If you decided to search for freelance writing jobs right now, you would probably find thousands of them advertised. Many of those writing jobs are crap (and that's putting it nicely) to the bulk of writers here. After all, do you want to get paid $.001 per word (yes that's 1/10 of one cent per word)? Do you want to work for $.05 per word? Or would you rather get paid $.50 per word or more to blog, or a dollar per word or more for features? Do you want to write original content in your area of expertise, or are you okay rewriting the work of others for a quick buck (knowing you're likely guilty of copyright infringement for doing nothing more than creating a derivative work)?
The garbage gigs and the decent gigs really aren't that difficult to separate. But just in case you're still waiting for the good ones to come along, here are some signs you've hit the freelance writing jobs jackpot:
1. You're being fairly compensated.
How much is that exactly? I don't know. Nor do I care. The actual number will vary depending on where you live and what your cost of living is. But if you're not being paid enough to cover all of your bills, pay your taxes, have something left to grow the business, and still have enough for your health insurance, retirement, and other benefits, you're not there yet. Keep trying.
2. Your clients know how to communicate.
When you truly love your clients, that's certainly a contributing factor to a great freelance writing gig (although it doesn't make the job cut it by itself). If a client can tell you what they want rather than give you the "I'll know it when I see it" speech, you're on the right path.
3. You have few, if any, edit requests.
There is nothing wrong with getting edit requests from time to time. If you're getting them constantly though, you're doing something wrong (unless you're in a niche like magazine writing where they're more the norm). Maybe the client has communication issues about what they really want up front, you're not asking them exactly what they want up front with the right questions about their target audience and such, or they're just control freaks who will always think they could have done a better job, so your work will never be good enough. That last group can be scary, but they're few and far between. Great clients and great gigs involve having all of the information up front so you know exactly what's needed and you can turn it around with minimal edits needed. Anything else cuts into your potentially billable time elsewhere.
4. Your client respects you.
If the extent of your client's communication is "write this and get it back to me," you might not have the worst gig in the world, but it could be better. When your clients respect you enough for being a specialist in your niche or industry that they ask for your honest opinion, that means a lot. That's not to say they should take advantage by asking for unpaid consulting all the time, but if they want your opinion once in a while go ahead and give it to them. You'll remind them why they hired you in the first place, and when you see them truly value and consider your thoughts you'll feel a level of appreciation not all freelance writers get to experience. Enjoy it when you have it.
5. Your client keeps coming back.
The only thing better than having a great freelance writing job is having a great long-term freelance writing job. If the client keeps ordering more work, or if they set up a long-term contract up front (and they satisfy the other elements like decent pay and no obsessive or excessive edit requests), you've got a great gig on your hands.
What other factors tell you that you have a great freelance writing job lined up?