How I Got 4 Great Freelance Writing Gigs From Job Ads

Editor

Applying for freelance writing gigsBy Allen Taylor

You may have heard that there are never any good freelance writing gigs advertised in the online writing job boards. But that hasn’t been my experience.

In just the past four months, I’ve landed four solid new clients by trolling the ads on two key boards. Here’s how:

Where I looked

I joined Freelance Writers Den on October 22, 2013, and immediately dove into the Den’s Junk-Free Job Board. It’s a compilation of the best-paying listings culled from dozens of sources including FlexJobs, along with referrals from Carol and from other Den members. The board also has unique listings from employers who find the Den on search.

In six weeks in November and December, I worked the Den board and Problogger’s job ads. That’s all. I applied to more than 30 jobs.

I kept cover letters brief and to the point, highlighting critical skill areas required by employers in their ads.

Reaping multiple benefits

I saw three immediate benefits to applying:

  1. An increase in targeted traffic to my website
  2. Exposure for my personal brand
  3. Valuable feedback on my background and experience

Personal branding was big for me — each of the people I emailed about potential jobs saw my signature line with my website and phone number, even if they didn’t hire me.

Feedback sometimes came in the form of rejection, but often the positive kind.

One contact resulted in a phone interview. I was nudged out by a candidate with more experience in the critical required skill, but the interviewer let me know my skills and background were impressive. That was a real confidence boost.

Getting results

Of course, the best response is getting the job. And I got four of them:

  • Case studies on attorneys’ social-media practices for a legal publishing firm at 30 cents a word.
  • Two articles per month on creative ways retirees can supplement their income for a personal-finance blog.
  • Starting next month, I’ll be writing creative passages for English as a Second Language assessments for an educational-tools company.
  • Legal news articles for a consumer-rights news site at $135 apiece.

You can do it, too

Here’s what I learned from prowling these online job boards an average of 30 minutes each day:

  • Diligence and persistence pay off. One of my new clients pays four times my normal pay rate for similar services.
  • Address the skills/keywords requested. I got far more positive responses when I did this. Even if your background doesn’t exactly match what a potential employer is looking for, show how you fit their needs. For instance, one employer mentioned that I had no direct legal writing samples (I do, but they’re in print) though he was impressed with my experience writing on Internet marketing topics.
  • Include a resume unless specifically asked not to. I think if you have enough experience in a particular type of writing, a resume may not be necessary, especially if you have writing samples on your website.
  • Have a ‘Hire Me’ page. On this page, I list writing samples by category and links to PDF documents or websites where those samples are published.
  • Create templates. I did mine right in my e-mail application, so I didn’t have to keep writing the same thing over and over again.

Sure, there are plenty of low-ball ads out there.

But if you look in the right places and approach ads the right way, job boards can be a useful resource for building — or growing — a freelance writing portfolio.

Gotten any good writing clients off job boards? Tell us how you scored in the comments.

Allen Taylor has been a commercial blog manager since 2006. He now also creates premium authority content and helps independent authors create e-books at Taylored Content.

The Freelance Writers Den: Enter Here

38 Comments

  1. Keri McDaniel

    I would like to get started doing some freelance writing. I have never really done it before. I have my Masters in IT with over 10 years experience and undegrad in Psychology (Social Services). I have worked in a school setting for about 6 years and in the last year working with an educational program for an intervention classes in Language Arts. I align work to be done in the program with the common core that they are learning in their class. I saw a job for a position where I can be a curriculum writer for an English class. I am very much interested. They want me to submit a writing sample (fiction or non-fiction). There are no other details. Can someone give me any information on what kind of sample I should give?? I have never applied for this type of job before, but very interested and excited about it. I am kind of at a loss however, but I don’t mind writing at all. I actually love to write. Is it supposed to be something related to something in an English curriculum. I would like to be considered even if I’m not selected. Of course, my desire is to definitely be selected. Since I don’t have the experience, I would have to create it. Any tips from some of you guys that have been doing this for awhile would be greatly appreciated.

    • Carol Tice

      I’d refer you to John Soares at Productive Writers – I know he writes textbook supplements and I think has done some curriculum work. Not an area I’ve done!

      But in general…when you don’t have experience in an area, you need to look for a volunteer opportunity — perhaps with an education nonprofit? — to do a project of that type. Then you have a sample. It’s unlikely you’re going to get the gig without a single sample of published writing.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Writer’s Log #14: Month in Review - […] Allen Taylor explains how he found four freelance writing gigs from job ads. […]

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...