How To Use Your Day Job To Get Freelance Writing Gigs

    Would You Like to Use Your Day Job to Get Writing Gigs?

    Your boss is a demon from the depths of hades.

    Your coworkers are his demonic minions.

    You’d love nothing better than to say sayonara to your job and pursue your dream of becoming a freelance writer.

    But whether it’s due to golden handcuffs or crushing debt, many aspiring writers simply can’t quit their day jobs to freelance full-time.

    But you can always write on the side for extra cash—and the great news is that you can leverage your job to land writing gigs. Here are 3 ways.


    1. Tap the trades


    If you have a 9-5 job, chances are you are expert at that job—whether you’re a retail salesperson, engineer, business manager, PR rep, or chef.

    Well, guess what? Magazines of all kinds need content about retail selling, engineering, business management, PR, and restaurant management.

    Trade magazines are an excellent market if you have expertise in a particular field. These are business-to-business publications for owners, executives, and employees in a certain industry.

    Believe it or not, you’ll find trades that cover just about any industry you can think of. Here are some my husband and I have written for: Indian Gaming Business, Fiber Journal, Sheep!, In-Plant Graphics, Club Industry, Sanitary Maintenance, and The Federal Credit Union.

    If you work in foodservice, for example, you can pitch article ideas to any of the restaurant industry trade magazines, like QSR (Quick Service Restaurant), Restaurant Management, FSR (Full Service Restaurant), Nation’s Restaurant News, Independent Joe (for Dunkin Donut franchise owners), Pizza Today, and more.

    Find likely trades in Writer’s Market, in directories like TradePub.com, or through a Google search of your keyword plus “trade magazines”.

    A well-crafted Letter of Introduction (LOI) can get you in the door. In your LOI, tell the prospect how you can benefit their readers and sketch out a few appropriate article ideas—after checking through the magazine’s website and online archives to get a feel for what they run. Make sure you don’t pitch something they’ve already covered.

    Typically you would need to interview industry experts for any articles you’re assigned, but you can use your expertise to help you first break in, and then to give you a leg up on researching, interviewing and writing.


    2. Blog it out


    One of the coolest ways to turn your day job into writing gigs may be to start a blog that entertains, or solves problems for others in your industry. Once you’ve built up a following, you can also sell e-books, courses, and other products to your readers—or market yourself as a writer in your industry.

    Using the foodservice example, what if you started a blog that helps professional servers land good jobs, use psychology to make more tips, stay motivated and energetic throughout their shifts, and keep up on industry news? Or one that offers valuable information on how restaurant managers can keep diners happy, bring in more profits, and stay on the cutting edge?

    Of course, starting a blog is a huge endeavor—but if you learn how to come up with eyeball-grabbing ideas, write killer headlines, and share great information, you can earn a good income by blogging.

    Keep in mind that if you decide to run a blog in your industry, you don’t want to write anything that will alienate your employer. A post on how to bring customers in the door? Cool. A post on the industry’s dirty little secrets for tricking customers into paying more? Not cool.


    3. Work your network


    If you’ve come clean to your boss about writing on the side, opportunities abound to write for your employer’s partners, service providers and vendors. (You’ll first need to clear it with your boss and check your employment contract to make sure this isn’t prohibited.)

    You have an advantage over other writers since you have expertise in your field—and because you probably have a lot of these prospects on your speed dial!

    The trick is to approach each potential client with an LOI that describes how you can boost their profits, bring in new customers, and generally make their lives easier.

    Let’s use foodservice as an example again. Choose one of your employer’s service providers, such as a restaurant management consultant, and take a look at their website.

    Do you notice anything missing?

    For example, the company may have a blog that hasn’t been updated in months, or you may notice their newsletter focuses on selling instead of informing. Or perhaps their website lacks case studies of successful projects, the About Us page isn’t engaging, or the company isn’t active in social media.

    Write an LOI that talks up your expertise in the industry and describes the benefits of whatever you want to pitch them. For instance, that a frequently updated blog will boost their SEO and foster a sense of community among the company’s prospects, or that increasing their social media presence will bring in more clients.


    You may not be able to tell your demon boss to take this job and shove it. But you now have three ways you can can turn your years of hard work into a fun and profitable side gig as a freelance writer!

    Which of these have strategies have worked for you? Share your ideas, suggestions and experiences in the comments below!

    About the author

      Linda Formichelli

      Linda Formichelli is the author of The Renegade WriterShe has written for more than 130 magazines and is the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success. She is also the author ofHow to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life - While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie.

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    • Jerry says:

      Nice article and good tips. The only thing I would say is I hate it when a blog I love suddenly begins pushing stuff for sale. I generally stop reading then.

    • Gerry says:

      Great writing article and I am always amazed that people cannot recognize the talent and value within themselves. All of us are indeed an expert in something, and why not tell the rest of the world, by writing about it? Even better, is to put it in a booklet or ebook form and sell it at a nominal cost to earn some extra money. Freelance writing does iondeed pay, if you use the right strategies.

    • A Morris says:

      Unfortunately the SEO guest posting revolution has made freelancing even more difficult. A lot of articles are going up and guest posters don’t mind not being paid as they’ve already got a job. You can see in sites like TextBroker, too, a lot of writers are willing to work for $20 articles which can be pretty average. Plus they look like they’ve been spun.

      Sticking to it’s a good prospect, though, as long as you can establish yourself. Keeping a WordPress blog going is, of course, worthwhile, just hugely time consuming.

    • Jane says:

      Hey Linda – a great eye opener. Instead of being desperate about having a day job that hinders our growth as a freelance writer, why not use that as an opportunity. Blogging is a great way to get started.

      And as opposed to someone who works from home, someone in a day job gets to meet a lot of people to network with!

    • Hey Linda,
      Such an informative post. Thanks a ton for sharing. I have been thinking about freelance writing since two months, so these tips are a lot for me. Thanks again.

    • Awesome tips, Linda! I was able to use my day job to land gigs simply by maintaining great relationships with my colleagues.

      I once worked for an advertising agency and after I resigned, I stayed in good terms with my boss. We kept in touch via LinkedIn and maintained a good professional relationship.

      After a few months, he started to work for a bigger marketing agency that needed fresh content and wanted to hire some freelancers. He got in touch and pretty much gave me the gig on the spot because he already knew my personality and work ethic.

      Goes to show that it really pays to be a good employee even when pursuing a side business. 🙂

      • Yes! And it’s always a bonus when your 9-5 job was in advertising, marketing, PR, etc.!

    • Thanks for the dose of practical encouragement! It’s so easy to let my alleged inexperience get the best of me. The truth is I DO have a lot of experience — I just have to put it to good use!

    • Thanks so much for having me on your blog today! I look forward to reading everyone’s comments.

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