Freelance Writing – Should You Specialize?

writingWhen it comes to freelance writers, there are two main types.  First, there are the generalized freelance writers (such as myself) who will write on virtually any topic that they are hired for.  Then, the second type, is the specialized type of freelance writer who chooses one or more specific topics that they write about, and that’s all they do.  For example, a health writer will only take jobs about health related issues.

There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of writer, and every freelancer will have to choose what they want to do.  Of course, you can always change as well if you find you don’t like what you’re doing.  You can also be something of a hybrid of the two, where you’ll write on any topic, but you really specialize in one area and you spend most of your time looking for clients in that niche.

Benefits of Generalized Writers

From my years of experience as a general freelance writer, I’ve found there to be many great benefits of going this route.  The following are some of the most important benefits I’ve found:

  • Not so Repetitive – While I have some regular clients where I write about the same topics all the time, I also have other orders that come in about all sorts of different things.  I like the fact that I get to ‘spice it up’ a little bit and write on a wide range of different things.  My wife laughs at me because I’m always mentioning different local businesses in different parts of the world, because I do a lot of writing for a company that offers local SEO services.  For example, when she says I need a haircut, I may say that I know a great place for an excellent haircut and straight razor shave in New Jersey, and another one in Texas.  (Ok, I didn’t say my jokes were good…Or that my wife’s laughs weren’t more out of pity than thinking that I am funny.)
  • Educational – I have learned many different things about many different topics because of my writing.  One week I may be hired to write a few articles about a rare medical condition, the next it might be writing about a political situation on the other side of the world.  In my research for these jobs, I have learned many interesting things!
  • Lots of Work – Obviously, if you will write about anything, you’ll have many more opportunities to find work.  It is a lot easier to find jobs when you can look for them in every niche vs. being so focused.

Benefits of Specialized Freelance Writing

While I’m not a specialized freelance writer, I do know that there are some great benefits to going this route.  I’ve talked to some people who specialize, and read some blog posts of these types of people, and I can definitely see the attraction.  From what I know, these are the benefits of specializing as a freelance writer:

  • Higher Pay per Article – Just like a neurosurgeon gets paid more than a family doctor, writers who specialize can make a lot more money.  It takes time and work (just like medical school?) but it can really pay off.  Once you’ve built a reputation as a top writer in a specific niche, you can make $1 per word or even more (if you are in the right niche).
  • Reduced Research – While initially you’ll have to do a lot of research, that will taper off over time.  As you become an expert in your chosen niche, you can typically write with minimal research.
  • Fewer Clients – You can work with a smaller number of clients, which can make keeping track of things much easier.
  • Smarter Clients – Hopefully my clients don’t get offended at this, lol.  What I mean, however, is that clients who are willing to pay for a specialized writer know EXACTLY what they are looking for.  They will explain it clearly, and the write can just get right to work.

I’m sure there are many other benefits to both sides of this fence.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you found it useful. I'd love to hear what you thought about it in the comments below. If you're interested in publishing this, or any of my content, on your site I'd love to hear from you. Just contact me using my syndication request form HERE.

Also, If you're interested in receiving an occasional email from me with great information on how to write for money online, submit your email below. You'll also get a copy of my free report, "A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding & Landing Private Clients." Thanks again!

Michael

Ten Great Tips for Starting YOUR Freelance Writing Career TODAY

getting startedWhether it is online or in person, when people learn that I make a nice income as a freelance writer, people want to know how I do it.  Millions of people would love to make a living, or even a nice side income, from writing, but simply don’t know how.  Whether you’re looking to turn writing into your only income, or you just want to earn some extra money while following your passion, it is important to know how to get off on the right foot.

So, How Do You Get Started as a Freelance Writer?

The following little tips or pieces of advice will help you get the ball rolling.  These tips aren’t going to get you making $100,000 per year, but they will get you from $0 to that first good paying client.  Of course, these tips can be used to expand an existing freelance career as well, but they are really designed for people who really want to get their freelance writing business started from scratch.

Do Something – The biggest reason most people don’t become successful as freelance writers is because they don’t take any action.  If you never take a first step, you can’t ever improve and become more successful.  Let me get the hard news out of the way now.  Your first steps won’t be perfect!  It doesn’t matter, the first step is the hardest and once you take it, you’ll learn from your mistakes and know how to improve for the second step.  So, with that in mind, look at the following action options and choose one of them to take action on, RIGHT NOW.  There is no reason to delay.

  • Action Option #1  – Reach out to the owner of your favorite website and offer to write some articles for them.  You can do this free of charge, but only if they are willing to publish the posts IN YOUR NAME.  If they accept, this will give you a great ‘resume building’ article that you can show to other potential clients in the future.  It will also help to boost your confidence.  Keep in mind, however, that you DO NOT want to write for free forever.  One or two posts for free is about the limit per site, and don’t do it for more than a few sites.
  • Action Option #2 – Offer to write for your favorite local business that has a website that looks like junk.  There are hundreds of businesses in every local area, and most of their websites have low quality (or no) content.  Offer to improve their content.  Explain that it will help them by building a more professional look, and can also attract SEO traffic.  Typically you can get paid for this, but if necessary, do it for free to build up your resume.
  • Action Option #3 – Build your own niche website.  This is one of my favorite options because it can build value for you in a variety of ways.  First, you can choose to write on any topic you want, which can be fun.  Over time, you can build this up into an authority site that brings in lots of traffic.  You can then work on making money by selling products, selling advertisement space, and much more.  In addition, you can send potential clients to your niche site to show them the quality of your work.
  • Action Option #4 – Build a business site for yourself.  Create a simple business website to offer your services.  This site can have information about the type of writing you do, your prices, and of course, some samples of your work.  This is a great way to give yourself a professional look and feel, which will help potential clients feel more comfortable hiring you.
  • Action Option #5 – Create your social media accounts.  As a freelance writer, you’ll want to have accounts on all the major social media sites to help build your brand.  Choose your business name (it can just be your name if you want) and set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other top sites.  You don’t have to know how to post or promote anything at this point, just get the accounts made for now.
  • Action Option #6 – If you choose this one, you need to have already done #5, but its not hard.  Start following established freelance writers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Following them is a great way to learn what they do to become successful.
  • Action Option #7 – Contact SEO companies.  SEO companies need to have high quality content for their clients, or they will never be successful.  Offering to write for these companies is a great way to bring in some steady work.  There are hundreds of good SEO companies out there, and if you land just one of them as a client, you can have a good amount of work coming in.
  • Action Option #8 – Send a query letter to a magazine.  Magazines (both print and digital) need a lot of content to stay up to date and interesting.  Choose your favorite online and offline magazines and contact them.  Their website will have a ‘contact us’ email, so find it and shoot them a message explaining that you are a great writer and you’d love the opportunity to submit an article for their publication.  Ask them what the proper process is for submitting content, and where you can learn about their payment structure. Once some of them respond, follow through with submitting an article!
  • Action Option #9 – Sign up for freelance writing accounts on eLance, oDesk and other locations.  I’ve written on how to use these sites in the past, so look through my site for a detailed guide on how to use them.  It isn’t hard, and it is free.  If you’re not applying for jobs on these sites, you’ll never get hired!
  • Action Option #10 – Get a mentor.  If you’re still not sure what to do, and you prefer a little more hand holding when trying something new like this, consider hiring a mentor.  There are freelance writing mentors online that offer one on one coaching and guidance, which may be right for you.  These mentor programs can be expensive, but if you’re willing to learn, they can be worth it.  If you are interested in working directly with me as your mentor, I’m happy to help.  I don’t have a formal program in place, but I would be glad to talk with you and set something up.

So, now is the time to take that first step.  Don’t put it off a second longer, take action!  This ‘trial and error’ method is how I became a freelance writer, and I’m sure it will work for you too.  Just don’t give up, and keep learning!  And, most of all, don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it!

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you found it useful. I'd love to hear what you thought about it in the comments below. If you're interested in publishing this, or any of my content, on your site I'd love to hear from you. Just contact me using my syndication request form HERE.

Also, If you're interested in receiving an occasional email from me with great information on how to write for money online, submit your email below. You'll also get a copy of my free report, "A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding & Landing Private Clients." Thanks again!

Michael

Why Aren’t You Using Craigslist to Find New Clients?

craigslist-logoWhen looking for new clients as a freelance writer, you really need to have eggs in many different baskets, so to speak.  You can’t rely just on writing for content mills or looking on freelance sites like eLance.  The more places you’re applying for jobs, the more likely you’re going to get hired.  In addition, you’re going to have a much more diverse set of clients, which leads to additional stability.

With that in mind, I’d like to write about using Craigslist to find new clients for your freelance writing business. Craigslist is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, and there are dozens (or more) writing jobs posted each day.  There are many great benefits to looking for new jobs on Craigslist, some of which I’ll comment on now:

  • Looking Local – Many businesses will be much more inclined to hire someone locally, that they can meet face to face.  Craigslist is a great place for businesses to post these jobs, so always start by looking in your own city.  Be willing to meet with someone who is considering hiring you for a good job (maybe get a free lunch out of it? Lol).  Having something in common (living in the same area) will also help improve your chances at getting hired.
  • Established Businesses – Unlike writing for small time website owners who are likely to try to pay you bottom dollar and only need a little bit of work, there are many established businesses who post writing jobs on Craigslist.  These businesses will have a good budget and be willing to pay fair wages for a great writer.
  • Lots to Choose From – If you can look through all the different cities on Craigslist, you can find dozens of new potential jobs per day.  You can set up your own custom searches in Craigslist to find good jobs from all over.  You can also use sites that gather these types of jobs together for you, like this one: http://www.freelancewriting.com/freelancejobs/craigslist.php
  • Diverse Employers – There are businesses of almost every type looking for good writers.  You can find jobs for IT writers, medical writers, legal writers, comedy writers and anything else you can imagine.

Of course, like all opportunities, there are also some problems you’ll need to avoid if you’re using Craigslist to find freelance writing jobs.  In many ways, the problems associated with Craigslist are quite different than many other sites, so proceed with a little bit of caution.

Problems with Using Craigslist for Finding Freelance Clients

First of all, Craigslist is similar to Mos Eisley from Star Wars.  Many of the worst scum of the Internet Universe hang out there looking for their next mark to take advantage of.  While overall they are a small percentage of people, they stay busy posting different scam jobs.  You can avoid many of the problems from these scammers by following the “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” rule of thumb.  Also, don’t be tempted to do too much writing before you get paid, and don’t hesitate to do research on companies before you accept work from them.

In addition to the scammers, Craigslist is filled with Internet Marketers who would love to sell you their next great ‘get rich scheme’.  These are typically good intentioned people just looking to make a buck, but don’t let them make it off of you.  You should be on Craigslist to find new clients, not become a customer!

Finally, Craigslist can be hard to keep up with because people are constantly posting jobs.  If you’re not checking their site at least a few times per day, you can miss out on opportunities.  In addition, since many people are looking for jobs, new posting often get responses quite quickly.  If you don’t act fast, you’ll miss out.

Beyond that, however, just use common sense and have fun looking for jobs.  Remember, freelance writing is more than just being a great writer.  It also takes persistence and good marketing of your services, so get out there and do it!

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you found it useful. I'd love to hear what you thought about it in the comments below. If you're interested in publishing this, or any of my content, on your site I'd love to hear from you. Just contact me using my syndication request form HERE.

Also, If you're interested in receiving an occasional email from me with great information on how to write for money online, submit your email below. You'll also get a copy of my free report, "A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding & Landing Private Clients." Thanks again!

Michael