Many aspiring freelance writers become discouraged after applying to hundreds of jobs on job boards and receiving zero responses.
The problem isn’t necessarily that you’re a bad writer.
You’re just not using the right strategy to land your first freelance job.
Even if you use the best practice advice, like personalizing your pitch and sharing relevant writing samples, it’s still hard to stand out on a job board.
If you feel discouraged and want a more effective strategy to find a freelance writing job, this post will show you exactly how to find and land a high-paying freelance copywriting job in 2023.
Why You Should Skip Online Job Boards For Your First Writing Job
Freelance writing job boards, like Upwork, ProBlogger, and even Indeed, are incredibly crowded, with countless writers vying for the same opportunities.
For example, this single job ad has over 400 applicants. There’s a good chance that the hiring manager won’t even see your application:
Speaking from personal experience, most hiring managers select the first decent applicant they receive rather than sifting through several hundred applications.
Secondly, many of the best freelance writing clients find their writers through referrals and recommendations from their networks, so they don’t actively publish job listings.
Here are a few more effective methods that help you land better freelance writing jobs in less time (and some can even turn into full-time jobs if you wish!).
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7 Best Ways To Find Entry-Level Freelance Writing Jobs
As someone who has been on both the hiring and applying side of the process, I’ve used numerous methods to land and fill freelance writing gigs. Here are the most successful methods I recommend for landing more high-paying freelance work.
1- Use LinkedIn To Find New Writing Clients
Most ideal clients are already on LinkedIn, but cold pitching strategies rarely work. I personally receive hundreds of LinkedIn pitches from different freelance writers, and I’ve never responded to one of them.
However, I have hired plenty of freelance writers through LinkedIn.
The key is to build a LinkedIn following to attract potential clients. Once you have a following, you’ll have a steady flow of clients, and even if one client churns, you won’t have to spend hours cold-pitching clients.
Instead, you’ll still have a steady flow of inbound leads, and your follower count will actually continue to grow exponentially as you build a presence. In contrast, if you rely solely on cold-pitching clients, you’ll have to start again from ground zero when a client churns.
A great example of an individual who has built her freelance writing career on LinkedIn is Romana Hoekstra. She regularly posts helpful content on LinkedIn and has built a loyal following of SaaS marketers.
So how do you get started? First, set up your LinkedIn profile.
Set Up Your LinkedIn Profile
Do all the basics like uploading a high-quality headshot photo, an eye-catching banner image, and a headline that clearly communicates that you’re a freelance writer for (your industry) like SaaS or ecommerce.
Below is an excellent example of a great profile picture.
I also like the banner image of Elisa Silverman, who uses the logos of brands she has written for in the past.
Next, focus on the 80/20 of what makes a profile really excellent. Craft an eye-catching summary on your LinkedIn Profile, also known as the “About” section.
Use this space to narrate your unique story and how your skills positively impact the people you collaborate with. Here is a great example of a LinkedIn profile summary for inspiration:
Start Building Connections
Next, connect with people you know personally, such as colleagues, friends, classmates, and former clients.
These connections can provide a foundation for expanding your network and help you get new clients by sharing recommendations. LinkedIn endorsements act as social proof and can help your profile stand out from a pool of other writers in your industry. Positive reviews on your LinkedIn profile can also boost your credibility as a freelance writer.
When reaching out with connection requests, take the time to personalize each message. Mention how you know the person or explain why you’d like to connect. A personalized message is more likely to be well-received and accepted.
Join Writing Groups
Join LinkedIn groups focused on writing, content creation, blogging, and freelancing. Examples include “Freelance Writers” or “Content Writing Professionals.”
Actively engage in group discussions and offer valuable insights that could help other content marketers. Networking within these groups can lead to potential job opportunities, and hiring managers take note of people who share great insights and ask great questions.
Some writing groups may have dedicated sections for job postings or freelance gigs. Keep an eye on these opportunities to find new writing projects.
I have plenty of friends who have hired new writers from these groups, so if you share insightful content, you might find them highly effective.
Write the Perfect LinkedIn Outreach Message
Earlier, I mentioned that cold-pitching clients don’t work.
However, if you’ve put in the work and built a strong LinkedIn following, you’ll have a pretty good shot at getting hired if the company you’re targeting is looking for a new freelance writer. This is because a following is essentially social proof, so you’ll immediately stand out to potential clients.
To get started, research and identify potential clients who fit your writing services.
Then, think about how you can provide value to them first.
I like to ask for a quote from that person or show them that I linked to their company in a different client’s article. Most people will respond to these messages because you’re offering them free press.
They love these messages!
After you provide value to them and open the conversation, it’s very easy to say that you’re looking for more freelance clients and ask if they know of anyone looking for freelance writing work.
Here is an example template that you can use to build connections:
Hi [Recipient’s Name],
I was writing a post on AI marketing tools and found [company name] in the process. I added you to the list and linked to your blog post on X. I write a lot of content on AI marketing and would be happy to include you in more future posts, so let me know if you want me to change how I position the product or add any additional information.
Thanks for the feedback! I’ll make those adjustments in the future! Also, I’m looking for more freelance writing work. If you have any friends hiring, I’d love a connection! Thanks!
This pitch is much more likely to receive a positive response because you’ve already provided tremendous value to them (free promotion and a link!) and they’ve also seen your writing, so they know you can write well.
2. Offer Your Services For Free
If you start with low-paying jobs on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr, you’ll probably be working with low-quality clients that are difficult to manage.
It may seem counterintuitive, but offering your services for free to your ideal clients is actually the fastest way to land a high-paying job.
In fact, this is how I got my start as a freelance writer. I reached out to my ideal client with a completed blog post relevant to their niche and told them I could continue sending them content like it for free in exchange for a testimonial.
After a few free pieces of content, this client began paying me (very well!) and referred me to their friends.
As a result, I had a handful of high-paying, low-maintenance clients in a very short period of time.
It also made it easy for me to win other dream clients through cold pitching, as I could use the brand name from my initial free job to gain instant credibility.
Here’s a visual representation of what it might look like if you start with a free job versus a low paying job:
If I was starting a freelance writing business today, this is still the strategy I would use.
3. Approach Digital Marketing Agencies
Digital marketing agencies need reliable freelance writers, and many are willing to take a chance on trainable new writers. I’ve also found that working for an agency can improve your writing skills as they often provide more feedback and processes.
Start by researching digital marketing services in your target market or industry. Look for companies that align with your writing niche or the type of content you excel at creating. For instance, if you specialize in SaaS or ecommerce, you can approach agencies offering SaaS or ecommerce services.
Visit agency websites in your area and familiarize yourself with their range of services, current clients, and the kind of content they create.
Then, create an optimized writing portfolio showcasing your best samples related to the target niche.
Kristen Bateman’s fashion writing portfolio is an inspiration to all newbie writers as to how your portfolio should look like:
Next, make sure you approach the right person. Otherwise, your message will probably be deleted.
You can email the company director or the president if you are approaching smaller agencies. For larger agencies (10 plus people) email the content manager or the marketing director. You can find this information on their About page, like the one shown below:
When you reach out to this person, ensure the pitch is relevant and personalized. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Avoid mass emails. Instead, send personalized and tailored emails to each agency you’re approaching.
- Avoid submitting subpar or irrelevant writing samples, as it can create a negative impression. Choose your best and most relevant work.
- Follow up politely after a reasonable period to express your continued interest in working together.
4. Join Relevant Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are an excellent way to network and promote your writing services as a freelancer.
Leverage Facebook’s search bar by inputting relevant keywords related to your writing niche. Try terms like “freelance writing,” “content writers,” “bloggers,” or the specific industries you aspire to write for. This will help you discover relevant groups, pages, or individuals within your writing interests.
One of the best tips is to ask for feedback on some of your writing samples, as it isn’t a direct pitch but helps you get your work in front of your ideal audience. It also shows that you’re hungry to learn and teachable.
5. Create Your Own Website To Generate Inbound Writing Leads
The best way to improve your writing skills is to write.
You’ll also find that growing an audience makes it much easier to generate inbound freelance writing opportunities so that you never have to cold pitch for leads.
So consider creating your own website and regularly publish content on various content marketing and writing topics.
There are several website builders and CMS platforms available that cater to users without coding knowledge. Some popular options include:
- WordPress.org: Offers a simple and intuitive interface with pre-designed templates and customization options.
- Wix: Provides a drag-and-drop website builder with ready-made templates for easy customization.
- Squarespace: Known for its visually appealing templates and user-friendly interface.
- Weebly: Another drag-and-drop website builder that simplifies the website creation process.
After selecting a website builder, sign up for an account. Most website builders offer domain registration services, so you can purchase your domain through them directly. Choose a domain name that reflects your writing brand or niche. Keep it short, memorable, and relevant to your writing services.
Here is an example of a basic freelance writing website, where the writer describes his background in writing along with a CTA allowing interested prospects to contact for writing help.
You should have the following pages on your website:
- Home Page: This is the main landing page of your website and serves as an introduction to your writing services. It should be engaging, concise, and convey what you offer as a freelance writer.
- About Me: This page is dedicated to introducing yourself as a writer. Share your background, expertise, experience, and passion for writing. Make it personal and highlight what sets you apart from other freelance writers.
- Services: The services page outlines the writing services you offer. Clearly list the types of writing you specialize in, such as blog posts, articles, web content, copywriting, technical writing, etc. Remember that clients want to hire specialists rather than generalists, so pick just two or three services to offer.
- Portfolio: Showcase your writing samples in a dedicated portfolio section. Include only your best writing samples. Most people only read two or three samples before hiring, so make sure those two or three pieces they read are your very best work. It’s also important to ensure samples are relevant to your ideal clients.
- Testimonials: Display testimonials or reviews from satisfied clients. Positive feedback from previous clients can build trust and credibility with potential clients.
- Contact: This page should provide various ways for potential clients to get in touch with you. Include a contact form, your email address, and any relevant social media profiles or other communication channels.
Alternatively, if you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building a website, consider creating a newsletter on a platform like Beehiiv.
Now it’s time to start creating content.
Begin by researching keywords related to “freelance writing” that your potential prospects might search when looking to hire a writer.
For example, writing a blog post targeting a topic like “hiring a B2B freelance writer” could generate some leads as that’s a question many potential clients may search.
My favorite trick is to look at the top websites ranking for freelance writing terms, enter the URL into the search bar, and then look at the keywords they’re targeting. Then, create your own unique blog post for that keyword.
For example, The Writer Finder covers a lot of freelance writing topics, so I put that URL into Ahrefs, and here are some of the keywords it’s targeting that you could also target:
For example, “business blog post ideas” and “how to outsource content writing” might be good keywords as the searchers are probably business owners needing a good content writer.
Once you’ve decided on a keyword, here are some SEO tips to follow:
- Include target keywords naturally in page titles of relevant pages.
- Ensure titles accurately represent the content of each page.
- Write compelling meta descriptions with targeted keywords.
- Use keywords in headings and subheadings for better page structure.
- Incorporate keywords naturally throughout your content.
- Avoid keyword stuffing to maintain positive search rankings.
- Keep URLs simple, descriptive, and include target keywords if possible.
6. Approach Businesses Looking For Writers Using Google Search
One of my favorite hacks to find freelance writing jobs online is to enter the keyword “looking for writers” in Google and search for companies interested in hiring freelance writers.
Ignore the listicles and informative articles and filter the list of companies that have posted actual job information on their website.
For instance, when I searched with the keyword “looking for writers” [in double quotes], I found out that Choice of Games LLC is actively looking for writers:
I clicked on it to read the job description and apply online.
Similarly, you can find such direct writing opportunities using a variety of queries, like:
- “freelance writers needed”
- “Need technical writers”
- “writers wanted”
You can also search keywords relevant to your niche like “looking for SaaS writers” or “looking for ecommerce writers”.
You can also automate the entire process by setting Google Alerts. Visit Google Alerts, enter your keyword, and click “Create Alert.”
Then, filter alerts based on your requirements. For instance, you can change the settings to tell Google when to email the search results to you – once a day or week or as it happens. You can also select the region to get the most relevant writing job opportunities delivered to your inbox daily.
While I usually recommend against applying to job boards, this strategy can work as I find websites usually don’t receive as many applications as online job boards.
7. Write Guest Posts To Build a Strong Portfolio
Many hiring managers don’t even bother posting jobs because of the overwhelming number of applications. So most hiring managers simply hire the best writers who have written for their competitors.
For example, if I’m a hiring manager at a marketing analytics SaaS company, I might browse other reputable martech company blogs like Sprout Social or HubSpot and reach out to those writers.
To get in front of these hiring managers, offer to write guest posts for the most reputable companies in your industry. This is also a great way to bolster your freelance writing portfolio.
In addition, the companies you write guest posts for might offer to hire you if they like the work.
To find guest posting opportunities, determine the specific topics and industries you specialize in or are passionate about. This will help you target websites and blogs relevant to your expertise.
Use search engines to find websites that cover topics similar to your writing niche. Find blogs accepting guest posts or have a “Write for Us” page.
Below are some relevant Google search queries to find guest posts:
- “write for us” + [Your Niche/Industry]
- “submit a guest post” + [Your Niche/Industry]
- “become a contributor” + [Your Niche/Industry]
- Inurl: “write-for-us” keyword
- Inurl: “guest-post” keyword
You can also reach out to your dream companies directly, even if they don’t publicly offer guest posting opportunities.
Then, reach out to the content manager directly with a personalized guest post pitch that fits their ideal target audience.
Begin Your Dream Freelance Writing Journey
Finding freelance writing jobs can be challenging, especially for beginners.
While the path to landing your first freelance writing job is relatively straightforward (just follow the steps above!), that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you want more guidance and support, consider joining the Copyblogger Academy.
You get direct access to me (a writer, marketing agency owner, and content creator) and a vibrant community of freelance writers offering support, advice, and peer-to-peer accountability.
You’ll also find various self-paced courses to improve your writing skills, and you’ll have access to exclusive interviews with some of the best content creators of the day, like Steph Smith, Justin Moore, and others.
You can jump into the academy today risk-free to see if it’s the right fit for you. If you’re not 100% satisfied in the first 30 days, let us know, and we’ll give you a full refund.
Whether you just want a side hustle to bring in a few extra thousand dollars or you want to build a full-time freelance writing career, your future self will thank you for the investment you make today! See you inside the Copyblogger Academy!