The past year has represented a significant paradigm shift for the average freelance writer. Search engine optimization techniques have significantly changed, content marketing is the new black, self-publishing is on the rise and freelancing in general has become more popular than ever before. The new year will undoubtedly bring many opportunities and challenges for everyone aboard the rollercoaster ride that is the freelance industry.
Here Comes the Competition
Freelancing in general is becoming more popular, and this may eventually have ramifications for the freelance writing sector. Within the next six years, The Intuit 2020 Report predicts that 40 percent of the entire labor force in the United States will be comprised of freelance workers. Further, 40 percent of all freelancers are in the writing field as writers, editors or copywriters. All things considered, that’s a terrifying amount of competition.
Content Marketing Is Trending Upwards
Content marketing is booming right now, with 73 percent of business-to-business content marketers reporting that they are using more content now than the previous year. The trend of content marketing has lead to an increased demand for quality material over keyword-optimized articles. The website content writer now needs to display competent and detailed knowledge regarding the topic at hand, rather than simply creating extemporaneous articles based on general knowledge. This may drive many writers more firmly into niche markets.
Self-Publishing Is on the Rise
The new great frontier for the freelance writer is the arena of self-publishing. Self-published material has gone up by nearly 300 percent since 2006, showing no signs of slowing. While self-publishing used to require significant financial backing, it’s now as simple as the click of a button. However, self-publishing isn’t an instant key to success: the volume is now so extreme that authors need to go to great lengths to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Social Media Is Still Going Strong
Blogs and other forms of social media are still the primary advertising outlet for many businesses. Social media is one area that is not expected to significantly change: blogs are still being pushed to the forefront, and for good reason. However, the actual content of blogs may change due to the search engine optimization developments that are expected in the coming year. Blogs will need to be integrated with more forms of social media, and freelance writers may find themselves having to get involved. Keywords are becoming less important than content and regional content is becoming more important than ever.
As we enter into 2014, the question that remains is whether the increased demand for valuable content will be able to meet the steady influx of new writers. In such a vast industry, writers may want to turn towards niche categories to remain competitive; an auto writer or finance writer will be able to distinguish themselves within the market more easily than a general purpose writer who does a little of everything. At the same time, freelance writers may find themselves having to branch out into social media and publishing to increase their exposure.
Jenna I is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.