Search Tips for Finding High Paying Freelance Writing Jobs

on October 27, 2010 in Freelance Writing Business, Freelance Writing Jobs
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(Because Clint is having some computer problems, we have a bit of a schedule change today. My normal Friday post is being published early -- below -- and you can find Clint's latest comedy piece on Friday this week.)

You know that when it comes to finding high paying freelance writing jobs, I primarily recommend three things:

  1. Build your visibility and writer platform so prospects can find you.
  2. Build a solid referral network to get referred gigs from colleagues and other clients.
  3. Early on, before gigs are coming to you directly, go ahead and target and pitch prospects directly. After all, query-free freelancing is an end goal; not something that will work immediately for every freelance writer.

Let's talk more about that last one, because it applies more to newer freelancers or those trying to break into new markets. And those are the groups that most often ask me "where" the good freelance writing jobs are. They're not in any one place just waiting for you to snatch them up. Most aren't advertised. And those that are usually aren't advertised on job boards or freelance bidding sites.

How do you find those writer's markets then? Well, your trusty search engine can come in quite handy. And here are a few tips to help you find higher paying freelance writing jobs with better searches.

Forget "Freelance Writing Jobs"

Don't waste your time searching for "freelance writing jobs" in your favorite search engine. You'll find pile of crap on top of pile of crap. You'll find low quality, rehashed job listings on blogs. You'll find bidding marketplaces pitting you against hundreds to thousands of people worldwide willing to work for far less than fair market rates where you live. Some of the content mills even go out of their way to target the phrase to suck in low-paid "content producers." Skip it.

Instead search for phrases commonly used when advertising more professional writing jobs and markets -- "writers' markets" and "writers' guidelines" are two good options.

Incorporate Rate-Related Terms


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When searching, don't just look for 'writers' guidelines." Also add some words or phrases related to rates. At a bare minimum you can find markets where rates are listed so you don't have to waste time contacting people just to find out what they're willing to pay.

For example, use phrases like "per word," "per article," "$1.00 per word," or "cents per word." If you're looking for something in a specific range, search for the specific rate so you don't end up with things like penny-per-word gigs in your results.

Search for Specialties

When you search for general freelance writing gigs, who know's what's going to turn up? You might have to dig through dozens of pages of search results before you find anything relevant. Instead, narrow down your search to your specialty area. For example, look for "business writer's guidelines" or "blog writer's guidelines" or "women's writers' markets." Sticking to your specialty can help you weed out the gigs you don't want while saving you time.

Use Specialized Searches

You can do more than search for your freelance writing specialty area. You can also try specialized searches. For example, a great option for freelance bloggers is to use Google's blog search feature. Then search for keywords related to your specialty area. Find companies in your target market that run company blogs. Then you know who to pitch to see if they need help with the writing, editing, or promotion of that blog. Want to write short business video scripts? Use video search options to find companies putting out regular videos for marketing. Prefer to write for financial sites and publications? They have a finance search too -- results giving examples of the type of content these financial publications are looking for. Move beyond basic search if you want to land more high paying freelance writing jobs.

These are just a few tips to get your freelance writing job search moving in a better direction. Do you have other search tips for freelance writers? Did a clever search query lead to an awesome freelance writing gig? Leave a comment below to tell us about it?

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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.

12 Comments

  1. Terez October 27, 2010 Reply

    I actually used a suggestion that I believe came from Clint (maybe it was someone else here) to get a writing gig from Craig’s List. I typed in Google something like “magazine writer site:craigslist.org” and got a huge list of results. Then I filtered it by the most recent listings, like the past two or three days.

    I found a listing for an online magazine, responded and ended up writing for this monthly magazine. I didn’t know what the pay was when I first responded. But I knew it had to be decent because of the way the listing was written. You can usually tell by the listing if an organization seems legit and professional. For instance, I always look for a very detailed listing.

    I don’t think it mentioned the per word rate because I was excited when I got the e-mail that said I was accepted to write at $0.08 per word. It’s leagues above what I got paid at the newspaper, and it’s regular. I love it! Thanks to Clint (or possibly some other great writer here at AFW).

    • Jennifer Mattern October 27, 2010 Reply

      Yeah, that’s a good one when you have a specific site to search. Just know that it won’t work in all search engines because they don’t all use the same site search formats. I know that works in Google though, and I believe so for Yahoo. Not sure about Bing, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t for at least the big three.

      That’s especially good for a site like Craigslist where they seem to go out of their way to make searching the site a pain in the ass. If they’d put a simple site search option there which would allow you to search all cities there would be no need for special searches. And let’s face it. Not all jobs are local. It would be beneficial for all online jobs that could be done from anywhere, and it would cut down on spammers having to post things in multiple cities just to be seen by all of their relevant targets.

      • Amel October 27, 2010 Reply

        Here is a nifty website that allows one to search all the cities listed on Craigslist at once:

        http://www.searchtempest.com/

        After you plug in your search-term, you can then click on “Display Options” to get rid of repeat listings in multiple cities. Just choose the option that says:

        “Show all results together, by date or relevance (powered by Google).”

  2. Jessica Mason October 27, 2010 Reply

    Bless you! Advice so simple yet so brilliant.

  3. Jessie Haynes October 27, 2010 Reply

    Never thought of searching with rate-related terms. Gave it a shot and found a magazine I’m heading to Barnes and Noble for tonight. Great way to spend time with a writing buddy and grab the research material I need for my next magazine submission.

    • Jessie Haynes October 28, 2010 Reply

      Ooh, the magazine was surprisingly inexpensive and entirely a great find. I’ve barely browsed through it and already have the subscription card filled out! Thanks Jenn.

  4. Zahra Brown October 27, 2010 Reply

    Thank you for this, especially the ‘writers market/guidelines’ tip. I fell for the ‘job’s trap, and it didn’t work. I was just getting frustrated over job searching, but you’ve saved the day! Again, thank you.

    Off to work I go…

  5. Carol Tice October 28, 2010 Reply

    I still love looking at the staff-writer job ads, and then reaching out and asking if they need a freelancer while they’re looking. I got a great new, $1 a word client that way this year.

    • Jessie Haynes October 28, 2010 Reply

      Good thinking. That reminds me of another tip Jenn’s offered: to look for those hiring editors and to pitch those places after a few months or so.

  6. Jeff Wetherington October 30, 2010 Reply

    Thanks indeed for this post full of search tips. I’ve recently been finding the same pitfalls you describe as I return to freelancing, so reading your suggestions has come at exactly the right time. Thanks to all the commenters as well for their added tips.

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