If you’re looking for paid writing jobs, you’ve probably checked out some of the big names in news media and seen that they’re always looking for new contributors.
But what if you’re not a big name? How can you still land a paid writing job in a top U.S. news publication or major international newspaper?
The answer is diversification. While a single journalist’s job might be on the line if a paper decides to cut costs and lean more toward online content, a freelancer’s income depends entirely on the number of placements he or she lands. So if you can land a paid writing job with a non-profit organization, environmental group, university or company, you’re in good shape.
What kinds of writing jobs are available? Let’s take a quick look.
Non-Fiction And Feature Writing
If you’ve ever watched The New York Times’ annual Christmas toy story, you might have noticed that the newspaper’s annual Christmas toy story is usually non-fictional in nature. The same goes for the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, which is based on the actual 1938 New York Times holiday toy story.
Christmas toy stories are generally about children and their fondness for receiving gifts on holidays. But as the saying goes, “toys are more than physical objects. They are a means of expression and a reflection of a society’s values and priorities.”
This is also true of non-fictional pieces and features. In these cases, the focus might be on the impact a certain gift or product has on people’s lives. For instance, a piece might explore how technology is changing the way people experience events such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas. Or it could examine the growing trend of people buying bespoke suits for themselves.
Since these stories don’t have to conform to the traditional structure of a news article, journalists are free to explore any angle they wish and report on any story they choose. Many of the world’s top news publications, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, have non-fiction and feature writing bureaus that specialize in finding paid writing jobs for journalists. Some of the biggest names in journalism even have dedicated desks in these departments, where they can find staff-level jobs that don’t require them to report or give interviews. The perfect scenario for a freelancer looking to make extra cash.
The downside is that these stories often need to be finalized quickly due to print deadlines. However, with constant communication and planning, that shouldn’t be a problem. Plus, some of the biggest names in journalism have established strong relationships with some of the most prestigious publishers in the industry. So, even if you’re not a household name, you might still get a shot at being published if your work is good enough.
Copy Editing And Proofreading
Another great option for journalists and freelancers are copy editing and proofreading jobs. These are ideal if you’re looking for a foot in the door and want to get your name out there. The best part is that many of these jobs can be done remotely. So, even though you might not be in New York City, you can get paid to live in Brooklyn.
Among the best copy editing and proofreading firms are:
- The Chicago Tribune,
- The New York Times,
- The Wall Street Journal,
- The Washington Post,
- The Guardian,
- and many more.
Since these are entry-level positions, you don’t have to be a professional journalist to apply. Some of the best copy editors and proofreaders simply have a love for language and possess a keen eye for detail. They might not even write all that much, mostly focusing on editing documents and ensuring that content is delivered accurately and legally.
The downside is that these jobs don’t necessarily lead to more permanent positions. However, if you’re looking to make money on the side, it’s a worthwhile investment to look into copy editing and proofreading. If nothing else, it’ll get your foot in the door and allow you to show off your talents to journalism organizations and publications.
Online Journalism And Blogging
If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past couple of years, you may have noticed a trend toward online journalism and blogging. Some of the biggest names in journalism, such as The New York Times, have entire sections of their websites that are dedicated to publishing opinion pieces, analysis, and breaking news stories online. Many prominent news publications, such as The New York Times, have even shifted their entire content model to online platforms, significantly increasing their revenue.
Online journalism and blogging are ideal for freelancers who want to generate content for both themselves and potential employers. It’s a low-investment way to get content online quickly and simply find a platform where they can post their work. Some of the top-rated blogging platforms for journalists and bloggers include:
- and many more.
What’s great about these platforms is that they all offer simple entry-level jobs to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. No matter what your skills are, you can probably find a writing job that suits you. Plus, with the sheer volume of content constantly being published to these platforms, it’s quite possible that you’ll never get bored of exploring new stories and gaining new insights from around the globe.
The downside is that, like most other options discussed so far, these jobs don’t offer much in terms of financial stability. In general, journalists and bloggers who are employed by a media company can expect to earn anywhere from five to 10 times more than what they would earn as a freelance writer. The higher up the food chain you are at a publication, the greater the discrepancy. However, there are also some prominent examples of mid-level journalists and bloggers who’ve gone on to establish themselves as independent voices and taken on important causes and stories. So while financial security may not be one of your priorities, it’s always great to have options.
If you’re looking specifically for a stable income from overseas, you could look into trade publishing. This is when a company or individual purchases the right to publish a certain book or magazine. Once the transaction is complete, the new owner of the publication or entity buys the rights to distribute and sell the copyrighted work worldwide. Publishers of major trade publications include:
- Penguin Random House, and
- Simon & Schuster,
- to name just a few.
Some of the biggest names in media and entertainment are also the owners of well-known trade publications. So, if you ever dreamed about being able to write for a famous and trusted publication, this might be the option for you. One of the best things about these publications is that they often times will pay exceptionally well for exclusive articles, especially if the journalist is considered to be on the inside of the publication. As a rule of thumb, the closer you are to the media outlet that owns the publication, the greater the chance of earning some extra cash.
The downside to this option is that, depending on the size of the publication, it can be difficult to get noticed. You’re also competing with journalists from all over the world for a limited number of jobs and, as a result, often times, you’ll need to be considered an ‘expert’ on your topic to even get an interview. Even then, you might not get the paycheck you’re hoping for. It’s all about connections and being in the right place at the right time. Even then, you might not get the paycheck you’re hoping for. It’s all about connections and being in the right place at the right time.
So which route should you take? Each one has its perks, depending on what you’re looking for. If you want to be able to write for a steady income, you could try getting a job at a bigger publication in one of the bureaus discussed above. However, if you want to write for the joy of it and don’t mind living abroad, you could consider trying out some of the smaller publications or even doing some of the work yourself. The choice is yours.