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How to Make Your First $100 as a Freelance Writer on Elance

The following is a guest post by Halona Black.

I speak to a lot of newbie freelance writers on social media. One of the biggest frustrations I hear is how to get your first paid writing assignments without having a published body of work, eg, no writing samples, no industry contacts — nada!

So I decided to share how I was able to successfully use my blog to get my first paid writing assignments on Elance.

How Blogging Led to Getting My First Freelance Writing Clients on Elance

I started a women’s health blog in 2010, not with the purpose of becoming a freelance writer, but simply as a means of finding a community of women who shared the same health issues.

When I made the plunge to become a full-time freelance writer in May 2013, that blog became my writing portfolio.

Understand that I am not what you would consider to be one of those uber-popular bloggers with thousands of subscribers that has been featured across the media. I am simply one of many health bloggers who managed to gain a small, but dedicated, following of a few hundred people who felt personally connected to the women’s health issues I wrote passionately about.

When I became serious about finding paid writing work, I turned to Elance to find my first few clients.

While most professional writers will tell you to stay clear of online sites such as Elance due to low pay, I found it to be useful for the following reasons:
How to Get Freelance Writing Jobs on Elance Tips1. People paid for my work, no matter how small the amount. Receiving cash for your work is a huge confidence booster in the beginning of your career. I don’t find anything wrong with using it as a place to get your first few paid clips, then quickly moving on to bigger paying jobs.

2. Using Elance helped me to think about myself as being an entrepreneur rather than an employee. I have been able to make a huge mind shift in how I think about the services I offer to other businesses. I started to think about my business as a valuable service that can increase their income rather than just another job to pay the bills.

3. Writing and managing a blog teaches you about content marketing and SEO. You can take a class on SEO writing and content marketing, however the best way to practice those skills is to use them on your own blog. Having your own blog will help you explain how SEO and content marketing work to clients who may not know much about the subject.

4. You will become a master at coming up with new ideas and writing on a deadline. Whether you are writing blog posts, newsletter articles, web copy, etc. you need to do so from a fresh perspective AND on a deadline. Create a simple editorial calendar for yourself so that you will have a plan for what topics you will write about each week. This is a great skill that you will use with your clients on a regular basis.

5. Your blog demonstrates your solid writing ability. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and writing style all matter when you are writing your blog posts. My first few clients from Elance all made comments about how they loved my personable style of writing. They also appreciated the fact that I knew how to construct a good sentence. You’d be surprised, but there are a lot of freelancers on Elance that don’t know how to do this.

6. Blogging is a technical skill that clients will pay for. Learning how to use WordPress and Blogger makes you look like an expert. Many small businesses that use Elance either don’t know how, or don’t have time to upload a blog post to their site. Practicing on your own blog will help you increase your skill level.

What Kind of Blog Should I Start to Use as My Writing Portfolio for Prospects on Elance?

You should start a blog focusing on the niche you want to write about. Since I demonstrated a huge interest in the field of health on my blog, I decided to approach health related companies with my writing services when I started freelancing. Find inspiration in what you are an expert at. Think about your current and past careers, hobbies, personal interests, current events, your training and formal education, etc. as a place to start.

Do I Need to be a Blogger/Writer for Several Years before Approaching Clients on Elance?

No, you do not need to be a blogger for several years before approaching clients. You can write 5 to 8 solid posts for your blog, then choose your top three. Hyperlink your favorite posts in your proposal in addition to giving your potential client information about why you are the best person for the assignment. You can write those 5 to 8 posts in less than a week so that you can begin applying for work immediately.

How to Stand Out from Other Freelance Writers on Elance: More Tips for Newbies

Here are some more basic blog tips that will help you to stand out from the other bidders on Elance:

  • Write about a topic you are passionate about so that you will want to write about it continuously.
  • Learn how to create attractive headlines that will draw readers to your content.
  • Properly use subtitles to make your content more reader friendly.
  • Create a “HIRE ME” tab on your blog that tells readers you are available for freelance writing assignments.
  • Make sure your site looks clean and professional.
  • Include your contact information in the header and sidebar.
  • Use free stock photos to illustrate the theme of your blog posts.

The internet has made it so easy to publish your own work that finding a way to use it to get your first paid writing assignments should no longer be a barrier for you. Use a little bit of creativity and you will find paying clients much quicker than you think.

Share Your Experiences

Do you have a blog? How has blogging helped your freelance writing career?

About the Author: Halona Black is Freelance Health Writer and Content Marketing Consultant located in Orlando, FL. If you are seeking a consultant to help you start your business blog, you can connect with her via her  website or Twitter.

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    Comments

    1. Thank you, Yuwanda! This post was really written out of love for all the freelance writers in the world who want to make it as a writer, but really don’t know where to start. Sitting around and waiting for other people to discover you when you haven’t published anything will not produce results. Your success as a writer depends on your own initiative to find a way when it seems like no one else wants to give you a chance. Starting a blog is a super simple solution to the problem.

    2. Halona,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      Love the tip about writing 5-8 posts for your blog, then linking to the top few to use as writing samples. Too many newbies make the mistake of NOT having previously published writing samples stop them from applying for writing jobs.

      As your experience proves, writing and posting content on your own blog is and ideal way to create some and get around this perceived stumbling block.

      Happy holidays, and thanks again for contributing. 🙂