Should You Even Look at Freelance Writing Job Ads?

I recently wrote a post on what to watch out for in regard to freelance writing job ads, and reader Debra Stang left a comment that echoed what many of you told me.

I still skim the job ads. I’ve even gotten a couple of good gigs from them. But I’ve also come across some outrageous scams. My least favorite is the “sample” scam. The company contacts a writer about his or her job applications and says the writer has made it into the “finals.” Now all they need is for a writer to write a sample blog post about…

Well, I’m sure you can imagine what happens. The company receives enough “samples” to have content for their site for a year, and the writer never hears another word from them. Ick.

Ick indeed. So the question is, are freelance writing job ads even worth looking at? In my opinion, yes, but not for your main source of finding work. Every once in a while I peruse the freelance ads, and every once in a while I find a worthwhile job.

If they aren’t a good source of jobs, then, why do so many freelancers look to them as their primary place to find jobs?

I can’t speak for everybody, but I think when you’re a new freelancer, you aren’t exactly sure where to get jobs. Applying for gigs online seems like the right thing to do since that’s what you do for non-freelance jobs. Besides that, a lot of freelancers seem to be a bit shy, and applying for an ad is “easier” than calling up clients or sending out letters of introduction.

I still skim the job ads, but they certainly aren’t my main source of income. I look at them for other things:

  • Trends in hiring freelancers
  • Other “related” jobs (like editors and designers) so I have an idea of where I could pitch work
  • New websites (because sometimes those hiring writers don’t know how else to attract writers, and they post ads instead.)

My advice? You should still skim the job ads if you want, but don’t use it as your main source of finding work. Instead, invest that time into making calls and networking. The more you skim, the better you’ll be able to breeze over the junky jobs and recognize a gem when you find it.

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3 Comments on "Should You Even Look at Freelance Writing Job Ads?"

  1. Oh if only I’d known about those sample scams when I first began my writing journey. Your post brought my early days flooding back! I have to commend you on bringing it up as most writers seem intent on patchworking around it, yet it’s the one aspect of applying for jobs guaranteed to cost you precious hours when starting out. I can’t recall how much time I wasted drafting samples, but it sure was a lot! Making that transition to freelance writer is definitely a lot like any job search (IMO) and I’ve found I was perceived far differently for making the effort. Thanks for another great post! Lis.


    Cherie Reply:

    So true. It can cost you a lot of time in the beginning.


  2. I have been blessed not to have that experience, but I have not been so confident in picking up the phone and making calls. I have a new outlook on life and will start making those calls and pitching what I have to offer.


    Cherie Reply:

    Making calls was really tough for me at first too. Even now, I tend to send an email first as a warm up. That way I feel like the call is easier to make and that they are primed to at least take my call. The more you do it, the easier it is. But one thing is for sure, it does help you get your “elevator speech” for your business down pat.


  3. I agree with these comments. I applied to several free-lance sites, and they told me that my writing didn’t meet their quality standards. Well, I have a Ph.D. in tech writing, and one of my specialties is editing. One of the sites that told me that my writing wasn’t good enough for them had 3 writing errors on their home page. I’m not sure what they might’ve been looking for, but they were obviously not honest and ethical, and they were definitely not good writers.


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