How to Land Your First Online Writing Gig
If you want to live remotely, you need cash. It pays for a bed no matter where you are in the world and funds a life of adventure. With great food, amazing experiences and so many stories, you’ll never want to stop. But how do you get this lifestyle for yourself?
Without a background in programming or epic design skills, the life of a digital nomad seems like a distant dream. But it doesn’t have to be. I started my journey by blogging. Or more specifically, writing content for other people’s blogs. It began as a grind, churning out $10 articles in my first month. But it didn’t stay that way for long.
With only a limited amount of time in the day, I realized I needed to either write faster or get higher paying gigs. After a few months I was turning over articles five times faster than I did when I started, I’d upped my rate based on the strength of my portfolio and was now averaging from $50 to $100 per post. And I’m not even a writer. My background is sales and marketing, but I studied finance in college. Everything I achieved you can too, and today I’m going to teach you how to land your first online writing gig.
Use Problogger to learn and start applying
Problogger is one of my favorite websites for writers. It started as a blog itself, and the amount of resources they have is phenomenal. There are over 8,000 posts dedicated to teaching the skills you need to be successful as a writer.
If you’re just getting started you can check out their section that’s aptly named “Start Here” and check out posts like this one that will teach you what goes into a good blog post. I recommend taking your time to look through these and the other articles they have. Once you know what makes an article great, everything you write is going to keep your customers happy and coming back for more.
When you’re ready, head to the “Jobs” board. New positions are available every day, and you can browse through their listings to see what interests you most. What’s needed for an application will vary between employers, but they’re probably going to want to see examples of your work.
If you’ve never written anything before, now is a good time to start. Platforms like medium.com allow anyone to register and post an article, and make sure you run it through the Hemingway App and Grammarly before you hit publish. These are like advanced spell-checkers that may alert you to any larger issues in your writing.
What you can make through Problogger varies considerably, with some clients seeking simple “SEO” style articles for a few bucks each, to those willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a high-quality and well-researched article.
Look for gigs via Freelance Writing Jobs
What I really like about Freelance Writing Jobs is that some of the opportunities are so obscure, you’d never find them on your own. In a similar style to Problogger they also offer tips and guides to improve your writing skills, but it’s their posts covering how to job hunt that you want to read through first.
Once it’s time to find a job, you’ve got two options. They provide an almost daily update with new positions through their blog, but they’ve also got a job board if you’re wanting more advanced search capabilities, like filtering on telecommuting or freelance jobs.
My advice would be to subscribe to their feed so you never miss a good opportunity, and apply to any you’re interested in. How much you can earn will depend on the website you’ll be writing for, and much like Problogger it’s a range from $10 to $200+.
Just make sure your example articles are top-notch, and you’re putting a little personality into each application you send. Don’t ever cut and paste the same message to every potential employer. You want to stand out from the pack and be a little personable. It’ll take longer to do every application, but you’ll have a far better response rate.
Look for gigs via Upwork
After Elance and Odesk merged, Upwork became one of the biggest freelancing platforms on the planet. I know people say terrible things about this site, but I’m kind of endeared to them as I found my first client on Elance, and it’s what triggered my shift to become a freelancer, and then a digital nomad.
But I need to make this clear. Upwork is a global platform, and it’s highly competitive. You’ll be up against people willing to work for peanuts, so getting your first gig can be a struggle. My advice is to spend time building a profile that showcases your personality and the quality of work you’ll produce.
Much like all of the big freelancing platforms Upwork’s based on reviews, and it’s going to be tough until you have some completed jobs behind you and clients that vouch for you. You may need to take a couple of small jobs, like writing a single article on the cheap in order to build up your reputation. It sucks, but it’s worth it in the long run. You just need to double down after each one and continue pushing your rates up as you gain experience.
Upwork gives you 60 “connects” each month, which is the currency you need to apply for jobs. If you need more you’ve got to pay, so my strategy would be to look carefully at the gigs and choose wisely before applying. There are gems if you look hard enough. I normally scan through the clients profile and see the kind of feedback they give, look at the amount of people they’ve hired, and ensure I’m a good fit for the job before I even apply.
Once you land a gig, your focus needs to be on making the client happy. The feedback they give is public, but often clients are looking for long-term writers. That means you can build a pipeline of monthly income, and have some stability in your freelance online writing career. I’ve written content for well-funded startups, one of the biggest travel sites in Asia, and plenty of other smaller clients that I all found via Upwork. The only downside is the fees, you lose 20 percent for every job you do that’s under $500, but it’s still a great place to land your first online writing gig.
Finding writing work online isn’t rocket science. All you need is a solid portfolio with a couple of good articles that showcase your writing skills, and the determination to apply for jobs. There’s really nothing to it, so what are you waiting for? Go out and land your first online writing job today!
About the author
Travis Bennet runs Nomad Stack, a set of resources to help aspiring digital nomads make the change, and build a successful business they can run from anywhere in the world. If you need help, advice or even a little inspiration, follow the adventure on Instagram or Facebook.