TARGET LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES AND FRANCHISES
One technique I’ve used to generate freelance work is to target small businesses that have poorly-written or unprofessional-looking websites. In particular, I’d look for websites with misspellings and/or text copied from another website. I would check for duplicated copy by highlighting a portion of the web copy that didn’t fit with the style of the page and paste this text into a Google search to see if it had been lifted from a more authoritative source. Many times these business owners had sourced “cheap writers” from content mills who rewrote somebody else’s existing content and provided it as their own. Show these business owners the effect that poor writing has on their website conversion—they’d be more willing to pay you sensible rates to redo, rewrite, and improve their web copy.
Another source of freelance work is local franchisees whose generic websites are often written by a master franchisee. This produces a subtler issue in that the “voice” of the website can seem foreign and to which is harder to relate. For Australian sites, American writers often take on a more sales-based voice and British writers tend towards a more formal voice. The Australian copy writing voice tends to be more casual and conversational, favouring informational blog posts with sprinklings of light humour. Because each region has a unique “voice,” it can be hard for a non-native speaker to emulate.
Ask yourself what advantages you bring as a writer: is it your natural local voice, your expert knowledge on the topic, or your ability to liven up dry topics? If you can demonstrate these assets to a local small business or client, you can pitch a higher hourly rate.
USE YOUR TIME ZONE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
An advantage I have in Australia is that most of my workday is the opposite time zone to many larger English-speaking writing markets including the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. I can accept work that in-house writers can’t complete in a day and work on it during their night, resulting in faster turnarounds for large projects. I have managed to procure projects as an “overflow writer” for a digital marketing agency in the U.K. because I can write and complete blog posts and press releases overnight. Clients love the quicker turnaround, and I receive more work that enhances and diversifies my portfolio. One company that hired me for a Freelancer.com gig blossomed into an off-platform arrangement, allowing me to bypass marketplace/membership fees and earn more.
You can also approach large agencies directly by writing a persuasive cold pitch sales or email letter, accompanied with relevant examples of your work that suit their style. Be sure to target your pitches to the agency’s Content Director (as they usually handle freelance writers) and include references demonstrating that you do quick and effective work.
MARKET YOURSELF EFFECTIVELY
Working in smaller job markets means you also need to market yourself effectively. Review networking events at your local Chamber of Commerce or other business groups. Even though many writing gigs come through online opportunities, the opportunity to meet people face to face and explain what you do can generate lucrative leads. Be sure to work on your elevator pitch so you can answer succinctly about how your writing is not just technically better but can also result in better sales and conversions. It’s useful to share names of clients who have hired you so that prospects can get an idea of your past work.
SPECIALISE IN LOCAL ISSUES
In my market, in Australia, the best paying writing gigs are often for companies with an industrial bent. These are not the easiest or most natural topics for me to write on, but I regularly spend time reading news articles and learning more about the common topics. Having this background information can give context to writing assignments and allows me to differentiate myself from other writers. It also helps me generate content for blog posts, white papers, and other assignments. While writing about local tax issues, mining equipment, or other dry topics may not excite you, they can be lucrative because you need specialized knowledge and you have less competition clamouring to write on these topics.
If you have experience in an industry and can write knowledgeably on specialized topics, it can be worthwhile to pitch editors of trade journals. Because trade journals earn much of their income via advertising, they often pay well for freelance writers who can write engaging industry trend pieces.
Freelance writing positions advertised online may not be abundant for international writers, but it is possible to find well-paid opportunities if you broaden your horizons. Treating your location as an advantage is key to making the most of these opportunities.