The truth is, copywriting is a pretty easy business to get into, as long as you know what you’re doing and you have some self-esteem.
People are DYING to hire good writers. Since Google pays close attention to who is putting out good writing on their website and giving them premium rankings, everyone needs a full-time writer to get that good content out. Whether you start with a content mill or in a freelance market like Odesk, you can jump right into money-making today, as long as you understand the benefits and drawbacks to each platform.
NOTE: Never, NEVER pay anyone to get a copywriting job. That is what we call a scam.
10 Best (and Worst) Places to Get Freelance Copywriting Jobs
Overview: This organization owns a number of online magazines like LiveStrong.org and eHow.org. These guys don’t take just anyone. In order to be hired, you must complete a pretty detailed bio and also submit a writing sample based on a randomized test question. Once you’re in the system, the pay is pretty good: between $30 and $50 per 300-word article. Still, they have pretty stringent writing requirements and you will be assigned an editor to make sure that your writing is up to snuff. You are also required to incorporate images, researched links while maintaining the standards of whatever online magazine you’re writing for.
Pros: A very professional organization with an extensive training process and personalized editors. Also, the pay is competitive.
Cons: You have to be a pretty good writer and pass through their application hurdles. Also, if your article isn’t good enough, they will reject it and won’t pay you for your time.
Overview: This is an online network that connects workers and employers. It is really easy to set up and has a great review system. On the other hand, you must complete your profile and a couple of quizzes to have access to applying for more than 5 jobs at a time. Also, they take 10% of your total wages to cover their expenses.
Pros: Easy to set up, free, you set your own hours and wages. They also have an easy way to get your taxes done, and your W-9 form and bank account information is not accessible by anyone else.
Cons: If you get a fixed-price job, you aren’t guaranteed payment unless you ask for it up front. You are competing with people who charge $1 per article.
Overview: Elance has an interesting system. You sign up and are awarded “cents” on their website. After you get your profile up and running (yes, do the whole thing!), then you can bid on jobs. Every bid takes money from your virtual stash and you can pay to be pushed to the top of the list. As with Odesk, you can withdraw your earnings from your account directly into your bank account.
Pros: Relatively easy to set up and free. You can pay extra to be at the top of the list. The reviewing system is good and lots of new jobs are posted there regularly.
Cons: Watch out for low rates. Since this is another freelance site, you are competing with writers from all over the world. Although there is a benefit being an English-speaking American, you’ll have to filter out all the jobs that pay $1 per 100 words.
Overview: I have worked with these guys too. They always are changing things up, probably because they have so much turnover. The problem with Zerys is that they pay terribly. When you set up your account, you choose specialty areas that you can write about. HINT: Technical specialties make the most money and get the best return clients. Then, you do a writing sample and they give you a rating to start out with. This rating can change depending on how your clients review your work. It is also affected by whether or not you’ve missed deadlines or had bad customer feedback. Almost anyone can write for Zerys, so there is a lot of competition, especially for the rare jobs that pay more than 3 cents per word. Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it. That’s cuz it’s not.
Pros: Anyone can work here. You can have an unending stream of work, as long as you pick the right specialties and have enough time and patience to deal with the pay.
Cons: Pay is awful, usually below 2 cents per word. That’s only about 800 words for $16. Also, it is very competitive for higher-paying articles and you can only take one job at a time, unless it is in the editing stage with the article initiator.
Overview: I have worked with these guys before, and I don’t really like them very much. You start out schlepping articles for free. After you have had enough jobs, your reviews improve your rating score. The types of jobs you get are directly affected by this score. So, if you are brand new, a “blogger,” none of what you write is paid for. As soon as you become a “journalist” (rating above 6), you will be writing around 800 words for $20. Depending on how long that article takes you (and whether or not you have to do a bunch of research on the subject) you can be making between $5 and $20 per hour.
Pros: Anyone can get in and start writing. Right now, even! You actually DO get paid once you have passed all their little benchmarks. It is relatively easy to move up to a better rating once you’ve done a couple jobs.
Cons: Never write anything for free unless you KNOW it’s going to pay off. This is only a good platform if you are a very fast, thorough writer who doesn’t mind doing it for free the first couple weeks.
Overview: This is a cool site that is really easy to navigate. It is easy to set up and you can login from Facebook so that is good for making contacting new business even easier. It has a lot of great ways to find jobs, like by dollar amount or hourly wage, and it is also easy to find work that needs to be done today. On the other hand, it’s one of the spammiest freelance sites online.
Pros: Very easy to navigate and understand. Perfect for finding the jobs that pay what you need them to pay.
Cons: Incredibly spammy.
Overview: Although I haven’t worked for this site before, I think it is intriguing. Unlike Odesk and Elance, the website does not take a commission off of your jobs. Instead, they charge an up-front fee of between $50 and $100 dollars. That being said, the site generally gets good reviews on its communication between employers and employees, and bids on jobs are kept secret, so no one can undercut you by a buck.
Pros: Silent bids on projects, good communication and no commission on jobs.
Cons: Upfront fee can be hard for a freelancer just starting out.
Overview: Relatively easy to maneuver, this is another site that doesn’t cost up front. The great thing about this is that it will upload info from your LinkedIn profile, so it cuts down on the startup time. There are two types of jobs: Ones that have specified dollar amounts, and ones that don’t.
Pros: No cost up front, easy to complete the profile.
Cons: Pays to a credit card account only, portfolio section is only images (but can be linked to audio and visual storage on places like SoundCloud), I have no idea how many employers actually use it.
Overview: From what I can tell, Donanza is a freelancing site like Michael Jackson was a Jehovah’s Witness: people tell you it’s true, but there’s so much other weird stuff going on that it doesn’t even matter. You can either sign up for the free or the paid version of this site. The free version is total crap. Basically, it is a bunch of links from individual jobs on Craigslist and Indeed.com. If you pay, you might get better jobs, but seriously. Who is even using this?
Pros: It exists.
Cons: It basically has no real businesses on the other line, it supports content-mill writing for almost no pay and it costs you money up front for any real chance at a job.
Overview: This is another site that requires an application before they’ll let you work for them. They have a number of writing positions that are always open, and they consistently need writers to complete them. Once you’ve been hired, you are basically “on-call” to complete assignments as needed. Some reviewers say that they are very demanding with your time, although you have a regular and steady job.
Pros: Regular job where you can determine your rate of pay.
Cons: Can be very time-consuming.
Willow Dawn Becker is a freelance copywriter who works from home and wishes everyone in the world did, too. You can find more copywriting tips on her blog, see her copywriting portfolio or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.