You became a freelance writer for the joy of being your own boss and pursuing your own writing interests. After a while, though, you realize just what kind of stress-nightmare you have gotten yourself into.
When you start out as a freelancer, most of your time is spent looking for work. Once you manage to land a few “regular” customers – which is a feat in and of itself, sometimes – you spend your time doing projects while still trying to market yourself to potential new customers.
You may try to keep your schedule in that 9-5 range, but when you work for yourself, you usually end up working around the clock and on weekends. Plus, pretty much everything dime you make is through contracted labor, so no taxes are deducted from your paychecks. While not having taxes taken out of your pay may sound good, come April 15, you will have to pay The Man, which means the hassle of getting a good accountant.
Furthermore, until you get steady work and decent money, don’t even think about getting medical insurance! Granted, there are some wonderful organizations out there who help freelancers find affordable health insurance, but when you’re barely making a couple hundred bucks a month, affordable health insurance often translates into NO health insurance.
Now don’t take this rant the wrong way. If you dedicate yourself to freelance work, it is possible to make decent money. Just be warned that it may take several years to get to that point. On your journey to making enough money as a freelance writer, you may even find yourself working part-time, non-writing related jobs just to supplement your income and pay your bills. Some people may be fortunate and have partners or spouses who make enough money to cover expenses, but this isn’t always the case.
So the big question is, do you fight the uphill battle as a freelance writer or do you go corporate?
Before you make this decision, realize that everyone’s individual situation is different. Always consider financial obligations first. Whether you choose freelance or go corporate, how much money do you need to survive? What expenses can you cut? And, what other options do you have to earn more money?
If you decide to stay a freelance writer, you may want to think of ways you can start boosting your clientele. There are plenty of no-cost and low-cost ways to advertise your services locally. Going door-to-door to businesses in your town sounds cliché, but if you have a decent portfolio of writing samples and if you can make a good pitch about why a company would benefit from your services, you may gain a couple steady clients. Plus, if you work with businesses instead of individual clients, business owners are often connected to their customers and fellow business owners, so they may recommend your services to the people they know. Remember: good old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising is cheap and should never be overlooked.
But, if you’ve read this far, chances are you are a freelancer who’s ready to go corporate and get a regular paycheck plus benefits. Don’t worry – you’re not selling out. There are plenty of professional writing gigs out there with corporations. So you will still be a professional writer, just well paid.
How do you find these professional writing jobs? Well, first you have to know what key words to look for. Practically every company and government entity needs writers, but they may use other job titles. Some examples include the following:
- Communications specialist
- Content editor
- Content planner
- Content producer
- Content production specialist
- Copy editor
- Information officer
- Media relations officer
- Public information officer
- Public relations officer
- Publication and production specialist
- Publishing project manager
- Staffing communication specialist
- Writing project manager
Job duties associated with ALL of these job titles include writing documents, managing projects, editing, researching, interviewing, and meeting deadlines. As an experienced freelance writer, you have done all of these duties on countless occasions. Sell your experience to potential employers. Tell them how, as a freelancer, you have created different types of documents, managed multiple projects at the same time, edited your own work, conducted independent research, interviewed sources, and met all of your clients’ deadlines. Make your time spent as a freelancer count!
Now, some of the above job titles have additional duties you may have never done. That’s okay – don’t let it scare you off!!! Remember, most of the job duties associated with these job titles deal with writing, editing, and project management. Sell employers on your skills as a writer.
Don’t forget to sell them on your skills as a business owner too, though. If you have managed to get enough work as a freelancer, you should have experience with marketing your services, negotiating with clients, collaborating on projects, making project schedules, and dealing with contracts. While most of your experience as a business owner may be small-scale compared to corporations, you have still acquired valuable real-world training, so apply every second of that experience on your resumes and cover letters.
Now that you’re all revved up to apply for those professional corporate writing jobs, a few last bits of advice:
- Give yourself daily or weekly goals for job hunting. It may take six months or more to find a position and get hired. Make your goals realistic. Consider how much extra time you actually have to look for work. You may have to make a few sacrifices just to fit in one hour a day of job hunting/resume writing.
- Keep up with your freelance work. For one thing, if you have regular clients, extra money is always good. Plus, any new projects may help you build your experience as a writer.
- Update your portfolio. Although not all employers will ask for writing samples, it is not an uncommon practice. If you have a blog or online samples, make sure everything is ready for a potential employer to view. Remember that many employers will want to see samples with your cover letter and resume, so make sure you have digital copies of your samples easily available.