Writing is one of the easiest freelance careers to break into. It can go from an entry-level work at home job to a high-paying side hustle in a relatively short period of time, and if you enjoy the process it can be a fun job that pays well.
Yes, you do need to have a real talent for writing (or a willingness to learn). But there are plenty of clients who are willing to hire writers with little or no experience, and if you can build a reputation for delivering quality content, you’ll be able to find all the work you can handle.
If you’re looking to break into the field, you’re in the right place: this article lists the best sites to start with.
It also contains a little bit about my own writing experience, as well as some tips I’ve learned along the way that will help you win more clients and ramp up your rates.
You can jump directly to my list of the best freelance writing job sites for beginners, but I would also encourage you to take a few minutes to read through the information below — I’m confident it’ll help you succeed as a new freelancer.
My Freelance Writing Journey
Earning money by writing didn’t cross my mind until 2009. I was studying to become a Certified Financial Planner® and decided to start a blog about what I was learning.
That blog ended up doing quite well. But both my career and family were growing fast, and I had less time to work on the blog than I expected. So I decided to sell it, and a year went by without writing much.
Then I took on the responsibility of managing the website for my family’s insurance agency. Up until about 2012, it was a five-page site designed from a template. It needed new content — and lots of it.
The term “copywriter” wasn’t even in my vocabulary at that point. But that’s what this job entailed. And over the course of that project, I realized how much I missed writing. Starting your day with an hour or two of distraction-free writing is quite addicting.
As the website project wound down in 2013, I wanted to stick with the habit and keep writing. So I started looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners.
I had used eLance (now Upwork) to hire freelancers for random projects before, so when I decided to become a freelancer myself, that’s where I began. After applying for more than a dozen jobs on the site, I finally won my first contract. But it wasn’t exactly lucrative.
I earned $50 for writing a business brochure. It took me about 10 hours.
However, the client loved my work and gave me a positive review.
The next job I took paid $600 for writing a chapter in a course on investing. While the chapter took me approximately 20 hours to write, it felt great to earn a decent sum for my work.
Over the next few years, I continued moonlighting as a freelance writer. My specialty was copywriting — specifically, landing page copywriting.
I saw the demand growing for landing pages, so I learned how to design the pages as well as create the content for them.
I was then able to offer a full package: landing page copywriting + design. This combination is rare and quite valuable in the marketplace.
While my first freelance gig paid just $5 an hour, before too long my listed rate was up $180 an hour.
Today, I keep busy running this blog and no longer seek out paid writing assignments. But my freelance work helped me acquire some essential skills that made it much easier to become a full-time blogger.
Types of Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners
There are many writing jobs that pay $5 an hour, but there are also freelance writers who earn $2,000+ an hour.
How much you earn depends on the type of value you bring to your client.
300-word blog posts that don’t get read are only worth $5 an hour. But a writer who knows how to craft a winning sales message can be worth thousands.
What’s important to understand is that the writers who deliver the most value make the most money.
That’s why the first step to becoming a freelance writer isn’t going to job boards and blasting out your resume; it’s choosing a niche. The illustration below gives you a sense of the kind of niche you should be looking for.
Your goal is to choose a niche that has all three of the following characteristics:
- Has a measurable return on investment (ROI) for the client.
- Is growing in demand (covered below).
- Interests you.
How to Pick a Freelance Writing Niche
Choosing the right niche is the difference between riding a wave and fighting against one. But how do you pick a niche that’s right for you?
An excellent way to start is by going to Upwork (the largest freelancing marketplace) and entering the term “writer” into the search box. Next, under experience level, select “Expert.”
This allows you to see the jobs in which clients are looking for expertise.
Next, browse the job titles that interest you.
Then, take some of the keywords from the jobs that interest you and re-enter them into the job search box.
For example, when I entered the term “writer” in the job search box, I found the job description below.
After looking over the description, some of the searches I may enter next would be:
- Landing page
The goal here is not to actually apply for a job. Rather, it’s to get a sense for the types of jobs available in which clients see value in hiring someone with high-level skills.
Best Freelance Writing Niches for Beginners
After a dozen or so searches, you should begin to:
- Start finding jobs that interest you.
- Start to understand the kinds of jobs in which clients see the potential for a writer to add value.
But if you’re still struggling to pick a niche, refer to the list of five good ones for beginners below.
My background is sales writing. The books and articles I read have to do with marketing. So, my recommendations are based on trends I see in this space.
There are more niches, of course — this list is by no means an exhaustive one.
Picking a quality niche is one of the secrets to success as a freelance writer. Expert writer Gina Horkey has a list of 200+ quality niches for beginning freelance writers — it’s a great resource and I recommend checking it out as part of your research.
1. Amazon Product Descriptions
- Description: There’s high demand for quality writers who understand how to optimize an Amazon product or book listing. This includes understanding how Amazon ranks products in its search results, and optimizing your writing to help clients get more exposure on the site.
- Example target market: Target small to medium-sized sellers who launch multiple products a month on Amazon.
- Recommended resource: Copywriting for Amazon Listings: 12 Steps to Increased Conversions.
2. E-Mail Marketing
- Description: Email isn’t dead. In fact, there’s strong demand for writers who know how to produce engaging copy that drives people to action (i.e., to click through to a website).
- Example target market: Specialize in a specific type of email series, such as the product launch email sequence. Then, increase your value by learning one of the more popular email platforms (such as MailChimp). This way, you can offer to not only write the email series but design and upload them to the client’s email provider.
- Recommended resource: Email Persuasion: Captivate and Engage Your Audience, Build Authority and Generate More Sales With Email Marketing.
3. SEO Writing
- Description: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — which helps web content rank better on Google — is a skill more than a niche. But becoming as an SEO expert (and branding yourself as such) can help you make significantly more money in almost every field. If you’re not familiar with SEO, don’t worry — there are plenty of resources that can help you learn what you need to know.
- Example target market: Local businesses that offer a variety of services. For example, a financial office needs a page for financial planning, portfolio management, life insurance, estate planning, and potentially dozens of other topics.
- Recommended resource: Copyblogger’s SEO Copywriting Series.
4. Video Sales Letters
- Description: Video sales letters (or VSLs) are trending up in the marketing space. Facebook videos and YouTube advertising are the catalysts. VSLs are often only a few minutes long (a few hundred words) but can significantly increase a client’s conversion rates.
- Example target market: Specialize in video sales letters in the health and fitness space.
- Recommended resource: The “How To Write a Great Video Sales Letter Script” Formula.
5. White Papers
- Description: White papers are another tried-and-true form of marketing. What’s nice about a white paper, at least for me, is that you get to really sink your teeth into a project. Because they tend to be longer and require more research, you can earn a nice living taking on two or three projects a month.
- Example target market: Specialize in white paper writing for local financial service providers, and target businesses with white papers on their website that are a few years old.
- Recommended resources: White Papers for Dummies.
How to Win Contracts with No Experience
You’ve picked a niche. You’ve been to sites where clients post jobs. Your next step is to land a gig.
The good news is this: it’s a lot easier than some people think.
Although you do need one thing – a writing sample to share with the prospective client.
The freelancer who gets awarded a job is often the person with the portfolio sample that’s closest to what the client is looking for.
If you have this sample, whether you produced it for another project or solely to use for applying to jobs, your chances of winning the contract increase dramatically.
Just as important, you can ask for a price equal to the quality of your sample.
As you’ve picked a niche and scoured job sites for freelance gigs, your approach from here on out is fairly simple:
- Step #1: Create a sample of your work.
- Step #2: Find jobs that closely resemble your portfolio sample.
- Step #3: Apply for those jobs.
I wrote a detailed guide to winning your first job on Upwork, and you can use the techniques detailed in that post on most of the sites mentioned in this article.
The quality of most job proposals is low. That means it doesn’t take much effort to stand out from the crowd.
When I applied for jobs, I used a simple three-step approach.
It seems to work, as Upwork said, I get hired more often than other freelancers (see below).
What’s important is that I don’t try to win a job by writing a proposal.
Instead, all I’m trying to do is continue a conversation — preferably by jumping on Skype or a phone call.
Three-Step Freelance Proposal Template
Step #1: Show them you read the job description. You’d be surprised how many proposals are obviously cut-and-pasted.
I caught that you were looking for someone who can [INSERT YOUR NICHE].
I think I’d be a great fit, as I have written a number of articles on [THE TOPIC] and understand it in great detail.
Step #2: Share a portfolio sample that closely aligns with what the client is looking for.
…as you can see from my profile, I’m new to [JOB SITE]. However, I’m not new to [NICHE]. Attached is a sample from my portfolio that’s very similar to what you’re looking for.
Please let me know if that’s the type of content you had in mind?
Step #3: Continue the conversation by leaving your contact details and suggesting the next step.
Based on your job description, I thought we should at least take a few minutes to chat. I’m available at [THESE TIMES] if you’d like to schedule a quick call. Or feel free to add me on Skype or call my cell when you have the time.
My Skype ID is ______.
My phone number is (123) 456-1234.
How to Win the Best-Paying Contracts
You may not win your first job. You may not even win the first dozen jobs you apply for.
But it’s all part of the process. Every proposal you submit moves you one step closer to having a successful work-from-home career.
Getting your first freelance writing job is a significant milestone. While this post gives you a framework for landing your first job, there’s one more thing I need to share.
There’s no shortage of freelance writers looking for work. What there is a shortage of is writers earning good money.
A principle of marketing/positioning that’s been valuable to me is Dan Kennedy’s Ladder of Wages (pictured below).
- On the bottom of the ladder is the generalist. The generalist is the lowest-paid person. In freelance writing, that’s the person who writes 300-word blog posts for $5 each.
- Moving up, you have the specialist. A specialist will earn more than a generalist. In freelance writing, a specialty could be content marketing for local insurance agencies.
- Next is being an authority. An example here is a writer who specializes in content marketing for local insurance agencies. This writer has a blog on the topic of content marketing for insurance agencies. Plus, has written for a handful of industry publications/blogs.
- Above the authority is the celebrity. This person may not be as talented as an authority, but they’re paid more based on their celebrity status. For a freelance writer, this is the person that’s seen by an entire industry as “the-go-to-guy” for a particular need. When they walk into an industry conference, they’re instantly recognized.
- Last is the celebrity-authority. This is the writer who has the skills to back up their celebrity status. If you’re in copywriting, this might be someone like John Carlton, Dan Kennedy or Brian Clark.
Establishing Yourself as a Specialist
You don’t need to worry about becoming a celebrity-authority today. What you do need is a plan to move up from the bottom of the pyramid.
As long as you stay at the bottom (a generalist), you’ll be part of the lowest paid group of writers. The good news is that becoming a specialist is simple. One good sample can be all it takes for a client to value you at that tier.
Becoming an authority isn’t much harder. This guest post I wrote for an industry blog has been very valuable to me.
Something like a guest post on an industry blog in your niche, a podcast interview, or speaking at a local event can all position you as an authority. More importantly, they’re not difficult opportunities to obtain.
The Best Freelance Writing Job Sites: Beginner Level
Below is a list of the sites you should turn to when you’re first starting out, while the next section contains a list of sites better-suited for intermediate and advanced freelancers.
Here are two things to keep in mind when reviewing these lists:
- The website you choose to start on doesn’t matter as much as your approach to getting your first client. If your strategy is right, you’ll get jobs — even in a crowded marketplace.
- Your short-term goal is to get paid to write something. But your long-term goal is to have your choice of clients — to have so many options that you can turn down work and just accept the best-paying, best-fitting projects.
Best for: Those willing to make a little less money in the short term in order to gain experience and earn more in the long term. Upwork has thousands of job listings for gigs that require no experience, including many freelance writing jobs.
Clients often post relatively small, simple writing projects — and they don’t want to pay a lot for them. That means the more experienced writers on the site don’t bother to bid, making it easier for new writers to get a few gigs under their belts. The site also hosts plenty of high-paying projects, which you can compete for once you’ve bolstered your profile.
Here’s a guide that goes over how to get your first job on Upwork.
Best for: Those willing to work for $5! Well, you can charge much more than $5 on the site (you set your own prices, in $5 increments), but many potential clients are attracted to the site because they know they can find writers willing to work for low rates — i.e., new writers.
When you create a Fiverr gig, you have the ability to set multiple price points for different levels of service. So, the best practice is to offer one very limited package at the $5 level (writing one tweet, for example), as well as more expensive/more inclusive options.
Best for: If you live in a fairly large city, you might be able to find local writing gigs on Craigslist. And it’s a good site for beginners because most of the writing jobs posted are for relatively easy part-time jobs, like writing a newsletter or a press release for small businesses. You will have to sort through a lot of scam postings (which is true of any job category on Craigslist), but there are plenty of legit online jobs posted there too.
Best for: Most of the jobs posted on CloudPeeps are one-off projects, but taking on a few small gigs is a great way to build your portfolio — which you can then post on sites geared towards more experienced freelance writers. And sometimes a one-off job can turn into a long-term relationship with a client. Because the clients come to you on CloudPeeps, it’s best to create a profile that highlights your skill in writing about few specialized topics rather than as a general writer; this makes it easier for clients with specific needs to find you.
Best for: Writers who want to work on Zerys need to apply by creating a profile and providing a work sample. Once you’re approved, you’ll be allowed to apply for certain jobs that are listed. As happy clients provide positive feedback, you’ll earn a star rating; you can only apply for jobs that are at or below your star rating, so the more stars you have, the more lucrative projects you’ll be eligible for.
Best for: Those who want to find writing, editing or journalism work, as the site offers all three. Mediabistro charges a fee for posting jobs, so you’re less likely to run into scammers here. The site also offers a number of tools and resources to help you increase your chances of landing jobs on the platform, which can be helpful for anyone new to freelancing. Mediabistro offers freelance, remote, and contract-based projects.
Best for: This freelance writing job board is one of the oldest and most active, and always features lots of fresh listings — making it a great place for those looking to gain some experience quickly. FreelanceWriting.com also sends out a newsletter with tips to help aspiring writers improve their work. There are not only postings for writing gigs, but also social media related work.
Best for: Those who don’t have a lot of time to scroll through several different sites looking for writing jobs, as FreelanceWritingGigs.com is an aggregator. The site publishes a weekly summary of freelance writing jobs that have been posted on various other sites. That said, writing gigs tend to go quickly because freelance writing is a crowded field. Waiting a few days to see and apply for a project may mean others who saw the original post beat you to the punch.
Best for: Not all sites that list freelance writing jobs require clients to post what they’re willing to pay. This is frustrating, because you might spend significant time crafting a great pitch and going back and forth on the details of a project with a potential client, only to find out that the money being offered isn’t worth your time. You won’t encounter that problem at AllFreelanceWriting.com, a job board for freelance writing work, as each posting shows an approximate rate the client is willing to pay.
Best for: New writers are welcome at PubLoft, but you will need to show some skill. Writers must apply and will be vetted based on overall writing ability, as well as grammar, research and fluency skills. The site also helps writers with the business end of things, like managing unpredictable income and managing multiple clients. PubLoft also offers feedback to help new writers improve and land more clients.
Best for: Don’t be put off by the “.ca” designation; this site doesn’t require you to be Canadian to apply for jobs. If you’ve been trying to make some extra money by starting a freelance writing side hustle, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of jobs don’t end up paying minimum wage when you do the math for the time spent compared to the money earned. No matter how much you love writing, you need to earn a reasonable wage in order to make it a sustainable job. All of the jobs posted at FreelanceWritingJobs.ca must pay at least minimum wage.
#12. Writer’s Den
Best for: Those willing to pay for access to a community of fellow writers. Writer’s Den is more than just a job board — it’s an active community of freelancers. You can chat with, exchange ideas, and get advice from fellow writers in the forums, and the site requires that each job posting pay at least $50. The cost to join the site is $25 per month, and for those very new to writing, the community can be a great learning tool — but you can definitely find similar forums that don’t charge a monthly fee.
Best for: This site is an aggregator and features posts from various sites we’ve covered above. Each posting must pay at least $50, and if the client pays per word, the rate must be at least 10 cents.
Most postings show the pay rate, word length, and the number of pieces the client is looking for (some of them are looking to hire regular writers for multiple pieces each week). Unfortunately, not all of the listings are for new jobs (many are months old), so be sure to check the posting date before applying.
Best Freelance Writing Job Sites: Intermediate and Advanced Level
Once you get a few gigs under your belt to pad your portfolio, it’s time to move on to sites that offer better-paying jobs — many of which are looking for writers who specialize in one or two specific topics.
No matter your skill and experience level, Upwork and Fiverr will always top your list of places to find good work. But the sites below offer solid opportunities for experienced freelancers — especially those who can work in high-demand niches (like personal finance).
Best for: Those looking to move from part-time to full-time freelance writing. FlexJobs is a job board that offers remote opportunities, many of which are full-time employee or contract positions offered by companies that don’t care where a writer is located. Another great thing about FlexJobs is that they carefully screen each posting, so you’ll never run into a scam on the site.
#2. ProBlogger Job Board
Best for: Those who understand that blogging is in fact “real” writing. Some writers — especially those with a lot of experience — turn their noses up at blogging jobs, but the ProBlogger Job Board is widely regarded as one of the authority sites for blogging and attracts some big-name blogs that are seeking talented writers. Those looking for writers on the site must pay to post jobs, so the postings tend to be legit (and they usually pay well).
Best for: Those looking for various writing opportunities ranging from blogging, to journalism, to magazine pieces — there are even gigs for technical writers. There are also postings for proofreading and editing jobs available. Would-be writers must apply and be approved before they’re allowed to search the listings. If you’re interested in starting or growing (and monetizing) your own blog, BloggingPro offers tips and strategies to help you do so. The jobs on the site are not vetted, but those seeking writers must pay to post (which cuts down on scam postings).
#4. The Writer Finder
Best for: The Writer Finder is an agency that matches business owners with freelancers, so it’s a good fit for writers with expertise in a specific area. Writers apply and, if accepted, the site will send you emails with writing opportunities that best match your skills. From there, you can choose to apply to the postings (or not). Each posting is sent to only three writers, so unlike many job boards, you aren’t up against dozens (or hundreds) of other freelancers.
#5. All Freelance Writers (Formerly All Indie Writers)
Best for: This site has a lot of jobs you won’t see on other freelance boards, including postings looking for poets, short story authors and other creative writers. So if you want to branch out into more artistic writing fields, All Freelance Writers can help you do so. It’s also one of the easiest boards to navigate — you’ll see the type of assignment and the approximate pay ranked from low to pro level.
Best for: Writers looking to work with brands, so there are a lot of social media writing jobs available at Clearvoice. You’ll create your profile, including your rates and your area(s) of specialty. Based on your profile information, you’ll receive email leads for opportunities that match your skills. Sometimes, an employee of the site will reach out to you individually with a job that they think you’re well suited for (which means you won’t be competing against fellow writers).
Best for: Those who want to write for high-profile brands. The site is cagey about publicly releasing client names, but most are brands you’ve heard of. In many cases, you’d have to work for an advertising agency to get access to brands like these, making Skyword a prestige site. Make sure your profile is top-notch, as Skyward is picky about who they connect clients with. But with that said, the pay can be worth the effort.
Best for: This is another site that works with well-known brands, connecting them with qualified writers. Contently also hires article writers to produce content for its own site. Writers can create a profile and portfolio, and then wait for a Contently employee to reach out with opportunities. You will work more closely with the Contently editors than with the client, and professional editors are often demanding, so you may deal with several rounds of revisions. That can be frustrating and time consuming for a writer — but it can also make you better.
Best for: Ndash connects writers with major brands, so it’s ideal for those who have a specific area of expertise. That’s particularly true since many of the companies that use the site are looking for writers who can produce white papers. The site works both ways: writers can pitch clients directly, and clients can reach out to writers. Writers create profiles and can choose to have them verified. Ndash will make suggestions to improve the profile, and while this can involve some back and forth, it’s worth it. Clients will see that you’ve been verified and it gives you the ability to make direct pitches.
Best for: Those whose writing trends toward journalism. Writers create a profile that’s more extensive than for many sites; you need to include a resume and references, for example. Writers can search the pitch board and make a pitch to the client on the topics they’re interested in. You can also write an article, post it, and a client can purchase it. And finally, clients can hire you based on your profile.
Best for: NewsCred helps companies handle various aspects of their marketing program, so much of the work will involve writing content geared toward advertising for small to large brands. Freelance positions are listed directly on the NewsCred website and the company has recruiters who are active on LinkedIn looking for writers.
Best for: Those with journalism experience, although you’ll sometimes see postings looking for freelance copywriters and social media management. The site shows job ads for both companies and government agencies, and the listing will take you directly to the client’s website (where you’ll apply for the opportunity). Writers also create a profile, so clients can come to you. Be sure to carefully read a job posting before applying, as some of them require a writer who is local to the area.
Best for: Those who specialize in content writing in the media and entertainment niches. CisionJobs is a portal that not only lists freelance opportunities, but also contract positions and in-house positions that allow for remote work. You’ll find some heavy hitters here, including the Wall Street Journal, GQ, and Barron’s. You can click on the “Apply” button on the site and it will redirect you to the employer’s page, where you go through their application process.
Best for: Those looking for full-time or local work. Indeed is a job board that pulls listings from all of the internet. Many of the postings are for full-time jobs, and you can narrow your search to your immediate area if you don’t prefer to work remotely. Most postings have a lot more information about the job description and requirements than you’ll find on other sites, so you have a better idea of what you’re applying for.
Freelance Writing Jobs FAQ
How good do your writing skills need to be?
It depends on your career goals. The internet is a big place, and there’s an enormous demand for new content. That means it’s easier than ever for less talented writers to get paid for their work. One thing’s for sure: you don’t need to be Hemingway or Murakami to do well on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
However, that means it’s totally possible to make great money as a full-time freelancer without developing the writing skills required to work for publications like magazines, newspapers and top-tier websites. If your goal is to eventually publish in more prestigious outlets, focus on constantly improving your craft — your success as a freelance content writer may not translate to those opportunities.
Can you build a freelance writing career as a creative writer?
Yes, and you’ll probably be surprised by how many clients are specifically looking for creative writers. However, you may need to be open to the possibility of working as an editor as well as a writer, as many of the jobs in the niche involve helping people work on, finish, or edit their novels.
What is a content mill?
A content mill is a site where clients post writing assignments for freelancers. The mill places each assignment up for bid, or assigns it directly to one writer. The client pays the mill and the mill pays the writer after taking a cut. Mills typically don’t pay well, but can be a way to gain some experience and make some fast money.
Writing for a content mill is a starting point, not a career choice; they have a negative reputation in the industry because they exploit new writers’ willingness to work for low rates to gain experience (thus pushing down rates for everyone in the field), and also because they tend not to care much about quality, accuracy or ethics of their content.
What’s the best way to get a job with no experience?
Unfortunately, the answer is to bid low. On sites like Upwork and Fiverr, you need to have at least a little bit of feedback to compete for the most lucrative opportunities, so you may need to underprice yourself on your first couple of assignments.
That can be avoided if you bring subject expertise to the table and focus on finding assignments where you have a competitive advantage. For example, if you spent 10 years working as a life insurance agent, you’ll have an advantage over a general personal finance writer when applying for a job reviewing life insurance products.
How much does freelance writing pay?
There are people who will work for a penny-per-word, and there are a handful of people alive who get paid $10 per word. In other words, it’s hard to nail down an answer to that question, other than to say that you’ll make what your talent, profile and negotiating skills can command.
But to generalize, a brand new writer with zero experience may have to work for five cents per word, while someone with a decade of experience might reasonably earn 25 to 50 cents per word, depending on the niche. $1 to $2 per word isn’t unheard of, but you’ll only make that by writing for a major, mainstream publication (like a print magazine) — and those opportunities are few and far between.
When writing content for a blog, you can reasonably expect to earn about 10 to 20 cents per word.
Final Thoughts on Freelance Writing Jobs
This article should give you plenty of information to work with — from what kinds of jobs are out there, to how to find them, to how to win them.
What I want to say in closing is that before you make a big career switch, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what a freelance writing job looks like in practice.
Writing is hard work, even for the best authors.
If you’re someone who genuinely enjoys the process and doesn’t mind spending the majority of your time working on your own (as opposed to in an office environment), this can be a lucrative and fulfilling career path.
But if you’re not 100% sure that sounds like the right fit, consider freelance writing as side hustle to see how you like it before walking away from other opportunities.