How Quickly Can You Gain Freelance Writing Jobs When You First Start Out?

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Article by Wendy McCance

I have been reading a lot of posts on LinkedIn groups where new writers are asking about where to find jobs, and how much they should charge.  Ultimately the question becomes, how quickly can you gain freelance writing jobs when you first start out?  It occurred to me that it might be of interest to see how a new writer has developed their connections and created a full-time career out of writing.

I have never read a post by an author that detailed the steps they took as well as the assignments they got from taking those steps in any detail, so I figured I would share my experience with you.  I hope the information below helps and inspires you to keep going after the dream of being a freelance writer.  You really can be a full-time writer making good money even if you are new to the field.

Back around April of 2012, I was blogging and sharing posts on several LinkedIn groups. One day I received a message on LinkedIn from a financial marketing company.  They asked if I would be willing to write a 500 word article for $65.00.  They said that if they liked what I wrote up, I could have a steady freelance writing job 2 or 3 articles a week at $65.00 per article.

Back then, I panicked.  I even wrote about this experience on my blog.  I had no idea how to submit an article in a professional manner or how to go about being paid.  Was I supposed to give them my personal information?  I had many questions, few answers, and was scared but excited to jump in and just do it.

I wrote the article and submitted it.  The company liked what I wrote and wanted to continue to use me.  I declined.  I don’t have a financial background and trying to come up with a topic and write a well-written piece was incredibly stressful.  The company understood, but they were disappointed.  I couldn’t believe I would let a writing gig go, but I knew deep down it was for the best.  Even so, I had my first clip and a toe into a new career.

Over the course of a few months, a couple other offers came through in the same manner.  I got asked to write after someone found my posts on LinkedIn.  I realized that LinkedIn was a great place to promote my skills.

In March of this year, I made the leap to full-time freelance writing.  I also added social media consulting to my repertoire.  While I was working as a real estate agent, other realtors began to ask for help with social media.  Many of the realtors were just starting out and couldn’t afford a lot of advertising.  They realized that learning how to use social media would be worth the money.  The amount of advertising you do is unlimited.  It’s free and the best part is that whatever you put out there, will always be out there.

The first two realtors I helped, were never charged.  I wanted to make sure what I gave them held value.  Both realtors were thrilled with what I put together for them and offered to pay.  I asked them to just mention my name to anyone who might be looking for help with social media.  As a realtor, your job is to know as many people as possible. The more people you know, the more leads you get.  Having two realtors mentioning my name would be a great benefit for me.

I got involved with a local Michigan business networking group.  I came out of the very first meeting with two business cards from people wanting to use a freelance writer.  One business man wanted me to write a bio for a local business magazine.  A woman was interested in starting a blog and needed help setting it up.  The ball was moving.  It was slow, but I saw how my writing and social media consulting would gain speed.  I pushed on.

Every day I figured out a way to prospect for business.  I put a signature under my email that announced what I did.  Every time I wrote an email, someone would see that I was a freelance writer.  I also wrote an average of 30 messages on LinkedIn a day to people I was connected to offering my freelance writing services.  This is where I got the bulk of my business.  Suddenly, I got several assignments.  It looked like this:

  • Marketing company is interested and asks for quotes for content writing for websites they are creating.  There are 4 clients who will be needing content on their new websites.
  • Real estate agent wants to promote herself by adding a blog, Facebook page and a Twitter account.  Wants me to help her set up profiles, create the Facebook page and put a blog together.
  • PR firm wants two quotes for clients of theirs.  I wrote a quote for a security firm and a clothing designer.  I get the clothing designer job and will be writing content for their new website, blog and bio on LinkedIn.
  • Entrepreneur with 3 businesses is overhauling their brand and wants to polish up their LinkedIn bio, flood the internet with their name by getting profiles on several social media sites and needs content on a website and blog.
  • Business owner wants to start a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. Wants me to set up these sites for them and write the content.
  • CEO wants me to overhaul her LinkedIn profile and write the content.  She wants the entire profile filled out as completely as possible.

By this point, I am seeing a definite pattern.

  1. LinkedIn is where I am getting 90% of my clients.  
  2. Prospecting for work on LinkedIn works!!
  3. Everyone is on the social media bandwagon.
  4. I have found my niche.

Currently I am working with 2 realtors, a fashion designer, marketing firm, pr firm, 3 business owners, a newspaper and an attorney.  I have meetings set up for a small business owner and a tv personality.

I started working full-time in March.  I have never filled out an application for any online writing gig.  I have never charged a few cents per word.  If you are interested in what fees I charge, I have a page on this blog that shows my entire pricing structure.  These are the amounts I have charged right from the beginning.

One final thing I would like to add, it may look like I am swamped with work, but projects move slowly.  Some projects, especially when you are going through a company to work for their client can take months to complete.  It’s the nature of the business.  You can move quickly, but there are decisions the client has to make that can hold up the process quite a bit.  Because of this, I am still prospecting.  I can still take on several more assignments.

Determining how much work you can handle and getting the client’s pace down is probably the trickiest thing to figure out.  I have slowly added additional clients as I have learned the pace.

The bottom line is that anyone can find freelance writing jobs if they are good at writing, have determination and can sell their skills.

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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19 thoughts on “How Quickly Can You Gain Freelance Writing Jobs When You First Start Out?

  1. Yes Wendy, you are right. The problem with most of the freelance writers is that they write for pennies and that is why they have to concentrate more on numbers and they always get trapped in that rat race without knowing that there are lots and lots of clients out there who really appreciate quality over quantity and they are really ready to pay big bucks for any sort of quality writing.

    So, it is always better to understand this fact as early as possible. Even in my early days I have started writing for few cents per word but soon realized that my writing is suffering and I am losing my creativity. I took risk and got out of the trap and social media is the only tool that helped me to get High Paying Clients.

    Yes, it is the social media like FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, and some writer’s forums too. I have discussed that in detailed in my eBook – How to get High Paying Freelance Writing Clients?

    Yes, you are absolutely right. If someone is a good writer, there is no dearth of High Paying writing projects or High Paying clients here. The all you need to know the right strategy to follow. You need to take steps one by one and there is no shortcut to any success and will never be.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. There are a lot to learn from your experience. Thanks for sharing your story. Really inspiring one.

  2. Great post. I signed up with Elance, but I have encountered a problem. All the possible assignments I receive, are not within my expertise. My profile clearly lays out my forte.”ll keep trying, and see what takes place. Thank you. Blessings.

  3. Great post Wendy. What I glean from your experience is that good things usually don’t come over night. Lasting success in writing comes in small steps that build upon one another over time. Also, be open to accepting new challenges! Great reminders!

    I have been a freelance writer for the last 15 years and can confirm that slow and steady does win the race. I too started out doing work for free which is a great way to help others while honing my craft. Now, I get paid for writing articles, web content, content marketing, etc. Starting with free work and perfecting my craft has paid off.

    • Hi Alicea, thanks for the comment. I never did write anything for free. If you are referring to the financial article, I got paid for the first and only article I submitted. The biggest thing I have realized is that prospecting has to be something you touch on every day. The more you put yourself out there, the more that will come back. Even when I have been really busy, I will at least write a few emails a day. I don’t want to have all of my assignments finished with nothing more on my plate.

  4. Thanks for all these tips and for sharing more of your beginnings. I’m thinking of concentrating on what my life is like since losing my wife although I also like writing humorous anecdotal stories as well. It’s difficult to combine a sad event with humor but I’m willing to ry if that is going to be my niche’. But even if you have a blog, are using ping-o-matic, posting on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, how do you get more people to see your blog let alone want to come back? I have not figured out how to increase my exposure. My writing may not be that good yet and maybe not sufficiently relevant. But I really think I’d like to do it full time. Of course you have to pay the bills in the meantime and keep a regular job even if it doesn’t pay very much. I realize there are no shortcuts and you must pay your dues to become a success. Would you suggest trying to guest post on someone else’s blog? It seems that you have to beg for a chance though.I appreciate all your writing and advice.

    • Hi Jeff, here is what my experience has been. Write openly and honestly and don’t worry about the numbers. Whenever I got hung up on numbers, my writing suffered (I was trying to hard which backfired). I use plugins to expand on where my blog is seen. I use All in One Social Lite, Editorial Assistant by Zemanta, Nextscripts, Social Networks Auto-Post, OnePress Social Locker and Tweetily. Every time I write a post it goes to over 18 sites automatically. I also submit to reditt, digg, a few LinkedIn groups and a couple mommy blogs.

      I would also suggest trying out Paper.Li It is another place to put your blog posts. You can also pick other writers to feature on the site. All articles link back to those peoples own blogs. They are notified and mention there articles appearing in your “paper.” It’s kind of genius.

      As for guest posts, I have only done a handful and only when someone asked and I had the time. I don’t have enough experience with them to give a good answer. One last thing, I jumped into writing without a safety net. In my case, if I had one, I wouldn’t be doing much. I needed the fear to push me, hard! It’s not for everyone, but that’s how I got the ball moving so quickly. I just didn’t have a choice.

      Wishing you all the best.

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