In this series, we personally test traditional online freelance marketplaces to share first-hand experiences and honest assessments of marketplaces and resulting jobs, as many freelance writers turn to these outlets to find writing gigs. You can read all the posts in the series here.
There are a lot of different sites that post adverts for freelance writers. Since October, I have used Craigslist, Journalism Jobs, Problogger.net and Media Bistro to find gigs and apply for them. I decided that I wanted to challenge the conventional wisdom that the best way to get gigs that you apply for is to apply for a lot of them. Let me explain.
The Freelance Writing Rumor
There was a time when I believed, like many others, that you needed to apply for 15 or more freelance writing gigs each day in order to get a reasonably good response rate. I went into this challenge believing the same thing and never have I been proven quite so wrong. The key to scoring a lot of gigs when applying for them is not about bulk it is about:
- Applying early
- Making a really strong case for yourself as the best candidate
What this Freelance Writer Did
Between October 7th and December 16th I applied for a total of 11 gigs. That is just over 1 gig per week. I applied for only financial writing gigs and I applied to many without knowing what the pay would be. I used my standard response which talks about my experience in the financial industry, industry licenses, writing experience within the industry and attached my resume and industry-related samples (unless the ad instructed that applicants do otherwise). I cannot stress enough just how focused my approach was.
I received a total of 5 responses from the 11 ads. That’s just short of 50%. Now, I know many readers query and network to get gigs—but a lot of you also apply for them when they are posted. When was the last time 45% of your responses to ads generated an email back?
Okay, so an email back is one thing—but how many of the gigs did I score? I scored 3 of them and accepted 2. The pay on one is extremely low but it actually does have fantastic exposure, so it is worth it. The pay for the second is $0.55-$1.33 a word. Ironically, that one was listed on Craigslist.
The Trick to Scoring Those Freelance Writing Gigs
Apply for those gigs you are irrefutably qualified for by experience, knowledge, and education. Attach only those clips that show your experience in the subject matter and attach a niche or industry-specific resume--just like you would when applying for a regular desk job. Even if you are a generalist, you should be able to craft a few industry-specific resumes that strengthen your appeal to someone posting a job within them.
Also, apply early. One of the posters of a gig I applied for told me they had already hired someone for the gig but would have hired me if I had responded first.