Rethinking Your Freelance Writing Job Strategy

So you’ve been searching for freelance writing jobs for several months or more and so far haven’t yet landed a gig.  Though it’s a competitive market, good writers should still not have too many problems finding work within a couple of months. There are so many opportunities available during this time, it shouldn’t be too difficult for someone with talent and good writing samples to earn a living. Still many aspiring freelance writers are frustrated because they’re not landing any lucrative gigs, or even gigs at all.

If you’ve been job seeking for some time and you’re still not finding work, perhaps you need to rethink your strategy.

Looking for Work in All the Wrong Places

Let’s explore the places where you’re looking for work and types of work you’re seeking.

If you look at the same job board each day or the same types of jobs each day and you’re not yielding positive results, consider expanding your search or rethinking your goals. For example, if you’re a brand new writer and you’re only applying to mid- or senior- level writing opportunities, consider adding some entry level gigs as well. If anything, landing a lower payer will allow you to earn as you seek out some of the more lucrative gigs. Visit a variety of job boards. Explore the different types of opportunities.

Don’t feel you have to be married to one particular form of writing. Explore magazine writing, blogging, writing copy for websites and other opportunities.  You might also consider ghostwriting, ebooks, brochures and product reviews. Your heart may be set towards one type of writing but there’s no shame in trying a cocktail of opportunities, at least to get your foot in the door.

Getting Off On the Wrong Foot

Remember that commercial from the 80’s, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?” No? Just me then. Alrighty…

Recently I recommended a friend of mine for a job and he didn’t get the gig. This was surprising to me because he’s a very good writer. When my client mentioned the writer had great credentials but the writing sample wasn’t very strong, my friend was able to resubmit. The second sample was much better and he landed the gig. The types of samples we send in make a difference. They should be relevant and well written. Choosing any old bit of writing doesn’t always work in our favor. Be careful when choosing writing that you feel is representative of you and your voice.

First impressions matter so much. Consider your cover letter, inquiry or application. You might not be finding work because your of an error that might not be obvious to your eye. If you’re not sure if you’re making a good impression, ask another writer to give your cover letter and samples a look-see. Someone else might find something you’re missing.

Finding the “Non-Advertised” Freelance Writing Jobs

There’s a lot of competition for job board gigs, but some of the best opportunities are advertised. Do you know where to find them? You can’t always wait for the gigs to come to you. If you really want to land some terrific freelance writing jobs, sometimes you have to ask.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Contact local businesses
  • Search the web for “write for us” pages
  • Contact webmasters

Here’s one of my favorite tips: Go to a job board such as and search for “freelance writer.” Besides the freelance writing jobs, jobs containing the words “freelance writing” in the description will also turn up. These can be editing, proofreading, project management and other gigs….but guess what? These gigs tell you the companies placing the ad hire freelance writers. Reach out to those places and query about opportunities.

Consider Your Marketing Strategy

What do you mean you don’t have a marketing strategy?

See, when you market yourself as a freelance writer, you’re creating an interest around your name and your brand. For example, though not its original purpose, this blog is a great marketing tool and I’ve landed many clients who found me simply by landing here. My business cards are also marketing tools as are my speaking engagements. Anything that cements my expertise and puts me on the radar is a marketing tool. Having a heavy online presence made all the difference for me. If you’re not landing any gigs, think about how to better market yourself as a freelance writer.

Maybe the Freelance Writing Life Isn’t For You

Tough love time.

If you’ve been trying to land a gig for months and all you’re getting is rejection, consider if this is what you’re truly destined to do. If writing is hard for you, and even the simplest of freelance writing jobs bore you, maybe it’s time to re-think you’re professional goals.  Not everyone is cut out for the writing life. If you’re landing work or not enjoying what you do, perhaps the freelance writing life isn’t for you.

Talk to us…

What are some of the reasons a writer’s career might not be taking off and how would you remedy that?


6 responses
  1. Charles Avatar

    I’ve only been in the game for a few weeks. I’ve made a little money on Associated Content and eHow, but I am really looking for better paying gigs. I apply for just about everything I see, but I have yet to land a gig.

    I really need to figure out if I am doing something wrong.

  2. Matt Avatar

    I figure the “Law of Averages” comes into effect here as well. If you’re only querying gigs at the rate of two or three per week then it may be time to revamp. Personally, if I don’t write twenty queries per week and then follow-up, my writing well dries up quickly.

    I’ve also learned that the market is pretty large, and if you’re a versatile writer then there is work to be found. If you’re stuck in a niche or dead-set on a style of writing then perhaps expanding your horizons will better your search.

    Just my two cents.
    .-= Matt´s last blog ..Be Still =-.

  3. LIsa Avatar

    Bottom line (perhaps more tough love?): it is easiest to get freelance writing gigs if you have experience and clips to show that you’re a talented writer.

    My personal advice: get the clips first.

    What does that mean? It could mean a stretch writing for content mills. It could mean volunteering to write for a non-profit’s newsletter. It could be low-paying articles for your local paper.

    While you build your credentials, you will not be making much money. So don’t quit your day job. If you already have, consider working for the census while you build up your list of clips.

    It will be very, very tough to get well-paid freelance writing opportunities until you are a writer. So get writing, ASAP!


  4. Dawn Gordon Avatar

    I am getting frustrated with freelancing to be honest. It is not a lack of interest what so ever. I am even published on a News Site, I am getting sick and tired of pay pal being forced down our throats as I am seeing.

    I was also turned down from Demand Studios, yet I am on a news site? Another lady on twitter, books published…yet she was turned down from Demand..
    .-= Dawn Gordon´s last blog ..#Life #Work #writing =-.

  5. Kevin Avatar

    I have found that it is pretty easy to get hired to do freelance writing, especially if it is something that you are passionate about and have experience (writing samples) doing.

    I have applied for a total of probably three freelance gigs in my life and nailed two of them. The issue on one of those was payment. They wanted to defer payment until my contract was over – after the baseball season. And they gave me no indication as to what the payment might be.

    Is this common? Anyone else have this experience?
    .-= Kevin´s last blog ..Dear Inspiring Writers: =-.

    1. LIsa Avatar

      Kevin – not sure if it’s common, but it’s absolutely unacceptable!! Even if you’re willing to wait for a check (and personally I don’t recommend it), you should ALWAYS know what you’ll be making (either as a project fee or by the hour). And with a new client: GET A CONTRACT. You can write up a one-pager, or ask them for their standard boilerplate and tweak it. But you and they should have an agreement in writing. This is not just a legal issue: it’s the best way to be sure you’re on the same page relative to just who’s doing what for whom, by when, for how much!


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