Tips & Resources > Careers

The Reality of Remote Writing Employment

Writing and remote employment go together like chocolate and caramel: a perfect pairing. While many writers prefer working as independent contractors, others crave the security a of steady paycheck.

Let’s be frank: a steady paycheck makes budgeting a lot easier.

Why work remotely?

Besides the luxury of skipping the daily commute, working on a remote basis allows you to put in the hours of effort when you’re most productive. For stay-at-home parents, that usually means during those hours when the youngsters sleep or during school hours. So, brew that cup of coffee or tea, take a soothing gulp or six, and then focus. It’s time to switch gears from “mommy” to “professional.”

The elimination of the daily commute itself has its own advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include money saved in reduced fuel consumption and less time wasted in transit when you could be doing other things, like preparing supper or folding laundry. Losing the daily commute does, however, eliminate that immersion into solitude during which your mind can disengage from the work day and make a smoother, less jarring transition from employee to parent.

Another advantage of working as a remote employee correlates to control over the work environment. In a best-case scenario, you can exchange a claustrophobia-inducing, windowless office or noisy cubicle farm for windows, fresh air (during fine weather), natural light, quiet, and privacy. Work to the music you like with the volume turned as loudly as makes you happy and sing along: you won’t offend your coworkers. Swap out loads of laundry during breaks. Enjoy the company of your cat or dog snoring beside your chair. Decorate your office space as you please. Dress for comfort.

The very aspects of working remotely that appeal may also detract. Remote workers often cite excessive solitude as their reason for returning to a corporate environment. They miss the interaction with other adults and begin to resent their isolation. Regardless of the communication vehicles available to us, nothing really replaces face-to-face interaction. An extrovert who thrives on working in proximity with other human beings adapts less readily to the solitude of remote work than does an introvert.

Remote employment also requires discipline. When given the latitude to manage one’s own hours and effort, the burden of responsibility mandates the worker sustain a consistent level of self-motivation. If you’re easily distracted and tend to veer off on tangents, then remote employment may not be the best choice for you.

Another benefit of remote employment includes the status of employee, as opposed to independent contractor. As an employee, yes, you answer to a supervisor whom you must please in order to retain your job. However, you also have certain rights and benefits, not the least of which consists of tax withholding which helps when filing annual tax returns. Other benefits may include paid vacation time and sick leave, employer contributions to a retirement account, paid holidays, and a built-in network of colleagues for support.

How to find remote writing jobs

Once you make the decision to work as a remote employee in the capacity of writer, it behooves you to find regular employment. If you come from a corporate background, make sure you retain possession of your list of professional contacts. Even for the most diehard of introverts, networking remains an essential aspect of building a career as a remote worker. The beauty of networking with people you already know is that they already know you, too, and can serve as your best advocate in referring your service to others even if they don’t have a position open.

MotherWorks offers tips to find remote writing jobs online. Combining whom you know with what you know gives you an advantage over other job candidates in your field of expertise. Especially if you come from a specialized industry, apply that particular knowledge to your networking efforts as you expand that network and demonstrate your understanding of the business. That superior understanding also informs your research when investigating potential employers, which speaks to another critical aspect of the hunt for employment: research.

Because an interview involves both parties evaluating each other for suitability, job coaches recommend researching potential employers before the interview. Impress hiring managers with intelligent, perceptive questions about the job and the company which show that you understand the industry, the corporate culture, and the job duties.

Remote employment may involve an employer and employee who never actually meet in person. Brush up on your telephone manners for the telephone interview. Some companies hire remote employees but specify that the candidates must either make periodic appearances in the office or live within a specific geographic area. Companies, such as real estate agencies and publishers that produce hyperlocal media, require writers who have direct access to and experience with the neighborhoods about which they write.

Digital marketing firms that produce content for a variety of clients—often and disparagingly called content mills—offer credible opportunities to remote workers embarking upon new careers. Although writers for content mills do not qualify as employees, they do enjoy a consistent level of work which correlates to a steady paycheck. When scoping out content mills, check for customer and vendor reviews, peruse the websites they manage and the content posted on those sites, and analyze the compensation offered. You must then decide whether the per-article or per-word rate adequately compensates for the expected hours of work. If not, feel free to attempt to negotiate the rate. If it is, then attempt to negotiate a raise after a defined trial period or perhaps other benefits.

Finally, don’t dismiss job boards. Sites like MotherWorks offer a multitude of remote employment opportunities for writers. Many companies outsource content production, from large corporations with dedicated public relations, advertising, and marketing departments to small firms employing just one or two busy people who have little or no time or inclination to produce content on a regular basis. 

Typical remote writing jobs

Feature and staff writers. As mentioned, organizations needing hyperlocal content often employ writers who live in those neighborhoods. For instance, a real estate agent’s blog may focus not only on the benefits of home inspections, but also on the attributes of his territory regarding the excellence of local schools, low crime rates, rising or stable property values, and so forth. Your municipality’s chamber of commerce or convention and visitors bureau produces content that highlights the positive aspects of the community: business opportunities, entertainment, attractions, dining, and more. Cities and regional publications often boast newspapers and magazines (printed and digital) that focus on those area’s arts and entertainment scenes. These organizations hire staff writers who conduct interviews, attend and report upon local events, review new restaurants or other commercial enterprises, and reveal those hidden gems that local residents may neglect to consider when looking for something to do during the weekend.

Grant and proposal writers. Another avenue for regular, paid employment as a writer entails grant writing. Many nonprofit organizations hire writers to pursue “free” money that enables them to fund their philanthropic or charitable activities. In similar fashion, companies that bid on government contracts employ proposal writers to convince public agencies at municipal, state, and federal levels to consider them for public contracts. These firms may manufacture equipment for the military, design government buildings, or develop software: however, they must all proceed through a regimented bid and selection process that involves writing informative and persuasive proposals meeting specific content guidelines.

Technical writers. Many companies that manufacture equipment or software require documentation to explain processes, instruct assembly or operation, and describe policies. Writers who also boast technical backgrounds find themselves in high demand if they can also produce clear, well-written, instructional copy.

Newsletter writers. Related, but usually less technical in scope, many organizations hire writers to produce their newsletters. No surprise, such organizations prefer writers who have an interest or background in their business niche, so wisdom dictates seeking out those potential employers first. Professional and trade associations appreciate skilled writers who can take charge of their routine publications.

Remote employment reality

Remote employment blurs even further the lines between work and home, even if you take your job to the local coffee shop and type on your laptop computer with a caramel macchiato at your elbow. Because employment as a remote writer has the coveted flexibility to accommodate the vagaries of your busy schedule, it also can overwhelm those hours not devoted to family and household. Once again, success as a remote employee requires discipline: know when to work and when to disconnect. explains the “very real” pros and cons of remote work both from an employer’s and the employee’s perspectives. Like all opportunities, success improves when going in with eyes wide open and a comprehensive understanding of what’s involved.