9 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs

Find freelance writing jobs online

If you’re a freelance writer, the task of finding quality, well-paying gigs can be a daunting one. Where do you even start? How you can guarantee the jobs you’re looking at are legit instead of scams?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the Internet is chock full of people who are willing to pay pennies on the dollar for hours of your highly skilled time. (Keep reading for some words of warning about these people.)

The good news is that we’re here to help you weed out the dreck and find the sites that are actually worth your time and effort. (Click to tweet this list.) Whether you’re a copywriter, editor, creative writer or anything in between, these sites offer the well-paying, reputable jobs you really want.

Better yet? While some sites charge a monthly fee to access their job listings, all of the resources below are free.

So where can you find freelance gigs?

BloggingPro Job Board: Also listing a healthy dose of copywriting jobs (you can search postings by category), this board is, as the name suggests, right up a blogger’s alley. Whether you’re into health and fitness, pets, writing code or what have you, you’ll find a steady stream of employers looking for blog writers versed in these and many other subjects.

Freelance Writing Gigs: While anything on Craigslist should be taken with a grain of salt, this site does increase your chances of finding a decent gig by consolidating writing job posts from Craigslist boards all across the country, allowing you to locate telecommuting gigs you might never see if you were only browsing your local board. That said, Craigslist is still Craigslist. This site tries to exclude any posts that look like scams, but the onus is still on you to vet each listing carefully.

Journalism Jobs: While most of the postings are (you guessed it again!) for those interested in journalism jobs, you don’t necessarily have to have Lois Lane dreams to find a gig here. There are also editing positions, ad copywriting and other jobs thrown into the mix. Some are location-based, some can be done remotely.

LinkedIn Jobs: If you’ve already got a LinkedIn profile (and you really should), don’t just let it sit there. Networking goes a long way in the freelance world, and LinkedIn is a great resource to do some networking through common connections.

While you’re doing that networking, check out the Jobs section and sign up for email alerts when jobs are posted that match your interests. Many will be location-based, but who’s to say you can’t approach these employers with a proposal for freelance services? Maybe they need someone to fill the gap in the hiring interim, or maybe the job could just as easily be done remotely but they hadn’t considered that.

Pro tip: You know that “people who’ve recently viewed your profile” notification you see when you sign into LinkedIn? If you don’t recognize some of the names, why not reach out to them and say “I see you’ve looked at my profile. I’d love to explore if there are any ways we can help each other.” Can’t hurt to try, right?

MediaBistro: Check out the freelance section of the site for a wide range of jobs from industries like TV, PR/marketing, magazine and book publishing and social media–a little something for everyone.

Morning Coffee Newsletter: This weekly e-newsletter provides a nice compendium of freelance writing and editing jobs of all shapes and sizes from around the Web with competitive pay rates. Save yourself the time of scouring numerous sites and let this newsletter bring the decent jobs right to your inbox.

ProBlogger Job Board: From Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, an authority site on blogging, you know jobs listed here are going to be from serious employers who have an idea what good writing is really worth. Plus, given ProBlogger’s high profile in the blogosphere, you can often find jobs posted by some big-time blogs here.

The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs: Freelance blogger Sophie Lizard has compiled a free ebook listing 45 blogs that pay $50 or more per post, broken down into sections like Writing Blogs, Food Blogs, etc. She also includes some good tips on how to approach these blogs, how to promote yourself once you’ve landed a post, and more.

50 Markets That Pay Freelance Writers 10 Cents Per Word: Okay, so this ebook isn’t free, but it’s only $4.99, and if you land even one 500-word project, it will have paid for itself several times over. This book offers a compilation of contact information and guidelines for 50 magazines, newspapers, websites and ezines that accept freelance pieces, so whatever your specialty, you’re bound to find something that appeals to you.

Sites to avoid

Especially if you’re just starting out, it’s tempting to be lured into content mills like Demand Studios or free-for-alls like Guru, oDesk and Elance, where it looks like you might stand a better chance to land something even if you don’t have the biggest portfolio yet.

Don’t be.

While it may seem like these sites are your best best when you’re a newcomer, they’re largely a crapshoot when it comes to winning a project. These sites are a rush for the lowest bid, and you’re competing against hundreds if not thousands of other desperate freelancers prepared to sell their firstborn for the chance to write someone’s 250-page ebook.

Even if you’re brand-spanking new to the game, no one deserves a gig that pays one cent per word. And chances are if someone is looking for the sort of writer willing to write a word a cent, they’re not going to be the best client to work for. Don’t sell yourself short just because you’re new. Have a little patience, keep persevering, and you will find those clients who truly value you.

be patient, persevere, and you will find clients who value you

Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits and is growing her own freelance writing, editing and blogging empire day by day. You can follow her on Twitter and .

Cordelia Calls It Quits | @CordeliaCallsIt

Kelly Gurnett
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Comments

  1. Great list Kelly!

    For those who are a bit more familiar with AP and Chicago Style for writing for magazine styled publications, allfreelancewriting.com also has a great (and free!) writers market listing.

    I think writers, especially new ones, need to value their skills and pitch to clients who are willing to pay decent rates, instead of trying to get work from the penny pinching cheap clients!

    • Great suggestion, Daryl. Thanks!

      You are SO write about valuing your work. I’m actually writing a post on that to appear here soon, so keep your eyes pealed. Undervaluing our work (especially when we’re just starting out) is a huge problem for freelance writers

      • Hi Kelly! i’m one of the many confident in my writing skills and I’m passionate about it. I am now hoping to start my first freelance writing job at uvocorp (my essay sample is still under evaluation). May I hear a word or two from you as your usual advice to beginners like me?

  2. Great collection of resources, Kelly!

  3. Love this post — So many great ideas here!

    • Thanks, Lexi. I hope it can save some writers from going through the penny-a-word phase too many of us went through at one point!

      P.S. LOVE the image you guys chose for this post. Too freakin’ cute.

  4. Kelly, I 100% agree with you about staying away from content mills. I would add staying away from Yahoo! voices too for the low pay along with some of the shady posts on Craigslist (although I do sometimes find gigs worth going for). I’ve also had some luck with Ebyline, and a string of luck lately approaching businesses directly about blogging for them resulting in multiple and ongoing work for at least $50 per post.

    • I’ve never heard about Ebyline but will have to check them out. You’re right; the majority of what you’ll find on Craigslist is dreck, so those job posts should always be evaluated cautiously.

      Good for you for approaching businesses directly! That’s a great approach but one many freelancers are afraid to take. I’m glad it’s been working so well for you!

  5. Thanks so much Kelly for taking the time to research and put together this list. It will get some good use here! It’ so discouraging to ‘beat the pavement’ only to find gigs offering $10 for a 500 word article. Sheesh! People don’t get that we writers like to eat too! :o)

    • I so hear you. Never accept those $10/500 word articles, no matter how hungry you are.

      OK, if you’re really, REALLY hungry and need to make ends meet that month, and that’s all you’ve got currently, I’ll allow it. But otherwise? Your skills and time are worth far more, and there ARE clients out there who will recognize and honor that. Hold out for the good ones. (See: my upcoming article on how we writers need to learn to value (and insist on the value of) our own talents higher than we often do.) :)

  6. lorraine Fleet says:

    I love this list it is helpful in not hitting dead ends when looking for work

  7. Hi Kelly (and others),

    This is my second day becoming nose deep in freelance writing, and I don’t feel like I’ve reached the point of knowing everything before submerging within.

    Can you please lead me to the right direction?

    Where do I begin? What do I need to start with?

    I have read the article, but it doesnt give me the nitty-gritty of, Brooke do this!!!

    What kind of articles should I be interested in? Copyright, Blogger, etc.

    *Goal* Would be traveling and writing about new and exhilerating places. (I know it sounds much more glorious then it is, but that’s why it is a goal, right?)

    • I think the better question is, what kind of writing do YOU want to do? What topics interest you? What style are you most comfortable writing in?

      Freelance writing is a huge industry, and you could be everything from a lifestyle blogger to a marketing copy writer. You need to determine what niche fits your skills and interests best; that will make it much easier for you to locate specific, nitty-gritty advice.

    • Hi, Brooke.

      Your post is a few weeks old , but if you’re still looking for nitty-gritty, where do I start… a friend, Rebecca Flansburg and I have put together some resources that deal with those basics. You can find them here:
      http://myfreelancefreedom.com

      Might be something helpful for you.

  8. This article was quite helpful and the comments were too. I am
    just about to finish my English MA and I am broke as joke, living
    at my parents, and finding writing work online is my priority for
    the time being. This shall be quite the adventure I am beginning
    to see so I’m trying to find a nice community online to help me
    on my way. Best of luck to everyone trying to survive out there!

  9. This is my second day becoming nose deep in freelance writing, and I don’t feel like I’ve reached the point of knowing everything before submerging within…

  10. Thank you for this post. I just recently got into freelance writing and I feel so stupid already. I found a blog that suggested odesk so I signed up with them and since I didn’t have a portfolio yet I applied for a job paying $20 for 10 articles due in one week. I’m halfway done but after reading this I don’t even want to complete the rest. I feel so cheated. I thought it would be a good way to get some experience under my belt but I have put so much time and energy in the articles I have done so far and it doesn’t even seem worth it. Should I even complete the job?

    • Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear that. You’re not the only freelancer to have gotten lured into one of those sites. My rule of thumb, even as a newbie, was never to accept less than $10 for every 100 words, unless it was a fantastic gig that would get me good exposure. Even if you don’t have a portfolio, you should only take on projects you’ll be proud to show to other people when they ask what you’ve done. It sounds like you are creating good work right now, but unfortunately, it’s for a client who totally doesn’t deserve it.

      It’s a judgment call on whether to complete the project or not. There’s something to be said for keeping your word, but at the same time? This is clearly a client who doesn’t value a writer’s worth, so in my book, you don’t owe him much. He’s paying for work that’s worth $2 an article. In my book, $2 buys you a paragraph, maybe.

      Personally, I’d cut and run. If he winds up writing a bad review of you on odesk, it’s not a huge loss — you’re better off getting the heck out of odesk anyway.

  11. Hello Kelly,

    Love your words of encouragement to stay true to writing and get properly paid for your talent. I love writing and have been caught up in content mills since I decided to write online about a month ago. I must admit the pennies I have received for my time, talent and dedication has been great to encourage me to seek something better.

    Are there any books or articles you recommend for beginners looking to earn a living writing online?

    • Glad to hear you’re getting out! Content mills are the worst trap — there’s no chance of advancement, no value of what you’re really worth, and the “portfolio” you wind up building through cheap jobs isn’t usually the kind of portfolio that will help your career.

      The Write Life has actually put together a great list of resources to check out. You can find it here: http://thewritelife.com/resources/

  12. Hey, kelly. This article was an actual eye opener.I’m from India and being a novice writer, I didn’t have any expectations which made me vulnerable to such clients. I’ve worked for clients who have been paying rather poorly but require an ‘outstanding’ quality of work from us. I’m amused and at the same time rather disappointed when I realize that I had been working for 0.16 cents per word !! Once again a big thank you for now I know what to expect and whom to deny. Take Care.

    • You’re very welcome. You’re not the first to be lured into low-paying jobs. I’m glad we’ve helped you realize you deserve much, much more!

  13. Karen de Guzman says:

    Thank you for the tips. I am handicapped and a fairly new mom at 41 to our 9 month old first and only son. I have been wanting to start a blog so I can have more time for my son since I have heard that with patience you could earn okay from blogging but, I for now, I can’t let go of my day job that pays $4.50 an hour because it still pays the bills. However, after the recent typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan hit the Philippines, I know I have to pursue blogging or find a better paying writing job that doesn’t require me to sit in front of the computer for 8-9 hours a day anymore. Can anyone give me additional tips on the best way I could start a blog aside from wordpress or blogger please? Thank you.

    • First of all, congrats on your new baby! Second of all, my thoughts are with you and all your friends and loved ones — are you located in the Philippines yourself? I hope you’re all safe and well.

      Third, The Write Life has put together a great list of resources you can check out. You can find it here: http://thewritelife.com/resources/. The very first section is on blogging, but there’s also lots of other material to help you with all sorts of writing careers. If there’s ever anything else I or The Write Life can help you with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

    • Dexter Camba says:

      First off, congrats on your 1st son! Sounds like you come central Visayas too ( like me, am from Bohol) Phils. If you are , here’s hoping for a better writing year for both of us. Yolanda (Haiyan) and the quake that hit our country – and the economic woes they brought are really challenges we need to hurdle.

      Haven’t much advice to give you on blogging – except join as many writers’ forums at LInked In, if you haven’t done yet. You see, I am more comfortable in writing articles than blogs. I have heard (from joining a lot of LI writing forums) – of a lot of successful/well-paid bloggers there who might be able to help you – to name a few – Francesca Nicasio, a US-based Filipina blogger, Carol Tice (US), Bamidele Omnibalusi (Africa), and more.

      Also, writing websites that work like a vendo machines (like Xoobiz, in 2011, but now seems closed) where writers can draw writing jobs from a queue – will also help, as we need not waste time in pitching for jobs.

      (please see my post somewhere in this forum re this – you like me want writing jobs you can do anytime on your free time)

      If you bump into business article writing gigs and Xoobiz-type sites, I’d appreciate it too if you could let me know.

  14. Thank you for the great tips. I also get money writing for Bubblews and I
    I also write for sendmeglobal where they only give award to a writer each month. I was able to win it once. You have opened my eyes to other relevant targets. Thanks.

  15. I’ve recently started blogging just for the love of it and am curious about paid gigs. There is soooo much info out there and this article has saved me from contentmills, not to mention wasted hours-thanks very, very much!!

  16. That was a good read!

    I guess you your words of wisdom are meant for US-based writers, knowing how much it costs to live there, this makes sense … well, kinda.

    If you were writing for a while before delving into the freelance world, i.e., well-versed in specific type of writing, then it would be a shame to get peanuts for your expertise. However, taking those low-paying gigs is what you really need if you got no clue what your niche is, and want to get experience.

    I started working on oDesk a little over a month ago, it’s an amazing website. Although It’s infested with low-paying gigs, I managed to land a couple of good jobs on there.

    Since I write for my own amusement and because Jennifer (Oh dear Jennifer who gave me my first writing gig!) told me I write well, I continue to “work” on oDesk. It’s funny that I consistently manage to get $5-$10 per 500 words, not so bad compared to the pittance most jobs pay.

    I’ll have to disagree with you on staying away from “outsourcing platforms”, because unless you’re a seasoned writer, you shouldn’t be starting anywhere else. At least for the sake of getting good at your craft before pitching to high-paying clients.

    Speaking of High-paying clients, I stumbled upon your post as I was looking for them, but all I could find is advice, and advice only. Next thing will be a blogger telling me to be “one with nature” and those high-paying clients will come to me on their own.

    • Great point that you have to start somewhere, Talal — you’re right that new freelance writers have to gain that somewhere, and that there can be good jobs hiding among the less-than-stellar ones. It just takes time to sort through and separate the wheat from the chaff!

  17. you can make money writing articles at http://www.iwriter.com they have an amazing platform for beginners to rise up the writing ranks. The pay is sustainable and you are able to begin your career well.

  18. Hello and thank you for proving such an interesting article!

    Even though I’m not an English native speaker, I have managed to get some American and English clients so far, and they have been satisfied with my works.

    Being a young, I started on Elance some weeks ago while at the same time trying oDesk. All of my clients come from the former, as for the latter I didn’t bother to go back.

    What is your advice for me? I think Elance is good for building some portfolio and acquiring experience, but naturally I want to move on to something bigger and better. So where to start, or better to say what’s the next step I should follow?

    • Hi Matteo, thanks for your comment! We actually have a post coming up on what to look out for when using outsourcing sites like Elance and oDesk. Keep an eye out for that in the next few weeks!

  19. I love everything you posted on freelancing for a better pay.

  20. Great informative post! I’ve got a desk job and am seriously thinking of a career change towards this direction. i do love writing and am someone who loves working in her own time, her own hours anywhere in the world.

    It’s a great list and gives people motivation to get started. Usually to make a change in life its quite scary but your post is so straight forward and well written that it makes anyone feel ready to take on the world! Thanks for this post and some of the other ones as well about freelance writing.

    Your blog is awesome :D

    xxGrace

  21. I’m so glad I found this article. I will be graduating with a Professional Writing degree in May. I’m trying to see what types of writing jobs are out there, because I’m nervous about the job market. I just signed up to write articles on Hire writers.com, but the pay is so cheap and I work really hard on the articles. I got paid more writing for my school’s newspaper than I did writing for Hire writers.com.

    • Hi Amanda,
      I’m curious as to where you got your Professional Writing degree. I was a technical writer before becoming a s-a-h mom. It’s a really good gig and pays good.

      Now I’m doing freelance writing while my child is in school. It took me a long time to get my tech writing job (b/c I initially was in elementary ed), and I’m thinking it may take a long time to work may way up as a freelance writer.

      Whatever you do, when first out of college, it can take a long time to build up your experience. It can be a long, frustrating climb, but do have patience and try not to get frustrated when you keep hearing that you need experience to get the job. It really, truly is character-building and most of us (whose dad doesn’t own the company!) have to go through it. Best of luck!

  22. Thank you for putting this together. I finally crossed the line to paid writer, and now I need to lock in more steady work. Due to a knee injury, I am being pushed to go full time. Not a bad thing, I really enjoy this.
    I wanted to add another idea. If you are obnoxious or cocky enough, you can try what I did.
    I just emailed links and a short letter to every magazine I could find, that focused on my specialties. I retired from 20 years in pro audio, and one of my blogs is about that world.
    Two of the magazines picked me up. One is feeding me steady work. Both pay way better than the mills.
    I will be going through your list today. Hope to get a few more regular gigs.
    Thanks again.

    • That’s awesome, Erik! I don’t think that was necessarily an obnoxious strategy; having as much experience as you did in a particular niche means that you have more to offer a specialty magazine than someone with no industry training. I think what you did was smart — targeting magazines within your small, specialized niche. Well done!

  23. The idea of freelance writing is one that has intrigued for a long time now. Is the idea of making a go at freelance writing a legitimate venture for someone with out any experience in the field. I have no schooling in the field, and I have never written anything other than for my own enjoyment. Thank you and the other posters for the information you have compiled here.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jason. I’d say it totally depends on what you want it to be. Are you hoping to leap into a full-time, six-figure career? Then I’d say it’s unrealistic. But if you’re exploring your options and are willing to put a fair amount of effort, you could build a solid career.

      Take a look around the site, especially the Freelancing archives, for posts by contributors who have built their freelance writing businesses from the ground up. If you have specific questions, feel free to get in touch!

      • This is for Jason… I hear you Bro, I’ve no formal training either. I have been writing since I could pick up a Crayon, just for the love the art and craft. Being out of a job I held for many years, writing for pay seamed like a good Idea. I’m still learning the ins and outs of freelancing, but I have found my niche’ (actually there are a few) and my portfolio is growing. It is hard work for freelance newbies without a mortarboard, but the rewards are, or will be worth the effort. Keep it up!

  24. i hope i could find a suitable writing job 4 my self am a young student from africa nigeria precisely pls kelly are there jobs for nigerian writers…………………. thanks.

    • Russell Lee says:

      I’m just a visitor here today but I am a little familiar with problems relating to Nigeria. You should know, first of all, that Nigeria has a terrible reputation worldwide for fraud. This is one of your biggest obstacles. My advice: work hard to establish yourself as an honest, reliable and worthy writer, play down Nigeria as your country of origin (use “Africa” instead), and join a solid support group or community of like-minded writers (you will be judged more by the company you keep rather than the country that you’re from). Once you are “labeled” (good or bad), it will spread quickly on the networks.

      Your second obstacle is a scarcity of payment processors. Most people commonly use PayPal worldwide to pay or get paid. The last I knew, PayPal refuses to do business in Nigeria. However, AlertPay was established in Nigeria but they have also since morphed into something else. I don’t know what else to tell you about this as I don’t have the inside track on this.

      Do some research on useful payment processors, open an account with one and guard it fanatically. Hackers and key-loggers abound profusely in Nigeria and all your hard work could be undone in a single incident. Personally, I don’t trust public computers as found in cafes where all your personal information will be stolen.

      I think that writing assignments are available to anyone anywhere, regardless of where they live. However, the burden will be on you to establish yourself as stated above and to secure your work from destruction.

      Good Luck!

      • Hey Russell, it’s good to see you here. :)

        Trust me you really know a lot about my country and it’s true that Nigeria is literally synonymous to fraud and what have you, which really saddens my heart as a savvy Nigerian populace that I am.

        However, I really do not agree totally on your suggestions of David playing down his country. I believe carving a good reputation for himself his the major ingredient.

        How would he do that? Simple! By networking with like-minded people on and off the blogosphere and being genuine in all of your doings and every other things in-between.

        Virtually everyone knows where I’m from and currently I’ll be kick-starting a project with some of my Indian and American friends. So it’s not really about the country is about the individual many times.

        Speaking about payment processing, I believe paypal is unwise, reason been that Nigeria is one of the biggest opportunities centrals. And excluding Nigeria is of course a foolish act.

        Well, there are several other methods of online transactions though and some of them are payoneer, wepay, 2checkout, Google Wallet, Skrill, Intuit, Propay, Dwolla, Braintree and the likes.

        So dude, you had better be wise and like the saying goes thus, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Be wise man!

        Thanks so much, Russell for taking the time out to know about Nigeria and for trying to help David. It shows how big your heart is! :D :D

        Do have a magical year!

        Sam

        • Russell Lee says:

          While we do agree in principle regarding advice for David, it must be kept in mind that David has no professional reputation at this time. If he did, it would speak for him. I can also understand your loyalty to your country, but loyalty does not pay money. I live here in the USA and I network often with a number of people. I can tell you from first-hand experience, that if a novice from Nigeria tried to land a paying job, he would be quickly passed over by a vast majority of people because they fear and don’t trust unestablished Nigerians. American TV and banking bulletins warn customers daily of Nigeria scams.

          Therefore: Until David establishes himself professionally, he really does need to play down his country as I stated earlier because he’s going to have a tough time winning assignments when the employers are negatively biased against Nigerians. He will need to soften that fear by not using the “Nigeria” word.

          This is just my advice, having seen the problem first-hand. He can, of course, ignore my advice and proceed with his own strategy. It matters not to me.

          • thank you very much russell and sam your advise have multivated me but as a novice in online writing where do you think is the best optiono or platform for me to start up……………thanks

  25. Thanks for all these sites! I’ve already had some success on Problogger.

    I’ve spent the better part of the past year writing articles at a rate of $12 for every 600 words. It was presented as such a great opportunity, but I see now that the pay really wasn’t good at all compared to the effort I was putting in, and it wasn’t worth it because it didn’t get my name out there as a writer at all. The client turned out to be very unprofessional and unethical as well – the project ended in November, and they have yet to pay me for the last couple of weeks, which totals almost $2,000.

    I thought that this $12 per article was so great, because previously I had done work for 25% of THAT rate on Elance – $1 for every 200 words. I regret spending so much time with that client, who was very demanding and sometimes expected me to be “on call”, respond to emails and write articles within 30 minutes – for about $2.50 for every 500 words too! The only reason I spent so much time working with this unethical client was that he had sent angry messages for getting articles done less than 15 minutes late a couple of times, and I didn’t want a bad review on Elance. The reason the articles were even late was that he was giving me 6000 words to complete a DAY, and there just wasn’t enough time to do that in 24 hours, especially with other assignments. I was staying up nights, working my butt off, and making about $25 a day. Finally, I said enough is enough and told him I was done – of course he required 2 weeks notice and I was stuck with him for another 2 weeks.

    One business to AVOID – No Doubt Marketing, owner Justin Stewart.

  26. Hi Kelly,
    Thankyou so much for this information. Writing is my passion but it’s just been me and my diary till now. I’ve been thinking of trying to earn something with my writing but I’m new to this world of online writing jobs and am a bit lost. I’ve been researching it for some time now and I’m so happy and relieved I found this page. I really was considering taking up one of those low paying jobs since I’m a novice and to be honest I’m actually quite critical about myself and I wasn’t sure about whether I’d be able to deliver. And after hours and hours of browsing and the irritating head aches resulting from staring continuously at the computer screen, I was beginning to lose hope. But after reading your post I’ve found courage to keep trying!
    Thankyou so much once again!
    Wish me luck!

    Anna

  27. Jim Howard says:

    One of my best, most interesting clients posted the job on Guru.com, so it’s possible to find good work with good people there. Every so often, someone is actually willing to pay fairly, and of course the proposals immediately pour. Competition is fierce for the good jobs. But that’s true anywhere. I also got an ongoing gig through Guru that doesn’t pay very well, but that I really enjoy. I wouldn’t write the site off.

    One thing I like about Guru is the ability to create templates easily, so it gets less time-consuming to apply for jobs as you go. I know other sites do this, too, but Guru’s work very well.

    It’s true that many Guru and oDesk listings are in the “write my life story for 50 cents” vein, so you’ll find yourself snorting in disbelief a lot. But to me, it’s no different than looking for jobs anywhere. Most jobs are crap. Those are easy to spot. Good ones are hard to find, but when you land one, it’s worth it.

  28. Dexter Camba says:

    I am posting a similar comment I did in a LinkedIn writers’ forum.

    First, let me introduce myself – I’m an ESL writer from the Philippines, but proud to be able to write just as good as most native English writers (well, at least my over 25 x 5-star reviews in almost as many research-writing jobs, albeit in a bidding site, say so). I am more comfortable though in writing fact-based, in-depth-researched business and health articles – and not so keen with blogs.

    As a wannabe writer, I started at 64 in 2011. My long years (over 25) in offline sales/business development helped with starting up a freelance writing biz, albeit mostly with a low-paying bidding website. I didn’t mind however, for as long as income was progressive.

    You see my biggest challenge was I had to learn Computer and Writing 101 skills simultaneously in my sunset years. Still, with hard work and perseverance, I was poised to a great take off. It was short-lived however, when after an “on track and continuous climb” in 2011, my first year as a freelancer, my writing income suddenly “plateaud” then nosedived in 2012, even up to now. Google’s algorithm – Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird – changes are perhaps the cause?

    Based on my long years in sales, I believe that freelance writing, like any small business should take no more than 20% of a writer’s time, after an aggressive and sustained biz development no more than 6 mos. to 1 year. Personally, pitching is no longer my cup of tea – ironic perhaps as I have to admit burnout – after over 25 years of those – including cold calling.

    That I was able to do, as mentioned earlier on my first year, but am a loss in explaining how hard it is to find decent writing jobs now – despite my much-improved writing and computer skills – going into my fourth year. In fact, the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel seems elusive, and wish I had the luxury of time.

    Now, am in search of a writing website that works like a vendo machine, where a writer once qualified and registered – can draw a writing job from a queue. Pay per word would depend on writer’s skills – quality, originality and timely-delivery.

    Actually, in 2011 my first year as a wannabe writer was partly with Xoobiz.com, which worked that way. Recently, however the site seems to have closed shop.

    If anybody knows of similar websites (open of course, to ESL writers), I’d be glad to know. In fact, thinking aloud, wouldn’t it be a great idea if an enterprising writer would be willing to invest? I am willing to pitch in my two cents.

    Thanks for reading my comment.

  29. Hello,

    I appreciate your article. I have always loved writing, and have been disappointed with the sites you have said to steer clear of. After ten years of working in the medical field in an allied health modality, I have recently found myself injured, and no longer able to perform my duties.
    I have decided to do what I love to do from now on. Scary? Yes, I am new to the blogging/freelance world. But I am determined. And I have the knowledge as well as the skill.
    So, here we go! New Year, New life, New start!
    I do have a question, where does a new blogger start? I am being realistic in my goals. I know I won’t break six-figures, but I am hoping to earn enough to support my family, or at least supplement the income.
    I guess it is an exciting time, although uncertain as well. Does any of this make sense? At 3am, I am unable to sleep from the anxiety of an uncertain future. I have no degree, and I am afraid this is a roadblock.
    Anyway, I plan on checking each site, and hopefully grow a network of fellow writers. It is far past time to follow what I know I love to do.
    Thanks again. This was a godsend, and really gave insight during a dark time. Perhaps, sometime in the future, you may read something of mine. You are free to contact me for any reason as I am always delighted to make friends. And as I have said, this has been a godsend. Thank you so very much.

    Regards,

    Jason

    • Thanks for your comment, Jason! Great question — getting started can be the hardest part. Our Blogging section has some great posts, and I’d recommend checking out the sites we listed on our 100 Best Websites of 2014 for more great advice. Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind, Sophie Lizard of Be a Freelance Blogger and Kelly Gurnett of Cordelia Calls It Quits offer fantastic tips and best practices on their blogs.

      Best of luck in your new endeavor!
      Heather

  30. thank you very much russell and sam your advise have multivated me but as a novice in online writing where do you think is the best optiono or platform for me to start up……………thanks

  31. Way too many new writers fall into that trap walking into the cage and the steel door slams behind them. This is trying to get started in a writing career but with little or no experience, they fall to the predators that prey on them.
    These predators are making huge amounts of money off of the talents of these brand new writers who are desperate to gain experience. Beware!
    Even building a backlog of experience working for low pay shows up in your past writing life work experience. Not only are you undermining yourself but for everyone else that writes for a living, it only makes it harder for them to negotiate through those many low-paying sites and article mills.
    There should be a nationwide crackdown on this sort of thing. People writing for less than the national minimum wage is absolutely ridiculous.

  32. I just have to say that the three websites you excluded demonstrates your ignorance. I’ve been a full-time freelancer writer for the past seven years (I’m 27 now) and my bread and butter has been two sites – Elance and Guru. Odesk, although, is terrible. Elance is the primary bread winner.

    Via Elance I make about $200 a day. This comes from an average job price of around $90. Those jobs take me about two to three total hours to complete.

    The resources that you mentioned are complete crap. I’ve never gotten a job out of any of those resources even through consistent attempts.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective, William; everyone has different experiences, and to each their own opinion.

      I think Kelly’s point is that it takes time to sort through the tons of less-than-stellar gigs to find the good jobs, and that time could be better spent. However, if you’re able to put in that time (or build ongoing relationships with the clients you find on those sites), then these sites could be a great addition to your business. Everyone is going to rely on different tools and resources, and our goal is to help writers learn about their options.

      We have a post coming up on what to look out for when using outsourcing sites and common mistakes new freelancers make, but if you’d be interested in sharing your experience with Elance or Guru in a post, check out our guidelines at thewritelife.com/write-for-us/.

      • William McCanless says:

        Elance has the highest quality freelance jobs you’re going to find anywhere on the Internet and they’re there every day. I bid on jobs there each afternoon at 3PM (the sweet spot for California time and East coast time) and always have at least two or three new jobs by the end of the day. These jobs typically consist of web copywriting, branding, sales page writing, promotional script writing (those little one to two minute explainer scripts), and ghostwriting. Those other resources are certifiably useless.

        The author also doesn’t mention the fact that those resources don’t offer protection to the freelancer, which is immensely important. Elance and Guru for example have an escrow system and an arbitration service in case anything goes wrong. A few months ago I did $700 worth of work for a client. They just dropped off the radar. I requested that the money be released from Escrow into my account. Even though they never responded, Elance automatically released the money after 14 days of inaction by the client. It’s these types of protections that make it a safer place to work for freelancers.

        In the case of Guru, I landed a great month-to-month ghostwriting job off there. I don’t get jobs as consistently on Guru as I do Elance and the jobs are also not as high quality as Elance, but when I do they are typically for large, long-term, big-budget jobs because there is a sore lack of talented people on Guru (unlike Elance, which has more competition).

        It doesn’t take a lot of time to make good money as a writer. I spend no more than one hour a day looking for jobs and I haven’t done anything other than freelance writing for seven years. I have no boss and make a comfortable living.

        I just think the reason there are so many broke writers out there is because of posts like these that don’t actually help. Literally the only two websites on the web where freelancers of every type ACTUALLY make money, are the ones the author decided to completely discount. That’s crazy to me. If you’re reading this — don’t pay attention to what was written.

        Look, here is a link to my Elance public profile, you can see how I’m rated, the huge portfolio I’ve been able to build up, the average monthly income I make. https://www.elance.com/s/w_mac/

        Again — if you’re a writer stay off the other sites that were mentioned and get on Elance or Guru (Odesk sucks — stay away from that one). They are the only two sites on the Internet that protect freelancers and have high-quality clients with great budgets from all throughout the world looking for freelancers every day. Hell, I even hire freelancers off of there when I need graphic design done or I’m too bogged down with projects and need to share the load.

        This post should definitely be changed. It’s not good to mislead people who are trying to make a career out of writing.

      • William McCanless says:

        I also want to make one more quick point — quality clients DON’T pick the lowest bidder. Freelancers are the ones who think that’s true. They see low bids and think they have to be the lowest one or they won’t get the job. I always bid the highest or a little over the average bid amount. If someone has a budget of less than $500 and the lowest bid is $30 | average is $150 | high is $300, depending on the job I will either go to $200 or $400 (always above the average or the highest bid).

        Although I often get jobs that are $200 to $700 (I even get jobs wroth $5,000 or more for large ghostwriting projects, last year a client I met off Elance even flew me out to San Francisco, California so I could ghostwrite his book — paid the hotel room, plain ticket, everything) I typically find myself with jobs that are a comfy $90 to $120. These are usually tiny things like writing three pages of web content or writing a 60 to 90 second script. Things that take me about an hour to complete.

        It’s SO easy to just get maybe two or three $90 jobs a day. Knock your work out in three hours in the morning, and do whatever you want the rest of the day.

        None of those other job sites let you bid a price, protect you from crappy clients and let you get consistent daily work.

        And if you can’t get jobs off Elance, you’re not going to get jobs anywhere else because you’re probably just plain bad at selling yourself.

    • Are you getting outside work from clients you connected with on Elance? I took your advice and checked out your profile. You’re getting rave reviews, obviously very good at what you do. I notice your “lifetime” stats don’t suggest you’ve been with the program for much over a year though, and while $13,000 in 12 months isn’t terrible, especially for freelance writers, it hardly reflects your claims of $200 daily, with consistent day-in day-out work. Especially if you take that cushy $5000 job out of the equation.

      I’m not writing to be snarky, but be honest and reasonable, and know when you may be the exception to the rule. The bottom line is that every nice job you get on Elance is another someone else won’t, and if you really are just fantastic at marketing yourself, I get the feeling you have plenty to market. This post is for those looking to break into freelance writing. Sites like Elance that work on bids are sort of like “Ebids”, where someone COULD save a ton of money by timing everything just right and outperforming some of the competition, but the vast majority of users won’t get what they’re looking for.

      Again, exception vs. rule. If you can actually land $200 worth of work daily for 4 hours worth of effort, than get to work saving for retirement or something! Surely your skills will be served much better elsewhere, instead of trolling a post that clearly wasn’t written for someone with your level of experience.

  33. Thanks so much for compiling this list! I have a blog and have contributed as a freelance writer to a couple websites for years, but I haven’t gotten serious about it until now. I have actually found some good gigs on Elance – granted they are far and few between but I’ve gotten 4 or 5 well paying freelance jobs through them that were all actually kind of fun. They were more writing for marketing though. I guess I have a knack for weeding out the scammers! I’m also required to hire graphic designers for my work sometimes and I’ve found some good ones on Elance.

  34. Great list, it can be difficult to find a good resource for “Real” Writing jobs, one of the things that I look for in finding good sites is any website that wants to charge the writer just to access “So called jobs” is a bad sign and should be avoided, any real resource will never charge you a fee to participate.

  35. I thoroughly dispute the claim that Elance is not a place to go for beginners. I made $200 in my first week on the site off of 3 jobs. It’s all in your ability to sell yourself as a provider of quality content. If you’ve got the right portfolio and ability to market yourself, Elance is a Goldmine.

    I quickly learned the lesson not to undersell yourself. There’s plenty of people on there that will pay $3-$5 per 500 word article (which is silly), so you’ve got to wade through the jobs. I had one client who I was willing to give a high amount of words (around 2,000) for low pay, but had to revise my proposal to 3x what I was planning to get paid because I didn’t fully grasp freelancing. So long as you deliver quality work (which I did), you’ll get rave reviews and lots of repeat business.

    • Thanks for your comment, Brad. As I explained above, everyone has their own experience and opinion — this issue seems to be a hot-button one. Some writers have found value in Elance and oDesk, and we actually just ran a post from one of them on how to best use these sites (http://thewritelife.com/odesk-elance-6-common-mistakes/).

      Thanks for sharing your advice, and I think it holds true for writers no matter where they’re finding jobs: it’s up to writers not to undersell themselves and to deliver quality work.

  36. Jose FD Bautista says:

    Hi, Kelly. This is the nth time I am trying to find a really good advice and a reliable site for my writing. And I am going to really check those sites you’ve listed. But even before I proceed checking them out, I really appreciate the points you’ve raised in your article.
    Good a good shot of HOPE, thanks.

  37. I think writers, especially new ones, need to value their skills and pitch to clients who are willing to pay decent rates, instead of trying to get work from the penny pinching cheap clients!

  38. Michaela says:

    My apologies, I posted in the wrong area!

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