Even after all the posts I've written, it still surprises me how many freelance writers are seeking that one, single, solitary source of writing work to get them going.
I'm going to put it bluntly: freelancing means you're self-employed. This also means that if you have ONE lonely source of writing and something happens to that company - you're out of business.
There are so many ways to build freelance income, get paid for your writing efforts, supplement your writing income via other sources and otherwise build up a healthy income that it's impossible to do them all. The point is to find the ones that suit you and your preferences and work with those.
You'll find my top ten tips for ways to find freelance work here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-find-freelance-writing-work.html
However, finding work is not always the same as creating the right balance of work-types in your own freelance business. This post is more about finding work within different writing types than actually finding any old freelance work you can get hold of.
Let's look at a few basic options:
There are a LOT of these around on the internet. Clients submit requests for the articles they want and the Content Mills allow writers to pick up the work that interests them. You write the article, submit it and get paid. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Content Mills tend to be among the lower paying markets, but they are a source of consistent work if you're still building up your income and need the cash flow.
Try places like Need-An-Article or TextBroker or eHow or Demand Studios or Delegate2 or 10DollarArticles or LovetoKnow for this kind of work.
These can be a higher-paying source of work and if you do a little bit of homework, you could find that this can be a handy addition to your freelance income.
Article marketplaces are sites that allow you to submit articles on any topic you want to write about and then offer them for sale to customers who happen to be browsing the listings. While some writers complain that this takes too long to sell anything, I personally think this is a good option for earning decent money per sale.
Try marketplaces like:
Constant Content or Daily Article
Freelance Market Listings
There are plenty of places that offer free freelance market listings. Browse through these and find websites, blogs, ezines, magazines and anthologies that accept freelance submissions. You find the guidelines, check out what the publication wants to see and then write what they want. You submit it to the editor and when they accept your piece you get paid (hopefully).
These are often only a once-off sale, but you should find that the pay rate is 10 to 20 times the amount you'll receive from a Content Mill, so they form the 'high-paying' section of your freelance efforts.
This is the biggest source of my own freelance income. I have several private clients who email me directly with their orders every week. This keeps me busy on a regular basis and keeps the cash coming in.
Most newer freelance writers aim at freelance job boards or advertise that they want new clients. I won't do these things. The client thinks they can negotiate your prices with you. They think they can aim at the cheapest quote. This is too hard.
I go out and find my clients directly based on who I prefer to work with and I give them my non-negotiable prices up front. They can take it or leave it.
I enjoy SEO writing, so it seemed logical to contact a few SEO companies and submit my resume, bio and some samples. I offered them my services directly. Several declined my offer immediately. This is normal and to be expected. Don't let it stop you though. There will always be another company who does need a writer now.
I have three SEO companies contacting me directly for their work (two in the US, one in Australia). When they hire you directly, the pay rate tends to be much higher than content mill work. They're paying for quality and for the right to have a dedicated writer on demand whenever they want it.
I love writing about finance. So I contacted a couple of finance magazines and suggested a column on a sub-niche that interests me, but they don't have yet. Most declined my offer (again - this is normal) - but two accepted my idea and now I write two permanent finance columns for magazines (one in the UK and one in the US).
I also enjoy writing sales pages (this is called copywriting). Rather than advertise that I do copywriting, I simply emailed the owners of a few different affiliate products that interested me. I showed them some of my previous work - now four of them contact me directly to write the sales pages every time they release new products too.
Copywriting pays MUCH higher than article writing, so if you can learn the tricks behind it, it's worth the effort.
Creating Your Own Markets
In the link I posted at the beginning of this article, (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-find-freelance-writing-work.html ) if you scroll down to tip number nine, you'll see where my own mentor is proficient at creating her own writing markets. She doesn't go out searching for clients. She brings the clients directly to her!
I'm still learning how this works, but the attempts I've made have been very profitable so far. The benefits of having clients come directly to one spot to purchase your work while you're not even writing are just huge. I'm working hard to increase my knowledge and available work in this area right now.
This area seems to be one of the more profitable niches within freelance writing!
No, I do NOT mean submitting work to revenue-share sites. I'm talking about ways to benefit from the things you write and get paid for your efforts. Your own personal website or blog should be your advertisement for your writing style and your commitment to writing in general, but there's nothing wrong with monetizing it a bit.
Did you know that most of my own private clients come to this blog to check out my writing? Even though this blog is about freelance writing and has nothing to do with the topics I'll be writing for them, they get to see that it's been running quite a while (shows dedication), I post fairly regularly and that I constantly promote it to get my name out there. This also gives them an idea of my 'writing tone'.
Since I have a blog running and I'm posting new content to it, I might as well try to monetize it anyway I can. You will notice ads in the right hand column - both Adsense and affiliate ads. You will also notice that I have a section of links to my friend's sites. These links help their blogs. Hopefully they link to me too, which helps my blog. Everyone wins.
Income fillers serve a couple of positive purposes for freelance writers. While they are usually very low paying, they can become a great source of free advertising for your work, your website or your blog.
These fun-fillers include paid forum posting, paid social networking, paid chatting etc. You don't need any experience and you don't need to write endless articles. These are just a bit of fun for a little extra money.
Remember - these are fun-fillers, so they're not intended to be ways to earn serious income. Don't let them take over your real working time.
Okay - that's about all the options I can think of for now. Along with a link for ways to find freelance work (at the beginning of this post), you now have several options for ways to diversify your freelance income. Pick and mix the options that suit you until you have enough freelance work to keep you busy.
And keep writing :)
p.s. if you're reading this, then I want to know what questions you want answered. I want to know what you want to learn about freelancing. There's never any such thing as a silly question - questions just mean you haven't found the right answers yet. Your comments help me to think of new posts and new topics to try and cover.