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8 Ways I Find Good Freelance Writing Jobs On Craigslist

writing jobs on craigslistWhen you check out the job links listed here you’ll also find a link to selected job searches on Craigslist.

I know lots of writers, particularly those with experience skip the listings on Craigslist. They figure there’s just too many low-paying gigs to sort through before finding the gold.

I don’t agree. I’ve found good writing gigs through the listings there. Perhaps more importantly over the long haul is I’ve made some great contacts.

Here’s how I do it:

I set aside no more than an hour. With a list like the one I provide it’s really easy to run through all the entries in a hurry. I doubt I’ve ever spend more than an hour at it.

I’m hugely selective. Since I know what kind of writing I’m looking to provide, ghostwriting books, editing books, certain kinds of press releases and maybe an article series, that’s what I look for. I skip the rest. I only go back two or three days at most because I know I’m not the only one searching.


I scan the headlines. A quick scan of the headlines usually reveals how few ads I have to actually read. I rarely allow myself to get sucked into something I don’t understand or doesn’t fit my criteria.

I scan the ad. A quick scan of an ad usually reveals it’s not what I want.

I only read a few closely. In a very real way my goal is to eliminate ads. Those that look possible I actually will read carefully.

I email the link to myself. Instead of responding to ads I like, I actually email the link to myself. I do this for a couple of reasons. When I go back and read them that acts as yet another screening, and I often decide the gig in question isn’t for me. Also, writing ads on craigslist often get pulled rather quickly – when I look for the second time if it’s gone I’ve saved myself some additional time.


I know my credits and resume will stand out if the prospective employer takes time to look at them. Which means if I’ve got any ads left I take some serious time applying. That may include checking any links I can find, double checking the list of credits I send out, even, occasionally creating a new resume or even a page at annewayman.com. I haven’t actually kept track but I get a response of some sort from about half of the applications I send to craigslist offerings.

Locally, I’m less selective. I actually check the San Diego Craigslist almost daily. It’s one way I can keep track of what’s going on in the community.  I often know, for example, which company is looking for tech writers – they often will hire contractors for other kinds of writing as well. If I spot a particularly interesting ad I may just contact them with a nice-to-meet-you email.

I don’t know how many writing gigs I’ve gotten from craigslist over the years. My most spectacular was probably back in the day when I became one of  Match.com’s early employees in San Francisco. It’s amazing what shows up on the site – you may want to take a fresh look at craigslist.

What do you think of craigslist?

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by blmurch

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • I used to find work on Craigslist but I often found more coal than I found diamonds. I’ve been looking again lately and I see a lot of on site positions. Any idea on how you get them to agree to hiring you on an off site or contracted basis. Granted I’ve been looking locally so maybe I need to start broadening my search. I’ve also been looking under “jobs” and not “services”. Do you think that makes a difference?

  • It works if you work it!
    I’ve used it successfully to score ghost writing gigs, a teaching assignment, and other creative projects.

    It’s important to know how to scrutinize what’s listed, though.
    Jennifer Brown Banks recently posted..Survival or Selling Out? Does working cheaply devalue you as a writer?My Profile

    • Anne

      Exactly Jennifer… we can be choosy.

  • I’m kind of new in using CL, as I previously used “GAF” (GetAFreelancer). I found some OK low-paying jobs that helped me get by, and CL got me one reply in 50, which I guess is also kind of bad. There’s just a lot of people looking to pay 1 cent per word or less and I find it rather unfair. Luckily, I found a few clients that pay 5 cents per word or better on simple articles, and I’m currently talking to another client that pays 10 cents to the word.

    It’s not the best rate in the world, but certainly better than those jobs I find that target Pakistanis and people from India. Both clients I found through connections and through other methods. The one reply I did get in Craigslist didn’t want to hire me because I’m an expat American in Romania. I don’t see how it’s so difficult to accept a W-8BEN form and accept the same caliber of English as any other American.
    Miguel Leiva-Gomez recently posted..Simple Things to Check Before You Determine Your Computer Hates YouMy Profile

    • Anne

      Miguel, while 5 cents is certainly better than a penny a word, it’s still not much. Keep working your way upward. What kind of writing are you doing? And remember most Americans have no idea how to work with someone overseas… make it super simple for them.

      • Well, I’m only living overseas, which should give them the same confidence as if they would hire someone living in the states, since I’m a native English speaker no matter where I move.

        I’ve really got no choice but to accept relatively low-paying jobs considering my situation and where I find myself. There was a time when I would just drink tea and not eat. I don’t want to go through that again, so I resort to less dignified work. Of course, I’m going upwards now, since I make enough to sustain things the way they are and eat+pay bills.

        As for the kind of writing I do, I simply write tech news and topics of high complexity with regards to technology.
        Miguel Leiva-Gomez recently posted..How Computers Work – Part 5 – The CPU [Mega Series]My Profile

        • Anne

          Miguel, I suspect one of the secrets is to make it super easy for them (higher paying gigs) to pay you.

          • What do you mean? By the way, I’m about to finish adding another client to my list. He seems decided to hire my services, and is ready to seal the deal. This one’s a big fish, too.
            Miguel Leiva-Gomez recently posted..How Computers Work – Part 7 – RAM [Mega Series]My Profile

            • Anne

              congratulations… new clients are always exciting.

              • Thanks! I’m starting tomorrow with the client, and I have two others under my belt. It wasn’t that hard, but the gigs are still kind of modest-ish. They’ll help me carry myself and pay the bills, though, before I find better gigs. I’m attached personally to two of my clients and I really don’t want to end the collaboration ever, so I’ll still write for those, but I really have to continue moving forward, maybe in half a year or so.
                Miguel Leiva-Gomez recently posted..How Computers Work – Part 8 – The Hard Drive & Solid State Drive [Mega Series]My Profile

                • Anne

                  Miguel, having multiple clients is always a good idea… I’ll do a post on that.

  • I look through it, but only about once per week. I actually have a specific time — my daughter has speech therapy and while she is in her appt, I use the wi-fi to search CL for the period of her 45 min appt, mailing any prospects to myself. When I get home, I go through them again and, like you, only wind up actually applying for a couple. I feel like it’s a good use of time, since otherwise I’d just be sitting there!
    Amelia Ramstead recently posted..Work-at-Home Parent vs. Stay-at-Home ParentMy Profile

    • Anne

      Love it that you’ve found a way to use that 45 min.

  • While I ‘ve gotten gigs off Craigslist, when I look back they never turned out to be my best clients. I definitely have looked at them, though, and use a similar attitude of being heavily selective about which ones to spend time on. I’m looking for real companies that provide their URL so I can research them, and mention a specific expertise I have that isn’t real common.

    But I love your idea of emailing it! Both creates a paper trail for future reference instead of being sort of lost in the ether later, and gives you one more chance to pass on applying.
    Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing recently posted..4 Tips for Freelance Writers Who’re Starting OverMy Profile

    • Anne

      Thanks Carol… every now and again I have a good idea.

  • I agree with you. I use CL pretty much for one-off jobs in my niche. Example: $750 contract writing web copy for an educational site launch, took less than 4 hours.
    allena recently posted..Interesting Question at MediaBistroMy Profile

    • Anne

      Exactly Alleana.

  • I love Craig’s List! I find many jobs through this medium and it is nice to look both locally and nationally.

    • Anne

      Andrea, I love that you agree.. 😉

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