Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners: 10 Strategies to Land Your First Job

By Liz Froment •  Updated: 09/05/19 •  13 min read

Here are LR we talk a lot about freelance writing.

There’s a good reason why. In most cases, it tends to be the easiest way to get started. We’ve seen people land their first freelance writing job within a week of joining and reading through the freelance writing blueprint.

But, some people get stuck.

We get it.

Getting started can feel overwhelming. So rather than look at the options, feel lost, and think this isn’t for you — let’s shift gears and talk to the newbies.

Here, we’re going to focus on freelance writing jobs for beginners. If you are right at the start of your freelancing journey, this post is for you.

Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners

Video more your thing? Check out our YouTube version of this post right here:

Before You Start Pursuing Freelance Writing:

Ok before you jump in to your new freelance writing endeavor, you want to do a few things first.

1. Read.

Stary by reading this post on how to become a freelance writer.

It walks you through everything you need to know about becoming a freelance writer. We’re just going to break it down a bit more with beginners in mind.

2. Create some writing samples

This part really stops a lot of people in their tracks.

Don’t let it.

First, look around in your current life.

Have you been writing a blog for fun? Those are writing samples. Have you written a marketing campaign at work? Those are writing samples.

More often than not people think that they have nothing to start with but you might have a head start if you can tap into work you’ve already produced.

If you don’t have samples, you need to create some. Most brands aren’t going to hire you if you can’t show them a bit of writing from the jump.

Don’t overthink this part.

Put your tush in a chair and write a few samples.

They don’t have to be life-changing or the next great American novel. They just have to be pretty good, with no spelling or grammar errors, formatted well, and highlight your writing skills.

3. Have a place to display your samples

The days of using PDF attachments for your samples are pretty much over. You need to have a place to showcase your work.

In most cases, that’s going to be your website.

Learn how to set one up here.

You can use the blog function on your site to toss up a few samples. Just write a couple of blog posts.

If you can’t afford a website setup or the tech is too much for you, try one of these sites.

They are free and will let you put at up at least a few samples. That way you’ll have something to link to.

With that set, now we can look for jobs.

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10 Ways Beginning Freelance Writers Can Land Jobs

These aren’t in any particular order.

In fact, there is a mix here on purpose.

You can’t just rely on one type of marketing to get freelance writing jobs. You need to have a lot of lines in the water where you’re both reaching out and trying to get brands to come to you.

The more of a mix you can do (within reason) the better off you’re going to be in the long term.

And, eventually, you might have more potential clients coming to you for work versus you reaching out to them first.

1. Search job boards

This is the easiest method to get started.

Companies post on job boards because they want to hire someone. You go to a job board because you want to be hired.

A match made in heaven!

There are dozens of job boards out there in many niches. Search through them and apply.

Here are a few tips:

You can find a big list of job boards on this post: Freelance writing jobs online.

Some of my favorites are the ProBlogger, Pangian, and Freelancer job boards.

2. Subscribe to job newsletters

Newsletters are all the rage and there are a bunch that focus on freelance writing jobs.

Seek those out and subscribe to them.

Some are free and others are paid. Usually, the paid newsletters I’ve seen are just a few bucks a month, $5 and under. But that can be worth it if you land a good job.

Here are a few to get you started:

This makes job searching really easy, they show up right in your inbox. Make sure to white list them so they don’t go to spam.

You might want to create a new email address that’s only there to get info from freelance writing job boards and newsletters.

3. Write a targeted guest post

This is more of a strategic play.

You don’t always have to go for the money right away. Instead, you can focus on building a little bit of traction first.

That’s where guest posting comes into play.

Approach a few sites — they don’t have to be the biggest if that’s intimidating — and pitch a few guest post ideas.

Guest posting has a couple of benefits for you: it gives you an automatic portfolio piece to show off to potential clients and gets your name out there.

If you can, try to be strategic about this. Target guest posts on sites that are in the niches you’d like to write about, when it comes time to send out pitches and introductory emails, its a lot easier if you have related samples.

Use this killer guide to guest posting to help you get started.

4. Sign up for content marketing sites

You’ve heard me sing the praises of sites like Contently before, now here’s your chance to sign up for them.

There’s one thing to know before you sign up.

While these sites can offer you good-paying jobs for big-name brands, you can’t search out and apply for those jobs on your own.

How these sites work is you fill out your profile and post your portfolio. Then companies search through the approved writers and look to connect. It’s basically like a giant search engine for writers.

If you nail what the algorithm is looking for in your profile and keywords, and have good samples, you’ll pop up.

So, just keep that in mind. It could take a little while to get work that way.

But, I still think getting your samples up on these sites is something you need to do no matter what.

Here are a few to check out:

You can read more about Contently here.

5. Reach out to marketing agencies

For some people, especially beginning freelance writers, working with an agency is the best of both worlds.

They do the marketing for you and bring you the clients, and you do the work.

If you land with an agency that you like and who likes you then you can get work relatively consistently with a broad range of clients.

That’s great for gaining a lot of on the job experience and building up your portfolio.

One negative of working with agencies is many of them pay by the hour.

For some freelancers, it’s just something that’s a bit more hassle than they want. But you can decide that for yourself.

Here are a few lists of agencies:

All you have to do is send out a very simple (SIMPLE) letter of introduction email. This email should be about 3 sentences long.

You can see a sample in this post.

6. Send cold emails

Boo, no one likes this one.

In an ideal world, you don’t have to spend a ton of time sending cold emails (emails to people you don’t know) but it’s still a method that works at the start.

I take more of a letter of introduction approach. I’ll introduce myself, highlight my niches, list off a few of the brands I’ve worked with, and share 2-3 samples from my portfolio that I think would be good fits.

That’s it.

The entire process should take someone about 2 minutes of their time to read.

You can also send cold pitch emails too. These get sent to brands or editors who are looking for story ideas. You check out their site, come up with a few headlines, and pitch away.

The concept is very similar to a guest post, except you get paid!

Here’s a checklist you can use on your cold emails to make sure they are hitting the mark.

7. Search social media

As much as I love watching videos of very fat seals or babies and puppies on Twitter, it’s good for finding jobs too — if you know where to look.

On Twitter especially entertainment, travel, or news-focused, will send Tweets that they are accepting pitches.

Here are a few examples:

This means anyone can send over a few ideas.

Yes, even you.

Here are a few tips:

You can find a few more places to scour social media for freelance writing work in this post.

8. Create a LinkedIn profile

Yes, I know I already mentioned social media. But LinkedIn is one of the best sites out there for getting work and making connections today.

As I’ve paid more attention to LinkedIn in the past six months or so, I consistently get more contacts who are interested in working together.

In fact, I just signed a contract last week with a client who contacted me off LinkedIn.

Here are a few tips for LinkedIn:

You can learn more about getting your LinkedIn profile up and running with this post.

9. Make friends with other writers

There is this weird misconception that anyone who is doing what you do is competition and thus you should ignore them.

The truth is, that couldn’t be more wrong, especially in the writing world.

So do what you can to make friend with other freelance writers. In my experience, other writers are super helpful and supportive. After all, we all want to see everyone get better clients and earn more money.

Other writers can also give you heads up on clients to avoid and many of the most successful writers will refer clients or jobs to their friends.

I know some writers who make an extra $10,000+ a year just through the referrals of other writers.

Not bad, right?

Here are a few places to befriend other writers:

So make like it’s your first day of kindergarten again, and find some new friends.

10. Write a lot

This is the magic bullet:

I know a lot of writers who get found because they put out a ton of writing. They don’t worry if something gets trending or a lot of likes, they just write.

I did a daily writing practice for over six months, here’s how you can start a daily writing practice.

This isn’t always the fastest way of doing things, which is why you shouldn’t rely on it as your primary method of marketing, but it does work.

Prolific writers who publish content on their blogs or across sites like Medium and LinkedIn can gain a lot of traction and attract clients.

Plus, doing a lot of writing also helps you become a better writer.

You can learn more about how to become a writer here.

What about UpWork or Fiverr?

Yeesh, ok, I’ll cover those.

I avoided these sites and the content mill industry as a whole because they often pay really low. I don’t think you should get paid two cents a word to write a 1,000 word post.

It feels a bit exploitative, non?

Now, that’s not to say people don’t find success with these sites. There are good-paying clients there, they are just hard to find.

So you can dig into these sites, but just know what you’re getting into before you start.

If you want to jump into UpWork knowing that you are going to do a handful of projects for a minimum rate that isn’t peanuts so you can have some portfolio samples to show, then go for it.

Just know that in most cases depending on content mills or UpWork isn’t the best long term strategy for sustaining your writing career.

If you want to see how some people succeeded with UpWork, check out this post.

Ready to start Freelance Writing?

Alright, now you know at least where to start looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners. Use these strategies as your base and go from there.

And if you want more help starting your freelance writing business, check out this post.

Remember, so much of it is just about putting yourself out there and taking action.

If you get stuck, just take the next baby step forward.

You can do it!

Liz Froment

Liz Froment is a full-time freelance writer and the one who keeps Location Rebel running like a well-oiled machine. If she's not writing something informative or witty for her clients, she can most likely be found reading a good book.
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