Guest post by Amy Collett
Just about everyone is familiar with the benefits of working in the gig economy and creating side hustles to earn extra cash. If you’re still in school or are a recent grad, this type of work can be especially beneficial, providing you with a great deal of flexibility. If you’re someone with writing skills, you could have a wide range of potential freelance areas to capitalize on.
Benefits of Freelancing
When you work as a freelancer, you often have a good deal of control over the types of work you take on, the time you commit to various projects, the rate you charge, and the location you work from. Freelancers often work on a per-project basis, though it is possible to find longer-term work, either with the same client or with publications that may bring you on as a regular contributor. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, you can deduct a lot of business-related expenses as a freelancer, ranging from basic office supplies and equipment all the way through vehicle usage. Good record-keeping is essential, especially when it comes to filing your self-employment tax return and claiming all eligible deductions.
Downside of Freelancing
Freelance work is flexible, but that also means it’s not always steady. This means you need to be mindful of budgeting, ensuring you’re taking on enough work to pay your bills and meet your financial obligations without overextending yourself with too many clients. Keep in mind, as a freelancer, you’re not entitled to sick time, vacation pay, benefits, retirement, or unemployment benefits. You’ll also have to pay your own share of taxes, along with the employer’s share of taxes and Social Security. All of this can significantly reduce your “take-home” pay, so you’ll want to keep these things in mind when negotiating rates.
Potential Freelance Areas
If you’re a versatile and talented writer, there are a number of freelancing gigs you can pursue. You could do newspaper and magazine writing, whether it’s freelancing or taking on assignment work. If you have marketing and advertising experience, you can also find freelance work as an advertising copywriter. Other niche areas include technical writing, speech and scriptwriting, jingles, blogging, or even ghostwriting. Employee manuals, operational guides, editing tasks, and social media blurbs are all areas in which there’s high demand. You might even pair up with people in related fields, like web design or graphic arts. In these cases, you provide the copy while they provide the technical design elements.
Where to Find Work
There are myriad freelance postings in online job boards, and professional freelancing associations often provide job leads as well. If there’s a particular business you’re interested in, reach out to the hiring manager or creative director and ask about freelance opportunities. Alternatively, you might approach publications, advertising and marketing agencies, and communication companies to inquire about joining a freelance pool. Even some jobs listed as in-house full-time positions can be converted into a freelance role if the hiring manager thinks you’re a good fit. You simply need to sell them on the cost savings and flexibility that come with utilizing a freelancer.
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Setting Your Rates
Some hiring entities may have a set rate for freelance work, or you may be asked to name your price. Writer’s Market provides guidance on appropriate fees to charge for different types of projects. You might work hourly, per project, or even negotiate a retainer, in which you make yourself available for a certain number of hours at a specified, guaranteed rate. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook provides additional guidance per industry. If you’re asked to provide a scope of work for a project as part of an estimate, be sure to build in time for reviews and revisions, which can add a significant amount of time to a project.
Advancing Your Skills
Every industry has continually evolving best practices, and ensuring you’re on the cutting edge of a journalism field can be a significant boost when building your business and attracting clients. Consider professional development programs, or going back to school for an online degree, such as your master’s. Online degree programs allow you to follow a schedule that suits your lifestyle.
Also, attend writers conferences and workshops whenever possible, and consider online tutorials to help you sharpen your writing skills. Not only can this help you advance from a professional standpoint, but it’s also a good place for meeting others you can collaborate with and secure leads from.
Freelance writing allows you to earn money through a creative endeavor. For best results, your freelance writing gig should be operated like a business. Always insist on a written agreement or contract with anyone you work for, establish a business bank to cash checks and pay bills, and create an online portfolio so that interested parties can find you and your work with a simple online search.
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