What Is The Future Of Freelance Writing?
In having years of experience in the freelance field, I often have my ear to the ground in hearing the rumblings that take place in our profession. Within the last few years I have noticed a larger and larger contingency of writers abandoning their gigs and moving on to seemingly greener pastures. Several of them have become virtual assistants, which in actuality is a very different animal than freelance writing, and one that gives you even less creative freedom. I started inquiring to colleagues and others in this space as to why they were so steadfast in their belief that the profession was dying. This journey showed me the current landscape of freelance writing, and where it is headed in the future and how to survive it.
Trends Do Not Mean the Death of Content
In digging deeper regarding why freelancers are shifting to other odd jobs, I have come to discover it is actually a myth that the work amount has decreased. On the internet, websites still run the show, and will continue to do so for years to come. This will always make fresh content a necessity. But if that is true, why would so many people agree it is a dying source of income? The answer is simple, I believe. Like any profession, you have to adapt to its changes. Video is the latest trend because it is faster and easier to digest from those who want information. In fact, according to Tubular Insights, 80% of the internet traffic in the world will be video by 2019, up 16% from 2014. On the surface, this seems like a major problem for a freelance writer, as it is sort of like a machine taking over for a lifelong factory worker. That said, a video is not without its writing. Transcribing, scripts and descriptions of the media itself are all essential and worthwhile ways to earn writing for. Trends fool freelance writers into thinking they are not necessary, but in reality they are just needed in a different way.
Know Where to Put Your Focus
Passion projects are great, and writing for people or groups that are not paying top dollar is a something we have all fallen into to put food on the table, but the truth of the matter is they are typically a waste of time. When I started seeking out businesses that require high ROI’s, I realized how much more willing they were to pay me my worth. It is hard for a writer to see past a current source of income to view the bigger picture, but projects that take more time usually pay handsomely as well. Things like sales copy and product reviews are constantly in demand because each company has their own financial bottom line they need to reach as well. If your freelance writing begins to move the needle for a company, you better believe they will keep you on speed dial. If you are truly serious about making ends meet, go where the money is, not where your heart wants to go.
Brand Yourself before ‘Branding’ Others
Because freelancing is an ever-evolving medium to earn a living from, more and more writers are building their own brand from the ground up. Most people have heard the term ‘ghost’ writer, but this does little for the content creator’s long term business goals. There are several ways for writers to expand their exposure, and I have found the fastest and easiest way to do this is through social media and free content that can be read by anyone. The most efficient way to streamline the process is to maintain a consistent brand or pen name across all of your accounts, and write as many different pieces you can. The wider the net you cast as to who can benefit from your expertise, the better. Freelance writing will pay your bills from the contracts you negotiate with companies that routinely need ‘new’ content, but it would behoove you to write extensively under your own name when and if your contract expires. Businesses hire me and you to make their brand look better, so there is no harm in singing your own praises through your output. Additionally, when you have a very distinct writing style that gains traction from audiences, word of mouth will grant you more gigs than you ever could have imagined. I utilize a personalized website to showcase my finer efforts, and I implore other writers to do so as well.
Stay On the Front Lines of Writing Freelance
Freelance writing will never be as consistent as other methods of earning, but the appeal is that it allows me and fellow typists to maintain some level of control on what is being created. This is usually not the case in real world job environments, and many of us thrive with fewer rules and regulations. The best advice I can give anyone wary of the profession and thinking about eliminating ‘freelance writer’ from their resume is that just because information is consumed differently from the masses does not mean your output is obsolete. Listen to what an audience wants and apply your writing to it in a creative way by thinking outside the box.
Homer LATHAM is part-time Freelance writer and blogger, content strategist and content marketing passionate.