If you’re like me, then you want to make a living doing something you enjoy. Now, we all know we can’t do that 24/7/365. No matter what field you’re in, there are going to be aspects of the job you love and things you just can’t stand.
In my experience, a lot of the stuff I hate stems from things that aren’t really work. Meetings, oversight, dress codes, mandatory updates, the list goes on and on. Sometimes you spend so much time explaining what you are doing with your work day to chains of superiors that if feels like you never actually get your work done. And then in walks freelancing. Yes, there are bad aspects to choosing a career in freelance, but if you’re sick of wading through red tape and walking on egg shells around temperamental bosses, then freelancing might just be for you.
As a writer, in my traditional jobs, I often found myself talking about writing more than actually writing. Once I started freelancing that all ended. Now my problem is I write so much that I sometimes get the feeling I’ve used all of the words in my head (poor me, I know). If you’ve ever thought, “Maybe I should cut the oversight loose and just work alone,” then read on for some great freelance writing opportunities.
Clearly I’m a fan of this option because I’m blogging about blogging. But really, if you love to write and can match a company’s tone and message then give blogging a try. The type of blogging you do with vary greatly depending on the company. Sometimes you’ll be ghost writing for another author, sometimes you’ll be editing existing posts, and other times you’ll need to come up with original content based on general topics.
Blogging takes a lot more work and research than most people realize. Be careful to ensure you quote a fair price per word or post because you are likely going to spend additional time getting facts together or thinking about your post angle. While you might have visions of sitting down and quickly hammering out posts, it’s going to take a lot more work than that. Make sure you enjoy the topic (or at least can wrap your head around it pretty well) before submitting a proposal for a blogging job. You’ll be writing on the topic extensively, so it’s best if you’re writing about something you understand and maybe even enjoy.
Get Started By: Start a blog or at least contribute to one. Before you get to fully manage a blog, you’ll need to prove you can keep writing consistently engaging posts on a regular basis.
I got my start doing technical writing and editing, and I can definitely say there’s a big need in the industry. If you enjoy science, technology, or digital communications then you might like tech writing. I’d advise taking a class or two in technical writing to see if you like it and what the industry is looking for in terms of writing tone and format.
In my experience, this type of writing has been the most intense but also the most lucrative as a freelancer. You’ll spend a lot of time researching acronyms and types of tech that are relevant to the projects you are writing about. It’s a great field to get into, and you’ll find yourself informed on new technologies and the nuances of the field. I always enjoy what I learn from the tech writing freelance projects that I take on, so if you love to learn then try your hand at this type of writing!
Get Started By: Taking a class in tech writing. Whether online or at a university, it’s helpful to learn the do’s and don’t’s in the field from an experienced professional.
3. Communications Strategy Planning
Executives always need help developing strong communications strategies. They often know what they want to tell people, but can’t see beyond the end message. That’s where you come in! As a freelancer, you can build a communications strategy for a project or even an entire organization, and help the client carry it out. This is great long-term work and can help you to define how you approach different types of communications for different audiences.
Often, you’ll find yourself writing emails from a few vague bullet points that your client comes up with and editing presentations that they plan to deliver. If you enjoy watching projects unfold and adapting content into impactful messaging, then this will be a rewarding type of writing job to add to your freelance repertoire. You will also find yourself understanding the structure of different types of organizations.
If you’ve ever been interested in working for a specific type of company (think startup, nonprofit, university, etc.) then try helping one of their employees plan a communications strategy. You’ll gain insight into the work they do without committing to a full-time career in the field.
Get Started By: Researching communications planning on the web. There are helpful blogs and guides that help you learn the steps to take to effectively plan project and organization-wide comms strategies.
If you like picking up short jobs that are never the same twice, then try out resume writing. These projects are often one-time only (if you do it right) because what you’re essentially doing is helping someone to get hired. Offering your services as a freelance resume writer can be a fun way to help someone find the job of their dreams.Typically, your clients will already have a resume or a rough draft for you to work from to develop a new resume. You might want to do a 20minute call with them to get a sense of their personality and the tone that they want to hit with the resume. Since every field is different, and each applicant is unique, you’ll find yourself working with many different styles across your resume client base.
If you are offering resume writing services, then you might also want to provide your clients with the option to have you write tailored cover letters for specific jobs or to allow you to design the resume. This means you’ll need to understand the client’s goals really well to get the design strategy down and write a cover letter that will get them hired. Still, they are great add-on services that will get you more money per job and can earn you excellent reviews.
Get Started By: Writing resumes for your friends that you can use as examples. Yes, this probably means working for free (or a cup of coffee) but resume clients always want to see examples. Make sure to remove personal information on the samples before you send them over.
If you spend a lot of time poking around the web, then you can probably pick out which websites are well written and which ones could use work. Writing a new website often involves expanding on existing content, cleaning up and editing various pages, and finding holes in the company’s site and writing original content to fill the gaps. Website writing is perfect for people who are good at nailing down the essence of a company.
You’ll need to talk to the client and learn what they think is important about the work they do and what they focus on in their work. If they already have a vision, mission, and values statement nailed down then that is a great place to start. Often, you’ll be asked to write a few versions of things like the company story for the “About Us” page so the client can choose which fits them best.
Get Started By: Making an online resume to send to clients. How else will they know that you have what it takes to write their website? Dazzle them with your own, and you’ll be on your way to landing that contract.
If you love engaging with people and keeping up with the latest trends, then social media writing might be your top choice. Some companies will ask you to pre-plan messages and posts for them to put on their social media accounts. Others will ask you to manage their accounts for them. Obviously, the second option will take a lot more time and effort.
If you are expected to manage a social media account, you might want to get the name of a customer service person within the organization that you can team up with and go to for questions. A lot of people bypass company’s websites and go straight to social media when there is an issue. Having someone you can rely on when a question comes up that you can’t confidently answer. Social media writing is a bit easier if you can use tools that will allow you to schedule posts that will automatically be published to the social media sites your clients choose. Some of these publishing tools are free and some cost money, so check with your client and see what they envision the social media publishing schedule will look like. If it’s aggressive, suggest employing a publishing tool to stay on track and allow them to see and approve posts before they go live.
Get Started By: Setting up great social media accounts that potential clients can refer to and get a sense of your writing.
This is a huge field and often requires an advanced degree to do. If you are a great writer with a background in a science or medical field, then academic writing is a great avenue to explore. Your level of involvement can range from editing existing manuscripts to writing full sections of the paper. The goal of most academic writing is to get published, so the biggest tip here is to get familiar with the publishing world.Learning what the top journals in your target field want in a paper can go a long way.
If you help authors and their paper gets accepted, your reputation will start to grow rapidly and they will send their colleagues and co-authors to you for help with future work. Another important thing is to understand reference styles and proper citations for the journals. Some journals have extremely specific and unique requirements and a paper can be rejected if it doesn’t meet those. So you will need to do your homework to help guide your authors to successful publication.
Get Started By: Reading academic publications. You’ll learn which ones put you to sleep and which ones keep you engaged. This will help you figure out what your target fields are when you go to find clients.
Are you good at taking a person’s abstract thoughts and putting them down on paper? Then give speech writing a shot! Maybe you shy away from speech writing because it sounds like it’s just a type of writing that politicians need help with, but that’s not true! There are so many people that give speeches in a wide range of fields that you will be able to choose what type of speech writing you like best.This type of freelancing requires a lot more communication with the client to make sure you nail the message and tone accurately. Since the person will be delivering the speech, it needs to sound like they wrote it themselves. You need to match the personality of your client and only include the aspects of the topic that they care about.
You will also need to do a lot of research. For example, if you’re writing about environmental impacts for a company’s CEO, you always want to give them a fact sheet that cites the relevant sources and background details that you pulled from when writing their speech. Don’t send them in without supporting information, or they will be left stuck if the audience starts asking questions. Similarly, some clients will be very specific about where to pull sourced information from, so it’s best to ask upfront and then deliver the speech with your sources cited.
Get Started By: If it’s your first time writing a speech, try taking an online speech writing course where your technique is either peer reviewed or assessed by the instructor. You’ll gain helpful insight and be prepared with a clean example of your work to send potential clients.
There are 8 ways that you can start writing for a living! Try a few new writing gigs out and you might just stumble into a field you love. It’s a great way to rediscover your joy in writing while also expanding your skill set.
What other writing do you typically do for freelance clients? Any suggestions for writers out there who want to make money using their writing skills? Share your ideas in the comments below!