Freelance Writing for Private Clients—Getting Those Gigs
For the freelance writer or for blogging professionals
If you asked me two years ago if I thought I could make a living as a writer, I probably would have laughed and shook my head. There’s no way, right? But I have since learned just how easy it is to get paid for writing. I had to learn how to start freelance writing, figure out who was hiring freelance writers, find writing gigs, learn about SEO and how that all worked, and figure out what kinds of writing I really wanted to do. I took a lot of jobs that were honestly miserable, just to get started in this highly competitive field.
I must be doing something right. To date, I am working 7 days a week and completely supporting myself with my writing work. Getting dressed each day: optional. My days are filled with Zoom meetings, SEO work, and article idea cards on Milanote that might make your head spin. And writing; a lot of it.
Each month I work through a list of orders from businesses, private clients, other bloggers and poets. Today, I make my fulltime living by getting paid for writing and editing services. Writing for private clients is the bulk of my income, followed by orders on job sites, and lastly, what many people would call “content mill” writing platforms. If you are out there kicking letters around and searching for freelance writing jobs, let’s talk about how to land those ongoing, supportive private clients who can build a substantial income for you.
How to Start Freelance Writing
Getting started is the hardest part. It’s a lot of work and you may find yourself spinning in circles a bit if you overthink it, so I will keep this brief, to the point, and simple. You may do all of these or a few of them—whatever works best for you is right. Remember, there is no boss here. That’s YOU.
A website. This could be your own personal blog (like I did) with a feature page that shows the world “I am a freelancer and you can hire me. Here’s a link to my portfolio of work. Contact for a quote…” etc.) You don’t have to spend a fortune on this and you can always “go big” later or make improvements along the way. For now, simply create a space for clients to land, see what you are about, and view you as a professional working freelance writer.
A portfolio. This could be a simple Google Doc you put together with a portfolio of your work. Or a form. Or a web-hosted portfolio site. Clients will ask for this.
References and reviews. As you begin to get your first orders, these references and reviews will be the crux of your business moving forward. Each one earned is gold.
Equipment. Computer or laptop, headset, microphone, business phone line, business cards, notebooks & pens, whatever you need to sit down and work. Get yourself set up for success.
Software. You will need some software programs but try not to overthink this early on. As you begin working you will come across needs: like a good writing program, a good analyzer like Grammarly or Hemmingway, apps for Google, Zoom, Slack, and organizational apps such as Milanote or Trello. The method to your madness will develop over time so keep these early expenses low and try out a few free trials before you decide to purchase software for your business.
Get started with “content mills” to build your reputation. This is a great way to start earning some money while you build your body of work. Two popular options for this type of work are Medium and Newsbreak.
Entry Level Freelance Writing Jobs
As you are first starting out, you may have to utilize job boards, or use a freelance job platform such as Fiverr or Upwork. Create a profile highlighting your specializations and qualifications and work to land some entry level gigs. These may not pay very well but you must get your foot in the door, earn some reviews, and develop your skills.
As you work with these early clients, who, let’s be honest, are simply there for the reviews, you can build an idea of your ideal client. Make note of the communication patterns, payment methods, upfront requirements, scope of work you enjoy, and any other criteria for developing your ideal client. Once you have established some sense of footing in the writing industry and you begin getting more inquiries, emails, messages asking about your services, then it’s time to start being selective over what types of private clients you know you will be able to work well with.—Tips for Freelance Writing for Private Clients
After you have done some jobs, built your profile and your presence, gained some reviews and worked with a variety of clients, you can begin raising your pricing. Put out the word in all of your online platforms that you are available for work and link out to your job profiles to show potential clients your reviews and stability as a professional freelancer.
Gaining Long Term Content Writing Clients
Those golden content writing clients are out there; you simply need to find them. Those job boards and websites such as LinkedIn are great places to start and to apply for higher paying jobs with clients who are willing to work with you long term. Your skill level and professionalism will speak for you. Try to get potential clients to place a small order with you so that you can work with them and see if you work well together. Communication and professionalism are the keys to landing these higher paying clients and keeping them. Meet their needs and exceed their expectations on every single order.
Over time, you can weed out the smaller clients who cannot afford your rising rates and replace them with more lucrative gigs that will build a base of regular work. There are plenty of businesses and private clients out there hiring freelance writers who are willing to pay fair and competitive wages. You need to find them first, then you must impress them.
One note regarding skill level. If you want the larger clients and the best gigs, you need to keep your skills sharp. Learn all that you can. Some jobs will offer training (although it is usually unpaid time) and you should consider these building blocks for future work. Invest in your own skills so that you have more to offer potential clients. As your skill set and experience grows, you can charge more for your services.
Best of luck to you as you work to find writing gigs and seek out more ways to get paid for writing. If I can do it—so can you!
Thanks for reading!