Freelance Writing Jobs: How To Start And Where To Find Lucrative Gigs
Do you love to write?
Do you wish you could write more?
Would you like to get paid for your writing?
If you answered “yes” to some or all of these questions, here's one more for you: what's been holding you back?
For a long time, I didn't think of myself as a “writer.” Sure, I wrote a lot for my work in public relations. I wrote speeches, press releases, promotion plans, and business correspondence.
But I didn't write for pleasure or for the benefit of educating or entertaining other people — or even for the experience of becoming a better writer.
I thought creative writing was for, well, creative writers, and I didn't put myself in that category. What I didn't realize is that all creative writers start out as mediocre or even poor writers until they have some experience and work at it.
Once I began writing for my own blog, for other blogs, for books, magazines, webinars, social media, and courses, I realized, “I am a creative writer!” And I also recognized how my writing improved with practice and experience.
Maybe you have some of the same limiting beliefs.
You might not think of yourself as a writer. Or maybe you're scared of rejection or think that you don't have what it takes. Maybe you think no one would hire you, or you wouldn't make any money with your writing.
One of the best ways to improve your skills, build your confidence, and create a steady income stream is through freelance writing jobs.
According to the most comprehensive survey of the U.S. independent workforce in nearly a decade,“Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce,” more than one in three workers in the U.S. (53 million people) are now freelancing.
With more businesses and contractors looking online to find writing support, the need for writers continues to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for writers and authors is projected to grow six percent from 2010 to 2020.
As a freelancer, you can determine your writing niche, set your own rates, determine your own schedule, and grow your business by outsourcing work to other independent contractors.
Anyone thinking about freelance writing jobs should consider these trends before getting started:
Write about more complex topics.
Rather than focusing your skill on the most popular, easy-to-write-about topics (like pets, parenting, travel, etc.), choose more complex and narrow topic niches like how to invest in penny stocks, or what to look for when buying washing machine belts. These topics may not be as interesting, but they are certainly where the money is.
Go after clients with bigger budgets.
At first you might need to take whatever freelance writing job you can get. But as you improve as a writer, look for organizations with bigger budgets that can pay you more and keep the projects coming your way.
Learn how to write longer blog posts.
Google rewards sites with beefier, longer content by moving them up in their rankings. This doesn't mean just taking longer to say the same thing. You need to look for new angles to create highly useful, relevant content that holds the reader's attention. Posts are now including images, infographics, and even video. You can earn several hundred dollars for each of these longer posts.
Check out brand journalism.
Brand journalism is an online magazine run by a business, like Coca Cola, American Express, etc. They create useful, magazine-style content in order to subtly promote their brands. Writing gigs for the online magazines generally pays well.
Pitch consumer magazines and trade publications.
Consumer and trade print magazines are still alive and kicking, and many new magazines are launching all the time. The newer publications are more likely to hire new writers, so do your research on publications that have recently hit the stands and start there. Many of these publications have good budgets for freelance writers, especially the trade publications.
Learn how to write web content.
Web site owners and businesses are always looking for great marketing and static copy for their sites. All businesses recognize the importance of having an internet presence to promote products and provide information about their goods and services.
This trend will only continue to grow as more and more businesses are building out their sites or revamping old sites.
Learn how to write video copy.
Video continues to boom, as businesses recognize the value of sharing information through this medium. From promotional videos to corporate training, video scripts require a special writing skill that might just be your speciality or passion.
Try your hand at email marketing copy.
Good marketing copywriters will always be in demand, and email marketing remains the most important way content creators and businesses promote to their followers.
This specialty writing niche pays well, as businesses rely on the right turn of phrase and messaging to compel readers to make a purchase or take an action.
Consider ghost-writing a book for a professional.
Professionals like financial advisors, lawyers, and CEO's recognize the value of having a published book, both to provide authority and name recognition, as well as to promote goods and services.
Learn the skills involved in writing and self-publishing, and you'll have some invaluable skills to offer to those who are willing to pay a substantial fee to have this kind of project handled for them.
Once you know how to write and self-publish books, you don't have to do it only as a ghost writer. You can write and promote your own books and create a passive income stream for years to come.
Learn how to write online courses.
Online and elearning course creation is a booming industry, producing $107 billion globally, according to an elearningIndustry.com report.
Corporations, universities, and individuals are cranking out online self-study training programs and courses, as it's so much less expensive than offering in-person programs.
Now that you have an idea of some of the trending areas to pursue as a freelance writer, it's time to think about where you can find the work.
There are hundreds are resources for finding these gigs, and it's good to go into the process with some idea of the kind of writing work you enjoy and want to pursue.
Also it's important to know your personal goals as you get started as a freelance writer.
- Do you want to build a full-time business as a freelance writer?
- Are you looking for a side gig in addition to your day job to boost your income?
- Are you hoping for a long-term contract or would you rather have a variety of different jobs to work on?
- Do you want to become an expert in one particular niche or type of writing?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you'll be better prepared to begin your search.
Here are some great places to find the best freelance writing jobs:
Guest Post for Bloggers
If you're just starting out, you may need to get some unpaid writing gigs under your belt before you start getting paid jobs. Anyone hiring you will want to see examples of your work, and writing guest posts on blogs is a great way to build your portfolio.
Many bloggers will accept unpaid guest posts relevant to the niche of the blog. Do your research to find larger blogs with a big following to give you more exposure and credibility. There may be more competition for publishing on these blogs, but if you're persistent and provide highly useful, well-written content, you'll eventually get your chance.
Be sure you check out the blogger's guest posting requirements and take a look at other posts on the site to ensure you're following the guidelines and style of each particular blogger.
You can also find blogs that will pay for guest posts once you have some experience. Here's a list of 25 sites that pay for posts.
Respond to Ads on Free Job Boards
Responding to ads on job boards is a great way to get some of your first freelance gigs. Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and other content providers run ads on these boards.
Advertisers will someones provide the rate they will pay, and others will ask you what your rate is. If you're not sure, look at other similar jobs that do post rates and start there.
You can check out the jobs on these sites:
Check Out Media Bistro
Media Bistro lists freelance and full-time creative jobs in a variety of media specialities — from writing to video production. Check out the “find a job” listings which advertise full-time, part-time, and freelance positions.
Grab The Morning Coffee Newsletter
FreelanceWriting.com publishes a daily newsletter featuring 10-20 handpicked freelance writing jobs from a variety of sources. You have to sign up to get the daily newsletter, or you can find the jobs listed on the Online Writing Jobs section of the site.
Sign Up for Upwork
Upwork is a global freelancing platform (free sign-up) where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate on projects, including writing and editing projects.
You can run an ad on Upwork promoting your writing services, and you can find writing jobs by searching through their jobs listings.
Freelancers pay Upwork a sliding scale fee based on total lifetime billings with each client: 20% for the first $500 billed to the client across all contracts, 10% for total billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000, and 5% for total billings with the client that exceed $10,000. (Clients pay a small processing fee.)
Upwork is a massive platform, which means there's a lot of opportunity but also less control and customer support. But it is definitely a great place to find a wide variety of writing jobs including blog and articles writing, academic writing, copywriting, creative writing, editing/proofreading, grant writing, technical writing, book writing, and web content writing.
Look for Book Ghostwriting Opportunities
Ghostwriting books is one of the most lucrative freelance writing gigs. You can make anywhere from $10,000 to more than $30,000 a book, depending on your experience and the type and length of the book.
Many professionals would love to write and self-publish a book, but they just don't have the time to produce it themselves.
One of the best ways to meet these professionals is to go to a variety of meetings: Chambers of Commerce, medical organizations, psychiatrist groups, networking breakfasts, CPA associations, charity organizations – any event where people gather.
Be sure you have a business card, writer resume, and writing samples with you to hand out. You might even write something on why every professional needs a book to give to prospective clients.
If you don't want to be involved in helping your client self-publish (you just want to write), then consider reaching out acquisition editors and literary agents for traditional publishing companies.
These are the people who suggest ghostwriters to those people who have a solid platform and a great idea for a book, but they don't have the time or the skills to write the book.
Other ways to get book writing gigs is by promoting yourself on freelance platforms like Upwork, Craigslist, and Freelancer.com.
Self-Publish and Sell Your Own Books
If you'd rather see your name as the author of your book rather than a client's, then bypass ghostwriting and write and self-publish your own books. It is much more rewarding and fun.
Self-publishing puts you in complete control of your writing (and income), and you don't have to pound the pavement looking for work
Yes, you do have a guarantee of payment with ghostwriting jobs, but if you know the skills of self-publishing, you'll make much more money in the long run, as you're creating an ongoing passive income stream. And the more books you write, the bigger the stream grows.
Having self-published 14 books myself, I can tell you that it's much easier than you might think, and it provides me thousands of dollars in income a month.
Learning how to self-publish books (the right way) takes some time and commitment, but it's not brain surgery! Check out our training program that teaches the exact process for every step you need to take.
Once you know how to navigate self-publishing, marketing, and selling your own books, you can always go back to ghostwriting if you wish, with the additional skill of knowing how to self-publish — which is something you can charge your clients for in addition to writing their books.
These are just a few ideas for finding freelance writing opportunities. If you love to write and have some skill at it, you won't have trouble finding regular writing work.
Every day, commit to taking a few actions to find writing work. Make it part of your morning routine. As your experience and reputation grows, you may find you have more work than you can handle!