22 Freelance Writer Jobs and Content Types
You may have tried googling “freelance writer jobs” and gotten a lot of mixed results. The moniker “freelance writer” is anything but constrictive and there are so many things freelance writers can do and services we can offer. There’s a fit for every fancy.
I often get asked how to create writing samples and what kind of work is “best” to take on. It got me thinking… Man, I wish I'd had a better understanding of what kind of stuff I could write for my portfolio when I started writing. So, I made a list.
Below, you’ll find an incomplete list of 22 (yes, TWENTY-TWO) freelance writer jobs and a short explanation for each. I’m willing to bet a few pique your interest.
Newspaper, Magazine, and other “Professional” Articles and Essays
This is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway.
Both online and print media outlets are always looking for “outside” voices to tell stories, write journalistic reports, and share opinions. There are tons of calls for pitches on Twitter from editors of every newspaper, magazine and other online media outlet imaginable. Seriously.
The key to landing these types of gigs is to do your research, find the right editor name and email address, and to follow their pitch guidelines (if you can find them, and you probably can) to the letter.
If you don’t follow the publication’s explicit instructions about how to pitch, you won’t be given the time of day. It’s also important to remember that these places get potentially hundreds of pitches every day, too, so you’re just one in a very large sea of many.
Politely follow up and don’t get discouraged if you hear a “no” or don’t get a response at all. Keep at it and eventually, you might find the right person at the right time with the right story or angle.
The best part of these things is that while they don’t generally pay a ton, they have your name on them and you get to fly around the internet tooting your “I’m published in X, Y, and Z” horn.
I wholeheartedly believe that every business needs a blog. This is so important to me that I talk about it all the time. If you like writing long-form, researched, informative content, this is definitely a writing form that should be up your alley.
Landing a client that is interested in having consistent blog content is a big bingo because this often means you have a promise of consistent work for at least a few weeks or months. This saves you the trouble of having to constantly be on the prowl to find new gigs and income.
Blog articles should be a minimum of 500 words (but they can be as long as 2,000 or more) and ideally need to include links to other pages on your client’s website as well as to other reputable outside sources. This is to help them look fair and informed while boosting their long-term search engine optimization efforts.
Email and Print Newsletters
Like blog articles, securing a client who wants you to write newsletters can also be extremely lucrative. I’ve become Instagram friends with a woman who exclusively specializes email newsletters and she’s totally killing it. (Check Lib out. She’s cool.)
Newsletter marketing is an ongoing thing and companies are always in need of someone to help create a strategy and write the copy. You could also learn how to plan and set up email automations – prewritten and scheduled email sequences that are triggered when a subscriber signs up, clicks certain links, or takes a specific action.
In fact, knowing a bit about automations and how to effectively craft them is another service businesses will gladly pay for. If you enjoy strategizing about content delivery, you can up your game by offering email marketing and automation services. This is a great ongoing freelance writer job.
Sales and Marketing Materials
This could take many different forms. You might find you enjoy creating things, like ebooks or journals or quizzes or surveys or coupon vouchers or a whole slew of other things. These materials are used by companies to market themselves every single day.
These things are often called “lead magnets” in the online world. In the print world, sales and marketing materials are literally anything used for sales and marketing. Once again, it’s not a surprise what this means.
From the actual creation of the thing – digital or physical – to the writing that goes along with it, somebody’s got to do that. It could be you. If you’re comfortable using design software like Canva* or if you’ve got a background in more robust systems like Adobe, you could offer a double-whammy to interested clients and handle both the designing and copywriting for their project.
Whitepapers are essentially long-form (think more than 2,000 words) content pieces used by companies to promote specific products or services they offer. (Nonprofits may also use whitepapers.) These are rarely written to entice consumers to buy, but rather for marketing to other businesses.
Want to look over a few whitepaper examples? This blog article highlights a few good ones from big companies like Cisco.
Case studies are, in a way, similar to whitepapers as they serve a specific marketing purpose: They’re basically long-form testimonials for a company. Rather than writing a quick recommendation, case studies focus on specific pain points a customer or client had and how a business helped them solve their issue.
These require interviewing customers about their experience. (Your client may ask you to interview their customer or they may provide you with a recorded interview they conducted.) Your job is to turn it into an interesting cast study article or piece of content depending on your client’s preferences.
While pictures may say 1,00 words, we all still look at product descriptions before we buy things. Someone has to write them!
Product descriptions don’t tend to be high-earners simply based on their length, but if you find a client who has many products and needs descriptions for all of them, that gig could be very lucrative. That said, stores and shops are always adding to their inventory. If you can develop strong relationships with your clients, you’ll be more likely to get repeat business from them.
To pad your product description portfolio, see if you can get some statistics back from your clients. Things like conversion rate (a percentage of how many people visit the product page and ultimately purchase – you want this to be high) and bounce rate (how many people visit the page without taking any action – you want this to be lower) can help you make a case for your copywriting chops.
Media (or press) kits are what businesses use to pitch themselves to press and media outlets. They include company bios, statistics about the person’s or brand’s audience, and a number of different elements that might include notes of their previous partnerships or publication records.
These kits can be used in a couple of ways, too. Some brands use their media kits to pitch themselves as expert speakers or writers. Others may use their kits to court advertisers to buy ad space from their publications.
Depending on the brand or person, the media kit might be short and sweet (check out Jessica Stansberry’s very simple press kit). It might be a very-well decorated press kit like Susue Moore’s. Or it might be an extremely in-depth kit covering advertising pricing, audience demographics, and more, like Oprah Daily, the website covering all press kit materials for Oprah Winfrey’s media empire, or Mel Robbin’s, an internationally-known self-development author and speaker.
These media kits take time to build out and plan. Once again, if you can offer design services, you’ve got one more leg up on other copywriters offering this service. But don’t fret – if you’re not comfortable designing, your services are still in high demand.
Every website you’ve ever visited and read through was written by someone. It might have been a company staffer or it might have been a freelancer. Either way, every single page on the internet with writing had to be (obviously) written by someone.
You could specialize in specific types of website copy, such as “about pages” or any other common page. Or you might specialize in a specific niche and provide copy for company websites in that industry.
One of the best ways to go about this is to ask your clients to present you with an outline of what sections are most likely to be on their website. If they’re working with a web designer, ask for the “wireframe.” If they’re designing the site themselves, ask to see the “dummy” site so you know how things will look, how long your copy sections should approximately be, and where you might need to add little blurbs throughout the pages.
Once again, someone had to write the manual for your Texas Instrument calculator in high school and that new blender you just bought last week.
This may sound especially “technical” but it’s not. Any item that requires a how-to manual or written instructions has a “technical manual.”
This type of writing is generally referred to as “technical writing” and its main goal is to uncomplicate the complicated. It’s very dry language with little or no flourish. Perhaps most surprisingly, this is probably one of the easiest types of writing to break into because it doesn’t often require the writer to match a particular “brand voice.”
Books and Ebooks
Ebooks can be shorter and serve as marketing materials, like lead magnets. (For an example, check out my ebook, 7 Steps to Start a Profitable Freelance Writing Business.) Alternatively, they could be just as long as a printed book, like Kindle ebooks.
Either way, people want to write books but don’t consider themselves “good writers” or want to invest the time it takes to write a book. You could be a book or ebook ghostwriter and make literally thousands of dollars helping others publish their ideas. You may even be able to find postings for these freelance writer jobs on certain job boards. Google “book freelance writer” or “ebook freelance writer” or “ghostwriter.”
Advertising copy is one of the most common things freelancers write, especially if it’s for a special project or sale. It’s akin to copywriting and someetimes these two terms are used interchangeably (though “ad copy” is more specific than just “copywriting”).
This could be something long, like the written content in physical mailers (also called direct mail), or something short and snappy like you often see in sale flyers. If you manage to get feedback from your clients about conversion rates, you can use that to your advantage.
Large companies likely have small teams of people (or just one person) dedicated to running their social media channels (generally called “social media managers”) but smaller companies may not.
Whether they’ve got help creating their images (you could do that as a freelancer, too!), managing posts and engaging with followers, or they just need someone to write the captions, this is a super lucrative freelancing opportunity.
Like with ad copy, if you can track numbers and have something tangible to show for your efforts, you can use that information to gain more clients and raise your rate.
Not everyone wants to hire a PR firm to help them make a splash in the media. Press releases are actually pretty easy to write and the same formula works for nearly every industry. Check out this template from Hubspot to see if this kind of writing is a good fit for you and what you or your client can do to get them in front of a wider audience.
We all know that presidents and other world leaders often don’t write their own speeches (at least not all of them), but that they have a team doing it for them. And they’re not alone!
Plenty of people struggle to write their thoughts clearly or have such stage fright that they need help writing a public speaking script. If you have experience in public speaking or a particular industry, you could easily niche down. Alternatively, your client should provide you with particular talking points so you can craft a thoughtful presentation.
Video has become a dominant force in how we consume media and most of it is scripted in some way. From newsrooms to YouTube videos to advertisements, someone has to make those plans and write those words.
Businesses hoping to make videos for their business on the platform or for their own websites likely don’t have someone on their staff specializing in script writing. Likewise, companies making promotional videos may need help writing scripts for their brands.
If you’ve got any background in video (or radio!) production or scripting, you’d be a natural freelance script writer.
Researchers will often seek help to get their results and findings compiled into written form. These papers may be published in professional or academic journals, among other places.
You likely will need to demonstrate specific previous experience to get hired for these gigs. Depending on your level of expertise in a certain area of study and the budget of the organization that hires you, this could be a big money maker.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Content
There will never be a shortage of people who need to have an understanding of search enging optimization (SEO).
SEO is the “science” behind how brands get found online through search results. There’s a lot that goes into it, from optimizing website pages to checking keywords to writing keyword-based articles and beyond. If this is of interest to you, specializing in SEO will help you stand out from other “generalist” freelancers – bar none. There will never be a shortage of SEO-centric freelance writer jobs (including at companies. This isn't a freelancer-only thing!).
Grants are essentially like scholarships for organizations: money offered by government and aid groups to help fund research and other activities that will benefit the public.
Organizations of all kinds apply for grants and often don’t have anyone on staff whose sole responsibility is completing grant applications to secure funding for their organization. These applications require very special elements and take time to learn.
If you have experience writing grants for a previous employer or nonprofit, you can do it for other groups, too. Even if you don’t have experience, this is a great content-type niche to choose and learn.
As a freelancer, you probably won’t have much need for a resume anymore. (This is one of the many perks of being a freelancer!) But everyone else still does.
People are always looking for help with their resumes. Once again, if you can keep track of your clients’ positive hiring record, you can charge more for your assistance.
Did you know there are people who manage other businesses’ Pinterest accounts for a living? There are!
From creating the images for Pinterest (which you would be wise to offer as part of your service) to writing the captions and scheduling the pins, this is a great way to make money. You’ll need to provide some kind of report each month to show what your work has accomplished for your client, but these don’t need to be fancy.
SIDE NOTE: I spent 6 months in 2021 paying a Pinterest freelancer a whopping $700 a month to manage my Pinterest account. Imagine if you had a few clients paying that much on the regular. You’d be making great money!
Podcast and YouTube Show Notes
Podcasters and YouTubers make the videos and record the audios, but they often aren’t the ones to write their show notes (or edit their content!).
This could be a great opportunity for a long-standing partnership with a client and a great “in” for possible referrals – especially if your person does a lot of collaborations with other podcasters or YouTubers.
So there you have it – 22 different types of content and freelance writer jobs you can master and offer. It takes time to “get good” at any one of them, but the more practice you get, the better you'll be at creating killer content for your clients.