3 Ways to Score Writing Jobs That Pay

3 Ways to Score Writing Jobs That Pay

Finding work as a writer can be a challenge, and the road to a full-time writing job is daunting. Does this story sound familiar?

Three years ago, I graduated from college with little idea of what I wanted to do for a living; I knew I wanted to write, but thought finding a writing-related job was unlikely, especially considering the job market at the time. After striking out in the classifieds and online job boards, I decided to go old-school: I started flipping through the phonebook.

I called any business that seemed like they might need my skills, mostly shooting for secretary work since I’d spent years working part time as a secretary through high school and college. Little did I know that one phone call would lead me to my current occupation as a content specialist.

While luck and timing definitely played a role in my career path, anyone can apply the following lessons to their search for a professional writing job.

1. Let the right people know you’re looking

Going through the phonebook didn’t get me my first job, but it did get me my career. One of my cold calls was to , where I spoke with the owner. They weren’t hiring, she said, but asked me to send my resume for her to keep on file. I made sure to let her know that I was interested in using my writing skills to do marketing work, and she kept me in the back of her mind.

Telling the right people that you’re looking for work helps them keep you in mind for future opportunities. The right people are editors, project managers, and even CEOs of smaller companies — those people with the power to recognize your writing skills and make a decision to hire you in the future.

Writing jobs on The Write Life

2. Keep in with your community

No matter what kind of work you want to do, there’s a community surrounding it, whether online or offline. Getting involved with that community will help keep you in the minds of those who are in a position to hire — or who might be someday, or who know someone who is. It also helps you learn about the community and what skills you need to develop.

Even though I was working a job completely unrelated to online content, I became involved in the local and online communities by blogging and attending workshops and conferences. I’ve even been told that one reason why I was hired for my current role is because my company’s owner kept seeing me at events she attended!

Another option is to ask for an informational interview with one of the people you’ve identified as your “right people.” Ask if you can buy them coffee to talk about how they got where they are and what skills you need to develop to work for them or someone like them.

3. Learn the trade and get tangible evidence

Even if you think your writing skills are perfect, there’s room for improvement. Between grammar and knowledge of other areas related to your work, there’s always more to learn. On top of learning, developing a portfolio or examples of effective work should be part of your path towards a writing career.

Working on learning SEO and how to blog effectively was an important aspect of scoring the job I wanted. I worked on my personal blog, learned basics of SEO, applied those lessons, and then had tangible numbers of improvement. During the interview process, these numbers told the company’s leadership team that I was good at what I did.

What lessons have you learned through your own search for writing work?

Filed Under: Freelancing

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  • Every single one of the paying writing gigs I have had over the past four years came about as the result of helping other people on a forum.

    Your list of s *is* your business.

    • I’ve never used forums myself but that is a fantastic idea of a unique way to build a list. Thanks for the input, Philip!

    • Koren says:

      Wow, that’s incredible, Philip. Nice job! And thanks for sharing your tip – would love to know more!

      • When I started working online I joined a revenue share article site called InfoBarrel.com. The forum was very active and people there had the idea that helping each other to succeed would help the site and their own income to grow.
        I was very active in the forum, offering advice and what help I could; I had also written 100+ articles there to establish my credentials.
        Occasionally people would say in the forum that they were looking for writers to work on a per project basis. I got every one of those jobs because I had established my reputation as a decent, honest guy who could write. My income now comes from two contracts from other InfoBarrel members that have lasted for over a year.
        I invested my time to grow my Knowledge, Reputation, Contacts and earned Money as a consequence . . . Proof of the 5 Currencies concept that I have adopted as my online mantra.

  • Elke Feuer says:

    I agree with Philip. My first paid writing job came as a result of trying to help other writers in my writing group.

  • I haven’t had issues with it myself but have had clients that do. Sometimes, it is worth pursuing. Other instances, it might be a waste of time. Judge who’s stealing your work and if they have a way to them. Send them an email or other form of and ask them to remove your work or you will take legal action. Usually, the threat of legal action gets them to remove it. If they still haven’t removed it, you can decide whether to pursue it further or not. If you do, you can have an attorney send them an official letter—but that’s not free. Judge how much it’s hurting your writing and brand and go from there.

  • Hello Kim and all reading,
    I am in the process of getting to know some of you by posting comments to the occasional links on the write life site. I am an older unemployed American and had worked for 15 years as a Medical Transcriptionist from home for a service. Another co-worker was also let go by that same company, but has since moved on to ODesk.com and is reportedly doing okay. My blog is faith-based material, and for a year or so have been in a short story forum on linked-in. Some there know I am looking for content writing mentoring and ultimately working projects. I tend to steer clear of those marketing offers that promise the moon or something close to it as a freelancer. Online workshops seem theoretically a good choice but may have their drawbacks too. Would calling my local non-profit and express my interest in doing some writing for them or with someone on staff be a good means to break into the business? How does one find freelancers in their given geographic area? Thanks for allowing me to make myself known!
    Kindest Regards,

    • David, thanks for your comment! Networking and calling around using your existing s is definitely going to help you score writing jobs. I’m not sure if that’s a good means to break into the writing business quickly—in my personal experience, it took me a while for that to work.

      Since this article, I’ve moved on from the company I worked for and am now completely out on my own. Most of my clients have come from a variety of sources. Some are through in-peson networking connections, others are from traditional PR outreach, and others are from my online presence.

      My best advice is to figure out where your clients tend to “hang out” either online, in person, or otherwise, and figure out how to target them there. It’s going to take some time to develop a clientele base but putting yourself out there publicly will certainly help.