Read excerpts below from two chapters of my short eBook entitled Sustaining Travel Through the Written Word. For wanderlusts considering remote writing jobs to generate an income outside of the 9-to-5 for flexibility and enabling more travel, the following content serves as a primer for picking a subject matter, building an online presence, and navigating the world of job marketplaces to find a few early opportunities and gain momentum. Feel free to leave comments with other suggestions and download the entire eBook by subscribing to my newsletter at the end of the article.
Choose a Subject Matter
Pick a niche and (mostly) stick to it. The niche is ideally related to previous work or a passion and broad enough to encompass a lot of projects. For example, pick pet care—with perhaps a bigger emphasis on dogs—instead of focusing on labrador retrievers. While it’s possible to write about any subject through a bit of research, I strongly advise against getting in this habit for a number of reasons:
Avoid Too Many NichesIf a lucrative gig comes calling on another topic—say, a secondary hobby or passion—by all means take on the assignment. It just seldom makes sense to chase writing in various industries from the get-go.
1) Research takes much longer unless the writer already has a working knowledge of the subject matter. Don’t waste time researching and figuring out the best way to frame something that doesn’t make a lot of sense due to a lack of background.
2) Writers with a scattered resume and samples across fifteen different industries have a much more difficult time landing writing assignments. The better paying jobs often want experts with a proven track record in the specific industry.
3) Writing gets old in a hurry when the subject matter isn’t interesting. Hate weddings? Probably not a great idea to take on an assignment researching and writing about wedding venues in 50 major US cities.
Generate Writing Samples
Few editors, or content mills for that matter, are willing to pay a writer for work unless he or she has a portfolio or small sample set of published content. While blog posts work in a pinch, my best advice is to find a few smaller online sites with good presentation value and friendly submission policies to new writers. Many will only accept articles for free or offer a paltry sum for accepted writing.
A few writers argue against writing for free, but publishing a few short pieces online with a byline pays dividends in the long-term. Even writing a guest post for a friend’s professional-looking blog is much better than sending samples from that college essay buried in the closet. A surprising number of sites judge writers based on their writing quality and not where they’ve been previously published, so don’t worry about lacking a “who’s who” of writing credits.
Online Portfolio for Writers
Free blogging services like Tumblr are perfectly acceptable. Consider buying a domain name (e.g. writername.com) to make the site look more professional and include an ‘about’ page with bio and contact information. Another option, which includes advances features like password protected portfolios and resume hosting, is clippings.me. The basic plan is $4.99 a month and should suffice for most writers who want a complete and professional portfolio solution.
Once a few real articles with bylines are floating around the internet, save the links and create PDF’s through Print Friendly for editors who ask for a resume and samples sent via email. I also suggest starting a very simply online blog or portfolio to publish full excerpts of any published work with links to the full source. Some sites also allow writers to re-post the entire article on a personal portfolio site—all the better. With a few published articles in tow, writers can start working their way up the ladder.
Remote Writing Jobs
Finding other writing opportunities can feel tedious, but with a decent resume, good writing sample, and a dose or two of diligence, an opportunity will present itself. Most people only need one or two remote writing jobs to comfortably travel overseas in budget mode.
For starters, subscribe to these two daily newsletters:
Both newsletters arrive with 20 or more listings and take the work out of trolling sites like Craigslist for writing gigs.
These websites also regularly list jobs:
(1) Ed 2011
(2) Media Bistro
(3) Journalism Jobs
(6) Blogging Pro
Also consider springing for a $35/year FlexJobs membership, which aggregates remote work in a variety of industries (writing included) and catches a lot of quality opportunities overlooked by others. The site also has a number of settings for email alerts and users are able to track applied for positions and more.
Download My Free eBook
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