90s sitcoms loved rose-tinted glasses, didn’t they? Rachel, a waitress, and Monica, a sporadically employed chef, lived in a huge Manhattan apartment; Will Smith lucked out with a Bel-Air lifestyle; and Carrie Bradshaw was able to write one column a week and afford £40,000 worth of shoes.
Let’s let that last one marinade for a moment. Sound realistic? Nope, didn’t think so.
The way her freelance writer’s lifestyle was portrayed was more than a touch far-fetched. That’s caused many people to ask themselves: what is a freelance writer? What’s the lifestyle really like?
Today, we’re demystifying the career option that has attracted so many creatives who desire flexibility and autonomy over their working lives.
What is a freelance writer?
Put simply, a freelance writer is someone who writes for a living and operates on a self-employed basis. Sometimes they write for just one publication, business or agency; but more often, they’ll seek multiple clients.
If you’re considering this career it’s best to ask yourself: are you at the top of a particular field? If so, you can stick to that topic and work off your reputation. If you’re earlier on in your career or prefer a variation of writing topics, it’s best to keep your skills diverse. The latter option is almost always the best for people who are looking to make a living from their writing skills.
What content does a freelance writer produce?
Just as you would when you’re fully employed, you can expect to write:
- Blog posts
- Product descriptions
- Web copy
- Email copy
- Press releases
- White papers
- Social media updates
You’ll also come across copy editing work, which requires you to take existing copy and give it a lick and a spit. Sometimes, this might have been written by a non-professional writer who didn’t quite get the brief; sometimes, you’ll be editing translated copy to give it a natural flow.
Because of this, you’ll need to constantly brush up on trends and tips in the world of online writing.
(Psst: want to take a shortcut? Sign up to our blog and we’ll let you know when there’s something new to learn. You’re welcome!)
What are the benefits of being a freelance writer?
There’s been an upsurge in self-employment over recent years – that’s no secret. Writers, in particular, are acutely aware that they can produce their craft from anywhere, and it’s attractive because:
- They get to leave the daily grind behind. No more clock-watching; no more 9-5!
- They can choose what hours they work.
- In fact, they can choose what days they work – meaning they can take holiday at their own prerogative.
- They have freedom over who they write for. As a writer with Copify, no two days are the same.
- For those who choose to work from home, or somewhere very nearby, they get to say goodbye to a gruelling morning commute.
- They’re able to have more control over their office surroundings. If you’ve ever been irritated over your office feeling like a sauna or had the world’s least comfortable swivel chair, you’ll know what we mean.
What personality traits do freelance writers have?
All those benefits sound great, right?
That may be so, but let’s be totally clear: without a monthly salary, sick pay or holiday pay, not everyone can cut it as a freelance writer. However, those who can often share these traits:
- They’re self-reliant – people would describe them as go-getters
- They’re happy to market themselves – wallflowers beware: shouting about what you do is crucial
- They yearn for autonomy – these are the most flexible, innovative people you’ll know
- They’re always learning – and that means reading
What are the drawbacks of being a freelance writer?
Every writer is a creative at heart. While some have managed to hit the holy grail and can nail a sales pitch with their eyes closed, many would prefer that clients came knocking.
The main concern for most writers who are considering going freelance is the idea of how to win new clients.
At Copify, we take care of that for you. Once you’ve undergone our training exercise and have been welcomed aboard, you simply log in and pick from a list of clients who’ve come to us for services that you can provide.
Is there a need for more freelance writers?
It sounds like a lot of people have gone down this route, and for obvious reasons. In fact, around half of all freelance writers have a separate job to support their creative outlet (read more here). But with online content being a crucial business-driver for any company with an online presence, there’s always a need.
Companies and individuals often only require one written project to be completed at a time. For instance, they might have a new product launch, and they’ll suddenly need booklets, blog posts, articles, press releases and other content to make it a success. Having a full-time employee wouldn’t make sense if they only have one product launch a year. That’s where freelance writers come in.
Flexible and versatile companies, particularly ones that have started up since the advent of the internet, often don’t exist in a fixed, physical spot (like a shop, for instance). Companies like that need people who are able to work independently. The success of hotdesking offices like WeWork is proof of that.
Bonus content: your next steps to becoming a freelance writer
Now we know what it’s like to be a freelance writer, it’s time to brush up on the other aspects of the lifestyle.
Education is important for any creative career. Sometimes that’s best done in an institution; but other times, self-taught creatives can provide something unique to a business. If you’ve found that not having a degree has held you back from having a lucrative career path, read through these tips.
Whether you’ve got a PhD or you left school at 16, lifelong learning is something all passionate writers love. Here are some great actionable tips for learning new skills to aid your freelance content writing career.
Laura Kay at The Guardian has some tips for building an irresistible portfolio. Take a look here.
Full-time-mum-turned-freelance-writer, Elna Cain, shares her story (and spills the beans on whether she thinks you ought to seek a formal education first).
Main image credit: Dhyamis Kleber
Image credits: mentatdgt, Leah Kelley, Pixabay