Freelance writers know the frustration of a great opportunity in the wrong field. Businesses seeking writers are no doubt equally confused when posted jobs go unfulfilled. Alternatively, there is no finer feeling than a perfect author and client match. One would hope that harmony between writers and clients is a natural market function. Unfortunately, delays can occur when either side fails to anticipate market changes.
We all know that the markets can change from year to year. Everyone understands that long-term trends can impact industries. When was the last time you met a typewriter salesperson? Adding cameras to cell phones all but destroyed the lower end camera market. Nobody in the US needs to grab a cheap camera to capture a nephew’s graduation.
We know that things change. The important challenge is to successfully change with the times. But how can authors anticipate which industries may be hiring freelancers tomorrow? How can emerging industries prepare freelance writers to create content in their fields? Below are a few resources that authors can use to research the content needs of the industries of tomorrow.
Freelance writing websites.
If you write for a freelance website such as WriterAccess, keep an eye on the unfulfilled casting calls. Casting calls allow clients to find competent authors with relevant writing experience. If calls for content in certain industries tend to stay posted longer, that may indicate a trend to watch.
WriterAccess blogs also provide another resource for researching potential trends. For example, this blog by Susette H titled “Refreshing Your Work with Renewables Technology” covers three websites that any serious technology writer should follow. Since blogs are broken down by topic, you can easily find subjects relevant to your interests.
Federal government reports.
The US federal government has a number of regular reports that could indicate trends. The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is a wonderful resource. They have an astounding amount of data on labor and career trends. Pay special attention to the Occupational Outlook Handbook for job growth rate projections. The US Department of Commerce offers similar reports on business projections.
State and local agency reports.
Much like the federal government, many state and local governments publish a variety of relevant reports. Agency websites related to employment, economic development, and commerce may have projections on expected conditions. This information likely mirrors national projections, so this step may be redundant. However, if you have an interest in your local trends, this may be valuable information. State-level information could also help you watch specific industries. For example, if you have expertise in agriculture you may benefit from watching trends in agricultural states.
Colleges and universities.
Of all the resources listed in this article, these require the most intense scrutiny. Colleges and universities can certainly be powerful clearinghouses for data and research. However, ultimately they are also attempting to lure paying students into programs. Such institutions will frequently push programs in industries with clearly declining opportunities. If you use resources from universes, focus exclusively on peer-reviewed research.
Relevant trade magazines or blogs.
If you have a general industry in mind, trade magazines and blogs can be valuable. An author with expertise in energy, for example, may find growing trends in information related to transportation issues or renewable resources. If you see an increase of content in an unfamiliar subject, it may be time to do research. Trade magazines and blogs also hire content writers, so these resources can directly indicate future opportunities.
Writers who want to continue writing should keep track of trends in labor and commerce. Changes in industry happen along-side changes in the need for content. Authors cannot competently write about completely foreign subjects. On the other hand, clients in new industries who may need content in the future should test the waters now. Establishing a currently growing need for freelancers familiar with your industry gives writers time to acclimate.
If you would rather not regularly search for random trends related to writing, the WritersAccess blog is the tool for you. The blog provides information on specific topics directly related to the freelance industry and its clients. Find writers with subject-matter expertise within your area of interest and follow their work. You can focus further research on any topics that are completely unfamiliar.
Harold C. is a public relations expert with more than ten years of escalating experience performing all aspects of media and public relations, including, drafting press materials, brochures, reports, white papers, and training documents. Harold left the public relations field to study data analysis, so he is especially interested in contracts that explore both writing and data analysis tasks.