If there’s one part of being a freelance writer I love more than anything else, it’s that I get to choose when and where I work.
As long as I have a computer with an internet connection, I can pound the keys and start earning.
My computer isn’t only the place where I get work done. It’s also the place where I find nearly all my freelance writing clients.
I found my first writing gig while sitting in my university bedroom on a bashed-up old laptop that needed a special card plugged in to connect to the wifi.
My most recent writing gig I also got while sitting at my Macbook Air. The same is true for the majority of the hundreds of gigs I’ve done in my five year career.
In this article, I’ll show you how you can find gigs from the comfort of your computer. You can do this sitting at the kitchen table, while relaxing in bed, or in front of the TV. You don’t need any special surroundings to be a writer.
I can’t promise that you’ll find work right away. But if you persist, work will come your way. Then you’ll feel the elation of finding your first freelance writing client.
So, where can you find work online?
1. Job Boards
Jobs boards have a special place in my heart. I landed my very first writing job from a jobs board, back when I was still studying at university. The pay was terrible: $3 per 400 word article. It was the only time I worked for less than minimum wage, but it gave me the confidence to believe I could get paid for my wordsmithing. It also provided valuable content for my portfolio.
Through the first two years of my freelance writing career, I got most of work from a jobs board for students.
What’s great about jobs boards is that if you know where to look, there’s work aplenty. On the flip side, competition for jobs is fierce, and the pay often reflects that.
If you’ve got time to sit and reply quickly to new gigs, then you’ve got a good chance of landing work.
Well-known jobs boards include:
- Craigslist. Don’t just search in your city – there are writing jobs on Craigslist all around the world.
- Online Writing Jobs (This is where I got my first writing gig. The site has hardly changed in the past six years)
- ProBlogger. Well-paid blogging jobs are listed almost every day at ProBlogger’s jobs board.
- Freelance Job Openings. One or two new jobs are posted each day here.
2. Bidding Sites
Bidding sites such as Elance and Guru.com have abundant opportunities for writers. At the time of writing, there are over 3,000 writing jobs available on Elance alone.
As with jobs boards, bidding sites are great places to cut your teeth as a writer. You can find your first clients and build a portfolio. Some of the writing jobs you pick up on bidding sites will become long term gigs.
You may have to bid low to win jobs when you’re just starting out. As you build your reputation, you can start to bid higher and still win work.
I’ve picked up several gigs on bidding sites during my writing career. One gig in particular was the first time I’d topped $50 an hour from my writing. The gigs you pick up will be varied, so you can try your hand at different types of writing.
The main downside of bidding sites is time. Putting in a potentially winning bid takes a ton of effort. But it’s worth it when you find your bid has got you the job.
Bidding sites with gigs for writers include:
- Elance. One of the two major bidding sites.
- oDesk.com. Currently the main competitor of Elance, with over 6,000 writing and translation jobs available at the time of writing.
- Guru.com. With hundreds of jobs available at any one time, Guru.com is worth a look.
- Freelancer.com. You’ll find hundreds more opportunities here.
3. Social Networking
As I’ve shared recently, the best way to find well-paying clients is through your friends and acquaintances.
For freelance writers, that makes social networking a potential goldmine. Social networks give you an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to people and make new connections.
If the long game of growing your network isn’t for you, and you need work fast, social media can still help.
To find writing jobs fast on social media, you can:
- Search Twitter. Look for “writing jobs” or “copywriting jobs”.
- Browse jobs on LinkedIn. Again, you can search for jobs, or browse jobs that are available in your network.
- Like the Facebook pages of companies, magazines or blogs you’re interested in working for. Occasionally, job opportunities will come up.
Yup, you don’t even have to boot up your web browser to find writing work. You can do it straight from your email inbox.
Email is great for writers because it means you can connect with anyone in the world without having to pick up a telephone.
As with social media, this works on the power of your network. Writing jobs are most likely to come from friends of friends. So reach out to your friends and ask if they know anyone who needs a writer!
You don’t have to act like a salesperson for this to work. In fact, being salesy in your emails is a recipe for alienating your friends. Just be yourself, and let them know you’re starting a business. You’re telling them your latest news, not selling your soul.
You can find an email template to use for connecting with your network here.
5. Microfreelancing Sites
Microfreelancing is where freelancers do tiny jobs for tiny pay. They provide the ideal entry point for the newbie freelancer, because you’re not expected to have any experience.
Plus, because the jobs are small, you can try your hand at many different writing tasks to find what you enjoy.
The most famous of all microfreelancing sites is fiverr, because you can list any gig you like, as long as you’re willing to do it for five bucks. If you want to sell your storytelling skills for $5 per story. If you want to write press releases or blog posts for $5, you can do that. Any writing gig you can think of, you can offer.
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is one of the oldest and most widely known. Unlike fiverr, you don’t list gigs to sell. Rather, you choose tasks that you’re willing to do from those available at any given time. You don’t need any expertise to get started. Not all the gigs are writing gigs, but there are some data entry jobs that could help you improve your typing speed while earning some pocket money.
Other microfreelancing sites include:
- Gigbucks. Here you can sell gigs for up to $50.
- Fourerr. As the name implies, you sell gigs here for $4.
- 3Quid. A British alternative to fiverr, where you earn three British pounds per gig.
6. Build Your Own Blog or Website
If you’re planning to be a high earning freelance writer for the long term, you must build your own website.
Building a website isn’t a short-term strategy for finding clients, but it is one that will pay off in the long term. And until you find your first paid clients, you can hone your writing skills on your blog. This has the added advantage of giving you a portfolio of writing you can show to your clients.
Sites such as Blogger or WordPress.com mean you can set up your own website in just a few clicks of the mouse These days, most queries about my writing services come through my website. If you start one thing today to grow your freelance writing career, make it your website. It’s the best investment you can make.