Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners: How to Get Your Feet Wet
Are you a beginning freelance writer? These jobs might suit you well.
There’s a difference between freelance writing jobs for beginners and jobs for more advanced scribes.
When I tell people that I work as a freelance writer and editor, I often get the same follow-up question: “How can I get into that business?”
I usually ask the person whether he or she has ever written professionally. If the answer is “no,” I’m a little wary of providing any advice.
The truth is that most people vastly misunderstand the level of skill and knowledge you need to succeed as a freelance writer. It’s a tough business.
If words like SEO, backlinks, subheads, anchor text, style guide, and LSI keyword don’t sound familiar, you need to start with freelance writing jobs for beginners.
Does this mean you need to work for pennies? No. I sure hope not.
It just means that you need a relatively easy job to ease you into this industry.
And you need to do a lot of research. In fact, while you’re searching for freelance writing jobs, devote just as much time to educating yourself on industry jargon and best practices.
Trust me — you won’t regret those hours. Check back next week for a full article on learning everything you need to know about freelance writing for beginners.
But you’re looking for a job, so we’ll start there. Let’s look at a few ways to secure freelance writing jobs for beginners.
Check With Community Publications
There’s something to be said for community networking. If you can meet with your potential employer in person, you’ll get a better idea of what he or she is looking for.
I’ve spent most of my professional life online, communicating primarily through email. It does, at times, suck.
One-on-one communication wins the gold every time. It’s far more efficient. Plus, you can ask as many follow-up questions as you want.
Community freelance writing jobs could include several opportunities:
- Neighborhood newsletters
- Copywriting for local businesses
- Writing real estate property descriptions
- Creating intra-office communications
- Crafting website copy for local businesses
- Drafting resumes for job seekers
If you live in a small town or have a journalism background, consider working for a newspaper. Yes, they still exist.
While I mentioned website copywriting above, I recommend staying away from that arena until you have more experience (and have conducted the requisite research). Website copy needs far more specialized attention than print copy.
How do you find these jobs? You ask for them.
Maybe there’s a local business that you patronize regularly. Mention to the owner that you’re a freelance writer and that you’d love to work with the business on a project.
Create a LinkedIn account and make sure your contacts (especially local ones) know that you’re open for business.
You can even tap friends, family members, neighbors, and former colleagues. Ask people to spread the word about your business locally.
Find a Beginner Niche
A niche is a specialty market to which you direct your skills. Freelance writing niches are numerous, but they include the following:
- Health care
- Service industries
- Advertising copy
- Food and beverage
You get the idea. However, you can also select a micro niche that will make finding freelance writing jobs for beginners far easier.
For instance, several of my first jobs involved writing corporate bios for employees and C-level executives. I’d ask my clients to send me bullet-point lists describing their careers, ambitions, awards, accolades, and job role.
I mentioned writing real estate property descriptions above. That’s another great beginner niche.
You could write product descriptions, technical manuals, test questions for educational institutions.
Do you see a trend here? I’m talking about short copy. Copy that doesn’t require significant content marketing skills.
Mine Your Background
If you’re a teacher (or ex-teacher), maybe you should write educational content.
Do you build your own furniture? Consider writing for a DIY-related publication.
Can you fix anything with a motor in it? Go for an automotive niche.
You’ll automatically write better copy if you’re familiar with the material — even more so if you’re passionate about it.
I, for example, work as an editor, but my freelance writing career has lasted more than 12 years. You might notice that I publish content on freelance writing.
Once you’re more comfortable with freelance writing, you can branch outside your comfortable little bubble. For now, though, you need confidence and passion.
So how do you get freelance writing jobs for beginners that relate to your background?
Start reaching out to people in that industry. Get to know them on social media, connect with them on LinkedIn, leave comments on their blog posts — in general, make yourself known.
You might also want to write a few sample pieces that you can add to your portfolio. Just write an article or another type of content to demonstrate your expertise.
Find a Mentor
Believe me when I say that you’re not alone. Far from it. And if you can find someone to help guide you through your first freelance writing jobs for beginners, your career will take off much faster.
I think I’ve mentioned networking several times in this article. That’s because it’s important. Without contacts, you’re staring at an empty email inbox — and maybe an empty bank account.
A mentor can teach you the ropes, point you toward valuable resources, and even help you get a job.
In fact, that’s how I got my current gig. I’d worked with someone a couple years ago and he remembered my work ethic and the quality of my writing. Now I have my dream job.
Finding a mentor isn’t always easy, but I recommend forums and communities dedicated to freelancers. Get to know the other mentors and find out who has the most experience.
You don’t need an official internship. Just someone to whom you can reach out when you have questions or a lack of work.
Browse Craigslist and Other Job Boards
You have to be careful with this trick. There are plenty of great freelance writing jobs for beginners on Craigslist, but you have to separate the golden nuggets from the worthless sand.
I don’t recommend working for a pittance even as a beginner. Your time and effort are worth something. You decide on the number.
Look for red flags that indicate a job might not offer sufficient cash to make it worth your while.
For instance, if the ad mentions that the employer is “on a budget,” run like the wind, my friend. You’re going to get financially screwed.
Steer clear of postings that seem too good to be true, too.
There are a few other places to look for freelance writing jobs for beginners:
Look for jobs that align with your background and that don’t require much specialized expertise.
Apply to Content Mills
Don’t get out the pitchforks just yet. Hear me out.
I’m not a huge fan of content mills. They often generate poorly written copy and pay writers far less than they’re worth.
However, they provide access to income. You like money, right?
Many professionals have a tough time finding freelance writing jobs for beginners. It’s a competitive market out there.
Some of the content mills offer regular, stable work. You just have to get comfortable with the process.
A few of the content mills that have become popular among freelancers:
- Media Shower
- Bunny Inc.
- Writers Domain
- Demand Media
- Writer Access
Each company requires you to undergo an application process. You’ll need to prove your command over the English language as well as your comfort level with writing for the web.
You also have to feel comfortable working as a ghost. You don’t get a byline, in most cases, so you won’t get credit for your work.
Be a Guest
Guest posting offers another intriguing opportunity for beginner freelance writers. You don’t have to prove your credentials — you just have to show that you know how to write.
You’ll also get excellent exposure through guest posting. You might get high-quality backlinks from those sites as well as prospects who appreciate your skill.
It’s all in the pitch. You need to make sure that the editorial staff loves your idea so much that they can’t wait to see the final copy.
Just search for blogs related to your niche. Find out if they accept pitches for guest posts. If they do, pitch them articles that you can write confidently and competently.
Write for Free
I’m not advocating that you write for others for free. Please don’t.
However, you can write for yourself for free.
Start a blog. Join a few social media platforms. Get your content out there.
Writing for yourself offers two benefits: (1) You get lots and lots of practice; and (2) You become more visible to potential clients.
What you write about is entirely up to you. Consider writing about your chosen niche, though, if you’re hoping to score clients based on your work.
When you write for yourself, make sure to post a clear call to action at the end. Provide at least two ways for prospective customers to get in touch with you.
A good CTA for the end of your blog post might look like this:
Feel free to dress it up with buttons, fonts, colors, and whatever else you can do to make it stand out from the rest of your content.
If you don’t have any experience with freelance writing, you don’t want to jump in with the experts. You need to find freelance writing jobs for beginner — jobs that won’t exceed your skill level or lead to a poor experience with a client.
All of the suggestions above can help you land your first few freelance writing gigs. Use this time to brush up on your copywriting skills, your knowledge of SEO, and other skill sets that will serve you in this industry.
And don’t forget to let me know how it goes.