O Me of Little Faith

Returning to the mailbag question from Wednesday: My quick answer to the question of where to find freelance writing jobs is everywhere. And I mean that. Our is a world of information and content. Despite the proliferation of videos and podcasts and interactive media, the written word is still vitally important. Companies and organizations still communicate via words (and many videos and podcasts use scripts), and those words have to be written.

Website content has to come from somewhere. Email communication has to come from somewhere. Blog posts, surveys, newsletters, photo captions, descriptions of YouTube videos — all of these things must be written. The problem many organizations have is that they don’t have someone in place who is comfortable with writing. They’re intimidated by grammar or spelling or the occasionally difficult task of getting a point across clearly. This is where freelance writers with a natural talent for language (and a working knowledge of grammar and tone and spelling) can be pretty helpful.

You’d be surprised the kinds of projects I’ve been asked to write or edit for people. I’ve written emails from executives asking for donations to a certain charity. I’ve ghostwritten blog posts on behalf of organizations. I’ve written headlines for newsletter stories and brainstormed subtitles for books and taken previously written copy for a website and polished it up to make it edgier and more effective. And I’ve gotten paid to do this.

And so can you.

The question is how. Most of my freelance writing jobs come from networking. I meet someone somewhere, they learn I’m a professional copywriter, and eventually they ask for my help on a project. They like the quality and price, so they ask again. We establish a relationship. Then they mention me to someone else, and I get brought into another project and another relationship. Or they move to a new company and ask me to work for them again (which I usually do, while maintaining a relationship with the “old” business, too). This works for me because I’ve been doing this for several years. I’m not in the position of having to seek out work. That’s good.

But what if you’re just getting started? There are still several things you can do. First, you can sign up for several places that allow you to bid for freelance writing jobs for clients who are looking to outsource specific, project-based needs. These include Guru, iFreelance, and Elance. The benefit of these sites is that it helps you find work if you don’t have much in the way of references or don’t have many clips to use as examples. (Caveat: I’ve never used any of these, so I won’t endorse one over another. Do your research.)

Another option is to seek out local businesses, start-up organizations, or schools and churches. Pull up their website. There’s a chance it may have minimal (or poorly written) copy. Take the initiative and rewrite their copy for them. Get in touch with the owner of the organization and send them a sample of the new copy — make sure it’s good, by the way — then offer to rewrite the rest of the site for a certain fee. If they’re impressed with your work and can afford it, they may take you up on it. Impress them, and you’ll have built a relationship, gained a reference, and made a little money.

Website editing or content production is huge right now, and it’s only going to get bigger. If you can develop ongoing relationships this can lead to regular, necessary work. You’ll have to work at it by targeting places that you think would be willing to pay for your help, but once you get your foot in the door — and demonstrate that it belongs there — the opportunities are excellent.

There’s a lot of stuff out there about freelance writing (here’s a good place to start), but I’m still happy to answer any other questions you might have. Email me or comment below.

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