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Stay productive while waiting for gigs: Strategies for new freelance writers

Being a writer is exciting, but enthusiasm can turn to despair if writing gigs don't show up as quickly as you want them to.

You log into every social media platform, and you find people celebrating their wins and shouting about $5k/month milestones. The pressure becomes so great that you begin to question yourself.

"What am I doing wrong?" you ask.

I've been there before, and I'm here to help. I'll walk you through the things you should do while actively searching and waiting for writing gigs. You might discover some things you've been doing wrong, how to fix them, and how to get gigs chasing after you

I’ll make this a fun and relatable read for you, and it will be well worth every bit of your time. Grab your favourite drink and hop on.

6 things you can do while waiting for writing gigs

It may seem like a dark time, but there are so many things you can do while waiting for writing gigs to come your way.

A latina writer languishes on a table, wearing a beret with a coffee cup in front of her, as if waiting for a writing gig

As your writing career progresses, your schedule will not always be completely booked, having a gig drought is inevitable, so you can make good use of the tips here during the downtimes in your career.

1. As a freelance writer, know that it’s okay not to niche down.

You’re probably giving me the weird stare because this isn’t a thing "to do" per se. Well, I included it because it’s so important that you have this knowledge.

Listen, I know the buzz is everywhere as to why you should niche down if you want to make the bucks as a freelance writer, but that doesn’t mean you can't decide to take a different path.

How do you decide what niche you’re best suited for if you haven’t had experience with other niches? If you’ve had experience working with a company before, you can decide to continue in that niche as a writer. Let’s say you’ve worked with an insurance company, you can decide to build on that because you are experienced in that niche.

However, if you’ve not had such an experience, it’s absolutely okay to be a generalist, check out a range of niches, and then settle for one when you deem it fit.

2. Prepare yourself for freelance writing gigs

Waiting for writing gigs does not mean that you're prepared for them.

Many writers realize this too late. They only realize that they should have a portfolio when a potential client asks for one.

A caucasian writer uses an iPad to browse a creative portfolio. He is wearing a grey suit and white shirt.

You don't want to be such a writer. Especially because the freelance writing industry is competitive, once you've lost an opportunity, there's another writer out there who's prepared and willing to dive in.

How can you prepare for starting freelance writing?

  • Build a strong portfolio: Your portfolio is a collection of your best pieces. Even if you've never had clients, you can build an impressive portfolio. Write content of different lengths on a couple of topics across various niches. You can organize your writing using platforms like Contently, Clippings, Medium, and Google Docs.

  • Network and build professional relationships: The freelancing journey is challenging, you definitely need the right people in your circle if you're looking to scale. Ensure you connect with other writers on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and join Slack channels. As much as you can, be everywhere you can, telling people what you do and building solid relationships.

3. Optimise your social media

Your clients want an intentional and organized person to handle their projects. And your social media profile is the first place your potential client would check to discern if you are.

Social media feed showing varied posts and images

This becomes especially important if you do not have a blog or website; your social media becomes your sole platform to showcase how good you are at what you do.

Ensure you have a profile that portrays you as a writer, with a well-lit and formal picture of you. Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are great for this.

You can take things further by posting regularly on your socials. As you grow in knowledge and experience as a writer, be intentional about sharing your knowledge and experience with your social media platforms.

That way you're getting better at writing and improving your visibility as well.

4. Explore job boards and freelance platforms

I wish someone had told me earlier that the possibility of freelance writing jobs meeting me in my comfort zone didn't exist. I learned the hard way...

Several writers point at the screen of a laptop

If you're starting as a newbie in the writing industry, you should go the extra mile while sourcing gigs.

Job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor have lots of freelance writing opportunities. Freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, People per Hour, and Contentoo, are places where you can set up your account and immediately you can start applying for writing gigs.

5. Send cold pitches, even if gurus tell you not to

Cold emailing or cold pitching is a process where you send emails to people you've had no contact with previously. In the email, you give a compelling and quick detail of what you do and how you'd love to collaborate with them on writing projects (in this case). There are courses on Coursera, Udemy, and YouTube videos that you can watch to learn how to cold pitch like a pro.

Cold pitching is scary and nerve-wracking. It's also made worse by the fact that some of the authorities in the writing field don't endorse cold pitching and say they don't do it.

I understand their logic, but the thing is, if you're determined to get these gigs, you'll do all it takes.

If it works, amazing! If it doesn't, then you've learned what to do better. You might get a couple of rejections, but if you keep doing it right, you'll get a yes and many more to come.

6. Learn to handle rejections and setbacks

Freelancing is a challenging journey. It's easy to beat yourself up when things don't go the way you planned. Going that path will only wear you out and make your journey longer and more exhausting.

I once spoke with a friend who's a freelance writer and she said, "There's no such thing as a happy writer."

While I don't fully agree with her, her statement shows that freelance writing is a challenging industry just like every other industry there is. You'll have good days and bad days.

A dark -skinned female writer sits on the floor on a laptop. She is wearing a white shirt, glasses and has curly hair.

Right now, make peace with the fact that;

  • You'll get rejected–a lot.

  • You'll not close every writing deal, some of them will slip through your fingers for some reason.

  • Your writing might not fill the bill at first, and you might lose some clients because of that.

  • You'll meet some amazing and horrible clients as well.

Then decide consciously to be kind and patient with yourself regardless of how things turn out.

Embrace the writing journey

I remember when my first gig came. As a freelance writer. I had to write a 1,500-word blog post. Then I got the paycheck for that work.

It meant so much to my freelance career. The fact that I could put out my work as a writer, and my client found it satisfactory holds an experience that I cannot describe with words.

I'm sure you desire to have such experience and even do great things in your freelance career, but you must embrace your journey and take the required steps each time.

Ensure you're constantly networking, building profitable relationships, and reaching out to your colleagues, and potential clients.

Cheers to your first writing gig and a thousand more to come!

Enjoyed Angel Leonard's writing? Grab time with her via her LinkedIn profile.


1 Comment

Nadine Heir
Nadine Heir
Jul 21, 2023

At a time when many of us are job hunting, this is a poignant reminder to keep going, keep preparing. Love this post Angel!

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