Guest post by: Carol Tice
Or perhaps you’ve been answering job ads from big public job boards online, such as Craiglist or Indeed. Maybe you eagerly signed up to one or more content mills, only to discover the pay rates won’t even buy you a bag of groceries.
If you’re tired of wasting time applying to online jobs ads and getting no response – or sick of the insulting pay on content mills – take heart. There are other ways to find freelance writing jobs, besides applying to jobs that are each getting 1,000+ responses.
Better ways, that lead to better pay and clients. Even better, these ways are all digital and work even during isolation and Covid.
Ready to blow up your job-hunt habits and find some fresh ways to get writing jobs? Read on for better alternatives:
Are you trying to do freelance writing all alone? If so, discover the wonderful world of online freelance writing groups.
It may sound crazy if you’ve had trouble finding writing jobs, but many established freelance writers are super-busy right now. And they pass along jobs they don’t want, within their community groups.
Also, editors sometimes pop into writer groups, as a quick-stop way to find writers they need. Some groups are set up just TO exchange job leads!
One example is the Binders Full of Writing Jobs women’s group on Facebook. This free group often sees editors pop in to recruit writers for specific assignments, or to let them know they’re new in the position and looking for fresh voices.
There are also paid-membership groups where writers refer each other. In my own Freelance Writers Den learning & support community, we have a ‘referrals and job leads’ forum. Here are a couple recent examples of posts from members (names & contacts omitted for privacy reasons):
Would you like to see referrals like these? Look into whether there’s a writers’ group for you.
Better Job Boards
In general, online job ads aren’t a high-quality pool of prospective clients, for writers.
Because functional companies don’t place a job ad where they will have to sift through hundreds of resumes. Who has time for that?
There is a category of job-board that’s better than the mass, wide-open online ads, though. It’s the paid boards – or as I like to call them, ‘better boards.’
There are three types of better boards:
- You pay to access. A good example would be FlexJobs, which finds quite a few arcane freelance-writer listings in obscure corners of the Internet for you, such as university and professional-organization job notices. The Den’s ‘Junk-Free Job Board’ is another example – this is the one I send my own referrals to. Subscription job-lead newsletters are also in this category, such as Morning Coffee.
- Companies pay to list. A solid example here is LinkedIn’s job board. Yes, millions can see, but the thing that cuts the wheat from the chaff here is that the listing companies have to pay a fee to put up their ad on LinkedIn. That really cuts down on the low-pay and outright scam offers, so that saves you time and aggravation.
- It’s obscure. Many companies, universities, and nonprofit organizations have a small job board tucked away on their site, mostly so employees can refer people they know to the listings. These hidden boards can be a goldmine, and are well worth poking around to locate.
To sum up: A better job board is seen by fewer people, or contains better-quality listings.
Keep your eyes peeled for better, little-known boards.
If you’ve never had time to drive or fly to a big, in-person industry conference to troll for writing jobs, good news: All the action has moved online!
Virtual conferences bring together hundreds of people around an issue or business sector. Find an event for a topic you write on, and the conference will be a wonderland of leads.
Participating in an online conference usually gets you access to a registrants list. That’s an instant pitch list for writing jobs!
And it’s not just participants – check out the list of speakers and sponsoring companies, too. They’re often solid leads as well.
You don’t have to wait for a conference to start to begin networking and pitching your services, either. Most conferences now give you the contact list ahead of time.
Touch base before the event to set up times to chat or get to know prospects better, so you can position yourself as their ideal writer. You can also follow up afterwards, using the conference topics as your lead-in before asking if they need a writer.
Tell Your Network
When I coach writers on growing their income, one of my stock opening questions is, “Have you touched base with everyone you know, both personally and professionally, to say you’re looking for freelance writing work, right now, and would appreciate their referrals?”
I’m always amazed at how often the answer is “No.”
It’s sort of weird that basic networking is an ‘unusual’ marketing method – but my experience is that it is.
You may think none of your friends or family know anyone who might need a writer… but you’d be surprised.
Often, if you ask around, you’ll discover somebody’s cousin just started a business, or a friend of a friend is a solopreneur who needs their website redone. Or that editor or marketing manager who lost their job last you checked now has a new one, and needs writing help.
If you’re looking for first samples, your network is often a great source of initial writing jobs. Don’t neglect it.
In just a few minutes a day, you could have a crowd of people spreading the word that you’re a freelance writer. That’s easier than doing all the marketing alone, right?
Look For Lists
If you live in any major city, it’s easy to find lists of good prospects in your town. That's because there’s usually a city business journal – and most compile weekly lists of companies.
Lists may range from fastest-growing or biggest public, or privately held companies to hottest startups in a particular industry, youngest CEOs, and more. In general, if they’re notable enough to make one of these lists, that company is a good prospect for your writing services.
Simple Google searches can help you find lists, too. Search for something like, “Tech startups in Cleveland” or “Fintech companies in Seattle” and you’ll usually find many lists have been published over the years. Dig in!
Check out their websites, write a pitch email, and fire it off. This time, you’ll be the only writer they’re looking at, instead of one of many hundreds responding to a job ad.
As a bonus, the companies on these lists are usually better quality than the types that place online ads. They’re making real money, which means they usually have a real marketing budget and can pay pro rates. Many of the digital-ad leads are placed by shaky online-only startups with little revenue – and little money to pay writers.
Be Creative To Find Writing Jobs Online
I hope these ideas have started you thinking on more unusual ways to prospect. It’s always better to zig when others zag, in marketing.
If everybody’s sitting around mass platforms or responding to Craigslist ads, doing something else will pay off better. The business sector is full of companies that need freelance help – and don’t mess with placing online ads or Upwork listings. Go out and find them, and you’ll have less competition and better clients, too.
Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog, and founded the Freelance Writers Den learning & support community. Be sure to check out this free training, if you need writing jobs: How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs in 2020. This includes free Q & A time!