Right now, a record-high number of people are considering a freelance writing career. My inbox is overflowing with questions from newbies. And the first question is: “Where can I find freelance writing jobs for beginners?”
If that’s you, sending hugs! I totally feel your confusion. The freelance marketplace is a big, complicated place. There are lots of types of paid writing, and different kinds of clients, too.
It can seem hard to find good freelance writing jobs for beginners. Especially if the only assignments you ask for are 1,500-word feature articles or $3,000 white papers.
While some writers do seem able to go straight for the big score, most of us work our way up.
I’ve been helping writers get started for a dozen years now. And I know how mystifying it can be. You feel like there’s a door you need to find, a person you need to know, a secret you must unlock to become a freelance writer.
But really, the path to freelance writing jobs for beginners is simple.
You need to find someone willing to let you write for them. That’s it.
It’s to start with entry-level freelance writing jobs. There are quite a few simple assignments that are pretty easy to get, and a breeze to execute. Kind of un-f*k-up-able.
You get a few samples from these entry-level writing jobs and boom — you have a portfolio to show. And you’re on your way.
There are fairly simple, break-in writing assignments that newbies tend to get. I’m going to outline what they are below.
But first, I need to explain something…
Why this isn’t a list of writing sites
I realize that what you might have been expecting in this post is a list of freelance writing jobs for beginners and which content mills to sign up for. A discussion of whether Upwork is better than Fiverr. Or whether Textbroker or Writer Access has more listings.
When you Google ‘freelance writing jobs,’ that stuff comes right to the top. Believe me, I know.
My advice is that you not sign up for ANY of those.
Because they’re a trap. And their rates generally suck.
That’s why I didn’t link to any of those above. I generally don’t recommend you go there.
If you’re looking to replace your day job with writing income, it’s statistically unlikely you’ll get there hanging around any of these places.
- Too much competition. In the current economy, all of the mass-job platforms like these are being flooded with newbies. Ditto for responding to online job ads. When every listing gets 500 bids or applicants, you can figure your statistical odds of getting hired are low.
- Tiny money. Anywhere thousands of writers are gathered online, it’s a race to the bottom on price.
- Lazy marketing. When you get into freelance writing, surprise: You’re a business startup! And businesses do their own, proactive marketing. They don’t sit around some platform’s dashboard hoping the luck fairy sends them a job. You learn bad habits that can cripple your chances of building a viable, bill-paying, remote-work biz.
- It’s demoralizing. When you do nothing but scan writing job boards with $15 offers, it’s easy to get depressed. Or to conclude that freelance writing can’t pay your bills. When it can be a six-figure income.
If these platforms aren’t the answer, what is?
Learning to prospect and find your own clients. Got a quick-start guide to that for you in the final section below.
I also have an entire 4-week course on finding your first freelance writing jobs that goes even more in-depth on the subject. I highly recommend checking that out plus over 300 hours of other video and audio training by becoming a Den member.
Once you commit to pitching independently for work, many doors will be open to you, to find decent-paying writing jobs even if you’re a beginner. And usually, you’ll be the only writer they’re considering. Your success odds just soared.
But: What sort of work should you be pitching to do? Keep reading and I’ll reveal what I think are the best writing jobs for beginners with no experience.
Do you need qualifications to be a freelance writer?
Don’t let a lack of experience prevent you from diving into freelancing. You don’t need any fancy, expensive certifications or degrees to be a freelance writer, but you should, you know, actually be a decent writer. And even more importantly, you need to learn how to pitch and how to run a business, so you can get jobs and make money writing.
The best entry-level freelance writing jobs for beginners
Here’s a tip: Pitching a specific project gets way more responses than a generic: “Hi, I’m a writer. Do you need a writer?”
So — what should you say you could write, for these first writing clients? Here are some great newbie, entry-level writing projects you can pitch for to break into the biz, along with some thoughts on pricing:
1. Rewrite local small-business websites
Think about small businesses in your town that you patronize. Then, go look at their websites.
I know, they’re a mess! Offer to rewrite theirs. Or to add some new content. Perhaps they could use a press page, to help them get free media mentions. Or they have no ‘About us’ page with team bios and the company’s story. I find those are the most common missing pages on small-biz sites.
Study the big guys’ press pages or team bios, and then create a page like it for the little guy. Boom!
If you love writing and have had feedback you write well over the years, it’s a guarantee you’ll be able to create something stronger than Joe Businessguy wrote on his own.
2. Find abandoned business blogs
Many small businesses start a blog, because execs know it can be a great way to improve their website’s search rankings, deepen customer bonds, and build their authority as a go-to expert in their space.
But few can keep it going. Because duh, they’re busy running a business! Which is like trying to repair a plane engine while you’re flying the plane.
The blog quickly falls to the bottom of the priority list, and soon, it’s gathering dust. Which looks sad and actually hurts their image.
Abandoned business blogs — where there’s been no post for 6 months or a year or more — are legion. Pick an industry you know a bit about, search up companies in your region, and take a look.
This one’s like shooting fish in a barrel. An easy pitch: “Would you like help getting that blog going again?”
You’ve read blogs. you’re reading one now. You could write a blog post on day one that’ll likely be better than that solopreneur could create.
Pricing: Start out at $50-$100 for short blog posts (500-750 words or so) from bitty companies, if you need first samples. Go up from there. My coaching students get $500 a post and more, from bigger companies, so there is move-up opportunity.
3. Write business emails
Ever make a purchase and not get a sequence of emails afterwards that offers to sell you more, or keeps building the relationship? Many, many businesses rely on email marketing.
But small businesses are often low on automated email marketing sequences. They may not email people who abandon their sales cart, for instance. Sign up on your prospects’ sites to get notices and see what emails you get.
Sending more emails = money in the bank, for businesses. So this can be an easy sale.
Ask if they could use help with those. There are a million examples of good marketing emails out there you can crib from.
Pricing: Consider $100 per short email a floor. Pros command much more.
4. Create a newsletter or brochure
You might think both of these are dinosaur marketing products that aren’t used much today — but you’d be wrong. There may not be as much call for physical ones in this Covid moment, but e-newsletters abound, as do digital brochures.
You’ve read newsletters, and you can write ’em, too. Partner with a designer if your client needs that.
Grab all the brochures from your local Chamber of Commerce’s members to study. Most are wretchedly bad writing, and it’s easy to improve them.
Don’t forget to look at nonprofits for these, too. They may not pay as well, but can be a great place to get some nice-looking clips to start.
Pricing: Varies by size and frequency of publication. But $750-$1,000 for a simple, 3-fold brochure isn’t uncommon, and a regular monthly e-news could easily be a $500-$1000-a-month steady project, depending on newsletter size.
5. Report articles for local news media
Local news has never been more challenged to keep locals informed and governments accountable. Freelance help is welcome!
When Alastair Barnett decided to give freelance writing a try, he pitched an idea for a personal essay to a local newspaper. What happened next, changed everything for the young freelance writer.
“I was shocked when the features editor called and asked me to write 1,000 words for the Sunday paper with a 250-word sidebar,” says Barnett. “No lie, my hands shook while holding the phone. During our chat, the editor actually apologized for paying only $250.”
Of course, sometimes budgets are tight and staffs have been slashed — which means you might get some great pro bono samples here, if you’re willing to trudge out and cover that city council meeting or protest.
If they can’t pay or it’s small money, how is this better than writing for a content mill? Writing for newspapers conveys instant credibility.
Business clients know you have an editorial process you’ve successfully got through here. Print clips impress.
Pricing: $50-$100 will be typical, if they pay at all. This writing job is all about adding great portfolio samples and building your credibility as a writer.
6. Write for local magazines
Is there a regional or community magazine in your area? You know, the kind you see in a stand by the door at your local grocery or convenience store? That’s a great place to start.
“I tell newbies to start with what they already read,” says freelance writer Carol J. Alexander.
“If I had no experience, I’d start with local, small business, family, or friends. Just get some clips, build your portfolio, and work up from there.”
7. Turn your former employer into a client
Does your former employer have a blog, a website, marketing materials, or a presence on social media?
You may be the perfect person to handle those content market projects, and these can be great freelance writing jobs for beginners.
Why? You already know the business. Give it a shot and ask the marketing director or CEO at your old job if you can do some freelance work.
“When my day job announced plans to move, making my daily commute about 90 minutes each way, I knew I had to do something,” says freelance writer Evan Jensen. “So I pitched the idea of contract work to the CEO, and voilà, it worked. If your former employer has a need for content, hiring you is a no-brainer because you already know the business, as long as you left on good terms.”
8. Write for local marketing agencies
Do a Google search like this: “[your niche] marketing agencies.”
That single search will produce a list of agencies that work with clients in your niche. Chances are pretty good some of them need to hire a writer…pronto. These can provide solid freelance writing gigs for beginners as you’ll get to gain valuable experience writing for the agency’s clients.
“I would recommend pitching marketing agencies,” says freelance writer Amy Hardison White.
“My first freelance client was a marketing agency. The work was not as high-paying as it could have been, but it gave me the opportunity to get used to a high volume of work and different types of work.”
9. Cover the news for a niche local paper or newsletter
We already talked about writing for your town’s newspaper or community magazine, but there’s another kind of local news publication you can write for that often gets overlooked — niche newspapers and newsletters. At one point, I wrote short pieces on what was new in my regional library system, for instance. Our libraries put out a pretty nice quarterly newspaper, and it was a great way to get my name around. I know another writer who got started writing for her condo association newsletter.
10. Write reviews for things around town
Most alternative papers have regular restaurant columns and are constantly doing dining stories. Their staff reviewer can’t stay on top of every new eatery that opens their doors, so pitch them the one you want to visit.
Not a foodie? What about reviewing local plays or concerts? You could also pitch your local paper on book or movie reviews.
How do I start freelance writing with no experience?
Now that you know where to find entry-level writing jobs, let’s talk a bit about how to actually land your first gigs.
Here are some tips to start freelance writing with no experience:
- Google is your friend. Search for startups or fastest-growing businesses in your target industry or city. The list you want already exists!
- Businesses & nonprofits you know. Where do you shop and volunteer? Those are often your best starting point for getting first writing samples.
- Chamber of Commerce directory. Every city has one, and big cities often have multiple chambers. Look through the directory for local business names — then, check their websites for what you want to pitch. You’ll be amazed how many companies operate in your town that you’ve never heard of.
- Walk your local industrial park. These low-glamour businesses rarely get pitched, and their websites are often an atrocity. Write down the names of all the companies you see. Go home and look at their websites.
- Connect with marketing pros in your niche. Maybe you’re new to freelance writing, but you’re no stranger to marketing, advertising, sales and public relations from your day-job experience. That’s another great network of people you can reach out to and ask a simple question: Know anyone who needs a freelance writer?
- Get new-business registrations. If your city has a business journal, they pull this data for you in a section of the paper each week. A Daily Journal of Commerce, if your town has one, would have these listings, too. If not, call your city, county, or other local-government’s business development department and ask how you access new-business registrations (they should be a public record you can view). Anybody starting a biz right now needs marketing help — and often, doesn’t have the budget to hire a seasoned pro. These are great entry-level writing job opportunities.
That ought to get you started with plenty of leads to companies that could use a fresh writer. Hope this helps you get launched and rolling! And don’t forget to check out even more resources on how to find freelance writing jobs.
What types of first freelance writing jobs are you looking for? Or if you’re already writing for pay, what was your first writing job? Let’s discuss in the comments.