How I Landed a Great Freelance Writing Gig: Some Insight that May Help You

The following is a guest contribution by Del Sandeen.

Publisher Note: A few years ago, I used to post freelance writing job leads weekly. Then, I got off into my self-publishing projects, and stopped doing it — at least regularly. Many were disappointed, so now, I can tell you that regular freelance writing job leads are back!

At LEAST once every two weeks, I’ll be posting them, usually on a Monday. You can subscribe to get them here. FYI, one reason you may want to subscribe is there are some leads I send only to the list.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

Freelance Writing Job Leads are Back!

Why are they making a comeback? Well, number one, they were a great traffic driver. What do freelance writers want? Jobs. How do they get them? One way is from job leads. It can be time-consuming to find the best leads, which is one reason I’d stopped listing them. Every Sunday, I spend anywhere from three to four hours tracking down good gigs to pass along. But, it’s so worthwhile, which brings me to the title of this post.

A Tweet that Made My Day

One day while perusing my Twitter stream, I saw the following tweet to me:

That made my entire day. I was like, “Yes! this is why it’s worth it.” I thanked this freelancer for her kind words, and asked her if she would mind sharing some insight into why she thinks she landed the gig. That very same day, she was kind enough to write up the following post — the very same day I asked her, mind you! Thanks again for your insights Del. Here’s what she had to say …

Landing a Gig Via the Inkwell Editorial Newsletter

Confession: Although I’ve been a freelance writer for years (with professional ups and downs along the way), I’d never subscribed to Yuwanda’s Inkwell Editorial newsletter before! I wish I’d done it ages ago because I was able to land a well-paying gig from the very first newsletter I checked out.

Recently, I reached out to some writer contacts because I was (desperately) looking for additional work. One of them forwarded a recent edition of the newsletter to me, where a contact of Yuwanda’s was looking for a handful of writers for an ongoing project. I applied right away – within an hour of getting that email. And I also subscribed to Inkwell right then.

The job lead said that writers would be given one paid test assignment, so that was attractive. No one likes writing brand new, free samples with no guarantee of a gig at the other end. And at $.15/word, I thought it was a well-paid test.

But first, I had to send an email that would hopefully get my foot in the virtual door to even be offered a test article.

Any time I find a lead, whether it’s on a job board or in a newsletter like this one, I assume there are a lot of writers out there who are applying.

In many cases, I don’t hear anything back – some ad posters just get overwhelmed by the number of responses. So I put together an email, sent it off and busied myself with other things, not really expecting a reply.

About a week later, I was notified that I was chosen for the test assignment. What do I think helped me get picked?

What I Think Increased My Chances

The main thing, I believe, is that I followed directions. The instructions to apply were brief, but I made sure I followed them to the letter, including putting “Inkwell Job Applicant” as the subject line for my email.

Any time I apply to a gig, I make sure I read the directions over several times before hitting “Send.” The last thing you want is for a client to delete your email unread because your subject line makes it clear you didn’t follow instructions.

Next, I made sure my cover letter was short and to the point. The client requested “a writing sample,” not several. Because of this, I assumed the client was busy and didn’t have time for long cover letters.

I mentioned where I saw the job lead in the first paragraph, wrote a short bio highlighting a long-term gig in the next paragraph, and wrapped it up in the final paragraph by thanking the client for her time and consideration.

Because I had one sample to link to, I made sure it was some of my best work. Along with my signature, I included links to my LinkedIn profile and personal blog, in case she wanted (and had time) to check those out.

Finally, I did my best work for the test. I figured I only had one chance to show that I could write to this client’s guidelines. After completing the first assignment and having it checked over, I was immediately offered another article and can continue to write for them for the duration of the project.

We only get one chance to make a good first impression, so it’s worth taking the time to make that first connection really shine.

About the Author: Del Sandeen is a freelance writer and editor. Her work includes ghostwriting for corporate clients as well as writing catalog copy. From 2009-2017, she was the Black Hair Expert at About.com. She’s working with her literary agent in an effort to publish her debut novel, and she lives in Northeast Florida with her family — the two- and four-legged variety.

You can connect with Del at her blog, ToniandAlice.com, and on Twitter.

Publisher Note

One of the reasons I reached out to ask Del to share her experience was to see if she could give others some insight into what she thought she did right. Once I read her response, it reminded me of a post I did years ago entitled, Landing Freelance Online Writing Gigs: What to Do & What NOT to Do When Applying for Jobs. 

It was as if she’d read that post verbatim, because how she went about applying underscored everything I said in that piece. I updated it and republished it here (it was first published on SeoWritingJobs.com, one of this site’s child sites). Pay particular attention to the section entitled, 4 Things Those Who Hire Freelance Writers Want to Know,” ok?

Your Take?

Have any tips you can share on how to land freelance writing jobs? What have you done that work? What have you done that you felt killed your chances. Please share them in the comments section below. If I get enough of them, I’ll do a round-up post. Oh, and if you like this post, please share it on Pinterest.

P.S.: Make Money Writing in 3 Different Ways: Get full details.

P.P.S.: A Practically Fail-Proof Way to Start a High-Paying Online Writing Biz

There are so many online writing opportunities these days. With the right knowledge, it’s an excellent way to earn a living from home – part-time or full-time. Get online (SEO) copywriter training and claim your share of the freelance writing pie! Note: Price of all courses will increase in June.

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    1. Good advice and congratulations on the gig, Del!

      Thanks for the reminder to read and re-read directions. Not long ago I clicked send on an email that took a while to prepare and for a gig I really wanted. After doing so, I realized I left out something they’d requested. I was so frustrated with myself in that moment, but it was a good lesson and I appreciate this reminder.

      Good luck to you with the new project!

    2. Yuwanda,

      Thank you so much for allowing me to guest post! It was truly a pleasure. 🙂
      Del recently posted…What’s New in Publishing for WoC: Weekly RecapMy Profile

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