How Kicking Craigslist Jump-Started My Freelance Writing Career

Carol Tice

Kicking Craigslist helped me find better freelance writing jobs - and jump-started my career. Makealivingwriting.comby Sarita Harbour

Are you desperately searching Craigslist trying to find freelance writing jobs?

I was. But not anymore.

Using techniques Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli teach in the Freelance Writers Den, not only did I kick my Craigslist habit, I gained four quality clients and two potential new projects in six weeks.

And they were all at better rates than I’d ever earned from Craigslist clients.

Why I Stopped Looking at the Free Job Boards

After several frustrating months wasting time searching online classifieds for better clients to replace the content mill work that was (barely) paying my bills, I took a two-day writing break to paint my kitchen.

I finally found time to listen to several Freelance Writers Den webinars.  As I taped, rolled, brushed and listened, a theme emerged.  Take a month to stop looking for quality freelance writing jobs on Craigslist and start marketing like crazy.

Here’s the thing.  For every legitimate small business using Craigslist to find freelance writers, there are hundreds of questionable characters who want 500 words for $10.

My Craigslist days were full of posts removed by authors within hours of appearing, ridiculously low rates, and requests for free work samples.

There were very few good freelance writing opportunities.

Even worse, it became a habit and a major time-suck. Up at six, coffee in hand, I’d go straight to Craigslist each morning.

Before I knew it, the kids were awake and my early morning work-time was gone with few, if any, leads to show for it.

How I Broke the Craigslist Habit in 5 Easy Steps

  • Remove the temptation.  I began by removing all bookmarks for job boards and online classified listings that were cluttering up my computer. It was scary, liberating, and made my toolbar and bookmark menu a lot neater.
  • Replace the activity.  Any addict will tell you that replacing unhealthy activities with healthy ones is key to staying on the path to recovery.  Replace Craigslist searching with identifying potential new clients and creating customized pitches.  I specialize in writing for online clients, and used Alexa rankings to identify top websites in my niches. Start at the lower ranked sites and work your way up the food chain.
  • Research.  My next step was to study current issues in my niches, and craft customized emails. These included an attention-grabbing subject line, a few possible titles, and detailed pitches for each target client. This took some time, but was worth it when my first marketing email resulted in two sold articles and an assignment for a third at a personal-finance website at almost triple the content mill rates.
  • Refine.  When the temptation to browse online classifieds for freelance writing jobs was overwhelming, I refined my search to better-quality job boards such as LinkedIn (job posters have to pay to list here), MediaBistro, and the Junk-Free Job Board on the Freelance Writer’s Den.  To date I have signed contracts with two clients found on the Junk-Free Board. One is an agency that pays $150 an article for finance topics that take roughly a couple hours to write.
  • Repeat. This isn’t a one-day thing.  I vowed to keep stick to my guns for at least a month, and I did.

Now, I’m working on replacing my $150 clients with ones that pay more. One new client I recently landed has multiple sites, lots of work, and pays $200 per 500-word post.

I learned that replacing Craigslist browsing with proactive, daily marketing leads to higher-paying jobs from better-quality clients.  It worked for me and it will work for you, too.

Sarita Harbour is a professional freelance writer specializing in web design, small business, personal finance and content marketing techniques. She is thrilled to have kicked her Craigslist habit.

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  1. blendahtom


    Challenging and convicting post.. thank you so much for sharing!


    • Sarita Harbour

      My pleasure, Tom! Glad it provided some food for thought.

  2. Sarah L. Webb

    Something clicked when you said, “Stop looking for jobs on Craigslist, and start marketing like crazy.” I’ve applied for lots of gigs, but I haven’t done marketing (at least not the right way) so that I can land other (and better) clients.

    I think I’ll start by really narrowing down the sites, companies, or publications I’d really like to work for, and write queries, pitches or letters of introduction to each one with writing samples.

    I can’t just rely on blogging, twitter and facebook for marketing. Thanks for the nudge.

    • Sarita Harbour

      Good for you Sarah. With that kind of methodical approach it won’t be long before you see some success!

  3. Peter D. Mallett

    What a great guest post. Thank you.

    • Sarita Harbour

      Thanks for the comment, and hope you found some useful information here, Peter.

  4. Theodore Nwangene

    Hey Sarita,
    What an amazing blog post. I’ve also been searching through similar job boards for some time now without any success.

    I always hang out at Pro bloggers and Freelance switch job board but no success.

    Thanks for sharing Sarita.

    • Sarita Harbour

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Theodore! Take some time away from the job boards and give the pitch ideas a try. It reallly does work, but you do have to work at it consistently.

  5. anne grant

    Your description of that valuable time before the kids get up sounds like the biggest motivator to using it wisely.
    Congratulations on the confidence those new jobs will bring to the next pitch you send out. Great success story!

    • Sarita Harbour

      Hi Anne,

      Someone very wise (okay, I just can’t remember who it was) once said that great things happen when you have a good idea and not quite enough time. As writer moms everywhere know, making the most of our “quiet time” is crucial to freelancing, especially when you have preschoolers!

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