I recently talked about the wide variety of writing schedules you can follow if you pursue freelance writing.

Today, I want to talk about how to find actual paid writing projects once you’re ready to sit down and do the work.

Because that’s one of the top-three questions I get asked all the time: “How do I find projects? Paying projects? Projects with real, honest-to-goodness four- or five-figure checks attached?”

For starters, you’ve got to look for them. As in, actually sit down and do a little digging. Send out feelers. Make some contacts.

(I’m mostly talking to the people who contact me and say, “Hey, I just surfed all over [insert freelance jobs site], and clients only want writing work for dirt cheap!”)

Well yeah, sure. Some do. Mostly, they’re the folks who don’t understand the value of professional writing, and copywriting in particular.

They’re the ones who want to get writing projects done for pennies. And that’s fine. As long as they know that the quality they get is often only worth a few pennies. And it’ll earn them just that – pennies.

Here’s another way to put it …Table

Let’s say you need a wooden table for your new apartment. You could, like a lot of people, shop for it at Walmart. Chances are good you’ll find a dandy little piece for a hundred bucks or less. Maybe it’ll suit your needs just fine. Granted, it’ll be small. And made out of engineered wood. But it’ll do the job, so you have a way to serve a meal for two or three friends.

But let’s say a couple of years down the road, you’ve done well for yourself and you buy a six-bedroom house along the coast. That tiny wooden table would look laughable in your stately dining room. So you research hardwood craftsmen and decide a handmade Amish dining table is the way to go.

Instead of a hundred bucks, you’re going to pay a few thousand. But the table you get is not only built to last, it’s also custom-designed to match the walnut cabinetry and wooden beams found throughout your house. Plus, it seats 10 and can expand to hold another six.

Same thing is true for writing, and especially web writing. If someone is putting up a little hobby site for their own enjoyment and they don’t want to do any writing, there’s no harm in hiring Joe Schmoe-writer to string together some words for them. Hopefully Joe does a good job and earns his hundred bucks fair and square.

But for any business looking to make money, generate leads, drum up a following, nurture customers, and succeed as a profitable entity …

Then their best bet is to hire someone who understands the art of persuasive writing, and copywriting in particular.

So here’s how you find the clients who value your services …

Go Where the Paying Clients Go

For me, and virtually all the writers I know, I started with a credible “Client-Watering Hole.” By that, I mean a jobs site where clients (generally marketers) who value well-written copy post jobs for writers trained in persuasive writing. My trough of choice is DirectResponseJobs.com, which you can access when you become a member of American Writers & Artists Inc.

I also went to a writer’s conference where marketers congregate with the sole purpose of hiring copywriters for paying jobs.

In all cases, I wrote or said stuff like, “Hi, I’m Mindy, I’d like to write for you, and here’s a sample of my work.” (We’ll talk soon about how to come up with writing samples when you haven’t yet been hired to write.)

But I didn’t whip out the pretty little essays I wrote back when I was a student. Nor did I show them my treasured creative fiction work.

Instead, I held out samples that mimicked the marketing message the clients were looking for. And I made sure my samples included commentary on the process that went into creating them – like keywords, market research, and funnel suggestions.

Another approach is to do your own market research and look for clients in your preferred niche who value well-written copy (here’s how you find them). And then approach them directly. Ask if they hire freelancers. Offer to write on spec. Do whatever it takes to get your writing services noticed.

“It’s a lot like dating.”

A handful of those clients I approached in the early days of my freelancing career liked what I showed them and hired me. Not all of them, but then it only takes a few to get started.

For the clients who showed interest, the process went like this: They laid out the details of the project, I quoted a fee, and we negotiated a deadline.

In some cases, I wound up in a beautiful long-term relationship. I’ve been writing for two of my clients for over four years.

In other cases, my clients referred me on to new clients with new projects.

And in still other cases, I did a project, got the check, said “Thanks,” and went on my way.

It’s a lot like dating, really, except you’re in multiple relationships at one time and you get paid.