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How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist

Writing Jobs on CraigslistContently posted an article on finding freelance writing jobs on Craigslist in New York. It’s kind of a fun, slightly snarky look at the good, the bad, and everything in between in writing gigs in the Big Apple. I wondered why they limited the article to New York ads.

I’ve been using Craigslist almost since it’s inception. I lived in the Bay area then and hung out with computer types and even met founder Craig Newmark at a party briefly. I was moved back to San Diego for a writing job I found on the classified ad site.

I’m also familiar with the frustration over finding writing jobs on Craigslist. Most often expressed is the number of scams the unwary can find on any Craigslist. The second annoyance is how often the ads are positively cryptic. And third is the shear number of CL sites there are in this country.

The best Craigslist sites for freelance writing jobs

Not all Craigslist sites are equal. Sure, they’ve all got the same categories, but when you’re looking for freelance writing jobs you want to use the sites that are most productive.

That’s why I created a list of those CL cities that are most likely to have a decent selection of jobs for freelance writers. I call it Freelance Writing Jobs – The CraigsList Group

Obviously New York and San Francisco are generally the best cities to search, but don’t limit yourself. It’s my hunch that those two cities get far and away the most traffic which means decent job listings get an avalanche of responses. You can still land gigs there, but it pays to expand your search.

5 Warning signs of a bad job

Craigslist is a shotgun approach to finding writing gigs. You’ll find everything from scams to real jobs that let you write at home in your pajamas. The trick is sorting out the good ones. Here are 5 warning signs that tell you ‘don’t apply here’:

  1. Anything that asks you to pay for a job is a scam in my opinion. Don’t do it.
  2. Anything that offers you exposure instead of pay. While some of these are probably sincere, you can create articles that show off your ability on your own website and reach your target audience.
  3. Almost anything that offers you a royalty or a percentage is likely to be, if not a scam, a scheme that won’t work out well. Contrast that with the offer of pay plus a percentage – I’ve won on a couple of those.
  4. Jobs that indicate the employer wants to be in constant contact with me I skip.
  5. I also skip jobs that sound too good to be true.

Any of these red flags are reason to just move on.

I know what kind of writing jobs on Craigslist I want

I’m looking for book ghostwriting and proposal writing. I’m also looking for gigs that are more than a one-shot.

For example, it was a Craigslist ad that led me to a regular blogging gig that nets me hundreds of dollars a month.

It’s amazing what kinds of writing gigs you can find. Apply for only the ones that fit you – if they want an automotive writer and you always take public transportation, skip it. If you can write SEO article or press releases or about single parenting, look for writing jobs that match your credentials.

Sure, sometimes the ads are so vague you don’t really know what they want. I skip most of those, and once in a while respond when it feels right.

When the pay listed is too low I don’t respond. When they say competitive rates I’m a bit suspicious, but will respond it the gig seems to be a great fit.

Respond simply but completely

When you answer an ad for writing jobs on Craigslist, show how you can solve their problem. When you can demonstrate you understand what they need and you can fill that position, you’ll probably get the job. Resumes are great, but it’s your problem solving they really want.

Don’t expect a response unless they want to hire you. I know this is frustrating, but it’s also the way it is. It sometimes means you’ll get a call and you’ll have to ask them which job they’re talking about – they won’t mind telling you.

Working the lists for writing jobs on Craigslist

The way I work the lists for writing jobs on Craigslist is to set aside about an hour – maybe up to two when I first got started.

I start with the first job on the list, Atlanta Writing/Editing – telecommute and click on any recent job that looks like it might fit. When I find one that fits I either stop and send an email response right away or email the link to myself – both schemes seem to work. I move through each list as quickly as I can reading reasonably carefully. By the end of an hour or so you will have sent out maybe a dozen or so responses.

Do this every day or so – three times a week is probably enough. You’ll soon get a feel for the list. If your town isn’t listed, add that to your Craigslist search so you know what, if anything, is what’s going on in the writing game immediately around you.

When you’re finished, take a break – a fresh cup of coffee, a 10 min call with a friend, a few minutes outside – something. Congratulate yourself and move on to your next task.

Soon I’ll have a new ebook on Freelance Writing Jobs – get early notice plus a discount when you sign up.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer




{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Excellent tips Anne, Thanks for sharing these amazing article for finding freelancers. As a blogger, i was in search of ‘writing jobs on craigslist’. I mean seriously this article was really helpful to me.
    Ayush Leh recently posted..How to make money from Pinterest? These Ideas will increase your Earnings.My Profile

  • Hye anne…
    I really like your article…you describe it briefly…
    Thanks for this blog post. This blog is really beneficial for everyone…
    A person reaches to the success destination by travelling through the path of education. The career will be successful when you earn the right education that is accepted by employees at the organizations.
    Thanks for sharing a great article!!

    • David, education isn’t the only way to success in freelance writing and can, in fact, get in the way for some.

  • Jennifer

    “I wondered why they limited the article to New York ads”

    It’s because they are in NY. I wrote for Contently for 2 years. Good place to write although when they were done (well, the company they were editing for was done), they didn’t at least send a heads-up. They just stopped offering work. I guess that’s the way the game is played, but after 2 years you’d think they’d at least say something. They did try to fit me for something else, and wrote there for 2 months and it stopped. Not sure if it was me or them.

    • Interesting… an editor there hired me then left before I got anything published there… seemed like we couldn’t get it together.

  • Lisa Cunningham

    Great tips, Anne! I never thought much about searching other cities and I’m a veteran freelancer. Thanks especially for the red flags. As a vet, it’s an insult when sites offer me just exposure. That won’t pay the rent!

  • Super constructive and uncomplicated advice for navigating “the craigslist.” Thank you for your optimism.
    Coco recently posted..I Feel So Used Now That My Congressman Has Thrown Me And My Close Friend The Internet Under The BusMy Profile

  • Excellent advice Anne.

    I’m struck by how often online ads for freelance writing work say nothing about pay. They ask you to submit an application, resume, writing samples, and more, but there’s nada about what you’ll earn.
    John Soares recently posted..When and How a Freelance Writer Should Hire HelpMy Profile

    • Thanks, John. You’re right and I’ve never figured out if it’s because they hope to get a writer cheap, if they don’t know or just what’s up with that. I know some are completely confused by the whole issue of freelancers. We do a lot of educating.

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