I’ve read dozens of articles about how to find freelance writing assignments. It hasn’t worked that way for me. Fate has found more work for me than I have. Granted, I’ve had to take advantage of the opportunities that have presented themselves to me, but I had little or nothing to do with finding those opportunities.
The first freelance writing assignment I got was published in December of 1997. Tracks surfing magazine was doing a series on surfboard shapers and it bugged me that they hadn’t written one about Bill Cilia, who shaped the best boards on the Central Coast. I sent them an email suggesting they interview him. In closing, I said, “If you don’t want to send someone up here, I’ll give it a shot.” The editor wrote back. “Go for it,” he said. They published that article and three others.
That success bolstered my confidence, but I didn’t know how to find writing assignments. Then I started working at an Asian antiques shop. I fixed broken furniture three days a week and worked in the shop two days a week. One day the owner was bemoaning the fact that his writer had moved. I offered to write for him. “Oh, he was a professional journalist,” he replied. “That’s okay. I’ll write an article and if you like it, you can pay me for it.” He liked it and I made about $1500 extra money writing follow-up articles for the publication he advertised in. The articles were “advertorials,” which means for the price of advertising, he got to contribute articles to advertise his business.
I moved on to a picket fence builder. In my spare time, I’d learned html and had written a website for the Sydney Rockclimbing Club. The owner of the business got a quote for a small website. They wanted something like $10,000 for the site. I offered to write a website for him for $2000. He was a little dubious, but I told him I’d create a homepage and if he liked it, he could pay me. He liked the page and again I was able to supplement my income.
A few other assignments appeared out of the blue over the years, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I had to start looking for full-time work. I was living in Sihanoukville and was dangerously close to running out of money. Fate stepped in in the guise of a friend who had moved back to the United States. I sent him an email asking him how he had found work as a teacher of English. He said they only pay $3 an hour and then asked, “Why don’t you do what I’m doing? I work for an SEO company and they need remote workers. They pay $10 an hour.”
I did that for about six months, but Google started cracking down on black hat techniques like keyword stuffing and publishing the same articles on 20 different sites. I lost my job, but asked the owner if I could have a shot at writing for him. He agreed and for a couple of months I was making a whopping $10 for 500 word articles.
He finally went out of business, so I got work on bidding sites for about a year. Three out of about 50 clients asked me to continue writing for them. After we got off the bidding site, they paid fairly decent money. I’ve been writing for one of them since 2011 and they give me weekly assignments and regular pay increases.
I started to get a little concerned because I rely on the one site for most of my work. In the time I’ve worked for them, they’ve been through five editors. Just last week I got emails from two of my past editors. They want me to write for the companies they work for now. I just finished my first assignments for one yesterday and should be receiving assignments for the other today or tomorrow.
Do you notice a trend here? All of my work has come to me. True, I worked hard for little money, but never followed the advice of all those “How to Succeed as a Freelance Writer” articles. I’ve only given you the short version. I have gotten other work out of the blue as well.
I don’t know how it works, but it seems to me that putting in the time and effort just seems to create an “attractor field” and work has found me. Of course, I have to deliver, but I love freelance writing, so I’m happy to give extra effort on every assignment.