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How to find freelance work using social media
Step 1: Just put yourself out there
Hello friends! This week I’ve asked friend of FWT Kaitlyn Arford to share some strategies about finding freelance work on social media. Kaitlyn is one of the most adept freelancers at doing this, and she very frequently shares the fruits of her labor on Twitter — like, all day every day, seriously go follow her — so I wanted to get some insight into her process.
Also: Kaitlyn is joining me for a Zoom workshop today at 4 p.m. Eastern time to dive into even more detail about finding work on social media. Register to join us here.
Take it away, Kaitlyn!
Share that you’re looking for work
People lurk all the time on social media. You never know who’s paying attention to you! Seriously. After I tweeted that I had some availability, an editor I had never interacted with for a publication I had never heard of reached out. And now they’re a favorite client!
Share that you have room in your schedule for freelance assignments. Be specific about the type of work you do and how people can reach you. A quick post now could lead to paying work later.
Search for freelance work
Listen: I think LinkedIn posts are a hidden goldmine of freelance work. Editors for both journalism and brands look for freelancers by posting that they need help. You can find them by searching keywords like “looking for freelancers” or “hiring freelance writers.” Then filter by posts published in the past week. They’re a pain to sort through, so I share a thread of freelance opportunities every Friday on Twitter.
You’ll mostly find journalism opportunities on Twitter. Search for “call for pitches,” “looking for pitches,” or “looking for freelance.” I suggest subscribing to Sonia Weiser’s newsletter, Opportunities of the Week, instead of scrolling Twitter for hours. It’s worth every penny!
Want to take your freelance game to the next level? I have a ton of skills-based workshops coming up over the next few weeks! Register for as many as you’d like, see you in there! (All times Eastern.)
Today @ 4 p.m.: How to use social media to find freelance work. Confused on how to get work using Twitter? Curious about the secrets of LinkedIn? This workshop is all about using social media to find work as a freelancer and how social can help you build a sustainable — and profitable! — business.
Nov. 15 @ 4 p.m.: An introduction to the basics of being a freelancer. Are you new to the freelance life? This is the workshop for you! We'll cover all the basics of being an independent journalist, including invoicing, negotiating contracts, finding work, building relationships with editors, writing strong first drafts, and more.
Nov. 21 @ 4 p.m.: Pitch perfect: Everything to know about pitching stories. This workshop will cover everything from the nuts-and-bolts of structuring a compelling pitch to the high-level questions such as, “Is this even a story?”
Nov. 22 @ 4 p.m.: The art of structuring a longform feature. Join me as I lead a deconstruction exercise of a longform narrative story and give you tips on how to use those tools in your writing.
Nov. 29 @ 5 p.m.: Personalized pitch feedback roundtable led by Tim. Bring a pitch or two you want feedback on to this 10-person roundtable, which will be structured as a grad-school level class in which everyone is expected to participate. I’ll do a short bit at the top focused on expert tips for pitching, followed by a roundtable discussion where your fellow attendees and I will offer you feedback on your pitch(es).
Shoot your shot
If you see an editor you’d like to work with, reach out! Editors need writers and it’s not weird to reach out. [Ed. note from Tim: Can confirm!] Just tell them a little about your experience and that you would love to work with them. Ask if they’re looking for freelancers.
If you see an editor actively looking for freelance help, comment with your experience, a link to your portfolio, and your email address. If you comment “I’m interested” you will never hear back. And follow their instructions!
Trust me, I know this can feel intimidating. But it’s a great way to land new opportunities, and you’ll get more confident the more you do it. I wouldn’t have half the work I do without recklessly shooting my shot, even when I didn’t think I had a chance.
Just be a normal human being
Here’s the absolute truth: People like to work with people they know and like. Genuinely connecting with people on social media can lead to paying work.
Someone on one of Tim’s panels — Anna Goldfarb — mentioned the importance of networking horizontally with your peers as opposed to vertically with people in leadership roles. She was right! Freelancers often get offered work they can’t take and refer it to other freelancers they know and trust.
Connecting with other freelancers is important for pay transparency. I’ve DMed other writers to ask about what publications pay (and what working with them was like), and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing that outside of social media.
Share your work regularly
You never know who is following your work! And you never know when someone will need your services. You want people to know that you’re good at what you do. So share your bylines and creative work! Optimize your profiles with what you do (or what you want to do). I have the keywords “freelance writer” and “dog writer” in my profile because it’s what clients search for, and I want them to find me. Social media is a long-term strategy. You might not see results immediately.
That said: do not give into the pressure to be on every platform all the time. You will burn out. And no one else cares. Choose the platform that has the clients you want.
Oh, a few other things …
• Student journalists! An incredibly kind donor is sponsoring a yearlong subscription to FWT here on Substack for one lucky student journalist. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim it — it will go to the first response, so act quick!
• I am offering one-on-one coaching and pitch reviews! Coaching sessions can include anything you need help with: writing and/or editing coaching, story development, story editing, social strategy, and anything else. And pitch reviews are exactly what you’d think: Let’s review a pitch of yours together! Book a timeslot for either session here.
• Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!
Okay bye ily!