16 Tips to Find the Best Freelance Writing Jobs
Are you looking for effective ways to make money, or even a living, as a freelance writer? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Actually, do worry (a little), because this means that there are tons of writers online who are looking for the same gigs. Some have years of experience working with big brand names, while others are earning pennies for their words. As long as you find your spot somewhere in the middle, you’ll be good to grow.
Your main focus here is growing into a quality freelance writer. I use the word “growing” rather than “becoming” because building up your reputation is a process. Any excellent freelance writer has a strong online presence, a variety of work samples, and most importantly, a very simple rule of thumb that they all stick to: Don’t settle.
Don’t settle for abusively low paying jobs. Don’t settle for sketchy clients you can’t trust. And don’t settle for publishing work you’re not proud of.
Below, you’ll find a list of proven strategies you can implement to find the best freelance writing jobs - and start making money out of your passion:
Create a website
Build an online presence
Ask for feedback or referrals
Browse freelance platforms
Always be networking
Make social media your best friend
Visit local businesses
Check job boards
Follow other freelance writers
Take advantage of website flipping marketplaces
Reach out to previous employers and classmates
Write guest articles on popular platforms (yes, even for free)
Take care of good clients
Start cold pitching
Attend relevant events and meetups
Pitch your story to online publications
Follow these tips carefully, and pretty soon, you may find yourself with more clients than time. You’ll have the flexibility to work from home, travel the world as a digital nomad, or spend more time with your loved ones. Are you ready?
01. Create a website
Having your own professional online portfolio is an absolute must. First, because it sets you apart from all the other freelance writers who don’t have one. Second, your website serves as a portal from which potential clients can learn everything they need before hiring you (samples, past projects, social media accounts, etc.). Finally, because it’s the only place you’re fully in control of, from the design to the content you include - effectively reflecting who you are in the online world.
If you’re looking for a quick win, Wix ADI, the first artificial intelligence software for website creation, helps you build a fully functional portfolio in minutes! You can also browse dozens of gorgeous (and free) online portfolios templates. Designed by professionals for professionals, they already include all the pages a freelancer needs to start online.
Of course, you want your website to be visible, and for that, you’ll need to spend a bit of time working on your SEO strategy. Luckily, most website builders have built-in wizards that make it super comfortable to set up your SEO, so that your portfolio is more discoverable on Google.
Blogging is another great way to strengthen your SEO organically. Make sure to publish quality content regularly to keep your followers engaged and search engines happy.
02. Build an online presence
Whatever the personality you’re bringing to the table looks like, it should also be reflected online. Your personal interests, past jobs and what you post on social channels hint at the kind of freelancer you’ll be.
You never know where a potential client is going to look for a freelance writer, so the best strategy is to have your name popping up in all the right places.
LinkedIn is where you keep it professional. Your LinkedIn is essentially a longer version of your CV or resume, where you can include details such as skills, endorsements and recommendations. Forget about the one-page CV rule; here you can actually go into detail about roles you’ve held in the past. As someone looking for writing jobs, everything you add to your profile should be flawlessly written.
Twitter is all about sharing and spreading information. Staying up to date with trends is a valuable way to understand what kinds of industries and companies are looking for freelance writers. For example, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a great moment to reach out to small news outlets with creative story ideas on that topic. If you’re writing about trending topics, make sure to add the relevant hashtags to your tweets for higher visibility, and therefore more followers.
Reddit is one big community of forums, where you can ask and answer questions and join discussion boards (known as subreddits) on all your favorite topics. Good or helpful content gets voted up and becomes more visible, so essentially every single post has a “score.” The more you participate in Reddit, the more karma points you get. In order to join subreddits on freelance writing topics, you’ll need to create an account, which is free and only takes a couple of minutes.
Facebook is the most famous social media platform, where you can share your latest posts and interests with friends. Keep in mind that unlike LinkedIn and Twitter, your posts are usually only visible to groups you belong to or people you are friends with. However, if you’re on the hunt for a new project, Facebook’s countless groups can be a great source of valuable opportunities.
Whether you’re looking for motivation or support, there are some great online writing communities to help you grow as a professional writer. Make sure to research what these groups are and join the ones you need to be part of.
03. Ask for feedback or referrals
Add your new role as a freelance writer to every conversation you have - with your friends, your family, and even your favorite delivery guy. This way, you’ll naturally come to peoples’ mind when they hear about a writing opportunity. You’d be surprised to know that most of your past clients are willing to refer you to other opportunities if they’re happy with your work. But you need to reach out.
After completing a project with a client, send a follow-up email and mention that you’re available for other opportunities - with them as well as with other companies. Here’s a good template to use as a follow-up email. In general, you’re going to be sending lots of emails in this business, so make sure you check out these great follow-up email tips.
If you have LinkedIn, you can ask for recommendations, which can really boost up your profile. If you have a personal website (and you definitely should), you can include them there as well. Here’s a review a past client posted on my profile recently:
04. Browse freelance platforms
Freelance platforms are dedicated to matching freelancers with clients as seamlessly as possible. The truth is, the internet is full of great writing opportunities, and other not so appealing ones. You need to be careful and keep in mind that not all resources are born equal (especially if they sell something too good to be true). There are countless scams out there, not to mention websites that, albeit legit, take advantage of freelance writers in need of a gig to impose unfair conditions.
Here are my top picks:
This platform is free to use and very secure. It has an entire section dedicated to writing and translation opportunities, divided into several categories so you can focus your search more easily. Fiverr includes plenty of friendly tutorials to lay the foundations of your business and learn how to become a “seller” of your services. Due to the high commission rate, it’s a great place to get started as a freelancer, but in the long run, you’re better off with a website of your own.
Cost: Free. 20% of earnings go to Fiverr.
This platform is easy-to-use, flexible and reliable, which explains why it’s so popular. But because of its large user base, Freelancer.com is also very competitive, making it hard to stand out from the crowd. Still, it’s never a bad idea to have your profile up on several freelance platforms. You never know when someone will need exactly the type of writing you can provide.
Cost: Free trial for the first month. Several plans ranging from $0.99 to $59.95 per month.
This freelance platform is not free, but use it right and it will be worth every dollar. Flexjobs has been around for over ten years, and its offerings are curated by expert researchers who screen the best remote and flexible writing jobs. Start out by creating a custom job search and include as many details as possible for better results. You can select all sorts of filters, such as your work schedule, your level of experience and whether you want to receive notifications for new jobs.
Cost: $14.95 per month.
This company curates a weekly newsletter that gathers freelance opportunities from dozens of sources, saving you hours of endless browsing through job boards and platforms. With a subscription, you’ll also gain access to freelancing lessons and interviews with other successful writers.
Cost: $2 for a one month trial, $19 per month.
A pricey choice when compared to other competitors, but there are plenty of good reasons for that. First off, this platform focuses exclusively on freelance writing gigs. Contena also provides plenty of useful resources to teach you how to market yourself as a freelance writer. Note that you’ll need to join a waitlist before being accepted as a freelancer on this exclusive platform.
Cost: $497 for course content, $997 to hire a personal Contenta coach.
To get started, all you’ll need to do is create a profile. You’ll be asked for all kinds of information, from your education level, to past jobs, to your hourly rate. Make sure to fill out your profile meticulously for optimal results. Due to the company’s popularity, it can be hard to be noticed, but it’s definitely worth it to have a profile here. Below, you’ll find an example of an email notification I got from Upwork, after a recruiter visited my profile.
Cost: 20% of earnings for first $500 with a single client, and 10% of earnings afterwards.
05. Always be networking
When you decide to become a freelance writer, you should open up your eyes to the fact that opportunities are everywhere.
I found one of my first freelance opportunities at a meetup, where a marketing manager was talking about his digital marketing startup. I introduced myself and offered to help out with any writing they might need. At first, my rates were low, but with time, I gained the company’s trust and it proved to be one of my best clients.
Once clients, friends and your family know about your role, you’ll come to mind the next time an opportunity arises. Especially if they can vouch for your work. Recently, I helped a friend of a friend proofread a few business plans. It was super fun and very lucrative.
Finding new writing jobs should be at the top of your list, wherever you are. With this new mindset, you’ll start to find opportunities in the most unexpected places.
06. Make social media your best friend
Employers are increasingly turning to platforms such as Twitter, Reddit and Facebook to find remote or freelance writers. Social media lets you highlight different aspects of your life, so make sure to use each platform appropriately.
This platform is all about following the right people so you can get exposed to the right content. Start building your community by following your clients and leads. You’ll also want to follow specific handles that filter freelance job opportunities and other topics of interest. Here are a few to get you started:
Here’s an example of the opportunities posted by @writing_jobs, at the time when this post was written:
You can use hashtags to search for relevant content on Twitter that will lead you to other writers in your field. It will help you learn about your competition and grow your community online. Some of the most popular hashtags for writers are:
As you become a seasoned freelance writer, you might begin to claim some areas of specialization. Whether you want to focus your writing on plants, fitness or sports, make sure to follow the big names in the industries you specialize in.
The really cool thing about this platform is how much it levels the playing field. Forget about the middlemen when searching for jobs here, you’ll probably be in touch directly with the individual or company looking for a writer.
Due to its high popularity, posts on Reddit often get viewed by lots of people. And with its upvoting and downvoting feature, it’s easy to weed out the bad posts and focus on the good ones. Even if you don’t find jobs posted on Reddit, you’ll still get plenty of advice and feedback from other writers, and meet active freelancers in your field.
Make sure to browse a bit and get familiar with each subreddit before posting, since each community has its own rules and guidelines.
Here are some great subreddits for freelancers:
/r/freelancewriters (39.4K members)
/r/freelancewriting (2.6K members)
/r/freelance (138K members)
/r/writingopportunities (7.1K members)
/r/hireawriter (25.3K members, image below)
Depending on where you live, Facebook can be a great tool for finding writing projects. I live in Tel Aviv, and with a few exceptions, Facebook is how I’ve found most of my writing opportunities, both freelance and fulltime.
You’ll need to join popular groups where people post these requests. In my case, the Secret Tel Aviv group is a great resource for finding all sorts of writing opportunities.
Here’s a post of someone looking for a writer on a popular Facebook group.
Since most of these posts will get lots of responses, you should try and answer fast. Edit your notification settings so you’ll be the first to find out when something like this becomes available.
The platform can be a great source for finding temporary jobs, and since you already have a complete profile (see section #2), all you need to do is apply. If your profile is complete, you’re bound to get messages from headhunters or employers, so make sure to check back regularly for updates.
07. Visit local businesses
All businesses need some writing, and the truth is, they don’t always do a good job with it. I’ve seen a fair share of restaurant menus with sloppy writing or beauty salon websites with grammatical errors.
As an aspiring freelance writer, you should start noticing where there are gaps to be filled in the businesses you interact with on a weekly basis. Whether it’s re-doing your hairdresser’s website, or editing the menu at your favorite Vietnamese restaurant, there are plenty of writing opportunities around you.
When reaching out with your services, make sure to do it with tact and kindness. You’re not reaching out to trash your local vendor’s website. You should also be flexible about what they offer in return, since these clients might not have writing built into their budget.
Bartering is a good way to find these jobs, especially if you’re starting out. At the very least, you’ll get writing samples to include on your site, and maybe a voucher for free coffee from your favorite cafe.
Eventually, these businesses will grow, and the next time they need someone to do their writing, they’ll be ready to pay you for your services. If you’ve followed all the tips on this article, who do you think they’ll turn to for help?
08. Check job boards
General job boards operate a bit differently than freelance platforms, but you can still use them to find good writing opportunities. A big advantage with postings from these types of websites is they’re not based on bidding. Either you provide your price, or the prospective employer posts an opportunity with a set rate.
Originally a hub for bloggers, Problogger is also a powerful online board with freelance writing opportunities posted by all kinds of clients, from startups to larger businesses. The fact that companies have to pay for each ad they post helps weed out clients looking for cheap labor, or those with less serious intent.
Jobs are posted daily, and although most of the opportunities are remote, you can still filter by location. Here are some examples of offers you’ll find on Problogger. Create an account to get started!
Although not exclusively for writing jobs, its popularity, and the fact that it’s been around for over ten years, makes this a job board worth checking out. It’s free for job seekers, while businesses posting offers must pay $180 for each listing.
It's a powerhouse when it comes to job postings, which can be a blessing or a curse. You’ll find lots of listings here, but you’ll have to be extra careful to identify quality ones. Create a profile and take advantage of different filters, like job type, experience level and location.
This one is aimed specifically at blogging and various kinds of writing jobs, like copywriting, content writing and editing opportunities. Businesses pay $30 for a 30-day job listing, but it’s completely free for job seekers.
09. Follow other freelance writers
If you’re unsure of how a freelance writer behaves, it’s a good idea to follow and imitate others who are doing it well. In today’s hyper-connected world, nearly everyone has a strong online presence, and it’s especially important if you’re trying to find jobs online. Follow these successful writers on Twitter and LinkedIn, browse their personal sites to see what they post about themselves, and engage with them if it feels right!
Here are two of my favorites:
Robin Catalano: With clients like Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House, this is one successful freelancer. Make sure to check her social media presence as well. Her attention to detail in how she presents herself online definitely contributes to her ability to land the best clients.
Rebecca Hobson: Her landing page is minimalistic, but her experience speaks volumes. As both a photographer and a content creator, she’s worked with well-known clients such as The Times and Vice Media.
10. Take advantage of website flipping marketplaces
Did you know there’s an entire industry for people who buy, improve and sell websites? Just like house flipping companies like We Buy Ugly Houses, but for web properties. Today, websites are a crucial part of almost every business - especially after the novel coronavirus came around and left us the internet as the only way to connect.
In addition to improving copy for a site, you’ll have to improve its SEO strategy, in order to get more traffic from Google, better conversion, and ultimately, more business for your clients. It will take work and curiosity to acquire the tools, but if you succeed as a website flipper, you’re on your way to success.
Take a look at these useful resources:
“How to Make Money With Website Flipping” to start off on the right foot.
“7 of the Best Marketplaces for Website Flipping” to find your first clients.
The Wix SEO Guide to learn the basic notions and tools of SEO.
11. Reach out to previous employers and classmates
Whenever you graduate or switch careers, it’s important to keep in touch with your previous classmates and colleagues. Often, the best opportunities will come through these connections, so add them to your social media channels and check in every once in a while.
If you’re starting out as a freelance writer, reach out to people from your past who you’ve kept in touch with. At the very least, they should be able to connect you with other businesses or individuals. It’s a great way to grow your network, and next time someone around them mentions they need to hire a freelance writer, you’ll come to mind.
Here’s an example of a message I recently sent an ex-colleague of mine through LinkedIn:
12. Write guest articles on popular platforms (yes, even for free)
When you’re becoming a freelance writer, building a good work portfolio is one of the most important long-term investments you can make. If you get the chance to write an article for The New Yorker, The Economist, The Atlantic, or any other big name publication, you should take that opportunity immediately, even if you’re doing it for free.
In the long run, having a byline on a popular publication is going to help you get good clients later on. You know how they say the rich people get richer? It’s because whenever there’s a good opportunity, they can easily gather up enough money to invest in it. The free articles you write today become the currency that you use to land excellent writing opportunities in the future. Invest wisely.
13. Take care of good clients
When you’re a freelancer, many clients come and go, but a small handful are going to stick around for a while. These are the clients you want to invest most of your time and energy on. Finding great clients is like finding love, you don’t quite know what you’re looking for, but you’ll know when you find it.
Here are a few ground rules to help you cultivate the business relationships that matter the most:
Clarity: Make sure you understand the full scope of each assignment.
Punctuality: Turn in assignments on time.
Quality work: Double check your own work to edit out double spaces, grammatical errors, involuntary plagiarism and inconsistencies.
Keep in touch: Follow up after every assignment. Reach out if you haven’t heard from a client for a while, but don’t drive them crazy with emails. Around every 3-4 months is a good rule of thumb.
Honesty: Be fair and consistent with what you charge for your work.
Manners: Be kind, polite and honest.
14. Start cold pitching
Cold pitching reminds me of what I used to do when I was looking for a job in college. I would go on the Tufts Alumni network and would send emails to anyone who worked at a company that I was somewhat interested in.
After sending dozens of emails, I struck gold. I sent an email to Adam, which eventually led to an awesome paid summer internship at a snazzy digital startup in Boston. It ultimately turned into a great friendship when we both ended up living in Tel Aviv five years later.
My point is, you never know what’s going to happen when you reach out to people you don’t know. At best, you’ll make a useful work connection or even a new friend. At worst, your email will be ignored.
So now, I want you to make a list of people that you would like to reach out to. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even on your phone address books.
Once you have your list, DO NOT send the same email to everyone. Luckily, everybody is googleable nowadays, so take the time to learn about each person before reaching out. Check their website and social media profiles to learn about their work and their career path.
You can use a template, but ultimately, each email you send out should be personalized. Give yourself a reasonable goal, and stick to it. What if you commit to sending out five emails per day? That sounds completely reasonable. Five emails per day turn into 25 emails per week, which turn into 100 emails per month and 1,200 emails per year.
Stick to your goal, and you’re bound to succeed way more than once, like I did.
15. Attend relevant events and meetups
When building up your social media presence, make sure to join as many local communities as you can. In bigger cities like New York City or Los Angeles, there are multiple events going on all the time. Going out for drinks is fun, but try to mix it up with networking events and interesting meetups, even if they’re online. Use Eventbrite or Facebook to find these events. Most of them are free to attend.
When you go to speaker events or meetups, try to participate. Ask questions, engage with other partakers and be an active listener. If you’re an introvert like me, and the idea of networking makes you want to cry, you should go to these events with a goal in mind. Feel free to borrow mine:
I’m going to speak to three new people and then follow up with an email.
You’ll go home feeling accomplished, and your next writing opportunity might be an email away.
16. Pitch your story to online publications
This is an excellent strategy if you’re creative enough to come up with your own topic. Online publications are always looking for engaging articles to include on their sites. Depending on how popular these magazines and blogs are, as well as your level of experience, you might not get paid for this initially.
Even without pay, it’s prestigious and impressive to have a byline on a published article, and it’s even better if you get to pick the topic yourself. Most magazines include a submission section where anyone can pitch a story or a commentary. Here’s what The Atlantic’s submission page looks like:
Whenever you find these opportunities, make sure you submit your work correctly. Nothing screams out lack of attention to detail louder than not following simple instructions, and nobody wants to hire a writer who lacks this invaluable skill.
Frequently asked questions about freelancing
01. How much do I charge?
You might find on different websites that a freelance writer makes on average $24 an hour, or $40,000 a year. But the truth is, this is only an average, and an estimate. The reality is way more complex. The art of knowing how much to charge for your work depends on a variety of factors.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding how much to charge:
What’s the industry average? Using Reddit to ask other writers is a great way to figure how much you should be charging for your work.
Who is the client? You wouldn’t charge the same for the neighborhood barber down the street and an established content marketing agency.
How long have I been working as a freelance writer? Experience gives you an idea of how much you can charge and how much your work is worth.
What kind of work is it? Writing eBooks will earn you more than blogging gigs, which will earn you more than email writing jobs. Do your research in order to understand what your work is worth.
02. Can you make a living out of freelance writing?
Being a freelance writer can definitely be your full time job, but it takes time and a lot of work. Especially at the beginning. When setting up your freelance business, you’ll find yourself working longer hours most days. It’s going to take time until you are able to find a few consistent clients, so if possible, try to go into it with some savings. But if you follow my advice, you’ll soon be living the freelance dream.
03. Do you need a diploma?
Although a diploma is always a plus (especially in related fields, such as English Literature, Communications or Journalism), having good writing samples will get you there as well. Since these clients aren’t looking to hire you as a full-time employee, there’s a chance they won’t even review your CV. Still, make sure to flesh out your resume by including any online courses or workshops that have contributed to your career.
04. What kind of freelance jobs are out there?
These are the most common types of freelance writing opportunities I’ve encountered:
Blog posts, news articles and magazine articles
Whether you’re looking for short or long assignments, for a prestigious byline or some extra pocket money, there’s something for everyone.
Laura Moreno Saraga, ADI Content Writer at Wix
Laura refuses to let free time get in the way of what she loves: scuba diving, food blogging, and tiny things. She was born in Bogota, Colombia, educated in the US, and now lives in Tel Aviv, one of the greatest cities in the world.