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How I Got My First $10,000 Freelance Writing Gig

Carol Tice

Happy woman with laptopLike most new freelancers, one of my first questions after deciding to take the plunge into freelance writing was, “How am I going to find gigs?”

I knew I wanted to write for businesses rather than publications, but which businesses should I target? I looked at my experience and selected an industry where I had work experience and that tended to have healthy cash flow. Education – particularly English as a Second Language – was my strongest potential market.

As I began marketing to companies in this niche, I narrowed my strategy to four simple steps that brought me something I’d never imagined I’d get in my first year in business: a $10,000 freelance writing gig.

1. Qualify potential clients

I knew that not all businesses would be able to pay me good rates. So I sussed out which of my prospects had potential by putting them through Manta.com and Hoovers.com, websites that track company revenue.

Once I got the results, I highlighted the prospects that made a minimum of $500,000 a year in revenue.

2. Develop a personalized LOI

The next step was writing a letter of introduction (LOI) that would stand out from the pack.

I wanted prospects to see that I not only had industry experience but also could identify ways to help them in their business.

As it turns out, a business’s own website is a great source of information. Once I culled my list of prospects, I headed over to their websites to identify any missing components that were featured prominently on competitors’ sites. (When it was particularly challenging to locate a missing piece, I Googled recent press releases for that company to see if there was a recent development they needed to promote more on their site.)

Using my notes, I developed a personalized LOI for each prospect.

3. Follow up

My LOIs returned a reasonable amount of interest, but nothing definite. Still, I followed through with my promise in the LOI to contact each prospect again within a month.

Soon enough, after my followup email, one prospect responded and offered me an editing gig. Could I edit a series of lesson plans and suggest new activities to include? Sure!

Although editing wasn’t where I was hoping to direct my freelance business, it was a foot in the door.

4. Surpass expectations

After my now-client mentioned they were working on several exciting upcoming projects, I knew I wanted to be considered as a writer.

To prove my worth and keep myself fresh in their minds, I made a conscious decision to ‘wow’ them on my current gig by exceeding expectations. I worked quickly and efficiently, carefully respected deadlines, and responded positively to all requests.

The project ended and my client paid, without more reference to future projects.

Be open to more

Luckily, the story didn’t end there. A month or so later, my client emailed to say he’d been impressed with my editing work. He wanted to know if I’d be open to developing the lessons myself.

I was told their previous writer had missed deadlines, which served to confirm that at least one component in my “go over and above” plan helped me stand out.

I compiled a quote. There was so much writing needed that it worked out to more than $10,000. To my ecstatic surprise, they accepted.

I’ve now gained writing experience in an area I’d never thought of working in, and that I enjoy.

Key takeaways? Qualify your clients for income. Identify how you can help them. If you decide to follow up on prospects, design and stick to a schedule. Finally, be a professional and exceed your client’s expectations.

How did you land your first big freelance writing gig? Tell us in the comments below.

Erin Walton is an Australian freelance education, culture, and travel copywriter and Spanish-to-English translator based in Chile.

What is Copywriting? A Modern Definition and How-To Guide

What is Copywriting? A Modern Definition and How-To Guide

What Is Copywriting? The How-To Guide for Freelancers. Makealivingwriting.com

It’s a question so simple, you might think everyone already knows the answer: What is copywriting?

But in my decade-plus helping newbie writers launch their freelance careers, I’ve learned not to assume. People come from all walks of life into freelance writing, and aren’t born knowing the lingo.

When I researched this question, it got even more interesting. Because I disagreed with many of the most popular posts on the topic.

What I have for you isn’t your grandpa’s copywriting definition and description. It’s a rebel’s 21st Century copywriting definition — and a how-to guide on how to break in and do it.

How copywriting evolved

Old copy hacks will tell you copywriting is the art and science of crafting writing that sells.

They’ll tell you writing that overtly sells a product or service is copywriting — and everything else is ‘not copywriting.’

That was once true — but it isn’t any more. Because the Internet changed much of what we once knew about marketing.

I’ve got a new definition of copywriting for you, one I think is more accurate for the 21st Century marketing era we live in now.

Read on to learn what copywriting is today, how to do it — and how you can capitalize on the changes to earn well as a freelance writer.

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