Today I’m going to talk about the likelihood of finding writing jobs with no experience.
I have a Trello board that I use to plan what to write for HomeWorkingClub. This article has been there for several weeks, with just one note, saying “make it short and snappy.” So short and snappy’s what you’re going to get!
I say in my author profile at the bottom of every article that I’m “prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.” This is one of those outbursts, so you have been warned.
Since starting HomeWorkingClub, I’ve been really surprised that freelance writing is what most people seem to visualise themselves doing as a home working career.
You can do anything working from home. I’ve published case studies on the site on people running home-based businesses doing everything from photography and fashion design to upcycling crafts and doing odd jobs. Despite this, the vast majority of emails that land in my inbox are asking questions about freelance writing.
As someone who does a lot of freelance writing as part of a portfolio career, I can, of course, see the attraction. However, I feel it’s my duty to blast through a lot of online nonsense about the reality of getting writing jobs with no experience.
Everyone has to start somewhere, I understand that. Ten years ago, the closest I’d come to any professional writing was setting up a blog about life in Portugal. I’m now fortunate enough to be able to earn consistently decent rates for writing content for a variety of clients.
However, getting to this point has taken ten years, and boy has some of that time been a grind.
I’ve written content that’s bored me to actual tears; I’ve written for soul-destroying content mills, and I’ve also done writing work for rates so low that I could have earned more serving beers at my local bar.
But every step of the way, I’ve learned more about the craft, read books and articles, taken courses, and steadily worked at building a portfolio that’s allowed me to gradually increase my rates and aim higher with my ambitions.
I’m not saying any of this to say “ooh, look at me!” I’m saying it because I feel the need to inject some realism into this perception that freelance writing is in any way easy, or even that desirable for a lot of the people who seem to think it is.
I think marketing has a lot to blame for this perception. There are services like Writers.Work and Contena nowadays (find full reviews via the links) that seem to suggest that finding writing jobs with no experience is a realistic proposition. (I’ve written about this in detail here). Then alongside those, there are any number of online courses and membership sites that hint that a lucrative writing career is just around the corner for anyone who pays the monthly fee…
A lot of the casualties of those lofty promises end up here on this site, and I do things differently here.
The thing is, I believe and KNOW that it is possible to start a freelance writing career from nowhere. I’ve done it myself. However, I also have no doubt in my mind that the proportion of people with that dream who will stick it out through all the necessary sweat and graft will prove absolutely tiny.
I write that merely to “tell it how it is.” Perhaps, one day I will launch a book or a course that helps people through the journey. As and when I do, it probably won’t sell as quickly as all the others out there, because I won’t tell people that getting writing jobs with no experience is in ANY way easy, or make any other daft promises.
Only yesterday, I had an email from a reader saying that they found my emphasis on this reality “discouraging.” It’s a fair comment, but anyone hoping for even the slightest success in the world of freelance writing needs to get used to discouragement pretty fast.
Sending out 40 pitches and getting nothing back is discouraging; Spending hours making your profile on a new writing site look incredible, only to be turned down flat, is discouraging; Pulling out all the stops for a new client, then finding they just don’t like your approach and want you to start again is discouraging.
All of this happens and continues to happen if freelance writing is your choice of career.
But then there’s the flipside:
- The days when you’ve produced several articles for a client that they’re happy with, and they tell you they want one a week on an ongoing basis. You realise your income has just increased by $5000 per year in return for a commitment of little more than an hour a week. Once this has happened several times you’re off and running!
- The times when you find something you’ve written has been featured in a national newspaper or a prominent website.
- The moments when you find that writing “flow” and you have to pinch yourself to believe you’re fortunate enough to actually be getting paid for writing about topics that interest you.
- The times when you see a bargain last-minute holiday and you realise there’s nothing stopping you from going and doing your work on a sunny terrace somewhere.
It’s all genuinely there for the taking, but if you’re not prepared to invest serious time and energy, and be realistic about the incredibly slim pickings you can expect in the early days of the journey, you’re going to get nowhere. Literally nowhere.
Being a freelance writer is about hustling, learning, persisting, a LOT of marketing, and dealing with a LOAD of rejection and rubbish days in order to earn the good ones. The writing itself is a far smaller part of it than I think most people believe.
I’ve written loads of content to assist with this:
- This article discusses what skills and qualities you need to make a success of any kind of freelancing.
- This one talks about the realities of online freelancing in a globalised world.
- This one explains how the freelance writing world works.
- This has some general tips for improving your writing skills.
- This one is all about finding some success on the freelance job boards (and if you think getting writing jobs with no experience is feasible without getting involved with them, you’re not being very realistic).
- This talks about the realities of how few people actually take any action to further their freelance careers.
Did you open all of those up in new tabs ready to read now or later? If so, then the good news is that you may well be one of the few people who’s going to make a success of this. You could find yourself with a wonderful level of freedom and job satisfaction in the future.
If you didn’t, your outlook may not be quite so positive. By all means, go running after the next shiny course or membership scheme and pay for its empty promises. But I can say with almost total certainty that you’ll end up disappointed.
Perhaps, instead of asking yourself whether you’d like to be a home-based, freelance writer, ask yourself if you want it enough to put in the work required to make a success of it. If you doubt your own answer, there are still plenty of other home working ideas here for you.
But true success doesn’t come packaged free with any of them. If you want to get paid for going through the motions, then you can stick with the boss, the rules, the booking time off in advance, and the irritating but unavoidable co-workers.
It’s all up to you.