Laid Off? An Old Writer’s 5 Smart Moves to Get Freelance Work


What if you got laid off, lost all your freelance clients, or decided to drop every one of your low-payers? You’d want to get freelance work…fast.

In an economy full of uncertainty thanks to the impact of COVID-19, lots of writers know what it’s like to get the “pink slip” from an employer or long-time client.

  • Do you roll around on the floor, kicking and screaming?
  • Maybe you even think about swearing off writing forever.
  • Or do you give a nod to the experience, be grateful for what you’ve learned, and start chasing freelance work?

If you want to make a living writing, there’s plenty of freelance work out there for everybody.

But you’re not going to find clients, land great freelance projects or make money if you waste a lot of time hosting a pity party.

Life happens. Careers change. Freelance work and clients come and go.

If you’re a writer feeling the pinch of a layoff, end of a great client relationship, or some other situation you didn’t see coming, it’s up to you to rise up and keep going.

That’s exactly what one old writer did when he got laid off.

But instead of giving up, he made these 5 smart moves to turn things around and start landing freelance work.

Check this out…

How to get freelance work like writer John Fischer

Freelance Work: John Fischer

John Fischer

Do you think 1980s pop star Bonnie Tyler ever thought about the impact her “Holding Out for a Hero” might have on personal reinvention?

Remember that hit song?

(If not, no sweat. Just give it a listen on YouTube.)

Let’s call it a wistful story, one in which the singer pines for a hero, who will make everything right again.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, right?

Take you, for example; yes, you.

First, the back story

To say I’ve had a few different jobs would be a gross understatement.

What would be far more accurate, though, can be measured by the number of times I’ve had to resort to personal reinvention, freelance work, and lot of other things. (Trust me. It’s a lot.)

Regardless of the circumstances, though, I’ve always tried to do my best chameleon imitation.

Take this past year, for example.

(Yep, I’ve got my own Bonnie Tyler hero’s tale to tell.)

If you want to be a freelance writer…expect the unexpected

For the last several years, I have worked in the staffing industry (in both business development and recruiting). Doing my best to…

  • Leverage my personal network
  • Build up my own book
  • Attend industry events
  • And on my best days, I’ve even managed to out hustle the competition once or twice

But this past year?…

It’s like anything else…

  • You get upset
  • You worry
  • There’s suddenly a lot of scrambling
  • And you try like hell to readjust your confidence and get back in the game

So, you – yes, that’s all of you – should embrace your writing abilities and expect the unexpected.

You’ve got a skill set that will always be needed

(Now, I wouldn’t hold out hope for a place on the world’s Top 100 Wealthiest People list, but I can definitely see a scenario where you could be commissioned to write each of their bios!)

Prior to my work in staffing, I wrote professionally for years.

Lucky for me, so far anyway, it has been a lot like riding a bike.

And while there may not be one tried-and-true methodology, identifying a personal plan to land freelance work will give each of you a shot at becoming your own hero/heroine.

Time to put on some new shoes for freelance success

Let’s start by thanking rock and roll legend Eric Clapton for providing us with a potential teaching tool.

Like the song says, “I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything’s right.”

Nobody says personal reinvention is easy, but simply getting started with the process doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here’s what I recommend to get back on your feet:

  • After getting laid off
  • Losing an anchor client
  • Or just trying to land some good freelance work…

So, sticking with Mr. Clapton’s handy metaphor, plus some other familiar go-tos, let’s talk specifics.

1. Make a deal with yourself

If you believe you can make a living writing, no one else’s opinion should matter.

  • Change gears
  • Trust your skill set
  • Find those “new shoes” if you have to.
  • If you believe in your abilities, others will, too.

2. There will never be another you

Nat King Cole was right on point. When in doubt, bet on yourself.

  • Craft your personal brand
  • Build up your street ‘cred
  • Let prospective employers and clients know that they’ll be getting the one and only “you.”

3. Get help from other people

Finding success in writing can be largely predicated on getting help from others.

So, be sure to build that into the plan, too. (One great resource is the Freelance Writers Den.)

It’s key to find the right people to help effectively showcase your work.

4. If you build it, they will come

Are you leveraging the power of social media, your writer website, and networking groups to find freelance work? (Just saying…)

Even if you’re the second coming of William Faulkner or Charlotte Brontë, effectively showcasing your work may be just as important as the work itself.

  • Consider shopping around for a cost-effective, talented designer
  • Build your own writer website with an “off-the-shelf” model
  • Leverage all the major social media platforms…Facebook, Twitter, and especially LinkedIn. It’s actually how I connected with freelancer Evan Jensen.
  • Use social media. Your daily to-do list…like, comment, share, and post to boost your visibility

Having the all-important writing ‘chops just isn’t enough anymore to land freelance work.

5. Stay in the fight

If anyone tells you that freelance work and earning money as a writer isn’t largely about good ‘ol fashion elbow grease, I’m not sure I’d listen.

“Talent,” however you choose to define it, is important.

But without hustle and heart, well, you’re nowhere.

“Build your strategy and your reputation largely around your work ethic, and don’t ever let up. Not ever.”

That’s how you land freelance work and make a living writing.

What’s your plan to get more freelance work? Tell us about it in the comments below.

John Fisher is a NYC-based freelance copywriter, journalist, and content marketing strategist. He’s written and managed projects for companies like Turner Broadcasting, Honeywell, Jackson Hewitt and many others. 

300+ Hours of Trainings. Once Affordable Price. Freelance Writers Den


  1. Linda H

    You reminded me of myself 11 years ago. I worked full-time for a telecom company while also working freelance in the background. The day I got laid off I ran to my truck, started texting people I knew from the parking lot letting them know I was available full-time now, then went home and celebrated. I’d been wanting to leave that job and freelance, the opportunity came to me. Within 24 hours I had ongoing work. During the follow-up from the layoff I met a marketing expert and trained with her for 6 weeks. From the on I never really was without work. Didn’t make as much, but things kept growing.
    Two of us from that layoff hit the ground running and I built a good business.

    Now, I’m recovering from an long-term illness with lots of complications. But I’m getting back up, restarting the business and learning while hustling through things. Each day is better than before. I’m not where I want to be, but every day is better than the day before.

    Thanks for posting this. Everyone needs to believe in themselves during tough times, especially after a layoff. Facing the challenges to rebuild is tough, but it makes you stronger, smarter, and the personal, emotional and financial rewards can be huge.

  2. Ubai

    Hello John
    Thanks for the inspirational, albeit practical piece. I have positively benefitted from your ideas, especially putting on “new shoes.”
    Each of your points is well taken, mainly staying in the fight. We have to push ourselves to stay afloat in these trying times consistently.
    Once again, thanks for inspiring me!
    All the best.


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