If you are new to freelance writing, where do you find your first client? That depends on your situation. Your options will be different, depending on whether you are transitioning to freelancing from a full-time job that involves writing or you are starting your business up from scratch. You can find freelance writing clients in places you may not automatically think of, so read on for some ideas.
One question freelance writers have is where to find clients. The good news is that potential clients are everywhere. Once you get in the mindset that everyone you meet could be a potential client, you will start to see opportunities for your business that didn’t exist before. Here are some places where you can find freelance work:
There is perhaps no other topic in the freelance writing world that generates more controversy than the concept of writers writing for free. Bring it up and lines in invisible sand are drawn, commenting spikes and in the case of Harlan Ellison, a few F-bombs are dropped.
It’s understandable. Shady publishers and editors prey on vunerable writers who want to see their names in print. Writers are constantly burned by “write for free now and earn later” promises in which “later” never comes.
However, in the angry buzz of the debate something gets lost. Choice and education. There will always be writers who consider using their talent without traditional compensation. Instead of helping writers make informed decisions, we as a community often take the abstinence-only approach – IT’S WRONG, NEVER DO IT.
Is it really free?
The first step to weighing a work-for-free option is to look at whether the project has any compensation opportunities. Writers work in exchange for items and services all the time. A little web content work in exchange for a new website. A little PR work in exchange for lessons from a yoga studio.
Just be sure that you follow three simple rules when bartering services:
- Set clear boundaries. Define the services you will provide and the services or products you expect in return. This prevents misunderstandings and keeps either party from taking advantage of the “freebie” situation.
- Determine cost. It should be expected that your standard rates are used for services you provide.
- Put it in writing. This is not only helpful for tax and business record purposes, it makes the transaction official and binding.
Is it for the greater good?
Wielding a hammer may not be some people’s idea of how they want to volunteer, but wielding a keyboard may feel just right. Providing writing services to help a charity or organization is a good thing. Sweating over a keyboard or a hot stove both take time and effort and each can be a great help to someone in need.
Are you prepared for the lack of payoff?
Writing for exposure. *Sigh* That’s a tricky one. Certain publications swear by it, but when their blog only reaches 12 people and four of those are family members, the “exposure” doesn’t help a writer one bit. Then you have the Huffington Post model: huge reach and definite opportunities for exposure. However, when the publication makes a deal for a large sum of money, whether it’s for advertising or through the sale of the blog, there will be writers who feel slighted when left out of the monetary windfall.
There is, of course, the possibility that exposure may never come. Before you get into an “exposure” deal,
- Use metrics to define success. How many blog hits, how many subsequent work requests, book sales, etc.
- Recognize and get comfortable with not being able to eat, spend or pay bills with exposure. Exposure has to translate into dollars through other avenues to be successful.
- Have a time limit and exit strategy. Give the exposure enough time to produce results, but have an end date in place if it doesn’t show signs of panning out.
Can you afford to do it?
Whether working in exchange for goods and services, as a volunteer or for “exposure,” carefully weigh the costs of the commitment. There are time costs, including time away from other business-growing opportunities, i.e. querying, working on gigs for other clients, etc. There are also actual costs: electricity, Internet, the standard writing rate… This is one of those tough choices that a writer has to make from a business perspective, especially if the project will be ongoing.
Most of the time I’m against writing for free. It distracts writers from doing things that can both further their careers and enable them to pay bills. Writing for experience can be accomplished while making money – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are, however, situations in which free can work out for writers though they are not as common as “job” listings would have you believe. It’s a personal, business decision that should be made with research and with realistic expectations.
Have you written for “free?” Why or why not? What other things should writers consider when weighing a non-traditional pay option?
I’m not opposed to finding work via advertisements or “help wanted” listings. I’ve never been a fan of the bid boards, but I know they work for some people. I know that countless writers benefit from the job listings here at FWJ.
However, I don’t spend a lot of time tossing my hat into the ring with hundreds of other applicants for advertised writing positions. I’ll do it occasionally when a particular call for a writer really appeals to me, but it’s not my preferred way of generating business.
I know there are plenty of writers out there who would really like to be busier, so I thought I’d talk about an approach that has worked for me. It’s not revolutionary or anything, but it doesn’t seem to get as much attention as other strategies. I like creating my own gigs.
Here’s the plan, in its simplest form:
- Find someone who has a great product or idea–something that’s right in your wheelhouse or in which you see remarkable potential.
- Think about how your skills could help them.
- Pitch them.
Example One: Occasionally, I’ll watch press releases roll along the river of a popular distribution site’s RSS feed. I’ll look for releases that involve interesting topics or ideas. I’ll pay close attention to those that evidence a need for a much better copywriter. The contact information is right there on the release. The pitch is simple in terms of offering them more effective releases and it doesn’t take long to investigate their web presence and to see what else they might need.
Example Two: Have you ever been searching for something that you wanted or needed and then discovered a real diamond in the rough of a website? Of course, you have. When I find these sites, I will follow up with the owners, telling them how we might be able to work together to improve their business.
I know. It’s pretty simple.
But here’s the interesting thing… It works.
You might think that the percentage of contacts that turn into business would be minimal. That’s not the case. The conversion numbers are surprisingly good. I’m relatively sure that my contact/conversion rate in these situations is higher than most people’s success rate when responding to “writers wanted” ads.
I believe that one reason writers aren’t in higher demand is our collective shortcoming in marketing our gifts and their value. We have a tendency to wait until people see a need for us when we should be telling them why we’re so damned valuable. When you’re rainmaking, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
The trick, of course, is the pitch. You need to be able to show value to the prospective client. You need to demonstrate an understanding of what they seem to be trying to accomplish as well as a vision for what they should be trying to accomplish. You need to make yourself accessible and to let them know that you’re friendly, helpful and something other than a moneysucking mercenary with a keyboard.
I generally make contact with an email. I’ll follow up with a phone call. It’s not a chore. It’s fun. After all, I’m not hoping to find an ad for a job that would be tolerable. I’m isolating opportunities that interest and excite me.
Give it a shot. Take some time to find someone who isn’t necessarily looking for you but who could really use your skills. Pitch ’em. See what happens. You might be surprised.
We’re sharing cooking and food markets for you at Freelance Writing Jobs today. I researched each market to the best of my ability and as of February 2010, these are accurate and current. If I found a link to current guidelines, I included them. Otherwise, I listed contact information so you could request current submission guidelines from the market. I only posted a market if it was indicated that they’re accepting freelance submissions at this time.
Please be sure to familiarize yourself with back copies of the various markets and read all guidelines thoroughly to be sure you’re a good fit for the market and you can provide the right voice and slant.
- Bon Appetit: Pays $100+. 50% freelance written. Query editors for full guidelines.
- Chile Pepper – Pays $600 (minimum). 70% freelance written. The focus is on spicy foods. Contact [email protected] for complete guidelines.
- Food Safety Magazine – Unspecified pay. Please see online guidelines.
- Fresh Magazine – Supermarket chain-based magazine. Payment varies and stories are assigned four to six months in advance. Please see online guidelines.
- QSR Magazine – A magazine for those in the quick service restaurant (read: fast food) industry. Unspecified pay. Please see online gudielines.
- Relish Magazine – Food magazine insert found in newspapers. Payment varies. Please see online guidelines.
- Sauce Magazine – Looking for food-related essays. Unspecified pay. Please see online guidelines.
- Southern Food Magazine – Unspecified pay. Please see online guidelines.
- Tea A. Magazine – Pay is negotiable. 75% freelance written. Query for complete guidelines.
- Wine Enthusiast – Pays $750 – $2500. 40% freelance written. Please see online guidelines and editorial calendar.
- Wine Press Northwest – Pays $300. 50% freelance written. Contact Managing Editor Eric Degerman at [email protected] for complete guidelines.
If you successfully query any of these markets or wish to share pitching or querying tips, please sharein the comments. Don’t miss our other posted markets:
- 11 Environmental Markets
- 19 Grants for Writers and Other Creative Types
- 15 Greeting Card Markets
- 19 Parenting Markets
- 21 Poetry Markets
- 40 Freelance Writing Markets Paying $100 or More
- 40 More Freelance Writing Markets Paying $100 or More
- 43 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
- 50 Places That Hire Freelance Writers
- 47 Places to Find Telecommute Jobs
Lots of good luck to you!
Today we’re offering up some parenting markets.
We’ve been listing magazine markets and other writing guidelines this week and many valid questions are being raised. For example, how do I know these markets accept freelancers, and also, how do I know the pay rate is what they say it is?
It’s simple, I did some research. Research that’s easy enough for every single freelance writer to do if he or she wishes to write for certain markets. I looked up many markets on the web and, also, backed them up with a copy of the Writer’s Market – the 2010 edition. If some of the markets were still a little fuzzy with the details, I emailed or called to verify. If the market accepts freelance pitches, they’re more than happy to email current guidelines.
If you query any of these parenting markets and learn my details aren’t correct, please let me know so I can make any necessary adjustments. However, as of January 2010, these markets appear to be accurate.
When researching markets online, always consider how long ago each market may have been posted. If you’re unsure of whether or not they’re current, go to the library and confirm by checking the current Writer’s Market or contact the editors for up to date guidelines. If you’re reading this two years from now, the parenting markets listed here will offer a starting point.
As always, familiarize yourself with several back issues before querying any market.
19 Parenting Markets
- BabyCorner.com – Parenting Web Magazine – Pays .02 – .04 per word. Online guidelines.
- Bay State Parent – . Pays $60 – $100. Hyperlocal market only. Query: [email protected] or [email protected] at least two published clips.
- Brain Child – Pays a “modest” fee. Please see online guidelines.
- Charlotte Parent – Pays $15 – $75. Freelance contributions welcome. Please see online guidelines.
- Chicago Parent – Pays $25 – $300. 60% freelance written. Query for current guidelines at [email protected].
- Children’s Advocate – Pays $225 – $450 for assigned articles. 60% freelance written. Contact for complete guidelines.
- Dabbling Mum – Pays up to $120.00
- Family – Pays $10 – $200. For Central NJ parents. 75% freelance written. Contact for full guidelines.
- Hudson Valley Parent – Pays $25 – $120. 75% freelance written. Please see online guidelines.
- Island Parent – Pays $35. 98% freelance written. For Vancouver parents, please see online guidelines.
- Kid’s Life Magazine – Pays $20 – $25. Query for guidelines at [email protected]
- Indy’s Child – Pays .10 – .12/word. Please see online guidelines.
- Mothering – Pays $200 – $500. Please see online guidelines. Accepts unsolicited submissions.
- Parent Guide – Pays $25 – $150. Please see online guidelines.
- Plum Magazine – Pregnancy publication for women over 35. Pays .75 – $1.00/word. 90% freelance written.
- San Diego Parent – Pays $22 – $90. Query for full guidelines. 100% freelance written.
- Sonoma Family Life – Pays .08.word. Please see online guidelines.
- Today’s Parent: Pregnancy & Birth – Pays up to $1/word. 100% freelance written. Please see online guidelines.
- Working Mother – The only guidelines I can find are from 2009, with no mention of pay. I’m still waiting to hear back from the editors, but you can try on your own using the online guidelines in the mean time.
As always, let us know if you successfully pitched any of these markets. If you have any tips for the FWJ community, please post them in the comments. If you like these markets, maybe you’ll also enjoy some of this week’s other offerings:
- 19 Grants for Writers and Other Creative Types
- 40 More Freelance Writing Markets Paying $100 or More
- 21 Poetry Markets
- 75 “Write for Us” Pages
- 16 Greeting Card Markets
- Plus don’t miss our regular Monday Writing Markets.
Image via stock xchnge
Our list of freelance writing markets paying over $100 per article was such a success, I thought I’d research a few more for you.
These freelance writing markets are all current, and , if I could, I added a link to their guidelines page. If no link or online guidelines were found, I added whatever information I could gather so you at least have a place to begin with contacting the editors for current guidelines and submission policies.
May 2010 be the year you prosper and profit!
Unless linked to full guidelines, please contact the publication directly for complete guidelines before querying. Also, before querying, please take the time to read through several back issues to familiarize yourself with the magazine’s tone and style and to ensure you’re a good fit. One of the biggest pet peeve of magazine editors are blind queries where the writer knows nothing about the market. Because buying all those past issues isn’t very cost-effective, I usually browse back copies at the library.
40 MORE Freelance Writing Markets Paying $100 or More
- AAA Living – Pays $150 – $1800/assigned article
- American Kennel Club Gazzette – Pays $300 – $500 per article. Scroll down for email address to request guidelines.
- America’s Civil War – Pays $300+.
- Art Calendar – Pays $250.
- Astronomy – Pays $100 – $1000
- Auto Pilot Magazine – Pays $100. Contact for guidelines.
- Baby Talk Magazine – Pays $500 – $2,000. Query by mail to 530 5th Avenue, NY NY 10036 and be sure to include a SASE.
- Bee Culture – Pays $100 – $250
- Bike Magazine – Pays .50/word. Follow contact info for guidelines.
- Blade Magazine – Pays $200 – $300. Contact for current guidelines.
- Bridal Guide – Pays 50/word. I’d query for more comprehensive guidelines.
- Broken Pencil – Pays up to $100 – $400.
- Business Traveler – Pays .50/word. Contact for guidelines.
- Car & Driver – Pays $750 – $3,000 per article. Send email to [email protected]
- Chidren’s Advocate – Pays $225 -$450. Contact for guidelines.
- Chile Pepper – Pays $600. Contact for current guidelines.
- Credit Today – Pays $200 – $1400.
- Dance Teacher – Pays $100 – $300. Try emailing [email protected] to request guidelines.
- Discovery Channel Online – Pays $1/word.
- Dog Fancy – Pays .40/word
- International Living – Pays $100 – $500
- Family Fun – Pays $1.25/word.
- Family Motor Coaching Magazine – Pays $100 – $500. Contact for guidelines
- Her Sports – Pays $200 – $600 per assigned article.
- Kitchen and Bath Design News – Pays $200 – $650. Contact for current guidelines.
- Laptop Magazine – Pays $150 – $1250. Contact for guidelines.
- The Meeting Professional – Pays .50 – .75/word for assigned articles.
- Minnesota Conservation Volunteer – .50/word.
- National Parks Magazine – Pays $1300 for features and travel articles.
- The Network Journal – Pays $150 – $200. Pitch career articles or articles related to business.
- New York Spirit – Pays $150
- Northwest Travel – Pays $100 – $500
- On Wall Street – Pays $1/word. Contact for guidelines.
- Persimmon Hill – Pays $150 – $300
- Robb Report – Pays $1.oo/word.
- Romantic Homes – Pays $500. Contact for guidelines.
- Snafu Designs – Greeting card market. Pays $100/idea. Guidelines at info@snafuguidelines.
- This Old House – Pays $1 per word. I’m not sure how old these online guidelines are as they’re from another site, so I’d contact for fresh guidelines.
- Threads – Pays $150/page. Contact for current guidelines.
- Wine Enthusiast – query by sending email to [email protected] – Pays $750 – $2000
If you found this useful, you might also be interested in reading:
- 75 “Write for Us” Pages
- 21 Poetry Markets
- 16 Greeting Card Markets
- Our regular Monday Writing Markets listings
…stay tuned. More spefic market lists are coming up in the upcoming days and weeks!! Hopefully all our markets lists will give you a good idea of the variety of opportunities available for freelance writers in 2010.
Please offer your comments, thoughts and suggestions regarding this and our other markets lists. As always, if you have tips for pitching or if you landed a gig from one of our lists, please let us know.
Edited to add: A member of the FWJ community asked how I/we know these sources are open to freelancers, if the pay rate is accurate, etc. Please be assured I researched each opportunity using a variety of online and offline resources including the Writer’s Market, online guidelines and I even made a phone call or two. As of January 2010 these listings are accurate.
UPDATED FEBRUARY 2016
When you are thinking about freelance writing markets, how many of you think about writing greeting cards to make money? Greeting card markets often get overlooked in favor of writing for the web, copywriting, submitting queries to magazines and other ways to generate income.
I started freelance writing and blogging (though we didn’t call it that back then) in 2000. Which means I ‘ve been doing this for close to a decade. In the time I’ve been online, I’ve seen it all. I’ve hired writers, worked for people who hired writers, and even critiqued resumes and cover letters for the folks who want to be hired by the people who hire writers.