If you’ve been looking at online self-employment opportunities for a while, you’ve certainly come across freelance writing as a potential option — but what is it, exactly? A freelance writer is someone who writes for pay but doesn’t belong to any one particular company or organization. Freelancers, instead, take on clients who have specific jobs with specific needs, and use contracts to determine the measure and method of pay. They usually don’t work on any kind of set salary or schedule and are responsible for their own benefits.
Pros and Cons of Going Freelance
The biggest advantage to becoming a freelance writer is the freedom of working for yourself. You can choose the work you want to do, make your own schedule, and set your own prices — to an extent. The downsides are, of course, related to this. As a freelancer, you’ll be responsible for finding your own clients and getting your name out into the world, which can take time and requires marketing skills. You’ll need to take care of benefits like health insurance that are usually offered to full-time salary employees working for a larger company. And while you can pick and choose both work and pay, you have to work within the market and what’s available as you move forward in your career.
How Does Freelance Writing Work?
Freelance writing can be initiated on either side. Sometimes, a company or person will be looking for a writer for a certain assignment and will post the job on any number of freelance and writing websites dedicated to this purpose. Writers would then submit proposals for the job, including samples of their work and an estimated price, and the company contacts the writers they’re interested in. Alternatively, by signing up with freelance writing sites, writers may be offered contract work by a client for a certain price. A freelance writer might work with a number of clients on any given week, or they may be employed by one client working on a larger project for months. The jobs that will be available will depend on the writer’s skill set and their visibility within the industry.
Why Do Businesses Want Freelancers?
Most companies hire employees based on their need for a technical skill set - accounting, engineering, management - and while these skills often include some writing, they don’t always include an understanding of how to format, construct, and write formal documentation such as operating procedures, grant or project proposals, or educational posts for customers. In addition, unless a company is doing a constant overhaul, writing work tends to exist in two ways: either small, consistent projects or one longer, dedicated project that has a specific endpoint. Neither of these situations lends itself to the hiring of a full-time employee, and assigning writing projects to employees who already have a full workload is asking for trouble.
Instead, businesses prefer to hire external freelance writers. They come with top-quality writing skills and can usually show examples of the kind of work they’re experienced in. They know the field, and know how to put together the work that’s needed; for example, a freelance blogger will come into the agreement already knowing about search engine optimization (SEO) and keywords, saving the business from having to provide costly training. It also lets the business pay only for the work they need, which gives freelancers a financial advantage as well.
What Kinds of Writing Can Freelancers Do?
As company documents and supplemental materials continue to move online or into the cloud, there are all kinds of opportunities available for content writers. Some writers decide to be flexible, writing about any number of topics and accepting all kinds of work; others decide to specialize in one specific area, which may be harder to establish but can be more lucrative if they become an expert. Likewise, a freelance writer might take on a contract in a number of areas:
●Content writers often create blog posts and web pages for company websites to assist them in content marketing.
●Technical writers create white papers, scholarly journal articles, and technical documents like procedures and policies.
●Grants and project proposals require writers familiar with the industry who can construct a top-quality bid document.
●Columnists write copy for online magazine articles, newspapers, and websites, often from a specific side or point of view.
Freelancing will work for you if you’re willing to take on the responsibilities of marketing yourself, finding your own clients, and putting out your best-quality work. There are a number of ways to get started in this field if you decide to take that first step.