Best Freelance Writing Sites
Although sources conflict on the etymology of the word ‘freelance’, many consider its first written use to have been in the 1820’s novel ‘Ivanhoe’, where it was used to denote a mercenary warrior, one whose lance was sworn to no master. This mindset seems to resonate well with the contemporary workforce which, now more than ever, is seeking to make a living outside the constraints of their 9 to 5 jobs. In order to accommodate the needs of both these freelancers as well as their prospective employers, countless freelance sites have emerged over the years.
What Are Freelance Writing Sites?
Freelance writing sites are platforms that connect freelancers and clients. Since freelancers are not employed by these sites but merely use them to connect with clients, we can’t speak on any fixed rates in terms of how much money the writers are making. This comes down to the client and the gig in question. However, the sites do charge for their services (in most cases), and this usually occurs in the form of a percentage cut. To offset this and make the prospect of using their platform more appealing to those pursuing a full-time freelancing career, some sites offer paid membership on a monthly basis, thus reducing the percentage cut they take in exchange for a flat amount.
Which Sites Are Included?
Freelance sites were included regardless of whether they focus exclusively on writing services or other types of freelance services as well. Even though the latter are numerous enough to warrant a top 10 list of their own, I feel that even those more versatile sites include enough writers to qualify for an inclusion on this list. According to Ed Gandia’s ‘Freelance Industry Report’ from 2012 writers, editors/copyeditors, copywriters and translators account for approximately 46% of the freelancing workforce. While this report was mainly concerned with the state of affairs in North America, a survey conducted on Elance (now a part of Upwork) saw 39% of its members listing writing and editing as their main skills.
This list will include the best freelance writing sites where you can write content and get paid. Launch your writing career today!
For college students, we have another list of freelance sites that offer employment. Check it out here.
Anyone who worked for Textbroker and proceeded to write an account of their impressions of the site almost unanimously agreed on two things: the pay is low, but the work is good. The first point needs little clarification – even working full time on Textbroker is barely enough to make ends meet, but the company does indeed pay, and it does so on time.
The second point meant different things to different people, but it was always positive: some enjoyed being ‘their own boss’, others loved the fact that the jobs were varied and not routine and boring. Still, with their average rates leaving much to be desired, I cannot, in good conscience, put Textbroker any higher on this list.
Headquarters Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (USA)
Payment: Writers are paid on a per-word basis with the amount depending on their quality rating, starting at $0.007 per word and going as high as $0.05 per word. Direct and Team orders start at minimum $0.02 and $0.0175 per word respectively.
StudioD is part of LeafGroup, formerly known as Demand Media. LeafGroup owns a network of other websites, most notably eHow, and commissions freelancers to produce content for these sites as well as third-party brands. Assignments are usually advice or how-to pieces, and it’s obvious from their headlines that they had been generated from search engine queries to make for highly advertisable pages.
Still, the assignments cover a range of topic large enough for most writers to find subjects of personal interest to write on. StudioD might have been ranked higher on this list but for the scarcity of information, official or otherwise, regarding the amounts writers can expect to earn here.
Headquarters Location: Santa Monica, California (USA)
Payment: StudioD pays via PayPal and have a reputation for paying on time. It is unkown exactly how much they pay, and the price varies depending on the assignment.
Of all the large freelance platforms Freelancer seems to attract the most controversy. While it’s not uncommon for these sites to treat their providers (freelancers) as commodities, Freelancer takes this to a new level by offering very little protection to their providers. It does, however, boast a massive user base of over 10 million, meaning that work is seldom scarce.
This may very well be the key factor that will ultimately influence the decision of whether to work for Freelancer, and rightly so, as even some of the more reliable smaller platforms fall under the ‘feast or famine’ categories. While I would certainly not recommend Freelancer as a go-to platform for writers, it is worth keeping in mind as a substitute for when your preferred platform is seeing a shortage of work opportunities.
Headquarters Location: Sydney, Australia
Payment: Freelancer charges the provider $5 or 10% of the winning bid for fixed price projects, whichever is greater, and 10% for hourly projects. Money withdrawal is a hassle of such limitless potential that it deserves its very own article.
Listverse is a site dedicated exclusively to publishing top 10 articles. Coming up with a list that hadn’t already been written is difficult enough, with many titles seeming very obscure at this point. However, it appears to be exactly what their readers want, and they are ready to pay for it. This is also a ‘noob-friendly’ platform which doesn’t care about your portfolio when submitting; all they require is creativity, wit, and a command of the English language (oh, and a PayPal account).
Although not a source of consistent income by any means, seeing as they publish only 3 articles per day, the paycheck Listverse issues for its articles definitely makes up for this. This lack of consistency, however, is the only thing keeping Listverse from being higher on the list.
Headquarters Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Payment: Listverse pays $100 per every accepted list. The transactions are done via PayPal and PayPal alone; if PayPal doesn’t support your country, they will not accept your list.
My initial impression of BlogMutt was not positive to say the least. While it’s not uncommon in this line of work for companies to adhere to some kind of ‘levelling system’ to sort their writers, this level is usually determined by testing and competent writers can rise to the top ranks very quickly.
BlogMutt does not operate like this. Rather, it works something like a video game. Everyone starts at level 1, which only allows them to write 250 word articles for the price of $8 (the client pays $25 for these articles, BlogMutt keeps $17). Furthermore, the levelling is a slow and tedious process of churning out articles, but higher levels do lead to bigger paychecks. It is at level 8 that writers begin receiving bigger shares from the company.
What the writers at BlogMutt truly valued though, was the fact that there was never a shortage of interesting topics to write on.
Headquarters Location: Boulder, Colorado (USA)
Payment: It depends of the writer’s level and the client’s desired article length (starting at $8 for 250+ words and going as far as $72 for 1200+ words). However, while BlogMutt pays promptly each week via PayPal, payment is not available until the content actually posts online. Should the client decide to post your article a month from acquiring it, that’s when you will receive your pay.
We have written a detailed review about WriterAccess, which you can read here.
WriterAccess offers the best of both worlds, catering strictly to writers, while also being a platform with no lack of paying clients or opportunity for consistent work. However, there is a downside, at least from a freelancer’s perspective: they are only accepting applications from U.S. writers. Being a platform exclusively for writers enables WriterAccess to play a more integral role in the whole WriterAccess experience. They will help clients handpick the exact writer they want for their project, and don’t allow rejections until at least one revision has been made. The only thing keeping it from being higher on this list is the fact that it only employs U.S.-based writers.
Headquarters Location: Boston, Massachusetts (USA)
Payment: WriterAccess takes 30% of the client pay. While this may be the highest percentage on this list, keep in mind that the folk at WriterAccess strive to attract the best clients by hiring the best talent, meaning that they charge more, while paying the talent on a per-word basis they themselves set out.
Founded all the way back in 1999, Guru is one of the oldest companies of its kind, and certainly the oldest on this list. While this wealth of experience does little to set it apart from the much younger competition, it does speak to the company’s legitimacy. This makes Guru a safe option for the aspiring freelance writer, evidently having no shortage of jobs.
Moreover, Guru helps provide its freelancers with some sense of security thanks to its SafePay mechanism whereby the client plays Guru before the work even begins. This does not prevent the client from rejecting your work and asking for a refund, but the very fact that refunds cost the client 30% of what they paid goes a long way to dissuade scammers and unreasonable clients from infesting Guru.
Headquarters Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA)
Payment: Guru charges a percentage of the client’s payment based on the writer’s membership plan, starting with 9% for free members and going as low as 5% for users with ‘executive’ membership.
Finally, we have come to a platform created by freelancers for freelancers – goLance. The platform is still very young, having been founded in early 2015, so its user base can’t compete with the larger, more established names on this list. The people at goLance, however, claim that theirs is a different kind of platform, emphasising their mission to empower freelancers.
So far they’ve given us no reason not to believe them. They have built their new UI based on user suggestions; they have installed a referral option, allowing for greater passive revenue. Hopefully the platform will continue to improve and grow to become a giant in its own right, but as things stand, it still lacks the success stories to make it as lucrative a prospect as the companies who rank higher on this list.
Headquarters Location: Dover, Delaware (USA)
Payment: The commission fee on goLance is 7.95% deducted from every payment, however there are no further costs, like withdrawals and membership plans.
Another platform with no particular bias towards writers, but plenty of work for them, is Fiverr. The catchy name was made to suggest that every service sold on Fiverr will cost the client $5. Don’t let it mislead you, however, as gig can become much more lucrative than the aforementioned price. Following a public outcry at the end of 2014, the $5 base price has been lifted. Furthermore, even in $5 gigs the 5 only stands for the bare minimum you are willing to do for that gig. The price increases in increments, so if your rate is $5 for 500 words, you’ll get paid $20 should the client order 2,000 words. Revisions are also paid for.
Headquarters Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Payment: Fiverr charges the freelancer a hefty 20%, meaning that the writers only see $4 for even the most basic gigs (PayPal withdrawal fee not included).
We all saw this one coming. Initially I intended to feature more lesser known sites, but as it usually is with such sites, they usually turn out to either be scams or wildly inefficient. Whatever your opinion on Upwork, you can’t deny that it has its merits, and the one that certainly cannot be overlooked by any account is the number of clients it boasts – a whopping 6 million. It also features an escrow service similar to that of Guru’s SafePay. This mixture or security with ample opportunity for consistent gigs earns Upwork the number one spot on this list.
Headquarters Location: Santa Clara, California (USA)
Payment: Upwork charges the freelancer a percentage of the total revenue with a single client (20% for the first $500, 10% between $500.1 and $10,000, and 5% for $10,000.1+). This (the change from a flat 10%) was done to ‘incentivize higher-value, long-term projects’. Some users agree.
Starting off as a freelancer can be quite daunting, and the calling does not exactly offer financial stability or work security. After all, there are many ways of going about it in terms of finding work. Pretty much each and every one of these sites has had reports of scammers. Changes sometimes occur on the platform, like mergers which inadvertently reflect negatively on some users. It takes time and experience to learn how to navigate the landscape safely.
But if there’s one piece of advice all successful freelancers agree on, it’s not to put all your eggs in one basket. There is nothing stopping you from using several of these sites at once; in fact, it’s recommended, as it increases your chances of landing gigs consistently. With that in mind all the entries on this list are worth checking out. Hopefully you will find more than one to your liking.