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Job Postings Are The Tip Of A Big Iceberg!

ice_bergI got a nice email from Jennifer Mattern who runs All Freelance Writing. She wanted to make sure I knew that starting next week she’s posting jobs on her site only once a week. She spells out her reasons in a post she called Freelance Writing Jobs No More – Sort Of.

Like Jenn, I eventually stopped posting jobs too. But there are lots of job sites out there and even if you take them all together, they are just the tip of a huge iceberg. Which doesn’t mean you should use them.

Let me say it loud and clear:

Job postings should never be your sole source of job leads!


In fact, most the posted jobs are entry level writing jobs, or quick writing jobs that can be done in a hurry to generated some cash, or places that, if your work accepted, give you the beginning of a decent list of writing credits.

Just as the best corporate jobs are rarely advertised, so it is with the best writing jobs.

How To Find The Hidden Job Market

One of the reasons I keep telling writers they simply must have their own website or blog is because my website, www.annewayman.com, is how I get most of my ghostwriting business. The phone rings and someone needs a ghost. They find me by searching, like what they see enough to risk a call. Some stumble to me through this blog, but not many. Others, of course, come from referrals from satisfied clients. I don’t think I’ve worked a job I found on the net for at least a couple of years, maybe more.

Does that mean there are never good jobs in the job postings? No, of course not! But what, eight or nine out of 10 are likely to be low paying. It takes patience. experience and some luck I think to winnow the gems out. (I think I just mixed another metaphor – sigh.)

The other type of job that’s posted here to keep an eye out for is the lowish paying gig that might turn into something bigger. If it’s advertised that way it probably isn’t. But once you’ve got a prospective employer on the phone, ask where he or she is headed with their business. There are, of course, no guarantees, but again, you may be pleasantly surprised. But it’s up to you to ask!

The Market Has Changed and Is Changing

If you’ve been writing for more than a few months, you simply have to accept that the writing market’s have changed and are changing. If you don’t accept that you’ll just make yourself miserable.

T.W. Anderson has been eloquent about how the market has changed and is changing. He blogs and offers his services at Complete Writing Solutions. Entries like Research in the 21st Century give insights valuable to anyone trying to get a handle on how the writing/research world works today.

Although I was one of the early adapters to writing for the web, blogging mystified me for awhile. In fact, I blogged for probably six months before I had any real sense of what blogging and a blogging community might be all about. Then I learned to twitter, or to tweet. Yes I have a facebook account, etc. etc. etc. And you can pay me via PayPal. I’m fairly current.  And I pay enough attention so I probably won’t miss the next big thing completely.

It’s up to you to stay in tune enough so you don’t miss it either.

So Where Are The Good Paying Writing Jobs?

Actually, assuming you don’t live in total isolation, good paying writing jobs are all around you. (And, because of the ‘net, you can live in east podunk and write in metropolitan areas.)

Probably the lowest hanging fruit is commercial  writing – the kind that Peter Bowerman teaches so well over at The Well-Fed Writer and in his book by the same name. You’d probably be pleasantly surprised if you called a dozen or so businesses near you and asked how they get their writing done. I’ll bet if you call say five a day for a week you’ll end up with at least one gig.

There are still decent rates to be had in the well known consumer magazines and even, I suspect, at a few of the large daily newspaper. Writer’s Market will be your best source – the online version.

I have a writer girl friend who writes books on a work for hire basis and is making well over $100,000 this year after she subcontracts out part of the work. She got there by working inside publishing houses for awhile, but you could do worse than call a few publishers that service niche markets and find out what’s going on. You might be exactly who they are looking for.

Another ghostwriter I know writes books you’d recognize. She got a referral to one and that has led to several others.

And there are in-house jobs for writers and editors. I suspect there are more now than there were twenty years ago. At least there are more in San Diego, for example. When I started so much of publishing was centered in New York city. That’s no longer true. These jobs aren’t the typical newspaper gigs.

There’s a great deal of stirring going on as folks try to figure out what’s going to replace newspapers, or supplement them in a profitable way.  At the moment, that means websites of one sort or another and those companies can be located anywhere.

Look around you; it’s not just sites trying to replace newspapers.  I’ve made good money writing for dating sites, real estate sites and know others who have also made money simply because they checked to see what sort of websites were happening in their are. Websites need content. Content means writers. Web writing is not all going to the article sites, not by a long shot. Many employers still want to be able to look their writers in the eye.

Few if any of these jobs are ever listed on sites like mine. First of all, I don’t post inside jobs so you won’t find out if there’s a full-time writing job next door to you on my site. Nor will you find jobs here that require you to go into someone’s office, but over time, I’ve turned office jobs into work at home gigs.

Your local Craigslist is one good place to look. (Are you aware CL lists cities all over the planet?) Even better, call or go in person and introduce yourself as a writer, leave your card.  They may not need you today, but you’ll find, if you put yourself out there in a regular way writing work will come to you.

It Really IS Up To You

Much as we might want it to be different, it really is up to me to find the work I want and that pays me what I’ve decided I’m worth. It doesn’t happen automatically, not really. It never has, it probably never will.

Decide what kind of writing you want to do. Decide how much you want to be paid. Then, if you can’t command those kinds of writing jobs right now, figure out what you need to get there in a year or ten. Start working toward what you want and you’ll either get there or someplace else that turns out to be way better than your original dream.

Easy? No, but actually pretty simple. As some might say, Easy Does It; But Do It.


No clue where the image came from originally – got this one from dozens and dozens at google images.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Anne,
    What do you do about writers that do not pay. I did sevearl articles for a place and the individual continued to promise pay, but never did?

  • Anne,

    Thanks for the wonderful advice. I’ve been a writer and editor for years and years, but am just now trying to break away from my full-time corporate job and move into the freelance world. It’s overwhelming and scary, but the points you make here (and elsewhere on your site) are exactly what I needed. So helpful.

    • Anne

      Thanks Ashley… feel free to ask questions… lots of good people here.

  • Kahtleen

    Anne —
    Did I say thank you lately? Maybe not. I have been frequenting your site for… well… 8 to 10 years now… And I am continually grateful for taking the time to read things that you share with me/us.
    And I have been delaying building my own website… but I am going to target that for my March 2010 goal. Thank you for beating me over the head with this truism. I need a website to help me be more successful.

    • Anne

      Yikes, have I been doing this that long? I guess so… thanks for being a loyal fan.

  • I think it’s an admirable goal to want to push people in the right direction, so long you don’t try and play judge and jury.

    I’ve always believed that people should be allowed to make the choices they want to make. If someone wants to work at McDonalds that’s their prerogative. I’m not going to say yea or nay. Just as much as I’m never going to look at another writer and say “you are wasting your talent working for Site X, when you should be working for Site Y. In fact, unless you are working for Site Y then I’m not going to consider you a real writer because I don’t consider Site X to be a real market”.

    The danger for many of the so-called Freelance Writing professionals in the market today is they are far too opinionated, far too preachy, and they haven’t yet learned how to grasp the simple etiquette of communication. It’s ok to suggest. It’s ok to promote. It’s even ok to guide. But it’s never ok to judge or tell someone what they are doing is a “waste of their time”, because until you’ve stood in their shoes it’s impossible to know.

    There are some places I’ll read and others I won’t, simply by the way the owner communicates to the people. I’ve written off several dozen of the so-called professionals in the field in 2009 as a direct result of their condescending attitudes and their “my way or the highway” mentality.

    What works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for someone else. The beauty of the freelance market is that it’s a global market with opportunities for millions of people just so long as they take the time to look and find something that fits within their niche and required salary.
    .-= T.W. Anderson´s last blog ..Tools of the trade, part II =-.

  • Anne,

    I think that people who are looking for work, either as freelancers or as employees in whatever career field they choose, need to rely on a number of tactics to find an opportunity that will be a good fit for them. They have a better chance of reaching their goal if they use a combination of answering some ads, networking, cold calling/approaching prospective employers/clients directly.

    Most of the job market is hidden, and this is true of the freelance writing world, too. When you post job leads, you are offering convenience for those who are actively looking as well as those who are wondering about what is “out there.” You also provide information for those who are considering freelancing.

    You put the information out there, and what the reader chooses to do with it is entirely up to them. My $0.02 on the subject.
    .-= Jodee Redmond´s last blog ..Would You Share Information About a Client on a Billboard? =-.

    • Anne

      Thanks Jodee, well said.

    • “When you post job leads, you are offering convenience for those who are actively looking as well as those who are wondering about what is “out there.” ”

      I used to feel the same way — offering them for convenience, so that if people were going to spend time looking at job listings they could at least get them in one place to save some time. But in the end it wasn’t working out that way.

      A part of the problem I’ve noticed is that the more leads people see (especially new writers) the more they get a false image in their mind of what the overall freelance marketplace is like. People have a tendency to believe what they see publicly, and think it represents much more than it truly does. Advertised gigs are a small portion of what’s out there. While there can be good ones, the vast majority are not. I just see no good reason to keep contributing to the myth. Half the time it feels like the equivalent of taking a culinary student to a McDonald’s and telling them “this is a representation of the jobs that are available to you when you graduate.”

      Writers are smart enough to figure out how to land better paying gigs than the bulk of those advertised ones. Yet my experience is that the more of those lists they’re going through, the more time they’re wasting on them instead of doing those better things they’re fully capable of.
      .-= Jenn Mattern´s last blog ..Demand Studios Health Insurance – Objective Overview of FlexShield Benefits =-.

      • Kevin

        I find this thinking and the timing very convenient. Why now? Why a press release? Couldn’t you quietly change your format without the fanfare?

        • Anne

          not sure what you’re talking about here Kevin…

  • Star

    As I said on Jenn’s site–this is what I have been advocating for yrs. I look over the aggregators–I reply to some listings. Aggregators save me time–but by spreading the really low-rent jobs, they are lowering the bar on rates. Yes, they are free–and free to do what they want. I know some don’t agree. I know it to be true. Blah-blah…I say this all the time. Anyhow–I applaud Jenn and will go to her site EVERYDAY!

    • Anne

      Star, I’ll be watching what Jenn does too. I haven’t yet figured out a way to sort through the jobs and find the gems – not in any time-efficient fashion. It will be interesting to see.

      • My solution was easy. I hired someone else. 😉 Clint’s a fun guy, so I’m really looking forward to how he approaches the “warning” ads and the tips he has to offer weekly (in addition to his more humorous posts bi-weekly on the site). I’m hoping to bring him into some larger pieces as well (and he’s guest starring on the next FreelanceTheater.com audio play). So definitely check him out.

        It also helps that I’ve had a network of writing sites and blogs for a few years now. While some have been merged into All Freelance Writing at this point I still have a collection of writer’s markets. I’ll be expanding those separately, and Clint will have something to pull directly from when there simply aren’t “good” advertised jobs. I’m also looking at other ways to replace the job board on-site with something more favorable to higher pay. I’m still debating whether to make it provider-focused of client-focused, but am leaning towards the former. It’s an all-around change, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. Most of it will happen soon into the New Year.
        .-= Jenn Mattern´s last blog ..Demand Studios Health Insurance – Objective Overview of FlexShield Benefits =-.

        • Anne

          I’ll be curious to see if Clint can dig out great freelance writing jobs and would love to know how long it takes and how he will make sure they are great… and then you both have the makings of an ebook that should sell a bunch.

          Working with markets, a la’ Writers Market or Wooden Horse Publishing might make sense. So would scaring up publishers/employers to put together adverts. I’ll be watching 😉

  • I, for one, really appreciate what you and the other generous individuals do with your postings. I don’t often “hook up” on the posted gigs but you never know when one seems to be written for you. One of my best clients came off a Craigslist posting from one of the freelance writing posts.

    I’ll have to check out Meanwell as well (no pun intended) 🙂 I loved Peter Bowerman’s books! And I am working my way through Jenn’s 30-day bootcamp – fabulous!

    I just wanted to thank you, Jenn, Deb and all of the generous freelance writers who share their talent & time. Something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

  • Meanwell’s one of very few people in the niche who not only really understand the huge role PR strategies play in building visibility to attract work as a service provider, but who also covers the topic in a way even new writers will be able to understand and adapt for their own needs. His book’s worth a read even if only for that section.

    And you’re absolutely right. I’m often baffled by how many demands low paying clients make. Specifically when it comes to writing for the Web, I’ve found that the higher a client pays the more hands-off they actually often are (and the fewer specific requirements they put on the writer). A lot of the lower paying clients are looking for credibility, and they seem to rely on strict rules and sometimes overbearing requirements in an attempt to get that. Clients who pay well generally already have some authority status so they can afford to hire writers to who lend even more authority naturally without trying to force conformity. They hire you because you’re the expert in the niche or you have something else they want, and rather than trying to homogenize the writing they give you remarkable freedom.
    .-= Jenn Mattern´s last blog ..Demand Studios Health Insurance – Objective Overview of FlexShield Benefits =-.

  • Anne

    Thanks Jenn – I’ll have to start paying more attention to M. Meadwell… good tip.

    I’ve also found that often, the options that seem easy (low pay) rarely are… I like working with folks who pay well… it’s the one’s who don’t that most often give me grief.

    • JenShak


      I have been a writer for 15 years. I often go through your jobs when I am looking to fill in the gaps I know that I have coming in my writing assignments. I have also recently started a ghostwriting company, so that I have my own work… and work for the company that is done through the writers we hire there.

      I say this because in the last year of running this company and dealing with writers I have learned alot… I am sure many that give you grief have some how found there way to try to work for me.

      Over the years I would always laugh when clients would share their “writer experiences” with me. I couldn’t believe anyone that decided to be a writer and have that as a profession would act the way I was being told other writers had. That was, until I started my own company.

      I have noticed that there are plenty of people out there that like the title of writer, but have no idea what it takes to be a successful writer. As a matter of fact it floors me when I fire a writer for plagiarism… and the writer’s response is, “I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.”

      I have a number of writers that also can’t seem to do research for an article. The look at the topic and if the research doesn’t jump right out at them, then they tell me they can’t write it.

      I guess my point is this. Those that are truly writers know how to make a living at writing. They understand that it does require work and effort. Then there are those that want to call themselves writers because they like the title and want everything handed to them on a silver platter… and if they don’t get it want to cause us grief.

      I think you do an excellent job! I have found a number of small jobs through your website over the last year that has helped fill in my gaps.

      Keep your head up… and I highly recommend learning the virtual strangle. 🙂 Makes you feel better and no one really gets hurt. 😉

      • Anne

        The virtual strangle! love it.

        And yes, I’m often delighted and sometimes horrified by those who want to be or say they want to be writers.

  • All I can say is “Amen!” Anne.

    At AFW, what started as a way to help new writers save time trolling job listings instead became enabling — focusing on the easy way out instead of the work that goes into getting the really great gigs (and there are a LOT out there!). So we’re no longer going that route. Only the best of the advertised gigs will be featured. If the gigs all suck that week, we’ll highlight writer’s markets people might want to pursue.

    But in the end, the focus there is the same as it always was — emphasizing the importance of making work find YOU instead of you constantly looking for work (building a writer platform, like you mention with a professional site or blog, and building a network).

    The clients are there. The money is there. The only thing often lacking is the ambition to do the work to find them. What’s most unfortunate about that is the fact that once you “get there” with your platform and network, you save so much time in finding work. You have a constant flow of income gigs. You don’t have to “look” for it anymore. And more often than not, you make MUCH more money than you would by limiting yourself to advertised gigs.

    I completely second your recommendation of Peter’s book. He’s amazing. I’m actually still working through the latest version he released, and I find myself constantly nodding my head in agreement thinking how nice it is to see so much sensible advice out there for writers.

    Another one worth looking into is Michael Meanwell and his The Wealthy Writer – another outstanding book, especially for writers who aren’t sure how to promote themselves.

    And their advice doesn’t just apply to commercial writers. The same principles work well across the board — Web content writing (most people would be surprised how much money is actually in it when you move beyond the easy options), Blogging, writing for trades, etc. If there are two resources worth having in this niche, they’re it!
    .-= Jenn Mattern´s last blog ..Demand Studios Health Insurance – Objective Overview of FlexShield Benefits =-.

  • Anne

    Thanks Deb, worth a read too. Interesting to me how much alike and how very different Deb and I are as we both serve freelance writers

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