The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Finding Work on Craigslist NYC

By Amanda Walgrove August 28th, 2014

TheWriteLife lists Craigslist as one of the nine goldmines for finding paid freelance writing jobs. Yes, good ol’ Craigslist—the same site that also inspires articles such as “5 Craigslist crimes that will creep you out” and “71 Ridiculous and Insane Craigslist ads.” Suffice it to say, those perusing these annals of the digital marketplace will find an array of options to choose from, and they should all be taken with a bucket of salt.

Earlier this week, I spent a day on Craigslist New York City researching gigs related to writing, editing, and design in order to report back on the quality of the available jobs. Because even if there’s a lot of bad, and too much ugly, there had to be some good, right?

The good

When Craigslist isn’t weirding you out, it can offer worthwhile writing opportunities a la carte, such as contributing fairy tales and stories to a children’s online resource, or writing about adorable babies for $500 on a per-project basis.

On a more serious note, browsers can also cherry-pick jobs related to their areas of interest and experience. One global media site will pay professional tech writers $100+ per post. Also, any writers out there who are good with numbers? There are math lessons and test materials that need writing. Copywriters can also cash in with jobs such as this one, from an e-commerce analytics company based in Manhattan offering between $20 and $30 per hour.

While these listings still have the potential to be misleading, it’s generally easier to trust a posting that looks like a normal ad you might find on Monster or Mediabistro. If the price is listed in the post, rather than some vague pay-based-on-experience disclaimer, that’s another sign you are headed in the right direction.

The bad

What’s worse: Being asked to write 100 words for $0.25 or being asked to do the same for no money—but you do get the “opportunity!”? While some jobs want five 1,000-word articles for $50 (per project, not per article), others offer these charming rewards in lieu of money:

This one’s too good for a bullet point: (a men’s site) is looking for bloggers to write about “sports, football, food, cars, guns, clothing, cigars, spirits, and beautiful women.” They won’t pay, of course, but contributors will get “massive exposure.”

Are they aliens without self-awareness from some other planet? No, but sure enough, Craigslist has those too. At, culture bloggers won’t be paid, but the poster does identify the location for the position as “((interdimensional)).” So, if you’ve ever wanted to get a head start establishing your freelance career on a parallel plane or scoping out the extraterrestrial competition, now is the time.

The ugly

This posting for “blogger 10 post for hire” seeks someone who is “able to write in complete sentences,” and rightfully so, considering the ad is a grammatical nightmare riddled with misspelled words.

Someone, please help these people write in complete sentences.

Lastly, a hypothesis: The person seeking a writer for a “Fifty Shades of Grey-Type Novel” is most likely not seeking a writer.

Craigslist New York City can be a useful place to find freelance opportunities if you have the patience to sift through the garbage. But it’s still the Wild Wild West, so always remember to be careful out there, and bring your bucket of salt with you.

Image by Michel Lipchitz
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