Recently, I met with an old friend of mine I had not seen in several years. When we were in college, she was a communications major and often spoke of going into journalism. What she told me at lunch was this: she saw the future. Traditional print journalism is already dead, and those who want to write have to embrace digital venues, and more than one.
What she has discovered as a freelance writer is that she has to be flexible in both her options and her writing styles. In doing this, she has been able to make a great living. Here are all of the options she has taken:
- She is an academic writer for a service called Awarded Essay. She writes essays and papers for students and only writes in subject fields she finds comfortable.
- She works for a firm in Europe that provides guest blog posts for a wide variety of clients. She particularly likes this work, because she says the research required keeps her current and relevant on a lot of contemporary topics.
- She markets herself locally as a writer for businesses and website owners. In this capacity, she creates website content, writes product reviews and descriptions, and maintains their blogs.
- She has also just created her own blog, very much along the lines of a Buzzfeed. Her goal is to have a number of categories, to monetize through advertising, and to engage in affiliate marketing.
Each of these types of writing/endeavors requires a unique style. If you are considering any or all of these possibilities, here is what you are looking at in terms of preparation, education and/or training.
AwardedEssay will only employ writers with college degrees. They are given projects based upon their degree fields and levels. Someone with a Bachelor’s degree in history, for example, will be able to craft essays and papers for high school students.
Academic writing is a very specific type. It is formal; it requires the ability to conduct research and to then organize it and write a scholarly piece that is original and perfectly written. You will need to be a strong academic.
Writing services like Awarded Essay will also often offer other types of writing – copywriting, resumes, business materials, etc. Do your research and find those that offer the type of writing you know you do well.
Blogging is a wholly unique “animal.” While it often requires some research, the similarity to academic writing ends there. Blog writers create posts that reflect the following:
- A reading level no higher than 7th People want simplicity.
- Short paragraphs, bullet pointed lists, and content that is broken up with visuals, headings, etc. People want to scan
- A purpose to entertain, to educate and/or to inspire. This requires lots of creativity and lots of practice to become a seasoned and successful blog post writer
- Readers must be engaged quickly and early – great headlines and openers.
Web content is also a unique “animal.” Many of the same style characteristics of good blog posts must also be used in creating website content and in crafting such things as product reviews.
- Keep it simple and at a middle school reading level
- Break up the content with visuals, colors, headings, etc.
- Headlines and headings are critical to engage visitors/readers
- Product descriptions require lots of creativity in word usage
If you intend to set yourself up as a freelancer, you have a bigger job than just writing for others. You are now in business for yourself and have all of the responsibilities of a business owner.
- A company like AwardedEssay does all of the marketing to gain a customer base. So does a company that hires you to write content for its clients. Now it’s all on you. Marketing will be your biggest challenge and will involve a learning curve.
- Pricing is also a challenge. You need to be competitive and even “undersell” in the beginning, until a client base is built and growing. At the same time, you have to eat.
- Interpersonal relationships are also a big factor. You have to attract clients and you have to keep them happy. This requires diplomacy and great negotiating.
Establishing a Blog and Monetizing It
This is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. The Internet is a noisy place, and competition is tough. Your challenges are as follows:
- You must find a theme or topic area that is wildly popular with a specific audience. One of the reasons that “mommy” blogs are so popular is that there is a large audience all interested in parenting hacks. If you can find a niche that is wildly popular, you have a chance for success.
- If you can’t find a specific niche, then you will have to generalize and provide categories, much like my friend is doing.
- Writing all of the posts for your blog is unwise. You want guest bloggers and, as you become better known, you will be able to get better guests, either by re-posting their articles or having them write an original one for you.
- You will need to monetize by seeking advertisers whose customer base is the same as our reading audience.
- You can monetize by affiliate marketing – offering advertising and getting paid only if a business owner gets “play” from the ads he runs on your blog.
Diversity is the Ticket
It is difficult for any web-based writer to make a living by focusing only on one type of writing. There are only so many writing assignments you will get from Awarded Essay. And successful freelancing takes time and effort, as well as taking some pretty terrible gigs just to get going.
It’s easy to get discouraged. That discouragement can only be countered by passion.
If you decide to make a living by writing, then make certain that you are passionate enough to stick it out; make sure you are passionate enough to put in the hours you will have to devote; make sure you can support yourself along the way.