesn’t hurt to try, but keep track of what works for you and your business and what doesn’t.
Pay attention to what actually leads to paying gigs. Keep doing those. Let the other ones go.
One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.
This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.