How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs (That Don't Suck)

Do you want to do my job? I'm pretty good at what I do. I cut through the clutter for you on a weekly basis, finding the best freelance writing jobs out there so that you can save yourself a little time (which, as we all know, is money) and apply for the gigs that work best for you. But you know, I'm only human. We only list gigs with an advertised rate of $50 or more per article. If you aren't doing your own search, then you might be missing out on some great jobs that don't list that they pay easily double or triple that rate.

So I'm going to reveal the guts of my operation for your benefit. This is how I curate lists and, like any good recipe, this should be a guideline for you to follow and then tweak to your liking.

Find the Best Sites for Freelance Writing Jobs

To find good freelance writing jobs, you need to pick good sites. Jenn and the rest of us have hopefully given you a good idea of places to search for jobs. If not, here are a few places that you can take a look at. Please note that this isn't comprehensive, nor is it meant to be. Find your own. Share in the comments if you have any you think I've overlooked. For freelance writing jobs, these sites either have great volume, great gigs, or both.

  • Craigslist
  • Indeed
  • ProBlogger's Job Board
  • Mediabistro
  • JournalismJobs
  • Elance
  • Kajiji
  • Gumtree

Search Intelligently

Consider the above sites your toolbox. Think of it this way: if you have a hammer but you've never swung one, is a hammer worth a damn? These sites will only work for you if you know how to search. Some are simple job lists like JournalismJobs, Elance, Mediabistro, and Problogger with categories to help you sort quickly. Others, like Craigslist, need to be massaged like a search engine to yield the best results. Here is what I do.

First, search Google using a term like "freelance writer" or "blogger" or "copywriter" or whatever else you want to find. Then type in "site:[name of the site]" next to that and search. You should have typed in something like "freelance writer" or something like that by this point. Google is actually awesome enough to pull up page after page of pertinent freelance writing jobs for you to peruse. These aren't sorted in any particular order though.

Second, go to the bar right under the search box. There should be a little blue divider that says Web and then +Show options. Click on the plus to open up a host of options to sort the ads the way you want them. The only sort I use is to look in the past week, but you can choose any time, from a year ago up to just 24 hours ago.

Third, open the interesting listings in a new window. I recommend using tabbed browsing if you don't already, because you should click on at least a dozen to two dozen freelance writing jobs--if not more--in your search.

Sort through the Junk

At this point, you should have dozens of potential jobs, but not all of these are going to be of interest to you. In fact, out of several dozen freelance writing jobs per week, I find only five or ten that have a published rate. I do have to discard a great many that would be neat to share, but don't adhere to our guidelines. Those could be golden opportunities for you!

How do you know a job ad is legit? Generally, they will ask for a resume, clips, and a cover letter. Some sites will actually have an application process, but this is rare. I have Googled many a company to ensure that I'm not passing on bad leads to the rest of you. If you're not sure or your gut tells you something is off, I've found that I'm right in about 95% of those cases. Go with that feeling.

At the same time, though, it's just your resume. Hopefully you're not sharing any super personal information beyond an email address. Worst case scenario, you apply for a job that pays way too low and you duck out gracefully. I don't see anything wrong with applying for a job unless it appears to be an absolute ripoff in terms of rate.

There are some special keywords to look out for if you want to know if a job pays but doesn't have a pay rate published. If the job is a "great opportunity for exposure" or "for college/grad students" or an "internship" then you probably won't be paid squat. Just above squat is diddly, and that is when your compensation is either based on a bulk rate per number of articles or tied to traffic. In either case, I steer clear.

Why Am I Endangering My Job?

I bet at this point you're wondering why I'm revealing all my secrets. Well, trust me. You and I both know you're not doing a job search every single day, even though ideally you should be, just like you should be flossing and eating five servings of vegetables. I'm a search genius--modest too--and I've got a lot of experience doing this. My lists will always turn up gems, even on super slow weeks where you've hit your head against the wall constantly. Plus, as this blog gains more exposure, employers may just turn to us to do job listings instead of wasting their cash and time on the wilds of Craigslist. Ideally, that would make everyone's lives easier.

I felt, though, that you should see the innards of my operation. I'm not the type of guy who likes to rely on others constantly, and I totally understand if you start doing this stuff yourself. In fact, I've seen some great jobs I can't list because of no published rate that you'd have kicked yourself for missing, so you should at least be supplementing this weekly list with your own search.

Now here's where I turn it back to you. What did I miss? What do you do that I don't or--conversely--what do I do that you don't? And what do you want to do instead? What would you rather see?

Happy hunting, folks!

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Clint Osterholz is a freelance writer who thinks he's awfully funny, and is surprisingly not a disappointment to his parents. You're always free to check out his portfolio if you'd like someone to be funny, or maybe write something a little more serious. Subscribe to my posts (only posts from this author).

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