7 Things You Need to Know Before You Become a Freelance Content Writer

05/03/2017 17 comments

Does becoming a freelance content writer sound like a good idea to you? Being your own boss, setting your own hours, not being tied to one client or place of work… what’s not to like here? However, if you’re imagining yourself on a hammock, with laptop in your lap, a cold drink within a hand’s reach, I’ll have to disappoint you. It’s not all that easy being a freelancer and before you start, there are some things you need to know. Otherwise, you might get disappointed before you even begin.

You Have a Boss – It’s You

You know all that talk about not having a boss as a freelance content writer? That’s not entirely true. You do have a boss as a freelancer. It’s you. As a freelance content writer, it’s important to understand you won’t only be responsible for providing a service, but also making sure you deliver it on time and controlling its quality, among other things.

You can’t slack off or procrastinate as a freelance content writer. Clients will expect high quality service and on-time delivery from you. You will need to know how to best manage your time and often how to juggle several projects at the same time. It will be up to you to decide which projects to work on, which one will take priority over others and more things your boss or manager will normally do for you.

You will need to have incredible self-discipline if you want to work as a freelance content writer. No more sleeping until 2:00 am. Take control of your day, don’t exchange day for night.

The Freelance Marketplace is Getting Slightly Crowded

It seems these days everybody wants to become a freelance content writer, a freelance web designer or any other type of freelancer. Freelancing has been taking over 9-5 jobs for some time now. For instance, according to “Future Working: The Rise of Europe’s Independent Professionals” report, the number of freelancers in Europe increased 45% between 2012 and 2013 (from 6.2 million to 8.9 million) and is the fastest growing group in the EU labor market. Also, in the United States, according to a 2016 survey called “Freelancing in America: 2016“,  done in collaboration between Upwork and Freelancers Union, 35% of US workforce were engaged in some type of freelancing work. That’s a total of 55 million freelancers in US.

Both of these reports clearly show a certain trend – more and more people want to switch their full-time jobs for freelance projects. In fact, some predict that by 2020, more Americans will work as freelancers than as full-time workforce. At the same time, in many countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East or Eastern Europe, where the labor is either underpaid, or can’t find enough work, freelancing may be the only way to earn enough income to support their families.

You’ll Need to Know Your Worth – Don’t Let Clients Determine it for You

As a freelance content writer, you can’t rely on any market rates to tell you how much you should charge to a client. Because there is such a diversity in the freelancing world and clients can choose between a freelance content writer from India for $2 and a freelance content writer from Europe for $25/h+, you’ll have a hard time explaining your rate to a client. Maybe you’ll even feel guilty for charging so high.

Don’t be. freelancing isn’t free and knowing how to negotiate your rates is an important part of being a freelance content writer. You shouldn’t allow your clients to decide your rate. That’s your job. In general, always aim at least slightly higher than your current gigs, but also keep in mind the requirements of the project itself.

Every freelance content writer will have two options when deciding his or her rates: working on per hour or on a fixed-based rate, probably based on either the total number of words or per word. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and to know more, I suggest reading this article on How to Determine Your Freelance Rate.

A Freelance Content Writer is Often Alone

Imagine a beautiful summer day, perfect for going to a coffee shop and hanging out with your friends. Except you have that assignment to finish and are stuck inside. Working alone, can sometimes take a toll on you and being depressed as a freelance content writer is no new thing. Fortunately, as you can see in this guest post I wrote for Freelancer Map, there are ways to beat a freelancer depression.

So, if you’re feeling a bit down as a freelance content writer, try joining a gym, take a walk or go running. Working out a good sweat will also help your brain relax. Or, talk to a friend and vent your frustrations. Keeping it all inside yourself is not healthy. If that doesn’t work, take a good look at your clients and the projects you are doing right now. Which ones give you the most grief? Identify them and get rid of the bad clients.

Finally, since many of us are social animals, consider switching your home office for a desk in a coworking space. That way, you can be around people and no longer have to work alone.

Know the Art of Self-Marketing

As a freelance content writer, you will constantly have to be on alert for another job. Either you will want to find a better paying gig or your current client will leave suddenly. Be prepared to spend a good deal of your time on promoting yourself, building a network, doing interviews with potential clients and building your reputation.

Join social media groups and communities, there are several groups on both Facebook and Google+ where freelancers gather to discuss the craft, promote their work or ask advice from other freelancers. Also,  answering questions on Quora, or joining a discussion on forums or on Reddit is also a good way to build your reputation as a freelance content writer.. These are all great places to connect with other freelancers and share your experiences or to find potential clients.

Expect Not Getting Paid or Clients Suddenly Leaving

There will be times when the client will delay your payment or even leave without paying you a nickle. Hopefully, it won’t happen often, and as you start working with more reputable clients and companies, it won’t happen at all, but always be prepared for this. Especially when you just start freelancing. There are a lot of shady clients out there, who will try to take advantage of a new freelance content writer and get some work from him or her without paying them.

Although I started freelancing while I was still in college, if you already have a full-time or part-time job, my recommendation is to keep it for the time being. Don’t go full-on freelancing until you have a good cash backup and a non-payment or a late payment won’t hurt you much for the month. Remember, you still have to pay your taxes and will have other expenses. None of these will stop existing just because you didn’t get paid.

There are Other Places for a Freelance Content Writer to Find Work, Except Upwork

Finally, you might be wondering – where can you find work as a freelance content writer? Most folks will probably tell you to join Upwork and with 12 million registered freelancers in 2015, this sounds like an obvious choice. Except that there are other places to find freelancing work. Places such as:

Of course, this is only a handful or sites where you can find work as a freelance content writer. Are all these places better than Upwork? Not necessarily, but the more options you have, the better your chances of getting a gig become. Plus, most of them are not as crowded as Upwork and you might find clients willing to pay better rates than they would on Upwork elsewhere.

Of course, if you still want to start on Upwork, here’s how to get your first job there.

What advice you would give to someone who is just starting to be a freelance content writer? How would you put him or her on this path? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this post.