So, you wanna be a freelance writer and you don’t know where to start, eh? I am here to rescue you! Freelance writing opportunities exist all around you, but finding out where to find them is almost like going on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Why is it so hard? Because if I apply for the same gig that all of you applied for, the increased applicant pool means it’s a wee bit harder for me to get the gig.

So why am I sharing the secrets to freelance writing? Because, I wouldn’t want to get a gig because I’m the only person to apply. I want to win because I am the best! Bragging rights are at stake here, you see?

In freelance writing, there are paid opportunities, and, dare I suggest it, exposure opportunities. There is quite a debate over the usefulness of “exposure opportunities.” Briefly, let me address “exposure opportunities.”

Exposure opportunities are writing assignments that are unpaid, but can pad your writing resume. Like an internship. If you owned a restaurant, and I applied to be your pastry chef, would you consider me a viable candidate if I had exquisite references from the best pastry chefs in Manhattan, all of whom I interned for? If I have the experience and talent, I doubt you would give two hoots that in the past, I worked for free.

Writing can be the same. I often see listing for staff writing positions, which include the requirement “provide writing samples.” Writing samples are not created equal. Being published by a local newspaper or major blog (with a staff) has more credibility than providing writing samples from your own blog. Essentially, the potential employer has evidence that not only is your writing exceptional, but you can meet deadlines and work under the direction of an editor. Exposure can lead to paid opportunities.

Here are some great resources for paid and exposure opportunities:

Freelance websites:

1. Elance.com

2. PeoplePerHour.com (tends to prefer UK based freelancers)

3. Thumbtack.com

4. MediaBistro.com: Great resource for paid writing opportunities. At no cost, you can search jobs. For a fee, you can create a profile for employers to search for you.

Craigslist.org: Look under writing/editing, gigs and ETC. Some are paid opportunities, some are exposure. Regardless of where you live, check under the major cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Telecommuting positions aren’t always posted universally, but applicants are considered from across the country.

Writers Market: Often referred to as, “the freelance bible,” the annual publication lists the contact information and submission guidelines for thousands of writing opportunities, from trade and consumer magazines to newspapers. For an annual fee, you can subscribe to their database which is updated daily. WritersMarket.com offer a free seven day trial subscription, monthly rates as low as $5.99 or an annual fee of $39.99. (The listing are limited to US and Canada, with a few from the UK, Australia and other countries.)

Local newspapers: If you live in Small Town, USA it’s likely that your local newspaper has a small staff. It’s doubtful that they employee full time book reviewers, food writers, etc. Approach the editor with your pitch! If you have (for example) a book blog, and are receiving advance review copies to review, it is possible that the paper will publish your reviews. Will you get paid? Probably not. But, you will get a by-line, see your review in print, and build a portfolio for future submissions.

Blogger Link Up: Find guest posting opportunities, post requests for guest bloggers, as well as find opportunities to review products from PR.

These suggestions should help you get started with your freelance writing career. Feel free to contact me with any questions at [email protected] or on Twitter at @miel_et_lait

Happy writing!

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