Getting started in the world of freelance writing isn’t always easy. When I first began my career as a freelancer, I nearly gave up after the first month: I had no idea where to find any work. Most publications wanted writers with experience, and I was just starting out. Fortunately, I kept up my search, and my patience and effort paid off. I was able to locate a number of great opportunities that allowed me to develop a portfolio of work while earning some extra money at the same time. Some of these freelance writing opportunities are good choices for beginners, while others are better suited for writers with a bit of experience. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to find freelance writing work.

1. Content Writing Sites

Websites that bring together freelance writers and clients offer a wealth of freelance writing opportunities for both beginning and experienced writers. Some of my first freelance gigs came from Textbroker. The site always seems to have plenty of assignments to choose from, and I was impressed by the quick and reliable payment system. New writers are assigned an initial quality level based on an evaluation, and a writer’s pay rate will depend on their rating. It’s not unusual to start out on Textbroker with a pay rate of one cent per word, but advancement opportunities come quickly. Another content site that offers varied opportunities for beginners is iWriter. While the going rates on iWriter are pretty low, especially for new writers with no ratings or history, you can literally make money on iWriter today. Just sign up for an account, choose an article, and get writing! Once you’ve honed your writing skills a bit, you may want to sign up with a service such as Constant Content and put some articles up for sale.

2. Fiverr

Like many freelance writers, I’ve had considerable luck with Fiverr. As the name implies, you can only charge five dollars for your gigs at first. At that price point, it makes sense to offer short articles: I like to offer 300-word pieces on topics in my area of expertise. When you can produce multiple short pieces an hour on subjects you know well, you can maintain a respectable hourly rate. Be sure to write your gig description carefully and use impeccable grammar, because nobody is going to hire a writer whose description is full of sloppy errors. Also be sure to encourage people to place additional orders for a higher word count. Once you complete 20 Fiverr assignments, you can start offering “Extras” on your gigs and make some real money on the site.

3. General Freelance Sites

Sites like oDesk and UpWork (formerly Elance) tend to have hundreds of freelance writing jobs available, but many freelancers feel like it’s impossible to compete with the rock-bottom rates being offered by overseas writers. I found that it took a long time to have any real success with these sites, but the end results made the effort worthwhile. The long-term clients I’ve found through these platforms have proven to be steady, loyal and lucrative. It can’t hurt to give these sites a try. Also be sure to seek out potential clients that prefer paying a higher rate for U.S. writers. Another such site is Freelancer.com.

4. Writing Job Boards

Several websites feature job boards that cater exclusively to freelance writers. Two of my favorites include ProBlogger Job Boards and Freelance Writing Jobs. These sites are updated daily with promising new leads; I’ve gotten some great blogging and content-writing work from them. You’ll need some items in your portfolio to land most of the gigs advertised on these boards, so it’s probably not the best approach for a complete beginner. However, if you have a few good samples to show a potential client, writing job boards can be a great source of short-term and long-term freelance writing opportunities.

5. Networking

Building a network of bloggers and writers can help you find some writing work of your own. Successful bloggers often want to publish more posts than they can write on their own, and they’re willing to pay good writers to help them out. The pay might be a bit low in the beginning, but you can command better rates as you gain experience, and you can also earn more if you’re particularly well-versed on a topic. I’ve found it helpful to spend time on blogging forums and Facebook groups to make connections with the right people and find work with them. Another great way to find freelance writing jobs is by networking in your local area. For example, you might be able to find a group of bloggers that meet regularly through the site MeetUp.com. This is an excellent way to find long-term and very loyal clients.

6. Volunteer Opportunities

You may not earn any money helping out with volunteer writing assignments, but these unpaid gigs can provide valuable experience and can sometimes connect you to paid opportunities. Does your children’s school or your place of worship need help with their newsletter? Does a local charity need someone to create copy for their website? Perhaps you could contribute a few pieces to a small community newspaper. I always thought of my volunteer writing work as a series of internships, and I made sure to use these opportunities to polish my skills and get experience with new types of writing.

7. Writer Website

When you’re applying for freelance writing gigs using any of the methods I’ve described, you’ll need to figure out how to set yourself apart from the competition. A professional-looking writer website can be your secret weapon, showcasing examples of your best work and helping you stand out from the crowd. You can add examples of different types of writing that you’ve done, and your website will make it easy for prospective clients to learn about your expertise and get in touch with you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on various bells and whistles for a writer website: Just make sure the site is simple and clear to navigate. Your writing samples will speak for themselves.

Whether you’re a brand-new freelancer or you want to take your freelance writing career to the next level, you can use these freelance writing opportunities to find new sources of work and increase your pay. There are endless opportunities for freelance writers: blogs, online articles, product descriptions, local newspapers, marketing copy and eBooks. You may want to start out as a generalist, or you can leverage some of your existing knowledge and experience to position yourself as a specialist in a particular subject. Check out some of these great opportunities, and watch your work-at-home career flourish.