10 Strategies for Beginners to Land Your first Freelance Writing Jobs

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 09/30/23 •  14 min read

It’s 2023, and you’re finally ready to take the leap and go for it. You want to become a freelance writer.

But you’re stuck on where and how to find freelance writing jobs for beginners.

There’s so much information out there.

It’s overwhelming.

So rather than feel like a failure, and think this isn’t for you — let’s shift gears.

Here, we’re going to focus on what new freelance writers need to know to land jobs.

If you are right at the start of your freelancing journey, this post is for you.

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

What You Need to Start Freelance Writing

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

1. Learn the basics of freelance writing

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.

What we’re doing here is taking some of that post and breaking it down a bit more with beginners in mind.

2. Have a place to display your samples

The days of sending PDF attachments of your samples to clients 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 up a few samples. When you get a potential client, most want to see ‘live samples of your work, so send them links to your portfolio.

3. Create some writing samples

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

Don’t let it.

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.

The easiest way to do it is to use your blog to write samples. Get up a couple of blog posts. If you don’t want to put samples up on your site, you can post to LinkedIn and Medium too.

The important thing to remember is to write with your future client in mind. We share how to create good freelance writing samples in this post.

With that set, now we can look for jobs.

Where Can a Total Newbie Start?

Freelancing is great for beginners, but a few types of freelance writing gigs stand out.

These are:

We dig more into each of these gigs in this post on easy remote writing jobs for beginners.

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10 Ways Beginning Freelance Writers Can Land Jobs

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.

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.

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.

Or there’s the best of all of them, Freelancer’s Friend. Join, and you’ll get an email with high-quality, hand-picked freelance writing jobs available right now every week.

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 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, it’s 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 5-6 sentences long.

6. Send cold emails

Boo, no one likes this one.

And unfortunately, very few people are good at it. In fact, most are terrible.

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. The same goes for LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Reddit.

This means anyone can send over a few ideas.

Yes, even you.

Here are a few tips:

Check out this post on how to use Twitter to find freelance writing work.

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 friends 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 a 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 get online and find some new friends. One of my favorites is #FreelanceChat, which happens every Thursday at Noon eastern.

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 and publish.

That’s the key. You have to write and put stuff out there. See what works and what doesn’t. but don’t let starting hold you back.

Try writing every day, even if it’s just 100 words or for 5 minutes.

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.

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.

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.

And sometimes, on a site like Fiverr, if you think out of the box, you can come up with some fun and cool writing gigs that can bring in some cash.

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.

Should You Work for Free?

A lot of new freelancers ask this question.

There’s always a lot of controversy around this topic, so here’s my answer, with a caveat.

I think it’s ok to work for cheap or free.

But and pay attention to this; you need to have a strategy around it.

That does not mean working for free for anything and everything that comes your way for a year.

It means approaching 3 small businesses in your town and offering to write a handful of blog posts or one welcome email series for free in exchange for the experience, positive testimonial, referral, and potential of being hired.

Those are strategic moves. You put in a very limited amount of free work, but you can get big rewards out of it.

Don’t work for free without having a plan for how you can use that free work to benefit your career and get you moving forward.

Too many new freelancers get caught in a vicious cycle of taking on free or low-paid work without a plan in place to get out of it. Then 6 months later, they’re burnt out but can’t quit because they need to write 40,000 words a week at 3 cents a word to many any sort of income.

Oh, and if that’s you? Here’s how to restart your freelance business successfully:

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.

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!

This post has been updated for accuracy in September 2023

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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