How to Find Legitimate Academic Writing Jobs
When I first left my PhD program to become a freelance writer many years ago, academic writing jobs were very appealing to me. But most of the gigs I found involved essay writing, and it took me a while before I could identify legitimate academic sites looking for writers.
Over the years I’ve met many more people with a degree (or degrees) who want to get into freelance writing using their academic skills. To help them avoid the challenges I faced in the beginning, I put together this guide that includes:
- An assessment of the current academic writing job market
- A list of places you can find remote writing work
- Steps to harness your educational background to become a skilled freelance writer
- Advice on how to find academic writing sites that offer legitimate gigs
Here’s everything you need to know:
Are Online Academic Writing Jobs Illegal?
Ok, lots of people ask this question, and they should, because most academic writing jobs are actually essay writing jobs. Like, writing term papers for college students. Some PhD students will even hire someone to write their dissertation for them!
There are a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t get into this type of university writing, which I discuss in detail in another blog post. In short, doing someone’s homework for them is considered academic fraud and may or may not be illegal, depending on where you live and what the rules are.
Essay writing has become such a huge and lucrative market for any writer without scruples, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they start cracking down on it very soon. You do not want to be caught in the middle of that.
And the tricky thing is, most of the sites out there that hire academic writers aren’t forthcoming about the kind of work they’re doing. Instead they focus on the benefits for freelancers, like this site does:
Good news is, there are plenty of legitimate academic writing jobs for freelance writers that don’t involve helping people cheat on university essays. Professors, researchers, universities, and other organizations hire writers all the time to help them with their research and academic papers. You just have to get away from the plethora of essay writing jobs all over the web to succeed.
How to Become an Academic Writer
Academic writing is a great career choice for a lot of reasons. Freelance writing jobs offer an alternative for passionate writers who want a different path from their academic career. Academic writing is also something many PhDs, professors and researchers do to supplement their stable income, build a portfolio of published works, and ensure continuous career growth. While you can find many job opportunities after PhD, freelance writing is a flexible and lucrative option.
But if you want to become a successful academic writing specialist, you’ll need to do more than finding academic sites looking for writers. Expert research writers need to build a professional online presence to land writing jobs, much like how you build up your CV to showcase your academic accomplishments.
Choose a writing niche
The very first thing you should do before you start searching for online writing jobs is to choose a specific niche to specialize in. Academic writing isn’t like other types of freelance writing, you need certain credentials and experience in order to qualify.
Most academic writing jobs require at least a Bachelor’s academic degree, while some want an MA or PhD. You can find academic writing work with just a Bachelor’s, but you need to specialize, just like an MA or PhD would.
It’s not enough to have strong writing skills, as there is plenty of writing talent out there for clients to choose from. Your freelance writing business can specialize in a certain discipline, category of related disciplines, or types of writing skills and research. There are a wide range of possibilities.
For example, if you have anthropology degrees (like I do), you can specialize in social science writing. If you’ve successfully landed some grants in the past, you can specialize in grant writing. If you have a Master of Science in Nursing, you can specialize in medical writing. Or if you have an engineering degree, you can specialize in technical writing.
It’s important for you to also know that it’s possible to find freelance work outside of your areas of expertise in academia. I write on topics completely unrelated to my background as an anthropologist, simply by using my existing skills.