How to Find Freelance Writing Work

Right from the very start of my freelance writing business I've always had plenty of work. I guess I'm lucky that I had a mentor who showed me how to find good-quality clients and how to encourage clients to keep ordering more work from me.

I wrote an earlier post giving a vague idea of how to find freelance work (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/03/finding-freelance-writing-work.html) but I still get a lot of emails asking me to be more specific.

It occurred to me that there are a lot of freelancers out there that don't have this same benefit. Many writers struggle to find new work. They can't seem to find the good clients that pay well and on time. They wonder how to find ways to source more work to keep their income high enough without having to give in to the pathetic slave-labor writing sites.

So I figured I'd list down some of the things I've done over the course of my freelance career to source new clients and new work.

Always remember - you're running YOUR freelance business, so you're free to choose what works for you and what doesn't. There are more tips about finding clients here:

Here we go...

1. Website or Blog

This would have to be the number one way to attract new clients. Without a website, how will clients know what you do and who you are? You can include a list of your services and specialty topics. It's up to you if you want to include your list of fees or not.

Your freelance website should include a bio and some sample writing so clients can get an idea of your style. Include a portfolio of published work to date (hint: work self-published on Associated Content or Helium is NOT a professional portfolio. See my previous post about creating a professional portfolio).

2. Self-Promotion

If people don't know what you do, how can they hire you? Do you have business cards? Are you promoting your website for people to find? Where have you told the world that you are a "Freelance Writer For Hire"?

I'm a member of several community sites where webmasters and article marketers hang out. I never beg for work. I simply have my services listed in my signature line. If people are interested they'll send me a PM (private message) or they'll find my email address in the right hand column of this blog and shoot me an email. I give out my business card everywhere I go. I tell people what I do and I've learned they often tell others that they know a writer who might be able to help. Networking can be a valuable tool.

3. Offer Your Services

When I was still in the creation stage of my freelance business, I decided I wanted to break my working day into sections. I enjoy SEO writing, but I also enjoy the research involved in magazine feature articles. Web-writing and article writing are quick and easy and not too difficult. Writing fiction is pure joy. What parts do you enjoy?

When you know what you enjoy most about writing, take a moment to craft a letter of proposal to a few potential clients. I wrote to magazine editors, owners of SEO companies, web-developers and article marketers. I got a lot of rejections - but I also got quite a lot of assignments and permanent clients from this one tactic.

4. Referrals

One of the biggest sources of new work for me is referrals from existing clients. The vast majority of my freelance clients are either article marketers or SEO consultants. They tend to hang out in networks, communities or forums with other article marketers or SEO consultants.

In a previous post I highlighted some of the things I do to make sure my clients keep coming back to me. I've had clients go away in search of freelance writers with cheap fees, but they always come back.

5. Job Boards

Scouring the freelance job boards can sometimes lead to good assignments and great contacts with potential new clients. I've listed several great job boards in previous posts and I use them regularly to keep my work-load constant. I've also listed several job boards and opportunities to avoid so you don't end up wasting your time.

6. Repeat Business

Repeat business from existing clients is easily my biggest source of freelance writing work. I'm constantly amazed by stories of freelance writers who complete an assignment and then never hear from that client again.

When you finish an assignment, thank the client for trusting you with their content/article/blog post/whatever. In your thank you letter, let them know you'd be happy to work with anything else they need in future and tell them to contact you if they are thinking of other assignments in future. This simple courtesy can often let them know you want to work with them further.

Sometimes clients lose your contact details. Tactful contact with clients can sometimes remind them of your services, refresh your contact details for them and prompt a fresh order from them.

7. Bid Sites

I'm not a fan of bidding sites like Guru.com or freelancewriting.com . These sites seem to be inundated with people willing to undercut on bids to try and be the cheapest bid. I won't work for pennies, so I won't go chasing clients who only want to pay pennies.

However, if you're really stuck for freelance work, then at least bidding sites can give you an opportunity to meet potential new clients.

8. Diversifying

Where is it written in any rule-book that you only have to write articles online to be a freelancer? What's wrong with writing for magazines? What's wrong with writing fiction? What's wrong with writing ebooks or blogs or songs or poems or jokes?

Diversify your portfolio. Not only does it make your working day a little more fun, but you break into wider markets at the same time.

9. Create Your Own Market

I'm still learning how this phase works and I've had some success so far, but I've seen my mentor (hi Lee!) generate her own writing markets so that she can bring clients directly to her and create sales where there were none before.

This means she writes ebooks and generates sales from her websites (she has 10! Where does she find the time to write as well? Want to see what she deals with every day on top of her writing assignments? http://www.fictionfactor.com/sites.html) Aside from writing ebooks, she writes all the content for her own sites. She writes courses and lesson guides. She writes ezines.

One of her other self-made writing markets, PLR articles, is explained here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/12/profiting-from-plr-articles.html

The point of creating your own market is that you don't need to be constantly searching for new clients to give you paid writing assignments. This is because you're generating income from your writing activities via other avenues.

10. Ask Other Freelancers

How many freelance communities or forums or networks are you involved in? I try to spend a little time with some of the bigger communities wherever I can because the tips and tricks you learn from the professional writers can be invaluable.

I hope this post has helped you to find a few more writing clients. Good luck :)


Freelance Jobs to Avoid - Content Gurus

Thanks to the reader who emailed me the link to this site.

The new addition to my growing list of freelance jobs to avoid is Content Gurus. (also known as Content Marketing Pros)


There are a lot of angry writers on the net lately making it very clear that this site promises VERY low pay ($2.50 for 400 words) - and then they don't pay their writers! (see evidence link here: http://www.freelancewriting.com/forums/index.php?a=vtopic&t=523 plus several disgruntled comments on this post from unpaid writers)

The double-whammy of extra low pay plus the bonus of not paying their writers means Content Gurus definitely earns a place in the writing markets to avoid listing on this blog. This also means avoiding Content Marketing Pros (CMPros International). Content Marketing Pros is the new company name given to the failed Content Gurus and owned by the same untrusthworthy people.

If you or someone you know has written for this site, please leave a comment and let us know your story. We'd love to hear it.

EDIT: Since Rachel, the owner of Content Gurus has clearly stated she DOESN'T pay $2.50 per article, I've since found a link showing that she's offering to pay $2 an article. She was telling the truth! Here's the link if you want to see it for yourself: http://www.simplyhired.com/job-id/rupu3f5nie/freelance-writer-jobs/

So at an even lower pay rate than I initially reported, Content Gurus is definitely an entrant into the Freelance Markets to AVOID

Update: We've had a couple of comments added to this post from an angry webmaster and an angry owner of Content Gurus, denying they pay their writers ridiculously low rates and accusing me of writing on 'hearsay' only.

However, we also have SEVERAL comments from ex-Content Guru writers who haven't been paid at all and are seeking legal action.

So, if you're a writer and you want to earn some income - Avoid Content Gurus. Avoid CMPros International. Avoid Content Marketing Pros.



Dealing With Rejection as a Writer

I've met a lot of freelance writers since beginning my freelance business. Both non-fiction and fiction writers alike, I've learned that there are those who submit their work to every market they can find in the hope that some will accept. I've also learned there are a few who never submit to any markets for fear of being rejected.

So I went hunting for an article about rejection and found something I think you might like. It was written by my mentor, Lee and originally published in her ezine Fiction Factor. Enjoy.


Dealing with Rejection
by Lee Masterson

"Dear Reject Writer,

The brilliant, masterpiece-seeking staff at Bucking-Huge Publishing have decided to ruin your day and post you this pointless piece of paper. It is an official rejection of you as a person and as a writer.

Basically, we thought your story sucked so much that we didn't want to use your SASE to return it to you - just in case you personally had licked the stamps. In fact, we were afraid to touch it. We hired someone to burn it for us. We also hired the same person to prepare this form rejection letter, so you'll never be tempted to think we read it at all.

Once at the post box, the editorial staff will crowd around this soon-to-be-sealed rejection-letter-of-doom and chant curses upon your writing future, after which we shall laugh at you and call you names like Reject and Amateur, just to make us feel better, but especially to make you feel worse.

Have a rotten day!
The Editor"

Rejected - Personally!

Many writers feel as though each rejection letter is deeply personal. Regardless of whether the rejection you receive is a form rejection or a personalized note trying to explain why that publication has chosen not to accept your brain-child - to a writer, the declining editor is the enemy.

Seriously, the first thing all writers must realize is that rejections are NOT personal. I know many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement and even more won't believe me right now, but it is true.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons an editor might reject a piece of work:

* The publication is over-stocked with similar stuff right now
* The manuscript was about the wrong topic for that editor's preferences
* The manuscript was too long/too short for that publishing house's tastes.
* That editor only buys horror. You submitted romance!
* Your manuscript was addressed to the wrong editor.
* There is no market for books about purchasing snow tires in the Australian Outback
* The editor has spent the quarterly purchase budget, and so rejected everything that came in the door that month.

The above examples are just a few things that could happen in any busy publishing office - and are also just some of the ideas that I came up with off the top of my head. In each example, the editor is in no way rejecting the AUTHOR personally. In each example, however, the editor is making a point of showing the author that his or her manuscript is simply not right for that publishing house on that day from a purely business point of view.

There are many, many more reasons an editor may choose to reject any piece of writing. I could research for the next decade and STILL be finding new reasons why editors reject writing. I'll lay odds that very, very few of those rejections stemmed from a personal dislike of an author.

What is an Editor?

Despite beliefs to the contrary, editors are people. They breathe real air and work at real jobs. They go home to real homes and have real families (sometimes). They have bosses to answer to and they must fulfill job descriptions, like anyone else.

An editor's job is to purchase manuscripts (be they novels, short stories or articles) for the publishing house who pays the checks on pay day. In order for that editor to keep receiving pay checks, the publishing house must continue to sell enough books (or magazines) to enough readers to guarantee the running costs will be covered for another week.

If the editor purchases manuscripts that do NOT return sufficient profit for the publishing house to remain in business, then everyone loses. The author's work is STILL rejected, the editor loses his or her job, and thousands of related workers will also join unemployment cues once the publishing house files for bankruptcy and closes its doors.

Now that we all understand that trivial fact, let's ask the following question:

Why do so many writers feel the need to exact a bloody, dire revenge on an editor who is simply doing his or her job?

Whilst researching for this article, I visited some "Coping with Rejection" sites. One of these sites offers a place for rejected authors to vent their frustration and anger at hapless editors.

On one forum, I happened across the angry rantings of a rejected writer, determined to let the world know that he thought all publishers and all agents were only out to find out 'how much money that writer can make for [them] anyway."

I'd like to know who told that unhappy Rejected Author that the industry was ever any different! Let's be honest. If your book is not popularly liked by the masses (your readers!) then no copies are going to sell. If no copies sell, then the publisher has lost money. The editor has lost money. The bookstore has lost money. The author has lost money - oh wait - the author has to pay back any money that wasn't covered by sales...

Honestly, the publishing industry is a money and sales oriented business - just like any other. Why try to internalize something that is simply about how many books are going to sell of how many shelves on any day?

What is a Published Author?

I know, I know - you're already thinking "A published author is a writer who has been published."

You're way ahead of me. Or are you?

I was going to use the following definition: "A published author was once an unpublished author who didn't quit submitting."

You see, ALL published writers were once unknown, unpublished writers, who kept submitting work until eventually they were accepted. It's purely a numbers game. The more you submit, the greater your chances are of receiving an acceptance!

Did you know:

* --The first Harry Potter book is reported to have been rejected by 14 publishers.

* --Stephen King's Carrie had been rejected more than 30 times before being picked up for publication.

* --Richard Bach's Johnathan Livingston Seagull received more than 140 rejections.

* --After 743 rejection slips, British author, John Creasey went on to have 564 mystery novels published!

* --Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time received over 30 rejections. It took 10 years to get published, and then went on to win a Newbery Award.

What to Do When You Receive a Rejection

It never ceases to amaze me how many potential authors swear undying vengeance upon any editor who may have rejected a story.

You have several choices. You could:

a) Scrawl "Die, Editor" in blood across the cheaply photocopied form rejection letter and promptly mail it back to that editor, along with the sawn off head of his Fluffy Bunny soft-toy.


b) Act like a professional writer, file each rejected piece of work into a file and send the piece back out the door. This way, each rejection is turned into a brand new submission the very same day.

Now I'm not saying my way of dealing with rejection is the right way, but here are some of the things I do when I receive a rejection.

Firstly, I open my filing cabinet and take out the file marked "Rejection". Then I place the rejection slip into it, close it and return it to the filing cabinet.

Next, I'll open a file on my computer called "Writing Business". Inside this folder are sub-folders for invoices, contracts, taxes, clippings, ideas, snippets, half-finished articles & stories, pay rate schedules, two spreadsheets (submissions and pay amounts) and one last folder - you guessed it - REJECTIONS.

Inside the rejections folder, I have another spreadsheet. I list the date and publication name. I also list where I intend to send that rejected piece next. Then it gets listed again in the Submissions spreadsheet (because it's not a rejection anymore, it's a new submission again, remember?).

Improving the Acceptance Odds

There are also lots of things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted by an editor. The most obvious solution is: Submit more.

Simple, really, isn't it?

Of course, the more work you submit, the greater the chances are that you'll receive a rejection. But the same odds are true for receiving an acceptance, too. It really is a numbers game.

The more you submit, the greater your chances become of receiving an acceptance!

© Copyright Lee Masterson. All Rights Reserved.