Where’s The Best Place to Find Paid Writing Projects?

You’re a talented writer hungry to turn your passion into a fruitful profession, but where do you start? Many of us head straight to content platforms or marketplaces, which can provide steady work, but don’t always offer the highest pay or the greatest amount of control over our schedules. On the flip side, pitching to publications may net you a thousand dollars for a project, but it could take months to get paid.

Whether you’re just starting out as a writer or looking to branch out and establish new income streams after years in the industry, here are the top five types of places you should consider joining.

1. Content Platforms

A content platform is a type of intermediary. These platforms go out and find clients (typically large companies and enterprises with high-volume content demands) and then pass the projects onto you — you being one of the many writers in their pre-vetted pool of writing talent.

Some low-tier platforms like Textbroker allow you to just register as a writer and take a couple of “tests” before you’re able to start offering your writing services. Others, like Scripted, require you to submit an application to ensure better quality control.

What are the pros and cons of working on a content platform? 

The key advantage of these intermediaries is that they’re doing the heavy lifting for you by securing clients and handling the sales process. They may even help the client with brand voice, content planning, and outlining. As a writer, all you need to do is complete the projects they put in your lap. 

The downside of working on a content platform is that you’ll only earn a fraction of what the client is paying, but then again you’re only doing a small portion of the work. Due to that limited scope of work, you won’t learn much about sales, negotiation, or content strategy either. Lastly, you have little to no control over how much you earn or when work is due, which can be very draining. 

How much can you earn on a content platform? 

Intermediaries often charge clients membership fees, sometimes adding up to thousands of dollars a month. These fees are intended to cover the additional services the intermediary provides clients, such as keyword research or account management. Clients then pay for each piece of content on top of that fee, usually on a per-word basis. If an intermediary charges 10 to 12 cents per word, they may pay you 5 to 7 cents, which is extremely low.

Where to Start

  • Textbroker
  • Draft.co
  • Scripted
  • Contently

2. Freelancing Marketplaces

A freelancing marketplace is a different kind of intermediary. On a marketplace, you can get your writing services in front of an existing user base. The marketplace provides a search engine to help potential clients find your services, along with tools for invoicing, escrow, and project management. Meanwhile, you’re in complete control of who you work with and how those collaborations go. 

Marketplaces allow you to join without any need to prove your experience or abilities. However, most have tiers, levels, or badges that you can earn to help you stand out if you develop a track record for delivering great experiences to customers. As you build a reputation on the marketplace, you might also enjoy lower processing fees. 

What are the pros and cons of working on a freelancing marketplace? 

The greatest advantage of working on a freelancing marketplace is that there are already millions of users, representing potential customers. The marketplace attracts businesses and entrepreneurs who may need services like yours. It’s up to you to make your specific services more appealing than the other writers on the marketplace. 

Marketplaces can be more passive or active in nature. Fiverr is a passive marketplace where you list a gig and hope the search algorithm puts it in front of good, paying clients. Upwork is an active marketplace where you go out and submit proposals to users who are asking for writing services. Both have their own pros and cons; I personally prefer an active marketplace where you have greater control over who you work with and when. 

How much can you earn on a freelancing marketplace? 

You set your own rates on a freelancing marketplace, and the marketplace will always take a portion of what you charge your clients. Fiverr, for example, takes 20% of every sale, meaning you’ll pocket $160 on a $200 contract. Upwork takes only 10%, meaning you’ll pocket $180 on a $200 contract. Some platforms promote little to no fees if you bring your own clients onto the platform, but remember the importance of owning your clientele. 

Where to Start

3. Content Agencies

Content agencies consist of a team of writers, editors, marketers, and SEO gurus. They may specialize in a certain area, like social media, or they may provide end-to-end brand and content strategy services. You could consider a content agency another type of intermediary, but you’ll be far more integrated into the team with greater insight and control over when and how you work. 

What are the pros and cons of working for a content agency? 

Agencies generally want to cultivate a long-term relationship with writers they know they can rely on, leading to steadier work for you. Securing a role with the right content agency will give you immediate access to a stream of projects from many different clients. 

Given the tighter team culture of most content agencies, you might have chances to learn the ropes of branding, SEO, or content planning while on-the-job. You might even get face-to-face time with the agency’s clients, helping you with your sales and commmunication skills. The flipside? You’ll need to negotiate a fair hourly rate and workable schedule to ensure none of this becomes overwhelming. 

How much can you earn writing for a content agency? 

Agencies generally pay competitive rates because they need a small, agile, multi-talented team. You’ll likely get paid by the hour when working for a content agency, especially if your role extends beyond writing and into more fluid aspects like planning, editing, optimization. If you negotiate a fixed project rate, make sure they aren’t spending too much of your time on non-billable activities like meetings. 

Where to Start

  • Animalz
  • Siege Media
  • Brafton

4. Your Own Website

Setting up your own website might seem daunting, but it’s the best way to secure clients that are truly your own — no intermediaries involved. It’s easy enough to set up a website thanks to modern tools. With our recommended tools, it’ll cost you about $35 up-front and $20 a month depending on the domain, CMS, web host, and tools you choose.

What are the pros and cons of managing your own writing service? 

The benefits of having a website are endless. Your search engine-optimized blog will attract organic visitors who may be interested in your writing services. Your blog also showcases your writing talent, acting as a live portfolio that you can direct leads to, whether you met them at a conference or on LinkedIn. 

The biggest downside of having your own website is the investment. You’ll need to create a website that matches your brand and then fill it with quality content. You’ll also need to integrate tools, like Calendly for appointments and Square for invoicing. Still, your site will generally pay for itself in no time, and it provides you greater control over your brand and business. 

How much can you earn with your own writing services? 

When you work with clients through your own website, you set your own rates and work schedule, allowing you to pursue value-based pricing and even secure clients on retainer. You’ll pay a small fee for hosting and domain registration. You’ll also pay processing fees when invoicing clients, typically around 3%, but this fee varies depending on the invoicing tool you choose. You can get your clients to cover some costs by adding service fees to your invoices. 

Where to Start

  • Think about your personal brand
  • Choose a domain name
  • Choose a web host
  • Start a blog
  • Build your toolkit

5. Publications

Digital and print publications often accept submissions from freelance writers. Each publication has its own style guide and process. Some expect you to submit a fully-written article that they will accept or reject, but most just ask for a “pitch” outlining your idea and why it’s a good fit for the publication’s audience. 

Most editors will put out a call for pitches at some point, where they will explicitly ask for ideas, often on a specific topic. Responding to a pitch request will net you a far higher acceptance rate, but cold pitching (i.e., pitching to an editor who hasn’t requested anything specific) is often necessary to fill your schedule, especially if pitching will be your primary source of income. 

What are the pros and cons of pitching to publications? 

Nearly all publications will give you a byline if your story is published and this can be extremely valuable for building your credibility as a writer. For instance, if you’re a travel writer, you could get your stories published in Going or Lonely Planet. Likewise, if you’re a finance writer, you could pitch to NerdWallet or Credit Karma. 

With all the perks in mind, pitching to publications can be time-consuming. You’re often emailing editors without any response or feedback unless they accept your idea. Additionally, most publications (especially print ones) have multiple months of lead time and you generally won’t get paid until your story goes live. 

How much can you earn writing for publications? 

Most publications pay very well, frequently in the range of $1 per word or more. For certain pieces, the publication may even pay for travel expenses so that you can gather first-hand details about a trip or event that you’re covering. Of course, you can pitch and write most stories without ever leaving your desk. 

Where to Start

Looking for Guidance? 

There are many different paths you can take to becoming a freelance writer and there’s no right or wrong answer. For most of us, getting started on a content platform is a good way to ease into a niche before we go on to build our own websites, pursue bylines, and start establishing relationships with businesses and agencies. 

On your journey, you may have many questions about pricing, portfolios, and how to write that winning pitch. Why not get some advice from writers who have been in your shoes? If you’re looking for guidance and community, come join our Slack channel. It’s 100% free!

Sydney Chamberlain
Sydney Chamberlain
As Founder of the Society of Writers, Sydney Chamberlain is devoted to helping women navigate the complexities of freelancing and hone the skills they need to build a thriving business. Her expertise is rooted in nine years as a content writer where she earned first-hand experience with the personal branding, finance, and negotiation tactics that she now teaches the Society.

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