By 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:
- An increase in targeted traffic to my website
- Exposure for my personal brand
- 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.
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.