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Freelance Writing Full Time: Commonly Asked Questions

Updated on July 30, 2012

Freelance Writing: Make the most of this article

As a full time freelance copy writer, I am often sent messages asking the best ways to do certain things, what to avoid and good places to go for resources.

I decided to write this article as a way of answering some of the most common questions about freelance writing, using the ones I am often asked as a basis to start this article with.

If you have any suggestions for further questions that you'd like to see published in this article, just mention it in the comment box below (you can comment as a free Hubpages user or as a guest), and remember to watch this space - more questions will be updated as and when they are asked.

Question: Where can I find writing jobs?

This is probably one of the most common questions asked, and is usually asked by those either new to freelance writing or wanting to give it a try - however, many experienced freelancers also ask me this question if, for example, they are trying to expand their client base.

Advertise Locally

This isn't perhaps the most effective way of accruing new business, but by posting your advert and leaving your business cards around local venues which attract a lot of interest from business folk, you will be establishing your brand locally. Local clients can be very valuable as it is easier for you to meet with them and discuss project requirements, you are both from the same culture (and I don't mean on an international level - remember that even different regions within the same country have cultural variety), and more importantly? They are easier to chase up when it comes to getting your invoices paid.

Targeted Business Marketing

Ok, so there are going to be certain businesses who are more likely to require the use of a writer than others. Here's just a few examples of businesses who may be a little more prone to needing the services of a freelance writer:

  • Newspapers
  • Greeting Card Publishers
  • Public Relation Companies
  • Marketing Organisations

Now, there are a lot more companies who may wish to use a freelance writer, these are just a few examples. Now, taking Newspapers as an example, the best way to market target businesses is to either research (or pay somebody to research it for you) a list of businesses (either within your country or internationally) which are newspaper publishers. Get as much info on the business as you can, and if possible get the contact details of the top dog.

Now all you have to do is contact them - either by email, telephone, write them a letter... don't worry how you do it, each way has its merits and disadvantages.

The trouble with this method - especially if you research the company yourself - is that it is time consuming. However, you are targeting specific companies who are far more likely to consider using your services.

Online Freelancing Platforms

These are platforms designed to connect those searching for freelance work with those searching to employ a freelancer.

These sites are good to use because:

  • They provide a regular stream of job opportunities you can put yourself forward for
  • They are often regulated to ensure your payment
  • There is usually support networks in place where you can seek advice from other professionals in the form of user forums and discussion rooms

The disadvantages of these sites:

  • You are not the only one seeking the business - you must fight against other freelancers
  • You are facing international competition meaning certain countries where living costs are lower may be able to make an offer considerably lower than you are willing to work

What sites are available:

  • Elance.com
  • Guru.com
  • Freelancer.com
  • Peopleperhour.com
  • Odesk.com

How much do you charge as a writer?

See results

Question: How much should I charge?

(For a more detailed article on how much to charge, read this)

Here's the thing about most writers: They are good with words, not numbers.

A writer can weave a tapestry of words with most intricate design, but when it comes to asking for a price, they are left speechless.

Of course this doesn't apply to everybody, but here is a short guide to help you work out what you should be charging a customer.

First, you need to work out how you're going to charge:

There are a few freelancers who charge by the word. In my opinion, charging by the word is a poor way of charging customers - at least when it comes to quality work.

I have written a 2,000 word article in an hour before, yet had a 500 word sales letter take me 4 hours. The fact is, different products take different levels of detail, so if you want my honest advice? Don't charge by the word.

Which leaves 2 other options, both of which are very closely tied:

  • Charge by the day
  • Charge by the hour

If you have a small number of clients but do long stretches of work at a time, charging by the day is most sensible.

If you have a larger client base or your jobs are smaller and in pieces, you might prefer to charge by the hour.

When charging by the hour, the best way is to analyse the job and give the client an estimate as to how long it will take you to complete along with your hourly rate. If you think you will exceed this, let your client know so they can decide whether they are willing or able to continue paying you for more hours. It is also worth mentioning to clients that for small jobs (such as less than 2 hours) then a minimum charge is carried, because as you probably know, a half hour job takes more preparation than it is worth for a half hour charge - unless of course you're charging a fortune per hour.

Second, evaluate how valuable you are to the client:

So before establishing a price, lay it all out on a piece of paper: What have you got to offer?

Make a list of:

  • All qualifications related to writing
  • Your years of experience as a (paid for) writer
  • Any published works
  • Any high-end clients you've serviced (like that slogan you once wrote for Pepsi)

And consider that the more qualifications, the more experience, the more satisfied clients and the bigger portfolio you can offer, the higher you can feel justified in charging your clients.

Third, select your price:

This involves taking all of the above information such as what you can offer and how you want to charge, then deciding how much you can realistically ask for.

The rates of hiring a freelance writer vary greatly.

Some charge as little as £15 an hour (about $25) - or around £100 per day (about $145), whereas there are top-end freelance writers charging £90 an hour ( about $130) - or around £600 a day (about $1,000).

Remember: However you decide to charge and whatever the amount you are planning on asking for, it is important to keep regularity. If you start charging different rates for different clients, it's going to get confusing. Make sure each person you enter discussion with is completely clear as to what and how you charge before any work commences.


Question: Can you make a full time income using online freelancing sites alone?

With the steady increase of freelancing sites like Elance and Odesk in recent years, many freelancers are moving away from the confines of 'real world' freelancing and developing their online portfolios in order to place bids with clients across the whole international market.

This week, I had an email through from a young new freelancer asking me: "Can I make my full time income through sites like Elance alone?"

The short answer is: Yes. However, please read the rest of this section as if you intend on doing this you should be careful.

How many eggs are in your basket?

These freelancing websites are a great supplement for freelancers, because there is almost always work to be found and there is a huge variety, new clients to be met and networks to be connected to. But, as with anything online, if you choose to rely on this method of acquiring work as a sole source of income, you are effectively placing yourself at the mercy of the owner's website.

  • What if the company went bust tomorrow?
  • What if you accidentally violated the TOS and received a ban?
  • What if a wave of new contractors signed up and diluted the pool of freelancers?

All of these 'What Ifs' are perhaps unlikely, but still very possible.

Remember that if the company went bust tomorrow, you would be out of work.

My advice? Sure, sign up to these websites, build yourself a profile, find yourself some work - you might even find you get more work from these websites than you do from the 'real world'. But make sure you keep a list of 'real world' clients at all times. This way, if anything does go wrong... you know you're not completely stumped for work.

*Note, it's also worth remembering that due to heavy competition on these websites you are less likely to be paid as high as you could expect from a 'real world' client.

Comments

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    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 

      6 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Excellent advice which I will be using after reading your article. Thanks for writing this! Voted up!! :)

    • writeyourwrongs profile imageAUTHOR

      John Crowley 

      6 years ago from Sheffield

      It's up :-)

    • profile image

      chrisinhawaii 

      6 years ago

      I'll be watching for it

    • writeyourwrongs profile imageAUTHOR

      John Crowley 

      6 years ago from Sheffield

      Thanks Chris, I appreciate your support. And at your suggestion I think writing a more in depth article about how much to charge would be a good idea - it was one of the most difficult parts about setting up as a writer and it surprises a lot of folk with how tricky it is.

    • profile image

      chrisinhawaii 

      6 years ago

      Another great hub, John. I especially like that you talked about pricing. I've read TONS of hubs about freelancing on eLance, oDesk, Guru, and others, but none of them talked much about pricing. Thanks for taking it a step further!

      And hey, do you have a more in-depth hub about How Much To Charge As A Freelance Writer? I will look, and if you don't have one yet, please write one.

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