This post explains how you can succeed as a freelance writer. Note: This post is not about publishing a book (self or through publishers). There is a separate guide post for self-publishing.
First up, here is an observation – now this is based on my experience as well as several other writers who I speak with – freelance writing is the easiest and the most difficult freelancing category at the same time. Huh!!?? What does that even mean?
Freelance writing is the easiest freelancing category because you only need a basic computer with Internet connection. You don’t need special software application, tools etc. Moreover, unlike other freelance categories, you are not scrambling to update yourself in different or newer skills and tools. Of course, you must have some command over the language you intend to write in. Your grasp of the genre or subject is a given too.
Now why is freelance writing the most difficult freelancing category? Because you are your own enemy. The best way to be a successful writer is…to write (and read)! Procrastination, self-doubt, lethargy, ambivalence are just some of the behavioral traits of an unsuccessful writer. Sure, your writing may..heck it will suck at first! So what? The trick is to keep on writing till you get better. It is just like any other skill – polish it till you shine.
Here are some interesting quotes on writing that you will justify my statement above:
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
– Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
– George Orwell
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
– Stephen King
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Convinced yet? Good! Let’s move on.
Type of Freelance Writing Jobs
Here are the typical writing jobs available on online freelance marketplaces:
Book writing / ghostwriting
I wrote ghostwriting next to book writing because if you were authoring your own book, why would it be a freelancing job, right? This book writing is for someone else to put their name as the author and sell it. The job poster will give the topic, expected number of pages / words and may even point to resources online or offline for research. Your job as a writer is to write the book and submit it to the job poster, who will then sell it on Amazon or elsewhere.
You may argue that you might as well sell it instead of submitting it to the job poster. You may, of course, do that if you don’t bid for and win the contract to ghostwrite. But, think about it for a minute – do you really want your name on this book or did you have something else for the long term? Also, this job will pay you, say $ 200 for ghostwriting the 100 page ebook. Whereas the job poster intends selling it for $3 on Amazon – s/he gets about $2 max per ebook sold from Amazon. So s/he needs at least 100 ebooks sold to recover the cost of getting it written from you. I am not even adding the marketing cost and efforts. Whereas you get about $180 in your bank for your efforts and you can also keep writing your masterpiece.
Content writing entails creating different types of content using long-form articles or posts that is search engine optimized. Content writing usually follows the journalistic form. A content writer uses various tactics to enable the content to rank higher in search results. For example, they will include keywords, cite research findings, tabulated data, links to amplifying content etc that helps the reader to comprehend the content better.
A word of advice – the old tactic of stuffing keywords all over an incomprehensible article just to rank higher is passe now. Search engines (read Google) have grown way smarter and emphasize writing for the reader or user’s benefit. If the reader is contented, your content ranks higher – perhaps that’s why it’s called content! Content writing could also be referred on freelancing sites as article / blog writing. More often than not, the job poster intends to use these blog posts to channel the blog reader to an intended action like buy the product. Therefore, the tone of the blog article or post is set by the job poster.
Review writing also forms part of this sub-category of writing. You can write reviews of products, services, solutions etc. for the information of the readers.
Copy-writing is creation of (usually) short-form copy used for marketing and advertising e.g. creating headlines, taglines or press ads. This kind of marketing material is used to nudge people to think or act in a desired manner. Copywriters may also use storytelling to evoke emotion or to form a personal connect with the readers.
Creative writing is a form of writing which uses “right brain characteristics” like imagination, creativity and innovation. A creative writer uses feelings and emotions in order to create vivid imagery in the reader’s mind thus entertaining or educating them. Creative writing can include writing poetry, novels, short stories, plays and TV or movie scripts.
Editing is just that – you edit the written piece so that it is correct in terms of grammar, facts etc. One usually gets articles or research work written by specialists in their field, but are ‘writing-impaired’ – to put it so. You just help them make their work readable.
This is checking for errors – spelling / typos, punctuation, small grammatical nonsense, missing information etc. Again, you are helping the original writer in catching errors that escaped them.
You are helping people get jobs by writing or re-writing their resumes / CVs. Please, please do your research well and go through as much information on resumes which includes latest trends in resume evaluation technologies. You do not want to disappoint the buyer of your resume writing services. Interview them, ask them to write in their own words every experience and achievement of theirs (chronologically) as also their qualifications. Then sort and sift through the clutter to create a lucid, easy-on-the-eye resume.
You of course need to know different languages for this. Do not fall into the trap of using online translators or such tools to translate. These are not exactly accurate in translating.
Then there are other jobs posted like creation of study guides – for example, a study guide on GMAT exam. One needs to research in depth for such guides and ask for remuneration accordingly. On the same lines, one can find freelance jobs on creating Q & As for say, a multiple choice question (MCQ) exam for a K-12 school.
Where can You get Freelance Writing Jobs?
Here are some of the sites where you can bid for and win freelance writing jobs:
Getting Ahead as a Freelance Writer
- Tools. As I mentioned before, a writer does not need special tools or software to get ahead of others. It is your talent and hard-work.
- Courses. Can you learn about writing on the Internet? Yes, there are courses at udemy.com on creative writing, copy writing and so on.
- Marketing. While you would have accounts on various online freelance marketplaces, you still need to showcase your writing to clients. So why not start your own blog / website where you can do just that. I recommend Wix as a quick website creator. I have written an exhaustive post on why Wix is the best website creation tool. In case you need to host a blog on self-hosted WordPress (or other content management system), I recommend Siteground as the hosting service. Read my post on why Siteground is the best WordPress host.
I hope I have managed to pique your interest in freelance writing. If you have the flair for writing, you must take the plunge and try it. Reading and writing are two pleasures of life that don’t require much from you – it is just allows your mind – the greatest tool one has, to create art forms that can please and move others. Go for it!
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