What I Learned From My First Freelance Writing Gig

I couldn’t wait to write this post. Know why?  Because it means I’ve snagged my first freelance writing gig that is paid!

My first freelance writing gig was a ghost-writing assignment that I was asked to do by a mentor I’ve been talking to for a couple of months.

I was completely honored and surprised that she was willing to take a chance on a total newbie like me, and I learned so much in the process, that I just had to share it with you!

Take a look at the top things I gleaned from my first freelance writing gig and see if you can apply them to your own business.

It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.

It’s cliché and, okay, it’s a little about what you know, but the truth of the matter is, without building some relationships online, it might take a whole lot longer to snag that first freelance writing gig. 

As much as this statement is true in the real world, it’s even truer in the internet world. With all the scamming and dishonesty running rampant, people are leery to open a strange email, much less trust in a stranger’s expertise.

Don’t underestimate the value of a few personal email exchanges with an influencer.

My mentor told me she got started making connections by following a few freelance writers online she admired and reaching out to them for help with simple questions about the writing business.

I’ve followed her lead and it has paid off several times with advice I might have never received otherwise, along with this job that I never expected!

You don’t have to know everything. You just have to know where to find it.

One of my professors in college taught me this profound truth and I have never forgotten it.

It might be the single best business concept I’ve ever learned!

Instead of stressing out over how I was going to write my first freelance writing gig, in a subject I have very little experience with, I reminded myself that I knew exactly where to find everything I needed. And you know what?

I was right!

I finished my first freelance writing gig with more information than I had in my head when I started, and learned some valuable information for my own business from all the research.

Jump in with both feet and figure it out as you go.

I could go with something a little more poetic like “Take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” (Kobi Yamada) or “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.). But even without the wordier prose, you get the gist – you never know what you can do until you try.

I’m not going to lie, I was terrified to take the assignment. I truly wondered why anyone would want to hire someone with as little experience as I had.

I was shaking in my boots, or, um…fuzzy socks.

But then I asked myself, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

I realized that even if I totally blew the assignment and was fired, I was no worse off than I was before I got the gig.

So I put on my “big girl” pants and got to work.

And guess what…I wasn’t terrible. I wrote a pretty great article that my client loved, and I found the writing chops I knew I had.

Well, there you have it. Writing your first piece of paid work might be the hardest and scariest thing you will ever do, but I can promise you this – no matter how it turns out, you will learn something about yourself and something about the business you will never forget.

And if it turns out great, you will skyrocket your confidence and gain the momentum you need to grow!

Have questions about getting your first freelance writing gig? Ask them here, because, after all, I may not know everything, but I sure as heck know how to find it!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “What I Learned From My First Freelance Writing Gig

    • Thanks, Elna, for the always encouraging words! We have talked about how fear is a factor for a lot of writers, so I think it’s so important to build your own support system. 🙂

  1. Hi Cheri,

    What an uplifting blog post!

    Congratulations on completing your first paid gig.

    I’ll never forget when I won my first big writing assignment. I had been doing lots of small jobs, and then I managed to get someone to pay me $400 for a single writing / editing job.

    Yes, it was a big job and there was a lot of work, but wow! What a confidence boost that was!

    You’ve underscored a couple of really great points in this post.

    First, you are so right — relationships matter! No man or woman is an island, as they say. The more connections we make along the way, the more opportunities we uncover.

    And second, you don’t need to know everything — just more than the client you are serving. And as you say, a lot of information you can find as you go.

    Also, I believe this is my first time commenting on your blog.

    I plan to return in the future, so allow me introduce myself. 🙂

    My name is Brent Jones and I’m a freelancer. I offer writing and social media management services and have earned my full-time living that way for the past year or so.

    I’ve also spent the last year building an audience through my own blog…

    But it’s only in the last month or two that I’ve really figured out who I want to serve through my blog — other freelancers!

    There are a ton of people in the exact same spot I was just over a year ago… people wanting to leave their full-time career positions to begin building online service-based businesses. And I want to help.

    So I guess you could say that my own blog is going through a bit of a transformation at the moment.

    In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to start connecting with other freelancers, such as yourself. Pleased to virtually “meet” you and I intend to keep in touch!

    All the best,


    • Hi Brent!

      What an honor to have you stop by! I am actually one of your subscribers. 🙂
      I have enjoyed reading all the valuable information you’ve provided.

      I agree – there are a lot of us who would love to make this our full-time businesses so sites like yours keep us all motivated to keep going. I think figuring out who you want to serve is HUGE and I will be keeping up with your blog to hear how you decided to make that transformation.

      Thanks again for stopping by and I look forward to many more conversations! Nice to “meet” you!