You love to write. You always have a notebook and a pen, or a notes app is one of the most used applications on your phone. Maybe, you’re knee-deep in a Creative Writing degree, but you’re worried: what kind of job can I get? (Or you’re concerned about your kid who’s declared, “I’m going to be a writer!”)
What kind of jobs or side hustles can I get using my creative writing knowledge?
This post is a list of 54 writing jobs where you can use your skills as a creative writer. Most of these you can do remotely. The great thing is that most of these jobs are often listed as gigs, which you can try out for yourself to see if you’d like to keep doing it.
It’s not every kind of job, but this is an excellent start to get you thinking.
Let’s jump in.
Copywriters persuade readers to take the actions that produce sales. This comes in a variety of forms: maybe a catchy slogan for the reader’s to try out your product (“All the news that’s fit to print” New York Times) or sign up for a newsletter (“Get exclusive SEO tips I only share with email subscribers” Banklinko). Whatever form it takes, copywriting’s goal is to get readers following down the sales funnel.
So, if you have a good eye for concise writing (a call out to you poets), this might be the kind of gigs you ought to target. Also, if you’ve studied or read a lot in psychology (what makes someone go from not knowing the product at all to buying it), this too would be your jam.
Like all copywriters, your goal is to persuade. However, unlike general copy for a website or a pamphlet to be handed out, Social media copywriters live in the zone of 50-100 words. Think Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Those spaces don’t have a lot of room to fumble with your words.
Poets again, this is likely your jam. Prose writers, who enjoy the tight word counts of “Flash,” this too, would be a good gig to pursue.
Like all copywriting, the goal is to move the reader closer to action. However, most gigs for website copywriting are jobs where you’re helping a client revise their website. Maybe they have a new product and need a sales page, or they want to improve their whole site to convert more visitors into customers.
Content writers provide value to readers by writing engaging articles, blog posts, newsletters, and more, informing them about something they didn’t know. Often this is online. Often this is for companies selling products. How this is different from copywriting is that content writing is often a grab bag of extra information that needs to be synthesized for the reader while at the same time considering SEO and the goals of the client.
Sometimes your best draft is the one that someone else rewrote. (Gordon Lisch) was often praised for his editing, which amounted to rewriting.) But that’s the gig here. Maybe the old article is old and weak and out of style like bell bottoms. Your job is to sweep in and make it better for the client for whichever purpose they need, which typically means, leaner, cleaner, and clearer.
Every good writer knows about line blindness: what you think you wrote and what you wrote isn’t the same. You can even read it many times and still not see even obvious errors. Grammar checkers can only do so much, and that’s where Proofreaders come in. They give the work that final pro sheen stripped of all those “their/there” mistakes, apostrophes placed where they should be, and all those antecedents clear as day. They know when a comma splice when they see one, and they sing the semicolon’s praises.
These typically show up more as gigs rather than full-time jobs, which makes it ideal for working remotely but can be lucrative when you start to proof book-length manuscripts so, if some of your favorite books are Lynn truss’s Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, or Benjamin Dreyer’s Dreyer’s English, this is likely your jam.
There are many different roles in editing, and we’ll detail them below, but often you’ll see jobs listed as simply “editor,” which covers any number of them. For any editorial job, it’s vital to read the description as to exactly what they’re looking for. But in general, the position of an editor is to evaluate and assist writers in making content better: more in line with the goal of the project. For example, is the writer being too journalistic and dry when presenting fun and uplifting brand? Does the writer lose focus halfway through the article and recycle fluffy anecdotes rather than offering valuable knowledge? Depending on the type of editing position, you may also be in charge of assigning work to writers.
You’re the ideas person. Often, after reading an early draft of someone else’s work, you’re the one asking, “what if we do ____?” The job of a developmental writer isn’t one where you climb into the lines and clean up redundant words; it’s to ask the questions: how can we get this piece closer to fulfilling the writer’s vision? What’s missing? What do we have too much of? Then, gently steering the writer toward that goal.
To be a good developmental editor, you need to know your genre well. If it’s some sort of sales-oriented content, you need to be steeped in the conventions and structures of how that content is assembled. For example, if you’re working with an aspiring romance author, you need to know the forms of romance novels to steer the writer in the right direction.
Copy editing is a mix of proofreading, fact-checking, and formatting work. Often the copy editor is the last line of defense against bad writing before publication. This role shifts depending on the content: for a magazine, there might be more emphasis on fact-checking and formatting to sync with the publication’s style guide, or for a blog, making sure the piece is formatted correctly for WordPress.
Often when a position is advertised as a “web editor,” it’s generally a position that encompasses all the other types of editing a website’s content along with responsibilities of social media as well. Many of these positions also come with the expectation of writing as well.
What makes these kinds of positions enticing is that you get to see “how the sausage is made” at all stages and play an essential role in getting it done. However, these positions can be intimidating because there aren’t many other people involved in content creation.
Content editing jobs emphasize content marketing strategy. These positions have to coordinate with other teams to implement the plan to reach readers through many channels. It’s a big-picture position like developmental editing. However, where developmental editing focuses on a single project (a romance novel), content editors must keep and maintain the team’s content calendar and participate in other editorial responsibilities.
Jargon is field-specific. Hearing two doctors talk about your liver or two carpenters talking about your massive built-in basement bar will often sound like foreign languages because of the jargon involved. Because of this, there are subject-specific editing positions. Below are some of the more prominent sectors, but know that no matter what subject you’re an expert in, there are likely some positions needing your knowledge.
Getting into a good university is challenging and is getting harder. The college entrance essay is integral to that process, with more and more schools moving away from standardized testing. And while you may be tempted to use your creative writing skills to riff on it like Hugh Gallager did back in the day, know that most students need help presenting themselves as engaging, dynamic, and future success stories for their perspective universities.
This one is pretty straightforward: if you’re fluent in two languages and feel comfortable working in both, this is a good gig to do. In all of the different positions listed, there is likely a bi-lingual position available.
Like a generic translator, you need to be competent in two languages. However, unlike other translator positions, this one emphasizes your ability to translate artfully. (We’ve all had the experience of reading a translated book that came off a bit like this.) Your job as a literary translator is to match the literary intent, not just strictly translate the meaning, making it a cool type of writing job that often works with creative work. Sometimes these positions crop up under “bi-lingual creative content” jobs where the art of the content matters.
Transcription is admittedly marginally writing-related, but until Siri and Alexa step up their game, people still need to transcribe what other people are saying. Likewise, Youtubers, speakers, etc., want their words transcribed. Sometimes this work is a strict transcription of what’s said, but often transcribers use a bit of editorial sense to create written content that can be repurposed for the client for other venues like a blog or a newsletter.
You’ve read a lot. You have the uncanny ability to remember what you read and can quiz others about it. Put that skill to use and help online educators (whether they be course creators like those on Udemy or for publishers) create the quizzes and tests that students need to check their knowledge of the text.
Being a subject expert isn’t the same as knowing how to explain that subject effectively in words. Course writers bridge the gap between those who know their stuff and making that stuff digestible enough for students to understand. So if you have experience helping others with their essays to make them more readable or have experience teaching and creating learning materials, this is a good gig to get into.
The dream writing job is hard to get. Well, let me clarify: it’s not hard to become a novelist. There are many ways to write novels and get them published. However, making a living as a novelist is like making a living playing in the NBA; not many do it. There are two ways to go: traditional publisher (both major and indie) and self-publishing. There are many blogs, books, courses on this topic, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
See novelist and find and replace with “memoirist.”
Creative Nonfiction Essays come in many flavors: travel, memoir, idea, journalistic, etc. But the big thing here is that the essay seeks to understand something and often tracks the writer’s thoughts, trying to understand it to produce value to the reader. There are many places to read and publish these essays, and many of the good ones pay. Here’s an excellent place to find the best. Also, be on the lookout for contests like the ones advertised here. Note, it’s tough to make a living doing this.
Like “essayist,” but focusing on practical and the aspirational, I slotted this down because most of the outstanding non-fiction books that sell well tend to be in this category. Those books often start as a series of published essays that eventually end up as books. Think of Cal Newport (someone I greatly admire).
You are in touch with the heart and soul of our age, and you’ve chosen the path through thirty miles of hardscrabble terrain in snow and freezing wind that turns tears to ice crystals clinging to eyelashes. Poetry doesn’t pay much when you do get paid. For some ideas on how to do that, see novelist, essayist, and short-story writer.
However, it’s not all grim. Your skills as a poet are handy for all of the other gigs mentioned here. You know how to slice a line. You burn the right word to elicit feelings straight from the belly.
You’ve decided against battling the constant rejections from agents and publishers and other gatekeepers. Instead, you’re excited at the prospect of not only creating art but also the whole business of publishing as an indie. This is a hard road, but many make a living from this. And there are plenty of resources to get started. I recommend starting with here and here.
Like self-publishing, but entirely online with a company, these are big internationally and are beginning to find traction in North America. Here’s an example.
Like the essayist, short story writer, and poet, travel writing is a hard gig to live off. However, if you’re an avid traveler (or an exceptional researcher), this may be your gig. Travel writing is a broad topic, which encompasses the travel books by the likes of Simon Winchester or Billy Bryson, but they include articles like you would find in airline magazines.
But besides freelancing and pitching articles, there are also some in-house remote jobs for different companies looking for writers to focus specifically on travel.
Like a travel writer, but you focus on the subject that matches the publication often as a freelancer. For example, for Outdoor magazine, you’d pitch them an article about something to do with the outdoors. These kinds of gigs are sometimes advertised but often require you to look at the specific magazine and find their submission process.
What I mean by a blogger is someone who runs their own blog and earns a living on it. There are tons of courses, books, and sites (and scams) on doing this effectively. But, for my money, I think Adam Enfroy’s work is by far the best on how to get started on this.
For the uninitiated, backlinks are a big part of the game in SEO. Guest posting is a big way for a site to build those backlinks. In addition, guest posts are also the way for bloggers and other sites to connect with different audiences interested in their work. But, when sites have a complete content calendar as it is, that is where you come in: a writer specifically creating articles for guest posting. To do this effectively, you need to understand the site your guest is posting for and the site your guest posting on to bridge their topics and write the content that would benefit both.
Ghostwriting is pretty straightforward; you write something (a book or an article) for someone else who will be credited with it. This is very common for autobiographies (how many pro-wrestlers have the time or skillset to pen their own story?) and ebooks on niche topics (like how to raise tomatoes in containers in winter.) If you can keep a secret and like to write about all kinds of things and doing the research to do it, this could be up your alley.
I know writing teacher is as broad as it gets, but I wanted to mention it because there are opportunities (especially now in the shadow of the COVID pandemic) for remote teaching. If you have a master’s degree or Ph.D., teaching English Composition is a good way to keep your head in the game. If you have experience teaching ESL/EFL or have a teaching certificate like a CELTA or a TEFL, teaching ESL writing is also an avenue you can pursue. Finally, if you have a middle school or High School teaching certificate, there are opportunities at online charter schools.
Unlike a teacher, writing tutors work one on one with the learner. Tons of different venues offer tutoring services online, and any of the significant remote jobs sites listed below can introduce them to you. The benefits of tutoring over teaching are a lower threshold of qualifications (perhaps a BA) and experience than teaching, and a more personal experience getting to know and work with individual students rather than a group.
Unlike the entrance essay editor from before, essay tutors help students specifically with writing essays. This can be for college entrance, for class, or some other professional endeavor. This is a bit different than your general writing tutor because the levels you’d be dealing with are high school and above.
A writing coach is a relatively new thing and inhabits a space between editor, teacher, and professional trainer. But unlike the usual dynamics between teacher and student, a writing coach looks to help their clients bridge over the difficulties of doing the creative work and getting better at it holistically. That is to say, beyond the writing feedback. For example, they are helping you navigating time to write and focus to meet deadlines and finish projects.
Technical writers craft informational content that is easy to understand and implement. That may come in the form of documenting details for the latest release notes or internal documentations walking new hires through the procedures for their new positions.
Grant writing is an essential part for many non-profit organizations, government groups, and others who rely on outside funding to support themselves. Grant writing is specialized in that you’re providing unique value propositions to prospective donors and funding organizations. Often part of this gig is extensive research and an excellent sense of what the funder is looking for.
If you find yourself regularly leaving reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere, you might want to consider getting a bit of pay along the way. Now two categories come to mind. The first kind is writing literary reviews: these are the kinds you’d find in the New York Review of Books or the Los Angeles Review of Books. These are essays, often meditations on books and their meaning in the world that you would submit in the same way you would any other literary essay.
The second kind of reviewer writes practical reviews, as you’d find on an Amazon product page. You can find different companies looking for regular reviews and freelance gigs on the usual sites for these. As a caveat, when you do these product reviews, be sure to only work on reviews where you’re given the leeway to write honest reviews and that they pay you for reviewing, not whether or not you review the product positively.
This one is pretty straightforward: you write articles for a news site as a journalist. For these, think local since they’re often easier to break into (but still often allow remote work).
Unlike journalists, op-ed writers express opinions, often different from the newspaper’s editors, news sites. To get these published, you would submit your work similarly to all other kinds of creative work.
Podcasts are enormous, and if you have experience in radio, this could be a good gig for you. Writing scripts for podcasts utilizes your ability to write things always meant to be read aloud, which is an excellent practice for any writer. You can find these in the typical job boards.
Some genres, like romance, have readers who go through one or two books a day. There is a need for many books set in the same world and related storylines, and a few companies have sprung up to fulfill that need. Here is a couple:
Sometimes you’ll find a position for “English Content writer,” but asks you to write essays for undergraduate classes. There are many of these companies, which I won’t list because these places are essay mills, helping students cheat. There are so many other honest ways to use your skills; there’s no need to participate in something unethical like this.
You write good notes, love to write summaries and explanations about your favorite books and subjects. That’s what these positions are about: writing study guides to aid students in understanding the content they’re studying.
Like other content writing positions, but subject-specific to medicine. There’s a lot of these positions, it seems, so it gets its own entry. So, if you have a background in medicine, this is an excellent gig to pursue.
See “medical writer” but apply it to “legal” topics.
Like copywriting positions, but these usually appear as platform-specific. For example, “Facebook Ads specialist.”
I know that this isn’t really in the realm of what we think of when we think of writing, but if you’ve got experience working in the career counseling office or reviewing resumes in HR, this is a gig to do since you can bring in your creative touch and hard-won skills to help others get jobs.
You love playing games and dream of making one. This is your gig. Game writing jobs are hard to find, but they’re out there. The best place to start is with the company-specific job sites.
Initially, I thought of lumping this together with social media platforms, but I haven’t seen many broad positions like that. However, there’s a need for someone with a keen eye to write copy for YouTubers, their descriptions, and so on.
Marketers and others with big platforms need help not only writing newsletters for their audience but also need help creating emails for guest posting, sales, etc. Like other types of marketing and copywriting, this fits into the zone of funneling audience members into becoming customers.
Writers read a lot and often research a lot to be as accurate as possible. Use those googling skills to help others understand the landscape by researching and writing reports (with the eye for information like a technical writer) informing them what they should be paying attention to and what’s noise.
White papers are formal reports on essential topics. Companies often use these documents to explain challenging issues to help prospective customers to understand the problems and how their services or products help people with those issues. These are not for the faint of heart but boils down to good writing that provides value.
There are a lot of different writing jobs that you can pursue to make a living.
Ultimately, consider the route you’re best prepared for, the ones that match as many of your skills as possible.