Whether you’ve been to ProBlogger, Journalism Jobs, LinkedIn Jobs, The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs, or Media Bistro, you’ve probably come up against plenty of disappointment. It can be incredibly hard getting a reply when you apply to online freelance writing jobs. What could you be doing wrong?

Repeated rejection calls for introspection, not giving up. If you aren’t getting replies, you should first get a basic possibility out of the way.

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Are you only applying to jobs that you’re a good fit for?

When I started out, I would each day try to apply to anything that came up, from articles on pet food to ones on knitting, even if I didn’t have expertise in any of these subjects. I felt that since I wanted to be a writer, I simply needed to pick up anything that I wanted to write about, do some research, and go for it. I later found out this wasn’t how it worked. It wasn’t enough to get some interesting information on the subject I was writing about; if I wanted to get paid well and really be successful, I needed to bring truly fresh insight to each piece that I wrote.

As a one-time accountant, I had some experience with finance. One day, when I applied to a large local investment firm that wanted to put out a blog about savings and investments for families, I absently threw in a word about my past in accounting. It made all the difference, and I got the gig. It translated to thousands in income.

The lesson I learned was this: clients pay well when they believe that you are capable of delivering true insight, rather than just rehashed stuff obtained from quick research. When you come to them with some experience, (not necessarily extensive qualifications and experience), they’re willing to give you a shot.

What you need to do, then, is to decide what your area of expertise is based on your education, interests and experience, and work on truly getting up-to-date with original thoughts, opinions and learning. When you apply to jobs that are a great fit for you, it will show, and you will land an opportunity.

Don’t just apply, audition

It is usually not a good idea to apply to blind ads — ones that simply ask for writers or articles, without saying much about the project or about the nature of the business you are writing for. These tend to be non-serious jobs.

Instead, look for ads that give out a lot of information. Check out the website of the company asking for the writing, and try to absorb the character of their writing style. Then, use their own style when you apply to them. There’s a good chance that you will connect to them in this way. They will see how you are ready to hit the ground running, should they hand you the job.

If at all possible, you should let your personality shine through in your application. Talk about anything in your life that may make you more relevant. For instance, if it’s an electronics review website, point them to reviews that you’ve written on Amazon.

Remember, don’t submit a resume

It may seem as if a job ad that demanded a resume was a serious one. In reality, though, it is these jobs that tend to be one-shot affairs at low pay. Since such clients are usually willing to accept mediocre work and to not pay very well, they expect to get hundreds of applications; they hope that resumes will make it easier for them to quickly sift through what they have.

Good writing jobs tend to focus on specific niches, and to want writers who specialize in them. Since there aren’t usually many potential candidates, clients are able to determine the suitability of each client by actually interacting with them. At higher pay levels, this is what clients expect to do to vet an applicant, rather than look at a resume.

Major, well-paying projects simply want to see what you can do, rather than read about it. A couple of lines referencing the ad, a link to an article of relevance that you’ve written elsewhere, and a well-thought-out pitch for a great new article is all it takes.

If you go to sites like UpWord, stay upscale

Sites like UpWord, Freelancer and Elance tend to have hundreds of jobs posted at any given time; these are also jobs pursued by thousands, people who are willing to work for a pittance. This doesn’t mean that these websites are a waste of time. When you go on these websites, you need to look carefully for online freelance writing jobs that pay at least $50 for an hour of your time (not $50 an article). You can usually locate these postings by the dollar signs next to the names of the clients. If a client doesn’t have at least three dollar signs, you should look elsewhere. You tend to not have much competition for these high-paid articles — they tend to look for people with real expertise either in a specific niche, or in writing you beautifully. With these jobs, you’ll get to stand out.

Create your network

It should certainly be an important part of your strategy landing paying jobs to apply to advertisements and cold call potential clients. This shouldn’t be all you do, though. It should be a significant part of your overall strategy to build a network of contacts in the industry, of people who could hire you Building a professional quality website, advertising through targeted pay-per-click ads on the search engines and becoming an active and authoritative member in your niche on LinkedIn are all extremely important ways to move forward.