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Which States and Cities Have the Most Freelance Writers?

Shaun Connell
May 5, 2022

One of the benefits of being a freelance writer is being able to live and work from pretty much anywhere you want.

Sure, some aspects of the career might require you to live in certain areas. For example, if you want to be a freelance writer for a TV show, you should probably live in one of the areas like Hollywood where the studios hire.

But, for most online jobs, a freelance writer can live anywhere in the country or even anywhere in the world.

This can pose a challenge for a company looking to hire freelance writers. How do you find them?

Most job search websites aren't exactly geared towards non-local work. Since the traditional model for employment requires working in an office and commuting to and from work, those job search engines and job listing pages tend to be geographically sorted. Even with a "remote" tag, the job still appears in a given geographic area, often the area where your company is based.

Solution Thus, if you want to maximize your exposure to freelance writers, it might be beneficial to list your job in a geographic region where most writers tend to live. The question is, does such a place exist? Are there states and cities with more freelance writers than other locations?/span>

The answer is yes and no. Let's dig in.

The Best States for Freelance Writers

Freelance writers aren't "generated" from any one source. There aren't really specific universities with writer training programs geared towards online freelance writing. There are writing programs, of course, but they tend to be focused more on either journalism or fiction writing. While you can certainly look for those to find freelance writers, they might not fit the bill for what you're actually looking for.

Thus, the "best" states for finding freelance writers simply tend to be states with a higher population density. So, you have states like:

  • New York
  • California
  • Washington

You know, with major metropolitan areas. Larger populations mean larger numbers of writers compared to places with lower numbers of people.

Are they better writers? That's impossible to say for certain.

Another consideration is states with climates and living situations that are conductive to writers. Writers may want locations with pleasant weather and plenty of things to do when they aren't working. They might want to live in an area without state income taxes or with benefits for freelancers or remote workers.

Pinning The Best States

According to Zippia, the areas with the highest average salaries for writers are:

  • Washington D.C.
  • Delaware
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • California
  • New Hampshire
  • Washington
  • North Dakota
  • Massachusetts

Of course, this is calculated based on Zippia's data of salaries and is ranked solely based on average salary. Writers in those areas aren't necessarily better, more engaged, or more experienced; they just demand more money.

Some of these are pretty expected, too. Higher salaries from higher cost-of-living regions make sense. Then again, the writers in question may be spending so much just to live that they'll need to move eventually.

Delaware is an interesting inclusion in the list. Delaware is very politically friendly to corporations, has favorable taxes for businesses, and its courts tend to favor companies. You might not think this applies much to writers, but many writers choose to incorporate as LLCs and may do so in Delaware for the benefits they may receive. Of course, very few of those writers actually live in Delaware, so the metrics aren't actually accurate.

The Best Cities for Freelance Writers

The best cities for writers tend to have one of a few things going for them, though they may also have more than one.

It's worth mentioning that different types of writers live in different kinds of locations, in general. Tech writers will tend to congregate in cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, or Atlanta, where tech companies tend to set up shop. Writers focusing on screenplays will move towards Hollywood. Writers writing fiction will usually end up in cities with a culture for fiction, like New Orleans, New York City, or Boston.

Freelance Writer Working

The trouble with writers is that "writing" is such a broad, generalized field that it's difficult to make any specific determinations. A city that's "great" for writers might be great for a completely different kind of writer than what you're looking for.

A good writer education.

We mentioned above that there aren't really any schools known for turning out great freelance writers. There are journalism schools, communications schools, schools with programs aimed at literary criticism, and schools famous for turning out bestselling fiction and nonfiction writers, but not so much the general freelance blog writing career.

Writers Receiving Education

That said, there are certainly people who go to a school to get a degree in writing and then simply choose not to leave the city when they graduate.

A low cost of living.

Freelance writing doesn't pay all that well if we're being honest. While the top 1% of freelance writers make very compelling salaries, most do not and only use writing as a secondary income.

Calculating Cost Of Living

That means that many writers want to live in an area with a low cost of living. The less they have to spend on living expenses, the more flexibility they have with their lives. They can take vacations and travel, they can pursue hobbies, and they can live in comfort without having to spend a fortune or work three jobs to do it.

Luxurious living locations.

Working In Luxurious Location

There are a few locations where, despite high expenses, writers like to congregate. These are often hubs of culture and business, places like San Diego, where there's a balance between population density, high costs, and good culture. And, of course, you can't discount how pleasant it is to live somewhere with good weather most of the year.

A great cultural scene.

Experiencing City Culture

Writers are often keenly interested in arts, culture, and various areas of expertise. They tend to like to live in areas with a great cultural scene, especially if it fits their other interests. They might want to live in a location with plenty of museums, a great arts culture, or a growing music scene. Whatever the case may be, these tend to be mid-sized cities, though it's not exclusively true.

Established writer conferences and events.

Like any other career field, writers have various conferences, gatherings, workshops, and events they can attend around the world. Many of these events are established in specific locations and are hosted in the same place every year. Often, writers will attend one of these conferences and then "fall in love" with the city and the people they meet. Then they choose to move there, set down roots, and become part of a local culture that fosters the continuation of what drew them to that place.

Conference For Writers

So, what cities come up on these lists, and why?

  • Durham, North Carolina: This is a great city for a lower cost of living and a pretty good art and music scene.
  • Taos, New Mexico: This city hosts an annual writer's conference usually regarded as one of the best in the country.
  • Fargo, North Dakota: A city with several universities and schools, a great cultural scene, and plenty of inspiration to be found all around.
  • Boston, Massachusetts: One of the historical hubs of writers throughout history, Boston has a lot of connections and history that attracts writers.
  • Portland, Oregon: Home to the largest indie bookstore in the world, Portland is generally renowned as an excellent place for creatives to live, if they can afford it.
  • Iowa City, Iowa: Did you know that UNESCO identifies "Cities of Literature"? Iowa City is one such city, with a lot of support for a vibrant writer's culture.
  • San Francisco, California: Despite excessively high costs of living, San Francisco is the heart of Silicon Valley and thus an excellent place for technical writers to build connections and network.

Obviously, this isn't a complete or comprehensive list. Most cities have at least some form of culture or a set of benefits that can attract writers of a certain persuasion.

After all, it's easy to forget that "writers" are not monolithic. Writers are broadly varied; there are introverts and extroverts, artists and musicians, people who write as a side gig and people who write as their main income, and much more.

The truth is, when you're looking for a freelance writer to hire, geographic location doesn't matter as much as you might think. Why does it matter, though?

Why Geographic Location Can Matter

Above, we mentioned that many job search sites are geographically aligned, so you still have to pick a place to use as the central location of your job, even if you're hiring remotely.

There are, of course, many ways to circumvent this. You can use sites like Freelancer or Upwork to hire writers no matter where they are. You can search for writers based on their personal websites. You can work with an agency rather than a writer directly and let the agency worry about finding writers. You can post on job boards where writers hang out. You can even network with writers directly on social media and in groups like Reddit boards where they spend their time.

Searching Geographic Locations

On the other hand, maybe you want to use a traditional job board because you pay for an account and use it to hire all of your other workers already. Maybe you want to post a listing on a place like Craigslist and want to pick the top five or so locations where writers can be found. There are valid reasons for both sides of the coin.

Obviously, the internet has reduced the need to be specific with your geographic location by a lot. You can still get a little bit of benefit from targeting job postings, but in general, writers are often savvy enough to either look at the popular cities themselves when seeking jobs, or spend their time on writer/remote-specific job boards.

Does Geographic Location Really Matter?

If we're being honest, probably not. Geographic location can matter when you're hiring a writer for a couple of reasons, such as:

  • If the writer lives in a location with a high cost of living, they may demand a higher base salary.
  • If the writer lives in a cultural hub, they may have a broader base of knowledge and experience to draw on.
  • If the writer lives in an area prone to natural disasters, they may have issues resulting from it.

On the other hand, some writers prefer to travel, and some enjoy living in a rural, mostly-isolated area. It really depends on what you need out of a writer and what experiences the writer has had in their life before settling down where they are now. That's even assuming they're settled in the first place. It's not uncommon to hire a writer and, after a few years, find they've moved.

Freelance Content Writer

Freelance writers generally work online as a remote career, and if we're being honest, there's very little reason or incentive for most companies to hire writers on as staff or in-office employees. Only if you need close relationships between teams is this useful, and even then, modern communications channels facilitate those relationships anyway.

Really, consider this to be more trivia than useful information. You can use geographic location in some ways, but it's not going to make or break a writer or a contract relationship. Just look for writers in any way you can, test them on their skills, pay them what you can afford to pay them, and go from there. All of those other factors, like pay rates, general topic and expertise level, and ability to perform are much more important than where the writer lives.

If you're a business, where have you had the best luck hiring writers? Were there any locations you thought would have positive results, but actually ended up falling flat? Where do you live, if you're a writer? Does location impact your decision, your advertising, or your relationship? Feel free to let us know in the comments section down below; it's always fascinating to discuss these nuances. 

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Written By:
Shaun Connell
Shaun Connell has spent his entire career either working as a freelance writer or hiring freelance writers for his many successful publications. Shaun has learned the exact tricks of the trade to hire the perfect writer for almost any niche.

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