You know you want to write for a living but how do you find people willing to pay you for it? Like this.
You know you want to write—you already write—but how in the world do you find people willing to pay you for it?
They’re out there, I can assure you of that, and there are ways to approach them. If you’re wondering where the jobs are, here’s your to do list. Repeat it often and if you’re not working as much as you’d like, repeat most of it daily until you are.
#1 — Reply to Ads on Job Boards
Don’t catalog possible opportunities for later; find a job you qualify for and immediately compose and send an email. This is what I call rinse and repeat marketing. Guess what you do next? Yup, find another job and send another email.
There are a number of job boards worth bookmarking, both paid and free, that you can check daily for job postings. There are also daily newsletters of job listings that you can subscribe to. Two of my favorites are Morning Coffee News (free) and Write Jobs Plus (requires small donation).
Before responding to these job postings, at least give a cursory glance at the websites you’re applying to write for. Better yet, follow this checklist. You might also apply for writing gigs that aren’t content. There’s technical writing, recipes, editing and proofreading, sales copy, summaries, product descriptions, social media composure, and grant writing. Read the guidelines carefully and show that you can follow directions.
Of course, it will help your chances (and your image) if you have a professional website where these prospective clients can view samples of your writing or follow links to your clips. A resume that highlights your writing experience is also a must.
#2 — Pitch Article Ideas
It’s also possible to pitch websites, magazines, and other publications that accept unsolicited submissions with article ideas you’d like to write for them. There’s no one tried-and-true way to write a winning query but there are elements that almost all successful pitches include, on top of strong writing.
There are a number of ways to find places to submit your article ideas. Of course, Paid Write has a hefty list of both paying and non-paying markets, as well as a list of markets just for beginners, but you’ll also find lists on other writer sites.
Performing an internet search with your subject and the words submission guidelines can also unearth some amazing possibilities. Try different phrases to describe your niche for the best results. For instance, you might search healthy living submission guidelines as well as fitness submission guidelines and organic submission guidelines. Try different variations until you find some pitch-worthy publications, but be sure to do your research before you pitch!
#3 — Market Yourself As A Writer For Hire
While this isn’t a direct route to work, you can’t expect clients to find you or know who you are if you’re not marketing yourself and your writing services. At the very minimum, you should have your own site, self-hosted or not, to display links to your clips and testimonials. If you need help with this, I’m happy to walk you through designing a professional freelance writing site.
But marketing yourself as a writer isn’t limited to your own website, either. Plenty of freelancers have had success using social media to market their services. LinkedIn is the obvious platform for this, since it’s a professional networking site, but putting yourself out there on Facebook or Twitter can also help you become recognized as a professional writer.
#4 — Hit Your Local Newsstand
In the technologically advanced workplace of remote positions and email submissions, checking your local newsstand may seem like a regressive step in finding writing work but I assure you, this is exactly how I started writing professionally. Though the word newsstand might be misleading.
Keep an eye out for free, local publications. These are many times found on racks in less-than-corporate grocery stores, coffee shops, micro brewpubs, and waiting rooms. I recently picked up a copy of a local family-activity publication in the office while dropping the kids off at school. I found a free women’s business publication at a small grocery a few days later.
Flip through your growing collection of local publications for article ideas to pitch to them. You may also want to visit the offices of your local paper. Many large cities have rural and alternative papers that can be easier to break into than the larger newspapers, especially if you’re lacking a journalism degree. Email the appropriate editor with samples of your work (and a link to your professional website) or stop in and ask for an appointment. These small publications are usually less formal than their corporate counterparts and you might find yourself seated across from the chief editor within moments.
If you don’t have any writing samples (or clips) yet, don’t be discouraged. There are ways to get published without them. If you have collected your first clips, it’s time to get marketing! Set a goal for how many emails and queries you will send each week, or even each day. Then crush it—and keep an eye on your inbox.
Checking your email is so much more exciting when you could find an acceptance note from an editor or client!