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Land your first gig as a new freelance writer

Starting a career in freelance writing can be exciting. However, getting that first job is often a challenge many novice freelance writers face.

While professional freelance writers have a portfolio and personal brand that attracts clients even while asleep, newbie freelance writers have to work hard to land their first job.

Struggling to land your first freelance writing gig as a newbie freelance writer? Here are some tips that’ll help.


Why is your first freelance writing gig important?

Landing your first freelance writing gig is important, not because of the juicy monetary benefit that comes with it but because of the confidence, exposure, and experience you gain afterwards.

With your first writing gig, you get to put what you've learned into practice. You also get to understand how to communicate with clients, determine their unique needs, meet deadlines, set up invoices, and manage your time.

All these will help build your confidence, manage future projects effectively, and set you on the path to becoming a good writer.

And remember, your first freelance writing gig offers you the opportunity to build a solid portfolio which will come in handy when applying to future writing jobs. First, let's answer:


Do you need to niche down?

Professional freelance writers preach niching down. But should you follow their advice and niche down? Will it help in your quest for your first freelance writing gig?

While niching down has benefits, you shouldn’t embrace it as a beginner freelance writer.

Why?


Because doing so will make it difficult for you to compete with professionals in specific niches who have the following, personal brand, portfolio, and authority you lack.

So instead of niching down, become a generalist.

As you gather more experience and try out various freelance writing niches, you can embrace the niche you are comfortable with.


Where to land your first freelance writing gig:

Landing your first freelance writing gig can be challenging, especially for someone new to the freelance writing industry. However, with expert guidance, it becomes easy as you know where to focus your attention and effort at.


Without further ado, here are five proven ways to source your first freelance writing gig.


Freelance marketplaces


A Freelance marketplace is almost like your typical marketplace. It’s an online platform that consists of buyers—individuals or businesses looking to hire freelancers for specific projects—and sellers—those offering freelance services.

As a newbie, freelance marketplaces are your best shot at landing your first writing gig and scaling your freelance career. There are many alternatives to Fiverr and Upwork.


Quality freelance marketplaces to consider are:

· Freelancer

· PeoplePerHour

· Guru

· We Work Remotely

· Freelance.com

While freelance marketplaces are a great way to land your first writing gig and kick-start your freelance writing career, they are often associated with low-paying gigs.

But that shouldn’t deter you, especially if you view them as a means to an end.

Use your time in freelance marketplaces to build your skills, confidence, experience, and portfolio. And when you’ve done that, you can start pitching your services to prominent businesses that’ll pay you handsomely for your services.


Social media platforms


When you think of social media platforms, what comes to mind? Entertainment, communication, and leisure, right?

Of course! Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are filled with content that provides pure entertainment that fuels our happy hormones. Plus, they promote easy communication and allow users to socialize.


But what if we told you that your Facebook or Twitter account is instrumental to landing your first writing gig?


By setting up a professional social profile on Twitter—and promoting your skills, it’s only a matter of time before you are contacted by someone who needs your service.


The same applies to Facebook and LinkedIn.


Where should you start building a digital presence?

LinkedIn and Twitter are great for a start. They can offer you the exposure needed to land a freelance writing job as a beginner.

Let's look at each platform and what you need to do.


Twitter

With 450 million monthly active users as of 2023, Twitter has gone from a mere social media platform to a client acquisition platform for newbies and professional freelance writers.


Want to make headway on Twitter? Do these things:

· Be consistent

· Post your progress

· Be patient

· Follow the right people (editors, head of content, HR of writing agencies, etc.)

· Track your progress

· Making valuable comments on people's posts

· Set up a killer profile highlighting your services

· Post valuable, solution-oriented, and actionable content

· Target your target audience’s pain points

Don’t expect overnight success. Consistency is key to getting your first writing job on Twitter. Show up every day with valuable content that helps your target audience.

Are your target audience E-commerce businesses in need of email marketers? Let your content speak to their pain points, which could include low open rates, deliverability issues, low email ROI, underperforming email flows and campaigns, low conversion, etc.


LinkedIn

This is the best social networking website for freelancers looking for their first writing gig. It has features that make networking and job search easy and seamless.

With LinkedIn, you can easily search for potential dream clients and connect with them. You also can see who viewed your profile and send messages to LinkedIn members outside your connection circle.

Impressive, right? We agree.

But you see, LinkedIn, like other platforms, is saturated. You need to stand out to build a personal brand and make headway on this platform.

And how do you do that?

By following these tips:

· Create a killer summary

· Use a clear and nice headshot

· Use a captivating headline

· Use the right keyword

· Post valuable content targeted at your target audience’s pain points

· Show up every day

· Build relationships

Acquiring clients on LinkedIn is a long game that should be played patiently, especially if you are a novice freelance writer. Don’t expect to achieve success on this platform overnight.


Facebook

In addition to LinkedIn and Twitter, you can source for jobs on Facebook. Simply log into your Facebook account and input the position you wish to apply for in the search bar.

For instance, if you are an Email Copywriter, input the keyword “Email Copywriter” in the search bar then click on “Post.” Scroll down and look for posts that highlight Email Copywriter job openings. You can apply for the job if you meet the requirements.


Cold pitching


Cold pitching involves sending personalized emails to cold leads or strangers describing how your services will help solve their problems. If done right, this client acquisition strategy can help you land your first freelance writing job.


While cold pitching might appear easy on paper, it often isn’t. First, you must note that nailing every element of your cold pitch, from the subject line to your introduction and call to action, is instrumental to the success of this strategy.


Secondly, you must understand that cold pitching is a game of numbers. What does this mean?


It means to increase your chances of landing clients with cold pitches; you need to increase the number of cold pitches you send while ensuring that quality remains constant.

Don't create cold email templates; they may appear generic. Instead, create personalized emails highlighting the recipient’s pain points and offering a solution via your services.


5 cold pitching rules to abide by are:


1. Do extensive research

It's essential you dig into your recipient's personal and company background. In addition to their name, you should know their “likes," pain points, desires, target audience, recent achievements, competitors, etc. They’ll come in handy when sending your cold email.


2. Personalize the email

If you did your research well, personalizing your emails will be easy. Email personalization involves sprinkling personal information in your emails to make them relatable and unique to the recipient.


3. Cut the fluff

It's not an article. It's an email designed for busy individuals. So keep it short. 50- 125 words will do. The shorter, the better. Use the Hemmingway editor to proofread your email. It helps cut fluffs that bore readers and make your piece hard to understand.


4. Use an attention-grabbing headline.

Want your prospect to open your cold email? Use attention-grabbing headlines like:

· Check this out (subject name).

· Quick question, (Subject name).

· I bet you'd love this.

· A quick idea for improving (a topic of interest for the prospect)

· Quick idea for (subject name)

· What’s your thought on this, ( Subject name)

· (Company name) needs me.


5. Follow up

When you send a cold pitch to the hiring manager or CEO of an SEO agency and don’t get a response, what do you do? Do you give up on the prospect and move to the next?

No. You need to follow up.

And to do that without coming off as desperate or unserious, you need I strike a balance.

Don’t follow up too soon or too late.

Instead, do this:

· Send first follow-up two days after the first cold email

· Send second follow-up four days after

· Send third follow-up seven days after

· Send fourth follow-up 14 days after

· Send fifth follow-up 30 days after

In all the follow-up emails you send, try to give the prospect reasons to consider your offer while addressing potential objections.


6. Use a soft CTA

Soft CTA is less demanding and easier to reply to than the opposite, making it ideal for cold emails.

Examples of soft CTAs are:

· Is this something you would like to consider?

· Are you open to scheduling a quick 10 minutes call to discuss my offer?

· Are you interested in this partnership?

· Let me know if you are interested in this so I can shoot you some questions.

· I'd love to hear what you think about this. Would you be open to chatting about it in detail?

The above CTAs are easy to respond to, unlike CTAs that require the prospect to think and come up with a five-sentence reply. No one has time for that!


Help out friends and family members


Want to land your first freelance writing gig without stress or a portfolio? Reach out to family and friends!

Chances are one of your friends or family members is in dire need of the service you offer.

For instance, if you are an email copywriter, reach out to friends or family members who run e-commerce businesses and pitch your service to them.


And if you are an SEO content writer, you could reach out to family or friends who need to boost the online presence of their business or personal blog.


While sourcing for gigs from family and friends is an easy way to land your first writing job, there is a caveat: the possibility of low or zero pay.


You see, it’s more realistic for a client you don’t know to pay you $2000 for a 1,000-word SEO article than your uncle.


The relationship with your uncle won’t make you charge high. Some relatives or friends might even suggest you do it for free. After all, they are family or close friends.


Write guest posts


Visibility is crucial to getting your first writing job. And writing guest posts for websites in your niche, like like Write Wiser is for me, can give you that and even more.


By writing guest posts for a website with good traffic, you are announcing yourself to potential clients who’ll contact you if impressed with your post. Plus, a guest post is instrumental to building a portfolio and acquiring a byline as a newbie freelance writer.


Unlike paid gigs, guest posts attract zero monetary benefits. Nevertheless, it allows you to promote your services, raising your chances of landing your first gig.

To promote your services in a guest post, highlight the following in the author biography section:

· Who you are.

· The services you offer.

· Your social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) or email.

When you put the above together, the final author biography may look like this:

I am an SEO writer skilled in creating engaging and user-friendly content that ranks on Google's SERP. I write on lifestyle, health and wellness, personal finance, and travel-related topics. Contact me here (add a link to your social profile) to discuss your content needs.


Ensure your bio is short, captivating, and benefit-driven. It should also highlight your skills.


After landing your first writing gig, what next?

Yay! You’ve finally landed your first writing gig. Now, what? Spoil yourself silly, right?


Probably. But before you celebrate this milestone, do these:


1. Ask for a review:

Many businesses are sceptical about hiring newbie freelancers because they doubt their expertise and credibility. For instance, if you are an SEO content writer, you'd want businesses to believe you know your stuff. You'll want them to believe you can boost their ranking and generate traffic to their website.


A review can help you do that. But how do you get one? By asking!


After landing your first writing gig and delivering a five-star worthy job, ask for a review. This should be easy, especially if the client is impressed with your job.


2. Create a case study:

Case studies are content that highlights previous projects. They are like bragging pieces that display your expertise and build credibility. Plus, they can double as social proof.


A case study can come in handy in a situation where a business stops you from displaying its work in a public portfolio. It’ll serve as a portfolio in this case.


3. Create a portfolio

A portfolio request is a typical part of the freelance writing hiring process. With your first freelance gig, you can start building your portfolio. It’ll come in handy when applying for future freelance jobs.


For a start, you can leverage free portfolio platforms like:

· Contently

· Muck Rack

· Clippings.me

· Journo Portfolio

After doing all these, you can pop some champagne and celebrate your win properly. You deserve it!


Don't get discouraged if you're a new freelance writer.

You may face disappointment while searching for your first freelance writing job. Your cold email may be ignored, same with your pitch. In fact, at some point, it may appear like you don’t know what you are doing. But in all of these, don’t lose hope. Remain consistent, focused, and patient. Show up daily with valuable content tailored to your target audience’s needs. Sooner than later, you’ll strike gold.


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