How to Get More Freelance Writing Assignments

by John Soares on October 22, 2012

As productive freelance writers, we want to get many high paying jobs and get them done as efficiently as possible. Winning multiple assignments is a great way to do this.

Two Main Ways to Get Multiple Freelance Writing Assignments

First, you get multiple assignments for the same topic. In the second, you get multiple assignments from a single editor. Of course, it’s also possible you can get multiple assignments on the same topic from a single editor.

1. Multiple Writing Assignments for the Same Topic

My main area of freelance writing since 1992 has been as a higher education writer creating supplements for college textbooks. Supplements are updated every time a new edition of a textbook is released. Many times I have obtained multiple supplement update jobs for the same textbook revision. For example, for one American government textbook, I updated or created:

  • The instructor’s manual
  • The student study guide
  • The test questions
  • Online sample tests for students
  • Internet exercises
  • Articles for further reading on the Internet
  • PowerPoint lecture outlines

I won these from 3 different editors who all worked on different supplements for the same book. In order to update all these supplements, I had to read both the new textbook edition and the old textbook edition thoroughly so I knew what had been added to the new edition and deleted from the old edition; this was quite time consuming. However, I did it just once and then applied what I’d learned about the changes to 7 different supplements rather than just one.

(This is a well-paying niche with little competition. See my e-book Writing College Textbook Supplements: The Definitive Guide to Winning High-Paying Assignments in the College Textbook Publishing Market for all the details on how to be successful.)

There’s another way to slant this technique for those of you who write for magazines, newspapers, and trade publications…

Take the same information you use for an article and then rework the material to create a different piece on the same subject. You can also sell reprint rights to pieces you’ve already published as long as you’ve retained the copyright and abide by any agreement you had with the original publisher.

2. Multiple Writing Assignments from the Same Editor

The best source for new assignments is an editor who’s given you previous assignments. It’s far more difficult to sell yourself to a new editor than to one who already knows the quality of your work and your ability to finish assignments on time.

This cuts 2 ways. It’s always a good idea to ask previous clients for more work. Another tack: when an editor gives you one assignment, ask if she has anything else for you.

In my above example about writing 7 supplements for the same textbook update for 3 different editors, I obviously won multiple assignments from editors.

An Outdoors Writing Example

When I lived on the island of Kauai in Hawaii in the late 1990s, I got an assignment to write a piece about outdoor adventure activities in the islands for a new national outdoors magazine. I covered mountain biking in the rainforest on Kauai, hiking to an active lava flow in Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, and night diving with manta rays on the south side of the Big Island. Just as soon as I turned in the article, I pitched several ideas over the phone, which led to another feature on summiting Mount Shasta in northern California.

A Caveat

Be careful not to over-commit to too many projects at once. However, if you can handle a lot of work, be sure to let editors know when you’re requesting multiple assignments. They may be concerned you’ll miss a deadline, so reassure them that you won’t.

Your Take

Have you used these techniques to your advantage? Any suggestions to add?

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    { 9 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Anne Wayman October 22, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    John, I’ve had luck with working the same topic for multiple assignments. For me they don’t fall into nifty categories like they seem to for you text book stuff, but I’ve definitely worked, and still do, niches.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…This Blog Is Now On Kindle!

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    2 John Soares October 22, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    I’m fortunate that my higher education writing does lend itself to getting multiple assignments on one textbook, but, as you point out, the overall principles I discuss apply in most niches.
    John Soares recently posted…The Freelance Writing Project Hiding in Your Spam Folder

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    3 Cathy Miller October 22, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Twitter: @Cathy Miller, Business Writer/Consultant

    Hi John:

    Since I do primarily corporate writing, there are several opportunities for the same topic – a ghostwritten article, blog post (sometimes can work into a series), a case study, a white paper or an ebook.

    Sometimes the client doesn’t think about the various mediums. So, it’s good strategy to share your ideas with your clients. With some of my clients, they take some work inside, but I often get more than one project out of the topic.
    Cathy Miller recently posted…Could Your Photo Use Cost You Big Time?

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    4 John Soares October 22, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Cathy, thanks for sharing your experience in corporate writing. There are lots of opportunities to get multiple assignments on a specific subject; it’s up to each of us to figure out the best ways to do it.
    John Soares recently posted…The Best Freelance Writing Locations

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    5 Ruan | FreelanceWritingTactics October 28, 2012 at 11:18 PM

    Twitter: @FreelanceTactic

    Personally I haven’t used these techniques before and to be honest, I haven’t even thought about using it.

    I like the idea of looking into ways how you can turn one assignment into a few more from the same client/editor. I do have to agree that most clients probably don’t think about this either so I think it will be an excellent idea discussing the possibilities with them.

    Thanks for sharing; I’ll definitely give this more thought and see how I can implement this into my services.
    Ruan | FreelanceWritingTactics recently posted…New Release: “The Best Website Traffic Generation Strategies By 10 Top Bloggers | A Tribute”

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    6 John Soares November 13, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    Ruan, I get most of my work from clients I’ve worked with before, and they usually contact me rather than the other way around.
    John Soares recently posted…Why You Are So Slow Finishing That Freelance Writing Project

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    7 Peter D. Mallett November 12, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Twitter: @Peterdmallett

    Thanks for this article. I am currently reading 102 ways to earn money writing 1,500 words or less, and it has opened my eyes to the many writing needs we miss all around us. This is another way to be sure we are making the most of our opportunities. Thanks also for providing a real-life practical example. That always helps.
    Peter D. Mallett recently posted…Writing is not always a Novel Idea

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    8 John Soares November 13, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Thanks for dropping by Peter.

    I’ve seen that book before and it definitely has some good advice. The key with good advice is actually applying it!
    John Soares recently posted…Why You Are So Slow Finishing That Freelance Writing Project

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    9 rohan March 16, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Twitter: @mybirthdaye

    Well, I tried to get more assignments from the same client but it was my bad luck as she was having limited work and many freelance writers approached her. She often gave work on first come basis. I got a total of two assignments from her and then I moved on to other clients. I just can’t keep waiting for long.

    By the way I liked the outdoor work freelancing. I am going to give it a practical try

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