How to Live Abroad and Work as a Writer: Getting Writing Jobs Abroad

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Have a talent for writing? Love to travel?

If you said yes to both, then ask yourself: Is it possible to live overseas and earn a living as a writer?

The short answer is absolutely yes. You can fund your travels with writing and see the world.

However, before you jump on a plane, plan your move overseas carefully. You can’t just become a self-sufficient writer on a whim. Figure out how you’ll specifically earn money!

In this guide, we’ll cover what kind of writing you can do overseas and provide advice on how to get international writing jobs. We’ll also highlight specific intern and work abroad programs that can jumpstart your writing career.

Read on!

Kinds of Writing Jobs Abroad

How to Live Abroad and Work as a Writer: Tips for Getting Writing Jobs Abroad

Freelance writing represents one of the most common and best ways to join the gig economy, according to data compiled from the largest freelancer websites.

But what exactly do you do as a freelance writer? Well, the industry encompasses a lot of different types of work.

Thanks to technology, you can pretty much do any kind of writing anywhere. Just apply to remote jobs, unless you’re looking for local work.

The following kinds of freelance writing jobs abroad are common:

Content Writing

Create blog posts and articles for companies. This helps them drive traffic and generate revenue. The content marketing industry has been booming, with expectations to reach $412 billion in value by 2021. That equates to plenty of opportunities.

Copywriting

Have a convincing way with words? If you can write language that sells, you can earn a lot of money as a corporate copywriter, advertising copywriter, or web copywriter. After moving abroad, try pitching local businesses that want to enter English-speaking markets.

News Reporting & Journalism

It can be tough to break into this field. Start with a journalism internship and then see if you can leverage that experience into a full-time position. For instance, Frontier, a volunteer and intern abroad organization, has a terrific journalism internship in Shanghai, China. Gain experience in reporting as you cover stories in one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

Creative Writing

Finding creative writing jobs abroad may prove tougher, but freelancer sites have clients looking for writers to create children’s books, romance novels, play scripts, and more. You can also pitch stories to publications, most of which pay hundreds of dollars, if not thousands.

Finding creative writing jobs abroad may take time, so continue writing as you look for paid positions. If you produce your own book, self-publish if you can’t get a book deal with a publication (this guide discusses self-publishing).

Social Media Writing

The average company spends between $4,000-$7,000 per month on social media, according to Buffer, a social media management application. A chunk of that goes to those writing the posts. If you know your way around Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms, attempt to find clients as a social media writer or specialist.

Business Writing

Is your writing informative and persuasive? Then business writing may suit you. Most companies need business writers for communications with internal and external audiences. For instance, you could craft a business plan to help a startup pitch investors.

Local Travel Writing

Travel writing jobs abroad abound, especially considering the continued growth of the tourism sector. During my time in Chengdu, China, I found work as a travel guide writer for one of China’s most visited expat websites. The job jump-started my freelance writing career, familiarized me with SEO, allowed me to learn about content management systems, and taught me how to write for specific audiences (in this case, it was expats moving to Chengdu to live and work).

Your Own Blog

A blog with lots of visitors can earn you money through ads, affiliate links, and sales of your own products and services. To generate traffic, your blog must provide helpful info to readers. For example, if you run a travel blog, you could detail lesser-known travel tips for your local destination.

Specialization is recommended for quicker success. For instance, if you want to write about the dining scene in Tokyo, consider a niche like pizza in Tokyo (it’s actually fantastic). Achieving a higher search engine ranking won’t be as difficult as long as you consistently produce solid, original content.

Other Types of Content Writing Jobs Abroad

Okay, so we’ve covered some of the main kinds of freelance writing work. You’ll actually come across a lot more types of writing jobs abroad, from grant writing to essay writing to press release writing.

You could even:

  1. Offer ghostwriting for busy business-people who want to build their brand.
  2. Assist law firms with legal writing (draft contracts, write research papers, etc).
  3. Do resume writing for job seekers.
  4. Work in technical writing if you have specialized skills and knowledge (technical writing jobs abroad pay better, but require specialized skills).

To summarize, you have many ways to fund your travels with the pen and paper! As you prepare to live abroad and work as a writer, try to break into the writing fields that suit your skillset.

10 Tips for Finding Freelance Writing Jobs Abroad

Did you know that humans produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day?

That’s hard to wrap your head around.

The point is this: It’s a big pond out there, and you can carve out a place for yourself (even if you have to start out as a small fish).

To land English writing jobs abroad, create a strategy and don’t hesitate to put yourself out there. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky brilliantly stated, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Keep these 10 tips in mind as you search for writing gigs to fund your life overseas:

1. Polish your resume and portfolio

When you search for content writing jobs abroad, you’ll have to pitch ideas and display your skills. To do that more effectively, polish your resume first, being sure to highlight your writing chops. Have a trusted colleague review the resume.

For your writing portfolio, categorize your best work into various types of writing or industries. This way, you can target clients with more relevant samples (i.e. show them your articles on scuba diving if they’re a scuba gear company).

2. Find your niche

While you may want to accept any work that comes your way in the beginning, plan to specialize in one or a few fields (this guide shows you how). Having a writing niche will pay off in the long run. As an expert writer in a certain field, such as manufacturing writing, financial writing, or medical writing, you can produce great content, work efficiently, and become a sought-after freelancer who commands a high salary.

You could also specialize in a certain type of content. If you always aced essay assignments in school, focus on long-form blog posts and guides. If you have some design skills, specialize in emails, infographics, and slideshows.

To have success in a writing niche, think of your strengths. Pinpoint where there’s a need—as you need an audience to earn money writing. Then, start applying for writing jobs abroad in that field!

3. Look globally and locally

Location shouldn’t restrict you, unless a client requires a locally-based writer (and you’re across the world!).

Check everywhere, from major job sites like Indeed to local career sites. For example, if you live abroad in Thailand, search for writing work on LinkedIn (localize your search), jobsDB.com, and the Bangkok Post jobs section.

4. Sign up on freelance platforms

You’ll discover tons of them out there, but some have more opportunities. Make an account on platforms like:

  1. Upwork
  2. PeoplePerHour
  3. Guru
  4. Simply Hired

Many clients on these freelance platforms want to establish a long-term relationship. Impress them early on, and you’ll have steady work.

5. Make a website

A website can bring you leads in your sleep while living abroad. And you don’t need to be an expert developer, designer, or marketer.

With website building platforms like WordPress and WIX, you can build an effective website yourself. And it won’t cost that much.

When building your site, consider your target audience and highlight the value of your writing services. Keep the design clean and make contacting you simple.

Additionally, you could even start a blog on that site to drive organic traffic (utilize SEO tools such as Ubersuggest and Moz for keyword research). Doing social media ads or Google ads, and having landing pages to capture people that click to your site, is an additional option but requires a marketing budget.

6. Network

It’s who you know, right?

This old saying applies to finding writing jobs abroad. To meet people and establish business relationships, you could:

  1. Join an expatriate group on Facebook or other social media.
  2. Become active on a local expat site. You could advertise your writing services here, too.
  3. Go to local events and parties. It doesn’t have to be a formal networking event—just a suitable environment for meeting people.
  4. Join business networking groups where you’re living. You could even find writing associations that include locals and expats.
  5. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings. Whether you’re a British citizen living in Argentina or Australian citizen living in Japan, you’ll find business networking events and conferences through your country’s Chamber of Commerce in that country.

Additionally, always carry a business card with contact information and a short description of your writing services. You’ll never know who you’ll meet at a cafe or on the subway.

7. Focus on value

To snag writing jobs abroad and earn enough money to fund your travels, focus on offering value. Often, this means writing content that will enable a client to generate more traffic and revenue, attract investment, and/or reach other business goals.

When you market your services, speak to the needs of the client and show how your writing wins over customers (it solves a pain point). Provide data on your own work if possible, or at least back up what you say with statistics. Don’t say a good blog gets more people to the site; say a good blog, on average, makes a marketing department 13x more likely to deliver positive return on investment (ROI).

Even if you’re doing something more creative, like producing a short non-fiction story about a trip in Ghana, you must offer something of value to entice a publication to accept your pitch. Think of unique angles for your story in order to attract and engage a sizeable audience.

8. Go where the market is

Where you go can matter if you want more opportunities to work as a writer overseas. Local companies may also be more willing to work with you if they meet you in person.

Typically, non-English speaking countries that do a lot of international business will have a need for writers. Think places like BrazilMexico, and China. These countries have large populations and strong ties to the global economy, and therefore have a massive need for English speakers. For English writing jobs abroad, they’re an excellent choice.

Additionally, consider where the market is strongest in your industry. For example, if you want to find travel writing jobs abroad, popular tourist destinations like Costa RicaSpain, and South Africa will have lots of opportunities. Make pitches to local travel agencies, tour providers, and hospitality businesses like hotels and concierge services.

9. Hone your writing skills first

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Knock on doors and get experience.

That could mean starting out with unpaid work or signing up for a volunteer or internship program. Depending on what type of writing you hope to do, you could join programs like:

  1. A business internship in Mexico with Projects Abroad if you want to gain experience in business writing
  2. An NGO volunteer program in Vietnam with Plan My Gap Year if you want to gain experience in website development, web content creation, and fundraising (which will teach you how to pitch clients)
  3. A law and human rights internship in Cambodia with Love Volunteers if you want to work in legal writing
  4. marketing internship in South Africa with Global Vision International if you want to learn how to write for digital media (which will help you get content writing jobs abroad)
  5. marine research and conservation internship in Seychelles with GoEco if you want to become a research writer or technical writer (you’ll get to scuba dive, too!)
  6. journalism internship in Ghana with Alai International if you want to become a newswriter

10. Price accordingly

A client may pay you hourly, per word, per project, or opt for a monthly retainer. Go with what best suits your client and the type of work.

For reference, here’s what the data says about freelance writer pay:

  1. According to ZipRecruiter, freelance writing jobs pay $31 per hour on average, and range from below $5 to more than $100 per hour.
  2. According to ClearVoice, a content marketing platform and talent network, freelance writing rates depend on experience level. The majority of beginners make between $1-$40 per hour, while intermediate level writers earn between $21-$60 per hour. Advanced writers typically make between $41-$100+ per hour.

When pricing your services, factor in your cost of living. Remember you have to pay taxes on your earnings (fun!). And remember you’ll spend a lot of time marketing yourself.

Knowing those things, figure out what income level you need to be comfortable. And price your services accordingly. If you’re staying in a country that doesn’t cost as much as your home country, you could even lower your prices slightly to win more jobs.

Last piece of advice: When you sign a contract, create a statement of work. This enables you and your client to effectively manage expectations. Your fees, along with the exact work you’ll deliver, should be totally clear.

Living Abroad as a Writer: Volunteer and Intern Abroad Programs to Get Started

We’ve given you a lot of advice on how to live abroad and work as a writer. With the right plan, hard work, persistence, good networking, and savvy marketing, you can launch and sustain a successful international writing career.

With that said, starting out can be difficult. If you want a way to break into the industry quickly, another option you have is to volunteer or intern abroad in a writing role first.

Through intern, work, and volunteer abroad programs, you can boost your skills, build your portfolio, and expand your network. And you can use that to land a great writing job.

Look through the work and intern abroad opportunities below. All of these projects will hone your writing skills.

Maximo Nivel – Micro-Business Internships

Want to live abroad in Latin America? Maximo Nivel, a top volunteer and intern abroad organization in the region, can help you launch a business writing career there.

Maximo Nivel’s Micro-Business Internships in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru give you the chance to build your entrepreneurial skills as you help local businesses compete in the global marketplace. You’ll do a lot of writing work, including social media writing, content writing, and business writing. You’ll also expand your personal network and learn Spanish!

  • Fees (four weeks) – $1,495 (Guatemala); $1,525 (Peru); $1,925 (Costa Rica)

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) – Creative Technologies Programs

International Volunteer HQ, a top-rated volunteer abroad organization, has creative technologies programs in numerous destinations. You’ll create marketing materials and write blog content, social media posts, ad copy, and more.

Locations include:

  • Spain (from $720 for two weeks): Does Madrid seem like the place to live abroad?
  • Croatia (from $549 for one week): Get your writing career started in the coastal hub of Split!

IVHQ has sent more than 103,000 volunteers and interns abroad since beginning in 2007. You can rest assured that their high-quality programs will enable you to accumulate valuable writing experience.

Intern Abroad HQ – Marketing and Communications Internships

A leading provider of internships abroad, Intern Abroad HQ features more than 30 internships where your writing skills would be highly valued. Locations span from Greece to Zanzibar. Get your international writing career off the ground through programs like:

Global Vision International (GVI) – The GVI Writing Academy

For the dreamers, thinkers, nomads, and storytellers out there, GVI has come to help ensure you never have to leave the open road. Through The GVI Writing Academy ($1,900 for 12 weeks), you can grow your portfolio and kickstart your freelance writing career. The workshop teaches:

  • Concepts of brand and branding
  • All about search engine optimization (SEO)
  • How to write for social media
  • Creative techniques to enhance your travel writing
  • How to pitch stories, apply for contract work, and manage clients

GVI, a volunteer and intern abroad provider since 1998, does a terrific job with this academy. The course, which is fully online, also offers the chance to build relationships (and that can turn into job opportunities).

Why Wait? Launch Your International Writing Career Today

Now, you know how to live abroad and work as a writer successfully. It’s time to begin your adventure.

In addition to this guide on freelance writing jobs abroad, check out our resources below to learn more about moving overseas:

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