Have you been toying with the idea of becoming a freelance writer, but feel like you have no idea where to start? If you’re a stay at home mom (SAHM), it can feel especially challenging to try and break into a new career. Maybe you haven’t worked in years, or maybe you have no previous writing experience…
I know how you feel, mama! When I first got into this industry, I had ZERO experience. No college degree, no portfolio, no idea what I was doing… But in just 30 days, I went from total newbie to landing my first freelance writing job!
It’s totally possible to start a freelance writing career without any previous experience. In fact, many stay at home moms are able to successfully land their first paying client within just a few weeks of starting to look!
The process of landing your first freelance writing job may seem impossible, but I promise it’s not as complicated as it seems. In this post, I’m going to break down the EXACT steps that you need to take in order to land your first freelance writing gig.
Step 1: Decide Who You Want to Write For
Companies in every single industry need content. And because the business owners are so busy running their businesses, they’re happy to pay someone else to write that content for them. That’s where you come in!
So the first step to landing your first freelance writing job is deciding who you want to write for. There are so many different types of businesses and publications out there, the opportunities are endless!
To narrow things down, start by thinking about what topics you’re passionate about and what industries you have knowledge in:
- Do you have a knack for styling outfits?
- Are you a whiz in the kitchen?
- Did you work in the medical field before having kids?
- Do you love planning parties?
- Are you a tech genius?
Your experiences and passions will help you to decide what type of businesses or publications you’d like to write for. This is called “niching down” and it’s an important part of becoming a successful freelance writer.
Picking a niche will help you:
- Write more efficiently because you’ll already be familiar with the topic (and if you’re an SAHM I know you don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands!)
- Focus your job search because you’ll know exactly where to look for writing opportunities
- Appeal to your prospective clients because you can show them that you’re experienced in their specific industry
- Build credibility and land higher-paying writing gigs because you’ll be known as a specialist, instead of a generalist
Do you have to pick a niche? Not necessarily. But I highly recommend it if you want to land your first writing gig as quickly as possible AND if you want to make more money in the long run.
Now you want to make sure the companies and brands you write for are profitable and in-demand. That means they can actually afford to pay you!
Profitable niches will always be related to:
Click here to discover the BEST freelance writing niches that will make you the most money
And within each of these niches, there are even more sub-niches that you can specialize in.
All of this niche talk is just to get you thinking more deeply about who you want to write for. Once you have a good idea of that, you can move on to the next step.
Side Note: I know it can feel limiting to niche down as a freelance writer, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of experience. But I promise there are dozens (if not hundreds or thousands!) of businesses in your niche that need your help. That means endless freelance writing jobs for you!
And once you get a few freelance writing gigs under your belt, you’ll learn what you like and what you’re good at. Then you can always branch out and write for other companies in different industries.
Step 2: Decide What You Want to Write
As a new freelance writer, there’s a TON to learn. It can feel overwhelming at first! One way to make the learning process more manageable is to decide what you want to write. You need to pick a type of writing to specialize in so you develop your writing skills and knowledge in that area.
Every type of writing has different “rules” and guidelines. And each one requires a different approach and tone.
Here are some of the most common types of writing that businesses need:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Website copy
- Landing pages
- Email newsletters
- Case studies
- Product descriptions
- Video scripts or outlines
Just like picking one industry to focus on, it’s important to choose ONE type of writing to start with. Once you get a little experience under your belt, then you can add more types of writing to your repertoire.
In fact, most prospective clients will have a laundry list of writing needs. You might be hired to write a blog post, and then they’ll ask you to write some social media content and an email newsletter too. Your freelancing business can evolve over time, but you really should limit the types of writing jobs you take on when you’re just honing your craft.
Because online writing is so in-demand, I always recommend new freelance writers start with:
- Website copy
These 3 are a great way to get your foot in the door as a freelance writer because businesses need a constant stream of these types of content to attract customers, build relationships, and sell their products or services – and they’re willing to pay good money for it!
Social media posts are also a great way to get started as a freelance writer because they’re usually shorter and easier to write than other types of content. But I recommend you focus on blogs, emails, and website copy first because they generally pay higher.
Like I mentioned, each type of writing has its own set of rules and guidelines.
So let’s take a closer look at the 3 above, so you know what to expect…
Businesses use blogs to attract strangers to their website and turn them into customers. That means most blog posts are written with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or keywords, in mind.
That’s why it’s important to know how to do keyword research and write SEO-friendly content before you start pitching companies to write blog posts for them!
Most blogs have a casual, personal tone and focus on a specific topic related to the business’ industry.
They could range anywhere from 500-4,500 words (the average blog is 1,500 to 2,000 words) and you can charge between $100 to $500 or more per blog post, depending on the length and difficulty.
As you get more experience in your niche and more practice writing blogs, you’ll get faster at writing them too – which makes you more money!
It used to take me about 6 hours to write a good blog article for my clients, now I charge the same rate (actually more because I’m in higher demand and have more experience now!) but I can finish one in about 1 hour. Here’s my tips on the fastest way to write a blog.
Almost every business uses email marketing to stay in touch with current and prospective customers. Email newsletters, promotional emails, and even automated “drip campaigns” have become extremely popular (and effective) ways to nurture leads and sell products or services.
As a freelance writer, you DON’T need to learn how to design or set up these emails in your clients’ email marketing software (and all the tech-illiterate mamas like me are rejoicing!). You just need to be able to write the content for the emails and send it over in Google Docs.
Email copy is usually shorter than blog posts and other types of writing. They could be as short as a couple paragraphs or a few hundred words.
The tone in emails can range from casual and friendly to more formal, depending on the business and their target audience.
Emails tend to be written with the purpose of selling something – whether that’s a product, a service, or an event. And because of that, they usually have some sort of call to action (CTA), like “Click here to buy now!”
The closer your writing is to the “buy now” button, the more you can charge. Email copywriters with a lot of experience can make upwards of $2,000 per sales email. But even a new freelance writer could charge $100-$300 per email.
A website is a company’s online home and first impression – so it needs to look good and say the right things!
That’s where you come in as a freelance writer. You can help businesses put together the written content for their website, from the home page and About Us page, to the services pages and everything in between.
Just like emails, you do NOT need to know how to design the website or put the copy into the website for your clients. You just need to be able to write it and send it to your freelance writing client in a Google Doc.
Website copy is usually more formal than blog posts or emails, but the tone will depend on the business and their target audience.
Website pages tend to be shorter than blog posts, but longer than emails. They could be a few hundred words to a couple thousand words.
The rates for website copy will depend on the length of the piece and the amount of research required. But as a general rule, you can charge $500-$2,000 or more per page.
So pick one of the 3 types of writing above to focus on, and let’s move on to the next step!
Step 3: Create 2-3 Writing Samples
If you’re brand new to freelance writing, you probably don’t have a writing portfolio. That’s OK! Everyone starts somewhere.
So before you can start pitching potential clients, you need to have 2-3 solid writing samples to show them.
These samples should represent:
- The industry or niche you want to write for
- The type of writing you want to do (blog posts, emails, website copy, etc.)
- The tone and style that fits the business and their target audience
- The level of quality the client can expect from you
This will be your writing portfolio that you’ll show to your prospective client in the beginning. They should be well-written and free of any typos or grammatical errors.
Now, I know where your brain is going – you’re wondering if you need a writer website…
If you’re just working on landing your first freelance writing client, then no! Don’t distract yourself from getting your first freelancing job by trying to build an entire website. Just focus on writing great samples and pitching businesses.
A few folders in Google Docs, separated by industry or writing type will be perfectly fine. As you become a more skilled writer and grow your freelance writing business, you can always upgrade to a full website later on.
This becomes a big stumbling block for a lot of freelance writers, but I promise you – it’s not necessary in the beginning. Just focus on writing great samples and you’ll be able to land your first client in no time!
I didn’t have any kind of website when I started freelance writing. And I even know one freelance writer who was making over $100,000 per year and she didn’t have a website!
By waiting until you have some consistent high paying clients, you can use that money to invest in a nice writer website.
But for now, just focus on creating a few samples and landing your first client!
To create your writing portfolio, choose a real company in your niche and write a sample piece for them as if they were your client.
Give yourself a “content brief” that outlines all of the details of what you should include in your sample, just like a real client would give you:
- What type of writing is needed? (blog, email, website page, etc.)
- What’s the goal of the piece?
- Who is the target audience?
- What’s the tone of voice/style?
- How long should it be?
- When is the deadline?
Then take messy action! It won’t be perfect (you’re brand new to freelance writing, so give yourself some grace!) but the important thing is to get the sample written and in your portfolio.
That doesn’t mean don’t edit it or make it as good as you can…
But don’t get SO caught up in making it perfect that you never actually finish. I can’t tell you how many freelance writers never get started because they’re waiting for everything to be perfect.
If you want to start cold pitching soon and land your first freelance writing client, you just need to have some examples of what you can do!
When I look back at some of my very first writing projects, I cringe a little (okay…maybe a LOT!). They’re not my best work by any means. But they got the job done and helped me land my first client. And over time, I developed my writing skills and was able to get better paying clients.
So don’t worry if your first writing samples aren’t perfect – they just need to be good enough to land you that first client, get some cash flow, and help you gain some experience.
Now repeat this process for 2-3 more companies/briefs and you’ll have a nice little portfolio to show off to potential clients!
Step 4: Decide on Your Outreach Method
There are countless ways to find freelance writing jobs:
- Job boards
- Job listings on Indeed
- Networking with other writers
- Networking at local business events
- Pitching companies directly via email or social media
- Cold calling
When you’re just starting out, you want to focus on the ONE outreach method that will be the quickest and easiest way for you to land your first client. Which channel will allow you to get in front of your ideal client with the least amount of effort?
So go back to thinking about your niche and the businesses in that industry:
- How big are these businesses?
- Are they national corporations, Silicon Valley startups, or mom and pop shops?
- Do they have an established marketing team or are they a solopreneur who is doing everything themselves?
Your outreach method will be different depending on the size of the business and how much help they already have.
And the person you’re cold pitching to will also be different. It might be the business owner (if it’s a very small company or a solopreneur) or it might be the marketing manager (if it’s a larger company with an established marketing team).
Think about where the person who makes decisions about hiring freelance writers would be hanging out online:
- Do they use social media?
- If they do, which social media outlets do they use most? (LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
- Are they active in any online or in-person communities? (Facebook Groups, Chamber of Commerce, etc.)
- Is the person’s direct email listed on the company website?
If it seems like the majority of your ideal clients are active on Instagram, then focus your outreach efforts there.
If they’re in a more professional setting and active on LinkedIn, then that will be your outreach channel.
If you’re cold pitching businesses in a very traditional industry (like law firms or brick and mortar stores) then email might be the best way to reach them.
And then you also might find jobs via postings on hiring sites like Indeed or other job boards. I’ve even heard of many corporate clients and local businesses still using Craigslist to hire for freelance work, because they just don’t know where to look for writers!
Just like choosing a niche and a type of writing to specialize in, just focus your efforts on ONE outreach method when you’re starting out. It will make it much easier for you to be cold pitching consistently. And consistency is what will get you that first freelance writing client fast!
Side note: There are also job boards that are specific to freelance jobs, like Fiverr and Upwork. But in my opinion, these job boards are a race to the bottom…
Think about it like this: these freelance marketplaces are full of low-paying writing jobs (often $5-$10 per article) and everyone and their mother is trying to land these gigs.
You’ll be competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other writers for the same job. And chances are, you don’t have a lot of experience yet so you’ll be at a disadvantage.
I don’t want you working for peanuts or getting discouraged because you’re not getting any bites on job boards. So I recommend that you stay away from these job boards all together. I have never ever used a job site to find clients for my freelance writing business and I’m in the 6-figure club!
Step 5: Build a Cold Pitching List
Once you’ve decided on an outreach method, start creating a list of companies that you want to pitch.
For each company, include:
- The company name
- The name of the decision maker (this is who you will be pitching)
- The company website
- The contact info for the outreach method you’ll use (email, link to social media profile, etc.)
- Something that stands out to you about the company that you can mention in your pitch (this would give you a way to personalize each cold pitch so it doesn’t feel so cold)
You can use a simple spreadsheet to keep track of all this information or you can usea Trello Board, ClickUp or Streak for Gmail.
You’ll want to have a good way to remember who you’ve pitched to and when, and how many follow up attempts you’ve made, so that you can keep track of your progress.
Now – I know it feels like you should be ready to start pitching companies as soon as possible. But before you do, there’s one last thing you need to do first if you want to land high paying clients right out of the gate…
Step 5: Create a [SIMPLE] Professional Brand for Yourself
You’re a freelance writer – which means you are also a business owner. And just like any business, you need to have a professional brand that potential clients can trust.
Like I already mentioned, I don’t want you wasting time on a website yet. I also don’t want you wasting time coming up with business names and trying to create a logo in Canva. These are all things that can be done down the road.
For now, I want you to focus on making that one outreach method you’re using to pitch companies look as professional as possible. There are a few simple things you can do to create a great first impression with potential clients:
- If you’re pitching on social media, make sure you have a professional photo (no selfies!) and that it’s clear you’re a freelance writer.
- If you’re emailing companies, don’t use the email you’ve had since middle school (I see you email@example.com!). If you must go the free route, create a free gmail account with your name in it (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you can splurge for a professional email address, buy a domain for a few bucks and set up your email through Google Business (this is what I recommend).
- If you’re going to be pitching companies at in person networking events, make sure you have some business cards made with your name and contact info.
You get the idea.
Creating a simple, professional brand for yourself doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. But it is important if you want companies to take you seriously when you pitch them – you want to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to trust that you’re a professional freelance writer who can help them achieve their goals.
Step 6: Start Pitching!
Now it’s time to pitch your writing services! You have your potential client list, your shiny new portfolio and your professional brand, so you should be feeling pretty confident at this point!
The key to a great cold pitch is to keep it short, sweet and specific. You want to show that you understand the company’s needs and that you have the skills to solve their problem.
To land your first writing job, your pitch doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, the simpler the better.
Start with a line to personalize the pitch (this could be congratulating them on a recent accomplishment, mentioning you’re both from the same state, went to the same university, etc.).
Then, share a little info about your writing experience and offer your services.
Here’s a quick example:
Example Cold Pitch Template for Freelance Writers
Congrats on [RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT]!
Thought I would connect since we both work in the world of [NICHE] marketing.
If you ever need a freelance copywriter who specializes in [AUDIENCE], I can handle your overflow. Happy to send samples.
Thanks for connecting!
If you are sending this message as a cold pitch via email, I would include a link to your portfolio. Since I send this message via LinkedIn, I let them take the initiative to check out my profile. Or, if they reply, they usually will ask me to send my portfolio, website or resume.
Like I mentioned, I don’t waste time on job boards or bidding sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
I’m not even a big fan of sending cold emails (although many freelance writers have success with this).
When I was trying to get my first freelance writing job, I sent over 100 emails – and of those, maybe 5 or so even responded… Ugh! That felt like a massive waste of time!
And I don’t know if I ever landed a freelance writing job that way TBH… I don’t recall having any clients that came from those cold emails.
I quickly shifted gears. Instead, I focused on one main method for pitching companies: LinkedIn.
I’ve found that it’s the quickest, most effective way to land high-paying clients as a new freelance writer.
LinkedIn makes it so easy to see who works for a company, and what position they hold. You can also quickly tell if they’re decision makers or not.
You can read their posts to learn more about them and what they’re working on. You can also look at their work history and even personal details or recommendations from other colleagues.
This helps you write a targeted, specific pitch that will get their attention – because you’re showing that you know what they’re
There’s already a level of built in trust, because you might have mutual connections. You can also see what companies your ideal clients are already working with – which makes it easy to find their decision maker’s contact information.
So if you’re going to focus on one method for landing your first freelance writing job, I recommend LinkedIn.
Side Note: Like I mentioned in Step 4, go where your ideal client is! If they aren’t on LinkedIn, focus on another platform or method.
How To Get More Freelance Writing Jobs
New writers make a big mistake when it comes to pitching their services. They make a bunch of pitches in 1 day, receive no response, get discouraged and give up…
But consistency AND follow up are the ingredients for success in freelancing.
You have to be willing to put in the work day after day, week after week, until you get your first paying client.
And until someone says “NO!” they are still a “maybe.”
So after you send your first batch of pitches, make sure to follow up! I recommend sending a follow up email or LinkedIn message 1-2 weeks later.
If they still don’t respond, wait another week or two and try again. Rinse and repeat until they either hire you or say “no.”
Once you DO land that first freelance writing client, DON’T STOP PITCHING! The feast or famine cycle is an easy trap to fall into when freelancing.
You always want to have a few potential clients in the pipeline, so that you’re never without work.
Ideally, you want to pitch enough that you can be choosy about which clients you work with. This allows you to raise your rates and work with clients that you actually enjoy working with – instead of taking whatever you can get. That’s what got me to a 6-figure freelance writing career.
So there you have it! Now you know how to land your first freelance job as a stay at home mom with no experience.
If you want to follow my journey step-by-step, grab my FREE guide and 30-day success planner! It will walk you through everything you need to do to get your first freelance writing job – and beyond!