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Freelancing Writing as a Career.
Oct 2023. Related article talking about AI and writing here.
Whether or not freelance writing is overrated as a career choice is a matter of opinion, however it is not an over saturated market.
A recent global survey of all professional writing freelancers shows that 60% have enough or too much work, and say they will meet their financial goals and remain committed to freelancing.
There are close to 60 million people in the US freelancing, (thankfully not all are writers), with about 50% doing it as a side hustle, and the rest split between full-time and the occasional gig.
Digital marketing is everywhere and good freelancers are at the heart of it.
Is Freelance Writing Worth it?
If you cannot stand office politics, then it is an option to get away from that mentally taxing environment.
You will still have to deal with editors and clients, although that is not necessarily bad, because you get to choose who you work with.
As you get to know each other, you get to know what they are looking for in an article and deliver it to them with minimal editing required.
If you are coming from another profession and want to try writing as a career, there are plenty of options available so that you can get your writing to a high level.
In 2021 Linkedin reported that freelance content writing is one of the top 5 jobs on their platform.
However, (despite all the noise), freelance writing makes up only a tiny portion of all freelancers, and payments for various assignments can vary greatly.
Freelance writer jobs include:-
- Content writers
- Case studies
- Technical or Business writing
- Webpage Copy and Emails
- White papers
- Article or feature writing.
I’m taking a wild guess here, that the thing most people want to know is how much freelance writers get paid.
Freelance Writing Rates
One stat has the top writers earning $55.00 an hour.
The numbers above seem reasonable but, (I know, there is always a but).
Another survey by Indeed (which is a high authority site), in September 2022, puts the average hourly rate for Freelance writers at $25.11.
That number does look realistic.
There is evidence out there that since people have moved on from the covid drama and gone back to their old jobs or found new ones, publications are “screaming” out for writers and paying good money.
There are organisations who mainly deal in quick projects, emails, Facebook posts, etc who are constantly on the look out for writers of any experience level. See Here
The beauty of these is the you are paid by the job which may only take you an hour to do 5 tasks. So, 5×25 is not too shabby.
For print publications, the charge rate for freelance writers is cents or dollars per word.
Anything from 10cents a word to $2.00 or more.
The average is about $1.00 a word and this has been consistent for years now.
Many regular freelance contributors to newspaper weekend magazines are paid per article, up to about $1000 for 800-1200 words.
Travel or dining out feature articles for example.
So while you may think “Great, I can pump out 800 words in an hour or so,” there are snags that can trip you up.
Here is a small list
- 800 words might be easy if you know the topic. Otherwise, you need to allow time for research.
- Some topics pay more than others. Science articles usually pay more than travel or finance for example, despite the potential for greater advertising revenue from travel or finance.
- The editor may want parts of it rewritten.
- Editors are usually snowed under with submissions, so your standard of copy needs to be great!
Writing to a niche you are knowledgeable about appears to be the easiest way to get your article published.
One reason for this is the continuity of articles. Could you supply 10 articles on horse dressage?
Another is if you know the topic you don’t have to spend hours researching.
That $1000.00 for 800 words begins to look a little pale if you had to spend a day or three researching a topic you know little about, writing the article, checking it for accuracy, and having the editor ask for certain parts to be redone.
In saying that, there are writers who love researching new topics. (Just knowing enough to be dangerous my father used to say).
Seriously though, they build a portfolio of interests and eventually start an agency.
So this broader scope of knowledge naturally curious people build up, adds a layer of quality to any work their agency does.
What I mean is, they can ask questions when reviewing it with the employee who wrote it, even though he/she may be an expert on that topic.
Payment for Online Writers
There is plenty of work, but the pay level is generally less than that paid by print companies.
Why? I am not sure, but there are different levels of writing accepted online.
Fiverr for example has “Pro and Standard.”
Although there could be other factors at play.
I have paid for blog posts from writers on Fiverr.
I did the editing, plus I added bits here and there, and paid the person who wrote it $70.00,
There are quite a few articles on this blog written by others, (some of those articles still show-up on the first or second page of a Goggles search).
Treat people fairly and they give good work.
Upwork and Fiverr are two of the more popular platform that writers can go to get work.
They are highly competitive though.
Fiverr has a reputation for everything being low quality and cheap, which is a little unfair I think. I have never had issues using their contractors.
The person who did the article on Alorica vs Sitel (link above), had it done in about an hour. I also hired her again to do others.
Payment rates vary greatly due to the varying experience of the writer.
As the saying goes you get what you pay for.
I negotiated with the writer before commissioning her to do the work.
There are clients who will want edits and re-edits and generally be a pain in the butt.
Much like print media, however, they can be worse if they are not a trained editor.
At least with the Fiverr and Upwork platforms, you have a third party acting as an arbitrator, and handling the payments, making them safe for writers.
Should a Freelance Writer have a Blog?
This may seem strange coming from me.
But some do and just keep it basic, with an occasional update, say once a month.
This is also common with agencies.
Serious blogging does take a lot out of you.
If you want to keep your blog up to speed, then like me, you may have to occasionally pay someone else to write for you, when some outside influence interferes with your program.
If you are an author, freelance writer, or writer for platforms like Fiverr or Upwork and others (see below), think about this.
- A blog needs constant updating.
- There should be a piece of new content (two or three is better), every week.
- There are comments to be answered.
- An email list to be sorted.
- Site updates might introduce some glitches that have to be sorted.
- Plugins may be incompatible causing site issues.
It can get messy.
There may not be enough hours in the day to concentrate on paid work and play with a blog.
Blogging, story writing, writing case studies, and technical papers are all very different.
Blogging is about providing information but is done in a different way than Technical papers or Case Studies for instance.
This is not 100% ironclad (nothing in writing is), as many travel blogs and review articles use stories to share information.
Essentially if you are a writer all you need is good about me on Linkedin or even Twitter, as well as your specialty in your Upwork or Fiverr profile, Incomediary, Textbroker, or any number of others.
Let’s look at some places a freelancer can earn some money…
Online freelance Writing Jobs.
Any freelance work should be treated like a business.
Writer, Developer of Apps, Graphic Designer, Webpage builder whatever.
Don’t get sucked in by the hype of the digital nomad.
I could be considered one, but never would I even dream of sitting on a beach with a laptop.
The last thing I want is a laptop full of sand and salt.
I mentioned Incomediary above.
It is very niche specific, built around entrepreneurship and blogging.
As well as SEO, affiliate marketing, how to earn online, etc.
It is relatively easy to join and payments are usually negotiated but are reasonably generous ranging from $200-$500.
Textbroker is a bit harder.
You need to submit a writing sample which is then reviewed and given a star rating.
If you get a 3-star rating you have done well. Most get only a 2-star rating but don’t stress.
The idea is you look for assignments below your rating.
You then do your best to write above that level regardless of what the payment is, and hope the client gives you a star rating higher than the assignment rating.
If you have reached level 4 and completed 10 projects you can request to be moved up to level 5.
Narratively is a storytelling site.
You set out your stories as you did back in school. A beginning, a middle, and an end.
if you can paint vivid pictures with words this is for you.
The payments vary from $200 – $300 per article accepted, depending on the quality.
Articles must be 100% original and not be published anywhere else.
A Google search will turn up lots of different sites that pay writers.
Anything from fishing to love stories.
It is just a matter of choosing a niche you know something about, signing up, and putting your best efforts forward.
If you stick with it, then the natural progression is to move into other areas of interest you may need to do research for.
If you have no experience and want to earn money writing, keep reading.
How to become a Freelance Writer
If you are currently not writing…anything and have no involvement, but are thinking about it, there are two pathways open to you.
Choose a niche. (something that is easy for you to write about), and choose a platform to write on.
Starting in the forums is a good way to get started.
There are forums for everything, just type “<<your niche>> forums” into the google search bar.
If you want to kick-start your paid-for writing services there are numerous courses you can take advantage of.
They come at different price points, but the IAP Freelance Writer course, is relatively inexpensive compared to some of the more hyped-up expensive courses ($2,000 or $3,000 is not uncommon), you see online.
As a certificate course, it is well recognized and provides a solid emphasis on the business side of freelancing, which is a massive help in getting good-paying clients.
One thing about the IAP freelance writers course compared to others is it is very understated.
It is a lot more in-depth than many others you see splashed across Google ads, or landing in your email.
The IAP courses and guides are one of the few that can be found in the library collections of many respected colleges and universities.
Their guides for courses ranging from Event Planning to Fashion Design have also been used in colleges and universities from California to Colorado to Connecticut.
The University of Texas and Columbia University, Wellesley College, and the Fashion Institute of Technology as well as in numerous public libraries in cities from Vancouver to New York.
As well as academic institutions such as George Mason University and Harper College in Chicago.
Plus, when you register with IAP you receive the applicable textbook at no extra cost.
As your experience grows, you may want to spread your wings a little and expand into other areas of writing, while still earning a passive income from your previous writing.
There is a big opportunity for any aspiring writer to become involved and earn good money.
The demand is growing consistently.
Doing a course will help you find what works for you, and give you information on how to approach and gain quality clients.
How to find or approach potential clients? is a question I see all too often in the writing groups on the book of faces and other forums such as Quora and Redditt.
The IAP freelance writer course will answer that and many other questions you may have.
Doing a course and finding good-paying clients will take a little time because growth is not instantaneous.
Once you have built your foundation, then your “business” will grow exponentially.
Getting away from the 9-5 daily grind is not only possible but very doable!
All the best.