As a full-time freelance writer, I am always scrambling to find my next paying freelance writing job. Because I know working locally from my home office can play a major part in the hiring process, I use CraigsList each day to find local employers who need to hire a local writer.
I will show you how to find local freelance writing jobs in your city or state or region. We will look into two of CraigsList’s writing and editing categories and learn how to maximize our job search process for each.
I have been using CraigsList for more than 10 years to find legitimate freelance writing gigs posted by well-known companies and ad agencies, as well individuals, entrepreneurs and webmasters.
CraigsList.org (CL) is well-known as an online “classifieds” site that has sections for jobs, gigs, items for sale, contractors for hire, personals (dating ads), local events, and so on. CL reminds me of perusing the classifieds section of a traditional newspaper which publishes location-based information for local residents who need to find a job, an item for sale, or hire a contractor.
The uniqueness of CraigsList is that it provides LOCAL information, meaning you must navigate to a specific state and/or city to search for relevant (local) jobs. If you’d like to learn how to find freelance jobs in all states, read my other article, Search for ALL Freelance Writing Jobs at CraigsList.org.
The visual below shows a partial screen of cities and states for which CraigsList offers classifieds—i.e. help-wanted ads, job listings, etc. Navigation is self-explanatory: click on the link to go directly to the classifieds page for that city, state or region.
Finding Freelance Jobs Locally
We can search for freelance writing jobs at CraigsList.org in two ways, depending on your intentions. We can search for jobs locally (around where you live) or globally (everywhere, in every state in the U.S. and Canada). Of course, you can combine the two searches if you choose.
Aspiring freelance writers might overlook the advantages of finding freelance work locally, or starting their so called “self-employed writing career” by researching available freelance work at local publishing companies, businesses and ad agencies. They believe in the myth that it is more difficult to find local freelance work—but they believe this because they do not know where to look or know who commonly hires freelancers in their local area.
It appears, at first glance, that it is easier to find and apply to freelance jobs from online job sites like Freelancer.com and Upwork.com. This is true, but often landing a job at one of these sites is much more competitive. I do enjoy freelancing from home for any client in any area of the world, but I prefer to freelance locally.
Advantages of Local Freelance Jobs
A few advantages of freelancing locally (based on my experience) include:
1) Many clients prefer to work with writers who live nearby (rather than hiring writers who live far away) because it eases the work flow and communication process over the long-term.
2) Clients feel more closely connected with you because they feel you are only a phone call or a short commute away.
3) If a client requires you to attend a “kick-off” meeting at his or her place of business, you can do so and accept the project.
4) I feel that it is easier and quicker to build rapport with local clients than if the client lived in a far away state or country.
5) Many projects require local freelancers writers, such as writing for local and regional websites, magazines, and publications.
6) I can attend the same workshops, events and seminars in my city or state that my clients might attend and network with them.
7) More importantly, I can verify if the employer has a good reputation and is offering a legitimate job before I do any work. (Unfortunately, you will bump into “anonymous” or “fishy” job ads on CraigsList from scammers. I always make sure I can verify the company or employer before I accept any work. It is sometimes easier to verify the existence and reputation of a local business or individual.)
Local Ad Agencies Hire Local Talent
A majority of my clients are ad agencies. If you know anything about freelancing for ad agencies, then you already understand that many ad agencies prefer local freelance talent for various reasons.
More than 50% of my repeat clients are local or close by (in a nearby city or state) to me, and all of these clients allow me to work from home without ever having to visit their headquarters. Very infrequently do I need to attend face-to-face meetings or attend on-site conferences. I can communicate with my clients via e-mail and phone.
I probably use CraigsList more than I do LinkedIn, Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com to find local freelance work, especially with ad agencies. But you can also find a variety of freelance jobs, such as writing SEO content, writing how-to articles, writing brochures and advertorials, and ghostwriting.
Job Search — Local
CraigsList makes it simple to search for local freelance writing jobs in your area as well as in surrounding cities and states. Simply go to http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites and this will list the available countries, states and cities. By default, CL first lists states and cities in the United States, followed by Canada and then Europe. Find your state and then click on your city. If CL does not list your city, then find the city closest to you.
I will show you how I do it, and then you can model my process for any state and/or city.
Example of Local Job Search
I reside in a small town in northern New Jersey (United States). CraigsList has a section for the state of New Jersey, but does not list my city. Instead, CL offers specific regions in N.J., such as “Central NJ, “Jersey Shore,” “North NJ,” and “South NJ.” Because I live in the north region of N.J., I click on the link that says “north jersey.” You, too, may find instances where CL organizes cities into regions because it makes the search process more effective.
You can either follow my job search process for New Jersey, or go to your state and city and follow along with me. No matter where you reside, the job search process at CraigsList is exactly identical for every location.
We are interested in just two categories: 1) Jobs and 2) Gigs. You can find each category on any CL classifieds page.
Each category has sub-categories which organizes job types.
1) Under the Jobs category, you will find a sub-category called, “writing / editing“—as in “writing and editing jobs.”
2) Under the Gigs category, you will find a sub-category called, “writing“—yes, as in “writing gigs.”
As a shortcut, CL also offers a search tool (left side) that allows you to input a keyword and then select a main category—but NOT a sub-category. For now, it is best to use the navigational sub-category links, and not the search tool, unless you know specifically what job you are seeking.
Because both categories allow employers to post job ads seeking freelance or telecommute writers, we should search both sub-categories.
Searching Writing/Editing Jobs Sub-Category
Let’s first search the Writing/Editing sub-category for available freelance jobs. Click on the Writing/Editing link under the Jobs category.
This will take us to the main screen that lists all current writing and editing jobs, as shown below.
CraigsList lists the most current job ads first. To view the full job ad, simply click on the title of the job ad.
CL also provides useful search options to define your search. I use two of them: Telecommute and Contract.
Telecommute is another term meaning “freelance.”
Contract also means “freelance” but may imply that the employer wants you to work locally or on-site as a freelancer. You won’t really know unless you read the full ad to see what the employer wants.
Although you can tick both Telecommute and Contract at the same time, I only tick one at a time and then hit the SEARCH button.
Because I visit CL each day, it is quicker for me to peruse the job ads in this sub-category and read the ones that interest me. Most job ads will tell you if the employer is seeking a freelance writer or staff writer. If the employer does not specify, I send a polite e-mail asking the employer is he or she is seeking a freelancer or if I can offer my freelance writing services.
Not all employers remember to tick the “telecommute” or “contract” options when they post their job ads—so it pays to read the full job ad. Also sometimes I will add a keyword in the search field, such as “freelance” or “telecommute.” This tells CraigsList to find all jobs with these keywords.
If you add a keyword in the search field, make sure you untick the search options, otherwise CL will generate a mixed bag of results.
I then repeat the above job search process for the remaining regions of New Jersey.
Searching the WRITING Gigs Sub-Category
Let’s return to the main classifieds page and find the WRITING sub-category under the GIGS category and click on it.
The Writing Gigs sub-category is where you can find one-time or flat-rate freelance writing projects posted by individuals, entrepreneurs, or small business owners. This sub-category is less popular since these jobs tend to pay much less and the “employers” are mostly individuals seeking writers for simple projects.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the Writing Gigs page is identical to the Writing/Editing Jobs page. Again I find it easier to peruse the job ad titles instead of using the Search tool at the top. If I encounter many job ads in this section, I will tick the Pay option and then hit the Search button. This will bring up only gigs that offer pay. You do not need to enter a search term since we are in a sub-category that targets our skill-sets.
I use the same search process to search other regions of New Jersey for writing gigs that pay.
In any given week, I can find between 5 and 10 legitimate freelance writing jobs that interest me and between 8 and 15 writing gigs that interest me. Out of this number, I may secure between 3 and 7 writing projects. The competition with other freelancers is always fierce.
Searching for Freelance Writing Jobs in Nearby States
I do not restrict myself to searching for local writing jobs in New Jersey. Because I live close to New York, I also use the above job search processes to search nearby cities in New York, such as New York City, Albany, and Rochester. I often find more freelance writing jobs in New York City than I find in all regions of New Jersey.
If you live in the suburbs (like I do) or a quiet farm town, always search the closest city next to your state. You can often find and secure more freelance writing jobs this way. Even though you may live a state away from a major city, I find that employers are more likely to hire you than freelancers who reside in far away states because you are “more local” to them. [THE END]