Are you interested in becoming a freelance writer? The best way to start is by, well, starting. Land some freelance writing gigs, publish your writing, and learn through experience.
Unfortunately, finding freelance gigs can feel impossible when you’re new and don’t know where to look. Here are eight ways to find gigs — a total of over 40 specific resources — to help you get started.
I’ve used all of these strategies while building my freelance writing career. I hope they work for you like they have for me.
Subscribing to newsletters is a fantastic way to find writing gigs. When you don’t have hours to spend searching listings, you can skim your inbox for curated gigs instead.
Here are some freelance writing (and editing) newsletters I enjoy that regularly share gigs:
2. Writing-Specific Job Boards
There are a bunch of job boards out there specifically focused on freelance writing, editing, social media management, etc. I recommend bookmarking your favorites to a folder saved in your browser’s bookmark bar, so you can quickly and easily visit them.
Here are writing-specific job boards I’ve used in the past:
3. General Job Boards
Companies don’t always know how to go about finding a freelance writer. Sometimes they turn to the same tools they use for finding full-time employees: general job boards.
Search “writer,” “remote writer,” “write,” “edit,” or whatever combination of words best fits your search. The more general your search terms, the better. I’ve found it’s best to limit results to those from the past week or two and put “remote” as the location, if that’s an option.
Here are general job boards I’ve used to search for freelance writing gigs:
Simply Hired (owned by Indeed, but as of now still returns different results)
Craigslist (sometimes local businesses post gigs here, but be wary of scams!)
4. Writing Gig Twitter
Social media provides another opportunity for finding freelance gigs. So far, I’ve only used Twitter for this purpose. There are a few ways to find gigs on Twitter:
Search for specific terms, such as “freelance writer” or “open to pitches”
Follow editors, publications, and companies you’d like to write for
Follow accounts that tweet writing gigs
Here are some Twitter accounts I follow to see writing gigs they tweet:
Who Pays Writers? (they don’t list gigs, but can give ideas of where to pitch)
Yes, most of these twitter accounts are associated with job boards I already listed. I still find following them useful. I don’t check job boards every day unless I’m making a concerted effort to find new work, but I do procrastinate and check twitter every day. Might as well turn that dilly-dallying into something beneficial, if possible.
5. Freelance Gig Sites
There are multiple gig sites out there that connect freelancers with people who need them. These sites differ from job boards because they do more than just post listings.
Once you get a gig, you communicate with the client through the site’s platform and receive payment through the site. Yes, that means they take a cut of your money.
Here are popular freelance gig sites:
Word of caution: these sites tend to get a bad rap because there are often extremely low-paying gigs on them. Avoid those gigs! Decide in advance how much you require in terms of payment and refuse to go below it. With that mentality in mind, navigating these sites will be much easier.
Of the freelance gig sites listed, I’ve only used Upwork. Upwork worked well for me. Through it, I gained the opportunity to ghost write for doctors, a wellness website, and nutrition brands. I was then able to parlay those experiences into higher-paid health writing gigs.
I’m not currently using Upwork because I have better paying work I've found elsewhere, but I might go back to it someday. Reading about six-figure freelancers who primarily use Upwork is inspiring!
6. Content Companies
A content company operates like a virtual agency. Unlike agencies, they only focus on content and don’t offer a full range of services, such as graphic design and online ad management.
Content companies hire a team of freelancers and pay them to write content for their clients. They edit this content and sometimes provide clients other services, such as SEO or content strategy.
Here are content companies I’m familiar with:
I’ve seen content companies referred to as “content mills,” but not all companies selling content are created equally. In my opinion, a content company is reputable, but a content mill doesn’t treat their clients or writers with respect.
Content mills underpay writers to churn out mediocre content quickly for clients looking for a deal. Lose-lose. They generally pay writers only a few cents a word, and some content mills pay as little as one cent or even a fraction of one cent per word.
The only content company I’ve personally written for is Compose.ly. Compose.ly pays a minimum of $.10/word. I’ve found that on a good day, I could average $50 to $60 per hour or more at that rate. With more time-consuming projects, I averaged $30 to $50 per hour.
I don’t write for Compose.ly very often currently because I have other, higher-paying clients, but I like having them as a backup option. With content companies, you usually don’t have to commit to any particular workload, which makes it easy to jump in and out of working for them as it fits your schedule and needs.
7. Pitching Editors
If you’re looking to have writing published in publications (rather than on businesses’ websites) under your own name (rather than ghostwritten), pitching editors directly (rather than replying to a gig listing) is the way to go.
A pitch involves sending a short message to an editor describing what your article, essay, or blog post would entail. Eventually, I will write a post about pitching and share samples of my successful pitches. Until then, check out what The Write Life says about pitching — they give good advice.
Here are a few ways you can find editors to pitch:
Search Where to Pitch for your niche topics then Google editor names + email
Look at the mastheads of your favorite publications and Google editor names + email
Look at the mastheads of your favorite publications and search editor names on Twitter and LinkedIn
Subscribe to the Opportunities of the Week newsletter
Search The Write Life for publications in your niche (for example, “36 Travel Magazines and Websites that Pay Freelance Writers“)
8. Letters of Interest
If there is a company or agency you’d like to write for, consider sending them a letter of interest. A letter of interest is a letter (or email) a job seeker sends to a company they want to work for, even though the company doesn’t have any job openings currently posted. Letters of interest (LOIs) work for freelancing as well.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory is the queen of letters of interest, which she calls letters of introduction. Although she didn’t invent the concept, she perfected the freelance writing LOI as far as I’m concerned. Read her blog post about writing five-sentence LOIs to get started. (I recommend subscribing to her newsletter too while you’re on her site.)
If you wanted to find freelance writing gigs but didn’t know where to start, you have no excuse now! Stay tuned…in future posts I plan on writing in more detail about applying to gigs, pitching editors, and writing letters of interest. Finding opportunities is only half the battle.
For the more experienced freelance writers out there — do you recommend any good resources I left out? If so, leave a comment about the newsletters you subscribe to or the sites you check for job listings.