• Advice

Where to find a gig: a review of 8 writers’ platforms

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

There are an estimated 1.1 billion websites on the internet. Each of those websites are full of words – words on the landing pages, words on a blog, and words working behind the scenes to improve search rankings. Therein lies millions of opportunities for freelance writers to find a gig coming up with words to fill those websites.

One way to do that is through writing platforms that match people looking for writers with those who write. Here is a review of 8 writers’ platforms, some good, some not so good, where you can earn money as a freelance writer.

1. Upwork

Upwork, formerly e-lance beat everyone else to the punch. It is one of the first legitimate writer’s platforms and is one of my two favorites. I’ve found several clients and earned thousands of dollars through Upwork. There are pros and cons to using this site of course.

Here are the pros:

  • For projects through Upwork the terms have to be put in a contract and accepted by both parties
  • Payments are verified by Upwork
  • Money for projects has to be put into escrow in the writer’s Upwork account
  • Problems with payments or clients are settled through Upwork

Here are the cons:

  • You have to sift through lots of low bids to find a project worthwhile
  • There aren’t a lot of long-term gigs to be found
  • A lot of projects are posted by clients whose payment methods have not been verified
  • Until you build up a work portfolio, it’s hard to get noticed or picked for projects
  • Upwork takes a chunk of change out of your earnings - if you’re new, the fee is 15%. If you’ve earned $10,000 or more through the site, the fee drops to 5%.

Some clients will contact you and then ask to communicate with you outside of Upwork or to pay you outside of Upwork. Those are red flags and Upwork will warn you about communicating outside of the platform if an outside email is shared on Upwork.

More importantly, if you agree to get paid outside of Upwork, you lose the protections afforded through those fees like payment verification and secured escrow. Usually if someone is asking to pay you outside of Upwork, it’s because they are trying to avoid the fee or don’t have the money upfront to pay you. Either way, if they found you through Upwork, keep your protections and do not agree to work outside of Upwork.

2. LinkedIn/LinkedIn Pro Finder

LinkedIn is not a writers’ platform but it is an excellent place to find business and that applies to freelance writing gigs. Like any other business, in order to attract people to you on LinkedIn you have to build out your LinkedIn profile, show off your experience and expertise, and connect with others in your field.

If you want to go the extra mile, I have been thoroughly impressed with LinkedIn Pro Finder. Most writers’ platforms are free to use and when you are first starting out as a freelancer, free is the operative word. However, I recommend paying the $60 monthly fee to post your profile on LinkedIn Pro.

People looking for professionals on LinkedIn Pro have to have the dough to fish in that pond. There are lucrative contracts to be found and plenty of people who won’t scoff at the actual cost to write a book for them. I have only been on LinkedIn Pro for about a month and already have secured contracts worth a combined $20,000 and that’s just for January and February!

3. WriterAccess

I signed up for this platform a few months ago but didn’t find a gig worth taking on until a month ago. The jobs on WriterAccess are far and few in between. Most days you’ll get an email saying 0 jobs have been posted. When there are available jobs, sometimes hundreds at a time, the bids are extraordinarily low – like a penny a word low. Still, if you have the time and are desperate for money, it’s worth a shot.

Another catch is that you have to be picked by clients in order to even apply for their jobs and they tend to go with people willing to work for a penny a word. On the other hand, I did earn $87 in November on 5 short pieces that were reasonably priced and there was no problem getting paid, no delays, and only a small $3 fee was taken out.

4. WriterCartel

Scam alert! Remember when I said be wary of people asking you to work outside of Upwork because they don’t have the money – here’s learning the hard way. I knew better than to agree to talk with WriterCartel outside of Upwork but I did it anyway because the job description was appealing, the work was supposedly long-term, and the pay was good.

After I took the call, I learned that they wanted me to work for a month for free before they decided if I was good enough to pay. Then they said that if I passed the one month mark, I would start at the bottom of the pay scale and work my up to a reasonable pay. They found me on Upwork and so I reported them to Upwork. They are no longer fishing for innocents on Upwork.

5. WriterBay

Here’s another writers’ platform to avoid (Check out this review on Glassdoor if you don’t want to take my word for it!) if you are serious about earning a living as a freelance writer. Writerbay lured me in by saying I would be writing for academic journals. In reality it is a website for students trying to buy papers and they aren’t paying you. They are paying WriterBay, you only get pennies.

Worse, they do a really good job of hiding the details of each job until you agree to do it. That’s when you find out that the job is not to write a smart article for publication in the Journal of Communication but rather to help a student of Communication cheat their way to a degree.

As a professional, I objected to writing a paper but I had already agreed to write it, so I did. After writing an excellent paper they tried to refuse to pay me and ended up only paying me half of what they said they would. Never again and I’d advise you to avoid them altogether.

6. Skyword

If you are looking for writers, perhaps Skyword is boss. As a freelancer, it’s not the type of place to find a gig, at least that’s been my experience. This site basically lets you post your profile on the website and you hope that someone looking to hire stumbles across your profile. I posted my profile on Skyword over a year ago and zip, nada, zilch. It may work for some but it has done nothing for me.

7. Reedsy

Reedsy is another platform that caters to the hirer and not the writer. It is a place for someone to search for a writer, editor, proofreader, etc. But if you are looking for a gig, this is not the place for you. You can post your profile there and hope that someone finds you and chooses you but it’s not a good platform for writers looking for work in my opinion.

8. Contena

When Contena was new, it was free to search it like any writers’ platform. After signing up and searching and applying for job after job for a few months and getting nothing, I received an email saying that there are high paying jobs for me – I just need to pay them a couple hundred bucks to see them.

Over time, this platform has evolved and become more of a site to help you build your own freelance writing business. If you go with Contena, it’s going to cost you. It’s less about finding a gig than paying them to help you build a website where you might actually attract some gigs. I’m finding the same can be done with a robust and complete LinkedIn Pro account but if you have the money, why not give Contena a shot?

Malika Dickerson been an independent freelance writer since the fall of 2012 and over that time, I have gained invaluable experience. When I'm not glued to my keyboard I am cheering on my beloved Buckeyes, hanging with my sister and niecy poos, and tending to our little pet tortoises.