I’m pretty sure you’re going to be disappointed when you read this.
Because the title made you think you’re getting the answer to quick, fast, and easy success.
I’m going to be honest with you.
Although books and blogs like to sell you sexy solutions, the truth is it’s all a marketing ploy to nab your cash.
I know because I fell for it too.
Truthfully, just like there’s no secret to holiday weight loss, there’s no secret to doing well in freelance writing.
Here’s the bottom line:
You want to do well?
You need to leave an imprint on your seat to do it.
Hard work. Time. Energy. That’s the difficult truth.
Just like there’s no real pill to lose weight, (there’s only that hard pill to swallow that it takes exercise and good diet), the only way to a bustling freelance writing business is to work hard.
You need to confront those demons, face those fears, write, write and write again.
That’s it people.
You don’t need to subscribe to a program, add a certain type of text, update your social media sites at certain times of day or buy a book to know that. Those things help. They are the go-to resources to get you started. But rely solely on those things and you will have a lot of good resources collecting dust on your shelf.
Do the work. Get the jobs!
That’s the secret.
Psssttt…Here’s another: You have until the end of this week to win my biggest giveaway yet. Alls you got to do is comment, share or like this post.
Every freelance writer is skilled at something. Maybe you’re a social media whiz or a marketing pro (If so, email me.). Or you’re just savvy with your “born-this-way” natural writing abilities. Bravo! We should all celebrate what we’re good at.
As for me, I think I’ve got a hankering for getting or at least almost getting jobs. Call it years of experience from being a job hopper, but it’s how I was able to get a job as a PI and a RA and graduate with a MFT.
It’s the type of learn-on-the-job info that’s helped me get responses like these:
“You were one of over a hundred applicants for this position.”
“It’s between you and another writer.”
“You got the job!”
All welcome responses writers want to receive especially the last one.
Want to know how I did it? Read on…
1. Remember you’re emailing a real person. This may seem like a given. But surprisingly, it’s not. I’ve also been on the other side of the coin reading applications. Some people think that saying you can do the job are enough to make you want to hire them. But it’s not. If you’re applying for a writing position, write like it. Write you’re a real person writing to another real life person. You don’t have to write like you’re emailing your best friend (in most cases, you shouldn’t). But there is a difference between being professional and personable versus being unprofessional and personal. Which comes to number 2.
2. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential client. You need to think about who your client is, what they are looking for, what would float their boat. And deliver it in a paragraph or so. They want someone who is flexible, motivated, writes in a casual style? Use your letter as your first writing sample to them. Be the one to show, not just tell them what you can do.
3. Remember what your last client loved about you. We’re not always good at knowing our strengths. But if you can remember what your last happy client said about you, you’ll have a good idea. Use this in your letter to express your strengths and how you can use it to help their company succeed.
4. Check all their boxes. When I’m looking to hire someone, I’m looking for certain things, experience being one of them. Yet, I don’t always have a ton of time to read every application thoroughly so I skim through them for years of experience, work-related experience and anything else related to what’s important to me. If you can deliver exactly what the client is looking for by explaining how you’ve spent 10 years in the business, you’ll have already beaten out much of your competition. Which comes to my last tip.
5. Make it easy for them to hire you. A lot of clients who hire me say they were impressed with the amount of work I’ve done and my versatility. I think it’s because I put it all out there and I mentioned it at the very beginning. Because I know that most clients dread searching for the right candidate among hundreds of applications, I try to make my cover letter stand out from the very first sentence and I’ll leave my contact information so that they can get back to me quick. I don’t waste any time going on about my education or my desire to write for them. Those go in there only if it’s relevant and if it is, only at the bottom of my letter. I know I’m going to need to grab the client from the beginning so I’ll hit them with all the reasons why I’m qualified. And if they need more? Here’s my number and contact info.
That’s what has worked for me. How about you? Got any great strategies you’d like to share?
I have to confess. The #1 place I’ve found writing jobs has been from online job boards including Craigslist. Surprised? This could explain why I’ve gotten myself into a few tumbles in the past. But for the most part, it’s been a successful journey. Maybe because I’ve learned job-ese (language of the job ads).
You know like when they say “charming and quaint” in describing a home, they mean “small.” Same thing.
Things to Watch For
I used to read and apply for any job with the word “writer” in it. But now I’m a lot more picky. As you should be too.
Here are a few red flags to look out for:
Asking for too much.
“Create 4-5 copywriting samples based on this description. We’ll look it over and contact you if we’re interested.”
Been there. Done that. And maybe it’s not always a scam, but you need to decide if it’s worth taking a chance. Sometimes companies want free ways to get their cup of copy and use writing samples as their ticket to get it. It’s been done before.
Submit just one sample and send them past samples of their work. This should be enough to let them see what kind of writer you are. If not, move on. You can also try googling the company. That’s how I learned that I wasn’t the first writer an ad requesting free copy fooled. But fool me once…well you know the saying.
Two times is okay. Maybe the company hired a writer and it just didn’t work out. But when you begin to see the same exact ad every few months and it’s for the same position, be very wary. It could mean that they have a high turnover rate because this is a bad company to work for.
Looking for students or recent graduates.
This could mean internships. But in general, it means low-paying jobs.
How about you? Any ads that make you a little skeptical or fooled you in the past?
On Facebook, I asked whether I should create a blog listing all the places I look for freelance writing jobs. At first, I was just curious to know where other writers go. But then, I realized I had a long list of resources and asked whether anyone would be interested in reading that post. Here’s one response I got from a sweet new Facebook friend:
@ Jill Winburn “A post about it would be great! You have been answering my prayers on where to look for work. I am new at this, so this is very helpful. Thanks again for your generosity.”
Didn’t I say she was sweet?!
Well here it is!
Freelance Writing Job Resource List:
Freelance Writing Gigs – Includes a daily job list. I like this one because it provides a location and organizes freelance writing jobs by category. Makes searching easier.
Mediabistro – Some listings on sites are kind of sketchy. Almost all the job leads on here are legit. When people I know get jobs from Mediabistro, I’m in awe. They are really good jobs from reputable companies.
JournalismJobs – Another great site! A feature they just added, which I love is the Freelance Jobs tab and telecommuting as a drop down option. These are all highly “journalistic” jobs so you won’t find blogging jobs (at least I haven’t found any).
Problogger – Speaking of which, this is the site to go if you’re looking for professional blogging jobs. I’ve gotten several leads and at least a few blogging jobs.
WriteJobs – There’s not much on this list. But every once in awhile you may find a jewel.
Craigslist – I know Craigslist can be sketchy, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve gotten a lot of jobs from there. And some really good ones at that!
Careerbuilder – You might think Careerbuilder is too big of a job search company to help you find freelance writing jobs. But actually you can filter your search and Careerbuilder has a system that sends you job recommendations based on the gigs you’ve searched for before.
Gorkana – Sign up with this website to get daily newsletters with jobs and recommended Twitterati. A cool and free service!
@writersjobs – One of my favorite Twitter resources for jobs in my area.
@socialmediagigs – They tend to list their job resources in bunches, which I sort of don’t like. But they have a lot of choices.
@sfbayjobs – Love this one too! Basically, it’s jobs on Craigslist, but they always find ones that I didn’t see on my own CL search.
These are just really places to start. I think networking and referrals are best. And second to that is doing a Google Reader search or a Google Alert, which saves and sends you articles and blogs by keywords like “freelance writing jobs”. That’s my secret, anyway.
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