There are three rules you must keep in mind when browsing writing job boards.
- Do not pay to work
- Do not write for free (or “exposure”)
- Avoid the freelancing farms where the lowest bidder wins
You know the kinds of opportunities I mean.
There are so many people who want to work from home, or who want to pursue writing as a career, that an entire industry has sprung up around exploiting these people and pushing them into doing more and more writing in less and less time.
This doesn’t lead anywhere good. People who find writing jobs through such venues are expected to submit work on extremely short notice. Essentially, they’re on call—without the benefits and protections of being an actual employee. Those who aren’t willing to work under these circumstances are passed over in favor of those who are. And no matter how talented the writers may be, the content they produce for these sites is of such low quality that they aren’t creating samples they can use to land a real writing job.
No matter how much you may want to be a writer, do not participate in this.
I’ve been writing and editing in various capacities—technical, corporate, freelance, and even as a student journalist back in the day—since 2003. There are many ways to succeed as a writer. Racing for the bottom isn’t one of them.
Do the math and decide on your hourly take-home rate. Then, the important part: Don’t budge.
Whether you’re looking for the occasional gig or full-time work, there’s no shortage of good opportunities for people who can write well.
Here are the top five job sites for writers:
Pros: This site is an amazing service and a huge time-saver. Originally founded by Deb Ng and now helmed by Noemi Tasarra-Twigg, the site continues to be a fantastic resource for freelance writers.
Every day, Freelance Writing Jobs scours numerous sites and presents a list of freelancing jobs, sorted into various categories (content writing, technical writing, and journalism, to name a few. There are also editing and translating jobs on a regular basis). Some are on-site jobs, and some are work-from-home jobs.
If you want, you can sign up to have new freelance writing jobs emailed to you daily. (Getting your application in early can increase your chances of landing a job. More than 25 percent of jobs are filled by candidates who applied in the first two days a job was posted, according to StartWire.)
In addition to the job listings, there are extensive resources for freelance writers. Whether you’re new to freelance writing or just looking for a refresher, the detailed information on portfolios, the administrative side of freelancing, and other topics is invaluable.
FWJ is active on Twitter, too, offering up tips and quotes in addition to jobs.
Cons: If you’re looking for full-time work, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Also, there are only two to three dozen jobs posted per day. The curated postings save you the trouble of weeding through site after site yourself, but this is a popular site with a loyal following—meaning more competition for these choice jobs.
Pros: This jobs board is run by Darren Rowse, who founded the immensely popular blog ProBlogger. For everything there is to know about blogging, ProBlogger has you covered. From WordPress themes to making the most of first drafts, and from time-saving apps to in-depth advice on analytics, ProBlogger is hands-down one of the best and most comprehensive resources for bloggers.
The ProBlogger Job Board is updated daily—or even multiple times per day. You can subscribe to receive instant notifications about new postings.
Rowse is also a dedicated photographer, and runs a separate blog on digital photography. If you’re skilled at both writing and photography, you’ll have much greater earning potential and far more opportunities. Real estate blogging, for example, is just one promising niche for people who are talented writers and photographers. Rowse is also active on Twitter, and definitely worth a follow.
Cons: Job sites that curate job postings are convenient because you don’t have to scour endless listings yourself, but the flip side is that many more people see the job postings than otherwise might—leading to increased competition. (Fortunately, a targeted resume can help you stand out in a sea of applicants. Jobscan’s resume analysis tool gives you instant, personalized feedback about what you can do to make sure your resume sells you well.)
Pros: Dice is one of the many job sites focusing primarily on the IT and engineering industries—but writers shouldn’t overlook it. Many major companies post job listings here, including Amazon and Deloitte.
Dice was founded in 1990, and the website launched in 1996. Dice features about 80,000 to 90,000 job listings per day. Most of these are not writing jobs, but the writing jobs that are available are fantastic. Jobs in these industries are typically interesting and challenging, and compensated accordingly.
The search function features filters so you can find jobs that suit your needs. You can search by title, by type of employment, by whether telecommuting is an option, and more.
You can create a job alert so you’ll be notified of new relevant postings.
The Dice Media Center features numerous surveys and reports to help job seekers stay up-to-date on topics such as salaries, in-demand skills, and labor market trends.
Cons: The biggest downside is the limited percentage of relevant jobs for writers.
The job search function is promising, but not perfect. You’ll have to wade through some irrelevant jobs, because searches for writing jobs generally include jobs for programmers and analysts in the results. The advanced search is a Boolean search, but be careful of eliminating words from your search. The technical and tech-adjacent jobs available on this site could easily include terms you’d typically use to try to exclude non-writing jobs from your results.
Pros: If you’re in the market for full-time writing work, this should be one of your top stops. 90 to 95 percent of jobs posted are full-time opportunities, with the remainder made up of part-time and temporary jobs, internships, and freelance roles.
Many of the biggest media companies post jobs on Mediabistro, including NBCUniversal, Condé Nast, and Time Inc.
Other companies with media-related jobs post openings on Mediabistro, too, including The Humane Society of the United States, BASF Corporation, and Green Flash Brewing Company. (Side note: If you enjoy IPAs, you’ve got to get your hands on some of Green Flash Brewing’s West Coast IPA. Trust me.) If you’re serious about a writing career, you can’t beat the jobs posted on Mediabistro.
The job alerts option allows you to quickly customize your application materials and send them in when your dream job is posted.
Mediabistro’s Twitter account is also worth following if you’re interested in career and job search tips, media news, and the occasional motivational quote or picture.
Cons: You can create a profile as a freelancer, displaying your experience and writing samples, but at $21 per month or $145 per year, it’s not the best investment. So much of freelancing success is based on relationships—you’re better off spending your money to attend networking events and get yourself in front of people that way.
Pros: Yes, really. Craigslist can be a great place to find writing jobs. And if you’re looking for remote work, you’re not limited to the listings in your city only. You can do a search for relevant postings in any city. (That said, if you’re browsing listings in other cities and see one that specifies “local candidates only,” don’t apply if you can’t work on-site in that city. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs.)
Cons: Craigslist is also swarming with scams, gigs that pay less than peanuts, and chances to write for “exposure.” If time is your most limited resource, there are better job sites for you than Craigslist. If you tend to be overly optimistic, Craigslist is also not for you. To find the good opportunities, you have to be able to recognize which posts are worth pursuing—and which are not. There are definitely diamonds in the rough—just keep your expectations realistic and a healthy dose of skepticism handy.
There are countless job sites for writers, but these five are the most worthwhile. No matter what kind of opportunity you’re seeking, and no matter what your experience level, you can find high-quality writing jobs using these sites.