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5 steps to land the best freelance writing jobs

Updated: Jun 17

Freelance writing used to be one of those professions where only the top 1% made all the money and everyone else worked for next to nothing. That has spectacularly changed in the last three to four years. Median income for freelance writers is more than $100,000 as of today. That's median income, mind you.

Now, the rise in income is due to a few different factors. One, there are a ton of websites today. The hustle is real and content is king. Someone has to write all the content. Enter freelance writers. The second reason for higher pay is the tectonic shift towards online shopping that happened during the pandemic.

More people went online during the pandemic than ever before. In fact, online shopping saw an increase of a whopping 45%. Companies started hitting their 2022 targets in 2020! This has made a lot of small and medium sized businesses stand up and take notice. Now, they're investing in content, too.

So, if you have a bit of a knack for writing and if you are willing to market the hell out of yourself, there's real money to be made.

Here are five steps that you can take to get the best remote freelance writing jobs:

Create an ATS-friendly resume

Most resumes are never read by a human. In fact, 75% of the resumes that are submitted to a job are rejected by a software. The software is called ATS. It stands for Applicant Tracking System.

Recruiters have to go through thousands (no, that's not an exaggeration) of applications when they advertise that they're hiring. Now, most HR teams simply cannot read thousands of applications. It's not efficient, at any rate.

So, they use an ATS.

How does an ATS work?

Recruiters can tell an ATS what they're looking for. For example, let's consider that a company has an opening for a tech-writer. The recruiters tell the ATS that they're looking for someone with five or more years' experience, they want the candidate to have a good understanding of SEO, they only want candidates who have written for B2B SaaS companies, etc.

The ATS takes these 'keywords' and then scans all the resumes that have been submitted. The resumes which mention these keywords a lot are selected. So, you have to have all the right keywords stuffed in there, in your resume.

This is obviously not ideal. One, it means you need to change your resume a little each time you're applying for a job. Second, the fact simply mentioning the right words in your resume gets you selected is unsettling. All true. But that's the name of the game and that's how it is.

TIP: Make sure that the keywords appear in the 'Experience' and 'Skills' sections of your resume. That's where the ATS wants to find it.

If you want to know more about how to create an ATS friendly resume, you can read our in-depth guide here.

Create a portfolio

A portfolio, in its simplest form, is a collection of your best writing. It could simply be a Google Doc where you've pasted the links for your works that are published online. The idea is that a potential employer can easily find your best work listed in one place and can then assess if you're a good fit for the role.

Of course, there are many portfolio-creation tools available. They have web plugins, analytics, reports of viewers, a nice UI, and so on. These are great tools, no doubt but aren't strictly necessary.

What to do if you don't have any published works?

If you're starting out, it's obvious that you won't have any published works. That's an issue but not as big an issue as you might think. There are several things that you can do to overcome this problem

  1. Start a blog. It can be about anything, to be honest. You like chess? Write about chess. You know a technology quite well? Write about it. You like dancing madly with the lights all turned off? Write about dancing madly with the lights turned off. Just write. Creating a blog is free and so is hosting it. That won't be an issue. The more you write, the more your blog will get noticed. In fact, there are a ton of writers who do nothing but write blogs.

  2. Offer to write for free. If you have a deep understanding about something, find websites that publish content about it. Reach out to them and offer to write a couple of blogs for free.

  3. Sign up on UpWork, PeoplePerHour etc. These are websites where most people make little to no money. But there are a ton of projects and you can get a few gigs on there. Write for a few clients and get the links. You can add them to your portfolio.

  4. Reach out to friends. In this day and age, chances are, you know someone who has a website or has a YouTube channel or a podcast or is an Instagram influencer etc. Reach out to them and offer to write scripts for their videos or podcasts. You can market that, too.

  5. If all else fails, simply write an imaginary blog on Google Docs and create a link to them. Obviously, this is suboptimal. But it's not the end of the world and will give you a few writing samples that you can send to potential clients.

Market yourself locally, at first

If you live in the US, getting remote writing jobs in the US is easier. If you're in Europe, getting freelance writing jobs in Europe is easier. If you're... well, you get the idea.

There are hundreds of publications that will tell you how every other person is making hundreds of thousands of dollars by working for a company in some remote part of the world. These stories are true. But they are exceptions, not the norm.

Living in the US gives you a certain context about the US market that someone from Japan simply won't have. You know the content that you read online. You can write in the local slang and have a much better grasp on the cultural references that readers like.

When you're applying for jobs, there's no harm in applying for every job that suits you. In fact, that's the way to do it. But apply much more diligently to the jobs that are in your country. A US company will always prefer a US writer over others if the economics work out. Take advantage of that and ensure that you tell them why you're a good fit.

Once you have a decent number of clients and you have a good idea about how the business works, you will automatically start getting clients from everywhere around the world.

Know where to look for freelance writing jobs

There are hundreds of job boards online. You can't track all these job boards, of course. So, pick a few that post good jobs. Bookmark these websites and check them daily, in fact check them multiple times a day.

WeWorkRemotely,, Truly Remote, and SJL are some of the best websites out there.

Simple Job Listings caters exclusively to writers, editors, and marketers (at the moment). You will find jobs that aren't listed anywhere else on the web and the list is personally curated to ensure there are no low-paying jobs on the site. You will find a short description of the job, locations where the company is hiring from, the pay, and a direct link to the application.

This way, you don't have to read a full page of corporate speak just to find out if they hire writers from your country or not.

Personal Branding is key to getting high-paying writing jobs

HR teams don't understand the exact work that programmers or writers or editors or marketing folk do. It's not their job. Their job is to pick the right person. That's a bit contradictory, of course. How can HR people pick the right person without knowing exactly what to look for?

This is especially a problem if companies have outsourced their hiring. The company that posts the job, does most of the interviews, and filters everyone apart from a few people is not the company that is looking for the employees.

HR companies are paid by how many hires they bring to the company and the quality of the candidates they've selected.

This means that HR teams overcompensate. A lot.

They end up looking for the very best people (or at least people who are perceived as the very best).

This is where personal branding comes into the picture.

Recruiters want to know that the person they're selecting has expertise, experience, the right attitude, and can work in a team. The way to convince them that you aren't a total monster and you can do the job is to create a brand name around yourself.

Get on LinkedIn, post about every small victory, show off how absolutely amazing you are, almost to the point where you feel that you're indulging yourself. Again, this isn't ideal. But that's how you have to do it.

Creating a brand around yourself gives you social validation and nothing calms recruiters more than social validation. So, go out there and talk way too much about how you're basically the Second Coming.

If you want to read more about creating a personal brand, read our blog on how to create a personal brand as a writer.


Finding high-paying freelance writing jobs may not seem easy but it's not that difficult either. Freelance writing pays well and it's a job that you can do anywhere! So, make sure that you're keeping track of the best writing jobs and applying to every job you qualify.

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