A job is a job, no matter how small.
There comes a time when you’re working to lift your writing career off the ground where you realize that it’s going to take a number of odd jobs here and there before you get your big break.
Take Diana Gabaldon, for example. Today she is the proud author of the Outlander series, but before that she wrote freelance while also teaching as a college professor and raising three children. Today, her series includes ten books, a popular television series that airs on several major cable and streaming services – complete with a worldwide fandom.
You may or may not have your sights set on that level of notoriety. But even if you’d just as soon put your work out into the world behind the anonymity of a pen name and avoid the pain that Salinger endured, you still have to pay the bills while earning your degree in creative writing and building your portfolio.
I’ve had a few trying experiences of my own as a new writer, but I didn’t rely on that alone when compiling this list. To get a sense of exactly what’s out there in the gig economy for writers, I also did a deep dive into job listing sites and bobbed to the surface with some entertaining gigs fit for writers who are ready to get paid for their craft while working towards their big break.
1. Comedy Writer for Tik Tok Influencers
It’s a Gen-Millennial world now. Influencers are business people who, like it or not, generate a comfortable living based on the relationships they build with brands that match their niche.
I once went to dinner with my friend and someone she’d known for a few years who happened to be a lifestyle influencer. We met at her house before heading out for the night. I stood awkwardly petting her dog in the kitchen while she showed an empty face mask container to the camera of her phone. “I’m out of this face mask.” That’s all it took for the company to send more of it to her door, gratis.
Some people are comfortable with self-promotion, the unabashed acceptance of paid partnerships and knowing precisely what to say to get brand sponsorships. And then there are others who know their strengths and when to ask others to fill in the gaps. My search for interesting writing jobs led me to many influencers seeking to hire writers to write scripts for them to perform in their social media videos.
Pay was unspecified on job postings I saw for this, but be prepared for the gamut: People who will pay you per project or post, and then others who will try to convince you that the exposure your work will get is payment enough.
2. Podcast Transcription Editor
This one sounds unique! Podcast producers seek a writer with superb editing skills to revise transcripts of their weekly show. They’ve already got the autogenerated transcription of their show, but as the ads explain, those transcripts don’t always get it right. That’s where you come in.
Listen to the podcast while following along with the autogenerated transcription, then make changes where necessary to get every word down and ensure the integrity of the conversation.
Pay is $5 – $15 per hour.
A word of advice
Standard practice in freelance writing is to pay writers according to word count, rather than by the hour. Standard pay is anywhere from $0.10-$0.20 (cents!) per word. Be prepared for some potential clients who will offer to pay by the hour or per project.
At first it might seem fine to take an hourly wage for your work, but before you sign on the dotted line allow me to share this bit of advice that was shared with me a while back: If you are paid by the hour, it might seem fine at first because it takes a while to complete one project. But as you improve your skill, you will become more efficient, eventually producing more work at the same hourly wage. If you charge by the word, you have the opportunity to complete more work for more pay.
Know your worth and be sure that the work you submit is worth what you charge.
3. Meme Writer
Uh-huh. It’s true. Memes aren’t only made by couch comedians with an iPhone app. The job posting we found seeks a writer to promote a new fashion line by use of memes and brief videos posted to Snapchat, Tik Tok, and Instagram. Experience as a writer is not a must, but social media prowess is.
Pay can be as much as ten dollars per posting, and we can assume there would be caps that would prevent you from racking up six-figure months right off the bat. If you’re interested in social media freelance work and you can bring something creative enough to get clicks; who knows, you might be able to negotiate your own terms down the road.
4. Vacation Rental Listing Editor
Do you ever read something and silently correct its errors in your head?
Me too. That’s why this job posting I came across sounds like so much fun.
This potential client seeks a writer who will rewrite international vacation rental home listings before they are posted online. It’s actually a project-based arrangement that asks for creative feedback so it feels a little more like real creative work that a writer can sink their teeth and critique into.
They ask that you pay attention to keywords and include some sort of call to action by the end of the advertisement – standard marketing copywriting work. But then comes the cool part: review and provide feedback regarding the company’s photos of the home, consider the audience for individual vacation homes, and write in a way that will appeal to international jet-setters (well, international travelers anyway).
Pay is $25 per project.
5. Instagram Micro-blogger
Back to the social media influencers for a sec (to be fair, I did say there were many). Where previous writing jobs discussed the need for videos and memes, this one asks specifically for a writer to compose Instagram captions. Think of the length as somewhere between a tweet and a blog post.
This is your chance to write for a very specific audience, to hone your skills in different styles and voices, and to get a pay rate that clocks in better than just about everything else we reviewed for the work involved.
Pay is $25 per post.