Is writing a dependable income? This is a common question among new freelance writers. The answer depends on your talent, determination, reliability and ability to network and make connections.
Freelance Writing and the State of the Economy
Like all other industries, the recent downturn in the economy has affected journalists and other types of writers. For example, the recent folding of the Rocky Mountain News, and possibly 10 other newspapers has put hundreds of reporters out of work. The editor of a Pasadena newspaper recently fired seven staff members and outsourced their jobs to India. The fired reporters were making between $600 and $800 a week. The Indian writers who took their jobs are being paid $7.50 for a 1,000 word article.
In other news, many large and small companies have begun to downsize their marketing departments, thus putting even more writers out of work. What does this mean to the potential freelance writer who asks the question, "Is freelance writing a dependable income?" There's good news and there's bad news.
The Good News for Freelance Writers
As companies downsize and lay off full-time employees, new doors are opening for freelance writers. For example, many companies are beginning to understand the value of social networking. As such, they are beginning to hire freelancers for copywriting, blogging and other types of advertorial writing. These online writing jobs can often become a steady gig.
Online Copywriting Jobs
There are two types of copywriting: print and online. Print copywriting might involve writing text for advertisements and brochures. It involves an ability to get a message across in short, catchy phrases. Online copywriting is a bit different. It involves writing in depth content, which provides a considerable amount of information. While it is still a form of advertising, when done well, the reader is not aware of this. For example, you might be asked to write an article about a particular travel destination. The article should use enough keywords to attract anyone who is searching for information about the destination. However, it will probably be written for a travel website, whose editors will hope to receive bookings from the people that read your content. Good copywriting requires:
- Good writing skills
- A distinctive writer's voice, which suits the company profile
- A well-developed social network
- Knowledge of SEO
- In some cases, knowledge of HTML
In most cases, copywriting articles should never be written in the first person. However, some companies that are looking for a more personal form of advertising are now seeking the services of professional bloggers.
Making Money as a Blogger
Working as a blogger could be a fun way to earn some extra income. For the HTML-challenged, it is also one of the easiest forms of online writing. Bloggers work from a blogging platform, which has icons that allow you to set up hyperlinks and download photos. Being hired as a blogger for a specific company is different from writing on your personal blog. Although the company may want you to write in the first person, use humor, and even be a bit irreverent, you are still selling a product.
The Bad News for Freelance Writers
Many people are turning to freelance writing as a means of earning a full or part-time income. While some are quite talented, others have little or no writing skills. These folks are so eager to break into the writing job market, that they are willing to sell their services for as little as $3 to $5 an article. This has affected the entire industry. While 10 cents a word was once the standard minimum, today's writers will be lucky if they earn even half that much. Furthermore, many websites are now paying through page views and revenue share. This means that you either get paid by how many people view your page, how many click on the Google ads, or a combination of both. While some people do well at this, you need to have upper level social networking skills, and the patience to post a link to your article on every relevant website.
Is Writing a Dependable Income: The Verdict
Even after weighing the pros and the cons, a skilled and reliable writer can probably make a dependable income from freelancing. Subject matter experts seem to do pretty well, so the old adage, "write what you know" is definitely applicable in this situation. Try not to sell yourself short and pick up too many low-paying and time-consuming writing jobs. Doing so lowers the pay standards for the entire industry, and causes writer burn-out.