Freelance writing is a career with lots of upsides – flexibility, autonomy, the chance to be creative, and opportunities to do something new regularly – but it can’t be done by just anyone. If you’re considering branching out into freelance writing but you’re not sure whether you should, here are our 8 signs to know whether you’d be a great freelance and content writer.
1. You already write in your own time, or have done so in the past
Maybe you studied accounting at university, but wrote for the student newspaper on the side. Maybe you’ve got a blog about your hobby, where you connect with other hobbyists around the world. Or maybe you write long, entertaining emails to a friend who lives overseas. Whatever form it takes, you need to love writing to even start thinking about doing it for a living.
If you don’t already write, figure out somewhere you can: when you start contacting potential freelance clients, they’re going to want to see a portfolio of your past work.
2. You’re a keen reader
Reading is important for all writers, but it’s particularly important for freelance and content writers because you’re likely to be writing all kinds of different ways. The more widely you read, both fiction and non-fiction, novels and articles, the more familiar you’ll get with the variety of ways you can use and shape language to achieve your desired outcomes.
3. Your spelling and grammar is immaculate
This is fundamental. Your writing could be used on an organisation’s website homepage, in their annual report or in letters to important clients – so it needs to be flawless. If you’re one of those people who notices when advertisements or posts on social media are full of typos, you might just have the sharp eye needed to make sure your own writing is perfect too.
4. You can adapt your copy to various house styles
As a freelance writer, you will be looking to write for new businesses all the time. Whether it’s a media organisation or a business publication, they will have their own style for things like numbers, the way to refer to people you’re quoting, acronyms and other little quirks in the way they communicate.
You need to be able to pick this style up quickly and use it, because nothing will irk an editor more than having to make these changes every time they’re reading your work. If you’re going to argue over writing out “per cent” rather than “percent” or “%”, this job is not for you.
5. You can take feedback well
If you’d get upset by an editor slashing through the sentences you lovingly constructed, you’re going to end up feeling hurt a lot as a freelance writer. Some of your clients will edit more tightly than others, but you won’t know what kind of editor they’ll be until you’ve started. You can’t be too protective of your words, and you need to be able to listen to the feedback you get and apply it.
6. You have good focus and self-discipline
Writing, especially as a freelancer, involves a lot of deadlines, and there’s nothing that will annoy a client more than if you miss those deadlines. Depending on the project you’re working on, there may be flexibility, but it’s best to start off treating all deadlines as if they’re non-negotiable.
Freelance writing is commonly done from home, and you might not have much by way of a manager checking in on you: you need to be able to check in on yourself and keep yourself on track.
7. You can manage your time well, and set boundaries
Time management will be particularly important when you’ve got multiple freelance clients on the go at once. You need to make sure they’re all getting what you’ve promised them.
Managing expectations at the beginning and setting out clear boundaries will ensure you’re not getting unexpected calls at 9am on a Sunday, or being pressured to ‘just do this one thing’ for Client A on a day you’re working for Client B.
8. You’re not afraid to put yourself out there
While writing for a living is an introvert’s dream in many ways, you do still need communication skills, and you’ll need to be confident in yourself and your abilities to get a freelance gig. Jobs will often come from word of mouth and networking, so be friendly and try to form connections with people in the writing world.
Eager to carve out a side income or new career as a freelancer? Our Freelance Writing Stage 1 course sets you up for feature article success and our Copywriting Essentials course will provide you with the practical steps to write words that sell. Add Content Writing to your skillset and you’ll be a freelance force to be reckoned with!