Venturing into freelance writing is a valuable opportunity to acquire working experience, and it never hurts to get paid for writing about your interests. (Illustration by Yun Yao, Academy of Art University)

Probably the most aggravating part of today’s job market is the fact that you’re expected to have experience as well as a degree by the time you graduate college. How exactly do you expect me to have over two years of experience for this so-called entry level marketing position when I just graduated? It’s a ruthless world out there for recent grads, and the only way to get a leg up in the rat race is to somehow incorporate that “experience” into your college career.

That’s why I recommend taking a shot at remote freelance writing, because you don’t actually need a degree to get going. Oftentimes, companies are looking for someone who can simply write engaging content. Some of them prefer to build long-term relationships with a writing service like EssayTigers. Others prefer to hire independent freelancers for one-time job. Therefore, there’s a niche for just about everyone. Despite popular belief, you don’t need to be a journalism, writing or English major to be a writer.

Which leads me to my first tip.

1. Identify Your Niche

Think about what interests you the most. Is there a subject in which you already have knowledge or experience? Is there a topic that you would be interested in researching? It will most likely have something to do with your major area of study, but many times you can cross over into writing about other fields.

English majors, for example, often make great copywriters for websites and marketing agencies because of their ability to analyze a project and write for a specific audience.

And like I said before, freelance writing is for everyone. Tons of tech companies are currently hiring technical writers with backgrounds in engineering, computer science, life science, you name it. If you’re a STEM student who can communicate and write well (one of the proud few) there’s a boatload of opportunities for you.

Sometimes, you come across a job that falls under a super specific niche that you happen to fall into. That’s exactly what happened to me when I landed my first writing gig. I was browsing one of the big freelance writing job boards one day and stumbled across a listing for a startup website looking for students taking German language classes to write about beginner German topics. That was perfect for me. I study both German and English in college, making me a good candidate for a weirdly specific niche.

2. Start a Blog!

I add the exclamation point because I believe this is crucial. Now I know I said before that having to already be experienced to get an entry level job is frustrating, but you do need something that you can use to show off your skills in an application. In fact, having my own blog was probably a major reason why I was able to land my first writing job.

Once you find out what kind of subject you want to write about, start a blog and post regularly. Not only will you be giving yourself writing samples to use for applications, but you will also be learning how to design and manage your own blog, which is a skill that a lot of employers desire. You can even find plenty of blogging jobs for a lot of different types of websites.

To start your blog, I recommend using WordPress. WordPress is an easy to use, clean platform with a lot of customization to make your blog look the way you like. It seems to be the industry standard for blog content management, so becoming familiar with it will give you yet another marketable skill in the freelance writing world.

3. Look in the Right Places (Pun Intended)

 So, you’ve found something that interests you and written a few blog posts about it. The next step is to actually go out there and find a job! Well, more like go grab your laptop and check the job boards.

Figuring out where to look for freelance writing jobs is tricky. It’s better if I start out with what not to do:

Don’t use Craigslist. It’s horrible. You can maybe find one good writing job out of hundreds, but scouring Craigslist for your first writing job is a total waste of time and effort. Anyone can post on Craigslist’s job boards, which makes it hard to weed out the crap jobs, scams and duplicate posts from the quality listings. Just stay away. Please.

You’ll probably also want to steer clear from big content mills. Sites like Upwork act as a sort of third party between the writer and the client. I mean, use them if you want, but I’ve tried using these sites for getting my first job and struck out for about a whole month.

Companies or individuals will post projects onto these content mills and you often have to bid on the job or be really lucky, which makes it difficult for the beginning freelancer. The upside to some of these sites is that you can include your portfolio directly into your profile, but I recommend using a separate website for that anyway. JournoPortfolio is a great portfolio site, and it’s free.

Where you really want to look are the major freelance writing job boards. Problogger, Bloggingpro, Freelance Writing Gigs and Media Bistro are a few good ones that you should check regularly. They all have a relatively simple interface and update frequently with jobs that have been selected for quality. Most of these sites require companies to pay for each post, so you know that they are serious job listings and you won’t get annoying duplicates.

If you struggle to find something that excites you or feel that you’re unqualified for a lot of the jobs, make sure to put filters on your searches. Most of these sites have a good filter function that allows you to look at entry level, part-time and full-time jobs or even contract work. Freelance Writing Gigs sorts jobs by category in their daily listings, which I find extremely useful.

Honestly, it could take a little time and a lot of work to land your first freelance writing gig, not to mention the actual writing you’ll be doing, but c’est la vie. Just keep on writing, checking those job boards daily and applying to anything that sounds interesting. It’ll all be worth it when you graduate and can say that you’ve got both your degree and that damn experience that every employer wants from you. Making some money along the way isn’t half bad either.

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