Diana Kelly Levey

10 Freelance Writing Tips for Beginner Freelancers to Get Their First Writing Job

man staring at laptop in coffee shop

April 18, 2020

If you want to become a freelance writer but don’t know how to get started and are eager to start a freelance writing career, apply these freelance writing tips to break in as a freelance writer and find your first writing jobs.

This is a great time for a beginner to get started with freelance writing

Content is king right now so every person, brand, service, and product needs articles, writing services, content marketing, and copy. You can help them if you have solid writing skills and a hustle mentality.

I find that freelance writing students and freelance beginners tell me that they have a ton of ideas—some of them potentially great!—but they don’t know where to pitch them, the right editor to email an idea to, and the process of landing a paid freelance writing assignment.

(Ways to come up with new freelance article ideas if you’re struggling.)

Discover 10 freelance writing tips to help find your first freelance writing job as you start freelance writing for beginners.

1. Tell everyone you’re a freelance writer!

Seriously. Email friends, family, and former colleagues letting them know that you’re freelance writing and would be happy to offer your writing services to them. Working connections and your network are one of the secrets of being a successful freelance writer and a six-figure freelancer.

2. Dedicate time to freelancing.

You’re not going to become a great piano player simply by sitting in front of a piano and banging on the keys. The same goes for freelance writing. Here’s how to find time in your schedule to start freelance writing. You might want to make up a freelance schedule this week:

  • Spend one hour one day searching for freelance writing jobs online  (I have a resource for my students with 25-plus websites with paying gigs)
  • Use another day to research an outlet you want to pitch
  • Find the editor’s name you plan to pitch another day
  • Write the pitch on the fourth day
  • On the fifth day, look over the pitch again, send it out and research more writing jobs online. (For examples of winning article pitches that got sold, check out my NEW PDF “20+ Pitches That Worked.”)

3. Decide on the type of freelance writing for beginners you want to do.

A freelance writing career is more than just writing articles for magazines. Look around you. Peek through your postal mail. There’s copy and content everywhere. You could be a copywriter, copyeditor, editor, content marketing writer, freelance writer for magazines, freelance writer for websites, SEO writer, ghostwriter, blogger, press release writer, a corporate writer for businesses, social media writer, travel writer, the list goes on.

Here’s what experienced freelancers wish they knew about freelancing five and 10 years ago.

4. Research the markets.

Once you’ve decided what area you want to concentrate in, research the markets. I get more in-depth in this skill in my “Get Paid to Write” comprehensive freelance writing course, but you should read a few issues of the magazine you want to pitch. Spend some time on the website (and social media accounts) of the online outlet you’re going to pitch, and familiarize yourself with the brand or organization you’re offering your services to. Skipping this step is a mistake many beginning freelancers often make and it’s what can set you apart from the rest. Do the research and you’ll be much more likely to land an assignment. You’ll also want to spend time researching the idea you want to pitch.

5. Get published clips.

This is a question you’ll often see posted in beginner freelance writing forums online: “How do I get writing assignments when I don’t have published articles or clips to show a client?” “How do I break into freelance writing?” or “How do I get started with freelance writing online?” Here are a few tips (of the many) tips I share with Freelance Writing students who enroll in my e-course on “How to Get Published When You Don’t Have Experience.”

  • Find small, local magazines that are distributed for free in grocery stores and libraries and offer your writing services, story ideas, or editing services.
  • Contact your alumni magazine. See if a local community college needs help with its newspaper, alumni correspondence, or website copy.
  • Submit an op-ed to a paper or website

6.  Find freelance clients where other freelancers aren’t looking.

One of my favorite freelance writing tips for freelancers of all experience levels is to find content marketing clients right under your nose. Look at the products you use daily and businesses you frequent in your neighborhood. They might need a blog or have content needs you can address!

7.  Make sure you’re writing good content.

It’s not just about turning in the freelance assignment. Make sure you’re creating good content for freelance clients every time by meeting your  deadline, turning in the correct word count, following the outline your editor provided and checking for spelling and grammar mistakes.

8. Be a great listener

This is one of those freelance writing tips that could  be interpretted two ways. One way is to make sure you’re asking clients for feedback on how to improve your articles and make their lives easier. The other is to listen to what people are talking when you need to come up with article ideas. What problems do friends and family bring to you to help them solve? Recall the conversations you’ve had with your friends about their issues and problems— maybe it’s babysitting, being a caretaker, health issues…this list can go on forever. Jot down snippets of those conversations in a notepad on your phone and visit them at a later time to see if they have any weight or could become pitches.

9. Set up Google alerts on keywords and topics you want to write about.

Find a specific topic that interests you and follow experts and brands in that field on social media and in news stories when you. I frequently write about sleep, so I like to see which brands are coming out with new products, learn about the latest research and see which outlets are publishing con- tent in this niche in my Google alerts. Part of freelance writing for beginners is knowing what other writers are producing as well. This is a great way to stay on top of trends and learn a freelance niche.

10. Set your workspace up for a productive day.

Make sure you have a designated area you’ll start freelance writing for beginners in, use good lighting and have a door you can close so you won’t be disturbed by family members and roommates. Get work from home tips on how to be more productive as a beginner freelancer here.

Don’t forget to check out other successful freelance writer friends’ number-one tip for beginners to get started freelance writing here.

My ebook 100+ Tips for Beginner Freelance Writers addresses these freelance writing tips in more depth. Download it today!

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Diana can help with:

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Email Diana about opportunities: Diana(at)DianaKelly.com.

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