Writers and authors develop written content for a wide range of publications. Self-employed or freelance writers make up about two-thirds of the writing workforce, with many writers working part-time or on a flexible schedule. To be a writer, you must have excellent writing skills and be proficient with a computer to stay in touch with sources, conduct research and work with editors. The median pay for writers in 2017 was $61,820. The field is expected to grow by eight percent between 2016 and 2026, which is as fast as average for all occupations.
When the internet took off, the freelancing environment changed. Freelancers now compete with writers worldwide instead of locally or nationally. Many international writers can afford to charge lower rates than U.S. writers do. Try to avoid competing on internet writing marketplaces for low paying jobs. Focus instead on building your client base with customers willing to pay for your talent.
If you are a wordsmith and want to earn your living writing, building a freelance writing career may be a wonderful way to develop a portable career path that you love. Determine your focus, hone your message, research your target market place, build your portfolio and be patient about quitting your day job until you are earning the income you need to make.
Choose a niche
As you start your freelance writing career, you may write about a variety of topics to land assignments. This should help you discover the niches that interest you and pay well. Try to focus and write more in those areas so you can develop your expertise, portfolio and writing credentials. Your niche may be financial services, health care, technology, real estate, travel, fashion, children, pets or many others.
Consider starting a blog focusing on your niche to highlight your expertise and writing style. Do some guest posting for big blogs in your niche, using the effort as a marketing strategy. Make sure to promote your writing services on your blog by adding your portfolio and a 'hire me' page.
To expand your potential customer base, investigate the following opportunities available for freelancers.
One of the best ways to build your writing credentials and portfolio is to find paid positions that allow you to practice and expand your skills, particularly in business writing categories. Visit the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search to look for employment opportunities with MSEP companies and organizations, including the following:
You may also consider volunteering, doing an internship and proactively networking to increase your possibilities and widen your network.
Many businesses, particularly smaller organizations, don’t have the expertise on staff to develop business materials and hire freelancers to do the work. If you have experience or expertise in business writing, consider promoting your services to companies, individuals and nonprofit organizations to develop the following types of materials:
- Blogs, online content and social media
- Brochures, newsletters and other types of marketing materials
- Grants to generate funding
- Proposals to generate business
- Resumes and cover letters to help others find employment
- White papers to describe products and services
If you have a knack for creative writing and dream of writing a bestseller, your best bet at having your work published by a major publisher is to find a literary agent, although many writers are now working with smaller, independent publishers directly or possibly self-publishing. For short stories and poetry, consider submitting to literary journals or entering contests to start building your reputation as a writer. Before you enter the creative writing marketplace, do your research, ask questions, talk to other writers and get advice from writers who have successfully marketed and published their writing. The creative writing category includes the following:
- Children’s books
- Novels or nonfiction books
Consider the magazines you read for possible writing opportunities. Have you checked their writer’s guidelines? Do they hire freelance writers? Who are their competitors? Do the magazines have websites? Many of them need content writers. Review writing styles and writer’s guidelines to determine if you might be a good fit. Be prepared for a few rejections as you develop your pitch. Once you land your first assignment, build rapport with your editor, meet deadlines with a flawless product and share creative ideas for other articles to generate additional work.
Professional organizations and networking
Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies and possibly continue your education through workshops and conferences. Networking with other professionals in your industry may help you find the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location.
Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career. Joining an association can assist you in forming network connections to help you find employment.
To learn more about freelance writing and writing careers, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO and investigate your options. Take the Strong Interest Explorer and Myers-Briggs self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with your career choice. Talk to others in the field and get their feedback. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to speak with a SECO career coach to discuss career or education choices, searching for a job or overcoming challenges. You can also use the Live Chat feature on MySECO for additional guidance.