Being a freelance writer is one of the most sought after and fulfilling jobs of the current telecommuting industry today. As the Internet expands to fill more niches, the intellectual economy grows in its demand and varied application, offering new opportunities but also heightened competition.
Being a freelance writerSource: Pexels
Freelance writers enjoy considerable freedom, but they also bear a lot of responsibility.
The benefits to being a self-employed freelance writer are many:
- Setting your own schedule
- Working from home (or anywhere you choose)
- Choosing your clients and topics
- Becoming self-sufficient without the stress of a traditional employment scenario (being your own boss)
- Being paid to learn
- Further developing your writing skills
However, like any job the strengths are balanced with challenges, and this blog is to help you gauge these against your own skill set.
Opportunities for freelancers
There are many types of opportunities for freelance writers today, and for many beginners the questions of where and how to begin are overwhelming. Questions of job security and legalities further complicate the initial stages of beginning as a freelancer. Ten things you should know before you become a freelance writer will be addressed in this blog:
- An inside look at the benefits of choosing to write with an established platform (like Ultius) versus fending for your own in the fiercely competitive gig economy.
- The difference between business and consumer writing will be enumerated to help new freelancers pinpoint their best fit.
- The benefits and the skills required to be your own boss will be discussed with enthusiastic level-headedness as you picture yourself enjoying independence but preparing for the social cost.
- Some of the many unexpected benefits of being a freelance writer will be revealed, yet there are always more to be found.
- The challenges of working with clients will be looked at in the context of to platform or not to platform.
- The types of payment/invoicing options available.
- Tech tools needed for freelance writing will be shared.
- How to make money fast.
- The main skills needed for success as a freelance writer.
- How freelance writing strengthens your own skill as a writer.
If you are considering embarking on the challenging, rewarding, and complex career as a freelance writer this blog will give you the tips and hints to help you get started.
1. Writing platforms vs. writing gigs
Writing platforms vs. writing gigs
When it comes to freelance writing opportunities, aspiring freelance writers have more options than ever. The table below lists popular writing platforms and types of writing gigs.
|Writing platforms||Writing gigs||Other|
|Scripted||Freelance writing jobs||Guru|
|Associated Content (Yahoo! Voice)||Blogging jobs||Elance|
|Love to Know||Performancing|
|Constant Content||Newspaper columnist|
|LinkedIn Jobs||Catalog description writer|
|BloggingPro job board||Corporate copywriting|
|Journalism jobs||Advertising copywriting|
|Morning Coffee newsletter||Real estate writing|
|ProBlogger job board||Business plan writing|
|Be a Freelance Writer job board||Press release writing|
|Freelancer (previously GetAFreelancer)||Technical writer|
|Annual reports writing|
The are many differences between writing with a platform like Ultius, or freelancing through multiple writing gigs. Writing with a platform offers many benefits to freelancers, while gigging often entails competing for those benefits. A platform lets you focus on your writing, and handles your administrative needs for you. Freelancing with a platform allows writers to streamline their self-employment as they have a one-stop go spot which covers all of their gigging needs.
Working with a platform
Working with a platform like Ultius can save you the time and headache of gathering information from clients. Ultius presents you with specific order details from the client so you can focus solely on the writing process.
Here writers need not advertise, competitively price, do extensive follow up, or take care of billing. Customers are drawn to the platform of Ultius because they have heard of the quality reputation from other customers. Like most businesses, the best advertising is a satisfied customer, and writing with a successful platform means that freelancers do not have to manage the stress of having their own small business but can focus on the pure joy of researching and writing.
When not joined with a quality platform, the process of networking, advertising, maintaining ties with multiple gig platforms, competing for jobs with other freelancers, and managing multiple payout schedules can be as much of a job or more than the process of writing. This can lead to less time for producing quality and innovative writing, and less satisfied clients, and ultimately burnout.
Freelancers are essentially their own company
This piecemeal approach often requires much more time to be put into freelancing with no guarantee of return, requiring you to be your own.
- Human Resources Department
This process can be exhausting and undermine the quality and attention brought to the writing as it creates unnecessary stress.
However, working with a streamlined platform such as Ultius allows freelancers to focus on what they do best, and handles client communications with professional care. Writers with Ultius receive pay which is not only highly competitive, but continuously rewards quality through bonus and loyalty structures.
Writer requests from clients enable writers to build relationships with clients which increase effective communication, as well as consistently providing quality work. Platforms and the support crew who keep them running (CEOs, managers, editors, support, tech crew, etc.) work diligently behind the scenes to keep clients coming back, allowing writers to focus on writing.
More and more gigging sites and organizations are beginning to outsource their jobs to platforms to take advantage of the benefits, structure, and consistency they provide. Working under a platform protects the writers from the many complications which could arise from their work. With a platform like Ultius, writers do not have to worry about not getting paid for work given some unforeseen circumstance.
Are gigging or platforms right for you?
Many gigging opportunities shift much of the responsibility of their trade onto freelancers, and without full disclosure, this can often be a recipe for exploitation. However, platforms such as Ultius, recognize they are only as strong as their writers. A reputable platform will be clear about the standards, rules, and policies which enable success.
Those freelancers who do not have the support of a platform must spend a great deal of time and money advertising and competing with other freelancers to obtain and retain their clients. This can be done through SEO marketing, Facebook ads, and various forms of social media networking. This process is time consuming, and requires extensive follow-up, and creatively negotiating prices to attract clients.
However, working with a platform like Ultius all this is done for the writer, streamlining their job, and guaranteeing them a quality price for their writing every time.
2. Business writing vs. consumer writing
Finding the right fit for your freelance writing career requires an in-depth knowledge of where your writing style and preference would best fit. Both, business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) writing/marketing are growing and in constant need for accurate and vibrant copy to propel their interests forward. However, there are clear differences between B2B and B2C which could help you choose your platform wisely.
B2B industries focus their writing needs, tone, and structure between selling and informing other professionals rather than the general public. As such, many aspects of traditional advertising aren’t needed because the buyer already wants to buy and only needs to know the specifics of what they are investing in.
Unlike B2C, who often buy things they do not need, B2B purchases are needed to maintain their position in the market, and as such, is a business decision made up of many shareholder voices.
B2B writing is often highly specific, technical, and not overly attractive or persuasive.
It presents both, positive and negative aspects of the product/service/program, so that the other professionals will be able to judge those attributes based on the strengths of their own venture. B2B writing requires a professional, somewhat objective business tone which reflects the educated and sophisticated audience.
Know your audience
Unlike B2C writing, B2B audiences are willing to read a great deal of copy to gain a detailed account of the proposal. While this does offer opportunities for strong payouts for B2B writers it also takes a high level of investment, knowledge, and often interaction with the business to accomplish. B2C allows for much more pithy, cursory, and emotionally charged writing which stirs interest with may be fleeting.
B2B audiences do not engage in impulse buying like B2C markets do, and as such the approach is entirely different, work is based on long term business relationships and shared interests rather than fads. This is reflected in the service which B2B writing does, for rather than the process of buying consumers engage in businesses engage in multistep purchasing.
The first step is the introductory brochure, the second is a sales meeting to assess the prospects of the investment, and the third is a 30-day trial. In this way B2B freelance writers are in for the long haul with the product line, and their work is not as simple as B2C writing.
3. Being your own boss
Before becoming a freelance writer, it would be beneficial to take a good strong look at your personality and desires to determine if self-employment will bring lasting fulfillment. The biggest difference between freelancing and being traditionally employed is the impact it has on your social interactions.
Be your own bossSource: Pexels
Though you may not have to answer to anyone as a freelancer, it’s imperative to honor your obligations.
Freelancers generally work alone from home, and as such their daily intake of social interactions is severely curtailed. As such those who thrive as freelance writers are those people who are good being alone, and do not require constant social interactions to fuel their creativity.
A good way to test if this is right for you is to spend five consecutive days being alone for five hours a day. If at the end of this trail you feel refreshed, energized, and filled with curiosity there is a good chance you’ll thrive being your own boss as a freelance writer. However, if you find yourself compulsively checking your phone, social media, and being distracted by the lack of social flutter, you may want to rethink investing in freelancing.
To effectively be your own boss you must be able to:
- Have good time management skills.
- Manage financial and technological resources.
- Hold yourself accountable.
- Strong attention span.
- Delay gratification.
- Stay organized.
Set a reasonable schedule
Freelance writers have the benefit of setting their own schedule, but this benefit must be balanced with the ability to fulfill deadlines and to keep your word. Those people who suffer from chronic procrastination will likely not find lasting fulfillment as a freelance writer. Being your own boss means knowing how to discipline yourself, and how to reward yourself.
No matter what any type of work gets challenging and annoying if you do it long enough, and freelance writers must develop strategies for maintaining the maximum amount of focus while still knowing when to disconnect and let loose. In today’s hyper-connected world this can be challenging. Freelance writers work online and must know when to unplug so that their work will not suffer. While there are many tools to help writers stay focused and organized, there is no better tool than willpower.
4. Unexpected benefits
A benefit to being a freelance writer in today’s job market, is the ability to make money regardless of having an employer. Much of the stress of moving is related to securing continued employment at a location close to where you live. However, as a freelance writer and your own boss, you can travel anywhere, and have secure finances during all of life’s unexpected events.
This element of security is one of the key benefits for those young people who are highly independent, and would like to travel and see the world. Wherever there is an internet connection, there are opportunities to earn from writing. This aspect of being a freelance writer is great for people in transition, and/or people who want to try out many different types of living situations.
Claim your expenses
Another little-known benefit of being self-employed, is that you are your accountant and are therefore able to maximize self-employment bonuses. If your life’s interests are in alignment with your employment it can translate into tax benefits. For freelance writers that means that all the books you purchase are tax deductible, and for bibliophiles, this can make a huge difference in their tax bill. However, this benefit requires the discipline of saving many receipts, itemizing your return effectively, and saving efficiently for the tax man.
Another benefit of being a freelance writer, is that you can chose to work with clients and on projects which align with your interests. This is a great way to keep engaged with work as you are making a living from learning and investing in what interests you. This form of multitasking may have many unexpected applications, notwithstanding the satisfaction which comes from expanding your knowledge.
Another benefit of freelance writing, is that you can work as much or as little as you want or need to. This means that if you have a job you love but does not pay enough you can supplement your passion with freelance writing. This flexibility enables many creative solutions when traditional employment falls short.
This also translates into other responsibilities, for example being in a position where you need to be a caretaker for a sick loved one and are unable to maintain traditional employment. Freelance writing can fill the gaps of the demanding and complex economies of today’s changing landscape.
5. Different types of clients
One of the most challenging aspects to being a freelance writer is working with clients who can be very demanding. Often clients do not understand what it takes to create quality writing, and may want more for their dollar than is fair. This is where it really pays off (in reduced stress and clear expectations) to be working with a platform like Ultius, rather than on a gig-by-gig basis.
Platforms have strong structured rules for how each contract is performed, paid for, and if a client is unhappy with this process, a platform has resources in place to rectify the matter. At Ultius, writers are free to focus on doing their best writing, and shielded from unnecessary demands, protected by strong contracts and guaranteed payment for their work.
However, for those freelance writers working with clients directly, have a much more demanding and potentially stressful situation. Platforms like Ultius take payment up front, but often gigging writers receive payment after which gives clients’ a position to renegotiate, which could lead to imbalances in the professional relationship.
Amount of work versus client satisfaction
This has led to some solo freelance writers producing much more work than originally agreed upon, or perhaps not getting paid at all for work. It is somewhat natural to look for the best deal on the web, but one thing remains the same: You get what you pay for. Quality American freelance writers should get paid accordingly, and ensuring this is easy when you work with a reputable platform like Ultius.
When you work with a platform you do not have to worry about a client looking to take advantage of your time, and can focus on being proactive and producing quality work. Added to the quality of your work, will create long term relationships with clients which are mutually beneficial.
The longer you work with the same client, the more you learn about their topic(s), and the better you become at speaking their language. This results in repeat business, which has the potential to see you through the lean periods inevitable in freelancing.
6. Payment options
Besides the many complications of finding clients and managing their many complex needs, freelance writers without a platform are confronted by the many options for successfully being paid for their work.
There are many different options for organizing payment, but for an independent freelancer, risk comes in the form of fraud via chargebacks. Created to guard against fraud, chargebacks are credit card refunds carried out by the bank, initiated by the client (cardholder) which can often turn into forms of fraud.
Whenever a cardholder claims they did not authorize a charge, they are likely to receive their money back. For a freelance writer unprotected by a platform, this can mean not being paid for honest work. On top of losing commission and a contact, the processing platforms charge a fee of $20-$75 for each infraction. There are a few things a freelance writer can do to guard against this form of fraud, but nothing is foolproof.
- Drafting a strong and clear legal contract for the job.
- Work for reputable clients-review client’s reputation, and check for scam reports
- Keep important dialogue between clients on email to have written proof to fight chargeback claims.
- Produce work of the highest quality so that clients are not tempted to skimp. This is supported by good customer communication, meeting deadlines, responding professionally and promptly to all phone calls and emails, and providing a clear invoice with the fulfilled order.
Getting properly paid for you work
Writing with a platform like Ultius frees freelancers from even having to consider fraud as they are protected by our guarantee that all writers will be paid for all their work even if clients somehow do not follow through. However, at Ultius unfulfillment is a rarity since the payment for orders is collected before the writer ever begins their work.
PayPal is one of the oldest and most trusted ways to pay and get paid online. It also doesn’t charge any fees!
Not only does this create a stress-free working environment with clients, it nurtures trust between the writer and the platform, which is in short supply for those writers competing nakedly on the web.
Online invoicing services
Freelance writers often handle their own invoicing. The following chart describes the pros and cons of the top 10 invoicing services.
||“Create invoice” section hidden under “Request money” section||Free|
||No free plan, limited 15-day free trial||
||Four introductory emails||
|The Invoice Machine6|
||Only creates invoices, and does not have other features||
||Only makes invoices, and has no other features other tools have||
7. Tools you’ll need as a freelance writer
The basic tools you’ll need are, a computer (a laptop is preferable for flexibility and mobility) and a strong internet connection. It is extremely helpful that freelance writers know how to properly type correctly, or at least, efficiently. If you’re serious about the career but unable to type without finger punching, initial training should be taken to get near 60-words per minute efficiency.
The right tool for the job
There’s many tools and technology for writers to help maximize their success whether they are sheltered under a platform or they are functioning as their own small business.
- Microsoft Word. This writing application has been the go to platform for writers since the digital age began. Well known, professional, capable, and efficient, Microsoft Word is helpful writing platform for freelance writers. However, it’s price at $100 may be prohibitive for some beginners, and the tool does not have some of the strong amenities of Google Docs.
- Grammarly. Grammarly is a tool which helps writers both double check and learn extensive grammar applications. Available both online and as a Google Chrome addition, this tool is a clear-cut and effective editor for writers who are clearing a great deal of copy each day and do not want little mistakes slipping past them. This tool is available for $29.95 a month, $59.95 a quarter, and $139.95 a year.
- Google Docs. This cloud storage option is a great way for freelance writers to stay organized as it ensured work will not be lost on personal networks. Google Docs is also a good to write with if you are collaborating with others, as it offers many efficient sharing options. Many writers enjoy the formatting and options of Google Docs over Microsoft Word, as there are researching and citing tools in the framework.
- Wunderlist. This listing application helps freelance writers stay organized, as lists can be organized by project, client, or by any intuitive system you create to stay on task. This application can be synced with all devices, and queued with alarms so that you never miss a deadline or a meeting. In this way Wunderlist is an aware pocket day timer and assistant rolled into one.
- Trello. Great support for other listing applications, Trello is a virtual whiteboard that allows for projects to management to be organized as visual interactive maps. Providing a platform for research, collaboration, idea generation, storytelling, and creative thinking Trello is a dynamic approach for freelance writers.
- My Minutes. This iOS application is a time management tool which helps freelance writers set and attain their productivity goals. Providing an “at least” and “at most” system, My Minutes helps you prioritize and set reasonable goals for a day’s work with to-do lists. It helps with motivation through setting up alerts for when you are close to a goal or have reached a goal. This free application works well with other writing tools, and is a great way to keep your time prioritized.
- SelfControl. For those writers who find themselves challenged with staying focused while working online from home, SelfControl is an open-sourced app to deal with distraction head on. This tool allows you to block your access to distracting sites during your set work period. Sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and your other favorite social media sites can be temporarily blocked allowing you to focus on your work. This tool is a good stepping stone in the discipline of the willpower essential to being your own boss.
- HelloSign. Writers working outside of a platform like Ultius will need to take care of all their business and legal paperwork on their own. HelloSign is a tool which enables legally binding email signatures to be generated which allows contract, proposals, agreements, and other communications between clients to be legally verified. Syncing with Google drive, it is easy to organize work on that platform.
- Rocket Lawyer. Without a precise knowledge of your legal responsibilities, freelance workers working outside of an established platform may put themselves at undue risk. Rocket Lawyer is a service costing $39.95 a month which allows you to create legal documents such as nondisclosure agreements, independent contractor agreements, and contracts to protect intellectual property and protect your paycheck.
8. Make money fast
Freelance writing provides many different pay structures: some as low as 10c a word, and some as high as $100 a paragraph. The key to maximizing your potential is to know where to invest your skills, and always producing quality work. With Ultius, there are many different pay rates based on the time of the order, the level of proficiency and professionalism required, and various other elements.
Clients come to Ultius will all sorts of writing requests, and freelance writers who are poised to expand their expertise and knowledge will be able to consistently raise how much money they can make.
Get set up for success
Becoming successfulSource: Pixabay
Becoming successful requires a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. The squeeze is worth the juice!
This is two-fold in that the more you research and write, the stronger your skills will be applied across multiple topics. Freelance writing and the research which is key to success, is a proactively fulfilling cycle of capacity, and the more you do it the faster and better you will become-enabling money to be earned faster and faster.
The second fold of this equation lies in cultivating relationships with high paying clients, who will come to believe they cannot progress without your support. This two-fold system of investing in quality and strategically maximizing it, enables Ultius writers to improve their payouts sequentially. However, this is not a plan for cutting corners, but learning to round corners with greater skill.
9. Skills needed to be a freelance writer
Being your own boss and being able to set your own schedule is ideal for those people who have cultivated self-discipline, but for those who do not have structure, self-employment may not be sustainable.
Being a freelance writer is fundamental work, but self-employment gives you more power over making your work fun and tailoring it to your needs rather than the needs of a demanding and inflexible employer.
Skills that freelance writers need
It takes more than strong writing skills to be a successful freelance writer. Below is a list of important skills for aspiring freelance writers to master.
|Good freelance writers typically have…|
|High levels of proficiency in reading and writing|
|The ability to focus for long periods of time|
|Good organizational skills/ability to plan ahead|
|High levels of self-motivation|
|Perseverance in the face of challenges|
|Awareness of personal limitations|
|Enthusiasm for reading, writing and learning|
|The ability to be independent/alone|
|The ability to think creatively|
|Logical/rational thinking skills|
|A willingness to seize opportunities|
|An ability to be flexible|
|Excellent communication skills|
|A professional approach to working with clients|
Bottom line, the most fundamental skill to being a successful freelance writer is willpower, for with willpower all these other skills and many more can be learned. One of the greatest benefits to being a freelance writer is that you get paid to learn.
For people who are endlessly curious and enjoy cultivation of self-awareness, this is a dream come true. For those who are already lifelong learners, this is a job right in alignment with their interests and values. For bibliophiles, much of the knowledge they have already acquired through their personal reading is just waiting to be capitalized and expounded upon as a freelance writer.
10. Strengthen your writing skill
Writing has innumerable applications, and strengthening your skill as a writer could open up many unforeseen doors. Sharpening your writing skills for those who desire to do personal work, taking some time to freelance could be the school of hard knocks needed to bring out your well refined and sought after personal voice. A year, or ten, being a freelance writer is the ultimate boot camp for your writing. The more you do the more you are capable of doing and the faster you can do it.
Practice makes perfect
For those writers who are proficient, but sense they are not hitting their true potential taking time in this career may be the workhouse they need to strengthen the chops they need to venture out into the territory of the literary unknown. After all, Ernest Hemingway got his start freelance writing news reports as he traveled the world and began working on his first collections of short stories and novels. Freelance writing provides the bread and butter which nourishes many creative writers’ beginnings.
Writing supports any number of other professions, and for those who develop a strong skill at writing there may be no limit to its application. The fulfillment which comes from being able to express yourself effectively, uniquely, and with the support of ever evolving critical thinking is rewarding on so many levels. The learning and experienced gained through a career as a freelance writer will equip you to thrive in many new and different realms of creative work, and may create a long-lasting love of learning.
The rest is up to you
These ten things you should know before embarking on a career as a freelance writer are only the beginning. Where each writer takes their career is entirely unique, and the flexibility inherent in self-employment implies that the sky’s the limit for the creative fusion of work and art.
The final calculations of this blog are to err on the side of greatness, and choose Ultius as your freelance writing platform. This choice does not limit your options, but guarantees security and quality as you strengthen your writing chops. Measure your inherent skills with your ability to evolve in the face of challenges to see if this dynamic career would benefit you, and dive into a wealth of independence and learning whose roads lead into an infinity of possible opportunities.
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