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Starting out in freelance writing Part one

By Edited Nov 24, 2016 1 14

Well I managed to get around to this quicker than expected and (though I’m not going to keyword optimise this article in the slightest) I’ll count it as one of my ten for the month. I know most of us are here to earn a passive income but in the interim freelance writing work is a great way to fill some time and to earn a decent living online. I’ve been writing online for almost two years now and am very pleased that I earn a very decent living. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some advice for people who are looking to start writing online.

Where to find work!

This is the most important thing for anyone starting out and at first you might struggle to find good places to write. As you get into it you’ll find that there are hundreds of places offering paid writing work. However, I thought I’d go through some of the best (at least in my opinion) and some that I’d personally avoid.

Digital Point forum

I’m biased towards DP because this is where I’ve started out and where I have since gained many of my long term clients. However, DP is generally a CHEAP marketplace with hundreds of writers offering their services for BELOW $1/100 words. This makes it quite competitive and sometimes it can be a struggle finding great clients. However, if you persevere there are many hiding in the woodwork and over time you can build up a good reputation. Take care of your iTrader (internal work ranking) and it will become much easier to get clients.

oDesk

I haven’t used oDesk myself but a few freelancer friends swear by it. There are odd jobs here but most of the work is paid on an hourly rate. You set your hourly rate and oDesk fees are added to it (so you don’t lose out on money). You then download oDesk’s software which tracks your work progress when you log in. If you’re a hard worker then you really get to show your clients how hard you work and the effort you put into each piece. Once you have a reputation work isn’t hard to come by and I know at least one person whose hourly rate is $25-30. I’d really recommend this one.

The Warrior Forum

Everyone knows about the Warrior Forum and it’s a great place to offer your services. People are always looking for great deals on here and you can often find more upmarket work on the “members looking to hire you” thread. The only problem with WF is that there are no rating systems and work is infrequent. However, it’s a good place to check on from time to time or to run your own sales thread when you have a decent portfolio.

Wicked Fire

Another good forum to find work on. Has a good community and bad providers quickly get booted so it’s a nice place to work. Jobs aren’t as frequent as on DP but still worth checking.

Constant Content

Constant Content offers a lot of high paying opportunities to sell your work but you have to upload articles and set a price for them. You can take on requested work but generally you put an article up and set a price. Prices are much higher than other job boards and quality is high - the only downside is you can't guarantee how much you will sell!

eLancer

Elancer is one of the biggest and most well-known freelance sites on line but in my opinion its rubbish. You are limited on the number of jobs you can apply for, the competition is ridiculous and there are too many people willing to write for peanuts. You also get charged and I don’t like that ever. One to avoid.

 

Hopfully this will give you a good few places to start looking for work and once you’ve got the ball rolling your work will take care of itself – as long as you provide a good service of course! As I’ve said before word of mouth is the best marketing for writing and you’ll be amazed how often new clients will appear that way.

What work to apply for!

This might seem a really stupid thing to need explaining as most people’s initial reaction is – higher paid work obviously. While this is true when you start out getting high paid work can be a problem. Also if you are looking at building a writing career online you need to think about WHAT kind of client you’ll be working for.

                For example someone who wants 10 budget priced articles on a topic probably isn’t going to be interested in buying quality articles in the future. So there is little point in writing the budget articles well and then not securing long term higher paid work. However, if someone is looking for a poster for their blog they may be able to offer long term work at a higher price. Likewise someone who wants 100 articles on a specific niche and is prepared to pay over 2 cents a word is likely to be someone with long term work or a corporate buyer. Corporate buyers are the BEST buyers bar none. They will always pay top rates and you can often negotiate with them for even better rates of pay once you’ve shown them the quality you produce. (I have been given 3 raises this way and one I didn’t even ask for!).

                While there are always exceptions to these scenarios and examples I’ve given you’ll soon develop a feel for what might be a promising client and what is likely to be a flash in the pan assignment. The difference is that you should put in more effort (only has to be slightly) on clients that you consider to have LONG TERM potential.

How to market yourself

A lot of people I know who want to start writing online struggle with marketing themselves and approaching clients. If you see any of the forum boards that offer work you’ll see lots of threads that read something like this

Writer for hire, 5 year’s experience. I can provide you with top quality, well researched, grammatically correct, SEO optimised copyscape passed content for only $10/500 words. My articles are better than the rest so check me out to find out why.

Ok that’s just an idea of one but I see them all the time and I wouldn’t hire a single one of them. Individuate yourself, stand out from the crowd and don’t sound like you’ve learned some phrases by rote and are repeating them. In the example above – grammatically correct should be implied, copyscape passed shouldn’t even need mentioning and well researched itself should be a given (you’re not a run of the mill writer are you). SEO optimised is something you can offer but different clients will have different conceptions of what this actually entails. So work hard to differentiate yourself and add in details that potential clients will find relevant.

I have developed an expert knowledge of SEO through writing for and promoting my own websites.

                I can write in a professional style with appropriate business jargon.

                I am a father/mother of 3 so have first-hand knowledge of x,y and Z.

Don’t pigeon hole yourself but market your strengths.  Secondly (or whatever number I’m on) always offer clients a range of options. For example;

When I’m dealing with a new client I will always high ball my offer. So if I think I would ideally like to be paid $15 an article I will come in with $20. Then I can negotiate down to $15. However, when the client says “that’s a bit too expensive can you do them for x” I will say “ well I’m happy to do them for x but it means I’ll be able to spend less time on them. As long as you don’t mind less research and quality that’s fine” – Now if you’ve found the right client you’ll end up somewhere between $15 and $20.

 

Ok I realise I’ve done my usual trick of rambling on slightly so I’ll stop there for today. If people are actually interested and find any of this useful please let me know and I’ll write a second issue for you with some more tips, tricks and strategies – and some more places to find work if that’s what you’d like.

Thanks

Sam

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Comments

May 4, 2012 8:24pm
ZiggyD
Awesome stuff Sam! Looking forward to the next one! I started through a very cheap broker and got a few jobs around here through word of mouth but I think I will be branching out into some of your suggestions in the future. Blogging jobs or corporate marketing gigs seem like something I would enjoy more and they would be more sustainable financially.
May 4, 2012 10:37pm
claudslewis
This is really useful Sam! I'm new in this game, so this is really useful. I started first with Constant Content, so it's my favorite (after Infobarrel :-)). Have you tried Fiverr? I've signed up and created 2 gigs but haven't had anything yet. I must try some others you've listed here. WOuld love some more examples!
May 5, 2012 4:14am
alexiafeatherchild
Enjoyed the article and found it very informative. I hope to test the waters once I've got a handle on everything and have my own directory of articles here and possibly elsewhere.
May 5, 2012 6:02am
SamJones
Thanks for your support everyone.

I think you've hit the nail on the head Ziggy - corporate and bloggng is the way forward as far as i'm concerned.

Claudlewis - I will put up some more for you over the weekend. Fiverr is simpy not worth the effort. As $4/500 words or so is too low to make a sustainable living. However, you can sometimes get long term clients this way bt the problem is that Fiverr's key demographic is people looking for cheap stuff.

Alexia - A portfolio is a great idea. I'll go through some ideas for that in another installment for you.
May 5, 2012 10:05am
claudslewis
Thanks Sam. Looking forward to part 2.
May 5, 2012 6:21am
aberdelle
Good stuff SamJones. I will be checking these out. I am just getting started, so don't want to overdo it and get burnt out. Any suggestions on quantity to strive for? Separation of time between revenue sites, building blogs and freelance writing? Look forward to the next installment.
May 6, 2012 5:59am
PhilipG
Hi Sam
I can endorse both oDesk and Constant Content from personal experience, although CC is very strong on perfect grammar and presentation. I found there is a knack to making each of them work well - might be worth an article on that aspect of using these sites.
Did you try eLance (as opposed to eLancer) at all? I know a couple of people who make reasonable money there and they have an escrow system that guarantees payment in most cases.
May 6, 2012 5:59am
PhilipG
Hi Sam
I can endorse both oDesk and Constant Content from personal experience, although CC is very strong on perfect grammar and presentation. I found there is a knack to making each of them work well - might be worth an article on that aspect of using these sites.
Did you try eLance (as opposed to eLancer) at all? I know a couple of people who make reasonable money there and they have an escrow system that guarantees payment in most cases.
May 9, 2012 7:55am
Derby
Excellent information Sam. I've never heard of Wicked Fire.
May 9, 2012 7:58am
SamJones
Thanks Derby and Philip,
I'll cover some more in the next installment as there are some other good forums and work places out there as well.
eLance i've played around with but never looked into fully - will go and look :)
Jun 8, 2012 11:51am
MicheleFrazier
Thank you for sharing, Sam! :)
Jun 16, 2012 6:42am
nelas
Great article - you mentioned a few sites there I never heard of. Looking forward to reading part two :)
Jun 29, 2012 5:03pm
puckhead
Great article thanks!
Jun 30, 2012 5:07am
SamJones
Thanks everyone. I guess i better get off my butt and write part two :)
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