Those looking to work from home have far more opportunities available than they may initially think. Freelance writing jobs, for example, offers dozens of shots for freedom to the right individual. Every blogger and website owner needs online content, after all. In today's Internet Age, there are plenty of freelance writing jobs for beginners to choose from. Good grammar and research skills are all that is needed.
From product descriptions to blog posts to expert articles and eBooks, there is a little something for every aspiring freelance writer.
Skills Required for Freelance Writing
You must have above par English and grammar skills. In addition to being able to write well, you also need to be organized and self-motivated to work at home.
I highly recommend signing up with Grammarly. This tool will help detect grammar and spelling errors. It also includes a plagiarism checker.
It is also a good idea to start a website or blog to share links to published articles with those interested in your services. A service like clippings.me can provide a free alternative until if and when you are ready to invest in a blog of your own.
Google Drive is a popular choice for word processing and sharing files with clients.
You need some type of accounting system to keep track of money in, money out and money owed. Our favorites:
- Quickbooks Online – $12.95 per month, unlimited invoicing
Getting Started Writing Online
Make it easy on yourself and avoid trying to appeal to the masses. It will be far easier to market yourself and demand a good wage if you can offer specialized services. That applies to writing as well. If you want to learn how to be a freelance writer, first assess your knowledge and identify your specialties.
If you come from an educational or medical background, there is a large demand for that knowledge online. If you have a passion for travel, fashion or food, there is plenty of room for you too. Anyone can rehash general information. Website owners and bloggers are looking to hire those that know what they are talking about and can connect with readers on a personal level. Don’t leave anything off the table! If you are great at coupon matchups, there is a job out there for you.
How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs
There are a number of places to find entry-level writing jobs. First and foremost, reach out to your personal network. You likely know a few bloggers or small business owners, ask if they need help (or know someone who does). A few places to find clients online:
Social Media – Make sure your social media bio includes your new freelance writer title. You can also search for jobs on social media platforms and follow popular hashtags such as #freelance, #jobs, #hiring, #joblisting and more.
- Search the LinkedIn Job Board
- The Careful Cents Club
- Facebook for Freelancers
- VAs for Hire
- Virtual Assistants for Bloggers
- Shops for Blog Content
Search Engines – Hit up your favorite search engine when looking for freelance writing clients. Optimize your search settings only to include those results in the past 7-14 days. You should also set up Google Alerts for phrases like “freelance writer wanted” or “freelance writer needed.” Google will then send you an email whenever these phrases are published.
Be Careful with Content Mills. – There are many beginner freelance writing jobs to be found at so-called “content mills.” These are essentially sites that act as a middleman between the writer and the client. While there may be plenty of work at these sites, you may be starting out at around $.01 per word. That is $5 for a 500-word article. That may be acceptable if you stick within your industry of expertise and can whip out articles in 10 minutes. But if it is taking you one hour to research and write an article, that isn’t such a good deal. That being said, these sites that don't require prior experience can be a great place to get your feet wet and see if the industry is for you.
High-Paying Freelance Writing Jobs
The following freelance writing gigs may require a degree, technical knowledge or simply strong grammar skills and understanding of the unique demands of online content. Many of these pay upwards of $50 per article. In some cases, they are salary positions. All have an ongoing need for freelance writers.
- Webster Tech Writers – This site posts gigs for advanced technical writers in a variety of fields. Degree often required. In some cases, writers need to be local.
- The Dollar Stretcher – Topics are saving money and time. Writers are compensated $0.10 per word.
- Universal Class – Instructional writers are paid 4 – 7 cents per word. The current need is instruction videos. These video courses are 7-12 videos, 8-12 minutes in length. Awarded projects average $3,000 – $10,000.
- Pro Blog Design – Writers are paid $70 – $125 for in-depth tutorials and discussion-based blog posts. Topics include WordPress, web design, usability, etc.
- About.com – Payment information will be provided in a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This is an opportunity worth pursuing and does come with high-profile publishing opportunities to the Guide. Numerous niche topics are available based on your expertise. Please be aware there are two opportunities: Guides and Topic Writers. Guides is the more lucrative of the two.
- World Start – This website provides tech tips. Pay is approximately $0.10 per word.
Miranda Nahmias has an excellent 5-day client challenge that I recommend for any freelancer. It's definitely a kick in the pants. And, it's free.
The Best Job Boards for Freelance Writing Jobs
Time is one of our most precious resources – especially when you’re a freelance writer hustling to find work. When you spend all day chasing down leads, and then making sure those leads aren’t scams or deadbeats? Then you have to find the energy and focus to pitch an editor? Well, that’s not the freelance life working for you. That’s you working for the freelance life. And that’s a ratio you need to reverse. NOW. Don’t waste another second!
To help you with that, I’ve put together a list of 10 of the top freelance writing job boards out there today. Add one or some of these to your daily routine and watch your freelance career take off. Find more quality jobs, better-paying gigs, and spend more time doing exactly what you want.
FlexJobs is one of the most well-known and well-respected freelance job boards out there for a reason – they’ve earned their reputation by offering regular job listings screened for spam and presented in a robust, searchable database. They have dozens of job categories and subcategories, and you can filter your results to only include remote positions. FlexJobs also comes with a bevy of perks: they will review your résumé for you (for free!), provide fast email notifications for jobs you may be interested in, and they offer over 170 skills tests in 30 categories – from Computer Skills to Web Designing to Writing and Publishing and more. Take one of their skills tests, score better than 70%, and that skill test result will be shared on your profile for prospective employers to see! FlexJobs is a subscription service but, at $14.95 per month (down to about $4.16 per month if you pay annually), it’s a bargain.
Problogger’s Jobs board is one of the most high-profile free job boards you’ll find: new jobs are listed regularly and companies have to pay for their gigs to be listed, which should weed out most scammers. You can search jobs by job type, category, keyword and more. They also offer a host of free resources to make you a better freelancer; you’ll find their blog is updated often with useful content, and then there’s a podcast and selection of ebooks as well. The biggest downside to Problogger Jobs is that many of the job listings tend to pay poorly, but you can find some good clients with patience and attention.
BloggingPro is well-known (and similar to Problogger Jobs), albeit with less additional resources to recommend it. Still, you can sort job searches at BloggingPro by keywords, location, and category – pay attention to the location to ensure you’re only looking at jobs that are listed as “remote,” “anywhere,” and “telecommute” since they do also list geographical location-dependent jobs. You’ll also find a series of articles here offering WordPress tips, and a selection of books they recommend for bloggers and other creatives.
The Freelance Writer’s Den runs on a subscription model with a waiting list – sign-ups tend to go fast, so it’s a good idea to get on that list! Many freelance writers swear by the resources and lessons they find in “the Den,” and one of those resources is their Junk-Free Job Board. Carol Tice's job board pulls from a ton of excellent sources – FlexJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, Gorkana, and more – and all are carefully screened. You’ll find some of the best jobs on offer here for a membership fee of $25 a month. Considering that’s in addition to having access to 3 live trainings each month, 3-4 new bootcamps each year, and access to all the archives, forums, Webinars, and podcasts you could want – well, it’s an amazing resource!
FreelanceWriting.com’s Morning Coffee newsletter is something a little different: a curated newsletter comes direct to your inbox each Tuesday morning featuring 8 of the best writing and editing jobs listed on their site each week. This newsletter has been going since 1998, and it’s a serious resource! If you prefer not to wait, you can visit the FreelanceWriting.com job board whenever you like and sort job listings by keyword, skills, location – and job source, including listings that are exclusive to FreelanceWriting.com. They also have over 600 freelance writing articles on their site, over 700 writing guidelines in their database, and a list of writing contests.
Journalism Jobs is an essential site for anyone interested in journalism – but many other writers can benefit from their job board as well! They post a large volume of gigs each week, and you’ll find listings from local papers, national papers, magazines, radio stations, and even TV listings! You can filter your searches by industry, location, and job type – and then it’s all up to you to pursue any and all opportunities you find. Using the job board is free, and they also provide career advice and a list of journalism fellowships.
Mediabistro is a great, veteran resource – they’ve been around for over 20 years! Originally founded around media-focused industry professionals based in New York City, they expanded to encompass a job board and extensive resources for media pros (writers, editors, designers, and more) in many metro areas (and for remote workers). You can view job listings and apply to jobs for free. If you’re looking for more help, you can register for AvantGuild at $89 for a 2-year membership: as a member, you'll get access to exclusive content like pitch guides and business how-tos, editorial calendars for magazines, easily accessible editor contact information for magazines, and more. Mediabistro also offers à la carte training courses on everything from the Fundamentals of PR to Social Media Marketing.
Paid to Blog is another job board you’ll hear about often, and they also search free sites to pull the best job listings for your perusal. Founder Tom Ewer advertises that he and his team comb through over 50 sources each day for quality gigs – most of which are focused around blogging, as the name implies. Some of the jobs can be low-paying, but you can also discover some excellently-paid gigs. The monthly membership fee is $39 (though you can get that down to about $24.92 if you pay for a year up front), and it comes with a 28-day money back guarantee – for any reason.
Founded over 10 years ago, All Freelance Writing (formerly All Indie Writers) makes it easy to scan through job listings quickly based on pay ranges. It also makes it easy for those of us who love our RSS feeds – just paste their feed address into your favorite feed reader and you’ll get a constantly updated feed with the latest job additions. I also love how they break the pay ranges down into categories like “pro,” “semi-pro,” and “low pay.” It’s a reminder to value your work, charge what you’re worth, and take gigs that are commensurate with your experience.
Those are my picks for 10 of the hottest and best freelance writing job boards currently out there! Did I miss your favorite? Tell everyone about it in the comments!
Reddit has a hopping r/ForHire subreddit. Make sure you read the Get Hired info in the lower sidebar.
Freelance broker sites like Upwork are an option, but many beginner writers feel they can't compete with the cutthroat rates starting out. The upside with sticking it out is that many clients here are loyal. They want to work exclusively with one person they just like the security that comes with these platforms. You have to pay the bills first and foremost, however. If you can't find anything worth your time, move along.
Even when you have plenty of clients, continue marketing and creating a prospect list for future reference. And always ask happy clients for referrals and testimonials to place in your portfolio.
How Do I Get Writing Samples as a Beginner?
Most of the really good freelance writing jobs – i.e., those that are reputable and pay well! – often require you to submit writing samples. Some may even ask you to write something specifically as an audition piece for them, though this isn’t as common. Writing is an art form, after all, and prospective clients want to feel secure before investing in you. Make sense? Writing samples are your portfolio and let you showcase your skills!
Of course, this leads you right into that awful job-related Catch-22. We’ve all faced it at some point. You need a job to get experience (or produce writing samples!), but all the jobs want you to have experience before they’ll hire you. It’s a real pain! But there are a couple strategies I can suggest to help you work around it.
The first and easiest workaround is to begin a blog of your own and publish your own content. On the plus side, it gives you something to produce content for right away, a solo way to showcase that content, and can help establish you as an authority on whatever subject you want to write about. On the negative side, it’s free labor upfront with no guarantee of returns – and making a blog actually work for you is an entire career in itself! You’ve got bills to pay now! You can’t afford to waste any time.
This brings me to my second and better strategy for kick-starting your freelance writing career:
Have you considered guest posting for other websites or bloggers?
I can personally vouch for this method, even though I’m not officially a freelance writer. However, I do guest post regularly to promote my blog. Recently, I had a big site reach out to offer me a ghostwriting position after seeing one of my posts – and it was a decent-paying offer too!
These are just a few of the benefits you can reap by guest posting for other websites:
- You will become familiar with the pitching process.
- You will become familiar with the editing process.
- You will be able to include your author byline at the end of each guest post.
- You will get those writing samples for your pitches and applications going forward.
Guest posting can be a great way to go. Wonderful. Now – how do you find blogs to guest post on?
I’d suggest deciding what you want to write about right up front. Are you passionate about pets such as cats and dogs and know all about caring for them? Are you a fashionista up-to-date on all the latest trends? Are you a scientist with a wide knowledge-base and deep interest in the ocean? Whatever your interests and training are in – write on that topic! You already know so much about it, and your authoritativeness and passion will shine through in your writing.
Now that you know what you’d like to write about, start looking for websites or blogs that post about those topics. Also, make sure you’re targeting the best sites within those topics – you don’t want to waste time guest posting on a market with limited traffic. You can gauge how much traffic a website gets by examining their social media streams for activity and follow counts, along with checking sites like Alexa Ranking or Similar Web. You can even just check how high a site shows up in Google search results. You’re looking for sites with consistent traffic on recent content, as well – make sure it’s not just a few old posts that are getting all the visitors.
Here are a few of the benefits that guest posting for bigger websites or blogs that are in your wheelhouse can do for you:
- Your potential clients are likely visiting these sites, so your guest post is a free commercial.
- Guest posting on an established website or blog automatically lends you authority in that field.
- Guest posting on an established website or blog means more eyes on your writing and author byline.
- You’ll be more appealing to potential clients if they recognize sites on which you’ve been published.
Some of these websites may even offer to pay you for a guest post – however, check the fine print on these offers! You want to be sure your author byline will appear on the piece so that you have the opportunity to attract more clients and can use the post as one of your writing samples.
When you create your author byline, make sure it’s no more than a couple of sentences. Always put your name first, and be sure to include that you’re a freelance writer or online content creator. Link to your website or a contact method so potential clients can reach out to you as soon as they’re impressed by one of your guest posts. Make it as easy as possible for them to offer you freelance work!
Once your guest post has been published, add it to your online portfolio. This can be as simple as a bibliography with links provided to each piece, or you can add some clippings. For example, provide the title and link to your guest post on your portfolio page, then include a brief excerpt that showcases the best or most intriguing part of your piece as well. It’ll really pop as a block quote. When you’re pitching to a market or applying for a position online, you can easily link to your online portfolio.
I also recommend that you follow up with the website or blog for which you guest posted! Let them know that you would love to be considered should they ever have a paid contributor position available. If never hurts to plant a seed for the future, and maintaining positive business connections is paramount. Besides, you never know what might be available to you if you simply ask.
You should be well-equipped now to get out there and produce some writing samples! Here, I have a few bonuses for you as well: check out Beyond Your Blog’s list of “Over 1,523 Publications That Are Paying Writers!” Then, if you need help sourcing freelance writing gigs or pitching to them, check out Gina Horkey’s free writing course, “Kickstart Your Freelance Writing Biz.” It’s a great email series available to beginning writers that covers writing samples, portfolios, finding jobs, and pitching. And, yes, it’s free! Pick it up here.
Follow the application instructions – provide links to examples, share your background and keep if brief. Watch for immediate disqualifiers like “Put ‘Color Me Bad' in the subject line.” Clients do this to ensure you can follow directions. Miss it and your email is going straight into the Trash.
Sites to Learn More About Freelance Writing
There are tons of great sites talking just about freelance writing that haven’t yet made it to the front page of Google, and it’d be a shame for you to miss them. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Horkey Handbook
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might have caught Gina’s name a few times. She’s a stand-out freelancer and work-from-home expert specializing in freelance writing and virtual assisting. Her blog, over at horkeyhandbook.com, is a phenomenal resource for freelancers at any level who want to start strong and grow fast. Gina also offers courses for anyone wanting to kickstart their work-at-home aspirations as a freelance writer.
2. Writing Revolt
Jorden Roper, the purple-haired, black-clad powerhouse behind Writing Revolt made her mark on the freelance writing scene with her no-nonsense take on starting a freelance writing business and growing it fast. She’s got some really fantastic advice on her blog to help newbie writers come out of the gates running… and help more experienced freelance writers strengthen their businesses. She occasionally uses “grown-up words” (so if you hate profanity, you might not like her blog) but her advice can’t be beaten.
3. Be a Freelance Blogger
One of the biggest names in blogging for hire is Sophie Lizard, and her blog at BAFB is a big reason why. It’s packed with excellent, actionable advice. Sophie has been a freelance writer since 2009, so she’s got a true veteran’s take on what you need to do to succeed. Her freelance writing niche is specifically about writing blog posts for clients, but the advice is widely applicable for freelance writers, even those who aren’t looking for work writing company blogs. That’s not all — she also runs a robust forum that includes a job board.
4. Writers In Charge
Bamidele Onibalusi is a young writer and blogger-for-hire who has built a fine reputation for himself in freelance writing circles. His Writers In Charge site focuses on teaching new writers how and where to find paid freelance writing gigs, and his career-building advice is spot on. Be sure to check out his Make Money Writing page to find some of his best advice for getting your career started right.
5. Be a Freelance Writer
Francesta Nicasio is the writer behind the Be a Freelance Writer site, and she really knows what she’s talking about. Because she’s been freelancing since 2010, she’s seen and done it all. Her blog is updated regularly but not necessarily frequently, and everything she publishes is high-value and insightful. She also has a free download that shows you the steps to take to land clients; I know from experience that if you follow her guide seriously, you’ll likely have more than one client in less than 10 days.
Freelance writing is a good-paying gig offering utmost flexibility. As a specialized writer, you can earn $150 or more per article. With hard work and determination, you may be able to turn this into a six-figure work at home job.