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Are you someone who is considering striking out on your own as a freelance writer? If so, you may be wondering – what do freelance writers write about? It’s very important to understand what your workday will look like and what you will be writing about before starting a freelance writing business.
Freelance writers primarily write marketing content for companies. Examples include blog posts, case studies, white papers, website content, and emails. Freelance writers use the “psychology of persuasion” to draw readers in to convert them into customers for their clients.
There is no such thing as a “typical” day for a freelance writer. One day, a writer may write a case study on how a company’s product solved a problem someone may have had. The next, a writer may write a blog post or a marketing email for a company.
Let’s go ahead now and take a closer look at the different types of writing projects that freelance writers work on. Although this list covers the most common types of writing projects, it does not represent every type of project a client may have.
Another thing to consider as you review this list is that different clients will have different objectives for the projects you write. For example, many companies will want you to present their products in the best light so they can increase sales. A non-profit organization, on the other hand, may want you to write a compelling piece that makes people want to donate or volunteer.
Table of Contents
1. Blog Posts
For many freelance writers, writing blog posts for companies is their bread and butter. Blog posts are one of the most common writing projects there is, and there are some freelance writers who specialize in writing these short informative articles for company websites.
Maintaining a blog is important to companies for a variety of reasons. A company with an active blog, for example, may be perceived by customers as being an expert in whatever product or service the company sells. Many people prefer to buy from companies with established expertise.
Another important reason why companies love to have blogs on their websites is to help them rank high in the search engines. If blog posts are optimized with keywords that people are searching for, people will be more likely to find them online. This can result in significant search engine traffic to a company’s website.
The importance of search engine traffic can’t be understated. If a company has hundreds of blog posts that are optimized for the search engines, it could result in many thousands of people visiting a company’s website every month. This could be a significant revenue stream for the company.
2. Magazine and Newspaper Articles
Despite the proliferation of information on the internet these days, many people still subscribe to and read magazines. There are many different magazines that cover a variety of subjects including hobbies, politics, current events, technology, and other things.
Many of the articles that are published in magazines are actually written by freelancers. Magazines use freelancers to save money on staffing and also to have a variety of opinions and perspectives on the subjects they cover.
Newspapers also use freelance writers to cover many different things including local events, political rallies, sports, and other things. Many freelancers break into the business by first writing short pieces for their local newspapers before marketing their services to other clients.
3. Case Studies
Case studies are powerful marketing tools that companies use to showcase how their product or service solved a problem that someone was having. Case studies can be thought of as short stories that present the company and its products as the heroes.
Case studies can also be powerful teaching tools. They have historically been used to teach medicine, business, and law. According to Carnegie Mellon University, they can be “an effective teaching tool in any number of disciplines.”
Case studies are usually not very long – they rarely exceed two pages. The idea with case studies is to keep them short so that people can quickly read them to get a positive impression of the company and its products.
As a marketing tool, case studies use a “soft sale” approach. They gently persuade people to buy products or services without coming across as being pushy.
4. White Papers
In many ways, white papers are very similar to case studies – but there are differences. Instead of being a short product success story, white papers tend to be longer and more technical. They provide more data and other information about products that people can review.
White papers tend to be anywhere from 5-10 pages. The idea behind these papers is to present the company as a thought leader in its industry. They are often used to generate leads.
5. Press Releases
When a company has important information it wants to communicate to the public, it may issue a press release. These are short pieces that briefly cover the company and the information it wishes to make public. They are usually used to announce positive information about the company to build brand authority and boost public awareness.
An example of a press release is when a company implements a new initiative to help the homeless in the community. A press release could also be published when a company transitions to solar and wind power so that it will be perceived as being environmentally aware. Press releases may also be used to announce new products and services.
6. Marketing Emails
With many companies and blogs, you can sign up to be on an email list to receive informative and promotional emails. These lists are highly valuable to website owners. In fact, many websites derive a high percentage of their revenue from sending out marketing emails that promote certain products.
Marketing emails need to be sent often to make sure their customers don’t forget them. Companies know that if they go for a long period of time without sending emails, many people will forget that they signed up to receive them and will then unsubscribe when an email suddenly shows up in their inbox.
7. Website Content
Writing content for websites is a very common project for freelance writers. The pages on a website are a public representation of the company. They often describe the company and its background, the products and services it offers, the clients and customers it serves, and it may also include a few testimonials.
The words on a company’s website are vitally important. They have to be perfect. There’s no margin for error. If a website is poorly written, it could turn customers away and result in decreased sales.
8. Ghostwritten Books
Many books that are published by celebrities are actually written by ghostwriters. Celebrities typically don’t have the time to write books with their busy schedules. They work closely with writers to create highly-polished books that tell their stories or communicate their messages to their audiences.
Just a few people who may use ghostwriters include:
- Movie and TV stars
- Corporate executives
Ghostwriting gigs tend to be big projects and writers usually only work on one book at a time. An advantage of this is you can focus on one project for a while – usually several months. A potential negative of ghostwriting books is that there is always the possibility that the person you are working with could be a challenging client – and you are stuck with that client until the project is completed.
9. Catalog Product Descriptions
Although print catalogs are mostly a thing of the past, there’s still a strong need for freelance writers to write catalog product descriptions. Catalogs, you see, didn’t really disappear – they just went online.
Many eCommerce websites need talented freelance writers to write compelling product descriptions that make people want to buy whatever it is they are selling. These descriptions need to be much more than dry lists of features. They need to draw customers in and create a strong desire for the products.
10. Sales Letters
Sales letters are very common projects for freelance writers. As the name implies, sales letters are long letters that are used to sell products or services. They are also sometimes referred to as direct response letters.
Companies used to send sales letters in the mail all the time. Perhaps you remember receiving them. These days, most sales letters are online either in the form of an email or on a website landing page.
A sales letter is a powerful way to connect with readers and persuade them to buy whatever it is that companies are selling. Because of this, many companies pay freelance writers who are skilled at writing these letters very well to write them. A company may be perfectly fine, for example, paying a writer $2,000 to write a sales letter if it knows it may be able to generate millions of dollars in sales revenue from it.
11. Business Plans
Businesses need written plans when they are being formed. Business plans are outlines of how a business is going to work. Business leaders may use freelance writers to draft their plans so that information is presented clearly and concisely.
It may be important for business plans to be written by a professional freelance writer because these plans may be presented to investors or lending institutions to acquire funding to start the companies. Because these plans are so important, it’s vitally important that they be well-written and grammatically perfect.
Business plans outline a variety of important things about the company. Information in a typical business plan may include:
- An executive summary
- A company overview
- Information about products or services
- The company’s marketing plan
- The management team
- Information about the company’s finances
12. Annual Reports
Each year, every publicly traded company is required by law to issue a report to its shareholders and stakeholders discussing the company’s financial position and other aspects of the company – an annual report. These reports became a regulatory requirement following the stock market crash of 1929.
The purpose of annual reports is to disclose a company’s financial and operating activity over the previous year. The information is needed by shareholders and stakeholders to evaluate the company to make informed investment decisions.
Annual reports typically include the following information or sections:
- General operating information
- Letter to the shareholders from the CEO
- Management discussion and analysis (MD&A)
- Financial statements
- Notes to the financial statements
- Auditor’s report
- Financial summary
Other sections may be included.
Many corporate executives are very good at what they do – running businesses. What many of them aren’t good at, however, is writing speeches.
Business leaders do occasionally have to deliver speeches. It could be a speech to their employees, for example, or a speech to the board of directors or investors. They may also have to deliver speeches to people living in their communities. There are many possibilities.
When called upon to give speeches, many corporate executives use freelance writers to write their speeches for them. They need writers who excel at communicating messages in a clear, concise, and compelling way. They then read the speeches that are written for them from notes or teleprompters.
14. Media Kits
Media kits are folders that contain information about a company’s operations or its products and services. They are mainly used at events to help journalists write informed articles about the company.
Media kits are important marketing tools that companies use to grow their brands and stand out from the competition. The information these kits contain must be concise and easy to read. It must clearly communicate the company’s mission, how its products solve problems that customers may be having, and how the work it does makes the world a better place.
A few things that media kits may contain include:
- A company overview
- Contact information
- A media release
- Customer testimonials
- An annual report
- Product samples
- Recent news coverage
- Other interesting facts
15. Social Media Posts
Another way that companies may use freelance writers is to write their social media posts for them. Social media is now a very popular way to communicate with potential and existing customers. It’s important, therefore, for companies to communicate on social media platforms daily.
Many companies don’t just hire freelance writers to write their social media posts, they also sometimes hire writers to be their social media managers. Duties could include coming up with ideas to post about, responding to people when they post on the company’s page or ask questions, and other things.
Working as a freelance social media writer and manager for a company could keep someone very busy depending on the size of the company. It will be necessary to check on the social media accounts several times a day to see if anyone has posted anything that needs a response and to make sure everything is running smoothly.
For those who are wondering what do freelance writers write about – ebooks are another common project. Ebooks are powerful marketing tools that companies use in different ways.
Many companies – both small and large – use ebooks as lead magnets on their websites. A lead magnet is something that entices people to sign up for an email list. People can download a free ebook, for example, in exchange for giving the company their email address and agreeing to receive marketing emails.
Many companies also use ebooks as a way to market their products and services. A company that specializes in hardwood flooring, for example, may give away a free ebook that shows people how to install hardwood flooring and also answers common questions about the process. The ebook establishes the company as an authority on the subject and may positively influence people’s confidence and opinion of the company.
Many people also hire freelance writers to write ebooks on various subjects that they upload to the Kindle platform (and other platforms) to sell directly to readers. Thanks to ebook readers, many people now read books and other things right on their mobile devices, and it’s very easy to upload ebooks to various platforms to sell them.
Many companies put out monthly newsletters for their employees or customers to inform them of things that are going on within the company and to announce new products and services. Most newsletters are now transmitted electronically. They may be sent either by email or posted on a company’s website.
A company newsletter could be relatively short or several pages long. The length will vary depending on the company you write for and how much new information they want to communicate to their readers.
An example of an internal newsletter could include a short story about an employee who is excelling at his or her job. It could also include an article on a new employee benefit and another article on a new product or service the company will soon be offering. The idea is to keep employees informed, motivated, and inspired – to make them feel like valued members of the organization.
An example of an external newsletter could include a story on a customer who had a problem and then used the company’s product or service to solve that problem – a short case study. An external newsletter could also include information to consumers on current trends in the industry or information on new product developments.
18. Radio Scripts
Although it may be hard to believe in the digital age we now live in, millions of people still listen to the radio every day. Radio commercials are a great way for companies to market their products and services to a large audience.
Writing radio commercial scripts is very different from writing for TV commercials. Where TV commercials have a strong visual component to them, radio is strictly audio. The challenge for writers is to create short scripts that clearly communicate the company’s message or portray a scenario that listeners can easily picture in their minds.
Radio scripts can be challenging due to time constraints. Most radio commercials are very short – they are usually no longer than 30 seconds. Some are only half as long. Radio scriptwriters have to convey a company’s message, create a desire for the product or service the company is selling, and do it all in a very short period of time.
19. Video Scripts
Many companies need freelance writers to write video scripts for them. Companies use video in different ways to market their products and services and to communicate other things to their customers.
One of the most common reasons why companies need freelance writers to write video content is for TV commercials. Commercials are often broadcast to a national audience and have tremendous power to influence product choices.
YouTube videos are another important form of video advertising that many companies use. Scripts for YouTube videos inform and educate people and are also used to market products and services. In addition to writing scripts for YouTube videos, scripts may also be needed for video commercials that appear either before or during the video content.
Many companies use training videos to either train new hires or to make sure their employees’ skills are current. Freelance writers are sometimes used to write the scripts for these videos.
20. Internal/External Company Communications
Many companies use freelance writers to write both internal and external company communications. An example of an internal communication could be an important email sent to all employees or a resource discussing a company’s employee benefits.
There are also many different kinds of external communications that a company may hire freelance writers to write. For example, a company may need to submit an official report to a government oversight agency discussing how it complies with the regulations that govern its industry.
The bigger the company, the more internal and external communications projects it will need written. Although some companies do have full-time writers on staff, many companies prefer to use freelancers because it allows them to save money on both salaries and benefits.
There are several reasons why many companies prefer to use freelancers instead of staff writers. With freelancers, for example, companies only have to pay for the writing projects that are completed. They don’t have to worry about coming up with writing projects just to keep a staff writer busy.
Another company benefit to using freelancers involves the issue of what to do if a new staff writer’s work isn’t very good. Similar to musicians, some writers are better than others. If a particular freelance writer’s work is sub-par, it’s very easy to move on and find other freelancers who are better.
Freelance Writers Write Many Different Things
As you can see, there are many different types of writing projects that freelance writers can work on. That’s why there is no such thing as a typical workday for a freelance writer. The profession is very diverse.