In ~10 years of professional blogging and writing, I’ve learned a few tips about freelance writing. Today, I’m going to answer some of the biggest questions from aspiring freelance writers and share some top places to find freelance writing work.
Before you get into freelance writing work, here are some things to consider:
What Kind of Writing Work?
Firstly, you need to determine what kind of work you want.
If you are a blogger, there are plenty of blogging and ghost blogging jobs (that is, blogging without credit to your name).
However, you may feel ready to step out of that box and into brand ambassadorship, writing product descriptions, or copywriting. You’ll need experience in whatever area you step into, so if you have any, add it to your resume. If you know of close contacts in these fields, consider offering your services on a limited or low cost basis, once or twice, to get your feet wet. I do not advise making a habit of this but assisting companies and brands is always beneficial.
Pay for writing varies greatly. Some gigs pay by the word, some offer flat fees.
Because competition is stiff, newbies may believe they cannot write for anything more than a few dollars.
My first gig paid $0.05 per word, which is not great but it’s far more than $5 for 500 words.
Another thing you need to consider is that some sites pay revenue share rather than a word count – that is, you get a share of the advertising. Other sites provide reader votes or quantity bonuses, while regular pay is quite low or nonexistent.
While making a few dollars for a post may feel great right now, down the road it’s going to seem like you’ve done a lot of work for almost nothing in return.
Pro Tip: Never Write For Free (Or Cheap)!
You might be beginner who is just trying to break into the freelance writing scene, but, that doesn’t mean that you write for free or dirt cheap prices.
This is a bad practice. You will come across many clients in the job portals and even in Facebook who would ask you to write for free samples. Reject it.
It worked for me for a short time, but if you don’t feel comfortable starting out with such low pay, instead offer to guest post about a topic you are passionate and knowledgeable about. Contributing to something you care about will motivate you to write well and can establish your reputation. Otherwise, you cannot guarantee that the amount of income you receive will be worth your time and effort, and you may be tempted to write a lower quality piece.
Where to Publish Your Sample Posts
If you don’t have a website or your blog is too personal, you’ll need a portfolio of writing pieces online.
Most job ads will request writing samples – allowing you to get a decent gig without much experience. You can create a website easily by following these instructions; or head on to Clippings.Me to upload your writing samples. Clippings.Me is a professional, polished, and targeted for writers. You can load unlimited clippings for free.
Where to Find Freelance Writing Jobs?
In 2008, I landed my first blogger job after months of applying at some of the sites listed below.
I had no prior paid experience, but I did have a track record already as a long time blogger in that niche, SEO and web design experience.
Remember to apply to any job on these boards the same way you’d apply to any other job: write an effective cover letter that focuses on the prospective client, upload a professional resume and submit tailored writing samples.
1. Problogger Job Board
Brought to you by the trustworthy folks at ProBlogger, this board primarily lists blogging work and that’s why it’s the first source I go to. In addition, many of the ads here are fairly comprehensive in telling you exactly what you need experience-wise and pay parameters. Jobs are broken out by blog network positions vs. job offers from companies. Offers plenty of blogging advice on the main site as well.
It’s categorized according to section, “Content Writing Jobs,” “Blogging Jobs,” and so on, allowing you to check out writing jobs that are not strictly blogging but in areas such as translation or educational materials.
You can also subscribe and have jobs delivered to your inbox. The blog also offers lots of advice for landing jobs.
This board is primarily for local work in media, so if you live near a major city or an area they cover, you’ll want to check into these job listings regularly.
They do have freelance work and remote jobs from time to time as well, although many of these are full time gigs in all areas of media. This is a convenient place to search for jobs by location. This site also offers latest news about media and a host of paid training options.
Similar to Media Bistro, this site also allows you to search by job type (blogger, writer). Don’t be intimidated by the site name; there are local blogger jobs available here. Also offers lots of advice and training in the field, as well as journalism news.
Be very cautious with this one but you can find local and possibly remote work on this site.
Often ProBlogger and Freelance Writing Gigs will pick up the quality ads from this site, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t find work nearby through CraigsList. The problem here is that some of these links can be spammy. If it looks and feels like an ad or is simply screaming, “work from home!” you can be sure it’s spam.
This newsletter is subscribed to through FreelanceWriting.com and is an excellent source for freelance blogging work. The weekly email has a short description so that you only need to click on the links that apply to you. This is one of my most valuable resources, so I suggest you sign up right away.
Because of its nature as a professional site, LinkedIn is a great place to search for jobs, detail your work experience, collect endorsements and connect with the companies and fields you’d like to work for. In addition, you select what you are seeking from contacts and how you’d like them to reach out to you.
While it’s not my top resource for finding work, I have landed some interesting projects through my contacts.
This option is going to work best for you if you can take temp jobs on short notice, live near a large city, and are looking for writing work that employs more like full time – that is, working for full days or weeks at a time and most likely onsite for a client. I’ve recently signed up with The Creative Group and Creative Circle.
Where Else to Find Writing Work?
I’ve gotten some of my best work writing for friends and family, for full pay so leave no stone un-turned.
Search for local companies that you’d like to be a part of and hunt for targeted magazines accepting pitches in your niche. In-person events and conferences round out my list of places where I have landed writing contracts.
These sources will get you started in landing your first well-paying freelance writing job and building your skills set.
Other ways to find and keep writing clients include:
1. Have a blog
My first paid gig was writing for a big name brand – American Greetings (AG). Because I had already been blogging for years, I had a leg up on other applicants but I made sure AG knew I was a fan and understood their audience.
Blogging provides great editorial, writing and proofreading experience. Position your blog in the niche you want to write for: lifestyle if you want to work with brands, techie if you want to do science or technical writing, style if you want to work in fashion, etc.
If you are attending events to find brands and companies to work with, it’s not enough to drop your business card and media kit at each of them.
Review who is going to be at the event and select your top 5 or 6 to make contact with. Engage with the brand before you get to the event. Brainstorm creative ways that you can work with them ahead of time and why they should hire you over anyone else. What will you do for them that no one else can do as well?
Other Freelancing Jobs
If writing isn’t quite your cup of tea, don’t worry about it. After all, this is the gig economy and that has expanded to the work from home scene as well. Today, there are so many jobs that you can do remotely whether on a freelance or full-time basis.
If that thought has you stumped, let’s take a look at some of the possibilities.
1. Virtual Assistant
This is one of the first jobs that comes to mind for me as a small business owner. Many times I have often found myself wishing I had an extra pair of eyes simply to help me scan for more relevant information.
As a writer and editor, a large part of my job is ensuring that I offer my clients content which features the most accurate information possible. With someone who could take care of looking up information and fact-checking areas which I need, I work considerably faster.
There are many small business owners like me who could use the help, and not just in research. They could do with assistants to help them in scheduling, minor errands, and more.
What You’ll Need
Personal computer, stable Internet connection, webcam, and preferably some scheduling software to help you keep track of everything.
Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs
Your best bet would be a job portal like Upwork, PeoplePerHour or Freelancer.com where you can post your skills, availability, and rates. This works for you in two ways. The first is that your profile will get a constant stream of visitors. The second is that it opens up more opportunities.
That’s right – just because you’re a research assistant, doesn’t make you exclusive. As long as you can cope with the workload, you’re free to take on as many clients as you wish concurrently.
2. Content Creator
As the name implies, Content Creators do exactly that. Think stuff like YouTube, but the scope actually extends beyond that. Content Creators actually build content with many different types of intention.
Some entertain while others educate. For example, if you’re an excellent cook and find yourself constantly being asked for your recipes – you might have just found your next job. Create videos of you making some of your favorite dishes and share them on YouTube.
If that’s not your cup of tea, teach a course and record that. If you have experience or deep knowledge in specific areas, you can build your own courses and sell those. From content such as this, you can either earn through advertising or from the cost of sales of your videos.
What You’ll Need
A high-performance personal computer to help you with streaming or video rendering, some video editing software, excellent Internet connection, plus a good webcam and mic.
Where to Find Content Creator Jobs
This depends on what type of content creator you want to be. For general content, YouTube is the most popular. For online courses, you can look towards a platform like Udemy. Twitch is a good place if you plan to do live game streaming.
3. Social Media Manager
The role of Social media Manager is fairly new to the market, but it’s actually a marketing job. Your role will be to promote a company and its products or activities via social channels. Be prepared to look past just Facebook and Twitter though – there are so many social media channels today.
To do this you’ll need skills in creating short, engaging content with a variety of captivating visuals. It requires an agile mindset, some knowledge of how minds work on social channels, plus the willingness to adapt quickly.
This can possibly work even with just a mobile device and internet connection.
Where to Find Social Media Manager Work
Most job platforms will have at least a few Social Media Manager recruitment offers. However, you can also do your own research on companies you like and approach them with your own proposals directly.
4. Data Entry
Perhaps the most menial among remote work jobs, data entry is simple but tedious. Still, at the end of the day, it offers remote workers the opportunity to bring home the bacon without having to step foot out of their homes.
Requirements are also fairly low since all you’ll need to do is enter stacks of data or other information into a designated system or format. Be expected to face many lowball offers though since this is something almost anyone could do.
What You’ll Need
A computer, internet line, decent typing skills, and a godly amount of resilience.
Where to Find Data Entry Work
These jobs are so common that you’ll likely find them anywhere. Hit sites like Freelancer.com or FlexJobs and post your profile on others such as Fiverr.
5. Graphic Designer
If you’re a creative type, the good news is that there is still a huge demand for all sorts of visuals. From unique works of art to standard churn-and-burn web banner designs, you can work remotely creating all sorts of stuff.
You will also have the opportunity to work according to your preference. For example, if you want to stick to the single-company format, you can sign up with one and work full time remotely on their art.
However, if you’re a specialist and think you can earn more doing custom designs then it’s best to do this on an assignment basis. You’re the boss, so design your own work plan.
What You’ll Need
Decent computer, design software (the type varies depending on what kind of art you’ll be designing), possibly a printer, and excellent creativity! I also recommend you create your own website as that will let you showcase your work to potential customers.
Where to Find Graphic Designer Jobs
There are graphic designer jobs on literally every single job platform existing, so just look around on places like Indeed or even Linkedin.
6. Software Developer / Application Developer
Although I use a generic term here, Developer actually refers to most technical programming jobs existing. You could be a Scrum master, game developer, Android developer, or any other sort.
Most of these jobs don’t require you to actually be in an office, so feel free to bang away on your keyboard from home. The job market is flush in the digital economy and you’ll find that a wide array of skills are constantly required.
What You’ll Need
Solid programming skills, A PC with Internet Connection, plus lots of coffee and pizza.
Where to Find Software Developer Jobs
Again, these jobs are so common that you’ll find them in a variety of places. For stable work I recommend you try a professional platform like Linkedin. If you prefer contract work, look for a more specialized platform for programmers such as RubyNow, GitHub, Gigster, or Gun.io.
7. Dropshipper / Affiliate Marketer
Before I start on this – I want to let you know that these roles are not easy to fill without experience. However, the potential is vast and you have the chance to become your own boss.
Dropshipping or Affiliate Marketing doesn’t require you to build your own products – you simply sell them in your own way. Anything you sell will get you a commission – you don’t even have to keep an inventory or stuff.
Build a website and promote the products you want to move. Once a visitor buys something off your site, your account will get credited. Earn enough and you can cash out. The mechanics are as simple as that.
Where to Find Dropshipper / Affiliate Marketer Jobs
This is the one job on this list that you don’t need to apply for. Simply build your own website. However, to sign up with affiliate programs you’ll need to decide what niches you want and apply to those programs directly.
8. Translator / Transcriber
If you don’t think you can write, translating is something you can do if you have a talent for languages. Thanks to the global economy, companies often have to work in multiple languages today. This can apply to almost all kinds of content, from website text to instruction manuals.
Localization is a big thing and you’ll see it almost everywhere you go. Freelancing as a translator has the potential to bring in a steady income even working remotely. If you can’t translate – transcribe!
Transcribing is simply converting audio to text, so you’ll need to listen and type.
What You’ll Need
Computer with Internet line, a word processing application, and lots of time.
Where to Find Translator / Transcriber Jobs
These jobs are fairly common as well and you can find them on most listing sites Indeed. It would be better if you would post your offer on a work site like Fiverr since that will help you attract customers who fit your price requirements.
9. Beta Tester
Testing is part of the quality assurance process and believe it or not, companies will pay you even to test websites. These are usually more limited time roles though and the process you need to follow will vary depending on whom you’re working for.
Basically you’ll be given a checklist and told to run though whatever you’re testing and jot down notes and observations as you go along. The basic idea runs along two lines – did it work and how your experience was like.
What You’ll Need
Requirements vary depending on what you’re asked to test. At the minimum, a computer and Internet line, plus word processing application.
Where to find Beta Tester Jobs
These are a bit more specialized and you won’t find them commonly available. Look towards sites like USerlytics and TesterWork. On occasion, you might find some on job posting sites like Indeed as well.
More Places to Find Work-from-home Jobs
There are so many places to find remote work or work-from-home jobs nowadays that we can actually begin to categorize them. For example;
General Job Listing Sites
These sites allow you to post a profile or resume in the hopes that someone will contact you for your work offer.
These sites cater to job seekers and employers for specific fields. Some may only list one type of work, while others may choose a few.
Toptal-Toptal covers the top 3% of freelancers but only in their fields of software development, design, finance, and product management.
GitHub – This site specialize in software development and other areas of programming. It also includes a specialized job area for those roles.
SolidGigs– Doesn’t specialize in specific fields, but lists jobs specifically for freelancers if that’s what you’re looking for.
Behance– Job listings for creative types like designers, architects, or fashion.
SalesGravy– If you’re the king of the pitch then SalesGravy is for you. This site is a massive repository for all jobs involving sales.
How Can I Stand Out from the Crowd?
1. Volunteer Where Your Passion Is
One of my current clients kept me in mind because I was passionate about the cause for GMO labeling, just as she is.
I wrote a number of articles in that campaign’s infancy, and she eventually hired me to her team. As a result, bloggers in the natural living sphere know me and hire or refer me to other people looking for writers. That’s because I also keep active in this community, supporting their causes. Don’t just volunteer; become active and engaged with the bloggers who are doing work that you really care about.
2. Over deliver
The old cliché in business goes, “Under promise and over deliver.”
While you should be creatively pitching prospects, promising less while deciding ahead of time to build in “extras” for your client makes you look good and gives you breathing room in case of disaster. For one client, I was her “go to” person for emergencies for a period of time. This can be inconvenient and is not always an option, nor should it be a long-term requirement, but it can build your reputation quickly and easily. How can you “over deliver” for your prospects and clients?
3. Communicate Issues Before They Blow Up
Real life is full of miscommunication, missed deadlines and missed opportunities.
If this happens with a potential or current client, take the high road. Admit when you’ve done something wrong or if you are uncertain. Take steps to make it better. Recently, a miscommunication between two of my clients caught me in the middle. I discussed the issue with both of them and declined a job to keep them happy. They did not resolve their issues, but they appreciated my honesty and gesture.
So far, being honest has never made a situation worse; it has only improved things or ended an unwanted client relationship.
4. Get to Know the Client Personally
When possible, have a direct conversation with your client.
For small clients this is a wonderful way to brainstorm ideas, find common ground and put you top of mind. One of my upcoming clients is a vendor of services for my family, however, we have built a relationship on our common philosophy. When she was looking for a writer, she thought of me. I took what I knew from our time together and pitched her services over and above what she was requesting. Now she is considering me for even bigger responsibilities on her team.
About Gina Badalaty
Gina Badalaty is the owner of Embracing Imperfect, a blog devoted to encouraging and assisting moms of children with special needs and restricted diets. Gina has been blogging about parenting, raising children with disabilities, and allergy-free living for over 12 years. She’s blogs at Mamavation.com, and has blogged for major brands like Silk and Glutino. She also works as a copywriter and brand ambassador. She loves engaging on social media, travel and cooking gluten-free.