As a freelance writer, you’re likely constantly searching for well-paying, recurring gigs. But often the pickings are slim. You might feel stuck with one-off assignments that pay only meager returns.
That’s not the case with grant writing.
Why you should consider writing grants
Grant writers are in high demand for nonprofits hoping to raise money for operations, capital expenses, events, and programs. The work pays well: you can charge about $25 an hour starting out and work your way up to $100 an hour, though this will vary depending on where you live.
Even better? Often, nonprofits are looking to enter into long-term contracts with a reliable grant writer. They may have a large volume of grants due every month, so you can earn good, steady income – all while working from home. ().
But how do you write a grant?
If you’ve never written a grant before, you should consider taking a course on grant writing and even earning your certification. Introductory grant writing courses are usually available at community colleges and universities, or you can find that will cover the basics over the course of just a few weeks.
From there, you may want to pursue a more strenuous course through the . There are lots of certification programs out there, but this one is the most extensive and well respected.
I decided not to get certified because I felt I had significant experience in grant writing to launch my business, but if you’re just starting out, certification can help you gain credibility and overcome a limited background in this type of work.
Connect with organizations that rely on grants
One way is to start volunteering at a nonprofit — even if your tasks are nowhere near grant writing. Assist at fundraising auctions, help an office with data entry, join a board, work a phone bank, solicit event sponsorships — any of these options will help you get a foot in the door with a nonprofit.
Contributing your time to administrative and fundraising initiatives will help you see the inner workings of this type of organization, more so than direct-service volunteering. You’ll start to build connections as you build your business. Nonprofits often form a small, tight-knit community, so your volunteering will help get your name out there — and maybe even turn into a paying gig.
Find a fundraising community and build your network
Join your regional professional fundraisers organization or local nonprofit employee organization. Any professional organization along those lines that meets regularly is a good place for you to shop your services.
Other professional groups can be helpful, too. Maybe there’s a young professionals group that meets for cocktails and networking, or something similar. These won’t be as directly helpful as shaking hands directly with nonprofit professionals and other fundraisers, but it can’t hurt to get your name out there.
Establish your business
Make business cards, build a website, and add your grant writing work to your email signature; these are all great ways to create a legitimate business and to market your services effectively. And when you attend networking events, hand out as many business cards as you can.
I find that even though grant writing is a growing profession — especially among freelance writers — there’s still lots of room for more writers.
Consider volunteering your grant writing services to a local nonprofit as you’re starting out. While I wouldn’t recommend doing this for too long, it will help you build a solid portfolio. Having a few grants under your belt and a nonprofit or two to vouch for you will help you eventually sell your services as a paid grant writer.
Have you written grants before? Would you consider this kind of freelance writing?