Freelance writing might not be for you (…and that’s okay!)
By Asif Ali / July 25, 2016 / Comments: 1
How tempting are the thoughts of sleeping till late morning, working from the comfort of your home and making more money than your employed friends? Quite much, eh?
No wonder there are well over 15 million freelance professionals in India.
Did you know if the self-employment trend in USA and UK continues to grow at the current annual rate, by 2020 every second person will be a freelancer?
Of those millions, majority are self-employed writers. In fact, among the most in-demand skills for freelancers in the world, content writing, content marketing and editing ranks in the top ten (thankfully!).
Why are so many people taking up freelance writing as their profession? Is the idea truly that appealing? Is it all really so fairytale-sque? Or is there something much more than what meet our eyes?
You get to be your own boss
– So much has the expression ‘Be Your Own Boss’ been tossed around in the past few years, it really has lost its meaning. As a contractual writer, although you listen to self, you work for multiple bosses (clients). Only difference is, these bosses, unlike the traditional ones, aren’t the drag. They stick around for short-term.
You get plenty of spare time
Certainly you work on your own schedule, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is loads of time to spare. You have a client who needs her/his work done. Now instead of completing that work in the afternoon, you can postpone it for later that night. But this does not reduce the amount of time you need to invest in doing that work. So in reality, you don’t get spare time; you just make time.
It’s just about writing
Not to dishearten you, but the fact is, everyone, educated enough, can write. Just like any profession, to be a successful freelance writer, you need to have much more than just the writing skills. A will to continue when your back is against the wall. A USP that will make you stand out from the crowd. A strategy that wins over the clients.
Demand for your skill is high
If you’re at a nascent stage of your freelance writing career, you should know, there exist many micro-niches. And their demand in the market is not equal. Like for example, a travel writer is more demanded than academic writer; though the later one could earn much higher. So the skill(s) you bring on the table might not be as worthy as you hope for. You can write fictions well. But is the inflow demand is as high as the supply of the fiction writers?
Landing a gig is easy
There are many COSTLY books that explain how to land writing gigs. If winning over clients were that easy, why do you think these books exist in the first place? Why their prices are so high? And above all, why people are really buying them? Because landing gigs consistently isn’t as easy. It’s an art that includes custom ways and strategies.
You can make huge money
Landing high paying writing gigs for rookies is tough. Think from the clients’ point of view- If you have a big and important writing project, would you be willing to give thousand dollars to a beginner? Would you rather not invest in an experienced contractor who has a proven track record? Exactly my point! Plus, even with small pays, there’s never consistency; ‘huge money’ is a reality of years of rug-and-tug.
So, if you got into freelance writing believing in any one of these 7 delusions, you might want to rethink your course.
The thing about freelance writing is… it’s much more than just about writing
“You’re either a writer or you’re not.” As stirring as this quote from Jack Black is, some people have taken its literal meaning in a very different way. Just because someone owns a pen, it doesn’t make her/him a writer- not at least a freelance writer.
Recalling misconception #5, as a self-employed writer you need much more than just writing skill. You need to have certain qualities.
Broadly putting, there are 2 definite things that differs a good and successful freelance writer from a beginner; and no, it has to do very less with their skill and experience level.
They are strategic
– They understand things that others oversee. They know what to do, when to do and how to do. They are out-of-the-box thinkers. Wondering how?
For example, when they bid on Upwork (or any network), instead of writing clichés to the clients like hundreds of others are doing, they record and send a short video. They explain exactly how they are good and how they can help that particular client. Only difference is that they are doing it through video and not written. And this makes all the difference. They outstand the crowd and win over the clients rather easily.
Their driving force is much stronger
– The path for freelance writer is difficult. Some day you will not get any gig, you will not hear back from the clients, the pay will be small and inconsistent.
And at times like these you will need to make yourself remember that one particular reason why you’re doing this. You need a driving force that is much stronger than the obstacles you stumble across on this path. Successful freelance writers know about their ‘reasons’ and it’s not just about money. Some are driven by devour for freedom, others by passion for writing.
Interesting (and just as lucrative) alternatives to Freelance writing
While the interpersonal and technical qualities to be a successful freelance writer can be acquired, why even waste time trying that when there exists just as interesting and appealing professional alternatives.
If you’re a writer, here are 3 non-freelancing ways you can make a living (and life) with your skills-
Sadly, many people today use ‘freelance writing’ and ‘blogging’ interchangeably, when in fact they two are whole different things.
You have certain knowledge. And that’s your asset. Use a blog. Mix it with content and email marketing strategy and run an online business to help others with their problems and make money from it.
Full-time content writer
The stigma of 9-5 traditional job is quite high in today’s society. But you need to understand is that it’s not all that bad as many people have had you believe. It brings financial stability. You work with some amazing co-workers. Also, these days there exists many full-time and permanent online content writing opportunities.
Teaching is a great job. If you’re good at writing, unbeatable at literature or/and a grammar Nazi, you should definitely pick up teaching.
Plus, today there exist heaps of breaks even for teachers on the internet. While there are online institutions that are continuously hiring teachers, there are also platforms like Udemy that lets you create your own courses and make big bucks off it quite easily.
Of course, if you dig in more, there is a big pool of traditional and innovative opportunities for the writers. However, these are the 3 simple, interesting and lucrative freelancing-alternatives. Analyze well, head in the right direction. Good luck!