Freelance Writing Jobs: Here’s Why You Suck at Getting Them


Do you suck at getting freelance writing jobs.

Frustrated with your efforts to find freelance writing jobs? It’s a common problem that plagues a lot of writers who are in denial about what’s really happening.

You tell yourself you’re doing every kind of marketing your fertile imagination can come up with to get more clients.

Just in the last month, in fact, you:

  • Sent a query letter
  • Called a prospect
  • Contacted a potential client on LinkedIn
  • Sent a direct message to another one via Twitter
  • Created a helpful email newsletter for people in the industry you’re targeting
  • Had a coffee meeting with a local editor

And still…crickets in your inbox.

When you can’t seem to get freelance writing jobs…

You cry. You complain. You eat more ice cream and binge-watch YouTube videos. And you keep asking yourself: “Why do I suck at getting more clients?”

If that sounds anything like your efforts to get more freelance writing jobs, you’re not alone. Now what?

A couple quick stories will shed light on why this is happening.

Enlightening Story #1

Once Carol suggested that an aspiring writer reach out to people who had viewed her profile on LinkedIn, saying, “Hey, I noticed you checked out my profile. Are you looking for a writer?”

The writer said, “Oh, I tried that once and it didn’t work, so I moved on.”

Carol replied, “Oh, I tried that 50 times, until I got a $1-a-word client.”

Enlightening Story #2

A coaching client told me queries don’t work. She sent one out after slaving over it for a week, and received a big fat rejection in return. So she decided to try other forms of marketing instead.

I responded, “Oh, really? Queries worked amazingly well for me, but maybe that’s because I sent out hundreds of them my first year of freelancing.”

Are you seeing a theme here?

The simple solution to get more clients

What’s wrong with your freelance marketing is that you’re not doing enough of it. It doesn’t matter what kind of marketing you do. If you do a ton of it, you almost can’t not get freelance writing jobs.

That’s why, instead of scattering your energies on six different types of marketing—a tweet here, a pitch there—I recommend you focus on just one and do the hell out of it. I call this Volume Marketing.

Volume Marketing for freelance writers

If your freelance marketing efforts have been, how should I say this, pathetic, it’s time to do something about it.

Can you imagine calling 250 prospects in a week and not getting one assignment?

How about emailing 20 LOIs a day?

Or attending five networking events, coffee meetings, or industry events in one week and meeting 50 new people, who you then follow up with?

Can you imagine doing any of those things and coming away empty handed?

Me neither.

I think we’ve established that Volume Marketing is the awesomest. Let’s dig into a few details that will help you use it to start landing writing work.

1. The marketing you do in volume needs to be one you enjoy enough to, well, do in volume.

If writing queries makes you want to pound spikes through your forehead, you probably won’t be sending out a dozen every week. If you despise talking on the phone, it’s fairly certain you won’t be calling 50 prospects per day.

2. You think you know what you like, but you really don’t until you give it a fair shot.

The first few times you do something is always a grind. Do it 100 times and you’ll be able to truly gauge whether you like, love, or hate phone calls, email pitching, social media marketing, networking, or whatever. 

3. Volume Marketing is not to be taken as an excuse to spam out hundreds of sub-par pitches.

Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them, yes. This relieves the pressure of perfectionism, which is the number one excuse writers use for scanty marketing. But there needs to be a balance between volume and quality. A life coach I like calls this doing B-minus work. I recommend it.

4. You say you don’t have time, but you do.

Volume Marketing takes less time than dividing your attentions among ten different marketing techniques. That’s because the more you do something, the faster you get at it…and also because you build up a good momentum when you do the same thing over and over. Not to mention, until your plate is full of paid freelance writing jobs, marketing is pretty much all you should be doing.

To blast your career to the next level takes laser focus, hard work, and smart marketing. Volume Marketing is all of that. Try it and see for yourself.

Have you tried Volume Marketing? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Linda Formichelli is a long-time freelancer, writing coach and creator of the Volume Marketing Challenge for Freelance Writers, which starts on March 13. She’s also the author of  Commit: How to Blast Through Problems & Reach Your Goals Through Massive Action, and other books on freelance writing, business, and personal development.



  1. Neal Eckert

    Hi Linda!

    This was a timely article for me. Thank you! I’ve done some marketing here and there and have a few clients but it isn’t enough. I now have a list of over a thousand businesses in my niche I recently starting to reach out to.

    “6 Basic Steps to Score Your First Freelance Writing Gig” on Carol’s website is a post that inspired me to jump in with both feet and start volume marketing.

    Finally, I concluded that grabbing at everything is the surest way to end up with nothing. Now I’m going forward with the attitude of if you contact enough businesses in a quality way something has to happen.

    Just like you shared, it can be easy to become paralyzed by all the marketing strategies out there and to wind up not mastering any of them.

    BTW, thanks for your recent article on SmartBlogger on how to write faster. It was helpful. I still can’t get myself to write through a piece without editing and it’s slowing me down. Hoping to break that habit soon. 🙂

    Thanks again and best wishes as you continue to trail blaze for all of us still stumbling through the process!

    “Hi” to you too, Carol. Thanks for your comments!

    • Linda Formichelli

      Hi again, Neal! 🙂 So glad you’re liking my (and Carol’s) posts! So many writers have Shiny Marketing Syndrome…it’s a real problem.

  2. Jennifer

    The post is so great. Thanks so much for the tips!

    • Linda Formichelli

      You are so welcome, I’m thrilled you liked the post!

  3. Haneef

    I am a HUGE over thinker, and guilty of spreading myself thin, so this article really helped simplify things. Overload on info can be so draining and when you’re constantly seeing writers discuss so many different marketing strategies you think you’ve got to try them all in order to succeed when you really don’t!
    this proves that there’s really no one form of marketing better than the other, and that everyone’s gonna have different experiences. It also shows that some people in the comments of a lot of freelancer articles explaining their disdain and hopelessness most likely haven’t done this trick, but most of the time only try a couple of ways a couple of times, don’t get the immediate results they want, and just decide to quit or conclude that it’s all just a fluke.Thanks so much for the eye opener Linda!

    • Linda Formichelli

      I like your website, Haneef! I’m so jealous that my husband went out and got the rose gold iPhone 7…for himself!

      I’m glad you liked the post. Like you, I’m a huge over thinker — everywhere EXCEPT my marketing and writing, which I guess is a good thing! Yes, the trick is to find the one thing you like and then WORK it.

  4. Wesley Hovis

    Well this is timely. I’ve been planning to make the leap to freelance writing for some time and had the leap made for me by getting laid off a couple months ago. I’ve had a hell of a time finding gigs through Upwork. Sounds like the way to go is find something that’s relatively easy to do and just do it a LOT.

    • Linda Formichelli

      Yeah, forget all about the bidding sites, cheap-o job boards, etc. — there you’re competing with thousands of writers in a race to the bottom. If you go out proactively, qualify the prospects you want, and reach out to them, there’s much less competition for much better gigs. Good luck!

  5. Angela

    In terms of sending out tons of query letters, I have a standard for letter I can send out but I have room to personalize it for a certain project or company. It saves time on having to crank out 50 completely original letters in a week. I think the idea of mass producing LOIs can be scary but manageable if you have a system.

    • Linda Formichelli

      Interesting! So you have kind of a shell– like a pre-written intro, creds, etc. — and then you customize the middle part? Sounds neat, especially if you’re sending to a lot of businesses/mags in the same field.

    • Carol Tice

      That’s pretty much how I used to do it, too. I had blocks of copy and sets of clip links I would swap in and out, and presto.

    • Frank Phillips

      How did you get the clip links? One at a time and then saved them in a file?

    • Carol Tice

      Frank, I have all my best clips organized on my writer website. So the links are easy to grab and pop into an email.

      But I also had a word doc with a few pre-curated sets that showed particular expertise — say, writing company anniversary stories, or writing about IPOs, and such. So I could quickly grab the right 2-3 links and pop them in.

      Hope that helps!

    • Frank Phillips

      Thanks, Carol! I appreciate what you do!

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