Of all the things readers ask me to help them with, online writing jobs for beginners is at the top of the list.
Over the years, we’ve built up a huge library of articles about freelance writing. The one you’re reading now is intended to be the very best guide you can find, with lots of honesty, practical advice, and insider tips.
We also cover THE most important thing: where to FIND online writing jobs for beginners.
- Why Should You Listen To Me?
- A REALLY Important Question Before We Start
- Good Reasons to Become a Writer
- Bad Reasons to Become a Writer
- What Do You Need to Be a Freelance Writer?
- Skills And Traits
- Software and Equipment
- Do You Need a Blog to be a Writer?
- How Do You Get Writing Jobs with No Experience?
- A Step By Step Plan for Getting Your First Writing Job
- Types of Writing Jobs
- 10 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners
- Where To Find Freelance Writing Jobs with More Experience
- Where To Learn More
In case this is your first visit to HomeWorkingClub and you don’t know me, I’m going to start with the most important question of all:
Why Should You Listen To Me?
I’ve been making money from freelance writing for over ten years. I run this site and several others, and I’ve been quoted on many sites including HuffPost, Business Insider and USA Today. I’ve written for well-known sites and publications including A Place in the Sun, The Freelancers Union and Rightmove.
But I’ve also been exactly where you are right now: sitting at a computer feeling overwhelmed, and wondering how on earth to get started with freelance writing.
It’s been a long and challenging journey. I’ve turned out soul-destroying bulk content for content mills, and paid my dues with plenty of low-paid gigs. But I’ve also had those true “living the dream” moments, being paid for things like reviewing restaurants, and earning great rates for writing about subjects I’m genuinely passionate about.
I want to help you do the same, and have no agenda in doing so. All the information here is free – and, in fact, I’m even offering a FREE email course for those of you who want to delve in a little further. More on that shortly.
This is a BIG article.
That’s why there’s a clickable index above – as I realise some readers may wish to zoom forward to specific information.
Here are some of the things you will know about once you’ve read all 7000 words of this guide:
- The questions you should ask yourself before you start out as a freelance writer.
- What skills and attributes you need to make it as a freelance writer.
- What equipment and software you need for freelance writing.
- What steps you should take, and in what order.
- What types of writing jobs are out there.
- How to pitch for your first freelance writing writing gigs.
- Where to actually find writing gigs.
- How to get writing jobs with no experience.
- Whether or not you should start a blog.
- Where to look for better paying gigs once you have some experience.
- How to make a full-time living as a freelance writer.
There’s a lot to cover, but you have so much to gain by working through it all. So grab a drink, make yourself comfortable, and settle in! If you have any questions at all about freelance writing jobs for beginners, feel free to contact me personally.
A REALLY Important Question Before We Start
WHY Do You Want To Be a Freelance Writer?
As I said at the start, despite running a site that talks about hundreds of different online jobs, more people ask me about online writing jobs than anything else.
The popularity of freelance writing has led me to ponder why everybody seems to want to be a writer. I even dedicated a podcast to the subject. I’d suggest having a listen if you’re wondering about writing as a career.
I’d encourage you to do a bit of soul-searching and ask why YOU want to be a writer. And to help you explore the subject, here are some good and bad reasons:
Good Reasons to Become a Writer
- Freelance writing is something you’ve always wanted to do.
- It’s something lots of people have told you you’d be great at.
- You have knowledge about a particular subject that you’re keen to share with the world.
- You have particular skills that you know are in demand in the writing world (i.e. PR, technical documentation, writing for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)).
- You’re retired or seeking a second source of income.
- You love words and language and would genuinely enjoy the work.
Bad Reasons to Become a Writer
- You want to work from home and think that writing is the only way to do it. (It’s REALLY not).
- You think it’s easy work.
- You’ve heard or read that blogging is a way to get rich.
- An advert or article online has convinced you that you can get high-paid writing job with no experience.
- You can’t be bothered to hunt for a more suitable remote or freelance job.
Some of these do – I know – come across as a bit harsh. But I can’t emphasise enough that you MUST consider your motivations.
Embarking on a freelance writer career requires grit, persistence, and a willingness to work hard. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons you won’t stick it out and you won’t succeed.
On the other hand, if you’re coming at this from the right place I have good news for you: There IS a ton of freelance writing work out there. With time, you can make a living writing – perhaps even about the subjects you really care about. I’m living proof of that.
What Do You Need to Be a Freelance Writer?
This next section splits into two parts:
First we cover writing skills, attributes and knowledge. Then we look at the more practical things you need to get into freelance writing as a beginner.
Skills And Traits
Writing isn’t for everyone. In many ways it’s a lot more technical (and sometimes more boring!) than people expect.
Here are the qualities you need to make it in freelance writing:
Great Spelling, Grammar and Vocabulary Knowledge
Do you read a lot, and always notice the grammar errors? Do you know how to lay things out clearly, and make your writing both accurate and engaging?
I receive many emails from people asking me for writing work. Depressingly often, they are poorly formatted and littered with spelling and grammar errors.
There’s a lot of online writing work out there, but not so much that clients have to use poor writers.
Writing is a craft as well as a job. You learn more of that craft with every single thing you write, whether it’s a paid article for a client or a post on your personal blog.
If you often read content and think “I could do better than that,” then that’s a good sign (so long as you’re not delusional!) And if you don’t read a LOT of content, I’d once again urge you to look within yourself to ask why you want to be a writer if you’re not an avid reader.
This isn’t an absolute must, but it gives you a HUGE edge.
What do you know about? What do you know more about that the average person?
If you have a quick answer to that question, that’s a good thing.
It can be literally anything. Between 2009 and 2014 I lived as an expat in Portugal, and wrote a huge amount of content about both expat life and Portugal itself. I’m also a Microsoft and Apple certified techie, so have had many writing gigs around computers and cybersecurity.
Maybe you know about pets, haircare, low-carb cooking, fitness, science fiction, book-keeping.
You get the idea.
While specialist knowledge isn’t essential, it really does help. I hire writers myself, and always look for people with specific knowledge of a particular subject area. Most clients do that too. Sometimes it can be subject-matter experience that wins you a gig, rather than your writing experience.
Strong Research Skills
A lot of online freelance writing involves heavy research. If you’re a seasoned browser tab juggler, that’s a good thing.
Obviously much depends on what you’re writing about, but lots of research is part and parcel of freelance writing. It’s not about sitting in front of a burning fire letting the words flow. Far more often you’ll be trying to find a statistic to support what you’re saying!
A Willingness to “Put Yourself Out There”
We will be talking about places you can find generic (and usually low paid) content writing work later in this article. But generally speaking, if you want good writing gigs, you will need to send out pitches, chat with clients, and market your services.
The “sales part” of freelance writing is something many aspiring writers don’t think about. Furthermore, fear of doing it is what causes many to fall at the first hurdle.
The actual writing is only half the job. You also need to be finding those initial trial gigs, impressing the clients, and working to turn them into regular jobs. Many people sell writing courses that brush over this reality – but a reality it is.
Attention to Detail
We’ve already talked about spelling and grammar, but attention to detail goes way beyond that. It’s about sending in your work on time, in the requested format, and with all the images and supplementary bits and bobs most clients need.
It’s about being your own editor and delighting clients with work that they can just use – without having to send it back lots of time for amendments.
It’s about taking in every little detail of a client’s instructions, internalising guidelines and style instructions so that the people paying you get exactly what they want.
I’m not saying that writers without attention to detail don’t get clients. They often do. But it’s the ones with the attention to detail that keep clients.
Determination and Tenacity
Becoming a freelance writer is NOT an easy career path.
The idea of a struggling writer is a little overblown and romanticised. Plenty of people doing online freelance writing make a VERY good and consistent living. However, it is a life where work tends to come in fits and starts, with lots of periods of uncertainty and anxiety – especially in the early days.
When you first start out, you will bid for loads of gigs that you never hear back from; You’ll end up with clients who want the earth for very little money, and you’ll endure lots of imposter syndrome until you gradually build up your confidence.
Are you prepared to go through all of that?
Software and Equipment
The next section is rather less intimidating, but no less important.
To get work as a freelance writer, you will need the following:
A GOOD Computer
As a writer, your computer (usually a laptop, these days) is the main tool of your trade. (We have an article on the best laptops for freelancers here).
I say a “good” computer, because you shouldn’t be trying to undertake a career using something that’s not up to the job.
You don’t need something that costs a fortune, but you do need something that works consistently, and gives you the power and ergonomics to be comfortable and efficient. A good simple way to ascertain if your machine fits the bill is to answer the following questions:
- Does your computer start up quickly and reliably?
- Does it do what you ask it to, or does it glitch and slow you down?
- Is it a pain or a pleasure to use?
The Right Software
You don’t need much software to be a writer. However, you should have – at the very least – a full, legal copy of Microsoft Office. Nowadays people usually get this as part of an Office 365 subscription.
There are other things you might want to think about. A subscription to Grammarly (review here) is a good idea. It’s an app that checks your text for errors, plagiarism and bad writing habits. Many companies use this, and some clients even insist that you run your writing through it before submitting articles.
You can get some other ideas of software what could make you more effective and efficient in our guide to the best apps for freelancers.
You also need:
- A rock solid and reliable internet connection (and ideally a backup if it goes down, which could be as simple as a smartphone you can use as a hotspot).
- A comfortable place to work, ideally with a good desk and chair.
Do You Need a Blog to be a Writer?
I’m asked this question a lot, so thought it worth answering here.
The simple answer is “no.” You don’t need a blog if you’re looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners. However, there is a whole host of reasons why it’s a good idea:
- An outlet for your work: A blog gives you a place to write about anything you want and practice your craft.
- A place to showcase your work: Clients will always want to see examples of your work. A blog gives you somewhere to create some of them.
- Freedom to write about anything: Often the things we want to write about don’t tally with the things client want to pay us for! But your blog is a place where you can write about anything.
- Potential to earn money: Many blogs (including this one!) are money-making businesses in and of themselves. A common strategy for freelance writers is to have paid gigs to pay the bills, with slow-burn blogging projects going on in parallel.
If you’re interested in further exploring the blogging side of writing:
- Check out my guide to how to start a profitable blog.
How Do You Get Writing Jobs with No Experience?
Let’s be real here: getting writing jobs with no experience isn’t easy. Clients almost always want to see examples of your writing. And that makes sense. If you were hiring a writer, you’d want to see what they could do before offering them money, right?
So there’s a simple answer: You need to GET some experience.
The good news is that that part is easier than you might think. But it means you’re going to need to spend some time building up a portfolio, and that often means writing online without getting paid.
In a moment, I present you with a step by step plan for getting your first writing jobs, based on exactly what I did. First, though, let’s look at some ways you can get some of your writing “out there,” so that you have examples that prove your worth to potential clients:
1. Start a Blog
We’ve already touched on this. My first writing was on a blog of my own. (For those who are interested it was a blog about moving to Portugal, documenting my life in a new country. It morphed into a book that sold over 4000 copies, but that’s definitely for another article!)
Your blog can be about anything at all. However, if you hope to make money from the blog itself, I’d recommend choosing a clear niche.
It’s important to note that clients are unlikely to hire you with no other evidence of your writing ability than your personal blog. However, you CAN include a couple of your very best posts as writing samples in your portfolio.
2. Contribute Guest Articles
Many websites and blogs accept guest articles, and these include plenty of big and well-known media outlets.
You can start off with a simple Google search for “write for us.” You’ll find thousands of sites looking for contributions. Concentrate on sites that fit your knowledge and interests, and make sure you follow their submission guidelines to the letter. Sites typically receive a huge number of submissions, and they don’t accept them all.
You may come across sites that pay for posts. Obviously getting some money for a contribution is a good thing, but I’d advise against making it a priority at this stage. The aim here is to get writing samples out there with your name on – articles that will impress potential clients when you start pitching for “real” work.
3. Volunteer Your Services
Is there a local charity in your area with a poorly written website? Perhaps you could volunteer to help them improve it, and do some good at the same time as boosting your writing portfolio.
4. Write for Content Mills
Content mills (explained in detail in this article) are – in truth – at the very bottom rung of the paid writing work ladder. Many articles discussing online writing jobs for beginners advise you to avoid them altogether. I have a rather more pragmatic opinion.
Sites like Copify and TextBroker tend to pay low rates for monotonous and soul-destroying work. As if that weren’t bad enough, you often have to comply with very strict guidelines when writing your articles, and it’s rare to get your byline on the content you write.
So why do I suggest you consider them?
The reason is experience. I’d certainly advise writing for content mills for the minimum possible time, but while your other options are limited, they can give you experience of following style guides, interacting with editors and sticking to deadlines. At best, you’re likely to be looking at flipping-burgers-level pay, but you ARE still being paid to write.
I wrote for content mills when I first started writing as a beginner. Do I look back on that time fondly? Absolutely not! But do I value the experience it gave me? Yes.
Content mill work probably won’t give you article examples for your portfolio, but it WILL give you experience.
5. Reach Out to Your Personal Network
Think about everyone you know, both in the business world and in your personal life.
It may seem a little daunting to “go begging” for writing work. But as we’ve already discussed, pitching and putting yourself out there is a fundamental part of being a writer.
So consider who has a blog, who owns a business, and think about what you could offer to do to help them. Remember, the objective here is to put together a portfolio of work, ready for when you start to pitch clients.
6. Write on Medium or LinkedIn
Plenty of sites give you the ability to post your own articles. As with a personal blog, I wouldn’t recommend filling a portfolio only with articles you’ve been able to freely post yourself. However, there’s no harm in including one or two.
These platforms have the added benefit of giving you an opportunity to write about absolutely any subject. In the past, I’ve been known to post an article to Medium when it’s on a subject that doesn’t fit neatly onto any of my own sites.
Join some writing and home working groups (such as our own private advice group on Facebook). Start reading Reddit threads about freelance writing.
It makes sense to live and breathe the world of freelance writing, even if you’re just getting started. You can read and chat about other writers’ triumphs and challenges and – you never know – you could get some leads too.
A Step By Step Plan for Getting Your First Writing Job
You now know a range of places where you can freely pick up some initial writing experience.
Next, we have a step by step plan for starting to find work.
It’s based on exactly what I did myself. And it took me from being a writer with no experience to somebody making full-time income solely from writing.
Just remember: this isn’t an overnight thing, nor is it entirely linear. If you’re not willing to pay your dues, writing is not a good choice of career!
1. Get Reading
If you want to be a writer, you should be an avid reader. As Stephen King says in his “On Writing” book, “read a lot…write a lot – is the great commandment.”
Here’s a more specific way to follow that advice: Make sure you read a lot of the kind of content you think you’d like to produce yourself (we discuss various different types of writing work shortly).
Let’s take a random example: Say you’re a car enthusiast and would like to write for motoring blogs. The chances are you already read several of them. The more you read, the more you’ll get an idea of the way these articles are written and constructed.
The same goes for every type of writing. The more you live and breathe it, the more prepared you are to create the kind of output people (and clients) want.
2. Brush Up on the Technical Side of Writing
It’s good to learn about the science of the craft too. A lot of adverts for writing jobs will ask for “knowledge of AP style.” This means knowledge of the Associated Press Style Book, where you learn things like whether to spell out or type numbers, which words to capitalise, and other intricacies.
MANY online writing jobs are for website content, and some knowledge of SEO can come in handy. So consider brushing up on that with a book or a course.
Finally, it’s wise to learn about the kind of content that works nowadays, and there are some great books on that.
I remember soaking up all of this information in the early days. It helps to put you in the writer’s mindset. If doing this stuff doesn’t seem interesting to you or worth your time, that’s another sign that you may be considering a writing career for the wrong reasons.
Here are a few suggested resources:
- Coursera’s SEO Specialisation with the University of California
- Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, by Ann Handley
- The Associated Press Style Book
- Strunk and White’s Elements of Style
3. Consider Signing Up To A Content Mill
I don’t want to turn this into an article about content mills, because I already have a huge one on the subject here.
But, I’m explaining how to get started in freelance writing based on what I did. And I DID do some content mill work. It was dull and soul destroying, and not particularly lucrative (although, at times, I found pockets of work that were easy to complete and paid reasonably well).
Content mill writing work is a bit of a rite of passage for many of us. I think it CAN be a valuable learning experience, but plenty of people disagree with me.
4. Establish your Portfolio
You need to think about what you’re going to send those first clients who want to see examples of your work.
We’ve already covered your options: blog posts, guest articles, work you’ve done voluntarily etc. For more on this, check out this article on how to build a writing portfolio.
5. Get Set Up on Upwork (or Another Freelance Job Board)
Upwork is a huge freelancing platform (and there are some other alternatives here).
Establishing a presence on Upwork allow you to browse through thousands of available freelance gigs and submit proposals. It’s the place where many aspiring freelance writers find their first gigs and start writing.
Upwork is a huge and complex platform, but we have lots of resources to help you understand it. Here are some of them:
If you want a true head-start in this, my Freelance Kickstarter course, which covers all kinds of freelancing including writing, has an entire module on Upwork, including lessons on things like how to uncover the best clients and jobs, and how to set your rates. You can find it here.
6. Pitch For (and Win!) Your First Few Gigs
At some point you have to bite the bullet and actually apply for writing work.
Whether you’re doing this on Upwork or via one of the many other sites I recommend below, this generally means sending a fairly short message to the client expressing your interest and showcasing your ability to produce what they want.
7. Move Towards a Speciality
As mentioned earlier, clients aren’t generally looking for “generic” freelance writers. When they are, it’s usually towards the lower end of the earning scale.
You may well find your first few gigs involve writing about some pretty random stuff. You’ll likely be grabbing whatever work you can, which can take you in some interesting directions!
But as your experience builds, it makes good sense to try to carve yourself a niche. In an ideal world, this will be a niche you love writing about, but it doesn’t always work out that way. As a techie, I’ve had a lot of technical writing gigs. For me, this is perhaps a little more about where knowledge and earning potential collide than genuine passion for the subject.
Regardless, the key thing here is to try to build up a portfolio that’s particularly strong on one or two subjects. Clients look for experts, so it’s wise to make yourself an expert in something.
8. Branch Out
Later in this guide, we look at a range of different places to find online writing jobs.
Once you gain some momentum, it’s time to broaden your horizons and start looking in more places. You never know where that perfect, quick paying and regular client may come from. It could be somebody you meet on Upwork, a friend of a friend, somebody from a board like ProBlogger Jobs, or a random client from LinkedIn.
Crucially, remember that you need more than one regular client to have a writing career. Things change, personnel move on, and trends and world events can cause work from a specific client to dry up over night. The more baskets you find to spread your eggs into, the better.
9. Refine, Rinse and Repeat
There’s no secret formula to growing your writing career once it’s underway. It’s a simple case of repeating the steps in the chart below.
What tends to happen is that a client asks you to write one article. If they’re happy with your work, they may come straight back and ask for five more, or an ongoing commitment to x articles per week or month. That’s how freelance writing gigs tend to work.
Then you just repeat the process: More pieces of work for more clients, with your freelance rates gradually going up as you gain more experience and confidence.
Over the years, I’ve had countless jobs evolve from a quick $50-100 article into a regular, well-paid gig. Essentially you do the same thing over and over again, getting better at it as you go.
How Long Does it Take to Make a Living from Writing?
There are simply too many factors in play to give a simple answer to the question of how long it takes new freelance writers to make a living from writing. For starters, people’s definition of “living” varies wildly. Similarly, so does each writer’s level of skill and experience, and their willingness and determination to hustle for more work.
I think it is reasonable to say that getting to the point where you have solid, “job replacement” income from writing is something that takes months (or years) rather than weeks. Even once you’re established, work can come in fits and starts (which is true of all freelancing).
With this in mind, it does make sense to have a solid plan if you want to become a full-time writer. Perhaps you could begin with having a part-time job in parallel, writing alongside some side gigs, or waiting until you have some savings to carry you through the lean times.
There’s no point in sugar-coating this – it takes time. If anybody tells you otherwise, there’s a good chance they’re trying to sell you something.
Types of Writing Jobs
There are lots of different types of online writing work out there. Some writing opportunities require specific skills and knowledge, and some will likely seem a better fit for you than others.
Lots of people make a living writing doing very different types of work, so let’s look at some of the options. Before we start, I should emphasise that this is, by no means, an exhaustive list.
Blog Article Writing
A lot of today’s online writing work falls into the category of blog article writing.
Blogs can be about all kinds of subjects: dog training, fitness, dieting, home working(!), cookery, travel, antiques and collectables – the list goes on. Then there are the blogs on business websites, talking about subjects related to the products and services companies sell.
While “blog writing” can mean many different things, blog articles do tend to have several things in common, regardless of the niche you’re writing about:
- They’re written in a fairly short and snappy way, with short sentences and paragraphs.
- They’re generally designed to be helpful and actionable.
- They don’t tend to use lots of “flowery” descriptive words.
Despite the above, don’t assume blog articles are always short. On the contrary, Google tends to favour content that’s quite detailed and lengthy. You’re reading a “blog article” right now, and it runs to thousands of words.
The reason I’m being quite specific here is that there’s one demographic of people who can, at least initially, really struggle with blog writing: academics.
The snappy, attention-grabbing style of most modern blog posts goes directly against how many people are taught to write at college. Long, flowing paragraphs that introduce, explore and conclude a subject in one hit are great for academic papers, but they’re the exact opposite of what clients typically want for their blogs.
Reviews and Roundups
There are a lot of freelance writing gigs that involve product reviews and roundup articles – such as “the best budget coffee makers,” or “the best email marketing software for small businesses.”
In case you’re wondering why there’s so much of this work, it’s because articles like this are the cornerstone of affiliate marketing, where website owners are paid commission for recommending products and services that customers then go on to buy.
The way to win this work is to have expert knowledge of a particular product niche and (sometimes or!) the ability to research products and services in great depth.
I’ve done a huge amount of writing work along these lines, and there’s always demand for it. It’s also a type of writing work that tends to lead to repeat business. These sites usually publish hundreds of reviews and roundups, not just one. If you impress, there’s probably plenty more work for you.
Press releases are my wife’s specialist area. If you have a background in marketing or PR, they could be a good fit for you. The work itself can be quite lucrative and – in truth – not all that difficult once you have the skill to do it.
PR writing is all about producing stats, hooks and soundbites that are alluring to journalists. In turn these generate coverage and exposure for your clients.
Press release writing is definitely a specialised skill, one that you tend to either have the aptitude for or not. The output you produce is actually quite “small,” with releases often only being a few hundred words. However, they usually conform to a very specific format.
Press release work can morph into pitching stories and working more closely with journalists, but that takes us more into general PR, and is not a subject for this article.
Sales copywriting can be incredibly lucrative – but it’s another type of writing that only some people are naturally good at.
With sales writing, you’re writing copy specifically aimed at persuading people to part with their money. This could mean a sequence of emails to launch a product, or a sales page for a product or service.
The type of writing incorporates a lot of buyer psychology. Depending on what you’re promoting it could seem a tad sleazy too. It pays so well because the results of your work are immediately tangible. If your work on a client’s sales page sees them increase sales by 30%, the client immediately sees a pay-off for it.
If this work appeals to you, don’t assume you need prior experience, you could always take a course like this one to learn the basics.
Another specialised area – speech writing seems set to boom as life returns more to normal. Just think of all the weddings and corporate events that didn’t happen in 2020!
We have a dedicated article on speech writing here.
Business writing encompasses many different things. We’ve already covered blog posts, and many businesses need those. But there are other things like website copy, case studies and white papers.
Sometimes even large companies don’t have a suitable resource for this kind of writing, so they reach out to freelancers to do it. Over the years I’ve written entire websites for everything from pizza restaurants to estate agents and IT firms. There’s lots of demand for case study work too.
New writers emerging from a corporate background could find this work a good fit.
You’ll notice I’ve left this one for quite low down my list.
The truth is, there’s not that much work out there for fiction writers. You do see quite a lot of ads for ghost writers (interestingly, many of them in the erotica category), but generally fiction writers work in other ways.
Self publishing is one option (check out my self publishing guide). Another is to go the “traditional” route to try to find a publisher. There are also lots of writing contests that allow you to submit fiction.
When people talk about online writing jobs for beginners, they’re not usually talking about fiction. The truth is that most of the paid work is in the business world. This is a disappointing truth for quite a few of the people I speak to.
Another type of writing work you see a lot of demand for is eBook writing. Many websites sell or give away eBooks, and some entrepreneurs create eBooks in bulk to market as Kindle books on Amazon.
If you like the idea of taking on big, lengthy projects, eBook writing might be worth some investigation. However, this is an area where many clients want the earth for an insultingly small amount of money. If this is a type of writing that grabs your attention, prepare to wade through a LOT of ads before you find some worth applying to.
10 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners
We’re nearing the end of this huge freelance writing guide now. Next we have a really important list of 10 places to actually find the writing gigs.
If you want to become a freelance writer, you will need to spend some serious time on these sites, and regularly apply to jobs that you find.
Already mentioned several times in this article. Upwork has its pros and cons, but it’s undeniably a source of plenty of work, and the biggest freelancing platform out there by most metrics. Many people find their first writing jobs on Upwork – and that includes me and many of the people I’ve worked with and coached.
More of the same – Freelancer.com is another big online freelancing platform where you’ll find plenty of job listings. There are some subtle differences to how the platforms work (and the fees they charge) but really there’s little difference between them.
Another freelance job board. PeoplePerHour is UK-based but with global clients and a global workforce of freelancers signed up. We have an in-depth review of PeoplePerHour on the site, written by a writer who’s won plenty of work on the platform.
We’ve mentioned the big three freelance job boards above, but there are plenty of others, with new ones springing up all the time. For some more options, check out this job board list.
I’m a big fan of ProBlogger Jobs. I’ve both found work on the platform AND used it to find writers for my own projects. ProBlogger Jobs charges clients to place adverts, which tends to weed out the worst of the cheapskates and “bottom feeders.” It’s not a place with thousands of jobs, but always worth a browse. We have a ProBlogger Jobs review here.
Freelance Writing Jobs provides a daily posting of new writing gigs. They’re sourced from various places across the web, including big jobs sites such as Indeed. As well as one-off freelance jobs, occasional full-time positions pop up here, if you prefer a model where you get paid the same amount every month.
WriteJobs posts a steady stream of writing gigs, and also provides details of writing contests and requests for submissions. There’s also a (chargeable) Write Jobs Plus service, with some job details kept behind a paywall. I’ve not tried the premium service so can’t vouch for it at the time of writing.
FlexJobs is THE big name in remote and flexible jobs, and freelance writing jobs appear on the platform sometimes. It probably wouldn’t be my first port of call for online writing jobs for beginners, but the subscriptions are very affordable. You’d only need one decent paying gig via the platform for the subscription fee to seem like a very good deal.
Read our full FlexJobs review to find out more.
I’ve not personally picked up a huge number of online writing jobs via LinkedIn, but it has led me to some over the years. A lot depends on how established you are on the platform and how many people you are “connected” to. Don’t ignore LinkedIn as a platform – it could be a place to find writing work.
Another site that lists writing gigs, primarily for freelancers writing blog posts. It doesn’t feel as well-curated as ProBlogger, and doesn’t appear to charge clients for ads – but it could still be where you find your first gig.
Where To Find Freelance Writing Jobs with More Experience
This is a guide to freelance writing jobs for beginners, but perhaps you’re curious about where to head once you have a glowing portfolio and lots of experience under your belt.
The first thing I’ll say here is that, in many cases, the sites listed above are still good places for experienced writers to look for work. On Upwork, for example, there are entry-level freelancers charging $5 per hour and experienced freelancers charging $150 per hour – and there are potential clients for all of them.
That said, there are some sites that are pretty much “off limits” until you have more experience. Here are a few to check out once your writing career gathers momentum. On these platforms, high paying clients are the norm, and it’s common to find yourself seeing brand-names you recognise.
ClearVoice is a content platform you have to apply to join, and you need a decent portfolio to be accepted. Instead of browsing lists of jobs, you are invited to pitch for specific assignments that seem like a good fit for your profile. I’ve been on ClearVoice for several years and found it a good source of well-paying writing clients.
SkyWord is a similarly prestigious platform where you can be selected to write for well-known brands. Pay rates vary, and levels of work aren’t always consistent, but this is one to investigate once you have some good samples and you’re ready to take your writing to the next level.
Contently is an interesting one, because most people know the site as a place to create a writing portfolio. However, Contently also functions as a talent network.
It’s all very much an “invite only” thing. Contently’s site says “if you’re a good match for our clients, you’ll hear from us.” I’ve never personally heard from them(!) but you may as well set up a portfolio there – nothing ventured, nothing gained!
I’m a big fan of nDash because it takes an innovative approach. Lots of brands are set up on the platform, and you’re free to pitch ideas to them at any time, based on some quite detailed information they provide. I’ve been able to find jobs with some good clients on nDash, and most expect to pay good rates. Here’s my nDash review.
MediaBistro lists job opportunities across all areas of media, including writing jobs.
Two important things to note: First off, there are some jobs with big-name companies here, and some that are full-time (employed) positions as well as freelance. There’s also a heavy US-bias to the listings. It’s worth looking an MediaBistro if you get to the point that you want to try your luck with one of the media giants. I saw Hearst and NBC recruiting writers there when I last looked.
As you now know, freelance writing jobs for beginners is a HUGE topic.
However, if you’re willing to work through this methodically and put the work in, you ALREADY know what you need to do after reading this guide.
I’d recommend signing up for my free email course (see the form below). It covers some of the same ground, but also lays things out on a week-by-week basis so you can ease yourself in, and start freelance writing in a structured way.
Returning to what I said at the beginning, freelance writing work is the thing I’m asked about more than anything. In truth, I KNOW that many people ask about it and do nothing to get started on it – and you do NEED to start to get anywhere!
If you manage to migrate from the “thinking” to “doing” stage, there’s no reason why you can’t make a success of it, and get your freelance writing career underway.
Where To Learn More
- Get a head start with my Freelance Kickstarter course.
- Learn more about some of the realities of being a freelance writer.
- Listen to our podcast on finding your first freelance writing job.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.