Jasmine is a writer and editor based in Hawai'i. She enjoys discovering ways to achieve personal financial freedom while snacking hard.
How to Find Freelance Writing and Editing Jobs Online
Writing and editing are an art, and just like any financially poor (but spiritually rich) soul in the arts will tell you, making money doing what you love isn't always easy. Working with words is no different.
Good news, though! I have spent the past decade perfecting my job-finding strategy, and I'm going to share the specific steps on how to find a writing or editing job online.
In the first section of this article, you'll learn the practical steps (along with a few of my best tips and tricks) you need to take to find your dream job:
- A stellar personal bio
- A concise, professional resume
- An attractive cover letter and introduction email
- An easy, free website and LinkedIn account
- And more!
In the second section, I'll share with you a few subtle but critical job-search tips that will drastically improve your chances of getting that dream job:
- The importance of your online presence
- Why accepting rejection invites success
- Make your existing experience sound incredible
- Why you should "cast a wide net"
- And more!
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
— Mae West
1. Create a Stellar Personal Bio
You'll quickly realize how incredibly useful it is to have an amazing short bio handy. You'll use it anywhere from LinkedIn to cover letters. It shouldn't be longer than two paragraphs, and make sure you pass your final draft by family, friends, and Grammarly (a free app) for any feedback.
Here's a simple layout to follow.
- Start with a little intro: "My professional background is in...." and explain the responsibilities of that role.
- Talk yourself up a bit: "My employers/coworkers know me to be punctual, kind, detail-oriented..." and mention any accolades or achievements.
- Very, very briefly mention your background: "I grew up in Virginia, later moving to Texas to study...."
- Explain your passion for the writing/editing industry: "Reading and writing are lifelong passions for me..."
2. Create a Concise, Professional-Looking Resume
Ideally, your resume should be only one page, but a little more is ok.
Here's a simple layout to follow.
- Top Heading: Center your name, address, phone number, and email at the top of the page with your best profile photo (resumes with photos always get more hits because people want to see who they're hiring); make sure it is only of your face and shoulders and you are smiling
- Main Body: Create a combination of the following headings for the body of your resume: Education & Qualifications (where you went to college or your CPR certification, etc)
- Strengths: List 3–5 of your best work-relevant qualities. For example, "works well under pressure, punctual, calm."
- Professional References: List as many business owners/managers as you can vs coworkers if possible, it's more impressive.
- Professional Experience: Only go back 10 years, unless there's a very important/relevant role you want to note)
- Online Presence: This is where you'll put links to your website and LinkedIn.
Looking good! Now, save it as a PDF with a clean, simple title: your name and the year (for example, "John Smith Resume 2021"). Do not save your resume as an editable document like Microsoft Word or Google Docs; this looks unprofessional.
3. Draft a Short and Sweet Cover Letter
Find a cover letter template online (for example, indeed.com offers free templates) and use it to draft a Word or Google Doc. You can use this template for all future writing/editing jobs by simply tweaking a few details later.
Your bio will start coming in handy here! Use your bio as the first two paragraphs of your cover letter. In the third paragraph, briefly explain why you believe you would be a good fit for XYZ company.
4. Draft an Even Shorter and Sweeter Email
Basically, this is your cover letter condensed into one short paragraph. Do not make any mistakes in this email, it's the first impression you'll make on your potential employer.
Pro Tip: If you don't have an email address that sounds professional (email@example.com sounds like someone I'd hire, firstname.lastname@example.org does not), make one today.
5. Create a LinkedIn Account
This is essentially just an online version of your resume, but it helps support your professional online presence. LinkedIn has changed over the years from "strictly resumes" to more of a "resumes + connections + social media" format, so you can search for other professionals in your desired industry and "connect" with them.
Do this! Every little connection helps.
6. Make a Personal Website
This sounds intimidating, but it's actually incredibly easy these days and it makes you look very professional. You can easily whip up a simple website in a single day with Wix or Weebly—for free!
Don't get complicated. Just upload a few beautiful photos (if you don't have any of your own, use Unsplash.com: they offer free images available for commercial use) and create a few simple web pages.
Here's a simple layout to follow.
- About (bio coming in handy again!)
- Contact (add your professional email address, create one if needed)
- Something Else (for example, if you have any photography, you can upload a nice gallery here, or if you have any published writing, display that here)
7. Clean Up Your Online Presence
If you have Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or any other social media account:
- Either remove all inappropriate photos/content on your profile, or
- Simply change your username to something an employer wouldn't recognize.
Try "Googling" your full name. What comes up? Any inappropriate photos from MySpace days, for example? Clean that up.
8. Find Your Writing and Editing Job
Phew, good work so far! Now you're ready for the fun part. Now that you're all set up, it's time for a little research and some actual applying to jobs! I live in the United States, so I'll share my method for finding jobs in the U.S.: Craigslist. However, you can try this method with any kind of job-finding site (another U.S. example is Indeed.com).
Using this method, I've found full-time, part-time, and freelance jobs; writing, editing, and content creation jobs, and in fact, it's where I found my current jobs that I love (I'm an editor for Hubpages and a writer/editor for Neighbors of West Maui and Neighbors of Wailea and Makena magazines).
Login to Craigslist
- Search for "Craigslist Los Angeles".
- Navigate to "Jobs", then select "Writing and Editing", then "Gigs - Writing".
- Scroll through and bookmark every editing/writing job (many of these jobs are actually remote, though it may not say so in the ad).
- First, edit the email draft you created earlier to match the application company's name (and the recruiter's name, if provided).
- In the subject title, simply copy and paste the Craigslist ad title and add your full name ("Editor for Local Magazine—John Smith"). This helps keep your email inbox organized for later (trust me, when you're applying to 100 jobs and 20 of them reply back, it can get hectic).
- Next, edit the cover letter you created earlier to match the application company's name, address, and phone number. Save it as a PDF with the title "Local Magazine Editor Cover Letter—John Smith".
- Now, upload your resume and cover letter PDFs to your email. Add a writing sample, too, if you have any (preferably something that's been published).
- Send! Repeat for all relevant Los Angeles writing and editing jobs.
Head Back to Craigslist
- Search for "Craigslist Las Vegas" and repeat steps 1-2.
- Then search for "Craigslist New York" and repeat steps.
- Then, search for every major city in the U.S. and repeat steps 1-2! This is called casting a wide net, and this is how you can catch some great fish.
Critical Note: Always Follow Up
If you haven't heard back from any of the application companies two business days after sending out your emails, create a little follow-up email and send it to everyone:
"Good afternoon, I applied to the copywriter role two days ago. I'm very interested in this position and would love to speak with your recruiter or hiring manager this week. I am available on Wednesday and Thursday from 2–7 pm and all day Sunday. Looking forward to your reply!"
Bam. If you do all of this and don't get a few hits in your first week, I'll eat my hat.*
*Leave a comment if you don't get any hits, and I promise I will comment back with proof of hat-eating.
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
— Marianne Williamson
A Few More Tips and Tricks to Find Your Dream Job
In this next section, I'll share with you some of the tricks I've learned to improve my chances of getting the job I want.
Over the years, I learned from my own mistakes and honed my strategy to (near) perfection by keeping what worked and removing what didn't. I've learned that by following a few guidelines, I can get a job in almost any industry I want.
1. Control Your Online Presence
In our modern world, most of us live two lives—one online, and one offline. With a few rare exceptions, your potential employer or contractor will enter your name into a search engine to find out more about you as an individual.
They will find any of your professional work or resumes online via your personal website or LinkedIn profile, and they will likely try to determine who you really are outside of work via your social media accounts.
Don't panic; this is a good thing! Why? Because for the most part, you can control your online presence—and therefore control what your potential boss will see.
Make It Professional
Creating a professional online presence (for example, a LinkedIn profile and a personal website) is equally important as eliminating any unprofessional online references to your name (for example, cleaning up your social media profiles).
2. Be Totally Confident
There's an old saying that is often overlooked because it sounds deceptively simple. "Whoever you think you are, you are." What does this mean? It means that first and foremost, your perception of yourself internally is how you present yourself externally.
Feeling down in the dumps with low self-esteem? That will show on the outside. If you gave yourself a pep talk this morning and said "I am amazing and determined, and I will succeed as long as I put in the effort," that will show on the outside, too.
Try Re-Training Your Thoughts
If you're feeling like a failure because you can't find a job, put that thought aside and slowly retrain your mind by flipping every negative statement. For example, change that "failure" thought to, "I would be a valuable asset to any company. I simply haven't found the right job for me yet."
If you want to learn more about how this effective, science-based method of training your thoughts can help you get a job, read up on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). However you see yourself is how others will see you, too. Tell yourself you're awesome!
3. Talk Yourself Up to Potential Employers
This leads on from the previous point: don't be afraid to talk yourself up shamelessly in your email, cover letter, or resume! This doesn't mean being obnoxious, and it definitely does not mean lie—it just means always present yourself in the best light possible. Make every small thing about you sound amazing.
Here's an Example
Let's say the jobs you want often require a college degree, and you don't have one. Don't give up, instead, get more detailed.
Have you ever received any kind of certification? CPR, hospitality training, summer cooking course, liquor license, anything. Add it to your resume at the bottom under "Education & Qualifications". Did you graduate at the top of your class? Take an honors course? Add it. Are you competent with Google Suite or Microsoft Suite (Excel, Word, etc)? Add it.
While these things might not be strictly relevant to the role you are applying for, they show your potential employer that you are ambitious, know how to work hard, and are experienced in a variety of roles. That's valuable.
4. "Cast a Wide Net"
Have you ever heard the saying, "It's a numbers game"? It means that the more you put yourself out there, the better your odds are. "Cast a wide net" is a fishing analogy that means the same thing: the bigger your net, the more fish you are likely to catch.
In this case, it means you should apply to as many jobs as possible. Sure, maybe you only truly love two out of the hundred you scrolled through, but that's not how this game is played—at least not while you're starting out.
If You Catch One Fish, You're Winning
If you apply to 40 of those writing/editing jobs, you might get 5 replies back if you're lucky. Out of those 5, you might get 2 interviews. Out of those 2 interviews, you might get hired for 1 job. Score! This is a big success.
5. Build Your Resume by Not Saying "No"
This is a key part of building any successful empire: you build it one block at a time, and from the bottom up.
Maybe the only job offer you get is to review books for $20 each. Take it! Accept the offer, review a couple of books to the best of your ability, and who knows—maybe you'll see some typos in the book and offer the author proofreading services for an extra $50 (I've done this a few times).
Every Bit of Experience Helps
No matter what, this is an experience that you can use to build your online presence and resume and make yourself look good. For example, now you have a new line for your resume that makes you look more experienced in the "words" industry:
Book Reviewer, Flying Fox Publishing, April 2020–June 2020
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
— Winston S. Churchill
6. Learn to Tolerate Rejection
Be prepared to get rejected a lot. It's just the natural course of things, and it's a proven fact that people who can handle rejection/failure well are more successful in their chosen profession (think Albert Einstein).
Don't take it personally, because it's just business. A lot of people want the same jobs you do. You have to be patient and consistent to win. If you have a hard time with rejection, I'd recommend reading one of my favorite books of all time, The Four Agreements.
7. Prepare to Find Jobs
Now that you've completed your crash course in the strategy of finding a job online, let's dive into the specifics! It might take you a little bit of time to put all of this together. But I can promise you two things:
- You'll only have to do it once (and then make small updates occasionally).
- You will shoot yourself in the foot if you don't get everything set up perfectly before applying to your dream jobs.
I know, because I've made that mistake. I sent out half-baked emails, cover letters, and resumes to some really amazing jobs, and didn't hear back from any of them. I went back and reworked everything to my personal best, and then tried again—and got a few new hits.
Making a Good First Impression Is Crucial
Unfortunately, I'll never get the chance at those first jobs again. You only get one chance to make a good impression. If you can complete all of the items on this list, you're well on your way to finding those seemingly elusive remote or freelance writing and editing jobs.
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: there should be zero typos anywhere! If you haven't already, you should download Grammarly, a free grammar-checking app/extension.
Thanks for reading, and happy job hunting!
"Success is 90% preparation and only 10% perspiration."
— Thomas Edison
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jasmine Hanner