The 20 best writing jobs: What they pay and how to get them

Table of contents
Hamburger menu icon
June 28, 2021
5 minute read

If you know how to write, there is no shortage of freelance job opportunities out there. As the written word evolves and businesses use writing in ever-increasing ways, skilled freelance writers are given more choice than ever.

In this guide, we’re covering some of the best freelance writing jobs out there, how much they pay, and what you need in place to win these coveted gigs.

What makes a job the best for freelance writers?

Calling something the “best” will always be subjective. Here are some of the pros we considered when identifying the types of writing job opportunities in this post:

Pay: The opportunity to earn good money and get paid to write.

Number of opportunities: Making sure there are enough projects to go around.

Growth: It’s not just what you get today, but what you can get tomorrow.

Flexibility: The ability to set your own hours and work-from-home as a content writer.

Consistency: Freelance writing work that has an ongoing, constant content need you can fill.

Great clients: “Great” is also subjective, but in general we aimed for writing jobs where you can work with kind, intelligent people.

Career potential: If you're starting a writing career, the last thing you want is to pick a style of writing that's going nowhere.

Requirements: Writing careers are made with experience, not always a bachelor's degree.

The 20 best writing jobs out there today

There are so many types of jobs for writers out there. Whether you want to make freelance writing your day job, balance multiple positions and clients, or just have a passion for content writing and want a part-time role, there are many different opportunities out there to make good money in the freelance market. We've highlighted some of the best jobs for writers and included salary data so you know how much each role pays.

1. Virtual assistant

What you’ll do: Any number of tasks for your client. That could mean sending emails, managing calendars, communicating with clients, doing base-level customer support, and more. While not a writing job in the traditional sense of the word, you'll do plenty of writing for your clients.

Who your client is: You’ll most often be working with an executive or entrepreneur who is too busy to do everything themselves.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Being an assistant is an ongoing need. It’s not a single task or timeline. Because of that and the power of the internet, there is a lot of flexibility and growth potential for virtual assistants.

Salary: Between $10 to $60+ per hour, depending on experience and whether you work independently or through an agency.

2. Social media manager

What you’ll do: Everything related to keeping your client’s social media accounts alive: planning posts, writing posts, scheduling posts, replying to people, responding to DMs, and even joining communities on your client’s behalf.

Who your client is: You’ll likely collaborate with the founder of the company (for small startups) or the VP of Marketing (medium companies). In larger companies, you might be working with the Head of Social or a similar title.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Social media is growing consistently, with billions of users on the major platforms. And as new platforms get developed, there will be increasing opportunity for freelance writers who understand how to produce content that fits well on each platform.

Salary: Anywhere from $40 to $60+ per hour depending on experience and the amount of work you need to do.

3. Ghostwriter

What you’ll do: Produce a variety of content—blogs, books, scripts, etc.—that your clients (often business executives) will publish under their own name. The articles you produce could end up published in magazines or shared with reporters, so you'll often interface with them. A big part of your job will also be project managing the content creation on your client’s behalf, so you'll need to flex your editing skills as well.

Who your client is: Usually you’re working with an executive, influencer, politician, or celebrity who doesn’t have the time or skills to write their own content.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Good ghostwriters can always find clients.

Salary: Anywhere from $20 to $150+ per hour, depending on your experience, what kind of writing you’re doing, and what calibre of person you’re ghostwriting for.

4. Internal communications specialist

What you’ll do: With this writing job, you'll coordinate all messaging geared toward employees: executive announcements, regular updates, company town halls, and more.

Who your client is: Usually the head of communications or a similar title. You’d write the actual messaging, which your client provides the high level details you’ll need.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Internal communications is becoming more critical as companies think about how to engage with employees consciously. However, these roles can often be filled by internal employees, so they can be slightly more difficult to find for the average freelancer.

Salary: Anywhere from $23 to $50+ per hour depending on your skills and the project you’re doing for each client.

5. Article writer/journalist

What you’ll do: Perhaps the most common of all jobs for writers, article writers or journalists will produce regular content—either named or ghostwritten—for blogs and media companies. You could also parlay this into a magazine writer job.

Who your client is: An editor (media) or head of content (business) type role.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Content marketing is exploding, so there’s always demand for good freelance writers.

Salary: Anywhere from $15 to $100+ per hour depending on your writing skills and subject matter expertise.

6. Technical writer

What you’ll do: Write content that’s technical in nature: technical documentation for products, content marketing about complex topics, or internal communication documents between tech workers and sales or marketing.

Who your client is: Usually a head of content, head of communications, or head of technology type of role.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: As the world uses more technology (and more complex technologies) in everyday life, there is more demand for content writers who understand highly complex technical subjects and can write succinctly about them.

Salary: From $25 to $150+ per hour depending on your experience and the project itself.

7. Grant writer or proposal writer

What you’ll do: Sometimes called proposal writers, grant writers collate all the stories and information necessary to submit grants (whether from the government, private foundations, or business competitions) on behalf of your clients.

Who your client is: Usually the head of fundraising at an academic institution, the founder of a small startup, or the head of revenue at a research-driven company.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Millions of dollars in grants go unclaimed every year in the U.S. Couple that with the increasing complexity of many grant applications, and you have a good recipe for freelance grant writers or proposal writers looking to enter the space.

Salary: Anywhere from $15 to $50+ per hour depending on the region and your past experience with grant applications.

8. Transcription writer

What you’ll do: Transcription writers listen to audio (such as podcasts) and transcribe it, word for word. Often, you’ll also produce an “edited” transcript, removing any “uhms” or “ahs” from the transcript so it reads more like a cleaned-up blog post conversation.

Who your client is: Usually the head of content (for a startup) or chief of staff if an executive is hosting a podcast.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Podcasting is exploding in popularity, and transcription is a big part of that. While many AI technologies can do some basic transcription, there’s still demand for freelance writers that can turn a transcription into an edited blog post.

Salary: Anywhere from $15 to $30+ per hour depending on how much editing your client needs.

9. Translator

What you’ll do: Translate content from one language to another, paying particular attention to colloquialisms and understanding the equivalent version in a different language.

Who your client is: Usually a VP of Marketing in a multinational company, a startup that’s expanding into new languages, or a business in a region with multiple languages.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Automatic translation engines are getting stronger, but they miss out on context and social meaning. That’s where writers who have fluent language skills in multiple languages are still very valuable.

Salary: Anywhere from $15 to $50+ per hour depending on how complex translations are and which language you’re translating to.

10. Conversion copywriter

What you’ll do: Write and edit copy—mostly on marketing landing pages—that encourages people to buy your client’s product or service.

Who your client is: Usually the VP of Marketing or VP of Sales. In a small startup, you’d likely collaborate directly with the founder.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: With the rising costs of advertising, on-page conversion is more critical than ever. That means there’s plenty of opportunity for freelance writers that know how to make people buy.

Salary: From $25 to $100+ per hour depending on experience and what region your client is located in.

11. Script writer

What you’ll do: Product scripts for TV, movies, podcasts, or advertisements that entertain or entice people to buy.

Who your client is: In the business world, usually a head of content or head of marketing. In the entertainment world, you’re usually working with a producer or director.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: The business world is just getting into podcasting and video, so there’s significant opportunity. The entertainment world is slowing down a little bit, but giants like Netflix and Amazon are pouring billions of dollars into original content production so there are still opportunities.

Salary: $27 to $100+ per hour depending on what type of script writing you do and what kind of client.

12. Writing coach for professionals

What you’ll do: Help other writers—freelancers, content marketers, executives, and founders—hone their writing style, tone, and skills.

Who your client is: Anyone that needs to write as part of their career.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: A lot of writers hire writing coaches, but it can be tough to find these jobs. Many coaches have also moved to group programs to reduce the cost for each individual.

Salary: Anywhere from $20 to $200+ per hour depending on experience level and who your client is.

13. Writing tutor for high school students

What you’ll do: Help high school students learn the fundamentals of writing and apply that experience to school projects and college admissions.

Who your client is: Usually either a college admissions agency, tutoring agency, or working directly with parents.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: College admissions is increasingly competitive, so parents are often willing to shell out a lot of money to help their kid get a leg up.

Salary: Anywhere from $20 to $65+ per hour depending on your region, experience, and education.

14. Ad copywriter

What you’ll do: Similar to a conversion copywriter, an ad copywriter specializes in producing content that encourages people to buy a product or service. The difference is that ad copywriters specialize in ultra-short form content—a social media or Google ad with 100 characters—to entice people to click through the ad to learn more.

Who your client is: Usually the VP of Marketing (at a company) or the VP of Client Delivery (at an agency).

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry globally, so there’s always work for a talented ad copywriter.

Salary: Between $25 to $100+ per hour depending on the project and whether you work with a client directly or work through an agency.

15. Novelist

What you’ll do: Write books and sell them, either for yourself or by ghostwriting for other people, whether or not they are writers themselves.

Who your client is: Yourself if you are self-publishing, your agent and publisher if you’re working with a publishing house, or usually an executive or celebrity if you are ghostwriting.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: With the rise of self-publishing, anyone can become a novelist. The thing to remember is you need to market your own books if you self-publish. However, you can use your own novels as work samples to get ghostwriting work later on.

Salary: Varies if you self-publish, but you can make between $5,000 to $50,000+ to ghost write someone else’s book depending on length and complexity.

16. Travel writer

What you’ll do: Write engaging content about travel: places to see, prices, hidden gems, excursions, and personal reviews of different locations.

Who your client is: Usually a travel magazine editor or yourself, if you run your own travel blog.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: The travel industry is frequently up and down, so this job is not all that common. However, it’s included because if you can land a travel writer freelance job, the perks (free travel and experiences) are amazing.

Salary: Anywhere from $10 to $60+ per hour, plus costs of travel associated with your work.

17. Foodie writer

What you’ll do: Foodie writers produce all sorts of content about food: reviews, alternative lifestyles, cooking tips, baking, and personal opinions or experiences.

Who your client is: Usually a food or lifestyle magazine. You can also start your own foodie blog and monetize it yourself.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Like travel, the food journalism industry is up and down, so these jobs are hard to find. But if you get these writing jobs, you get to eat at some of the best restaurants in the world, completely free.

Salary: Anywhere from $10 to $50+ per hour, plus any costs of food associated with you writing an article.

18. Media relations specialist

What you’ll do: Help your client get features in mainstream media, industry publications, and the general blogosphere.

Who your client is: Usually a VP of Marketing, VP of PR, or the founder of a startup. You might also work 1:1 with an executive that you are promoting to the media.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Media relations is a tough field because results are so widely varying. That means these jobs are usually fairly easy to find (since everyone wants to be in the news), but hard to keep if you can’t produce results.

Salary: Anywhere from $50 to $300+ per hour depending on your experience and proof of past results for clients.

19. Business plan writer

What you’ll do: Help companies at all stages produce business plans. This could mean a plan for an entirely new business, a plan for a new product or service, or a plan to launch in a new market.

Who your client is: Usually the board, founders, or CEO.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Business plans are essential for growing business so there’s high demand, but the roles can be tough to find if you don’t have connections to senior executives.

Salary: Anywhere from $25 to $75+ per hour, depending on experience, business size, and project scope.

20. Sales enablement copywriter

What you’ll do: Produce a variety of content that the sales team can use to aid in their efforts: internal scripts, explanations, responses to sales objections, and leave-behind content a salesperson can send to a prospect such as an ebook or one-pager.

Who your client is: Usually the VP of Sales, or the VP of Marketing who is working to support the sales team.

Flexibility, growth, and consistency: Sales is an absolutely essential part of every business, so there’s high demand for writers who know how to produce sales enablement content.

Salary: Anywhere from $35 to $100+ per hour, depending on project scope.

Where to find freelance writing jobs

If you’re looking to find freelance writing jobs, the most common sources are to use job boards, your personal network, social media, and agencies.

Freelance marketplaces and job boards

The best thing about freelance marketplaces or writing job sites is that you’ll see thousands of potential gigs in one place. You can also filter out to specifically find different kinds of writing jobs depending on what you like.

Here are a few freelance job boards for writers specifically:

You can also check out Wave’s guide to the 24 best platforms to find freelance writing jobs.

Pros of using job boards: Lots of opportunities brought right to your (digital) doorstep.

Cons of using job boards: The downside of these freelance job sites is that there’s often a lot of competition, which can push the price downward and make it difficult to built a writing career. However, if you build a strong freelance writer pitch, you’ll be able to explain the value you bring to the table for the rates you charge.

Your network

Another effective way to find freelance writing jobs is through your network. Here’s what you can do to maximize your opportunities:

  • Follow people that share job listings: Some freelancers specifically use their feed to amplify freelance job listings. Follow these people so you are made aware of when new opportunities come out.
  • Ask for referrals: If you know what kind of writing you want to focus on, let your network know you’re open to referrals if they know someone who needs your writing skills.
  • Update your personal site and online profiles: Make it clear that you’re a freelance writer and you’re open to new work.

Pros of using your network: You keep 100% of the profit and have other people vouch for your work.

Cons of using your network: It can be slow to start.

Social media

Social media is a great platform for doing research on new freelance job opportunities—or scouting for freelance job listings you can apply to. Here are some tips based on some major social media platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Quora.

Pros of using social media: Billions of people to connect with.

Cons of using social media: You have no control over the look and feel of the platform, which make it hard to customize.

LinkedIn

Fill out your profile and headline: Be clear that you’re a freelance writer—and highlight your specialty or focus.

Use the job search function: Many companies post freelance jobs on LinkedIn that you can search and filter for when doing research on opportunities to apply to.

Use the “Open to” function: LinkedIn has a profile function where you can indicate that you’re open to freelance work. This helps when recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent.

Twitter

Leverage your bio: Include that you’re a freelance writer and add a link to your personal website in your Twitter bio so people can see it when they hover over your name.

Look for relevant hashtags: Hashtags are how people build community on Twitter. They are also how people get visibility when they post freelance jobs. Some common examples: #FreelanceChat, #FreelanceAsk, and #JournoRequest.

Follow your ideal customers: Many people use Twitter to announce when they are hiring or looking for freelancers. If you follow them, you’ll see their announcements in your feed.

Facebook

Keep it professional: If you’re using Facebook to find jobs, make sure your profile is professional and bio is filled out.

Join relevant groups: There are a lot of groups on Facebook built exclusively for sharing freelance job listings.

Follow brands you want to work for: Many brands will post on Facebook when they are looking to hire freelancers.

Quora

Fill out your profile: Complete your profile with a one-sentence description of your freelance work and a link to your personal website.

Answer questions: Any time you can provide insight, do it (don’t answer questions you know nothing about). Quora has a high domain authority, which means high SEO rankings. It’s possible that your answers will show up on the first page of Google, driving people to check out your profile and potentially reach out to you.

Agencies

Many agencies work with both full-time staff and freelancers. If you want to join an agency’s freelancer roster, here’s what you can do:

  • Step 1: Identify all agencies that sell the kind of writing you do.
  • Step 2: If they have a freelancer application button, apply following the instructions.
  • Step 3: If they don’t have a freelancer application button, reach out to the head of HR and ask if they work with freelancers—and if you can join their roster. Be sure to include a few relevant work samples, just like you would with any job application.

Pros of using agencies: They bring work right to your door.

Cons of using agencies: You may have to give steep discounts and the work may not always come at the pace you want.

Newsletter communities

If you want more opportunities to come to you, subscribe to different newsletters that share freelance jobs.

Examples include:

To find more, you can google “Newsletters that share freelance writing jobs.”

It's important to note that while there are many types of freelance jobs out there (from day jobs to part-time gigs), there is no guarantee that any of these sources will land you a writing job. That's why it's so critical to apply to multiple jobs, continue writing so you have new samples to show potential clients, and be open to new learning opportunities as you go.

Pros of using newsletter communities: Perhaps one of the best parts of all job search processes is that newsletters email you whenever a new opportunity comes up.

Cons of using newsletters: Despite the pros, newsletters are challenging because the gigs may not be a great fit even if they sound good on paper.

Minimum necessities to win writing jobs

You need more than a pretty application to land a freelance writing job. Many companies will google applications to see how they present themselves online and what kind of work they’ve done in the past. With that in mind, make sure you have these minimums covered:

A personal website

At a bare minimum, your website needs to include the following:

An introduction: It has to be very clear who you are (your name + the fact that you’re a freelance writer) within a second of someone landing on your website.

An explanation of what you do: A very digesteable list of the services you provide so that any potential client can easily match that up to your job application.

What kinds of clients you help: This is when you can explain your specialties, expertise, and how you’re a great fit to help a certain kind of client.

A way to get in touch with you: Either a contact form (preferred) or an email (it will work).

Once you have it set up, you should consider adding extras that help you build your brand:

Your story and personal brand: This is taking your introduction and adding more context to it. Instead of just stating who you are and what you do, explain a bit more about the “why” behind your work. This can be your bigger vision in life, what drives you, or what you’re passionate about.

Other activities you do: If you have a newsletter, digital products that you sell, or something else, you can include this on your website.

A general portfolio

A general portfolio is where you highlight all of your best work.

If you are just getting started as a writer (or can’t legally share client examples because of contractual limitations), here are three different ways you can build up your portfolio:

1. Write for yourself

You can self-publish for free on your website, on LinkedIn, or multiple other platforms. You can even write a book and self-publish it on Amazon. While these endeavors may not make you money in the short-term, they help with brand building and are great work samples you can show to potential paying clients.

2. Write for charities and nonprofits as a volunteer

Similar to writing for yourself, volunteering is a great way to give back to causes you care about while also getting work samples you can share with potential clients. You also enjoy the benefit of your work being in someone else’s domain name, which gives you brand credibility as if they were a client.

3. Guest blogging

Guest blogging is when you write a post explicitly for another website, whether it be a brand’s blog or the media. You usually write it for free, and in return they often give you exposure and a link back to your personal website. This is different from working for free, because you get to write about a topic you choose and your work is named, so the credit goes to you.

Note: Never do free work for a for-profit company just to get a portfolio sample. If a company tries to ask for free work, they are taking advantage of you. Further, don’t listen if they claim there’s a lot of paid work “in the future,” because that’s almost always a lie. If a company wants to do a trial to see if you’re a fit to work together, you can offer to do a paid trial.

Relevant work samples

Make sure you include relevant work samples for each job application you submit. You can pull this from your general portfolio. For example, if someone wants to hire you to write long form blogs, then you should only send examples of long form blogs you’ve written unless explicitly asked for something different. If you only sent examples of ad copy, for instance, you risk turning off that client from working with you.

Testimonials or references

When a company hires a freelancer, they need to know two things:

  1. That you can do the work they need you to.
  2. That you are a professional.

Work samples prove you can do the work, but testimonials and references demonstrate that you are a professional, which can help you close more clients.

Understand the sales and pitch process

Finding freelance work usually happens in one of two ways:

  1. You submit an application via a job board or marketplace, then do an interview.
  2. You get connected with a potential client and you book a sales call with them to see if you’re a fit (which is similar to an interview).

If you use a marketplace, you can often find jobs fairly quickly. However, be aware that platforms will take a percentage of your revenue as a fee for finding you the job. Further, there’s a lot of competition on platforms.

If you go it alone, you keep all the revenue. But that also means you are running your whole business solo, so you need to make sure you have everything in place to handle business banking, admin, payments, and more.

Managing the business side of writing jobs

Building a successful freelance writing business is about more than just being a good writer. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Choosing employee versus freelancer

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve already chosen the freelancer path. However, successful freelancers regularly get full-time job opportunities from clients or recruiters approaching them. And if you’re struggling to build your freelance business, a full-time job can be an attractive option.

So the key is not just that you chose the freelance path once, it’s that you have to continually choose to be a freelancer. You have to value the freedom that freelancing gives you more than you want the stability of a paycheck.

Technology

As a freelance writer, you need two kinds of technology:

Technology to do your actual work: This is basic stuff like a computer and access to Google Docs.

Technology to help you improve your writing: Platforms like Hemingway, Grammarly, or Surfer SEO.

Finance and admin

As a freelancer, you have to manage your own business. That means things like: invoicing software, business banking, expense tracking, and tax remittance.

Legal and contracts

Never start work without a contract. Here are some key things to include:

  • What you’re doing
  • Pay rates
  • Pay triggers (when you will to send invoices)
  • Payment timelines
  • Cancellation or late payment fees, if applicable
  • Recourse available to the client if they are unhappy with your work

If you’re working with a freelance job board or marketplace, they will often give you standard contracts to use. However, you should always check with a lawyer to make sure your contracts work for your unique circumstances.

Ongoing learning

Whether you take a course to learn more about writing, interview people in different fields, conduct your own research, or even consider getting a journalism degree, you have to be committed to ongoing learning. You don't have to spend tons of money here. For example, you could read a few magazines from a library or take an inexpensive DIY online course, but the key is to push yourself to learn more so you can bring that experience to your client projects.

Learning is also how you can pick up different kinds of jobs in your career. For example, you might want to become a speechwriter instead of a being one of many copywriters in your niche. If you take a speech writing course, for example, you can transition your career immediately—and many courses will even show you how to land new clients and build the right marketing materials to update your personal website.

Freelance writing can be a rewarding career

The written word has evolved a lot, expanding into multiple different business and creative use cases. But the foundation of writing is still the same: to explain, take on a journey, or persuade. So as you build your freelance writing business, think about the fundamentals first. Then think about what you want out of your career, from flexibility to security. Then go for it. Money is going to be a big part of it, but the real win is building a career that provides you with the life and lifestyle you truly want.

Subscribe for tips and insights to run your business better

From setting rates to finding clients, it's everything you need for freelance success.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.