The problem is, it’s getting more and more difficult to compete with experienced writers with tons of reviews on freelance marketplaces. So, how does an absolute beginner with no experience get a chance at landing a writing gig?
It’s simple—all you need to do is adjust your approach when presenting yourself to potential clients. Whether you’re a creative or technical writer, your first priority will be the same—to leave a good impression when applying for freelance writing gigs.
So, here are a couple tips to help you get your first content writing job as an absolute beginner! The strategies I’ll describe below work well if you’re applying for writing jobs on Upwork or similar sites.
The initial proposal you send to your potential clients can make or break your chances of landing the gig. Don’t be one of those freelancers who just copy and paste the same proposal template all over the place. This strategy won’t get you very far, especially if you don’t have previous work history or reviews to back you up on Upwork or Fiverr.
Your pitch should be short, simple, and personal. Don’t write a two page essay on how you want to be a writer so badly. No one wants to hear about your goals and desires. What potential clients want to hear is how you can make their life easier by getting the work done in a timely and professional manner.
So, keep it short and to the point and make sure to show that you have read and understood the job description. I usually scan the job posting for a couple of main keywords to mention in the cover letter, just to show that I paid close attention to what the client had to say.
Would you hire a writer whose cover letter has a ton of grammar and punctuation errors? Definitely not! That’s why you need to be SUPER punctual when writing your proposal. Make sure your grammar is perfect and that there’s not a single typo ruining the whole text.
Trust me, potential clients will notice if you pay attention to detail. Proofread your proposal several times before sending it out just to be sure. It wouldn’t hurt to use a spell check or a tool such as Grammarly to ensure your writing is spot on.
It’s no secret that people love a go-getter underdog. Showing your authenticity and passion toward making it as a freelance writer will help you get clients’ attention. What always worked for me were stories like "yes I'm new to this, but I always wanted to be a technical aviation writer ever since my gramps flew me on his ...."
Sure, you may be looked at as an underdog because you don’t have previous work experience but you can also use that to your advantage. Say something like "yes I'm new, but that's why I'll work TWICE as hard to prove myself." This kind of positivity paired with some luck will get you a writing gig in no time!
I’ll be honest—it will be difficult to get freelance writing jobs without any work samples. However, the good news is that you don’t need previous work experience in order to create writing samples. At the end of the day it’s just writing, right?
Research a few trending topics, see what people are writing about and create your own samples as if you were writing for a client.
Approach this project from multiple perspectives to really showcase your writing skills. Create a couple of different samples including SEO writing, email marketing content, sales copywriting, and even short story or fictional ghostwriting, if that’s the direction you want to take. Take some time to think about your writing career and the type of content you want to be focusing on most of the time.
When it comes to entry-level writing opportunities, you will come across many freelance writer jobs that require different styles and writing perspectives. If you plan on taking your writing experience into a specific direction, make sure to create a writing portfolio that showcases those specific skills.
Last but not least, always deliver value upfront and show your potential client that you took interest in their company or small business. For instance, if you’re applying for a blogger position, show the owner of the blog that you do research beyond reading job ads. Include a few points that you like about their blog but, most importantly, focus on areas that can be improved.
By suggesting improvements in a friendly and not too critical way, you’ll show the client that you can deliver far more value than other applicants who are only there to write based on requirements. Don’t be afraid to throw some suggestions out there and offer your services as a way of helping the potential client get results.
Whether you opt for creative writing or search engine optimization, you’ll have to go through the trenches to find your first few entry-level positions. As you start collecting writing experience, you’ll be able to shoot for high-paying part-time or even full-time copywriting or content marketing jobs.
For now, don’t get discouraged if it takes you a little longer to get some traction from your Upwork proposal submissions. Keep an eye on those job boards and freelance marketplaces, as well as social media networks such as LinkedIn where people are often looking for new writers.
Once you land that first gig, do your best to exceed your client’s expectations in every way possible. Not only will you get a better review but you might also turn that client into a repeat customer.
If your goal is to work from home and turn content writing into your full time job, then get used to the process of searching for new jobs and finding new ways to impress potential clients.