The Risks and Rewards of Freelance Writing

As with any profession, freelance writing has its pros and cons. Before you quit your job to become a freelance writer, you need to understand what it’s like to be one.

It’s three years since I became a full-time freelance writer. I dabbled with freelance writing assignments for about two years before I quit my job.

I have no doubt in my mind that in freelancing writing I finally found what I was meant to be doing. I love working for me, and I am a happier person now than when I was as a banker earning the fat monthly cheque. Yet, I would be lying if I said all was hunky-dory. I do at times miss the comfort and security that come with holding a steady job.

Remember those times when you fell in love but were not sure whether the person was right for you or not, and you made a list of positives and negatives, to help you make a decision on the relationship? Well, that’s what I have done with my “love, but not so sure” relationship with freelance writing.

I hope the analysis will help you make a better decision about your pending decision to turn freelancer.

THE PROS OF BEING A FREELANCER

As a content writer bidding for jobs, it’s exciting to get a new contract, work with international clients, write for different businesses, earn in dollars while working from home, and to see your writing help businesses achieve their goals.

I no longer have to contend with long commutes to work, attend business meetings that seem never ending, or go through the dreaded annual appraisal. And oh did I mention the office politics?  That seemingly harmless colleague who is secretly harbouring a ‘pull you down’ agenda, well, there’s certainly none of that. I choose whom I want to work with and how much work I want to take on.

Enterprise mobility may still be a nascent initiative in many companies, but  I already enjoy that as a freelance writer. All I need is a computer and an internet connection. Web-based applications such as Writebox and Dropbox give me access to my work files from any computer. I can work from anywhere and anytime, which really suits me as a young mother and an Army wife. All this while having minimum overhead expenses.

Freelancing is exciting. There is always something to do or learn. When I am not working, I am busy looking for new work and catching up with old clients. I am always learning new ways to improve as a writer and online marketer. I now have a much better grasp of various facets of business,  especially when it comes to product development, branding, and social media management.

Doing my own thing gives a satisfaction that no 9 to 5 job can match. Come to think of it I always had a hard time truly agreeing with the approach the boss would take; I’d much rather do things my way. Wouldn’t you?

THE CONS OF BEING A FREELANCER

When you choose to become a freelancer on the World Wide Web, you take on the challenge of competing on a global stage. You compete with freelance writers from North America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe. The bidding war revolves around each writer’s skills, experience, price and proposed delivery date.

With the thrill of being a business owner, comes added responsibility. You are the strategist, salesperson, marketer, social media specialist, customer service, and operations specialist. You have to know it all and do it all.

You are continually seeking new clients and trying to bring in more work from existing clients. You are lucky if your sales pitch conversion rate is more than eight to ten percent of customers.

Saturday and Sunday are no longer sanctimonious as days where you can take off. There are days of no work, followed by days where there is more work than you can So you work when you have to, which may include weekends. Yes, there is greater flexibility for fulfilling personal commitments, but time is as scarce as ever. As a freelance writer, you are multitasking for most of your work day and time just flies. You need to cross-check your planner continuously for delivery schedules, making sure you stay on track.

Quitting the comfort of a well-paying job to start your venture is fraught with uncertainties. As a freelance writer, if you aren’t working, you aren’t earning.

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So should you jump on the freelancing bandwagon? Having weighed the pros and cons of life as a freelancer, this is a question that only you can answer. Although you will receive well-meaning advice from family and friends, it has to be ultimately your call. If you can cope with the ‘uncertainty’ of how much you will earn by when (especially in the initial phase), then freelance writing offers you an exciting opportunity to be the captain of your ship. But, if you aren’t motivated enough to stay focused and work all by yourself, then you will find the going rough in the turbulent world of freelance writing.

Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer

Download eBook for Free – Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer: Use Freelancing Websites to Source Content Writing Jobs and Make Money from Home!

Answer these questions –

  • Have you always had a flair for writing?
  • Do you pride yourself on being a good communicator?
  • Do you have a knack for presenting facts in an informative and logical way?
  • Do you want to be the boss of you?
  • Do you want to make money from home?

If you just nodded your head in agreement with most of these statements, then freelance content writing is a viable work from home option for you.

My eBook ‘Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer’ will help you break into the competitive world of web content writing by teaching you everything you need to know about freelancing websites.  Here you will find a step-by-step approach to –

  • Starting as a freelance content writer
  • Getting content writing jobs with international clients through freelancing sites, and
  • Building your freelance writing business to give you a steady stream of income.

Based on my experiences as a freelance writer, the eBook is loaded with practical tips on creating a freelance writer’s profile, bidding for content writing jobs, determining your writing rates, keeping clients happy, using online tools to boost your productivity, and much more.

There is also an eBook summary with takeaways from each chapter, to keep as a ready reckoner long after you have finished reading it.

As a freelance content writer, you are your own boss – choose whom you want to work with, and how much you want to work. Best of all, you can make money working from the comfort of your home with negligible overheads.

Download this eBook now, as a first step to starting as a freelance writer and making money from home! The eBook can be downloaded for FREE between 18th and 20th April on Amazon Kindle Store.

Guide to Becoming a Freelance Writer

Writing tips

3 Writing Apps to Make You a Better Writer

Writing tipsAs freelance writers, most of us work alone. The good thing about that is that there is no one to tell us how to do our job. Unfortunately, it also means that there is no one to help us become better writers.

But worry not – whether you want to write faster, write content that has a wider audience reach, or write content that is grammatically correct,  there are writing apps to help you improve.

There are three online tools that I use for almost every piece of writing, and I can certainly vouch for how these apps have helped me be a more accurate writer. These are –ID-100144466

  1. Writebox
  2. Hemingway
  3. Grammarly

I first used Writebox in 2013 when I was on a quest to write more articles and increase my earnings as a freelance writer. Writebox is a text-editor like MS Word. The difference is that the Writebox software does not prompt you to correct spellings, improve sentences, or correct grammar as you type content. Because there is nothing to slow you as you type, it gives you the freedom to write as freely as you would if you were to use pen and paper. Writebox is the closest you can get to writing digitally at the speed of thought.

Hemingway App tells you how difficult or easy it is to understand your content. Once you paste the content on the app, the first thing to look at is the readability level of the content. For instance, ‘grade 8’ means that the person reading the content should have at least a U.S grade 8th education. A higher than 10th-grade score means that your content has jargon, complicated words, and complex sentences.

The app claims that Hemingway’s content had a writing ease of 5th grade, despite the fact that he mostly wrote for an adult audience.

The Hemingway app highlights the following
  • Complicated words
  • Passive sentences
  • Adverbs, and
  • Sentences that are hard or very hard to read

Choosing simpler words, writing in an active voice, minimising use of adverbs, and breaking down complex sentences, will allow your writing to reach a wider audience.

I am a recent Grammarly convert. You see I just finished the draft of my first eBook. I speak and write English fairly well, but am not well-versed with the nuances of grammar.  Instead of hiring a proof-reader to do the job, I decided to buy the annual subscription plan of Grammarly.

Grammarly helps write mistake-free on MsWord, WriteBox, Gmail, and social media accounts. Take the one-month subscription plan to get an idea of how the app can help you. The annual subscription plan costs approx $140 and saves you about $19 a month.

These are just some of the writing tips I have to share from my experience as a freelance writer. I am writing an eBook which will help any aspiring freelance writer break into the highly competitive world of online content writing. Follow my blog and Facebook page to stay updated.  

freelance writing tips

3 Simple Steps to Start Freelancing

Congratulations on choosing freelance writing as your entrepreneurial venture.  Being a freelance writer is akin to being a business owner. You are responsible for every aspect of your work – from strategizing how to market yourself, to creating and delivering the actual product (i.e. content) and ensuring that your customers are happy.

You have a fair understanding of the risks of being self-employed and are determined to make a go of it. Now it’s time to create your writing business.

Here are three steps to get started as a freelance business writer.

Step 1: Understand how to write content for the internet

Since you are mostly going to be writing content for the internet, it’s important to understand an important differentiation – how writing for the internet is different from writing content for a print publication.

The internet has an abundance of information on any topic, which means that the average internet reader spends only a few seconds on any website, before deciding to continue reading or clicking the back arrow to move on to another website. Because you have very little time in which to make an impression, you need to ensure that the content is both easy to read and engaging. This means choosing the right article header, presenting content in succinct blocks of information ( with subheadings and bullet points), and ensuring that each section moves seamlessly on to the next.

In contrast, a person who picks up a magazine is more likely to be doing so at leisure and is willing to spend more time reading what you have to say.

Then there is the SEO (Search engine optimization) aspect of writing content for the internet. SEO techniques improve the likelihood of search engines finding your content when someone types the relevant phrase on search engines such as Google and Bing. Including keywords, tags, and a metadescription are basic SEO techniques.

Learning how to write for the internet is an art in itself. So here’s what I want you to do. Go to your preferred online shopping website and order this ultimate guide for writing online content.  It’s called – The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World. Priced around 12 USD, this book is the best upfront investment to kick-start your freelance writing career

Step 2: Build Your Writing Portfolio

You know you can write, but to bag your first writing project you need to prove that to your future clients. So before you start looking for work, write at least 5 articles/ blogs. These articles and blogs then become your writing portfolio, which you will submit as writing samples along with each writing project that you bid for on freelance job portals.

Write on topics that you are comfortable with. For instance, if you have worked as a banker, you could write tips on money savings tips or improving your credit score. If you are a new mom, write about your recent pregnancy experience. If you know a lot about keeping dogs as pets, write about that.

Remember to keep the writing style easy. Use words that you would normally use when speaking to someone. Avoid jargons.

Writing your first five articles shouldn’t take more than 7-10 days.

Step 3: Start Bidding for Writing Assignments on Freelance Job Portals

Now it’s time to put your writing skills to the test by bidding for paid writing assignments.

Freelance job portals like Upwork (formerly Odesk), Elance, Freelancer, and Guru, have clients from all over the world posting their content writing requirements. Here’s how you can start sources writing assignments through freelance job portals:

  • Develop your contractor profile – Write a  brief about yourself, services you offer, take skill tests available on the website, and update your writing portfolio
  • Select a contractor membership plan – Depending on your membership plan, your account is credited with ‘connects’ on a monthly basis. You need to have connects to apply for any job.
  • Set up a payment withdrawal method – You can withdraw the money you have earned on the freelance portal through PayPal or a direct transfer to your bank.
  • Start bidding for projects

The cost of using these websites to source work has two components – a monthly membership fee and project commission (deducted as a fixed percentage of your earnings on that project). To circumvent this fee, add the website commission to your article fee rate. So if you want to earn $10 per article, bid at $12 for each article.

becoming a writer

Seek and you shall find, bid and you shall be rewarded. 

Starting something new is often the hardest part. Yes, there are scores of more experienced writers than you, which means that bagging your first project won’t be easy. But don’t give up. Keep sending in those project proposals, tailoring how you sell your writing skills as per the requirement of the project.

There will be a lot of questions as you start writing for clients.

This is the beauty of freelance writing –  you are always finding ways for improving yourself as a writer.

Write as much as you can. When you don’t have writing assignments, write for yourself. Every piece of writing will make you a better writer.

And the better you get at your craft, the better you get paid.

All the best!

Image1 credit: Anusorn P, freedigitalphotos.net

Image2 credit: Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net

How Much Should You Charge As a Freelance Writer?

How Much Should You Charge As a Freelance Writer?

When you start work as a freelance writer, one of the first things you ask yourself is “How much should I charge for my writing services?”.

Finding an answer to that question can be difficult, at first. This is because unlike other jobs or corporate designations, there is no known pay structure that you can reference. Also, it’s difficult to benchmark yourself against other writers. Every writer has unique skills, in the type of content they write as well as the quality of writing. Someone who is just starting out can expect to earn much lesser than an established niche writer.

So that brings us back to the initial question, what should be your freelance writing fee?

How Much Should You Charge As a Freelance Writer?Tips for determining your writing fee

I have been freelancing for the last four years, and here’s what I have learnt about determining pricing as a writer.

1. Start low:  Clients are willing to pay more for your work once they have either worked with you , or when they see high customers ratings from other clients. Since you have neither of these when you start writing, your writing fee may well determine your chances of getting a writing gig. So quote the minimum amount you would be willing to work for. Remember the aim is to get the job and gradually build a client base.

My first job four years ago paid $7 for 400 words and I was thrilled that anyone was willing to hire me.  Today my rate is a minimum of $25 per 400 words. Depending on the type of content being written, that rate can be twice as much.

2. Review freelancing websites for how much others are charging:   I source work primarily through freelancing websites such as Elance and Upwork. Seeing how much other writers with similar experience bid for projects that I am interested in, is a good indicator of the going rate for the project.

3. Charge higher if you have relevant experience:  Having written on the same topic as the client’s current requirement gives you a slight edge. Quote higher than your usual price if you have similar writing experience.

4. Look at the overall client relationship:  Different clients will pay different amounts for the same type of work. For instance, my clients in India tend to have lower budgets than clients in the U.S or U.K. When an existing client has a lower budget, consider other aspects of the work relationship, such as the ease of working with the client, their promptness in clearing invoices, and the potential for future work. Some flexibility in pricing is good.

5. Increase your fee with existing clients, but not too often:  As you work for more clients, across more industries and build a reputation as a solid / reliable writer, you will of course want to charge more. But how often should you increase your rates?

With existing clients once a year, or once every two years, is a good enough wait period before asking for an increase. Speak to your client or send them an email at least two months in advance of the date from when you want to hike your rates. Also communicate your willingness to work at the new fee for the next ‘X’ months.

Some clients will agree readily to the proposed fee and others may negotiate a lower than the proposed rate. There is always the risk that some clients will refuse to accept the revised rate. It is up to you to decide if it is still worth your time to work for that client.

Should you write for free?Should you write for free?

Several well-known publications pay pittance. The low rate is justified by the exposure you get by writing for them. Also, when you start out on freelance job websites like Upwork, clients may offer projects at low fee in exchange for five-star ratings to boost your profile.

Here’s my take on this.There is no way I would work for free. My time is worth something and it is up to me to decide, within reasonable limits, as to how much minimum I would be willing to work for.

As I said earlier, I did start out at a low pay bracket to begin with, but that was just the first couple of months. Once I gained a fair understanding of my skills and how much I was charging versus other writers, I started to pitch for a higher writing fee. While my job success rate dropped, I succeeded in reaching a handful of good clients with decent pay rates, who continue to give me work on a regular basis.

When it comes to determining how much you should charge clients as a freelance writer, you are the best judge of what your writing skills are worth.  But don’t be so unrealistic in your demands that your writing rate becomes uncompetitive.

All the best.