These databases make finding sources from underrepresented backgrounds easier.
You’re probably not quoting enough marginalized voices. This disparity in reporting undermines journalists’ credibility and underestimates the complexity of any subject. These databases will help you diversify your sources.
If you’re worried about getting started, audit your published work for the past 3-6 months. Keep track of the races and genders you’re including. Don’t be intimidated or discouraged. The Atlantic’s Ed Yong spent two years trying to fix the gender imbalance in his stories. You’re not alone.
One of the hardest parts of being a freelancer is finding publications to pitch. These newsletters help.
It’s frustrating to spend hours trying to place a pitch or trying to find consistent clients. Thankfully, other freelancers know your struggle and have created helpful newsletters that take the guesswork out of searching for leads!
Can you call yourself a freelancer if you don’t subscribe to Sonia Weiser’s biweekly newsletter? It’s the most in-depth newsletter listing links to paying calls for pitches and often includes exclusive opportunities directly from editors you won’t find elsewhere. Sonia adds extra details regarding pay rates and other details when possible — and it’s a great way to discover what editors are searching for without searching Twitter endlessly. Basically, there’s no excuse for not subscribing to this newsletter.
Cost: Sonia suggests $3 a month but you can pay $1 to $3 via her Patreon. If you can’t afford that, email Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org for a sponsored slot. If you can afford it, pay to sponsor a spot!
Missed Pitches serves up pitches that haven’t placed in publications (say that five times fast) every week. @rungomez also includes ten paid writing gigs, and five editorial contacts, and features a new freelancer every week.
Kat’s newsletter is always packed with helpful tips for freelancers but she also includes about ten writing gigs found through LinkedIn and Twitter every week. I’ve discovered quite a few gigs there not listed elsewhere! If you’re looking for freelance opps outside of writing (design, social media management, etc.), she’s got you covered there too.
Britany Robinson’s newsletter features opportunities for writers and pitch calls. She also regularly shares recommendations for articles to read and tools to use. I love her Q&As with other freelancers.
Hope Clark was writing newsletters before they were cool. Receiving her newsletter is like sitting down for a cup of joe with a writer friend. Clark includes competitions for nonfiction and fiction people, grants and fellowships, publications looking for freelancers with information about their subject and rates.
Mandy Hofmockel compiles a weekly list of journalism jobs across the country (including remote opportunities). Her newsletter doesn’t have calls for pitches, but Hofmockel includes fellowships and funds that self-employed people can take advantage of. I particularly enjoy her Q&As with journalists, career advice, and of course photos of Maggie the dog.
This newly launched newsletter (it’s only had 10 editions so far!) is jam-packed with full- and part-time jobs, calls for writers, and writer competitions. They’re UK-based but include only remote opportunities.
Freedom with Writing sends out newsletters compiling their blog posts with calls for pitches in different niches and pay ranges, along with lists for full-time jobs and fiction markets. I like to peruse their newsletters every so often, but you can get this content just by visiting the website.
PitchWhiz is more than a newsletter: it’s a database where editors can list calls for pitches and writers get access to editorial contacts. Personally, I rarely check the service and just tune into the weekly newsletter listing new opportunities.
Generating passive marketing can help you land clients
Gaining clients is one of the never ending tasks of being a freelancer. Regardless of where you’re at in your freelance business, it’s important to have a strategy in place to help clients find you. These steps are a good place to start.
1. Build authority and experience
Building a solid reputation is the backbone of your freelance business. A strong reputation will help you eliminate competition, charge higher rates, and gain referrals.
Gaining authority and a solid reputation is easier than you think. Over-deliver. Aim to be remembered as someone who completes quality work on time, every time. Being a freelancer means knowing how to execute your craft and how to run a professional business. In addition to delivering good work on time, you also need to communicate with your clients and set boundaries.
2. Optimize your social profiles
Every social media profile is a marketing tool. Your social media bios should include a call to action. You should have a link to your portfolio on every professional social media profile.
On Twitter, you can pin tweets to the top of your timeline. You can use this feature to promote your work. Create a pinned tweet that includes an elevator pitch and a link to your website.
On Instagram, skip using a third-party for your link in bio. Manage links on your Instagram bio by creating a dedicated landing page on your website for Instagram. This will save you time from manually updating your link in bio every time you have a new link to promote.
Since your name is easily searchable on Instagram, make sure the name you share on Instagram is your name, not your Instagram username. Since Instagram users also search for keywords, adding a keyword to your name helps your chances of being found.
Your Instagram bio should also include a call to action that leads people to click your link. This could be as simple as “Check out my portfolio” or “Work with me.”
3. Create an updated portfolio
Your portfolio is more powerful than your resume: it’s a marketing tool that can showcase your talents, skills, and past work experience.
Your portfolio should have the following:
An “About” page that has a small bio about you.
Work samples, published work, and/or case studies.
A “Contact” page that has easy-to-locate contact info. This is typically your email or a contact form (never your phone number).
If you’ve won awards, feature them on your homepage or “About” page.
Links to your social media profiles that you use exclusively for professional reasons.
Clearly define your services on your website. People can’t hire you if they don’t know what you offer! You can include this information on your homepage, “About” page, or create a “Services” page.
Testimonials from previous clients, coworkers, bosses, etc. If you don’t have them, ask!
Don’t just make a nice portfolio to showcase your work: promote it too! Link to it on your social media profiles. Whenever you comment about your services, or tweet that you’re available for work, include a link to your website.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile
Hiring managers, editors, and recruiters search on LinkedIn to hire and will sometimes post job opportunities there. LinkedIn profiles also tend to rank high when people Google your name (which you should expect all recruiters and employers do). An outdated LinkedIn won’t help your chances of getting hired.
Your LinkedIn should have the following:
A summary that addresses your most important and relevant skills and the kind of work you’re interested in pursuing
A link to your portfolio
A professional profile photo
Recommendations from former employers and coworkers (If you don’t have recommendations, ask for them!)
If you’re a freelancer working with multiple brands, there are two ways of listing your experience on your LinkedIn:
Option 1: If you freelance for multiple brands, add a work experience section with your title (Freelance Writer, Freelance Designer, etc.). Then list the brands you’ve worked with and your accomplishments.
Option 2: If you have freelanced with a specific brand for a long time, then you can add specific work experience sections with the specific brand. Don’t add separate work experiences for one-off assignments.
5. Network online and in-person
Relationship building is a cornerstone of freelancing. You never know where people will go, or who will be looking for freelance talent now or in the future. Even if you live in a remote area, you can connect with other people in your field! Networking is a scary, intimidating word, but it basically means just being yourself.
Attend local events in your area (obviously Zoom for now, but also in-person events in future non-COVID times). If you live in a city, there’s probably lots of networking events available. But even small towns have events, just on a smaller scale.
Since we began living in a pandemic, there are even more ways to connect with people on a local and national scale. Many organizations, including business organizations, libraries, and freelancing groups, are hosting virtual events.
Joining Slack groups or Facebook groups is a low-key way to make professional connections. Even just participating in Twitter chats is a great way to connect with people. There’s a Twitter chat for just about every field. I personally recommend Michelle Garrett’s #FreelanceChat.
Part of networking is also maintaining connections. This can be as simple as reaching out with a holiday card
6. Talk to your network
People trust people, and a personal recommendation from a coworker or friend will go a long way. Let people know that you’re available for freelance work.
Do good work for your existing clients. Turn in your work on time, every time. Establish a great reputation and build trust. These clients can then refer you to other clients or provide testimonials.
Blogging on your own website can drive traffic to it. Writing about topics that are relevant to your field gives you the chance to showcase your expertise. You should write articles that the people who want to hire you will read. Blogging is a passive marketing tool, but one you’ll need to be consistent and strategic with.
However, if you want to blog about a subject unrelated to your portfolio, you may want to consider using Medium instead. It’s really easy to set up a Medium, and if you don’t have a lot of writing clips, these blog posts can act as your writing samples.
Your Next Steps
Regardless of if you’re starting to freelance while working full-time, or trying to expand your existing client base, these tips should help you level-up! Finding freelance opportunities and landing recurring clients takes time — there’s no overnight success story. The easiest place to begin is with optimizing your social profiles.
My content is always free, but you can help support my work by buying me a coffee. Thank you for your support. I appreciate every penny.
It takes time to build a freelance business, but a few simple steps can help set you up for success.
Setting up a freelance business can be intimidating. Here’s a quick list of a 10 things to do to set yourself up for success.
1. Update your website and social profiles
Anywhere potential clients can find you need to be updated to best reflect what you can do for them. That means taking a look at your website, social media accounts, and LinkedIn page, as well as running a quick Google search.
Your social profiles should have a quick elevator pitch about what you do, who you are, and a link to your website.
Your LinkedIn should have your most recent work experience and a completed bio. List your accomplishments, capabilities, and certifications.
Does every link to your website work? Have you updated your LinkedIn with your most recent work experience?
2. Reach out to your clients and collaborators with thank you notes
It’s always a good time to thank your professional and personal connections! But the beginning of the year is a particularly great time to do this as everyone looks forward to the year ahead.
3. Raise your rates
You deserve to make more money. The new year is the perfect time to raise your rates. I know it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s worth your time.
Clients will typically understand. If they respond with a no, you can always lower the scope of your project to support a lower rate or part ways with them. Plus, letting go of low-paying clients makes time for ones with better pay.
A few ways to start this conversation with clients:
“Due to the high demand for my services, I need to raise my rates to X to continue accommodating you. I love working with your company and look forward to working with you in the future!”
“It’s been great working with you! I just wanted to let you know that starting [DATE], I will be increasing my rate to X. I’d love to keep working with you. I appreciate your business and look forward to working with you in [YEAR]! Please let me know if you have any questions about this new rate.”
4. Make a business plan
If you’re a freelancer, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of chasing after clients, submitting work, and running around like a hamster in a cage. But like any entrepreneur, you need to have a business plan set out for yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
What are your long-term goals?
What are your dreams?
How do you plan to grow your business?
What is your target audience? Who do you want to work with?
What is your marketing plan?
This is the time to dream big.
5. Make a list of clients, websites, brands, and collaborators you want to work with in the future
Think about the clients you want to land and the clients you want to keep. This list should include anyone you want to work with. Shoot big! Then follow them on social, familiarize yourself with their sites, and take a look at their content calendar to see where you could fit in.
6. Make a commitment to take time for yourself
When you’re chasing down deadlines for multiple clients, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself. But you have to make time for yourself — no one else will do it for you. Otherwise, you’re just running toward burnout.
7. Invest in your education
If you don’t make time to invest in yourself, you’re investing in your future burnout. Make time to learn and invest in your education.
This can mean whatever you want! If you want to learn about SEO, find an online course or certificate program. If you want to learn about finance, read a book. If you want to learn about embroidery, go for it!
You don’t have to necessarily pay for this. There are lots of free resources available and many libraries offer free access to tools like Lynda.com.
8. Review your payment options including your credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and Venmo
Whatever payment option you use, make a habit of reviewing it every month. Mistakes happens, so watch for errors and unused subscriptions. You should check for any business purchases you’ve forgotten so you can claim them on your taxes. You can also review what rewards your credit card offers, as rewards credit cards can help you maximize everyday expenses.
9. Calculate your monthly expenses
You need to calculate how much money you need to survive to plan your future. This isn’t a budget: it’s a bare-bones list of essential expenses. Making this list gives you a chance to review what you need (and what you can live without). This list should include:
Rent or mortgage
Health care insurance
Car insurance and payments
Electricity, water bills, etc.
Take that expense list and add 30%. That’s your minimum goal.
10. Track and automate your business processes
Make your life easier by automating your business processes. This frees up your time so you’re able to focus on revenue-building tasks like landing new clients, marketing, and completing client work. This could mean using an invoicing service to send invoices automatically instead of manually, or implementing an email tracker to see when your emails are opened.
You should also have a process for onboarding new clients. This could be as simple as sending them a welcome email or just adding them to your calendar. Hiring an accountant or using a digital bookkeeping tool can save you from updating a spreadsheet.
Cold pitches, referrals, job sites and Twitter are the best methods to find freelance gigs
One of the hardest parts of freelancing is finding clients, and unsurprisingly, it’s one of the most common questions I get. These are some of my favorite methods for finding freelance gigs.
1. Filter Twitter Hashtags and Follow Other Freelancers
Twitter’s a necessary evil. Thankfully, it’s filled with fleeting moments of joy like this Fleetwood Mac cover and a wonderful community of freelancers and editors.
Twitter’s filled with job opportunities that you won’t find elsewhere. Put in a little legwork by mining Twitter with its best feature: hashtags. I like to search the following terms:
You can also search for terms like “writer wanted,” “write for us,” “pitch me,” and “open for pitches.” Fair warning: you will find unrelated content like baseball tweets or tweets from fellow freelancers.
You can save some time aimlessly scrolling by following accounts that share writing gigs, freelance opportunities, and more. Some people I recommend following:
I retweet job and freelancing opportunities as I see them.
Always follow the instructions in the tweet (use the included email address or link) when submitting your information. You should also immediately reply to their tweet with a note that includes their handle, who you are, your website, and a quick thanks. For example:
@handle I’m a freelance writer with experience writing about X. Thanks for posting this opportunity! I just sent you an email. Can’t wait to hear from you! [Website link]
Please remember when you see a call for pitches from marginalized voices, only respond if you’re a member of that community.
I’ve landed writing gigs from Twitter. I’ve connected more with other freelancers, writers, and editors on the platform. If you’re not on Twitter, you need to be.
2. Browse and Search LinkedIn
LinkedIn is honestly an underrated tool. The LinkedIn “Jobs” page is always littered with hundreds of freelance opportunities. Aside from browsing the “Jobs” page, actively searching through content can help you land opportunities. Again, be wary of low-paying and predatory listings.
Editors and companies may post opportunities through their personal pages. Just toggle from “Jobs” to “Content.” You can find these freelance gigs by searching a keyword.
Some keywords to search:
“Freelance content creator”
“Freelance social media”
There are several newsletters for freelancers that are a blessing. Most newsletters for freelancers are free, though some have paid tiers (or sponsored spots available for freelancers who can’t afford them). A few newsletters I think are worthwhile:
Job boards are an easy place to start your search — but know that some freelance rates on these sites low. When I began freelancing, I’d search and apply through these sites constantly. Know that there’s a lot of competition when applying for these. Always follow the basic application instructions — and follow up!
There’s a lot out there, but a few of my favorites are:
I love the Freelancing Females Facebook group. It’s filled with advice, encouragement, and both job and freelance opportunities for all creatives. Freelancing Females recently launched a well-organized and searchable job board.
7. Facebook Groups
While I love Freelancing Females, it’s definitely not the only Facebook group out there! Joining entrepreneurial Facebook groups can lead to job opportunities. Sometimes small businesses and entrepreneurs will post opportunities you won’t see anywhere else. To make this worth your time, you must build relationships with individuals in this group. Responding to questions you see in these groups can be enough to spark a conversation.
8. Referrals from Other Freelancers
Cultivating connections with other freelancers can be your gateway to another job. Sometimes freelancers won’t have time for a specific client and will refer them elsewhere. You could be that person. Remember: freelancing is built on community over competition.
9. Cold Pitch like a Badass
This is the most proactive approach on this list: go after the clients you want with a cold pitch. This approach is pretty ballsy: it makes you put yourself out there. But it also gives you a unique opportunity to convince brands, websites, and outlets you’re interested in working with that they need you.
First, identify the right clients. If you’re a freelance writer who wants to write about dogs (like me!), look up websites that publish dog-related content. If they have a blog, they need writers. If the website looks like something you’d like to contribute to, it’s time to pitch yourself as a contributor!
You do this by writing a letter of introduction (LOI). I use this format. My emails look like a version of this (though I personalize as I go):
I’m Kaitlyn Arford, a freelance journalist. I saw your post on [LOCATION] and wanted to reach out.
[A one-liner about me that directly applies to what they are looking for. I typically include that I have a journalism degree and include client names if the work is similar]
You can see a few relevant clips here:
[link to clip one]
[link to clip two]
[link to clip three]
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time.
Your Next Steps
There’s a lot of work available for freelance writers (even during a pandemic). If you’re looking to freelance, begin with those you know. Ask your parents if their work needs any help marketing. Check-in with your college friends: can they connect you with anyone at their work? You never know where your next opportunity will come from!
Freelance writing doesn’t mean just writing for household names. In fact, you can make more money and have a more consistent workload working with brands and businesses.
Keep accomplishing greatness, friends. You got this!
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