50 Ways to Get a Freelance Gig

When freelance writers tell me they’re having trouble finding gigs, I often find what they really mean is “I’m sending out lots of resumes to online job ads I find on Craigslist and not getting any bites.”

But there are many, many other ways to land a freelance-writing job.

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you are likely to get the same result you’re getting now. If you want to find more clients, it’s time to get proactive and try new marketing strategies.

Here are 50 suggestions for other ways to market your writing:

  1. Ask friends if they know anyone looking for a writer
  2. Ask former coworkers if they know anyone looking for a writer
  3. Ask former bosses if they know anyone looking for a writer
  4. Find former editors — reconnect and see if they have any current writing needs
  5. Find former editors and ask them to refer you if they hear from other editors who need a writer
  6. Call all your previous clients and see if they have any writing needs now
  7. Check in with previous clients and ask them to refer you business
  8. Ask current clients to refer you business
  9. Ask current clients if they have any additional writing needs
  10. Analyze what your current clients are doing and actively propose new projects
  11. Bid for jobs on freelance bidding sites — especially on jobs that seem high-quality and have few bidders
  12. Put your profile on freelance bidding sites, then just lurk and let clients find you
  13. Have a profile on MediaBistro, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, or other professional sites prospects might check to find writers
  14. Develop story ideas and send query letters
  15. Make cold calls — identify prospects, call them on the phone and simply ask, “Do you use freelance writers?”
  16. Send a direct mail pitch to prospective businesses
  17. Drive the industrial parks of your town and write down business names — then check out their websites and call them.
  18. Go to in-person networking events
  19. Create a new in-person networking event and serve as the host
  20. Go door to door on your main street and meet business owners
  21. Send InMail on LinkedIn – they have a high average response rate, and LinkedIn now guarantees you’ll get a response
  22. Troll the full-time jobs on LinkedIn and apply, asking if they might also need freelancers
  23. Check “Who’s viewed my profile” on LinkedIn and reach out to people who’ve looked at your site
  24. Hold a free or paid in-person class about how writers can help businesses succeed
  25. Hold a free or paid webinar or teleclass for prospects
  26. Do a podcast about the benefits of your type of writing to clients
  27. Start a blog with tips for your target audience
  28. Create a free ebook or report that can be downloaded or emailed to prospects
  29. Make your website rank high on Google for key search terms, ie “freelance writer + your city”
  30. Take out an ad online — on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or a popular site for your niche
  31. Take out a print ad in a publication your prospects read
  32. Place ads on Craigslist (instead of just answering ads on Craigslist)
  33. Find niche job boards with better-quality jobs you can apply for
  34. Look at newspaper classified ads
  35. Send an unsolicited article to a magazine or online publication
  36. Inquire about guest posting on prominent blogs your prospects would read
  37. Send an unsolicited guest blog post to a prominent site
  38. Write promotional articles on Biznik with useful tips for your prospective audience (they can be emailed to everyone in your market) or offer a free or paid event for members only
  39. Refer other writers so that they in turn refer you
  40. Tweet about the type of work you do
  41. Look through the job offers on Twitter
  42. Use the Writer’s Market online to identify new markets you could approach
  43. Join business and writing organizations and take advantage of their events and forums to find new prospects
  44. Call relevant organizations your prospects might belong to, and ask if you can be listed in their online resource guide for members
  45. Join writing communities such as A-List Blogger Club, where lots of other writers will get to know you and might refer you
  46. Put a bumper sticker or door sign on your car that says you’re a freelance writer
  47. Wear a button everywhere you go that says you’re a freelance writer
  48. Create business cards that make a special offer for prospects and hand them out everywhere you go
  49. Put a tagline about your writing business in all your outgoing emails with a link to your URL
  50. Write a substantial ebook or print-on-demand book that would build your authority as a pro writer

How do you find freelance writing clients? Leave a comment and let us know your approach.

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Photo: Flickr – FOTOCROMO

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28 comments on “50 Ways to Get a Freelance Gig
  1. John Soares says:

    Carol, you’ve created an excellent list here. I especially like the first 10 suggestions because they focus primarily on networking directly with current and past clients to get new work.

    I’ve had the most success with asking for referrals from people I’ve worked with before.
    John Soares recently posted..Just Released — The Second Edition of My Writing College Textbook Supplements E-Book

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well…it is sort of the path of least resistance, to network with people you already know to ask for gigs.

      I wish I could say there was one method I had the most success with so I could just do that, but I find I need to be doing many different types of marketing to bring in the business I want. Though I’d say in the past quarter, my marketing has gone more passive — a lot of clients are finding me through my writer website (good SEO for Seattle Freelance Writer) and my LinkedIn profile. Stuff those with key words, folks!

  2. Nisha says:

    Let me share one more COOL tip, not sure if it is WHITE, GREY or BLACK though.

    I visit the most active forums online, copy the contact info [YM, Skype or MSN] displayed close to their profile badge and contact them via mail, with the title saying that “I’m ……………from………….Forum]. It really works!

    Thanks for the post!
    Nisha recently posted..How I Make 500 Per Week From A Client Who Rejected My Offer

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Nisha!

      Very interesting strategy — I’d be interested to hear what kind of forums you participate in that have prospects in them…guess most of the forums where I’m active it’s other writers, so the strategy wouldn’t work.

      I think it’s sort of grey-hat as long as you’re up-front about where you got their info…though I know some forums might object. My sense is you’re really not supposed to do that, as it can make commenters feel annoyed and then they stop participating in that forum.

      I actually asked this question at one point on Copyblogger — could I email your commenters and market to them? And I was told it would totally get me banned from guesting on there again. So watch out where you do that one!

      • Nisha says:

        Hi,
        Thanks for the quick reply [I never thought that the blog owner would reply comments in minutes after they are up!]

        I have tried it mainly on WF and it really works. Hope you remember my comments asking for tactics to land on decent paying jobs. It was a time when I struggled to find people who are ready to pay me more than $5 per article. Today, most of my clients who came in touch with me via my “Secret Grey Hat Technique” are paying me more than $12 an article [not even comparable to your rates, but it is a great achievement on my side!]

        You are always permitted to forward any and all comments [have you seen John Chow's comment policies?]. Brian Clark is another great mentor to me as well!

        Thanks
        Nisha recently posted..How I Make 500 Per Week From A Client Who Rejected My Offer

        • Carol Tice says:

          You’re permitted…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

          Don’t know what WF is — can you elaborate?

          And yes, I AM that blog owner who just might respond to your comment right away…loving the conversation on this one!

  3. Katlin Smith says:

    Wonderful list, Carol! I would add two other ways – partner with graphic designers who can’t write and focus on your personal passions. I recently suggested to some Web designers who are passionate about dogs that they target veterinarians who need Web sites. Writing is much more FUN when you share a passion with your client!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on, Katlin!

      Have that partner-with-designers tip in my ’40 Ways to Market Your Writing’ report…but I purposely wasn’t looking at it doing this post because I wanted other ideas to filter up from my brain and get included…which means I left some of the old ones out!

      But definitely getting to know vendors who have related services is a GREAT way to spread the word. They may bring you into a project, and you don’t have to do much beyond sending them a link and introducing yourself.

  4. Great list, Carol! I was pleasantly surprised by how many inquiries I’ve gotten in response to my profiles on MediaBistro.com and LinkedIn (I update both regularly so that certainly helps). I used to get quite a few potential clients contacting me through CreativeHotList.com and landed one of my first ongoing clients through a services ad I posted on Craigslist. Nowadays, the bulk of my clients are repeat business and/or referrals.
    Susan Johnston recently posted..Fab Four- Advice for First-Time Book Authors

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Susan –

      I too am now at the point where the business is pretty much marketing itself, between referrals, repeat business, and inbound marketing — people discovering my site through Google, or my profiles in social media. But I did about 18 months of very aggressive marketing in ’09 to mid ’10 to get here!

      I’ll have to check out CreativeHotList – don’t know that one!

      I know another writer who’s been getting clients through placing Craigslist ads…but they’re not terrific payers. But yet another interesting strategy to try, depending on where you’re at in your career!

  5. Carol, you rule.

    Fellow commenters, you also rule. It’s really helpful to me finding out what marketing techniques have been worth the trouble for other people. So far, my most successful marketing tactic has been good old-fashioned querying.

    I’ve also done Google Ads and Facebook Ads (only because I had free gift cards for both of them). Google Ads has netted me two prospects so far, but neither could afford me and Facebook ads have netted me exactly nothing. I probably won’t be continuing either. Of course, there are a lot of variables, so your mileage might vary.

  6. I love the idea about the button Carol. I can just see it: “I’m a freelance writer – ask me how I can help you!” I so need to get one made up!
    Danielle McGaw recently posted..Work for Yourself First- Others Second

    • Carol Tice says:

      That comes from my experience in adoption. I knew parents who did that, wore a button that said, “Looking to adopt!” Some found their baby that way. Some put letters in their outgoing bills.

      There are really a million ways to get the word out about what you’re looking for in life! The more ways you use, the faster you find what you want — in this case, freelance gigs.

  7. Brandi says:

    Hi Carol! Love #47! Though for me, I get the most of my gigs from referrals.
    Brandi recently posted..Quick Copywriting Tip

  8. Vonnie says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’ve had two prospects contact me after viewing my profile on Mediabistro.com and it’s only been there for a couple of months. Which leads me to a question, one of the prospects looks very promising, however, they sent me a contract, I9, and some other stuff to read and sign. Should I send them a contract to sign to keep for my records?

    Thanks.
    Vonnie recently posted..Are You Procrastinating Your Life Away

  9. Vonnie says:

    Yes. I’m still learning. I have to make up a contract for myself. Is there a template I should be styling my contract after?

    BTW – great tips – I printed them out and keep them by my computer.

    Thanks.
    Vonnie recently posted..Are You Procrastinating Your Life Away

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think Nolo Press is a great resource for contract ideas. I used to be a legal secretary so I felt confident creating my own short contracts, but I think there are many models you can draw from online.

      I did a post on contract basics for WM Freelance a while back…enjoy.

  10. Vonnie says:

    Thanks for the great information, Carol. You’re the best!
    Vonnie recently posted..Should a boomer woman quit her job- now

  11. Awesome list Carol! So useful again!

    Did I tell you, btw? I got my first paid freelance job! And I just sent in a pitch to do a series of posts for them. It’s a start, but for me its wonderful little milestone. It was gotten through referral. Yes, the ones that you apply to online are so much harder to get.

    Does that make me a freelancer now Carol? Can you “knight me” yet? ;)

    • Carol Tice says:

      You’re a freelancer, Ollin! I’m so excited for you. If you want more gigs, may many more follow shortly…

      You’ve built a really robust blog and ought to be able to find work blogging for others pretty easily if you prospected for clients.

  12. Shanik says:

    Let me share what I did when I got to the Writing World

    #> I built FREE WordPress Blogs [3-4] on different niches [Eg. health, tech, self-help etc], filled them with 5+ articles.

    #> Once the contents were UP, I inserted links to certain blogs related to that topic, and sent a PM to the webmaster asking for writing jobs, with a note showing the backlinks from my blogs and my ‘EXPERTISE’ on the topic.

    Although this helped me only to find a couple of clients, they were LOOOOOOOOOOONG Term clients
    Shanik recently posted..India – Australia Cricket- Live From The Corporate World

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great strategy, Shanik!

      I too found that prospective clients only need a few posts to look at written in a niche blog to decide you could help them. Your blog shows you know the technical end of how to blog, and your posts show you understand how to stick to their topic…and that’s pretty much what they’re looking for.

      So many writers DON’T have these skills that at this moment in time, it really gives you an edge with prospects if you can put up a few posts on their topic.

  13. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this brilliant post. I really want to start working on marketing my business more in the coming future. With regards to posting on prominent blogs – I’m a health and fitness writer and am setting up two sites, one that is more of a blog style with my own fitness articles on it (which I’ll also use to develop passive income through affiliate products, etc) and one that’s my writing profile site, where I’ll send clients. Which site do you think would be the better one to refer people to from guest posts? Part of me says the fitness blog site since then they see more of my writing work, but the other part says my writer profile since that allows them to know I offer writing services. Any thoughts would be appreciated. :)

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sort of depends on what your guest post topic is and what your goal is in creating it, which of your sites you’d want to link to.

      You can try my usual technique for everything — experiment and see which one gets you more desirable results! Everybody wants the magical answer, but really it’s all trial and error and testing things out here on the web.

  14. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the prompt reply. :) That’s true, I guess trial and error will determine which is best and probably a mix of both would be the best approach – for backlinking purposes as well. Thanks again!

  15. 39. you’re really a good webmaster. The web site loading speed is amazing. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a fantastic job on this topic!

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "50 Ways to Get a Freelance Gig"
  1. [...] do you find freelance writing jobs? Come check out my list of 50 marketing methods on the Make a Living Writing blog today, and tell us how you find [...]

  2. [...] Need ideas on how to get more freelance writing gigs? How about 50 of them? Carol Tice, one of our former WMF bloggers, offers a comprehensive list of ways you can get more freelance writing gigs over at Make a Living Writing. Did you know MALW was named one of the top ten blogs for writers? Check it! [...]

  3. [...] 50 Ways to Get a Freelance Gig. Oh Carol. We have to stop meeting this way. If you haven’t gotten the picture yet, [...]

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