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 JournalismJobs.com, 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.