Leaving Work Behind

How to Spot Viable Freelance Writing Opportunities on Job Boards

Written by Tom Ewer on October 15, 2012. 55 Comments

How to Spot Viable Freelance Writing Opportunities on Job BoardsWhen I sent my first few pitches out to potential clients around a year ago, I did not take the exercise seriously. I didn’t expect that anyone would actually want to hire me — someone who had absolutely no professional writing experience.

But I was wrong, and the fact is, you can start as a freelance writer with nothing more than an ability to write well. With that in mind, today I want to expose how many opportunities there are available to aspiring writers. All you need to do is look, and that is exactly what I hope I have proven in the video below.

Browsing the ProBlogger Job Board

For those of you who don’t know, I found my first two writing clients via the ProBlogger Job Board. I still work with them both today, and one of those ‘jobs’ in particular has led to an awesome position as the editor of the ManageWP blog.

I heartily recommend the ProBlogger Job Board as a source of work. So what I’ve done in the video below is take a close look at 10 recent listings, with my thoughts (both positive and negative) on each one. If you are new to freelance writing (or even if you’re not), you may find this really helpful.

Here are the listings featured in the video:

Any Questions?

I’d love to know what you think about the video, and whether or not you agree with my opinions. Furthermore, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section.

Finally, if you found my video useful, you may want to get on theΒ pre-launch listΒ for my upcoming freelance writing guide. You’ll get early access to the guide as well as an exclusive discount!

Creative Commons image courtesy ofΒ Jason Tester

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55 Responses to “How to Spot Viable Freelance Writing Opportunities on Job Boards”

  1. Charley
    October 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve been quiet lately – still smarting from the latest Google update which massively devalued my sites, but that’s another story. With regard to freelance writing, I find the job board on ProBlogger more useful for finding real and interesting jobs. When I first applied for jobs listed there, I was declined. I decided to check out other job boards and I couldn’t apply for any job for various reasons.

    It might just be me and my preference though. The video is very informative, and, consequently, highly appreciated.

  2. Samantha
    October 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I’ve looked over the job boards before but have yet to apply for any. I appreciate the detail you went into with each listing because this will help me evaluate which ones would be best for me.Thanks Tom!

  3. Ian
    October 16, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I have not looked a problogger before for job boards, if you are only getting $5 bucks an article as some of these posts seem to be, why not just set yourself up on http://www.fiverr.com and make some $$ that way. I had my first job for 500 word article requested, done and dusted in 40 minutes.

    Once you get up to speed with some credibility you can add in extra services to get more money per gig. Longer articles, referenced, images keyword targeted, authority linking etc to push your earnings up to about $40-$50 an hour

    I’ve found it a great place to start and helps you build you credibility…

    Also, you mentioned the links in the video that you would provide but are missing

    Thanks

    Ian K

    • Tom Ewer
      October 16, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Hi Ian,

      If you can earn $40-$50 per hour from Fiverr more power to you, but it definitely wouldn’t be the way I would go. Neither would I recommend that you take any job that pays anything like $5 per article (like I said in the video). In either circumstance, even if you can somehow make a decent hourly rate, it’s highly unlikely that you’re taking your writing anywhere in terms of building up samples or good connections. Plus I can’t imagine the work is that interesting.

      You’re right about the links — apologies — I included them on YouTube but not here. I’ve put them up now!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  4. Joseph Archibald
    October 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Tom, enjoyed the video, thanks! I think the main problem that most prospective freelancers face is a lack of confidence.

    It’s a bit like “well, why should I even bother to submit an application when other people who will submit will have much more experience and ability than I do”.

    This thinking holds me back too, particularly in niches I know nothing about, which is almost everything that turns up on ProBlogger. I mean, I don’t even know how to turn an Android phone on let alone blog about the thing.

    All the best with the new book!

    Jo

    • Tom Ewer
      October 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Hi Jo,

      Yup — I’m with you. That’s exactly what I thought when I applied for the job at WPMU — I’d only been using WordPress for a few months. But I got the job.

      Here’s the way I look at it — what do you have to lose from submitting pitches? A few minutes of your time. It’s a small price to pay…

      Like I said in the video, I wouldn’t apply for the Android position either, nor the baby one. But these would be perfect for some people, and next week there might be a position for an SEO writer, which would obviously be perfect for you. It’s all about persistence!

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • Joseph Archibald
        October 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

        Well Tom, I’m fed up with Google so SEO is no good for me πŸ™‚ and my girlfriend is now pregnant so the baby one is right up my street, hahaha!

        That WPMU job surely is a fine one to have landed and good for you for giving it a shot in the first place!

  5. Tim
    October 16, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Great post Tom! I would like to see more videos like this.

    Excellent job walking through each job posting and explaining your thoughts.

    I’ve run through the job listings on Problogger a few times and never found anything that appeared too interesting, especially for the money.

    However, some of your comments made me realize that I may not be giving them a chance.

    One tip, for finding freelance work….

    1. Look up the websites for some local businesses in your area
    2. Find a few that have blogs
    3. Check their blogs to see if they are being updated regularly
    4. If not updated regularly contact the business and make a pitch to help them keep their blog current by ghost writing articles for them to supplement what they are doing (make sure to remind them of the benefits of running a blog and keeping it up to date)
    5. If they need a little more convincing, send them an article or two for free that they can use on their website

    I’ve found this approach to be a little more work up-front but much more lucrative and often leads to additional marketing opportunities for the same client πŸ™‚

    • Tom Ewer
      October 16, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Absolutely Tim — that is a fantastic way of finding clients and building long term relationships. It also requires a little more chutzpah though πŸ˜‰

  6. Kate Yu
    October 17, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Very informative video Tom. I’m curious to know when you were first starting out, what kind of jobs were you looking for at the boards and how many jobs did you apply for in a week? Thanks!

    • Tom Ewer
      October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Kate,

      My applications were totally speculative when I started. I didn’t really think that freelance writing was something I could do (who would pay a completely unqualified person to write, right?), so I didn’t consciously pick any niche, but was drawn to WordPress as it was something that I had some capability (albeit limited) in.

      I think I submitted around 5-10 pitches to get my first client, then the same again for my second. Beyond that, I haven’t sought out any other clients (they’ve come to me).

      Cheers,

      Tom

  7. Mary
    October 17, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Thanks for producing this video, Tom. I’ve been a writer for longer than I care to admit πŸ™‚ and haven’t thought much about writing for companies’ blogs. I’ll look into it now, keeping your tips in mind.

  8. Joe @ How I Got Rich
    October 18, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Very wry, almost like a young Mark Kermode!

    Great video, I looked at those jobs before seeing the video funnily enough and had already applied to nearly all of them as I’m just starting out and will take anything.

    Haven’t heard back from any of them which is a shame. I imagine each post must get 100s of applicants.

    I’ve been applying to jobs on pro blogger for a while now without any success but will keep going as it only takes one application to make it through to landing a job.

    So far I’ve just been writing product description for other people’s affiliate sites which is pretty depressing seeing as I used to be the one hiring people to write for my affiliate sites! How the tables have turned…

    • Tom Ewer
      October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Joe,

      Like a young Mark Kermode…hm…not sure what to make of that πŸ˜‰

      The quality of your pitch can make a huge difference. Feel free to send me an example or two by email and I’d be happy to give you some feedback.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  9. Rob
    October 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I found it interesting that the contact email address for both “Entrepreneur’s Blog”–which was seen as potentially favorable–and “Business Boom”–which was seen as not favorable–were the same. Also, as a potential red flag, the address was through gmail.

  10. Ric
    October 24, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Tom, you mention the “pitch” several times. What is the basic outline for the pitch?

    Regards,

    Ric..

    • Tom Ewer
      October 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Hi Ric,

      From memory I haven’t covered how to write a good pitch here on the blog, but it is something that I will be covering in my upcoming freelance writing guide.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  11. Karl (business blogger) Craig-West
    October 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Thanks Tom,

    I think you’ve saved me some considerable heartache.

    Cheers,
    Karl

  12. Srinivas
    November 28, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Hey Tom.

    i’ve been blogging for almost 3 years and I have to say I’m an idiot for not looking to that job board more frequently. Anyways, Alexis Grant turned me on to your work and I’ve been lurking for a while.

    -Srini

    • Tom Ewer
      November 28, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Hey Srini — good to see you here! I’ve seen your name many times across the blogosphere over the last few months. πŸ™‚

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    January 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm

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  14. Madge
    January 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I want to to thank you for this very good read!
    ! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I have got you book marked to check out new things you post…

  15. Brian Louden
    June 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Tom,
    Thanks for explaining the pro blogger board. I am extremely new to this field and your advice
    is the first one I’ve gone to. Now, I must establish some willpower and go for it!
    Brian

  16. Amy An
    June 15, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Hi Tom,
    Love your story and advice.
    I spent some time with the adverts at jobs.problogger. The things that interested me and for which I feel qualified required three years experience in the field (which I have as a teacher) and three years writing experience. Writing experience I don’t have.

    So how do you overcome the need to have writing experience when you are just starting and don’t have writing experience?

    I am sure there are some jobs that don’t require much experience but is writing my own blog enough? What do you recommend to gain experience when you don’t have it beyond looking for postings that don’t require experience?

    Many thanks!
    Amy

    • Tom Ewer
      June 15, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Hey Amy,

      If they want three years experience full stop then there’s little you can do other than submit a pitch and put your best foot forward. However, in my experience such requirements are thin on the ground (and even if they do exist, you can potentially convince a potential client otherwise)..

      When people are starting out I always recommend that they look for a non-paying ongoing blogging role for a good blog if they can’t get a paid role for a reputable blog. This will demonstrate your ability to write to deadlines etc. and give you good experience.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  17. Adon
    July 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Hi, Tom

    thank you for maintaining such a helpful and interesting blog full of informative posts on the topics that interests us.

    I have some questions about the way of sending an application email message.

    The first is: should I use something more personal like: Hello/Hi, John …. my name is Andy Someones… and I am confident that I can…..

    or

    Hello, I came across your available writing position and would like to apply for it and send you my submission.

    I am confident, that….

    Which is more appropriate and will have more success and better possibility of acceptance of my application email submission, the more personal one or the formal form.

    Also what will be better: to send the samples as an attachment of the email or paste the text of the samples inside the body of the email? And if an attachment is a good option, in what format will be best to send them, in Word, PDF or text format? Or to use the two options together and send the samples as an attachments and pasted in the body of the email?

    What will you suggest and advise me regarding this matter?
    I will appreciate any response from your side.

    Thank you in advance.

    Greetings,

    Adon.

    • Tom Ewer
      July 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Adon,

      I would definitely recommend that you use a more personal approach.

      Ideally you would send the examples as HTML links (i.e. to published blog posts). The next best thing is to send as attachments.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  18. Samm Cotton
    September 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I loved watching this tutorial – like an inside-your-head introduction to scouting for worthwhile gigs. I think you could do more and they’d spread like wildfire!

    Thank you again.

    Samm Cotton

  19. Julie (@ArmywifeJulie)
    November 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    I just got my first job from the ProBlogger board! I am excited! It is also getting me to check it out more often than I have been.

  20. Scott Worthington
    November 22, 2013 at 12:28 am

    How did I manage to miss this when it was first published?

    Outstanding video, Tom. I agree 100% with your assessment on the various listings. I also agree that any serious minded person that is building a career as a freelance writer needs to steer clear of content mills. That kind of work gets into your brain, it negatively affects how you value yourself.

    You do an excellent job of educating, motivating, and inspiring, encouraging people to see their own value. Thanks.

  21. Todd
    May 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I’ve not used problogger before. I’ll have to definitely check it out. Like many others, my sites have been hit pretty bad by Google/Panda. About the only site I’ve had success with is Freelanced.com. They have strong portfolio tools, and even some neat social networking tools.

    Anyway, thanks for the other links for problogger and others. I’ll check them out later today.

  22. St Ge
    January 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Freelance writing can be a great alternative to express yourself and also make money olnine

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