Finding Freelance Writing AssignmentsOne of the most intimidating things for beginning freelance writers is finding those freelance writing assignments or writing gigs that will start paying off and allow you to jump start your online (or offline) writing career. Finding freelance writing assignments really is not that difficult, especially with the resources that are available nowadays on the Internet. Writing gigs are easy to find, especially if you're willing to do the work to look for them.
Finding freelance writing assignments can go one of several ways. One option that can be particularly useful for beginning writers looking for freelance work is to join an auction based freelance writing site like Elance or Guru. I've heard about oDesk, and a couple writers did well early, but the free sites invariably lead to writers or would-be writers, bidding so low that no one can make a serious living. Elance and Guru have fees to join, but then writers have 100 bids or more a month to work on winning freelance writing assignments.
One of the hardest parts of getting a good number of freelance writing gigs is finding them. One of the nicest things about those online auction sites is that there are plenty of writing assignments right there for the taking, all you have to do is bid on the ones you feel qualified for, and the winner gets the work.
This is part of the reason why I'm a big fan of the Guru and Elance freelance writing auction sites. It's easier to get a start in these places because you have thousands of people and companies who need writers offering jobs. It can be hard starting out early on to build a reputation and get that steady work flowing, but you do get an avalanche effect. You get one job. Then three. Then five, and then sixty-eight. It really does take off like that if you have a good query, a couple good sample articles, and even just a few finished jobs with positive feedback.
When you don't have to search for freelance writing assignments, you can spend more time writing, which is more time spent making money. Nailing those freelance writing assignments isn't solely based on writing ability: it's also based on your ability to pitch yourself as a writer. Since you have to make a pitch for every freelance writing job you apply for (Guru allows you to save several query templates), you get very good at pitching yourself and learning what your strengths and weaknesses are in pitching yourself as a capable writer.
If you simply do not want to pay for memberships to these sites (both of which have multiple authors who make a full time living writing online on those sites alone) then you still have to practice writing quality query letters and pitching yourself in order to nail down enough freelance writing gigs to make a full time living as a freelance writer.
There are many freelance opportunities out there, including online magazines that pay, print markets that pay, and many others. You know those 100 page technical manuals that come with an HDTV or appliance? Technical writers. Did you work sales for years over the phone? Copywriters can make a TON of money writing online sales letters for companies. Are you good at writing articles? Then you really should consider Guru and Elance, where freelance content writers are in constant demand.
Finding freelance writing assignments means playing to your skills and going to where the work is. If you're a brand new writer, don't pitch Atlantic Monthly or National Geographic. Look for local trade journals, and if you want to break into print as a new freelance writer, look for "FOB" or "BOB" clips. These are the tiny 50 word blurbs many magazines have in the front or back of the magazine. This is the easiest way to break in, and if you want to write longer pieces, look at trade journals where you can show off your knowledge and writing skills and still get paid for writing for magazines.
If you are set on writing for print magazines, buy Jenna Glatzer's book: "Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer," and read it over and over again. It's the best book out there for breaking into the magazine market.
Otherwise if you're online and are serious about being a full time freelance writer, or even building a solid part time income with freelance writing assignments, then spend the money on a year long subscription to Guru.com or a month by month to Elance.com. There you can find work that pays while you learn the marketing and pitching skills necessary to make it as a full time freelance writer.