Ask a Freelancer: FAQs About Freelancing
As a freelance writer, I get asked a lot about what exactly that I do. When I say I work as a corporate blog writer, the next question is always, “what’s that?” I explain businesses often hire talented writers to create their content, which saves them a lot of time and money along the way. I talk about the wide variety of industries I’ve written for and how I appreciate the very flexible nature of working freelance. There are always follow-up questions. I thought I’d share some of those answers for anyone interested in becoming a freelance writer or looking for a legitimate stay-at-home job.
How do you get started?
To become a freelance writer, you have to upload profile information and take grammar tests. After passing the tests, you will get “rated” as a writer. They rarely give out the highest rating (some platforms don’t allow it at all), so expect to spend time working your way up. You increase your rating by accepting jobs and turning them in on time with quality content. It took me about three months to really get going with solid work.
How do you get paid?
Most platforms pay via PayPal. On WriterAccess, you get a PayPal payment twice a month.
How do you work with clients you’ve never met?
The clients give details for their assignment. They usually provide insight into their brand, audience and give examples of work they like. Sometimes the client picks the title or offers an outline for direction. Other times, the client wants the writer to come up with the ideas. After the first assignment or two with a client, you get a better feel for what they want. Sometimes it’s an easy fit, but other times it takes some back and forth before the assignment is right for what they want and need. I’ve talked to a few clients over the phone, but the vast majority of clients find instructions and a few messages more than sufficient to get the content they want.
When do you work?
Whenever I want to. Usually I prefer late night or early morning, but occasionally it’s during day too. I have four young kids, so I usually write when they are sleeping. Sometimes, on busy days, I will write out an outline or look up resources and finish the article when I’m able to really focus. Usually, I work from my home office, but sometimes I go to the local coffee shop.
How much do you make?
Every project is paid by the word based on the rate the client decides the assignment and talent is worth. So, a high level writer here makes $.05-$.07 per word for most assignments. If a client chooses to offer a lower rate, I likely won’t accept it because I can’t make it worth my time. If a client pays more or is very pleasant to work with, I usually try to offer more value (finding images, including more resource links). I look at the assignment totals and see how much time I put into them. My goals are always to meet an hourly rate, so I check myself to see if I’m spending “too much” time on the assignments. Often, I find myself spending too much time if I’m not entirely focused. When I get up in the morning with my quiet cup of coffee, things like Facebook can cause unwanted distractions that slow me down considerably. I’ve even set timers to keep myself on track on a busy day.
What I’ve really loved about working for WriterAccess is that they take the pressure off billing. As a freelancer, a lot of time can get sucked into finding clients and billing them. WriterAccess does that part for you, so as long as you are producing good content, they are going to bring in assignments and then pay you for your work. When it comes to freelancing in general, you always have to check how much you are really making for all the time you spend on a project or assignment. WriterAccess has had the most consistent work at higher rates of any of the platforms I’ve joined.
Do you get a lot of work?
I’ve been doing this for over five years now and have over a million paid words just on the WriterAccess platform. But, freelance work is always fluid. Some months I’m slammed, while others I’m freer than I want to be. That’s why it’s important not to keep all your eggs in one basket as a freelancer. I work mostly for WriterAccess, but I also keep active profiles on other platforms and have other methods for making money. Having your income come from at least three places is ideal—even if a couple places are only a trickle. Right now, I work as an exercise instructor at the gym, teach art classes for a local community nonprofit and photograph products outside of my writing gig (which makes up the bulk of my monthly earnings). I also have saved back an emergency fund for months that are unusually slow (though I try hard not to touch it).
Gotta keep hustling! If you think there is a get-rich-quick job out there—you are fooling yourself. You can enjoy the flexibility of being self-employed by offering talent and working hard to prove value.
Alethea M graduated from the University of Saint Francis in 2009 with a B.A., double-majoring in Communication Arts and Graphic Design and double-focusing in Illustration and Computer Arts. She photographed the Saint Francis football team for a paid work study all four years she spent at the school. Immediately after graduating, she got a job at a non-profit company teaching art to young children and running their art program. She moved on to work as a copywriter and graphic designer for another non-profit company in Indiana as a Marketing Assistant for two years. She now spends her time as a wife, mother, freelance writer, and photographer.