Freelance writing has become a much more difficult profession during the past decade as newspapers and magazines have slashed the number of writers they use regularly and reduced how much money they pay for a story.
Many freelance writers have reacted to this trend by exploring other careers and seeking to use their skills in part-time jobs such as teaching. Other writers have abandoned writing for newspapers and magazines and have become web content providers, SEO content writers, and blog writers for hire.
However, there is another alternative: continuing to write the magazine pieces and news stories you’re used to writing, and supplementing your income during dry periods by working for a temporary agency.
Many people regard temping as something you need to do when you’re entering the workforce while you’re in college or when you’ve been out of the workforce as a stay-at-home mom. The stereotype is that temporary work is for people who lack skills or experience.
The stereotype is wrong. According to a 2012 American Staffing Association report, the U.S. temporary work industry is flourishing, changing and versatile. Since 2009, the industry has created more jobs—786,000—than any other industry in the United States.
The report makes it clear that today’s temp agencies aren’t your parents’ temp agencies. It says that many temps earn more than $250,000 annually, including attorneys and scientists. About 7 percent of companies that use temporary agencies employ managers and executives as temps and about 17 percent use information technology employees.
You might think temporary agencies aren’t going to utilize your writing skills, but you may be wrong.
The pros for working at a temp agency include:
- FLEXIBILITY: Today’s temp agencies are used to finding their temps flexible work. Years ago, temps almost always worked business hours, but the changing workforce has provided more opportunities for people who want to work irregular hours, a few hours per day, or fewer than five days per week. These changes give freelance writers enough time to look for writing assignments.
- SAVING TIME: According to EdmontonEmployment.net, most companies seeking temporary help don’t advertise their vacancies. As a freelance writer, you don’t have the time to look for non-writing supplementary jobs, so leaving the looking to a temp agency clears up time for actual writing.
- IMPROVING SKILLS: EdmontonEmployment.net reports that most temp agencies train their hires to develop more skills. This was always true, but today’s agencies train employees in skills that the American Staffing Association reports can be much more lucrative than the skills that people who worked for agencies years ago had.
The cons include:
- LACK OF PERKS: Freelance writers need to shop for a temp agency, particularly if they intend to temp periodically for a long time. Employment Spot reports that most temporary workers don’t get health insurance. As a freelance writer, you might be used to paying for your own health insurance, but your declining income might make that more difficult in the future. You might also want to look for a temp agency that offers paid vacations and a pension plan.
- JOB INSECURITY: A perfect temp job can disappear as fast as it came. Companies today are far more apt to suddenly terminate employees whether they are permanent or temporary, according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine entitled “The Disposable Worker.”
- QUESTIONABLE CONDITIONS: McGill University research concluded that temps are more apt to be depressed than full-time workers, according to “The Disposable Worker.” This has to be a concern for freelance writers because they are already more likely to have depression problems than full-time employees, according to a report by the New York City-based Freelancers Union.
Martin Z is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.