How to Land Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners

freelance writing jobs for beginners

Freelance writing is hard. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s ripe for rejections. When you’re starting out, it can seem daunting, but here’s the thing: people do it. You just need to know where to look to find freelance writing jobs for beginners and then you’ve got to land them.

Writer Tiffany Hahn says to shoot for 100 rejections a year. If you are a beginning freelancer, treasure this advice. It is a gold nugget. Why? Because each rejection brings you closer to a submission. It is masochistic. But, hey, so is beginning a writing career. I have nothing to compare it to other than diving off of something very tall into something very cold. To the rest of the world, that sounds horrible, but if writing is your dream, this is your type of crazy. How you look at this self-inflicted career path matters.
Like all good (or horrible) things, your writing career begins in a dark and terrible place. In modern Internet culture, it is hard to distinguish a good foundation from a black hole of failure. Freelance writing jobs for beginners will always toe this line. You are going to fail. And that is okay. If you fail long enough, you learn how to succeed.

Where are the Actual Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners?

Content mills

Peruse the lists of jobs that never seem to end. Some may even be attractive. You may be salivating over the opportunities until you see how much they pay. Don’t you dare look for something lucrative. Odds are, you will not find it. Most of the pieces you will find, save for the occasional gem job, are intended for writers seeking extra pennies, or the cringe-worthy lure of ‘exposure.’

In reality, you will be faceless. You will not find your career in these pages. Instead, look at each assignment as an opportunity. It is important to build your portfolio and references at this juncture. Remember, you have nowhere to go but up and 100 rejections waiting to greet you along the way. How exciting! Allocate 10% of your hunt and writing, respectively to the content mills. Alternatively, let it crush you 10% of the time. Whichever way you want to look at it.

Lucrative Job Boards

Believe it or not, LinkedIn, Fiverr, Freelance Writers Den and of course, The Writer’s Job Board are great resources when searching for freelance writing jobs for beginners. Hundreds of people will apply for every job you click or pitch but here’s the secret: 40% of the time, someone will look at your profile, leading them to your resume and, hopefully, your portfolio. People will follow you. If you build everything right, people will remember you. Sites that pay well exist and so do long-standing clients. This may not be your career builder, but it is a great stepping-stone with real opportunities. I dedicate 30-40% of my time on these sites.

Land the Local, Unlikely Gig

My first gig was a ghostwriting job, same as many writers, but I was not writing Amazon short stories. An attorney hired me to write his papers for continuing education courses. From there, I wrote his presentation speeches for conferences, teaching curriculum, opening statements, and closing arguments. They gave me a chance to put on my big kid pants and flex my twenty-two-year-old muscles. It was fun. It took 1000% of my time, but now I have a killer resume to show for it. I know this is an unusual situation, but when searching for freelance writing jobs for beginners, unusual is common. Everyone needs web content, copywriters, editors and a good third eye. Keep your ear to the ground.

Now, How Do You Get the Job?

1. Put together a portfolio

This is the ultimate chicken/egg issue. How do you get a portfolio without jobs and how do you get jobs without a portfolio? If LinkedIn or local gigs do not pan out, wring your hands over those content mills. It can be brutal, but again, it is about perspective. Your options are slim unless you choose stagnation. In which case, writing is not for you. Pick a new dream. When it comes to your portfolio, diversification is your friend. This will take time. I was lucky. My ghostwriting job glittered my resume with technical pieces as well as creative storytelling fit for fiction and white-collar clients. Try to sprinkle everything into your portfolio. You will be more employable.

2. Separate the resume builders from the time wasters

Beware: Beginner freelance writing jobs breed scams. I just spent half an article telling you to take the crappy jobs because they will work out in the long run. Now I am going to back-peddle. Here are some things you should know before committing to anything:

  • Have a contract. Research reasonable terms, know your limits and stick to them.
  • Make sure they have looked at your portfolio. If they contact you, that is great! If they contact you without reading your writing, something may be wrong. Just a hunch.
  • Clarify all expectations. Know the parameters of the job, or lack thereof. Do they require a format or style? Will they expect rounds of re-writes that deviate from the original assignment?

Bottom line: communication is key. Do not hurt your career because of a misunderstanding and do not let someone swindle you with vague assignments. It is not pleasant.

3. Stand Out

My cover letter is sassy. It sells who I am as a writer. I do not hide myself in my cover letter, and it certainly doesn’t begin with “why am I the best fit for the job.” My writer’s voice is flexible and snarky. I do this to prove I am not a one-trick pony. This puts a personality to a name, which is vital. You are a writer. However, so is everyone else on the planet with an Internet connection. It is akin to shouting in a room where everyone is screaming.

4. Write a Pitch Like a Boss

Read everything. Make sure you know exactly what a client wants. Don’t stray. If they say send two samples, you send them two samples. If they say send a 500-word analysis of what the article will be, you give a stylized, anatomical view of your dream article. Be your best self in 500 words.

5. Sell Yourself

Brag. Just do it. It is painful. Most people do not like to puff their chests, and  -those that do are agitating on their best days. However, be that person for the sake of the job. The pitchee does not want to be your friend. They want your words. I am a market analyst, ghostwriter, story consultant, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, blogger, copywriter and how-to writer. I feel like a fraud writing that sentence. Being an older millennial, I finally (with shame in full bloom) understand #humblebrag. Somehow, the jobs keep coming. How does the old song go? If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

To some degree, you will always be a beginner. We all are. It is the nature of the beast: the Internet is a moving, breathing thing. And next time you fail, do yourself a favor and enjoy it. You are just that much closer to success.

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Katy Andersen

Katy Andersen is a contributor with Misfit Publishing, a platform for short stories and multimedia artists. She writes, reads, runs, makes theater, trips over things and burns dinner.

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