How to Go Pro This Week
Christy Goldfeder, freelance copywriter here again, and this week I’m giving you my best tips on how to launch yourself into the writer’s life sooner. Yesterday, I showed you how to harness your “secret super power” to find your first writing gig. You can read yesterday’s post here.
Today, you’ll learn how to get paid freelance writing work right now.
Many prospective clients want to see writing samples before they hire you. But, how can you get hired if you’re starting out and don’t have samples? You can answer ads and do spec assignments while you’re still learning.
Spec is the abbreviation of speculation. A spec assignment is where you write something for free, in the hopes of landing the job. Most of the time, the spec assignment is just a small piece of the project – for example, a headline and a lead for a promotion, or a headline, intro paragraph and bullet points outlining an article.
Writing on spec really does work. Many marketers will hire new writers if the spec work is good, no matter their lack of experience.
The trick is that you have to start pitching before you’re “ready.” In the field of copywriting, there’s always more to learn. At a certain point, you have to just start doing.
Marketing managers are constantly in need of new ideas to promote products and services. If you complete the spec and get hired – that’s the ideal situation. It’s the kick-off of your career.
Even if you do a spec assignment but don’t win the job, you’ll have one more writing sample for your portfolio that you can use for your next pitch. And, it’s great practice.
I built my writing portfolio with occasional freelance writing assignments while working full-time. Sometimes I answered ads and wrote spec assignments to win the jobs. Other times, I learned about projects through my friends who referred me. I pitched myself as a freelancer before I was one, and I got the gig. The more writing samples I added to my portfolio, the easier it was for me to pitch and win the next assignment.
While I’m now fortunate to have a few clients that repeatedly call me for work, I still answer ads and do spec assignments. Sometimes I land a new client, and other times I don’t win the job. But each time I pitch, I always learn something new about writing and selling myself.
Today’s Action Step: Look for freelance work and start pitching. DirectResponseJobs.com is a great place to look for gigs and spec assignments. New freelance, part-time, and full-time writing gigs are posted daily. If you’re a PWA Member, you can set up your profile and start marketing yourself right there. Sometimes, marketers will reach out to you privately and ask for a proposal, if they see you have specialized skills or an area of expertise they need.
You can also look for assignments through freelancer websites like Elance.com, FlexJobs.com, and Guru.com. If you want a full-time gig, MediaBistro.com is a good place to look for one.
No matter where you look for work, the best chance you have at winning the freelance job is to follow the instructions carefully and submit your work exactly how the client requests it. Showing that you can follow directions is a major plus for many prospective employers. If you can write well, and you’re reliable, you have a good chance of getting hired.
When will you start pitching? If you declare it publicly, you’ll likely do it. So, declare it over in the comments section.
What if you have trouble winning a copywriting assignment? No worries – tomorrow, I’ll show you how to start making money without a gig.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »