Freelance writing opportunities are available in more places than you might expect. With businesses of all sizes struggling to keep costs in check, freelancers are looked at as an affordable alternative to hiring full-time staff writers.
Types of Freelance Writing Opportunities
Generally, writing opportunities can be grouped into four main areas:
- Corporate communications
- Technical writing
- Creative writing
Some writers work exclusively in one area, while others generate their income from working on many different projects.
For most people, journalistic writing is the first thing that comes to mind as they begin looking for freelance work. This type of non-fiction writing requires clear communication skills and a passion for research. An outgoing personality is also helpful, since you'll frequently be asked to conduct interviews with people who have knowledge of your topic.
Examples of journalistic projects you may be hired to do include:
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine features
- Web content writing for media outlets
Places to find freelance journalism opportunities include:
- Media Bistro: This website is a great resource for writers who are looking for journalistic-style freelance writing opportunities. You'll need to register for a free account to view the job postings. Postings are updated regularly often include established newspapers, magazines and websites.
- Journalism Jobs: This website also specializes in providing job listings specific to the field of journalism. Postings are updated often, and the board often features freelance opportunities with major print and online media outlets. Registration is not required to use the site as a job seeker.
Corporate communications includes writing materials for businesses to use when dealing with other businesses, prospective customers, or their own employees. This is an often overlooked source of freelance writing opportunities, although these types of projects can be very lucrative. Opportunities for corporate communications projects include:
- Sales letters
- Promotional brochures
- Product descriptions
- Articles for a company's employee newsletter
- SEO copy for a company website
Places to look for freelance corporate communications work opportunities include:
- PRSA Job Center: The online job center for the Public Relations Society of America is a great place to look for freelance opportunities in corporate communications. Sign up for a free job seeker account to review complete details of advertised positions and to post your resume where companies searching for freelancers will be able to find it.
- ProBlogger Job Board: It's not unusual for companies and marketing agencies to outsource writing for corporate blogs to freelancers. Visit the Pro Blogger Job Board to review current openings for freelance corporate bloggers, as well as other types of blogging work. You do not need an account to use this resource.
Technical writing is a type of formal writing that helps explain complex ideas to non-technical audiences. Freelancers with technical writing experience are often in high demand, because many engineers and computer programmers lack the strong communications skills needed to effectively create these types of materials. Examples of technical writing projects include:
- Installation and instruction manuals
- Troubleshooting guides
- Training e-courses
Resources for finding freelance opportunities in technical writing include:
- Indeed.com: Indeed is one of the best online resources for finding technical writing freelance work because the site compiles online postings from company websites and job search boards to provide searchers with a fairly comprehensive listing of what is available at any given time. You do not need an account to use Indeed, but if you create one you can sign up to receive email notifications of new technical writing jobs as they become available.
- ComputerJobs.com: Since many technical writing jobs involve creating user manuals for computer software, this site often has job listings for freelance and contract opportunities for technical writers. You will need to complete a form and upload your resume directly via the site to apply for any positions that interest you.
This can be the most difficult type of freelance writing to make a living from. While many people enjoy reading poetry, short stories, and novels, there are far more talented writers trying to sell their work than there are people willing to pay for it. For this reason alone, it's common for all but the best-selling authors to supplement their income with other types of freelance writing or a day job in a field that's unrelated to the writing profession.
Places where you can look for freelance creative writing opportunities include:
- Writer's Market: If you're interested in writing short stories or novels, you'll want to invest in the current edition of Writer's Market. This book can help you identify publishing houses that accept pitches, proposals and unsolicited manuscripts, as well as other potential resources where you may be able to sell your creating writing work.
- Poets & Writers: The Poets & Writers website is a great resource for identifying fiction writing and poetry contests to enter. Submitting your work via these contests is a good way to get recognized as a serious creative writer, as well as to earn cash prizes for your work.
- Upwork: Companies and individuals looking to contract with freelancers for specific creative writing projects often post opportunities on Upwork. In order to be considered, you'll need to create a freelancer account, agree to the terms of service, look for work opportunities via the site and submit quotes for clients to consider. If selected to complete projects, you'll need to deliver quality work in a timely manner. Review the Upwork terms of service closely to be sure that you fully understand the fee structure and how the service works before getting started.
Attributes of Successful Freelance Writers
Once you have a better sense of what types of freelance writing opportunities are available, you may find yourself wondering if you have what it takes to become a successful freelance writer. Generally, those who do well in this business possess the following attributes:
- An appreciation of the English language
- Strong spelling and grammar skills
- A willingness to constantly learn new things about a variety of subjects
- The discipline to work independently
- The patience to revise their work as many times as needed to make it publishable
- The persistence to keep going even after they've been rejected several times
Background and Skills
Many people think that a freelance writer must have a college degree in English, journalism, communications, or a related field. However, this is not necessarily true. While a large number of employers look favorably upon applicants with a background in these areas, there are plenty of successful writers who either originally trained in a different career field or did not attend college at all.
Regardless of your educational background, be prepared to show writing samples that demonstrate your skills when applying for work as a freelance writer.
Location is another common concern for new writers. While writers based in larger metropolitan areas definitely have an advantage when it comes to searching for local clients, you don't need to give up your dream of a freelance writing career if you live in a rural community. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, it's possible to work for clients in New York or Los Angeles without ever leaving your home, no matter where you live.