What is Freelance Writing?

What is freelance writing? It’s a question I’m asked. A lot.

In fact, any question about freelancing in general is a hot topic at the moment. After all, the US has the fastest growing freelance economy with revenue increasing 78% every year!

No wonder so many workers are curious about the freelance world. And, perhaps the MOST asked about is freelance writing.

But before I answer, “what is freelance writing,” allow me to share a brief personal story. (Feel free to skip to the next section. You won’t hurt my feelings. Well, maybe a little).

What is freelance writing? Good question! Find out what freelance writing is and whether or not it's the right work from home career path for you.
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My Freelance Story

Do you picture yourself freelance writing on the beach with your toes in the sand and a coconut-filled cocktail at hand?

Same.

The flexibility of freelancing is what lures people in. It hooked me 12 years ago and I’m still going strong today! Granted, I’ve never worked from the beach but it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to.

But seriously, more than a decade ago I too found myself asking, “What is freelance writing?”

I hated my corporate job working in HR and Legal Departments. My ability to climb the corporate ladder was, ahem, not good. Plus, the distractions, near constant interruptions, one-hour commute, and office politics were draining. I couldn’t picture working this way for the next 40ish years.

What Is Freelance Writing: My Own Path to Freelance Writing

So, I started job searching.

Spoiler Alert: I did not find a new job. However, I discovered freelancing and the community of professionals who chose to forgo the traditional corporate world to strike out on their own. And impulsive 20-something Ashlee put in her two weeks’ notice soon after in pursuit of answering what is freelance writing once and for all. (Not something I recommend, but also not something I regret).

Long story short, I kicked off my career as a freelance writer with zero experience. My first year was difficult. At times I had to piece together a living to make ends meet. Then a couple years into it, I had my first child. That’s when I panicked but also truly embraced freelancing for all its worth.

As a new mother I was able to stay home with my son and earn a living on my (well, actually his) schedule. I seriously was living the best of both worlds: career and motherhood.

It was wonderful and exhausting, and I wouldn’t change it. But, I share my story with others so it’s clear that freelancing is a valid option but an option that comes with a steep learning curve, tears, and a lot of hard work.

In other words, it’s not for everyone. But is it for you?

So, what is freelance writing?

All right. Now, let’s get down to the real reason you’re here; to find out what is freelance writing.

Simply put, freelance writing is when you contract your writing services to a client or company for a fixed price. Your contract may be for a single piece of content or for an ongoing project.

For example, you can write a single blog post or create weekly blog posts for an ongoing contract.

Really, it’s up to you which projects you choose, the clients you work with, and the terms of your contract like pay, timeline, etc.

What are the different types of freelance writers?

I wouldn’t be able to properly answer what is freelance writing without discussing the types of freelance writers. We all have a type (Henry Cavill, amiright?) and its important to know your freelance writing type.

That’s because there are a ton of different avenues for you to choose from. And, it’s in your best interest to focus on a very specific type of freelance writing when starting out. This is called your niche and choosing the right one will seriously set you up for success.

So, what are these different types of freelance writers? Sit back ’cause there are a lot. But, in an effort to not overwhelm you, I’m breaking down freelance writers into five extremely broad categories.

1. Technical Writer

technical writers earn a median pay of $78,060 annually according the US Bureau of labor statistics

A technical writer transforms complex information into content that is more easily understood. Think instruction manuals, how-to guides, operation instructions, and brochures. You may also create graphs, charts, and diagrams.

Here’s a snippet from an ad for a remote technical writer:

Remote Technical Writer Job Opening Ad

Responsibilities:

Create and update documentation for the CRM application and Chatter, including mobile applications.

Develops, writes, edits, and formats materials such as Standard Operating Procedures, Business Practices, forms, checklists, technical manuals, installation guides, user manuals, and related technical and business process documentation. When creating, updating and enhancing the documentation, adhere to format, content and style guidelines, giving consideration to usability and ensuring accuracy, consistency and quality. Additionally, this position will be required to administer the processing of documents via the established Document Processing Review process. May require communication through a variety of media (e.g., CD, intranet, on-line training, etc.).

2. Business Writer

Freelance business writers are hired for A LOT of different jobs. Common business writing needs encompass everything from grants to white papers and even press releases and speeches! Lately, there’s been a surge in education writing jobs because of the number of students who transitioned to online learning during the pandemic.

Other business writers include career writers, legal writers, medical writers, tech writers, grant writers, and finance writers. Remember, if there’s a business for it, there are writers needed. When I say this is a big category, I mean it.

A quick LinkedIn Remote Job Search for business writer yields over 6,000 results.

3. Ghostwriter

Boo! Ghostwriters aren’t spooky at all. They’re hired to write on behalf of someone else. The “someone else” gets the official credit for the content even though you, the ghostwriter, penned it. Ghostwriters are used for books, essays, speeches, articles, and editorial posts.

Remote Ghostwriter Job Opening Ad

The mission of the Ghostwriter is to take a client participating in our ghostwriting program from a book plan to a final draft of a manuscript ready for copyedit. The Ghostwriter will achieve this goal by proactively engaging with our clients, writing and editing the editorial through our ghostwriting process.

4. SEO Writer

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. This is the practice of creating online content that ranks well in searches. Website owners want their business/product/service to show up on Page 1 when a potential buyer uses Google.

As a result, agencies and brands hire SEO writers to create keyword-rich content like blog posts and product descriptions that helps boost search engine rankings.

SEO writers usually focus on product reviews, how-to guide, blog posts, and website pages. When written with SEO in mind, all these pieces of content help businesses get found online.

Remote SEO Writer Job Opening Ad

The SEO writer’s responsibilities include conducting thorough research on industry-related topics, drafting optimized copy intended to rank within the search results, providing accompanying assets when required, and proofreading/editing articles before publication. Detailed outlines will be provided to the SEO writer.

5. Social Media, Sales, and Copywriter

Love it or hate it, social media plays a big role in the world. Businesses use social platforms to connect with customers, provide support, and share promotions. Consumers turn to social media to discover new products and make buying decisions.

That’s why companies turn to social media writers to create engaging content that performs well on various platforms. But, it doesn’t just end at social media! Marketing writers craft email campaigns, write sales copy, and focus on using words that convert consumers into customers.

As a social media or marketing writer you might send out weekly newsletters, craft 280-word tweets, come up with social media copy, put together sales content for a product, or draft landing page copy that converts!

Remote Copywriter Job Opening Ad

As a Copywriter, you’ll be tasked with ensuring brand consistency across every piece of our public-facing content, supporting our sales and support teams with engaging content and copy, and developing messaging for new products.

How much do freelance writers earn?

Probably the next question after “What is freelance writing,” is “How much do freelance writers earn?”

This is not a one answer question. For starters, freelance writers can be paid per project, word, or letter.

For example, one client hires you to write a 500-word blog post for $50 while another offers $.10 per word.

However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors as a whole earn roughly $33.42 per hour.

What kind of experience do I need?

It depends. Blogging doesn’t require previous experience. In fact, anyone can learn how to start a blog and call themselves a blogger. That’s what I did. 🙂

However, virtually all other types of freelance writing jobs require some kind of experience. That’s why I highly suggest online training or certification if you have zero writing experience.

I know what is freelance writing. Now where can I get freelance writing training?

This depends on the type of freelance writing you want to do. After you answer, “What is freelance writing,” your next step is to pick a niche. Remember, your success as a freelance writer really depends on selecting a niche. You cannot effectively market yourself as a “general freelance writer.” Instead, pick one of the types of freelance writing niches to get established.

Once you decide to focus on a type of writing, i.e., SEO writing, content marketing, social media, ebooks, grants, you will have a much clearer path to your career. That includes the type of online training and/or certification needed.

If you haven’t picked a niche yet, don’t panic. It’s actually a good idea to check out training programs to see what is covered. The curriculum provides a very realistic view of what you can expect to do as a full time freelance writer in that niche.

1. The Paid to Write Club by Smart Blogger

what you get with the paid to write club by smart blogger

This is a practical course to getting your first paid writing client. In fact, Smart Blogger guarantees you’ll get your first paying client.

When it comes to basics, this is where it’s at. You learn beginner writing skills and how to get your first client. Plus, blueprints on how to write popular posts and create great content. There are also skill-building challenges and feedback provided from instructors.

The Paid to Write Club is a solid beginner-friendly choice when you want to test the freelance writing waters.

2. Free Content Marketing Class by SmartBlogger

The content marketing freebie brought to you by SmartBlogger is a great complement to their Paid to Write Club.

It builds on basics and shows students how to level up their writing to higher-paying gigs in the world of content marketing. Remember, content marketing = sales. And, companies are willing to pay big bucks to writers who can help them make more sales.

I highly recommend this freebie class to anyone who’s even semi-interested in the idea of content marketing.

Grant Writing Certification at NonprofitReady

All you need is an account to start learning at NonprofitReady. The grant writing certification is free. Yep, free.

This is a good starting off point to explore if grant writing piques your interest.

The Complete Copywriting Course: Write to Sell Like a Pro

This course teaches aspiring copywriters how to sell products and services by compelling readers to take action.

It also features copywriting secrets from some of the world’s most successful copywriters.

This truly is a popular course with more than 50,000 graduates and thousands of 5-star reviews.

Ghostwriting Masterclass: Start a Ghostwriting Business

This ghostwriting course hosted by Udemy shows you how to earn income as a ghostwriter and how to start a ghostwriting agency.

Students receive a certificate of completion along with lifetime access to the course. So, you can always come back to it any time you need a refresher.

What is Freelance Writing?

There you have it! Now you know what is freelance writing. It’s a lot to take in, right? Believe me, I know. Remember, I’ve been in your shoes. There is no easy path to becoming a freelance writer. It takes a lot of hard work, tons of learning, and even more determination.

So, if learning what is freelance writing lit a fire under you to get started, but you’re a bit nervous – that’s okay! How can I help?

Laser Coaching & Accountability

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