Do a quick Google search on “freelance writing jobs” and you could be overwhelmed by the flood of apparent opportunities.
“How will I ever decide which of these wonderful jobs I want to pursue,” you might ask yourself.
Ah, if only it were that easy.
First of all, not all those jobs are really jobs.
Secondly, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of other applicants for the best real jobs.
And thirdly, even if you think you’d have the right stuff for any of those jobs, those doing the hiring might not see things your way.
However, all these points don’t necessarily add up to the freelance-bubble-bursting downer they may seem.
In fact, confronting the realities of the freelance writing marketing place can help you focus your efforts and achieve your freelance writing ambitions, whether you’re a full-time freelancer or someone just starting out with a little writing on the side.
I happen to believe that a really good writer probably has the skills to write well about anything, and in any format, but I doubt many editors and content managers agree with me, or would want to take the time to find out.
The unfortunate truth is that in this economy, they don’t have to. Why should they waste time and money on someone who might be right, versus someone who looks perfect for the job?
The other truth it’s important for all us freelancers to absorb is that we don’t need to waste our time, either.
I bet I could write really engaging content about NASCAR, but I haven’t yet and so I see no point in competing against possibly hundreds of car-racing fans eager to blog directly from the racetrack.
The key to not getting overwhelmed by potential freelance work, and to land the jobs you want, is to concentrate your efforts in areas where you can show some expertise and accomplishment.
I think there are two basic ways you can narrow down your freelance job search. You can focus on the kinds of things you’ve written, or you can focus on the subject matter you’ve covered.
For example, if you’ve worked in social media for a business, you can peddle yourself as a freelance social media consultant, and I’d recommend you jump on that bandwagon right away.
If you’re a management or human resource professional, chances are you’ve written your share of training documents, how-to this and that’s and assorted manuals. You can target your freelance job search by looking for people who need these sorts of things written.
Marketing and public relations personnel doubtless have a slew of printed materials to their credit – brochures, flyers, complete campaigns and more.
Just take a look at whatever you’ve written over the course of your career, identify it and then look for potential employers to hire you to do the same thing for them.
Expertise is another way to get yourself work. Remember that hiring freelancers is often a form of delegation for employers, and they don’t want to spend any more time giving you background on a project than they have to. If you can start the project knowing the key issues in the field and all the relevant acronyms, you’ll be ahead of the game and have a better shot at the job.
So let what you’ve done in the past guide you towards what you try to do in the future. Did you work for an engineering firm? Look for technical writing gigs for similar companies. If you understand the complicated world of finance today, check out the variety of websites and blogs looking for people with just such knowledge. Same for real estate and IT.
Of course, your work experience isn’t your only source of expertise. Plenty of people are passionate and extremely knowledgeable about what they do in their off-hours.
The good news is that there are lots of print and online publications devoted to these same topics, and they’re all looking for content.
I’ve never seen a job posted for a Civil War Re-Enactor, but I bet there are newsletters, blogs and websites devoted to the practice, and who knows what you could get paid for writing for them?
There are frequent postings for sports enthusiasts, so if you can break down team statistics in your sleep, these could be an option for you. There’s also steady interest in writing about fashion trends, and, regrettably, celebrity gossip.
Now, the more popular a subject area and the higher the pay for the work, the more competition there will be for the job.
However, the more qualified you are in terms of your knowledge base and experience with the format, the better your chances of landing these plum gigs.
So start narrowing your focus today – and increasing your success ratio.
by Danielle Dresden