Career Zone: Freelance Writer

Are you in-between jobs at present? or just want to earn some extra income on the side – How about becoming a Freelance Writer? A few months ago on a dark, cold winters weekend in Moscow, Russia I stumbled upon a website written by Tom Ewer, who decided to quit his job and work full time as a Freelance Writer.

After reading his blog, I decided that I would have a go and see if this was actually possible for the average person to make a living working at home by becoming a freelance writer.

What is a Freelance Writer

A Freelance Writer is someone who is self employed and usually works from home, full or part time.  They earn money by providing writing services, usually charged by the hour or on a fixed rate basis (number of words).

Usually a Freelance Writer will write articles on niche subjects that they know well, however it’s not uncommon for a professional freelance writer to write on subjects they know nothing about and simply research the topic before writing the article.

A freelancer writer could be writing for a blog or website, a local or national newspaper or even for a tabloid magazine.  The big difference between being a freelance writer as opposed to writing for a specific company or agency.  The freelance writer is not tied to any one project or topic and is free to write when they choose and on what topics they want.

What is it like to be a Freelance Writer?

I can see that attraction to working for yourself.  The problem is that to write a decent article, you need do a lot of research.  Personally I have a good knowledge of a couple of subjects that I am interested in.  I expected to be able to to write a good few decent blog posts on those subjects, however after the first few articles, things became very difficult.

Recently I read this article by Nicholas Tart who admits it takes him on average six hours to write a good post. Whilst it does not take me this long to write a blog post on “career advice”, when I step out of my knowledge area, I can easily see why it takes this long to write a decent article.  

During my short time as a freelancer writer, I averaged four freelance articles per week, which usually meant an extra 20 hours of work on top of a full day in the office.  Is it possible to both have a full time job and work as a freelancer writer?

Yes, but it does take some planning. Heading back to Tom Ewer’s blog, here’s a great article on working as a freelancer whilst holding down a full time job.

What Do I Enjoy About It?

I really enjoy the freedom of it. As part of my day job as a head-hunter, I am often out visiting clients which means traffic jams, jam packed undergrounds and lots of waiting around to meet people.  

Freelance Writing is something that you can do almost anywhere. You don’t even need an internet connection to write and therefore at times when I am most bored I can easily write for someone else.

I can imagine that if I was really good at writing articles then actually it could become a full-time role that would allow me to do something that I have always wanted to do – Travel. Unfortunately I am not and therefore it’s going to take a whilst before my writing skills improve enough to make this change.

What Don’t I Enjoy About It?

For me there were two key problems with being a freelance writer once you have taken into account that my writing skills are not up to scratch.  Firstly it’s the enormous time spent researching a subject before you can even start writing about it.  

As I mentioned above, my general knowledge is pretty good, however to write a thousand words on a topic that I am not an expert on, took about ten hours once you had factored in the research element.  Could you make it a full time job?  Yes, but you would have to focus on higher paying jobs.

Secondly, getting paid seems to pretty difficult.  During my time as a freelance writer, I focused writing for private clients, however the high paid jobs typically from magazines and newspapers.  The problem is getting paid from them which can often take weeks or months.

Can you Make Money?

The honest answer, yes you can.  Are you going to become a millionaire wirting for yourself? Probably not.  Doing the maths, I would estimate that I made almost 25 USD per hour that I actually worked.

This figure can be much higher with practice.  I have read some websites where people have made up to 100 USD per hour, however I think for me to get to this level it will take some time.You also need to remember that your earning per hour.  Per hour that you have actually worked.  100 USD per hour for a 10 hour day sounds great in principle, however I have sat down over the weekend and spent 12 hours on my computer and realistically only spent six of those twelve hours actually writing.

Where Can you Find Some More information?

  • WriteToDone.com – This is one of the best writing focused websites on the internet and provides a lot of useful information and writing tips.
  • CopyBlogger.com – Another classic writing website with a wealth of information on all things digital commerce.  
  • Freelance Writing Gigs – Not Only is it a useful place to find a freelance writing job, but it also provides a lot of information.
  • AboutFreelanceWriting.com – Offers helpful tips about being a freelance writer as well as posts summaries of the latest writing jobs.
  • DailyWritingTips.com – I think this website has almost everything you need to know about freelance writing
  • ProBlogger – Another all time classic that I still read today

Where Can You Get A Job From?

  • UpWork.com – is one of my favorites given it’s the place where I got my first freelance writing job from. One piece of advice, don’t ask for upfront payments without getting a few jobs under your belt and some decent feed-back on your profile.
  • Freelancer.com – Freelancer is much less focused on writing and more focused on pure freelancing hence the name. I personally found this site useful however I have some friends who regularly tell me I am wasting my time.
  • Guru – Guru is another pure play freelancer website where you can find writing jobs, but you can also find everything from electrical engineers to SEO Consultants to Website designers.
  • Problogger – Personally I don’t use this site to find writing jobs as I honestly feel that I am not a good enough writer, however I read their blog most days, and one hope to use their job site. Maybe you will find it useful.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I feel that becoming a freelance writer could be a very good job for the right person and you could easily make a long term career out of it. For me at this stage of my writing career, I simply don’t have the writing skills to actually write full time, however with practice I could probably make a good side living.

Personally I really enjoy my day job as a Head-Hunter and this writing on this website where I provide you with ideas to help you find your dream job. Freelance writing might not work for me, but I would not write it off as something you should not do.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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