5 Online Writing Jobs for Beginners

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on January 27, 2014 in Freelance Writing Jobs
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Are you a new freelance writer looking to write online? When you're just getting started as a freelance writer, you probably have a lot of questions. And one of those questions is probably about what kinds of gigs are actually open to new writers.

If you want to focus on writing for the Web, there are several types of gigs you can find, no matter what your experience level is. Here are five examples of online freelance writing jobs often open to beginners. They might be just what you need to start building your portfolio.

1. Blog Writing

Many blogging gigs are open to newer freelance writers. In fact, I'd wager that most publicly advertised blogging gigs would fall into this area, with much higher paying work available as you build your experience.

The great thing about freelance blogging is that it's easy to build your initial writing samples. You can start a blog of your own. Write a few posts in your specialty area and use them in your portfolio until you have paying work to present to new prospects.

2. Social Media Writing

Social media writing jobs are also frequently open to newer writers. This might include creating social networking profiles, writing and posting new content or updates to a client's accounts, or interacting with your client's customers and followers.

My biggest suggestion if you choose to pursue this area of freelance writing is to work with a firm. Marketing and PR firms will sometimes bring in newer writers to assist them with larger social media strategies and campaigns.


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The problem with going it alone when you're new is that it's easy to make mistakes. A wrong move on a social media account can severely damage your client's reputation.

Until you have a solid grasp on social media strategy and promotions, it's a good idea to secure work through a middleman client where you can learn a lot in the process.

3. SEO Content Writing

SEO content writers write articles that their clients hope will rank well in search engines. This is a very common starting place for new freelance writers who want to write for the Web.

There are some definite problems with this kind of writing job. First, Google isn't keen on anything being written specifically for search engines. Perhaps an even bigger issue for you is the fact that many advertised gigs in this area pay very little -- sometimes $5.00 per article or even less. Those jobs aren't even worth putting in your portfolio as they won't offer much credibility in the eyes of better prospects.

If you choose to pursue SEO content writing early on in your career, focus on finding clients who understand that the key to good search engine optimization is writing high quality, valuable content. If it looks like their goal is to have a team of writers churn out as much cheap content as they can, run.

4. Product Description Writing

If you're looking for work in freelance copywriting, a good place to start might be writing product descriptions. By no means should you expect all of these gigs to be open to new freelancers. You'll be competing with experienced pros for any kind of copywriting work. But you might have an easier time landing these gigs than others if you want to write marketing copy.

Because product descriptions are often short, or requiring several lengths, you might be able to get prospects to give you a shot despite your lack of experience. You could get them to bring you on for a small gig -- even just one description if they want -- so they can get a feel for your abilities. That can be more difficult to do with longer-form writing projects.

A benefit of this kind of freelance writing job is that clients rarely only need one or two product descriptions. There are often dozens, if not hundreds, of descriptions to be written. That can lead to ongoing writing work for you, which isn't always easy to come by when you're just starting out.

5. Creative Writing

Is fiction more your thing? You can get paid for that too, even if you're a brand new freelance writer.

Look for genre-focused websites, online literary magazines, or sites specializing in flash fiction. The best part about freelance fiction writing is that your work will be judged far more on its own merits as opposed to your level of experience. Of course, experience often leads to a higher level of quality in your work. So consider working with an editor before submitting fiction.

The downside of freelance creative writing projects is that pay is often much lower than it is with nonfiction freelance writing gigs. But if writing fiction, poetry, or other creative works is your goal, there is no reason to wait around. If you're concerned about the pay levels, consider submitting your fiction to online publications in addition to taking on more traditional freelance writing work.

Can you think of other good online freelance writing jobs for beginners? When you were getting started as a freelance writer, what gigs were the easiest (and most difficult) to land? Share your suggestions for other options open to new freelancers or tips on landing writing jobs early in your career in the comments below.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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21 Comments

  1. Lori January 27, 2014 Reply

    When I first started freelancing part time, the easiest gigs were the local newspapers (pre-Internet). I found a decent amount of work that gave me the much-needed clips with which to move forward. The toughest then — and now — were the consumer publications. The competition is fierce and their budgets are quickly spent on trusted freelancers, so there’s usually little room to break in.

    When I started at this full time in 2003, I looked toward companies that I’d been in touch with during my tenure as senior editor. However, if you don’t have that, you start by making connections on social media, through letters of introduction, and sometimes answering ads.

    I hesitate to add that last one because so few of the ads out there have ongoing work attached and those that do are usually inundated with responses from thousands of writers. Answer a few ads if they’re relevant and are offering enough pay, but don’t make it the foundation of your marketing efforts.

    I still think local and regional publications and businesses can offer freelancers an opportunity to get work and to grow a portfolio. I always say it’s best to be paid $25 by the local, credible newspaper than to be paid $25 by a content mill where your published credits hold much less weight with clients.
    Lori recently posted…Free Advice Friday: Getting in Touch With Writing ClientsMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern January 27, 2014 Reply

      Local papers might not help as much in building a portfolio for online writing, but you’re absolutely right about them offering more credibility than content mills. One option these days might be to look for their online equivalents so you still get the direct Web writing experience. Many papers have online versions, blogs attached to their websites, social media accounts, etc. There are also plenty of local and regional news sites out there now that aren’t tied to print papers. They probably don’t pay fantastic wages, but you might be able to build a decent starting portfolio with them. Plus, with a local focus you’ll have fewer writers competing for the gig.

  2. John Soares January 27, 2014 Reply

    From what I’ve seen in forums and around the Internet, writing blog posts is a very common way for writers to get started these days. There’s a ton of work and beginners can improve their writing skills quickly.

    I actually had an unconventional start to my writing career in that I had a trade paperback published by a mainstream publisher right at the beginning. Being a book author helped me land newspaper and magazine gigs, plus get assignments in what would eventually be my main niche, writing supplements for college textbooks.
    John Soares recently posted…The 8 Top Ways to Legally Lower Your 2013 Freelance Writer Tax BillMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern January 27, 2014 Reply

      It sounds like you had an unusual, but fantastic, start John. :)

  3. Alicia Rades January 27, 2014 Reply

    I like how clear this article is with the different types of writing you can do. I do both blog writing and product descriptions.
    Alicia Rades recently posted…Freelance Writer Interview: Christy WilsonMy Profile

  4. Anne Wayman January 27, 2014 Reply

    Like Lori, I started pretty much with newspapers – like John, early on I got a contract with a major publisher… not the first thing, but almost.

    Interesting how most of these can also be high paying gigs.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…5 Top Ways To Get Good Paying Freelance Writing JobsMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern January 27, 2014 Reply

      Very true Anne. These aren’t limited to entry-level gigs (or whatever the equivalent is for freelancers). There is plenty of room to grow if you find you love these kinds of gigs.

  5. Robyn January 27, 2014 Reply

    Agree with your first point whole heartedly! I started my own blog recently for many reasons: get practice with blog writing, build a portfolio, make connections, and eventually move towards paid blogging.

    The other one I’m becoming curious about is product descriptions. I think it would be great to try writing for a product or two to see how I like it.

    Thanks for this succinct article!
    Robyn recently posted…Weekly WishesMy Profile

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern January 28, 2014 Reply

      A good place to start might be to visit a retail site where you frequently shop. Obviously something about the site appeals to you, so reading some of their product descriptions might help you figure out if there’s a pattern they’re using, and you’ll get a better feel for what makes you want to buy something (benefits over features, appealing to emotion, simple language, etc.).

  6. Markéta February 15, 2014 Reply

    Hi. This is OT. I read this article on RSS and also read the warning about sites stealing content. So I checked and it wasn’t from this site directly, but when I try to add allindiewriters, it is impossible :( Any tip?

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern February 15, 2014 Reply

      Did you see a message about stolen content at the end of the article or was it an image? If it was at the bottom, that will always display with the feed, letting you know that if you aren’t reading it in your feed reader, it might be stolen (such as if you found our content on another website entirely).

      If you were reading it in your feed reader, you should be fine. If not, and you’d like to add it to your feed reader, our feed address is http://allindiewriters.com/feed/ (just copy / paste that into whichever feed reader you use).

      If you saw an image warning that it might be stolen content, I apologize. There was a recent incident with a content thief where those images were supposed to display only on his site. But for some reason some feed readers ignored that filter and displayed the warnings anyway. That code has since been removed from this site because the infringing site was taken down. So you shouldn’t see that image in any new posts in your feed, although your feed reader might still be showing a cached version on older posts.

  7. Nida March 16, 2014 Reply

    Great post!

    I’ve been writing for about 6 years, and have tried my hand at all of the above – except Social Media posting. A client just approached me though, and I’m confused about what to charge them. How do rates work?

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern March 16, 2014 Reply

      Hi Nida. You should visit the Resources link above and check out my freelance rate calculator. That will help you set your base rates. Then you tack on more depending on your experience and credentials. You can also visit the link below for background on setting rates:

      http://allindiewriters.com/freelance-writing-rates/

  8. Ken Atodahl March 20, 2014 Reply

    Great suggestions for newbie writers.
    Ken Atodahl recently posted…Read Full ArticleMy Profile

  9. samiksha pattanaik April 29, 2014 Reply

    hi, i am samiksha. i am from India and i am a graduate in English Literature. for the past few months i have been searching for some online writing jobs but i have not been able to find one. i have registered myself in one site but they give mostly academic thesis and research papers to write. i am mostly looking for some easy article writing or content writing or proofreading job. could you please suggest me some sites?

  10. ShirlzWordz June 24, 2014 Reply

    Hello,

    It seems that a good way to get started in writing on-line is through the blog. How does one start a blog?

    I need to earn extra cash and although I have much experience in administrative tasks, I am working at moving my career choice into writing. I do find creative writing the easiest, but am also comfortable with any other kind of writing/proof-reading/editing. Are there any recommended websites where I can look to sign-up and thereby obtain work?

    Thanks,
    ShirlzWordz

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern June 25, 2014 Reply

      I encourage you to start by browsing the Blogging section of the blog here. There’s a lot of good info in the archives that can help you get started. I also encourage you to register for All Indie Writers (it’s free). Then you’ll be able to post in the writing forums — you can ask more specific questions there after you’ve read some of the background posts on the blog, and I and other members of the community might be able to help. :)

      What I will say up front is that blogging isn’t a “make money fast” kind of thing, unless you can attract freelance clients right away. And it’s a good idea to specialize. So decide up front what you really want to do; then you’ll be able to make a plan to reach your goals. I don’t recommend taking the “I’ll write anything” approach. The highest paying gigs don’t usually go to generalists; they go to specialists who can bring a little something extra due to their specialized knowledge or credentials.

  11. constance July 29, 2014 Reply

    Normally I would say start with your local newspaper but there are some great places to find writing jobs online if you could get through the scams. Creating your own blog to use a referrence gives you the opportunity to earn later
    constance recently posted…Self-Published Novelist Encourages Other Writers: Just “Write the Damn Thing!”My Profile

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