Wondering where all the GOOD freelance writing jobs hide out?
You’re not the only one.
Lots of freelance writers, especially beginners, go to Google and type in freelance writing jobs when they want to find work.
I’m guessing you’ve tried that yourself at least once.
So you already know there’s a ton of websites that put up freelance writing job ads, or run bidding wars in which writers compete to win gigs. But there’s too much to look at — you could spend hours scanning these opportunities and still be no closer to getting hired.
And when you check out blogs and podcasts for help, you quickly realise that they all recycle the same few tips… some of which are likely to work for the majority of people who use them properly, and some of which are MAJOR long shots that rarely work for anybody.
Problem is, you can’t tell which is which.
What you need is a way to narrow down your freelance writing job search and *only* do the things that are worth your time.
This guide shows you where to find good freelance writing jobs, how to get hired, and how to make yourself even more hireable (so you can win more work with more fantastic clients for more money).
You’ll probably find tips in here that are familiar to you, but you’ll also find ideas beyond the usual boilerplate advice — and sane expectations to balance the overoptimistic bullshit you might read elsewhere.
How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs That Don’t Suck
To be a freelance writer, you need people to pay you. Finding those people and having them agree to the arrangement is the hard part.
Looking for freelance writing jobs is not like it was five or ten years ago — thank gods!
Sure, there are some ways in which it’s gotten a little harder (for example, you have more competitors every day, and new trends and terminologies to keep up with), but it’s also MUCH easier in many other aspects (like there are more people and tools that help freelance writers find new gigs today than ever before).
Although there are lots of ways and places to look for writing gigs, they don’t all work equally well for everyone.
So my first tip for you is this: try a bunch of different methods to find out which ones give you the best results.
You’ll find plenty of ideas to try in this post. And if you give each one your best shot for, say, one week, then after a couple of months you’ll be able to see which of these approaches actually gets you hired the most.
(I know, I know, you were hoping I’d just give you a link to that one magical site that hands out easy, high-paying freelance writing gigs to anyone who wants them… But it doesn’t exist. Sorry.)
The best freelance writing jobs are hidden. They aren’t advertised on any website. And we’ll get to that a bit later on, but right now, let’s look at the sites where you *can* find good freelance writing job opportunities.
Where to Find Freelance Writing Jobs Online
You… ARE looking online, right?
I mean, it’s not that you can’t get freelance writing jobs offline — you totally can.
But when someone advertises a freelance writing job, they’re gonna do it online most of the time. And when you’re reaching out for unadvertised gigs, you’re gonna do most of that online too.
Here’s what the internet can offer to support your job search.
Freelance Writing Jobs Boards That Aren’t a Waste of Time
Yes, there are a bazillion freelance job boards, remote job boards, and writing job boards on your interwebs.
No, I don’t recommend you go look at all of them every day. HUGE waste of time!
Half of those sites exist only to get visitors to click on paid advertising or buy some kind of product. And most of them just list job ads they’ve scraped from somewhere else. (So you’ll see the same gig advertised on 50 different job boards, because they all copy the ads from each other — and you can tell, because they’ll even copy the typos!)
Your first step with job boards is to decide which ones are worth your while, and which ones to ignore.
And the best way to do that is by running this simple 3-step experiment:
Step 1: Go look at a job board, note how many of the jobs look suitable for you, and apply for them. (Don’t bother with ads more than a couple of weeks old, as they’re probably already drowning in candidates.)
Step 2: Repeat step 1 with another job board, until you’ve tested at least 3 different job boards in the same way.
Step 3: A couple of weeks after you complete step 2, check if there’s any pattern to the results you got. Did one site have more relevant job ads than the others? Was there one site that got you hired more often, or that at least got you more responses?
To make it easy for you to get started, I’ve narrowed the field to only my top 5 freelance writing job boards. Try them all, or take your pick:
#1: Freelance Writing Jobs Board
The best thing about this job board is that it’s updated every single day with a slew of new ads, including everything from medical writing to music journalism. Most of the ads are sourced from Indeed, so you could just go set up searches there instead. But this site has already done the filtering work for you, and it brings in a few ads from other sources too, so make life easy on yourself and use it.
#2: Freelance Writing Gigs
This site is set up like a blog where every day has a new post filled with one-line job ad links, categorized by the type of writing (content, copy, journalism, business, technical, etc, etc…). Most days you’ll get about 15-20 job links, usually sourced from site like Craigslist, Indeed, and BloggingPro. And you can always read older posts too, so it’s easy to drop in once a week and grab 100 or so fresh writing job leads.
#3: ProBlogger Jobs Board
Despite the name, this board often has ads offering copywriting jobs, social media management gigs, and other non-blogging opportunities as well as lots of blogging work. Pay expectations vary a lot — some ads don’t mention it, some offer about 5 cents per word, some suggest a realistic professional rate.
#4: All Freelance Writing Jobs Board
Although a lot of the ads on this site are curated from other places, the descriptions of each ad on the index page are detailed enough that you can skim through them fast and immediately decide what’s worth clicking for more information. There’s a handy guide to the rate range on each ad, too, so that you don’t waste time reading ads for gigs below your pay grade.
#5: Mediabistro Jobs Board
You’ll find plenty of freelance, part-time, full-time, or contract writing jobs in a wide variety of niches on this site (entertainment, finance, lifestyle, health, and more). Pay usually hovers around the entry to mid-level writer range. You might notice some very big brand names listed (if you’re looking to beef up your portfolio). The best part: jobs are coming in on the regular (over 100+ a week). But since this media jobs site isn’t 100% dedicated to the writing industry, only some of them will be for you.
Finished your job boards experiment already? Great! Let’s move on to…
How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs on Social Media
To avoid wasting your time, I’m not going to list every single social network as a separate way to find freelance blogging jobs.
(Seriously, I’ve seen some posts with titles like “20 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs” that basically go, “#1: LinkedIn, #2: Twitter, #3: Reddit, #4: Facebook, #5: Instagram…”)
Here’s the deal: EVERY social network gives you multiple ways to find freelance writing jobs.
Some of them are pretty obvious, like Reddit’s “remote writing gigs” board, or LinkedIn Jobs. But you’re not limited to social networks with their own built-in job boards. You can also find and follow *any* job board on other social networks — this is especially handy for keeping tabs on job boards where you don’t have any search notifications set up.
And following job boards is far from the only thing you can do. Here are 5 more easy tips for getting freelance writing jobs on social media:
- Search any network for words or hashtags like…
- pitch me
- write for us
- writers wanted
- …and so on. When you find people who post links to freelance writing job ads, follow them!
- Follow the editors and marketing directors at companies you want to work with.
- Update your social media bios, the “About” section on your profiles, etc etc, so it’s clear you write for money and are available to hire. Sometimes the gigs will come to you, if people know what you do or are searching their social networks for a writer.
- Use your social accounts to make friends, not just look for job ads. Friends are more likely to hire you than strangers! So be sociable, be helpful, and don’t be afraid to join a conversation if you’ve got something valuable to say.
- Don’t open a bunch of new social profiles just to look for work. Stick to a few social networks that you’ll actually use, and post or share something every once in a while that isn’t job-related. That way if a potential client looks you up, they won’t find a bunch of empty or abandoned profiles — just a real human being who writes for a living.
If social media just isn’t your thing, that’s fine — skip this section and move on to the next!
Freelance Service Marketplaces: Are They Worth Trying?
From Upwork to PeoplePerHour, these sites work great for people who’ve built up a strong profile with lots of good ratings. But it’s hard to get to that point from zero as a new user.
You have to get hired to get ratings, and you have to have ratings to get hired, so you go round in circles until somebody takes a chance and accepts your bid.
And who accepts a bid from a writer with zero feedback? Probably people who hope that an entry-level freelance writer will work for peanuts.
I still hear from some of my freelance writing friends that they’re making bank on Upwork or whatever, but I haven’t used a freelance writing marketplace in years. I’m pretty sure if I started a new profile on one today, it would take quite a while before I found a gig I wanted to bid for at a rate I’m willing to work for. 😉
In short, some people love freelance marketplace sites but I don’t recommend them unless you’re looking for a low-paid occasional hobby rather than a freelance writing career.
Not to worry! We’ve got plenty more ideas to try, such as…
How Agencies Can Give You Steady Writing Gigs
If you take a few seconds to hit Google, you’ll see that there are different types of agencies, and they deal in different types of writing.
Which ones should you look at? That depends on what kinds of writing you want to do, and what rates you want to earn.
So first off, let’s talk about the agencies and what they do for *their* clients. You’ve got advertising agencies, marketing agencies, PR agencies, specialist agencies in direct sales, content marketing, digital marketing, email marketing, and I could keep going with this list but I think you probably get the picture by now.
TL;DR: lots of different agency genres. Each one offers specific types of writing for its clients. So if you want to write emails, look up email marketing agencies, or if you want to write blog posts, go for content agencies, and so on.
The second thing you need to know about agencies is that some are good, but some are awful. I mean deep-dark-sweaty-hell awful, with low pay, limited opportunities, and the ever-present possibility that the client could simply reject your work and refuse to pay for it… no explanation required.
We call those “content mills”. They suck. I’m not going to list them here, because (A) there are too damn many and (B) I don’t want any newbies to go check them out based on my mention. AVOID.
How can you tell the difference between a genuine agency and a content mill?
My main rule of thumb is that a genuine agency will pay close to market rates for your work. They’re gonna take their cut before they hand you their client’s cash, and that’s fair because they brought you the gig.
Even a beginner should be able to earn $100 for writing a 1,000-word article or web page. So an agency may charge the client $150 or $200, and the client rate doesn’t even matter as long as you get a fair rate for *your* work.
But a content mill will offer you some stupefyingly low rate like $0.01 per word, leaving you working hours on an article of the same length and quality just to earn $10.
So find out about the rates you can expect to earn from any agency you’re considering, and run away if they lowball you.
To save you some time, I can tell you that I’ve either had good gigs or *know* people who’ve found good gigs at these agencies:
And if you want to explore the agency market in-depth, there are plenty of agency lists online that you can use for free, like this one at Clutch or this other one at The Manifest.
Speaking of lists, you can also cut out the agency middle-man by going straight to lists of publications that consider freelance writer pitches and submissions.
Find Paying Markets in Minutes with Directories
It’s so nice when you can get somebody else to do the hard work of finding and researching a whole bunch of potential gigs for you!
And that’s exactly what you get from writing market directories — information about who’s open to hiring freelance writers and how to contact them. Here are just a few to look at:
You can search this directory by keyword, so just type in “travel” or “business” or whatever you’d like to write about, and you’ll get a list of publications on that topic.
Who Pays Writers
This is a crowdsourced list of publications that pay, along with rates (the actual rates writers have earned, rather than a guideline rate) and how long it took to get paid.
All Freelance Writing Market Directory
In this directory you’ll find some smaller publications that aren’t listed on WritersWeekly, so
Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs
This is my own creation. It’s a list of blogs that pay writers $50 or more for a post, with details of what they publish and how much you can earn.
OK, now you know where to find freelance writing jobs online. But if you’re new to freelance writing, you probably also want to know how you’re gonna get your very first gig.
Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners: Do They Even Exist?
Yes, entry-level freelance writing jobs do exist.
And the type of writing is almost irrelevant. Any kind of freelance writing *can* be done by a writer without formal experience, given enough research and practice.
But there are some types of freelance writing that are kinda lower hanging fruit, easier to reach from ground level. So why not start there?
You can do this for a blog owner who doesn’t have time, for a multi-author blog that publishes freelance contributions, or for a business that uses its blog for content marketing. It’s a good way to get ongoing or retainer contracts because a blog needs regular fresh posts to keep it alive!
There are always small businesses all over the world that are building a website or web page, but either don’t know what to write on it, or don’t have the skills to write it well. Get a gig with just one of them, and you’ll be able to use each client’s results and testimonials to get the next, higher-paying gig.
Lots of businesses use short ebooks or reports as bribes to get potential customers to subscribe to their email list. Some also produce longer ebooks that they sell on Amazon and elsewhere to reach new audiences. They all have to be written by someone, so why not you?
(If you feel like that’s too big of a job for a beginner, go download a few free giveaway ebooks, reports, and brochures from small business websites. Read them. Could you do better? Yes, you could.)
To find freelance writing jobs that are suitable for a beginner:
- Look for job ads that don’t say you need experience.
- Ask friends and family to share your name or business card with anyone they think might hire you.
- Approach companies you’d like to work with.
YOU WILL NEED writing samples to win most gigs, even at entry-level. That’s OK though because you can publish your own to get you started!
I recommend publishing them on a third-party platform such as Medium or LinkedIn at first, rather than on a blog of your own, because those platforms have massive audiences — which means a higher probability of potential clients reading your work. (Plus it means you don’t have to deal with the technical side of running your own blog, unless you want to.)
Once you’ve broken the barrier of getting your very first freelance writing job, it’s time to start aiming for more and better-paid gigs.
Finding the Highest Paying Freelance Writing Jobs
Before we even get into which are the highest paying gigs, let’s settle the question on a lot of people’s minds when they consider this as a career option:
How Much Money Do Freelance Writers Make?
The answer is: it depends.
Surveys show that freelance writers earn anything from $0.01 to $2.50+ per word, $5 to $300+ per hour, and $5 to $5,000+ per piece of writing.
A lot of the differences in rates are down to the research required and the length and complexity of the piece. But that doesn’t mean your rates are beyond your control! It’s up to you to ask for a good rate, and walk away if you can’t get it.
For beginners, $0.10 per word or $500 for a week’s part-time work may be great. For an experienced writer, $0.50-1.00 per word or $500 per day is more appropriate.
OK, But What *Is* the Highest Paid Freelance Writing Job Right Now?
Here’s the deal: the highest paying gigs are the ones where the client stands to make the most money from what you write.
So sales pages usually pay better than blog posts, case studies usually pay better than tweets, and so on. But it isn’t only about the medium or the type of writing.
The highest-paid freelance writing jobs are in industries where high pay is normal, and they’re on topics that a lot of people want to read.
Right now, one key market is cannabis writing. It’s growing fast, and has recently reached the point where writing skill becomes more important than direct subject matter expertise. (In other words, they’ve realised that a lot of weed geeks don’t write well!) So now any writer willing to research and interview sources can get high-paid gigs writing about cannabis.
Other high-paying markets that will keep going strong are technology, business, health, and finance. So if you have any knowledge of those topics, start hunting for those high-paying gigs… and if you don’t have the background for them, consider learning more so that you can move into one of those niches!
Now you know where to find jobs, and you know how much you should be earning. But we haven’t talked about how to apply for a gig, so let’s look at that next.
7 Ways to Get a Freelance Writing Job
Looking at freelance writing jobs online is a big waste of time unless you actually reach out and win gigs.
Many freelance writers feel daunted by the prospect of contacting a business about working with them. They tend to look for easy short cuts that don’t really exist, and spend too much time procrastinating instead of making contact.
The sad thing about it is that responding to online job ads isn’t even the best way to get hired! Ideally, you want to squirrel out the gigs that *aren’t* being advertised anywhere because then you have fewer competitors and you get to choose who you approach.
A million job ad applications won’t get you hired as easily as a few well-placed emails (or tweets, or whatever) to the right people at the right times. So check out these 7 tips for getting hired beyond job boards and agencies…
1. Show Off Your Online Portfolio
You need a place online where people can learn more about you, see examples of your work, and contact you. It doesn’t have to be your own website or blog — it could be your LinkedIn profile with projects and posts attached, or a profile on a portfolio site like Contently or Clippings.me.
2. Dare to Cold Email Potential Clients
Don’t be afraid to email someone who’s never heard of you before, if you believe your writing services could be helpful to them! In your message, make sure to catch their attention at the start and include:
- How you can help them (put this part first so they have a reason to keep reading)
- What you’re pitching: blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy revamp?
- Who you are
- How you found out about them
- What you want them to do now (just one simple thing)
Keep it short – no more than 100 words max, plus either a selection of 3-5 ideas for things you could write for them, or a more detailed outline of one thing.
If you’re wondering how you can find out about publishers who aren’t advertising, it’s really simple. Just google “niche X company”, “best blogs for topic X”, and so on, to find businesses that might be a good fit.
Or reverse engineer your prospect list by looking at other freelance writers’ bios online, finding their portfolios, then checking out who they’ve written for and pitching to those places yourself. 😉
3. Take Time to Warm Up Before You Email
Yes, I just said not to be afraid of emailing people you don’t know. Now I’m gonna tell you that it often works even better if you DO get to know each other a little before you suggest working together.
Warm email works on the same basic principle as cold email, but with one crucial difference: first, you spend time building a degree of connection and rapport with the person you’re going to pitch to, and only then do you ask for a gig. So follow them on social media, email them to say you liked something they published or shared, and basically find out what kind of writing help they actually need so that you can offer it to them!
4. Use Guest Blogging to Win Paid Gigs
Every time you have a guest post published on someone’s website, regardless of whether it’s free or for pay, you’ll usually have an author bio at the end of your guest post. Use that short bio to tell people they can hire you, and include a link to your portfolio and contact details.
That way, if your guest posts are on sites where your ideal clients will be reading, they’ll see you as an authoritative writer on their topic and be more likely to think of you if they need to hire a writer. (This kind of inbound marketing can keep on bringing new clients even years later.)
If you’re not sure how to go about getting a guest post spot on a popular blog, check out my book How to Pitch a Blog Post for a full step-by-step explanation of what to do.
5. Hang Out with Other Freelance Writers
Whether you do this online or offline is up to you. Either way, it’ll boost your business to spend time with other writers, because not only will you make friends who actually understand what you do for a living, but you’ll also get to pick their brains for ideas and advice, hear about gigs that might be opening up, and maybe even get referrals from writers with more offers than time.
6. Go Where the Clients Are
Lots of writers are members of 20 different writer groups online, but haven’t joined any of the groups their ideal clients are in. That’s a big missed opportunity!
If you want to write for artists and art lovers, join an “art business owners” group. If you want to work with fitness coaches, join a group full of them. Lots of these groups are open to anyone, but even if it’s a closed group there’s no harm in asking to join.
Consider going to local in-person business events too, as a way to meet a bunch of potential clients all in the same room at the same time. If there’s a really good event outside your local area, it can be worth traveling to meet *more* of your ideal clients.
Another idea to try is getting in touch with web developers, graphic designers, print shops, business coaches, and anyone else whose customers frequently need words for their site / storefront display / brochure / whatever it is.
You can easily create your own networking opportunities, too. Email someone at a local-ish company you’d be glad to work with and ask if they’ll meet you for a coffee and chat. Get to know them, their job, and spot how your services can make their work easier. Your goal isn’t to get hired immediately, but to find out how you can help them.
7. Ask Your Old Clients to Send You New Gigs
This is really just networking with people who’ve already hired you at least once and letting them know when you’re open for new projects. That way they can (A) book you themselves, if they want, and (B) refer new clients your way if they hear that anyone needs a freelance writer.
A single recommendation from someone who has paid you to write for them is more compelling than any number of referrals from your grandma, your best friend, or other non-clients.
So stay in touch with past clients, drop them an email every once in a while just to see how things are going for them, and congratulate them on things like birthdays, new hires, website redesigns, or whatever cool stuff is happening in their lives.
How to Win *More* Freelance Writing Jobs
If you can win one gig, you can win more and better gigs. Here are just a few things you can do to make it easier every time.
Choose a Niche (or Two)
When people see you as a specialist writer on their topic rather than a generalist, they’re more likely to hire you, and at better rates. So pick one or two areas that you want to focus on with your writing work, and start promoting yourself as a specialist in those things. Don’t stress over the choice too much — you can always change it later.
Promote Your Published Work
The more people see it, the more potential clients you’re getting in front of. So keep on sharing the links to your online work, even months after it’s published. Just don’t be that asshat who posts *nothing but* links to their own work. Throw some other shares in to break it up!
Focus on Outcomes
The real key to getting hired (and this hasn’t changed in, like, forEVer) is to show that you can give the client the outcome they need – whether that’s website traffic, opt-ins, sales, or something else.
If you’re publishing your own writing online, it’s probably got some kind of feedback mechanism attached – claps on Medium, likes on Facebook, and so on. If you’ve had writing published somewhere that doesn’t come with any kind of on-screen metrics, ask the publisher if they’re willing to share those figures with you. And once you’ve got the numbers, add them to your portfolio as proof that your writing does the job.
A big part of what gets you hired is being known and liked. If other writers know and like you, they tip you off about opportunities or even put your name forward for gigs they don’t plan to accept. If potential clients know and like you, they’ll come to you when they decide they need a writer. And if your current and past clients like you, they’ll bring you more work — and refer new clients to you as well.
Your Next Freelance Writing Job Is Waiting
Yes, some of the best gigs may be hidden, but now you know where and how to find them.
So don’t let your knowledge go to waste. Use some of the advice in this post to find freelance writing jobs that suit you, and be diligent in testing out different resources and approaches to see what works best to get you hired.
You have nothing to lose but a little time, and lots of awesome freelance writing gigs to gain.
Make this the year you started winning great freelance writing jobs and never looked back!
To be honest, Sophie, your post is so educative and informative .
I appreciate your competence on the subject matter. You are a really amazing and influential teacher. I hope you’ll be my best teacher.
Roshan Kumar says
the freelancing idea is good, I will start in spare time.
Cassie Journigan says
Excellent article with advice and leads I haven’t seen elsewhere. I’m bookmarking this page!
Very good Intel. I am looking to start freelance writing. This is very helpful.