How to Get a Job as a Writer: Today’s Landscape + 4 Steps to “Hired”

Picture of Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy

Creator and Co-founder

how to get a job as a writer blog

…You’re a writer.

It isn’t a title you throw around lightly. You’re not writing crappy fiction in your spare time (or whenever you feel the “poetic urge”), and you’re not just banking on your English degree or your love for reading.

You have actual skill and enthusiasm for putting great sentences and paragraphs together.

You already practice a daily writing habit, and you want to spend your days committing words to (digital) paper – and get paid.

You’re ready to start making money putting your skill to good use for others.

You want to get a job as a writer.

Lucky you – nowadays, writers are more in demand than ever before.

The job not only pays better now vs. five or even two years ago, but it also is a legitimate way to earn a living – if you play your cards right.

And here’s the true shock – 73% of employers are now looking for the skill of writing as the TOP skill in the candidates they hire. (Inc)

This is a skill YOU need to build.

Wondering how to get paid as a writer? It’s not simple or straightforward, but the right mindset, strategy, and tips will help. In other words, follow this guide.

Inside, we’ll discuss:

  • Why 2021 (and beyond) is the perfect time to get into writing for a living
  • Why SEO content writing is HOT, and how much you could make doing it
  • How to level up your skills if you’re not quite hirable as a writer yet, but have the passion and enthusiasm for it
  • What to do to nail your first writing job

Let’s get started!

Aspiring paid/pro writers: Want to go beyond a free blog and jump into mentorship & in-depth skill-building? Get in our Learn to Write Workshop today for $27.

how to get a job as a writer

The Landscape: How the Pandemic Affected Remote Writing Jobs (Including SEO Writing) for the Better

2020 – the year of the pandemic – changed everything for remote work, including freelance SEO writing.

(To refresh your brain, SEO writing means writing online content that’s optimized for Google search.)

In March and April of that historic year, Google search traffic skyrocketed, shooting from 3.6 billion searches per day to over 6 billion per day, according to data tracked on Worldometers and Internet Live Stats

And those numbers hold steady.

google search 2019-2020

More people than ever are searching online, and that means more businesses than ever need content to meet those people – potential customers – where they’re researching, reading, browsing, and buying.

If you know how to create content that gets found in Google, you have a hot, in-demand skill set. Businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs, and brands want to hire you. (Big perk: In many cases, they want to hire you to do writing jobs from home.)

Added to that, as the pandemic raged, let’s not forget how many businesses went remote in the first place…

Which meant they went digital and online, concurrently. 42% of the U.S. workforce was working remotely by June 2020. (Before COVID, only 17% of U.S. workers worked from home five or more days per week.)

work from home rate before covid - after covid

71% of employers say remote work has been successful, according to a PwC survey, and executives are taking action to support and invest in a hybrid type of work (some in-office days, some remote days) for their employees.

Finally, let’s not forget one of the major drivers of customer purchases – brand trust.

It ranks only second to price/affordability when they’re deciding whether to buy or become loyal customers.

edelman trust barometer

What builds brand trust better, what drives more traffic and converts more leads than SEO content?

Not much, in my estimation.

The accelerated push to move online in 2020 is still happening today. Businesses aren’t going back now that real life is reopening – instead, they’re investing in hybrid approaches to building and maintaining their profits and presences.

This is fantastic news for the hopeful, would-be writer. You CAN jump on this trend and find incredible opportunities out there. Creative writing jobs are ripe for the picking, as long as you know how to create content that gets found in Google. (More on this later.)

free training

Has the Pay for Freelance Writing Jobs Changed, Too?

The demand for freelance writing and SEO writing has skyrocketed right along with the jump in Google searches.

That begs the question:

Has the pay increased along with the demand?

Yes, it looks that way.

According to a survey of freelance writers, in 2019, the majority of writers said they made an estimated hourly rate of $0-10. In 2020, the majority reported making $50-75/hour.

average hourly rate for writers in 2019

average hourly rate for writers in 2020

Some writers still aren’t being paid what they’re worth, but the good news is the majority are charging and getting more than a livable wage.

Does the above data suggest that writers’ jobs are more respected these days? That the people who hire us are realizing just what we can do to boost their businesses and revenue?

Maybe. Hopefully.

The important facts to remember are the trends look promising, pay rates are increasing, and the demand is there (you could start your writing career tomorrow and get paid).

Particularly, the demand is hot, hot, HOT for SEO writing.

Where to Get a Job as a Writer? Consider SEO Writing

Even before the pandemic, content marketing and SEO writing were buzzing industries.

Content marketing is a strategy that focuses on creating amazing, value-focused content that wins the trust and loyalty of your audience.

SEO writing is the act of creating written content – blog posts, web pages, etc. – and optimizing it with key techniques to rank at the top of Google.

However, SEO writing isn’t just Google-centered, but user-centered, because you can’t rank in Google without directly answering your user’s search intent in your keyword-focused content.

All of this is to say if you’re interested in getting a job as a writer in fast-growing industries, the collision of content marketing and SEO writing should be your focus.

Consider the worth of content marketing: $400 billion, and estimated to shoot to $600 billion by 2024.

And content marketing partially runs on SEO – search engine optimization.

  • It just so happens 68% of all online experiences start with a search engine.
  • SEO drives 1,000% more traffic than organic social media.
  • When faced with a paid ad versus an organic search result, users are 20x more likely to click the search result.

Traditional ads don’t work the way they used to. More and more, businesses are relying on non-interruptive marketing to target audiences better, to build trust and loyalty in an age when those two relationship-builders are at an all-time low between organizations and consumers.

Content marketing and SEO are marketing techniques that don’t look like marketing at all. Instead, their main purpose is to provide useful content to users right where they’re looking for it.

This content should answer user questions, solve their pain points, and give them value. And that builds trust and affinity with the brand offering the content.

Want a great job as a writer? Get in on these booming industries and the future of marketing. Here are a few places to start:

  • Hone your SEO writing skills with the right training – The Expert SEO Content Writer Course teaches you how to craft profitable, results-driven SEO content for blogs and websites in one week.

How to Get a Job as a Writer If You’re Starting from Scratch

There’s one problem you might run into with getting a writing job:

You need experience behind you – writing samples and a portfolio of work – if you want to get hired.

But what if you’ve never written for pay… ever?

What if your writing experience is limited to the stories you pen on the weekends? What if it’s limited to the writing you did for your degree? What if you’ve only ever written high school essays or college papers?

How do you get a job as a writer with zero professional experience under your belt?

Follow my four-step formula to building your skill. I call this sequence the 4 L’s: Love, Learn, Labor, Level Up.

Pssst… I explain the entire process behind these steps in my book, Skip the Degree, Save the Tuition.

Buy Skip the Degree, Save the Tuition

1. Love What You Do: Find Your Best Niche

If you already know you love to write and would happily spend your days writing for a living…

It’s not enough. This kind of thinking is too superficial. To find the best writing job for you, to end up in a job that fits your personality and goals, dig deeper into your passion and find your purpose.

Writing, as it turns out, is a GIANT industry with dozens of ways to specialize if you’re looking to make money from your skill.

Consider these questions before diving into freelance writing jobs for beginners:

  • WHAT do you love to write? Does flexing your creativity in writing make your heart sing? Or perhaps you love drilling into data or explaining complicated topics in your writing. Or are you a writing chameleon who craves the diversity of switching between different styles?
    • Don’t forget to consider content types: Do you want to write blogs? Marketing copy? News articles? Guides? Research or data reports?
  • WHO do you love to write for? Keep in mind: Very few writers make money writing for themselves, especially if they’re starting at square one. Most authors you see on bookshelves and ebook platforms have spent years writing their books and building an audience (or querying writing agents and publishers) to make book writing a viable income option.
    • As you start, consider who you’d like to help with your writing skill. Small businesses? Marketing firms? Entrepreneurs? Organizations like universities or nonprofits?

snoopy the writer

  • WHAT is your expertise? What topics can you write about with authority, with ease, with knowledge? Consider your background, including what jobs you’ve held in the past, your education, and your hobbies.
    • Maybe you’ve been knitting since you were 10 years old and have oodles of knowledge to share. Perhaps you have a degree in psychology and have read books on every modern school of thought. Or maybe you worked in sales in college and know all about lead generation.
    • Leverage your niche knowledge as you look for writing job opportunities. Your know-how will give you an edge if you find the right specialized role.

2. Learn as Much as You Can: Grow Your Writing Skill

Once you figure out the kind of writing best suited to your skills, do everything you can to learn and grow in that area.

  • Read every book out there on that type of writing.
  • Find experts who teach that skill and follow them on social media.
  • Take online courses that teach new techniques or the fundamentals. (For newbies to online writing, my Unlearn Essay Writing course teaches you how to ditch stuffy essay writing in favor of writing that speaks to online audiences.)
  • Network with fellow would-be writers and swap tips and job opportunities.
  • Find a successful mentor who does the work you hope to do.

Never, never stop learning all you can about your particular writing niche/skill. This is how you become an unstoppable expert who earns what they’re worth!

3. Labor at It: Find That First Gig & Get Better Through Practice

If you’re fresh to the writing world, here’s a secret all good writers understand:

If you want to get better at writing, if you want to find the best writing jobs, you need to practice. You MUST write every single day.

I don’t care if you choose to practice by writing fanfiction, by writing daily emails to your sweet grandmother, or by taking bottom-of-the-barrel writing jobs on Upwork (or some other freelancer platform – here’s a list of 50 if you need a starting point).

It’s also a great idea to invest in a course or a class to level up your skills as you get started.

It’s also a great idea to invest in a course or a class to level up your skills as you get started. You don’t know what you don’t know – and sometimes it’s time to buckle in and learn. And a course from a real-life practitioner is worth so much more to a content writer than a college degree. (Seriously. Those textbooks are way outdated.)

If you need a course or a class, I encourage you to check out our Learn to Write Workshop. It’s a commitment of less than $30, takes only one hour to complete, and according to my students, is worth every penny. ❤️

learn to write workshop

I have REAL-life stories of earning serious money through content – which is more than many writing teachers can claim.

For example, just one of my guest blogs produced a $5,000 sale in a matter of weeks.

learn to write ROI


Think you need more help than our one-hour Learn to Write Workshop?

If you want to go much deeper with me on the subject of content writing, get my one-week writing course, Unlearn Essay Writing, that comes with mentorship and review on your final 1,000-word article.

Not sure my courses are right (write 😉) for you? Check out this free excerpt from our writing course: Unlearn Sticky Writing in 10 Minutes.

The point here is to learn – ideally with a coach to shortcut the path – and physically write with guidance and get in that practice so you get better and better. Whether the practice is paid or unpaid, and you invest in yourself or you spend a longer time going the free route, it’s all practice, and it all counts.

PRACTICE. WRITE. ✍ Then take your best samples and add them to your portfolio.

Enough said.

writing mistakes

4. Level Up: Take Everything You’ve Learned and Level Up to Better Pay/Better Work

With some experience and practice behind you, you’re ready to level up.

Now, leveling up may mean different things to different people.

Maybe you’re ready to get your website looking professional so you can market your services to new clients.

Perhaps you’ve amassed enough experience so you can apply for that writing job you’ve been eyeing at a marketing firm, magazine publication, news outlet, small business, etc.

Or maybe you finally want to sit down and write your book. 💥

Leveling up is all about climbing the next rung in the ladder and owning it. It’s about confidence, bravery, and finding joy in taking risks so you can climb higher.

If you’re starting from scratch, leveling up might be as simple as telling people you’re a Writer with a capital “W” when they ask “What do you do?”

That’s a huge first step, and totally worth celebrating.

How to Nail That First Writing Job

If you’re truly starting at the bottom of the staircase, that’s awesome. You’re at an enviable point in your writing career, the place where your journey begins.

From here, you could go anywhere. And it all starts with that first job as a writer.

Here are a few tips to help you nail that first, crucial job that pays actual money.

1. Don’t Be Picky

Let me lay out this tip for you in the simplest terms possible:

Find someone who will pay you to write. Do the job well beyond their expectations. Collect a glowing review. Move on.

Don’t be picky when considering your first writing job. There will be plenty more after it and tons of opportunities to make good money writing.

Just know: the first job usually isn’t it. So, take whatever you can get, do great work, collect your pay, and move onto the next.

The first job isn’t a measure of your worth as a writer. It’s a stepping stone. Nothing more.

2. Demonstrate What You Can Do

This tip applies to both getting hired and completing your first paid writing assignment.

One key to getting hired as a writer is having samples ready for prospective employers. Samples demonstrate your ability as well as your experience.

Past successful projects are arguably the best samples to have tucked in your portfolio, but you can also include personal writing projects, projects you did pro-bono, and even samples you created specifically FOR the job you want.

Yes, if you have zero professional writing experience behind you, you can and should write up samples tailored to the jobs you’re applying for.

Example: Are you applying to write email newsletters for a candy company? Research the company, their brand voice, and their audience, then write up a sample email for them.

This shows a prospective employer that A) You know how to write. B) You can do the job they need you to do, and do it well.

That’s all they need to know.

how to write content writing samples - what you don't need

For more, check out my guide on How to Write Content Writing Samples.

3. Respect Deadlines & Communicate Well

Want to get a good job as a writer? Want to keep getting good jobs?

Respect deadlines. Communicate well and often with clients and the people you work with.

Turn in your application and samples on time.

Turn in your assignments on time.

Respond to emails in a timely fashion.

Check your notifications religiously.

If you’re a great writer who can turn a pretty phrase, that’s one thing. If you’re a great writer who ghosts your clients for days at a time, who doesn’t reply to emails, who misses deadlines constantly…

The “great” part disappears.

Because no one will want to work with you. #truthbomb

4. Leverage Each New Experience

When you become a writer, each new project or assignment has something to teach you about your profession.

That means every job is a potential learning experience. If you pay attention, you’ll collect a TON of wisdom and expertise this way, and possibly level up faster.

Maybe that one-off writing gig you did was a masterclass on how to communicate well with clients. (The brief wasn’t clear, you had to do two re-writes for which the client refused to pay extra, and you learned that clarification at the outset is KEY.)

Perhaps those baking blogs you wrote for a small business finally taught you how to craft engaging content. (You had a tight deadline and researched millions of similar blogs to get the hook and the structure right – but it totally paid off.)

Maybe your very first writing job went horribly wrong, and the client rejected your work.

Yep, HUGE learning opportunity there, too.

As long as you leverage each new experience and use them to become a better writer, it doesn’t matter.

Because, eventually, the knowledge you gain will hone you into a professional. And professionals get paid.

Ready to Get a Job as a Writer?

Becoming a writer isn’t a pipe dream. It’s not a profession limited only to people who write hefty books.

You can do it, too.

It just takes skill, patience, persistence, and perspiration.

Know where the opportunities lie in writing (hel-LO content marketing and SEO writing!) and strike where your passion and skills collide.

Write every day, continually take risks, and keep learning.

That’s how to get a job as a writer.

…..And then, after THAT?

When you’re a fully-fledged online writer ready to take the next big step (i.e. build a writing or content business)? 👣

There’s a proven pathway for that, too.

Inside my Content Transformation System, I teach creative entrepreneurs just like you how to build and scale their businesses with a content focus. 

From hiring your first contractor and delegating to getting clear on your services, to building a content strategy, to building your blog presence and raking in web traffic while building your audience…

We teach it all in this 1:1 coaching program. 🌈

(By the way — we also have a full, in-depth curriculum, a template library, a student community, and so much more.)

If it’s time for you to transform from “freelancer” to “business owner,” my team of expert coaches and I are here for you. 💗 Check out my free training today to get started.

free content hacker training class cta 6


Become a Content Hacker

Collaborate with other growth-minded, savvy Content Hackers – plus a host of experts. The price of two coffees/month gets you in.