Freelance Writing: The Thrill Is In the Chase

freelance writing

I’ve re-connected with 2 former clients and responded to no less than 10 ads for freelance writing jobs today. I have several blog posts and two newsletters to write for existing clients, but it is all due Monday so I have a solid 48 hours or more.

Thinking about how much fun I had today writing pitches, I realized exactly why I love freelance writing and get bored in a typical office job: Freelance writing provides constant fulfillment and inspiration because the thrill is in the chase.

I love crafting a compelling cover letter. I get an esteem boost from hunting down the perfect clip to share. (“Hey, I wrote that? It’s pretty good, even a year later!”) And I have even grown to thrive on the wait that ensues until I hear back and negotiation begins. I love it all! (Maybe not so much the negotiation part, but it’s definitely exciting.)

If you’re a beginning freelance writer, though, this process of finding and applying for jobs may not invigorate you. It may scare you. Here are my tips to help you get over that — because it’s a necessity to survive in a gig-based business.

Enlist the help of a friend.
Early in my career, I’d have a writer friend read and copy edit every single cover letter or pitch I sent. If you’re just getting started in the freelance world, build a strong network of fellow freelancers, and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Your buddy may not only look over your work, but they will serve as your cheering squad. Just yesterday, I got a late-night private message from a writer friend. “I sent out the query! I just wanted to let you know!” she said. Sometimes, having someone holding you accountable is all you need to get over your fear.

Streamline your efforts by knowing the best places to look for freelancing writing jobs.
For years, Freelance Writing Jobs was THE best place to find freelance writing jobs online. It still ranks in my top 5, and the first place I check to prospect for new clients. Other sites include, Media Bistro, and even Craig’s List. Keep your eyes open for Facebook groups, too. Two of my newest clients came from the Facebook group Paid to Write. (If you’re interested in joining, please leave a comment below and I will send you an invitation.)

Know how to write a strong letter.

A good, strong cover letter should include an attention-getting lead, a few sentences outlining your credentials, and your best clips relevant to that market. It really is that easy!

Follow the instructions in the ad.
Editors do like to trick freelancers. An ad might ask for a specific number of writing samples or a certain subject heading in the email. Follow the directions closely, as some editors may disqualify you simply for not following instructions. Read carefully, then re-read the requirements right before you hit send.

Have a collection of clips ready to go.

Knowing your best work in a few chosen markets, and having them readily available, either in a Word doc, on your website, or on a sticky note on your computer, can save you minutes with every job application. If you apply to 10 jobs a night, having your clip ducks in a row can really save time. (Wow… clip ducks just put a really cute visual in my mind…)

Just hit send.
Did you follow the instructions on the ad? Is the email going to the right place? Is the heading correct? Did you have a friend proofread it? Now it’s time to “just hit send.” It’s a simple concept, and it really is the formula for freelance success.

As you master these moves, you, too, will find the thrill in the chase of the freelance life.

This Is What I’ve Missed

For those who don’t know, I’ve spent the past year in a long-term contract with home automation and control system powerhouse, Crestron Electronics, managing the company’s social media and occasionally taking on PR duties.

I worked a set number of hours and received a steady paycheck. It was strange!

Tonight, faced with a freelance writing business in need of re-building and a handful of core clients, I sent out 5 freelance applications and re-connected with two former clients. As I wrote my third cover letter for the night, I realized how much I absolutely love this life!

It may not always be easy to budget carefully, take on one-off work to cover an expense here or there, or to always be putting yourself “out there” for rejection as a freelance writer. But I love this life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Maybe I shouldn’t be posting this on a site that is meant to be read by my prospective clients. But as I responded to queries, it felt strange. It was almost as if I had a “gap” in my resume … one that was filled with steady work from a single client. I was working consistently and I was working hard — but I wasn’t writing. How does one convey, to an editor one has never met, just how much this really means, just how much I was missing by NOT writing, and how I am fully qualified, after 20+ years as a writer and editor, to jump right back in the game with the content they need?

In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. A marketing title with a large corporation means a lot to anyone looking for sharp, savvy, reliable writers. But I still felt a need to explain WHY I wasn’t writing, what I’d learned at Crestron, and exactly what I’d been doing with my time.

So, now it’s out there, for all the world to read. In addition to my audio visual industry knowledge, I’ve become an expert in home automation, smart homes, and social media marketing. From monitoring to analytics, customer support to messaging… It’s a new realm that I love. But not quite as much as I love writing. I think that shows!

Writers and Editors Celebrate National Grammar Day

Did you know yesterday was National Grammar Day? I was working hard to shine and polish my new website in order to launch it before the end of the day, because it seemed appropriate. Star Wars geeks have May 4th…. (Think about it…) And writers and editors have March 4.

Alas, the website wasn’t quite done…. Mostly because I was nit-picking about the style and grammar on this particular blog post.

So… even though it’s now March 5, let’s “March forth” toward better grammar and explain why it is so important that I spent a whole extra day copyediting and proofreading my website before promoting it to the world. Grammar really does matter if you’re writing content to improve your company’s search engine rankings, drive leads to your site, and increase conversions. (And especially if you’re a writer selling these services!) I’ll tell you why.

The Power of Words
Words have power. Words coerce, convince, hurt or heal. The words you choose to put on your website or push out in a social media campaign reflect your brand. I’m not talking just about the content or intent of those words to share a specific message, although that’s extremely important. The way you put the words together – the grammar, style and tone in the content – is also part of your company’s overall branding.

Do You Know Your Brand’s Voice?
Are you casual? Fun? Formal? Techie? A little bit of all of these, depending on your mood or the context of what you’re sharing? Who is your audience? How do they speak and what words do they use?

I’ve been trained through a number of coaches, books, and programs to use special techniques that help me choose words that connect with specific audiences. When I work with a new client, it doesn’t take me long to assimilate their branding and message, and the unique voice that will speak to their audience.

Doing Your Own Content Marketing? 
If you are tackling social media marketing and content marketing on your own, you’ll want to take some time to find your own company’s voice and determine the tone that will speak best to your audience. If you know your business, that voice probably comes naturally to you, because you will naturally talk the same way as your customers.

But even if you have a rock-solid view of your audience and what they want, talking is not writing. When you’re writing, even if it’s just a 140-character tweet, grammatical errors can get in the way. It can prevent you from sharing your message in the way you want. It can prevent you from connecting with your readers. Not everyone is a grammar guru, and it can become a handicap if you’re handling your own content marketing.

Grammar Matters
Have you ever read something truly moving, but noticed that the writer used “You’re” instead of “Your?” It pulled you out of the experience for a moment. Even if you’re not the type of person who does notice grammatical gaffs, someone in your target audience might be. You don’t want to risk losing them.

Grammar matters. Even if you don’t notice, a percentage of your audience will. Grammar is not yet a lost art, and there are many people seeking to preserve the art form. We know spelling, word choice and sentence construction — all a part of good grammar — really do matter.

Everybody needs an editor. Whether you have another employee, friend or relative proofread your work or you call on an editorial professional, I urge you to think about the grammar you use in your content — today and everyday.