Your Turn: What’s Your Definition of a “Good” Freelance Writing Job?

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Credit where it’s due: I’m writing this in response to a Skype conversation I had with Mark Narter, a friend and writer who doesn’t have a huge online presence but writes full time for a local business. Every now and then Mark pings me to talk about something I wrote and whether or not he agrees with me. After I posted a peek into my portfolio, Mark wondered what makes my past experiences good ones. What do I consider a “Good” freelance writing job. The money? The glory? The opportunity?

I love questions that make me think. So when a friend wonders what I consider a worthy freelance writing opportunity, I’m all over it.  I don’t believe all gigs are good gigs. I worked plenty of sucky jobs. For example, some really boring SEO work and a content site that was more interested in using the right keywords than whether or not the content made sense. The content site gig didn’t last because the pay didn’t justify the work and my boredom with the subject matter. The SEO gig paid quite well. Still, it wasn’t what I would consider a “good” gig.

Keep in mind that that each writer has his own definition of what makes a “good” gig. Here’s my list:

  • It pays well
  • I enjoy the work
  • I earn a profit
  • I have a byline
  • I put forth my best effort
  • Others respond to what I wrote

Now, I may not have written for many “huge” names, but I can say with all honesty that I landed plenty of “good” gigs.  Tell us about you. What makes a “good” freelance writing job? What are some of your favorites?


11 responses
  1. Kate Lister Avatar

    Good list Deb. I agree entirely with it, but if I had to prioritize, I’d lean heavily toward gigs that support a lifestyle to which I’d like to become accustomed. Of course, I much prefer to write stuff I care about, but there’s a certain challenge in being able to write about whatever sells (provided I don’t gag myself in the process). For me, being able to earn a living at something I enjoy, is greater than my need to make a statement about anything in particular.

    Keep up the good work Deb. I’m continually in awe of how you’re able to produce so much quality content so consistently.
    .-= Kate Lister´s last blog ..• Inc. Magazine Writers Telecommuting =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Thanks for your kind words, Kate. Agreed, the ability to not only support myself but to even bring in a few extras is always a worthy perk.

  2. Kevin Freeman Avatar

    I think the best gigs to find are those that can hold your interest while paying you at a level that makes it worth your effort.

    I have taken on writing work that I wasn’t interested in at all, but paid very nicely. The result was that I found myself enjoying the work more because it was paying the bills in order to give me more stress free writing time in the areas that I love.

    On the other end of the spectrum, jobs that pay little but spark a deep fascination (if you’re a writer, then this can happen with an amazing array of subjects) within my writer’s heart are by far the easiest ones to come by. These are the long term projects that might not pay well now, but can usually end up paying very handsomely over time. Without the passion, after all, we might as well go back to our day jobs.

    What I don’t do is take on low paying AND uninteresting jobs because I know that I am probably not going to put my best into it. If it’s not worth my best, it’s not worth publishing (most especially with my name on it!).

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hey Kevin, If the gig is boring and low paying, there’s just no way to justify the job, right? For me, I knew I “made it” as a freelance writer when I knew I could pick and choose gigs. Not having to take something I wasn’t feeling made all the difference in my career.

  3. Anne Wayman Avatar

    No quarrel with your list or any so far in comments. So well paid, fun and tends to support some idea or belief I have.

    The other way to say that last is just to say there are some topics/beliefs etc. I won’t write about.

    A new one on my list is creates residual income for me.
    .-= Anne Wayman´s last blog ..Come Alive! Quotes To Inspire Writers =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hi Anne, I feel the same way. Sometimes, no amount of money will make a job worthwhile.

  4. Laura Spencer Avatar

    This is an excellent question to ask and the answer will be different for each of us.

    Every freelance writer should think about this before they take their next assignment.

    I’m lucky in that I have a broad interest in a lot of different things. For example, I don’t mind creating technical documents for hardware systems or writing text questions for accountants, even though many would call that type of writing boring. I don’t always have to get a byline either, although it helps for lower paying jobs.

    Still, there are still some jobs that I would never take under any circumstances or for any amount of pay–even with a byline.
    .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Are You Trapped in the Writing Web? =-.

  5. allena Avatar

    This year my priorities have switched– earning a good living financially is number one for now, and for the next couple months. So, as long as I divide out a decent hourly rate at the end of the day, I’m happy– that’s my “good.”
    .-= allena´s last blog ..The Freelance Writers Money Conundrum =-.

  6. AuroraGG Avatar

    Mine would be that the gig pays well, It is a topic I am familiar with (less time invested for the project), I have a byline, the online published version required minimal editing, it gets a good Google ranking, and people read it. That would be a darn good gig in my eyes.

    To make that good gig a perfect gig, the client would cut a cheque the day it was published and is so impressed that they offer me another article right away. 🙂
    .-= AuroraGG´s last blog ..A Guide to Storage Networking =-.

  7. Toni Star Avatar

    For me what makes a good freelance writing job is dealing with an honest and reputable online site, a site that offers a variety of writing subjects to choose from, a site that pays in a timely manner–preferably PayPay, and a site that offers opportunities for growth and development in one’s writing.
    .-= Toni Star´s last blog ..Check Out My Latest Book, "The Twisted Life of Julia Knight" =-.

  8. Jennifer L Avatar

    I nodded my head at every single item on Deb’s original list. Also I will second Aurora’s addition to the list: that it pays well and promptly! I once had to badger a client for a year to get paid for an article. A year. Luckily, once the new editor found out about my issue, she made sure I got a check that same week. But still. Yikes.
    .-= Jennifer L´s last blog ..More snow… =-.

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