How to Survive Life as a Freelance Writer – Part 2
So, you are prepared for the reality of life as a freelance writer, right? If not, go back and read the first part of this series, and then come back.
Now, let’s look at finding work and bidding for projects.
There are three main ways to find writing projects as a freelancer; four if you include freelancing for a company that has previously employed you.
- Approaching companies directly
- Applying to advertisements
- Using an agency
There are pros and cons to each approach, so let’s look at each one in more detail.
Approaching Companies Directly
This approach quite literally involves taking your work and presenting it to different companies or websites in the hope that they will publish it, and more importantly pay you for it. If you have a particular passion, skill set, or knowledge base that you can turn into excellently written prose, then this might be the route for you.
- You can follow your interests.
- Build a portfolio of work quickly.
- Choose who you write for and what you write.
• Have something to bargain with when discussing rates (you already have the writing and you can always pitch it to their competitors).
- There are no guarantees.
- It can take time to find someone willing to publish.
- Depending on your area of expertise, the market can be very crowded.
Apply to Advertisements
Again, this approach is well suited to those who already have a writing niche. You can follow those interests within the remit of what the specific company is looking for.
- Regular work, paid regularly (as a general rule)
- Working on subjects you know
- Can feel a lot like being employed
- Little negotiating on work rates
- Need to watch for non-disclosure and non-compete clauses that could affect your future work
Using an Agency
Experiences of working with agencies vary and are highly dependent on the agency you work through and the clients you work for. Working through an agency is a great way of testing the waters if you are new to freelancing and are looking for your specific niche. For me personally they were, and occasionally still are, a lifeline.
Research agencies carefully before you sign up and check out the different fees they charge. You can end up taking home less than half the money you earn if you are not careful. Fees can range from a percentage of what you earn, to withdrawal fees, and additional fees for payments in foreign currencies.
- A vast array of clients and projects at your finger tips
- Support and advice on writing, setting your rates and dealing with disputes (at least on the best agency sites)
- Choose only the work that conforms to your knowledge/interests, availability and pay rates
- Flexibility in the amount of work you take and when you work
- There are fees to pay
- Some of the work is very poorly paid
- You are competing with others who may be willing to sell their skills much cheaper than you
- You may still need to sign non-disclosure clauses
- You are generally ghost writing, so it can be difficult to build your own portfolio (some clients will give permission for the work to be used for this purpose)
You can always choose to go it completely (almost) alone and publish your work on long form social media platforms, such as Vocal, or your own website. These are not going to provide anything like a steady income, at least in the short-term, but they are great ways of getting you out there and noticed.
Selling yourself and your work is the topic of our next post in this series.