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Are you someone who enjoys writing? Perhaps you’ve been researching ways to make a living from your writing skills. If so, you may have stumbled upon information about freelance writing and you wondered — is freelance writing legit?.
Freelance writing is a legitimate way to earn a living. Many freelance writers earn full-time livings writing marketing materials for companies. They may write blog posts, website content, case studies, white papers, social media posts, and other marketing content.
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What Do Freelance Writers Do?
Freelance writers are sometimes referred to as business writers or copywriters. They don’t write short stories, novels, poems, or other works of fiction. Rather, they focus on writing marketing materials for companies.
Well-written marketing materials are very important to businesses. Marketing managers know that a good case study, for example, can be a powerful magnet that draws people in and convinces them to buy whatever product or service the company is selling. This is why many marketing managers don’t even blink at paying $1,000-$1,500 for a two-page case study – because the ROI can be huge.
Just a few things that freelance writers write for companies include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Website content
- White papers
- Case studies
- Email sales letters
Most successful freelance writers specialize in a certain industry. For example, a freelance writer may choose to specialize in medical device companies. Another freelance writer may specialize in financial companies like banks, credit unions, investment firms, accounting software providers, and others. Another example of a niche that freelance writers may specialize in is technology companies.
Why do freelance writers specialize in certain niches? Doesn’t it make sense to be a generalist and write for any company that needs a writer?
While it may sound counterintuitive to only write for certain types of companies, freelance writers who specialize in certain niches are often viewed by clients as being more knowledgeable in the things they write about. That’s the type of writer that most clients prefer – subject matter experts. Because of this, freelance writers who specialize often land more clients and earn more money than those who are generalists.
Ideally, freelance writers don’t just write for one company. The best way to earn a full-time living as a freelance writer is to write for multiple companies at once. It’s not uncommon for a freelance writer to have 6-12 clients at any given time.
A benefit of having multiple clients is that if a client suddenly drops you (which eventually will happen), you still have others to fall back on. Because of this, freelance writers who have multiple clients actually have much more “job” security than those who work regular jobs.
Why Do Companies Use Freelance Writers?
If companies need good wordsmiths to write all of their marketing materials, why don’t they just hire full-time writers and have them work from an office somewhere?
Many companies do have full-time writers on staff – but there are advantages to using freelancers instead of in-house talent.
First, a company may not always have enough work to keep a full-time writer busy. Even large companies sometimes go through periods when they need less marketing content created. By using freelancers, they only have to pay for the content they order.
It also may be more affordable for companies to use freelancers instead of hiring full-time writers. A company can have a freelancer create quite a bit of content for what they would have to pay a full-time employee. Companies also don’t have to deal with personnel issues with freelancers like sick days, showing up late for work, and other things.
Another reason why many companies prefer to use freelancers is because of employee benefits. Salaries aren’t the only expense when it comes to employees – there is also the expense associated with vacation time, health insurance, and other benefits. Freelancers usually charge for each project they complete, and they also pay for their own business and other expenses.
In short, marketing managers like to use freelancers because they help the company save money. Freelancers give companies a great deal of flexibility in content creation without all of the headaches that come with having employees.
Where Do Freelance Writers Work?
One of the great things about being a freelance writer is that you have a great deal of flexibility in where you work. Most freelance writers work from home, although it’s possible to work from many other places as long as you have a laptop computer and a reliable internet connection. Some freelance writers even take their work with them on vacation.
If you choose to write from home, it’s a good idea to pick a place in your home that is free from distractions – a place where you can close a door and write without being interrupted. Converting a spare bedroom into an office is a popular option.
It’s important to keep in mind that freelance writing is a legitimate business. Because of this, you need to treat it like a business to be successful. Many freelance writers keep regular business hours and minimize distractions to concentrate on their work and to increase productivity.
Here are a few other places that freelance writers can work:
A popular option for freelance writers, public libraries are usually very quiet with few distractions. Most public libraries offer comfortable seating and free wifi. With permission, it may also be possible to plug your laptop in to keep your battery charged.
Coffee shops are great places to work. Many coffee shops, in fact, don’t mind you plugging in your laptop, and most offer free wifi. If you do try to get some work done in a coffee shop, be sure to buy some coffee or a snack while you’re there. They don’t mind people getting some work done – but they prefer paying customers instead of freeloaders.
Many bookstores have places where customers can sit down and read books. Some bookstores also have coffee shops or cafes in them for patrons to relax in. Many bookstores also have free wifi. Depending on the store, you may be able to purchase a drink or snack and hang out with your laptop in the cafe area.
Another popular place where many freelancers work is in restaurants. It’s possible to order a meal and get some writing done while you are waiting for it to arrive. Fast food restaurants are another possibility if they aren’t too crowded and noisy.
If you are traveling, hotel rooms are great places to do some writing. Most hotel rooms have desks and wifi. If you are a paying customer, you may also be able to write in the hotel lobby or a hotel’s restaurant or breakfast area.
Parks are another great place for freelance writers to work, especially if it’s a nice warm day with a gentle breeze blowing. Many parks have shelters where people can gather for events. Some of these shelters even have electrical outlets to plug in your laptop.
How Much Do Freelance Writers Make?
Some freelance writers earn six-figures, while others earn far less. Some freelancers barely scrape by while others earn nothing and give up on their freelancing dreams. There are no guarantees in this business (or any business). How much you earn depends on how much you market your business, how good of a job you do, your confidence level, and other things.
Prices for freelance writing projects vary a great deal depending on many different factors. One freelance writer may charge $50 for a 1,000-word blog post, for example, while another may charge $500 for the same project.
Why is there such a big difference?
It depends a lot on experience and confidence. Some writers fear overcharging with the belief that a client will think they are too expensive. Ironically, some clients will wonder how good you are if you undercharge.
Quoting fair market prices for writing projects is something that comes with experience. It also helps to network with other writers to find out what they charge. There are forums you can join, for example, where you can ask other freelancers questions about pricing, negotiating, and other things.
What Credentials Do You Need to Be a Freelance Writer?
One of the great things about being a freelance writer is that you don’t need any special credentials to succeed in this business. You don’t need a college degree, professional certifications, or anything else.
When hiring freelancers, marketing managers tend to pay far more attention to a writer’s portfolio of writing samples than credentials. They are looking for people who have the writing talent to take an idea or concept they may have and turn it into a written piece that draws people in and holds their attention.
Having a degree or other credential in this business isn’t bad, necessarily, and there are some ways it could help you. For example, if you are a freelance writer in the financial niche, having a degree in accounting and finance or possibly being a CPA would convey knowledge of the subject to potential clients. It can help with credibility.
Things You’ll Need to Get Started
If being a freelance writer sounds interesting, you may be wondering what expenses you’ll need to incur before getting started. All legitimate businesses have expenses. The good news about freelance writing is that the operating expenses – when compared to many other businesses – are very low. Here are a few things you’ll need to have before you can start prospecting for clients:
Every freelance writer needs a website that potential clients can check out to learn more about you and view samples of your writing. Your website is like a digital business card.
Your website doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can build a simple website using WordPress and a theme, or you can use one of the popular website builders, like Wix or Squarespace.
Fees for websites vary depending on the website hosting package and theme you choose. It’s possible to get decent web hosting for around $100 a year. Regarding themes, there are many free themes you can use, but premium themes usually offer more features.
A LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is currently one of the best places to find and connect with potential clients. It’s a goldmine of opportunity. And if your profile clearly states that you are a freelance writer in a certain niche, many people who need writers will see this – some may even contact you about your services.
Although LinkedIn does offer a “premium” subscription, the free version may be all you need. Once you connect with someone on LinkedIn, you can then message them for free.
A Laptop Computer
All of the writing work you do will be on a computer. A laptop is best if you plan on working from different locations. You do not need an expensive computer – a quality brand with mid-performance specs is all you need.
You will also need office productivity software. Libre Office is a capable software suite than comes with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation application, database, drawing tool, and other applications. Libre Office is completely free.
A Reliable Internet Connection
As a freelance writer, you will communicate with your clients primarily through email. Some clients may also want to have an occasional video conference meeting. Because of this, you’ll need to have a reliable and fast internet connection.
A Place to Work
You’ll need a quiet place away from distractions to write marketing content for your clients. As previously mentioned, you could turn a spare bedroom into an office.
An office space doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive. You may be able to find a used desk and chair at a used furniture store or on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or another online marketplace.
Before you can land clients, you will need to have a short conversation with them to ask them questions about their marketing content needs and to also give them a chance to ask you questions. These conversations give both you and your clients a way to get to know each other.
A Great Opportunity for Writers
Freelance writing is definitely legit. Many people earn full-time incomes working from home writing marketing materials for companies. It’s also a portable business that people can take with them when they go on vacation and to other places.
It’s important to keep in mind that freelance writing is not a get rich quick scheme, nor is it a sure thing for everyone who tries it. You do need to continually market your services, do good work, and meet all of your deadlines. And, of course, you need to be a good writer.