These three words — Freelance Writers Wanted — instantly prompts any dedicated freelance writer into action. The opportunity to earn a living working from home and applying a skill that is also their passion, is a dream come true. While Confucius tells us to “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, freelance writers must nonetheless follow a rigid work ethic if they want to establish a solid reputation of being competent and reliable. Research and writing can be demanding of one’s time and energy, but in the end producing a well-written piece is worth the effort.
Because time is a valuable commodity in most fields of endeavor today, only written material of an exceptional standard should be considered for possible publication. It is equally important to know that writing for print and online publication requires different approaches. Different rules also apply when writing academic papers, technical studies, scripts, manuals and book manuscripts.
Do you have what it takes to build a career as a freelance writer? Apart from demonstrating an in-depth knowledge of the topic by way of writing samples, it is critical that the quality of your writing consistently makes a lasting impression, and of course meeting every specification of the brief. A well-written report or article is determined by the use of appropriate words, flawless language, and accurate investigation. Also, in order to attract the attention of editors and readers in general, the writers ‘voice’ must be conveyed in the narrative, to sufficiently rouse and maintain their interest to want to continue reading.
A big plus is opting for clear unpretentious prose that is easily interpreted by the reader; it is better to be understood than admired for an extensive vocabulary. The composition of good writing should feel like a one-on-one conversation with the writer, using words and techniques that allow the reader to mentally visualize their intention. It is imperative that the freelance writer develop deep expertise in specific industries, including a commitment to lifelong learning in areas of current interest such as encryption, cloud technology, the Internet of Things, lean and agile methods, content marketing, and social media.
However, because writing is incredibly subjective, trying to appeal to every client or editor’s sensibilities can be challenging. For example, some online sites or publications claim online articles or blogs should not exceed 500 words, while others prefer long-form content to satisfy the scrutiny imposed by major search engines’ optimization benchmarks. Writers who are determined to make a career of freelance writing are encouraged by the growing demand for writers who can inform, entertain and create a one-on-one connection with readers.
When I published my first book, “The Complete Guide to Working from Home” in 1990, the one business profile that made the most sense as a natural offshoot was Freelance Writing. I stepped into the wonderful world of freelance writing close on three decades ago. During this time I have been asked many questions by writers wanting to ‘test the waters’ as freelancers. The most ardent question to date has been “How do I put myself out there among a vast number of international freelance writers who have access to a recurring client base, are highly qualified, boast a versatile repertoire, and have the capability to produce well-researched, well-written plagiarism-free content on a quick turnaround?” Other equally important questions involve finding clients, setting up a dedicated website, building a portfolio, what to charge, contracts, secure payment options, and how to build a personal brand.
Marketing yourself as a freelance writer, especially if you have little or no prior freelancing experience, requires abundant enthusiasm to go the extra mile from the moment you hit the road running. First, use the work you have already done to begin building a portfolio of samples, representative of the kind of work you want to do on a freelance basis. Writing samples may include blog posts, Web editorial and social media content for businesses. In the beginning you may want to consider working for free to prove your competency, gain experience or gain exposure. Writing unpaid guest posts for credible websites is also a powerful self-marketing tool, because your name and work becomes associated with those sites.
Scams or Real Opportunities?
While freelance writing jobs are abundant it is wise to be hypercritical to separate scams from actual opportunities. There is a wealth of legitimate freelance writing jobs available online, it’s up to you to do the research to determine what would suit you. Avoid content mills and freelance-bidding sites, simply because it seems like an awful lot of work for a very small reward. I believe the focus of these companies is to hire freelance writers at an extremely cheap rate; the fee per article is forced down as the writer competes with lots of other writers all bidding on the same project.
Spend time researching and pitching legitimate potential clients by networking with companies showcased online. Send a brief personalized pitch by email, listing the services you offer, for example, blog posts, news articles, feature stories, product reviews, case studies for marketing or social media projects, and design projects. Include links to your dedicated Web site, and relevant social media accounts, websites, and so forth, where your work has been featured.
It is wise to draft an ‘Agreed-upon Contract’ for each job, one that clearly describes the client’s expectations, cost and payment policy, and submission deadline. This way both the freelance writer and the client are protected. However, if the client wants additional work done, a new brief must be devised and quoted for separately.
What to charge?
How much should you charge for your services? As a freelance writer, you can choose to charge clients hourly, per word, or on a retainer or project basis. On the other hand, if the writing jobs you do in the course of a month are routine, you could charge a flat monthly rate for all the work you do. Of course, when putting together a proposal package, you should determine how long a project will take to complete, whether it involves in-depth research, time spent interviewing different people, phone calls and travel expenses, and present the client with an itemized quotation, or calculate an hourly rate that will cover the bottom line costs.
Specialize or Generalize?
Choose to specialize or generalize. Many clients prefer contracting freelance writers who are proficient in a specific field, like economics, medicine, food, wine or travel. I maintain that any good writer has the capability to write about anything. I love the versatility freelance writing provides, because every project is a new challenge to enhance one’s knowledge and skills. Experience has taught me that it’s best to be a generalist if you want to write full time. You simply train yourself to become a specialist in many different fields. However, one must be realistic; for example if you are unable to write convincingly about topics like music, fluid power technology or legal issues then it is best to leave the job for those who can.
Find auxiliary writing and editing income. Even the busiest writer should keep a lookout for a part-time job teaching writing, or work doing special tasks for magazines or freelance editing book manuscripts. Your editorial services could include writing CV’s, presentations, articles, advertisements, and press releases.
Be your own boss: Freelance Writer