Remote work jobs have taken on even more of an appeal in 2020 as many former full-time employees are making the shift to working from home or, better yet, working for themselves. Freelance writing jobs, in particular, are getting more attention from people now that the Great Resignation is at its height.
While there might be more competition out there today for remote work than there has been in years past, there are still plenty of freelance gigs out there for everyone. You just need to know where to look.
If you’re not having any luck checking the usual freelance writing job boards, don’t fret. Here are 6 unexpected places you can look to uncover your next client.
I know, I know… This seems like a total joke. But Craigslist isn’t just for finding good deals on used furniture – there are plenty of freelance writing and remote work jobs to discover there, too. Many potential clients turn to Craigslist to post their want ads, especially for one-off jobs that have a quick turnaround time.
The benefit of advertising on Craigslist for potential clients is that, unlike using an agency such as ClearVoice, they don’t have to pay any additional fees to find a writer. (That’s also a bonus for you! You get to keep all your pay and not share a cut with the agency.)
The key is to check the boards of all the major cities, not just the ones you live closest to. Clients often post jobs where they’ll find the biggest audience, but you don’t need to live in those places to apply to them as long as the listing is for remote work.
Beware the Red Flags
But like all things associated with Craigslist, it’s important to take every listing with a grain of salt. Watch out for red flags: There are definitely still scammers looking to take advantage of people – even in job listings.
Here are a few examples of red flags:
Be leery of agreeing to submit any “test” pieces. Even if you’re okay with working for a very low wage (or for free) to build your portfolio, you can’t be sure your “test” work won’t be the “real” work and get published without you getting paid.
Don’t pay the job lister anything! The whole point is the client should pay you at the end. You’re not paying on Craigslist to be added to some kind of database – there are plenty of legit databases where you do have to pay that are not lurking in random corners of Craigslist.
Don’t give out your bank information – even once the work is done. Use a system that’s secure to accept payments, like PayPal or Stripe.
Don’t start working without a contract or other legal written agreement. I cannot stress this enough – YOU NEED DOCUMENTATION TO PROTECT YOURSELF. If money is changing hands, you need a contract. If the client insists on using their own contract, read it through carefully and ask a trusted friend or mentor (or lawyer!) to have a look before signing anything. Be sure the terms are in your best interest.
If you get any weird vibes at all, walk away. It’s not worth your time or energy if someone isn’t willing to meet you halfway to protect yourself.
2. Facebook Groups
Facebook is an amazing resource for freelancers – not just for networking with other people in your industry but for finding gigs as well.
The key is to remember that this isn’t an overnight solution. It will be really obvious if you’re only joining a group to hunt for clients without genuinely connecting with other members.
Here’s how to make Facebook work for you: Join groups that are relevant to your industry and interests. Then you need to consistently participate in the discussions that are happening within the group. You’ll get your name out there by posting frequently in a meaningful way and answering questions. Other members will come to see you as a valuable resource in the community.
There will often be people looking for writing help in these groups and they may post job opportunities! Be sure to follow their application instructions in their post “to the letter” and comment that you’re planning to apply.
Look for groups that are geared towards freelancers, entrepreneurs, people in your industry or writing niche (for example, gardening groups if you primarily write about gardening), remote workers, working women, virtual assistants, etc. Add value wherever you can and keep your self-promotion to a minimum unless someone asks for it or it’s a “self-promo day.”
If you’ve been following me for any time at all, you know I am not a Twitter fan. Despite that, I have to admit it can be a decent place to find some interesting opportunities if you happen to be a freelance writer.
For example, editors of various publications use Twitter to call for pitches all the time. Follow the editors of websites you’d like to write for so you’ll be the first to know when a call goes out. You can also follow your favorite freelance writing job boards on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the newest job postings all day long.
Twitter is also a great place to learn from other freelancers who have been in the industry for a long time and are killing it. Being where your “people” are will help you grow as a writer, too.
Here’s a quick list of a few names and companies I follow on Twitter:
You don’t have to limit your job search to websites that specifically target freelancers. While most people use job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster to look for full-time, in-office work, plenty of clients (especially larger companies) advertise for freelancers there as well.
Most “traditional” job boards have an option to select “remote” as the preferred location for your job search, so all you need to do is search for keywords relating to the work you do, like “medical writer” or just “freelance writer” if you’re not sure which niche you’d like to target.
Consider looking on actual remote work job boards, too, like We Work Remotely or Escape the City. Some of these, like Dynamite Jobs, actually will allow you to choose which part of the world you’re in and will filter jobs based on your choice.
One of my recent favorites is actually Superpath – a job board created by content marketers for other content marketers. They also have an amazing Slack community where you can ask questions and get updated about the newest job postings on the website. It’s definitely worth checking out, no matter where you are in your freelance writing career.
Why check job boards every day when you can have new job opportunities delivered right to your inbox? There are plenty of newsletters out there that carefully curate legitimate, well-paid job postings for freelance writers and remote workers of all kinds. These newsletters do the research for you, so you can trust that the clients are reputable and the jobs are real.
Like I said, there are so many job posting newsletters out there. It can be tempting to subscribe to all of them… But when you’ve got a million job postings in your inbox, it can also be overwhelming.
And while all of these newsletters are a great resource, you usually have to act fast if you see something you’re interested in. It’s likely you’ll be competing with thousands of other subscribers for the same job openings.
Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week is a similar newsletter you have to pay for and there are other “paid” options out there, too. But the limited audience means you have less competition for the jobs that are featured. It’s pay-what-you-can, so it’s a worthwhile investment no matter your budget.
Heck, I even share a few job listings from around the web in my own weekly newsletter! I want you to see how many, many, many freelance writing jobs there are out there and how different they are from one another. Plus, I send out a few tips! 😉
The key here is to check out a few newsletters, see what they're like and what kind of jobs they send your way, and unsubscribe when you don't feel like they're right for you anymore. There's no harm in unsubscribing if it's not a good fit. You won't hurt anyone's feelings.
6. Cold Pitching
Just because you don’t see your dream job posted on any of the usual websites doesn’t mean it’s not available. Many freelancers have more luck with pitching the clients they want to work with directly rather than waiting for a posting to open up.
And frankly, this is how you make the most money – by going directly to the source.
This can work in two ways:
You can pitch individual article ideas that, when published, are attributed to you with a byline – meaning you’re given full credit for your work and have an opportunity to share links to your website or social profiles – or
You can send a pitch to a company or small business to ghostwrite content for them on their website, blog, social media profiles, and so on.
The Truth about Pitching
Pitching to publications often doesn’t pay much (or anything, depending on the platform). But having your name published and a link back to your website and social accounts is still incredibly valuable. Plus, you can publicly say you’re published on your own website and share your article on those same social channels with your followers!
The second option is trickier. While you may be reaching out to suggest helping make positive changes to a brand or small business’s written content, no one wants to hear about what they’re doing wrong. There’s a balance to this, but again, it can really pay off.
If you’d like to go the first route, most publications have guidelines posted about how to pitch them. Do your research first before you send a pitch. If you can’t find any, however, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to their editors via email or social media with a well-crafted pitch.
You might be surprised at how many gigs you can find just by asking.
Although the most popular remote work jobs move pretty quickly, there’s a huge demand for freelance writers if you know where to look. With a little creativity, you can land well-paying jobs in your niche without ever leaving home.
Not sure where to start with a freelance writing business? I can help with that! My 6-week freelance writing course, The Write Hustle, will teach you everything you need to know about setting your freelancing rate, designing your site, building your portfolio, finding clients, staying organized, and running your business. Check it out now!
When you start out, deciding how to set your freelance writing rate is intimidating. I’m speaking from experience, here. When I first branched out on my own, I didn’t know what to charge clients.
I was afraid of making one of two rookie mistakes: Either
A) Setting my rate too low and being grossly underpaid for my work, or
B) Setting my rate too high and risk getting laughed out of the room.
But fear not, gentle Write Hustler. I’ve come a long way from my early days of freelance writing and I’m here to help.
If you’re not sure what to charge clients as a new freelance writer or if you’re looking to increase your fees, you’ve come to the “write” place. (See what I did there?) Here are my personal tips to help you set your rate as a freelance writer.
But first… Rule #1: We don’t work for “free.”
Let me say that again for the ladies in the back who can’t hear.
[[ Ahem ]] We don’t work for free.
When you’re just getting started as a freelancer and you’re working on building your portfolio (so that eventually you can feel like a badass and make the big bucks), you may decide to work for next to nothing. Or nothing at all.
To this, I say tread carefully and set a time limit.
There are a few instances where this might be okay, and here they are:
Your name is being published to show it’s your work and a link or other instructions to get in touch with you included, OR
You’re allowed to use that content as part of your portfolio and if asked, the client will give you credit for writing it.
That’s it. The only times you should agree to do any kind of work for free is when you will be recognized and “paid” for it in some direct or indirect way. And in some cases, even this might be a stretch. Unless you’re 100% sure your content will actually be published, you run the risk of writing something for literally nothing.
You’re worth more than that. So if you do decide to travel down the “free” freelance writing road, choose a stopping point. When you reach that point, don’t take on non-paying gigs anymore. They only serve you for so long.
Even as a new freelance writer, you still deserve to get something in return for your effort. So let’s dig into how to actually set that rate.
Tip #1: Think about what you want your rate to be.
Take a moment and dream. What, to you, would feel like “making it” as a freelance writer? You need to know your goal rate before you can even think about what to set as your starting rate.
Do you dream of making some extra shopping money from your side hustle?
Paying off your student loans or other debt?
Perhaps you want to make a career of writing and pay all your bills. It’s possible, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Determine where you ultimately want to be so you have something to reach for. This will help you along the way as you gain more experience. Remember, your starting rate is just that – a starting rate. At some point, you’ll be able to raise your rate because your work will be worth more. And that’s how you’ll reach your “dream rate” – whether you’re getting clients through a freelance writing agency or running your own show.
Once you know what you want to strive toward, it’s time to choose your bottom dollar (or cents, in this case).
Tip #2: Choose a reasonable (but not lowball) starting rate.
Please hear me when I say that you are worth this rate and much more.
There will be some people out there asking for writers to cobble something together for less than what you’re asking… But you’re better than that. People who ask for lowball rates get what they pay for and they’re not looking for a professional. That’s just a fact.
I generally recommend new writers start charging no less than $0.05 USD per word. If you’re a native English speaker, you’re worth at least 5 cents per word. If you’re confident in your writing skills, use proper grammar, and understand the ins and outs of tricky punctuation, you’re probably worth more than 5 cents.
This initial rate should be your “bottom dollar” rate – the least amount of money you’re willing to accept for your work.
Whatever your “bottom dollar” rate is, be it 5 cents or 10 cents or even 15 cents, stick to your guns. Resist the urge to drop below your starting rate. If you’re asked to write for less than that, walk away. Someone who doesn’t respect your chosen freelance writing rate won’t be a good client, period.
The one and only exception to this rule is if you’re looking for early freelancing gigs that will help you build your portfolio. If you’re offered a bit less than your “bottom dollar” and you’re comfortable with that, you do you, girl.
Do the math. It'll help you find a rate you're comfortable with.
Think about it this way: You’d never ask a roofing expert for a quote to replace the shingles on your house and then, upon hearing their estimate, bargain with them to lower the cost, would you? You might “shop around” and get a few quotes, look at said experts’ previous work and talk to their past clients, and then make your decision. But you certainly wouldn’t ask them to charge you less because you don’t think what they quoted was fair. (At least I hope not!)
Writers, sadly, are often under-appreciated and it can be tempting to take this bait. I’m telling you right now to stay strong. Respect yourself and others will respect you in return by sticking with your “bottom dollar” rate.
Let’s do some quick math here.
If you’re writing a typical 500-word blog piece or email or whatever, charging $0.05 USD per word will land you $25.
At 10 cents per word, you’ll earn $50.
If you don’t have a professional portfolio of published work or a reference you can share, there’s no shame in starting here. These rates are low, yes, but they’re not so low you won’t be taken seriously or ignored completely.
Starting at 5 or 10 cents per word keeps you in the running for first-time jobs that are already highly competitive. Be sure to ask for permission to share the content with other potential clients as you finalize your agreement. That way, you’ll have something concrete to show next time you apply for a writing gig.
Yes, it will take a while to earn much at this rate. But the point is that you’re just getting started. We’re only greasing the wheels of your hustle here, not trying to pay the mortgage yet.
Tip #3: Increase your freelance writing rate with every new gig or client (or every few).
Unlike other jobs where you start at a certain rate and every few months or years you get a raise, freelancing allows for more flexibility. You set the rate and you ultimately decide what you’re going to accept.
As you land more writing jobs, you can begin increasing your rate by a few cents per word. If you’re feeling nervous about this whole “charge what your worth” mantra, mini rate increases may give you the boost of confidence you need.
Remember to stick to your “bottom dollar” – don’t accept work that dips below that rate. As you gain experience writing for more clients, add a cent or two (or three!) to your rate per word. Every new gig, your rate gets a little higher and you get closer to hitting your “dream rate.”
This is a well-known practice among freelancers everywhere and for good reason. Incrementally increasing your rate helps you build confidence in your own craft and worth.
Tip #4: Find a comfortable position and hold it for a while.
Depending on how you choose to set up your business, you may not always have the ability to simply raise your rate with every new assignment.
When you accept one-off jobs, you can easily increase your freelance writing rate from new client to new client.
However, if you’re like me, you enjoy taking multiple assignments from the same clients. This means you’ll have to choose a rate at the beginning and stick with it for a while. After all, your clients assume when they hire you your rate will remain consistent for at least a little while. This should be stipulated in your contractual agreement.
PRO TIP: It’s smart to include some kind of wording in your contracts that your rate is subject to go up. This covers your butt for when you’re ready to increase your rate with long-term clients.
All of that to say… there is a ceiling. Even if you’re more into single-serve jobs, finding a comfortable rate and sticking to it for a while is a good practice. It keeps you aligned with other writers who have a similar amount of experience and helps you build a name for yourself.
Having a constantly fluctuating rate can come back to bite you. If you’re fortunate enough to have clients recommend you to other business owners, you don't want to quote wildly different rates. While you’re still a “newbie” writer, you also don’t want rates so high that you can’t compete for decent jobs. Those are the gigs that will help you build your portfolio.
Beginner vs. Intermediate vs. Expert Freelance Writer
It’s good to know where your rate ought to be in terms of your experience level. This helps you know how best to market your skills.
If you have a good feeling about how you measure up in terms of experience, you can continue to inch your way toward the next experience-level bracket. Little by little, you’ll get closer to your “dream rate” and achieving your goals.
As a beginner freelance writer – meaning you have little or no freelancing experience or published work – I recommend maxing out somewhere around 15 cents per word. Once you have a solid portfolio of at least 3-5 content pieces you can show as proof of your skills, you can probably level up and consider yourself an “intermediate” freelance writer.
If you're an intermediate freelancer, it’s safe to charge upwards of 25 cents per word. You should have a rather substantial portfolio and/or several past clients who have given you testimonials you can use as social proof.
Once you hit the “expert”level, you can charge north of 50 cents per word. This likely means you’re super, SUPER niched down and write for a few specific industries or have specific content types you specialize in and do well. You need to have concrete examples to show your clients before anyone takes you seriously at this rate.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to charge $1 or more per word. It takes time, but people do it!
Tip #5: Consider negotiating a rate on certain opportunities.
As a beginner, I recommend being open to negotiating. However, as an intermediate or expert writer, I say take it or leave it. There are a couple of big reasons for this.
When you're starting out, you’re still building your portfolio. Arguably, you need the experience more than you need the money. If you’re extended a great opportunity or are in talks with a great client, it’s probably worth agreeing to a lower rate in the long run. This is particularly true when they're willing to let you link to the content as part of your portfolio.
But once again, knowing your “bottom dollar” is going to play a part here. No matter how great the opportunity, stand firm in your starting rate and don’t dip below it. Remember your worth.
As an intermediate or expert freelance writer, you may want to be open to negotiations for the same reason: Certain opportunities could really enhance and strengthen your portfolio. However, don’t be tempted to always “drop your pants” and give a lower rate just to get more work.
Even when you consider yourself a seasoned freelancer, you should still have a “bottom dollar” that aligns with your experience level. If you decide to negotiate and write for a lower rate, it still needs to be worth your while.
Tip #6: Learn to know when you’re too high or too low.
There may come a time when, as you’re increasing your rate, you get carried away. Or maybe you don’t have the portfolio to back up the rate you’re asking.
Alternatively, you may be selling yourself short if you’ve been handing over excellent work and not raising your rate often enough.
Take the rate hints subtly (or unsubtly) offered by your clients into consideration.
If you’re losing clients or getting turned down for new gigs, your rate may be too high.
Remember that you need to honor your contractual agreement with your long-term clients. Raising your rate with these folks may come as a bit of a shock depending on how much more you’re charging. While it’s important to take this into consideration, don’t let that stop you from charging more when an appropriate amount of time has passed, like 6-12 months.
To get a feel for what your client can and can’t afford, do some sleuthing online. Check out their social channels, personal social accounts, and their website, if applicable. If they look like they’re raking in enough money, confidently raise your rate. If they look like they might be struggling, consider negotiating a temporary deal until they can meet your new rate. If you like your clients, flexibility goes a long way.
(To be clear, this is all pretty subjective. You can’t really know what’s going on in your clients’ bank accounts purely based on what they do on social media. However, it can give you a great insight into whether a “sob story” is true or just an attempt to save money. We all try to save where we can, right? Your clients are no different, and that’s okay!)
The competition may be playing a part, too.
If you’re getting turned down for new one-off jobs, it may be because your rate is too high compared to other people pitching for the same gig. You might still be marketing yourself as a beginner, for example, when you should be marketing yourself as an intermediate writer instead.
Alternatively, you just might not have enough experience to show for the price you’re asking. That’s okay, and you can always adjust your rate based on the opportunities you get and don’t get. Build up your portfolio a bit more and come back to that rate later.
PRO TIP: Also remember that everyone can’t be your client. Just because one client doesn’t want to pay your rate doesn’t mean someone else won’t, either. We can’t please everyone. Before you drop your rate, grow some thick skin and tolerate several “nos.” You might just be catering to the wrong clientele and need to market to a different, more cash-rich audience.
If your clients rave about you to others (or to you personally!) or you can’t keep up with the amount of work you have, it might be time for a rate increase.
When clients talk about your rates being “affordable” or – and this has happened – lower than other writers they’ve used in the past, it’s probably pretty safe to raise your rate at the next opportunity.
People who willingly sing your praises and enjoy working with you enough to recommend you to others are more likely to accept a rate increase. In fact, they may think (or realize) they’re getting a smokin’ hot deal and feel your rate is actually low for the work you provide.
Likewise, if you’ve got so much work that you can’t really afford to take anyone else on, you’re literally leaving money on the table. Raising your rate gives you the ability to make more money for the good work you do.
All of this to say… listen to your clients! If they’re very happy, you can confidently assume your work will make other clients happy and that you can likely charge more. So charge more. At your next opportunity, increase your long-term rate with your clients or quote a higher rate to a new client and step into that abundance, baby. You earned it.
If clients don’t want to pay your higher rate, don’t be scared. That simply means it’s just not a good fit anymore. “Losing” them is actually a blessing in disguise because it opens an opportunity for you to find a higher-paying client. And just like that, you’re making more money!
Setting your freelance writing rate isn’t an exact science.
It’s different for everyone – some come to the table with a concrete idea of their work’s worth and others have to feel it out. I was certainly the latter for a long time.
If you’re thinking about starting a side hustle or own a fledgling business, you might be so concerned with the day-to-day that you forget to plan for the future. But if you don’t have a road map in front of you, how will you know where to go? It’s important to set goals for your business to keep yourself on track, especially in regards to income.
Setting income goals for your business will help you achieve sales and find clients beyond what you ever thought possible. However, if you set random goals without strategic planning, you’ll risk throwing off your trajectory.
Here’s what you need to know about setting income goals for your side hustle.
1. Set business goals first.
Before you can set an income goal, you need to know what to expect from the business itself. Where do you see your side hustle a year from now? Five years? Ten years? There’s no shame in keeping a side hustle as just a hobby for a little extra pocket money, but if you want it to become your full-time job, you need to set some business goals as well as income goals.
In order for your business to grow over time, you’ll need ways to “scale.” This is a term that’s thrown around often in the entrepreneurial world and it’s often misunderstood. When we’re talking about “scaling” a business, we’re not talking about starting or even growing a business. “Scaling” means being able to take on more work without sacrificing much in terms of income or in other areas, like time management or working yourself to death.
Brainstorm additional products or services you can offer in the future as your business expands. If you anticipate hiring other team members or contractors, how many, and when? Will you want to offer any special bonuses to your team? All of these will factor into the income goals you will need to set in order to succeed.
2. Check your history.
Next, take a look back at your business’s sales over time, if any. How much money have you been making so far? What seems realistic to expect for next month or next year if things stay the way they are?
If your projected income based on your sales at this point isn’t as high as you hope, don’t worry. This is just an estimate of what you can expect if your business continues at the level it’s currently functioning at. Your goal should be to grow!
3. Factor in expenses.
For this step, we’ll need to look to your past as well as your future. What have your expenses been so far? Don’t leave anything out, no matter how small. Even the tiniest expenses can add up over time, costing you money and throwing off your estimates.
Now think about new expenses that you can anticipate as your business scales. Those new hires we thought about in step 1? This is where you’ll need to think about how to pay them. If you want to rent a spot in a coworking space, how much would that cost in your area? Do some research and pull up realistic figures so you’ll know what to expect.
4. Pick an end goal.
After you take those expenses into account, it’s time to think about the fun part: Profit! How much money do you want to be making from your side hustle per year in an ideal world?
Add your profit to your expenses and factor in some leeway for emergencies. Be sure to take year-end taxes into account, too, based on your country’s taxation laws. You’ll need to pay taxes on your earnings every year.
Add all these things up and the final figure is the amount you’ll need your side hustle to make each year in order to meet your goal.
5. Create milestones.
By this point, you might have an end goal so large that you can’t imagine ever reaching it. That’s okay! Even the biggest goals can be achieved if you just put one foot in front of the other. The key is to divide your end goal into smaller milestones that are easier to achieve.
You can choose quarterly goals, monthly goals, or even weekly goals if that’s feasible for your business. The key is to match up these income goals with your business goals so you’re growing your business over time. What can you do this week, month, or quarter to find more clients and boost your income?
6. Write it down.
It’s no secret that actually recording your goals somewhere makes it more likely that you’ll actually work toward and achieve them. In fact, it’s science.
Once you’ve gotten much of the background information worked out, write down your goals. I would even go as far as encouraging you to literally write them somewhere you can see them. In this day and age, it’s easy to record something digitally on a spreadsheet, in a Google doc, or an iOS note. I’m particularly guilty of this myself.
But physically writing things down helps us to better remember whatever it is we’re trying to remember and give it more power.
Putting these things somewhere you’ll see them often will further reinforce those goals in your mind. You’ll be even more likely to put in the work needed to make things happen. Trust me – it’s made all the difference for me in my business.
While setting income goals for your business can feel overwhelming at first, the key is to do your research and use real numbers in order to project the final figure. No goal is too lofty to aim for.
As the saying goes, shoot for the moon! Even if you don’t hit your goal, striving for greatness will lead to more success than you could otherwise achieve.
Let's play a compare and contrast game – a contract vs. a letter of consent. Are they the same?
If you’re new to the world of freelancing, you might come across the term “letter of consent” while negotiating an agreement. A letter of consent is one way for freelancers to document an agreement with a new client, but is it the best one? How does it measure up to a legal contract?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a letter of consent?
A letter of consent is an informal agreement between two parties. Where contracts are legally binding, letters of consent, or agreement, are not.
Letters of consent are common in situations where there needs to be only a casual acknowledgment of agreement that something is taking place, usually when the stakes are low.
For example, a letter of consent for a freelance writer might contain the names of both parties, the nature of the tasks assigned, and the method of compensation.
Usually, letters of consent are not used in a setting where money is changing hands. While it helps to have an agreement in writing, the client is not legally obligated to follow through on the terms, so you could very easily end up not getting paid for your hard work.
If you’re a freelancer and a potential client wants you to agree to a letter of consent rather than a contract, think twice. The terms of a letter are not enough to protect you if the working relationship goes south or your client refuses to pay. If you intend to get paid for your work, you should consider a contract instead.
What is a contract?
A contract, on the other hand, is a formal agreement between two parties that lays out the terms and conditions of an agreement. Legally, a contract must contain several elements: A purpose or offer, mutual acceptance of the agreement, the promises each party is offering, and the material terms and conditions, such as payment and deadlines.
The contract must also be signed by freely consenting adults in their right minds. While a contract must follow a much more specific format than a letter of consent, it’s also legally binding, meaning it offers you recourse if your client does not fulfill their end of the bargain.
There are many templates online to help you draw up a contract if needed. Contrary to popular belief, a contract doesn’t need to be written or approved by a lawyer to be valid. Of course, if you can have one look it over before you sign, that’s awesome! If not, just be sure to read through anything a client sends you carefully to make sure you agree to the terms.
A Contract vs. Letter of Consent
Letters of consent are okay when you’re doing pro-bono work where no money is being exchanged. As long as there are specific parameters in place to determine the amount of work, type of work expected, and what is being offered in exchange, a short letter between the two parties should be fine.
For example, if you agree to do some work for a client in exchange for promotion or a good reference, a letter of consent is likely all that’s needed. There is still a possibility that one party will not follow through with the agreement, but there is much less at stake than there would be with a paying job.
When we're talking about actual work for money, however, the safest bet is to go with an ironclad contract that explicitly lays out the work being done, the timeframe it will be done in, whether or not there will be edits made, and how those edits can be requested and returned. You should also cover consequences for nonpayment, such as a late fee for missing an invoice.
If a client doesn’t pay, you’ll have wasted valuable time that could have been spent on other, more lucrative projects. Even worse, one missed payment can be the difference between paying bills or struggling to get by for some freelancers.
At the end of the day, contracts offer much more protection for freelancers than letters of consent. As much as we all want to trust our clients, nonpayment is unfortunately a very real issue for freelancers across a variety of industries. Always insist on a contract when completing client work. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
When you’re looking for freelance writing opportunities, most potential clients will ask to see at least one writing sample before deciding to work with you. For newer freelancers, this can be a huge obstacle. After all, how do you build a freelance writing portfolio before you’ve actually gotten any writing assignments?
Luckily, you have a few different options when it comes to putting together a portfolio of writing samples. Here are 6 different ways you can assemble a freelance writing portfolio without a lot of experience.
1. Do some work for free.
While I’m a huge advocate for writers knowing their worth and getting paid for the work they do, when you’re brand-new to the freelance world, it’s not always a bad idea to do a little work for free. A business or website is much more likely to take a chance on publishing your work if they don’t have anything to lose by doing so.
A great way to do this is to pitch your services to small or local businesses that are looking to expand their online presence. You can offer to write blog posts or web content for them in exchange for being able to use that work in your portfolio later on.
If you’re having a hard time finding anyone in need of free blog posts or web content, feel free to take the lead! Conduct some research and write a few articles in your chosen niche to have on hand. You don’t have to pitch them to anyone; you just need to make sure they’re well-written and properly edited.
While some potential clients will ask for links to published writing samples, many just want to see an example of your work to evaluate your skill level and writing voice before they hire you. You can find plenty of freelance work just by showing you’re capable of producing quality writing.
2. Take some low-paying gigs to get your feet wet.
An alternative to working for free is to accept a few low-paying gigs in order to fill out your portfolio. Fiverr is a great place to look for these types of jobs. Fiverr is an online marketplace where “sellers” offer all kinds of services at varying prices and levels of experience. It’s great for newer writers because it provides some security in terms of ensuring you get paid and don't risk getting scammed or stiffed.
You can also check websites like Craigslist or job boards like All Freelance Writing, ProBlogger, and BloggingPro for low-paying or beginner-level writing work. As you apply for gigs and start communicating with potential clients, use your best judgment and try to target reputable people.
Remember that if something sounds fishy or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself by doing the smart thing and walk away if something doesn’t feel right.
Another option is to find an opportunity to write for a digital marketing agency. Many agencies specifically hire newer writers because they want to keep their prices low and less experienced writers can be paid a cheaper rate.
While you won’t make as much money writing for an agency as if you were pitching clients on your own, it’s a great way to gain a lot of writing experience in a hurry. Agencies usually have clients across a variety of industries, so you can work on your research skills while putting together a diverse portfolio. In the meantime, you’ll be getting paid consistently for your work.
4. Guest post on other blogs and publications.
Finally, you might want to look into guest posting on other blogs or online publications, especially if you have a blog for your freelance writing business that you’d like to advertise. Guest blogging not only gives you examples of published works to add to your portfolio, but also allows you an opportunity to link back to your own website and get your name out there.
Seek out bloggers in a niche you feel comfortable writing about, then send a personalized email asking if they’d be interested in a collaboration. Mention why you feel that your writing would be a good fit for their website, and include some ideas for what you’d like to write about.
In the case of online publications, look on business-targeted websites (for example, Business Insideror Entrepreneur Magazine) for instructions on how to pitch to the company’s editorial team and follow the instructions to a “T.”
With both of these options, the more you can show you did your research, the more likely a blogger or editor will be to give you a chance.
5. Use content from your personal blog or public writing account.
Using your personal blog content is a great way to showcase your work! Why? Because it's one of the places your unique writing voice and perspective will shine.
On your personal blog (or Medium profile or Tumblr, etc.), if you have one, you're likely not writing for anybody else. You don't need to try to match someone else's voice and you're probably expressing your own opinions and experiences. All of these things make you YOU and demonstrate your best writing skills. These are things that business owners, hiring managers, and editors are always looking for.
The one drawback to this option is that you're obviously not making any money for your work. But don't let that deter you from continuing to post regularly on your blog or writing profile. This is an invaluable place to let your personality do the talking and separate you from other writers vying for the same gigs.
While I don't advocate for putting personal stories on your professional website, generally speaking, I do think it's a great place to demonstrate what you can do. You should definitely have a portfolio page on your website with links to articles you've written. You can take it one step further and include a “kind of” blog, too.
Use a section of your website to write some sample articles on topics or niches that interest you. Better yet, write about writing. Here are a few ideas:
Write about the differences between copywriting and content writing.
Write about the types of writing you specialize in, such as social media posts, email newsletters, blog articles, or white papers, and how businesses can utilize them or why they need to be killing it with these content types.
Write about copywriting or content-specific things you're learning or know about to demonstrate your knowledge, such as SEO, email marketing, Instagram best practices, scheduling tools for social media or email, and so on.
Write a round-up listicle of things you find important to the success of your budding business – tools, habits, organization, anything you can think of!
Do some research, find an article that interests you, and write on the same topic with your unique spin.
Not only will these pieces give a clear indication of your understanding of the things you're writing about, but they're also great practice. Writing more makes you a better writer.
While working to build a freelance writing portfolio might be a bit of an investment up-front, it’s worthwhile to spend some time assembling work you can be proud of. Not only will these writing samples help you gain experience as a writer, but they’ll also help you land higher-paying writing gigs as you grow in your career.