Freelance Writing Gigs With Great Pay: 50 Niches to Explore
Do you ever wonder where the better-paying freelance writing gigs are hiding? It can be hard to believe a good income is even possible, especially if you’re trapped in low-pay assignments that don’t even earn you the minimum wage.
The good news is that you can find freelance writing jobs. There are plenty of niches that pay better than writing, say, a 300-word blog post or a 50-word online product description — to name just two classic bottom-of-the-barrel niches where pay is often miniscule.
The problem is, when learning how to make money writing, many writers aren’t aware of all the different types of freelance writing gigs that offer better pay.
Better freelance writing gigs in review
What assignments pay writers well? Here’s my list:
These are the magazine articles that have a note that says ‘advertisement’ at the top. Think $1 a word for these articles, which provide useful info, often have quotes, and feel like journalism, but slyly serve the advertiser’s agenda.
2. Annual reports
Nonprofits and publicly traded companies are required to issue annual reports. At big companies, these can top 100 pages or more. And they’re often outsourced to freelancers, because they’re a massive-yet-seasonal project. Rates can easily run to $10,000 per project and more. Watch your local business journal for lists of publicly traded companies, and start building relationships to make connections for these gigs.
3. Articles for top consumer magazines*
Many print magazines continue to thrive, despite cries of doom. The last article I wrote for one, for Forbes, paid $1.50 a word. Good rates for these freelance writing gigs are still out there. Take that Writer’s Market online, dial their search engine up to five $s, and make a list of great-paying magazines you want to target.
We all know ad agencies get big bucks for doing this work — and that smaller to mid-sized companies can’t afford those agencies. There’s an opportunity here, especially if you have an agency background or branding experience.
Target companies that attend trade shows. Then do in-person marketing, and you’ll find they’re still creating brochures. Rates for a basic, 3-fold brochure start around $750 and go up from there. It’s so easy to write better brochure copy than the average, it’s amazing — go to your local Chamber of Commerce and pull a bunch of these to read, if you don’t believe me. This is a great, accessible niche for moving up to better pay.
6. Book ghostwriting*
One of the most lucrative niches in the entire writing universe, pro book ghosting rates begin at $35,000 per project. These are relationship-driven gigs, so build your network and let connections know you’re looking to ghost books.
7. Brand journalism*
It’s the hottest niche around for displaced journalists. Brand journalism is writing reported stories for a company, not a magazine. In an age where we tune out ads, brand journalism is booming, and a growing number of companies are producing fantastic online magazines.
8. Business plans/confidential information memorandums
Startups seeking funding often need to create a sizzling-hot business plan or CIM to impress investors. If you love learning what makes a business tick and can tell a good story, these freelance writing gigs are for you. And they start at several thousand dollars in pay and go up from there, depending on complexity.
9. Case studies*
If you love telling stories, these ‘customer success stories’ can be a lot of fun, once you learn the required format. They also typically pay $750-$1,500 or so — not bad for a couple of pages. If you have existing business clients, ask them how old their case studies are, study the layout, and sell them on some new ones.
10. Content marketing + strategy*
If you’re still ‘just blogging,’ it’s time to learn more, and position yourself as a strategic expert. Learn how SEO really works today and how to craft successful content campaigns. Landing these freelance writing gigs will help you leave the world of $50 a post (or less) behind and start earning pro rates.
11. Corporate research reports
Are you nosy? If so, and you’ve got a knack for business, these projects are for you. When a public company gets a new CEO, investment firms often commission research where you find past co-workers and get them to spill on whether the chief was great to work for or a total a*hole. I’ve gotten $1,500-$3,000 for these, depending on length.
12. Corporate social responsibility reports
In addition to their annual report, more and more organizations prepare an annual report for stakeholders. These reports typically cover an organization’s impact on the environment and society. As with annual reports, CSRs at the big companies can top 100 pages, and pay rates are similar.
13. Custom publication articles*
From hospitals, grocery-store chains, clothing brands, and retail stores, custom pubs feel like consumer magazines, but are created by a business to promote their agenda. Rates range from $.50-$1 a word and more. Many ideas are generated in-house, but pitch them yours anyway, to impress and get in the door.