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11 Freelance Writing Jobs Most People Don’t Know Exist

Nicolas Cole

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The amount of writing jobs available in the world is way bigger than people realize.

To be perfectly honest, when I was studying creative writing in college, I had no idea how many different ways a writer could earn a living. Even my teachers and my classes made it seem like you were either going to get into journalism, or you were going to work at Starbucks while you slaved away on your novel. There was no mention of e-mail copywriting, or sales letters, or landing pages, or even social media copy. Which meant, as an aspiring writer, I had to learn a lot of these things on my own.

Long before I founded my own ghostwriting and content marketing agency, called Digital Press, and became a full-fledged entrepreneur, I was a freelance writer. 

And if you’re an aspiring, or current freelancer writer, then one thing I can tell you is there are far more writing jobs out there than most people realize. In fact, I would argue that the ability to “write well” guarantees you job security for the rest of your life. It’s that valuable of a skill (and no matter how much technology improves, as long as a message needs to be shared, a writer has a job).

So, breathe easy.

Here are 11 writing jobs most people don’t know exist:

1. Ghostwriting

This is my personal favorite, and also one of the writing roles no one ever told me existed.

All throughout college, and even for years after while working at an advertising agency, I had no idea that “ghostwriting” was such a popular writing job. In fact, I thought ghostwriters were reserved only for celebrity memoirs and things like that.

Turns out, a lot of people need help with their writing—and even more people don’t actually want to write it themselves. This goes for books, columns, blog posts, eBooks, emails, social media copy, etc., usually all centered around writing for an individual. And they want to tell you what they want to say, and then have you find a way to say it better.

I’ve built an entire company around the need for skilled writers to help founders, C-suite executives, investors, speakers, etc., turn their valuable insights into well-written content. Ghostwriting has actually become such a valuable skill in my toolkit as a writer, it has allowed me to write on behalf of Silicon Valley all-star entrepreneurs, incredibly successful CEOs, and even olympic athletes and Grammy-winning musicians.

2. Email Copy

Emails. Trust me, a lot of people don’t want to write their own.

There are a few different jobs a writer can find for themselves in this niche:

  • Automated Email Sequences: Companies big and small, even down to solopreneurs running their own Shopify stores, usually all run some sort of automated email sequences. These are called “drip campaigns,” and are pre-written to be delivered to a new email subscriber over a set number of days. The idea here is, once someone shares their email with the company (usually in exchange for a PDF they want to download, or some other form of material), they are immediately served a series of emails that moves them toward some sort of buying decision—like purchasing a book, a course, or hopping on a sales call to chat.
  • Email Newsletters: These emails might be sent quarterly, monthly, weekly, or sometimes even daily, from a company or individual. They almost always have to move the subscriber or reader toward some sort of goal (again, something to buy), but what’s unique here is these types of emails (especially if they’re being sent every single day) need to be somewhat entertaining. Creative writers, don’t underestimate how much fun Email Newsletters can be—especially when you’re writing for an entertaining company or individual.
  • Cold Email Outreach: These are emails usually sent by an individual on a sales team, or maybe even the founder of the company, intended to quickly catch someone’s attention and hop on a sales call. There is a whole art to doing this well—and actually, this method is how we were able to build Digital Press into a seven-figure company in less than a year. That said, the writing Cold Email Outreach requires has to be short, to the point, and enticing. The person who receives this random email has to immediately understand the value of what you’re saying, why it matters to them, and feel excited to jump on the phone with you.
  • Internal Company Emails: You would be surprised how many founders of companies want to share their vision internally with their teams, but really struggle to pen it down into words. This is another form of ghostwriting, but is intended to be written more like speech that will inform, and even inspire, employees at the company.
  • Outreach Emails: Then there is a whole subset of emails that people need sent, but that require a certain level of expertise, wit, and brevity. These could be everything from, “I need a writer to craft a series of outreach messages for potential sponsors for our event,” to emails setting up coffee meetings, seeking investors, forging partnerships, or landing a manufacterer

All in all, email is one of the most underrated opportunities for a freelance writer. There are dozens upon dozens of situations where a talented writer can have a massive impact on the performance of an email campaign.

Master this domain, and you’ll do just fine for yourself.

3. Sales Letters

Have you ever clicked on an ad, and found yourself immediately caught up reading a forever-scrolling web page? 

Most people don’t realize how intentionally written these seemingly sporadic ramblings are—or how much people pay for something similar to be written for their company. These are what are called “sales letters,” and are extremely long sales pitches disguised as articles. The best ones use lots of powerful language, italics, underlines, bold letterings, CAPS, and other techniques to keep the reader engaged and moving down the page. 

What most writers don’t know is that a sales letter that can effectively convert someone into a paying customer is one of the most valuable parts of an entire sales funnel. Here, you aren’t being judged on sentence structure, grammar, or any of the conventional writing standards. Your only measure for success is whether or not the person lands on the page, starts reading, doesn’t stop, and by the end is ready to pull out their credit card and buy—right there, right now.

If you can master this art, you will do incredibly well for yourself. And when I say “well for yourself,” I don’t mean you can get extra guac at Chipotle. I mean you can make millions of dollars.

4. Social Media Copy

The difference between really great social media copy, and the copy a run-of-the-mill marketing intern (or worse, marketing manager) produces is staggering. 

What so many people forget about social media is that what you say is arguably the most important part. Sure, stunning photography, or viral memes can always help, but its the message people relate to the most. Without words, it’s impossible for a company to build any sort of loyal following.

What’s worth acknowledging here is that social media copy is also one of the most subjective and heavily disputed jobs a writer can have. What you might find engaging, your client or boss might find unprofessional. What might work for one client won’t necessarily work for another. Writing social media copy takes patience and a whole lot of practice.

The best thing you can do for your own learning here is to practice writing for dozens of different types of clients. Before I became a ghostwriter, I had written social media copy for close to 50 different types of companies—everything from fitness to window repair, a pizza restaurant to a gynecologist.

5. Facebook Ad Copy

Similar to email copywriting, Facebook advertising copy is a whole science in itself.

Since Facebook ads are typically seen as a mechanism to drive and convert high amounts of cold traffic, words are everything. The way you immediately engage someone, hold their attention, and get them to click and take action is the entire name of the game. If you can do this, you’ll have more business than you’ll know what to do with.

The secret to writing really great Facebook ad copy is to study what’s already working. I frequently take screenshots of really great Facebook ads that pop up in my Newsfeed, just so I can study and reference them later. Pay close attention to the ads that tell long (deliberate) stories, or guide the reader through some sort of emotional journey—before hitting them with the solution: “Click here to see how YOU can do the exact same thing.” 

This is story 101—the only difference being the “goal” attached to the end.

6. Blogging

When most people think of blogging, they think of a blog they own and run themselves.

While this certainly is a career path, it’s far easier to start as a guest blogger or ghost blogger instead. How blogs make money is a whole other endeavor, and in order these kinds of websites to make money, they need content—and lots of it. Whether they’re monetizing strictly off page views, or they’re trying to capitalize on certain keywords so they can convert organic traffic to a paid course or coaching program, these sites are perfect for new and established writers to get paid to write. 

The best way to find these kinds of opportunities is to just do some searching within a niche you’re familiar with, or enjoy writing about. Google around, and whenever you come across a big site clearly publishing new content regularly, reach out to them and see if they’re looking for more writers. Chances are, they are—the only question is whether or not you can deliver material people would want to read. 

7. Advertising Copywriting

In the conventional advertising world, there are a handful of ways a copywriter can earn his or her seat at the table:

  • Print copy (magazines, newspapers, etc.)
  • Taglines
  • Billboard copy
  • Brochure copy
  • Instructional copy
  • Proposal copy

Truthfully, I’ve done all the above. And from one writer to another, I can tell you these were the only options I thought were available for a writer outside of the journalism world. It wasn’t until I left the advertising agency I worked at, and stumbled into the realm of ghostwriting, that I realized how much more was out there.

8. Whitepaper Writing

When the blockchain boom of 2017 hit, I was up to my neck in work for writing whitepapers—and my work ended up helping companies raise tens of millions of dollars.

Whitepapers, typically, are nothing more than lengthy documents that explain an idea in depth. A whitepaper could be a report a company publishes with industry stats, for example. But it can also be seen as a less formal “business plan,” and when companies were sprinting to launch Initial Coin Offerings in 2017, whitepapers became their single most valuable fundraising tool. 

And I wrote tons of them.

However, while whitepapers can be incredibly lucrative, they can also be exhausting. These are twenty-page documents, on the low end, all the way up to 60 plus pages on the high end. It’s the equivalent of writing a small book, usually in record time. So be prepared to do a lot of research, and get the work done quickly and effectively. 

9. Proposal Writing

Similarly, proposal writing is not something a sub-par writer can execute. 

I started writing 80+ page proposals just a year or two out of college, working in advertising. I found the work to be both fascinating (writing proposals for biotech projects that were completely over my head) and also mind-numbing. Unfortunately, they’re a necessity to a lot of businesses—and not to mention, it’s a valuable skill every writer should acquire for themselves. If you can write an engaging proposal and convince someone else your idea is great (or better yet, worth investing money into), then you possess a golden pen that can be applied to just about any vertical in the world. 

10. Website Copy

How many times have you gone to a website, no matter how beautiful or incredibly designed, and found yourself reading copy that makes absolutely no sense?

“We tell human stories, and connect the world’s most synergistic leaders together to create content that matters most.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you hire a bad writer—or someone at the company decided hiring a copywriter for the project wasn’t worth the cost.

Company websites are notorious for having sub-par messaging. For the companies themselves, this is bad news (because it’s probably costing them a ton of business). But for copywriters in search of work, this is your Holy Grail. 

If you come across a website with poorly written copy, then take it upon yourself to send them an email. Include some suggestions you have. Show them how you would do things differently. I’ve gotten an astounding amount of business this way, just pointing obvious improvements out and then asking if they’d like me to re-do everything for them. 

There’s no shortage of work in this department, I promise.

11. Instagram Microblogs

This might be exclusive to the fashion, foodie, and fitness industries, but you would be surprised how many successful influencers/entrepreneurs want help writing their Instagram posts.

The reason I’m calling this out, separate from just “social media copy,” is because writing microblogs on Instagram is a unique skill. Yes, every social media platform is different, but writing on Instagram sits in this grey area between a small Tweet and a long Facebook post. And in this strangely defined amount of space, you have to be able to hold someone’s attention AND get them to comment and engage directly.

Starting conversations on a photo-dominant platform is no easy task. 

But trust, the demand is there.

Nicolas Cole is the founder of Digital Press, a content marketing agency that turns founders, executives, and entrepreneurs into world-renowned thought leaders. As an author, Cole is a 4x Top Writer on Quora and Top 30 Columnist for Inc Magazine with over 50 million views on his work. His writing has appeared in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, CNBC, The Chicago Tribune, and more.

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