Here's Exactly What You Need to do to Land Your First Freelance Writing Job

Sunday, August 13, 2017

No matter how passionate I am about something, if I'm not feeling sure of my ability to pull it off, I will drag my feet.

It's my MO. 

I want to pitch a new publication, I even have a solid idea, but I let an incomplete draft sent in my email inbox for weeks instead buckling down to write it and hitting send. It's classic self-sabotage, fueled by insecurity. I have such a hard time committing the time to something if I'm not sure it is going to bear results.

We just spent the week at the beach as a family. It was a good time for me to step away from work a little and reevaluate where I am headed next. A little time off and distance gave me the chance to see something big--my self doubt is keeping me from my full earning potential.

It doesn't really matter if it is anxiety masked as procrastination or if I'm simply chickening out and turning a big project down, I'm making moves that are keeping me from really taking my career to the next level.

This week, I started to wonder if you are doing the same thing. I started to think that there might be a couple of you out there who really want to write but your fear of failing is keeping you from sending that first email or writing your ideas down. 

Getting started as a freelance writer is intimidating, but I think it is time both you and I started taking our dreams seriously. I think it is time we make it happen.


4 Steps to Landing Your First Freelance Writing Job

Before you can get started as a freelancer, there are a few things you have to do first. From the outside, writing for a living can appear to be a luck-based career or something reserved only for the ultra-talented. I know, because I have found myself thinking the exact same thing about entrepreneurs who are a few steps ahead of me. 

The truth is, becoming a freelance writer doesn't require stumbling onto unexpected internet-fame or being a naturally amazing writer. Neither of those things describe my freelance story. 

I'm not internet famous, that's for sure, and I am no where near the best writer out there.

The real reason I have experienced so much success as a freelance writer is because I created a plan of attack and I kept at it until  I experienced breakthrough.

Here is exactly what I did when I decided to start pursuing freelancing writing as more than just "extra cash." Here are the four steps I took to start writing for a living.

I found my niche.

First things first, I figured out what I wanted to write about. For me, it was writing about my life as a new mom. At the time, it was what I felt I knew the most about, so it felt more comfortable than trying to break into personal finance writing or giving advice on time management. 

It wasn't long before I discovered that parenting may have seemed like the obvious choice but it wasn't the only thing I wanted to write about. A little success writing about mom life gave me to confidence to break into writing about mental health, personal finance, wellness and other lifestyle topics.

Before you can start pursuing writing as a career, you need to figure out what you want to write about. Although it is good to know a little about the topic, you don't need to be an expert before jumping into a niche. 

If you're not sure what's out there, Gina of Horkey Handbook has a comprehensive list of freelance writing niches you can download. Check it out here

I gathered my writing samples.

I'm going to be honest: I didn't have much going for me when I first started pitching editors. I was a less than amazing blogger and I really didn't have any samples worth sharing with a potential client. So, I started by cleaning up a few blog posts I had written on my own blog and I offered to guest post for free a few times for fellow bloggers. These were not the amazing samples I wanted, but I had to start somewhere. 

Before I started sending pitches, I gathered my writing samples and did an honest inventory of my best writing. Once I had three or four pieces of work I was proud of, I committed to using those samples to sell myself to editors and potential clients. 

I made contact with the people who could help me get started.

Here is where freelance writing stopped being an idea I toyed around with in my spare time. Before I could make any progress, I had to get brave and start making contact with the people who really mattered. This meant I made friends with other writers who were a couple of steps ahead of me, I put my pride aside and I asked for help. It also meant I was started a list of editors and their contact information. This was a list of people I wanted to write for, along with their contact information and anything I could gather about how they preferred receiving pitches.

I sent cold emails and pitches until I heard "Yes!"

I have been so fortunate to find really amazing clients and build relationships with loyal editors who are committed to helping me put my best writing out there. I don't want you believe for a minute that my success is all about me, I have received so much support and help along the way.

At the same time, I feel like I need to be upfront about just how hard I worked to get started because I don't want anyone reading this post to believe sending a couple emails and a few Facebook friend requests got me where I am today.

At first, I was sending as many as twenty emails and pitches every single day. I was stalking job boards religiously. I was applying for anything and everything that felt like a good fit. I was pitching every idea I had to editors I had never emailed before and I didn't stop until I started hearing yes. 

I truly believe this is the only guaranteed way to experience some success. You've got to decide you are going to spend as much time as it takes to start getting published and then you have to start sending those emails.

Let me help you get started.

While writing this all down, I tried to be as specific as possible about the steps that help me start my freelance career, but for some of you it might not be enough. The truth is, it is much harder to do these things than it is to blog about them. 

That's why I want to help you get started. 

I'm so excited about your writing dreams that I decided to create a five-day course filled with detailed instruction and exercises that will help you take the first steps towards your writing dream. 

It is going to be completely free to anyone subscribed to my email list and I am launching it on September 15th. I can't wait.  Sign up for my newsletter to avoid missing out on the action. 

-Mary

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