Freelance Writing – The Why and How of It

Posted on 22 March, 2012 by Faye - 3 Comments

Hi Guys!
So today we have the wonderful Suzanne van Rooyen for you all. She will be talking all about freelancing and how it is best to go about it. A similiar post was written for Krissy Brady’s Blog.
Hope you like it (:

So you want to be a writer. A pyjama wearing, beslippered, ratty haired starving artist, right? No? Then you might consider freelance writing if you want to pay the bills. But, freelancing takes a lot of hard work, and not only once you have the gig. Just finding a writing job that doesn’t pay you pittance can take hours, especially if you’re trawling the web.

Having had moderate success in fiction writing and slightly better success writing newspaper articles, I decided to expand my writing career and explore the uncharted territory of ‘freelancing.’ Of course, Google would have all the answers. So not knowing where to start, I searched ‘freelance writing jobs,’ expecting a handful of results at best. I wasn’t prepared for over a million!

Wading through the results, I began to make sense of it all and discovered there was a method to the madness. Sign up with a site, bid on a project, get job, work on job, submit, get tons of money. Err, not exactly. Before you sign up and start enthusiastically applying for jobs you think sound interesting, you might want to stop and consider the following:

  1. What kind of projects and topics can you write about based on previous knowledge and experience? Probably not recommended to sign yourself up for medical writing if your knowledge and experience is in flower arranging.
  2. What type of writing can you do? Never heard of SEO, article spinning or copyrighting? Probably best not to launch straight into those kind of jobs then.
  3. What kind of writing would you like to do? If there are bills to pay you might have to start out writing 25 articles on foot fungus, but once you’ve learned the ropes, you will find jobs you actually enjoy doing.
  4. How much time do you have for writing? Never over commit yourself. It’s unprofessional and only creates stress for you and frustration for the employer.
  5. How much is your time really worth? Don’t sell yourself short. If you want at least $0.03 per word, don’t settle for less even if it means not working this week. Wait for the jobs that pay decent rates. Bear in mind if you’re just starting out, you might not earn more than $0.01 per word.
  6. Do you really want to do this? Don’t say yes to a project unless you plan to follow through to the very bitter end of those 25 foot fungus articles. Not delivery work you committed to can damage the employer-writer relationship for the entire site.

Still feeling brave and want to try your hand at freelancing? Try a project board website that allows employers to post jobs and potential employees to bid on the projects. Sites like Freelancer.com make a good starting point. Even the jobs aren’t always well-paying, the benefit of working through a company like this is that payments and disputes are generally handled through the host company and gives both employers and freelancers some added security.

Some sites, like Craigslist, do offer direct contact with the employer, but these jobs require mutual trust between strangers with no way of solving disputes if the employer pays for work not delivered or the writer delivers work without being paid.

Be prepared to have to pass a test before signing up. Some sites, particularly academic writing ones, may require proof of skill. This might involve passing a basic grammar or something more detailed before you’re allowed an active account on the website. If it’s work you really want to do, then grin and bear it, and do as the site commands.

Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Clearly, he’d never been a freelance writer. Despite your passion for writing, freelancing is a tough job and you’ll inevitably get jobs you loathe, find boring, or just make you wonder why you’re doing this in the first place.

If you really love the world of writing, then even turning out 25 articles on foot fungus or haemorrhoid treatment is better than the alternative of not writing at all. 



Suzanne van Rooyen is a freelance writer by day and a SF writer by night. Her articles have appeared all over the globe on a variety of topics. Her published fiction includes a début cyberpunk novel called Dragon’s Teeth and a few short stories of the post-apocalyptic, dystopian persuasion. When not writing, she’s playing in the snow with her shiba inu pup, Lego or trying to play guitar. You can find and contact her online here: http://suzannevanrooyen.com/ or here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzanne-van-Rooyen/304965232847874 or even here http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5306442.Suzanne_van_Rooyen.

3 Comments

  • Disincentive says:

    Hello :) I’m your follower. I made a new blog with reviews yesterday. I just posted my first review! Would be amazing if you could check it out :) I would be really happy for any follow, comment, criticism! I’m newbie, so I really appreciate any help!

    Sorry if my comment bothers you in any way :) You can delete if it does.

    Have a nice day!

    Here is my first review!
    http://disincentive-reviews.blogspot.com/2012/03/01-vampires-of-hollywood-adrienne.html

  • Ooooh, fab article! Freelance works scares the… err… yes, it scares me… and wow… writing articles on things you not only don’t know about, but are outright gross…

    FABULOUS!

    And: “If you really love the world of writing, then even turning out 25 articles on foot fungus or haemorrhoid treatment is better than the alternative of not writing at all.”

    I LOVE this. It’s like the ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’

    Thanks for sharing! ♥

  • I love this! Except for me insert 150 articles on menopause for the foot fungus. Oh yes, I did it…err I actually still do it, but it pays the bills. At least the knowledge will help when it’s time to enter menopause :)

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