We’re talking about freelance writing experience today. Many writers mention how hard it is to get their proverbial feet in the door without having to take entry level web opportunities. It’s true, these jobs are the simplest to get, but there are other ways to get started as a freelance writer. They may not take the easy way out, but they’re tried and true. Continue some of these ways for getting started as a freelance writer.
Ten Ways to Get Your Freelance Writing Foot in the Door
- Work pro bono – Though I don’t recommend writing for free, I have been known to do so for a good cause (and sometimes a few relatives). For example, few years ago a friend approached me about writing a brochure for a Habitat for Humanity event. Though they offered to pay, I didn’t accept. It was for a good cause and I felt the clip to be a resume booster. It was and still is. Charity work pays in more ways than money. Since then, I’ve more than a few pieces for charity and even some for local businesses that needed a boost.
- Contact local newspapers and magazines – Many small newspapers, magazines and “Pennysavers” don’t pay much, but offer good opportunities for getting started as a freelance writer. Local newspapers often look for articles of interest to the community. Pitch public interest pieces or offer to cover town meetings and events.
- Contact local businesses: Who writes the paragraphs for real estate in the real estate magazines? Call Realtors to find out. Who handles brochures or web copy for businesses in your area? Contact them to find out. Businesses always need writing but they don’t always have the time to look for a good, affordable writer. Make a list of the place that might have a need for writers, and give them a jingle.
- Talk to friends, family and neighbors: Let everyone know you’re open for business. In their travels they might find someone who needs a writer and recommend you.
- Advertise: If you don’t mind putting out a little money you can advertise in the newspaper, local business publications, the church newsletter, and on community bulletin boards. You might also create a writer’s website and use keywords to direct local businesses to your site.
- Network: Join clubs, especially those geared towards the community or small businesses. I had a few very good gigs come from being the president of a local women’s organization that I originally joined for recreation. Attend conferences and seminars and even non-business-y events like local dances or lectures.
- Join a professional organization: Why not join your local Chamber of Commerce or a small business owners group? How about a freelance writing organization, The Society of Professional Journalists or the National Organization of Women Business Owners? The people who are members of these different organizations like to hire within.
- Write for the web: Web writing opportunities are plentiful and profitable. They range in all levels of pay and will help to build up clips and experience.
- Start a blog: Start a blog in a topic you know well. Not only can this help establish as an expert, but it will also catch the attention of potential clients. For example, say you’re a former wedding planner and you decide to start a wedding planning blog. Someone looking for a wedding writer might come across your blog and contact you. You will also have several posts to use in querying for wedding writing opportunities.
- Create your own clips: If you need some clips to land work and don’t have any, write a few in your areas of expertise. Run them through a second pair of eyes to be sure they read well – and then use those clips when you apply for available opportunities.
How did you get your foot in the door?
Also see: 30 Types of Freelance Writing Jobs and How to Get Them
Frustratingly, it isn’t just a “foot in the door” thing. I’ve worked for America’s top publishers, corporations and museums – and still find myself out there scanning Craigslist for gigs.
That doesn’t mean I don’t still work for the biggies, but freelancing is idiosyncratic: one day there’s a huge project and many thousands of dollars available; the next day the funding dries up and boom! you’re out of a gig.
On the one hand, freelancers can’t always find more gigs. On the other hand, no one but you is responsible for managing the marketing, handling the invoicing, and paying for the healthcare!
Great tips! I’ve been meaning to join the Chamber of Commerce for forever now. As far as writing for the web, I have been doing that for years now and have yet to find any high-paying clients. I guess I just don’t know where to look for them. Just contact them directly I suppose. Virtual cold-calling. At least no one hangs up on you when you do that. 😉
It is difficult out there, I’ve had to take an office job. Recently, I decided to throw my energy into a novel instead of wasting my time looking for $2 jobs. But thing with that is, a book is more of an investment rather than a 9 to 5. I still freelance here and there but not as much. I’m paying my dues and finding my own path, isn’t that why we’re all here? We’re all experimenting and networking to get ideas that will keep us in the game.
P.S. Writing is worth it, if you’re a writer at heart. The pay usually follows!
Ilija Brajkovic says
I think the easiest way it to start a blog, to gain some “experience” and improve your writing skills.
Tania Mara says
Starting a blog is nearly mandatory nowadays. From time to time I receive inquiries from prospects who’ve visited the blogs where I don’t advertise my writing services. They have no way to know I’m a freelance writer, but still they approve my writing style and contact me to see if I’d be willing to write for them. Thus, blogging may be a profitable activity even when you don’t mean it to be so–that hobby blog of yours can always open the doors for future gigs.
Luke Spencer says
I just started writing a blog about 3 months ago and have acquired quite an addiction to writing (I am not good at it yet). This is an excellent blog to help me with moving forward in the writing profession.
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