Thinking about freelancing?
As someone who took the plunge over a decade ago, I feel uniquely qualified to offer pros and cons of joining the freelance club.
My goal here isn’t to sell you something. I’m not trying to be your digital career guru. I don’t have a course to offer, and I won’t send you a listing of exclusive freelance job opportunities.
I’m just offering my relevant experience and insights as a freelance copywriter. I sincerely hope it helps.
A little about my freelancing career
I got started in freelancing after my second child was born. It made financial sense for me to stay home, but I lost my identify somewhere in the mounds of dirty diapers and badly executed Pinterest crafts.
I needed an outlet, so I started writing.
I had a few things working in my favor.
First, I went to college and worked professionally for 10+ years in a relatively small geographic area. I had been a newspaper reporter and hospital marketing director. People knew I could write, and I had work samples to prove it.
Second, I didn’t have to pay the bills. My husband’s job did. I could afford to take risks and work cheap.
Third, the timing was perfect.
Remember: this was the early days of content marketing. Digital marketers were just starting to recognize the power of SEO and explore ways to harness it.
Keyword stuffing and spinning articles ran rampant. It was like the wild west out there, and I was Calamity Jane.
My first job had a couple of “real life” clients, but I wanted to expand. I started working on a digital platform called oDesk. It’s now called UpWork, and it may be great. I haven’t worked there in years.
But back then, oDesk was my proving ground. Even though I had writing experience, I didn’t have stars on Odesk. I had to earn them.
That meant I had to work for nothing.
My first Odesk job paid me $25 for 10, 500-word articles.
Do the math. That’s $2.50 for each article. 0.005 cents per word.
Why did I do it? It came with the promise of a 5-star review and a glowing reference. From there, I was slowly able to land better paying jobs.
But it was a slog. It took two years to attract the type of clients and rate I wanted.
I’m not telling you this to earn your respect or admiration. I’m telling you so you understand that freelancing is a sacrifice. As a creative, you must prove yourself, especially if you have no relevant work samples or references from legit brands.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. You just need to go into with your eyes open and a realistic outlook.
With that, here are my pros and cons of freelancing based on my 11 years of experience.
Pros of freelancing
Cons of freelancing
Key takeaways if you’re thinking about freelancing
Take it from someone who knows. Freelance writing is pretty great. You have the flexibility to work when and where you want. You can pick your clients and, for the most part, set your own rates.
But it’s also a journey. Go into it expecting some lean months and even years. It takes time to accrue the types of work samples and connections that bring big dollars.
Other insights? I’ve be interested in hearing others’ thoughts about working as a freelance writer. Email me and let me know what I’ve missed.
Imagine pulling up to a doctor's office for an appointment. You notice peeling paint and a crumbling sidewalk. Things are no better inside. Stained carpet, dusty furniture and a coffee maker that hasn't been cleaned since a Bush lived in the White House greet you in the lobby.
The doctor may be wonderful. In fact, she may be the greatest, smartest doctor in the world. But given the condition of the building, you've already formed an opinion about her ability to provide high quality healthcare. (Admit it. You scheduled a second opinion before setting foot the exam room, right?)
Keep a clean storefront
Just as my fabricated doctor needs to work on her building, businesses today must ensure their "digital storefronts" are clean and tidy.
Today's customers engage with brands across multiple channels before making purchases or booking services. Websites, social media, email, apps and texts allow customers to connect emotionally with brands before money changes hands.
And since those messages and communications play such a vital role in customers' decision-making processes, they simply must be free of grammatical and spelling errors.
Mistakes Mean Lost Profit
Perception matters more than ever before. Customers quickly determine if a business is trustworthy, professional and capable based on what they see at first glance. If customers find comma splices, misused words and run-on sentences in your digital marketing campaigns, they'll immediately form opinions -- usually bad -- about your business.
That's not just my opinion. Consider this 2013 survey by Compass Languages. The survey asked people from various backgrounds and industries if grammar and spelling errors in promotional materials impact their willingness to use, purchase or endorse a product or service. Here are some of their responses:
"I give no credit to any source that doesn't bother to proofread their material, no matter how much I am interested in their product or whatever it is what they are selling/promoting."
"If a company lacks attention to detail in their promotional material, it speaks volumes to me about their attention to detail in other areas."
"Poor spelling makes one question the writer; Do they not care? Are they lazy? Regardless of what industry, this is the company's representation."
Ouch. Nothing like brutal honesty.
How to Avoid Mistakes in Writing
If you make a grammatical error in a Facebook post, you're certainly not alone. Even with a team of experts on staff, the world's biggest brands make the occasional typo. (Who do you think is more error prone? Coke or Pepsi?)
And while you shouldn't stay up nights worried whether you should have written "nauseous" or "nauseated," you should look for ways to minimize errors. (In the interest of full disclosure, I used these words incorrectly for longer than I care to admit.)
Extensions and apps like Grammarly and Ginger are good tools to use. They highlight potential mistakes so you can make corrections before hitting the "publish" button. You can also subscribe to any number of sites that deliver grammar tips and insights to your inbox.
Or you can hire an expert. A professional writer and editor not only prevents grammatical errors, he or she will help you craft engaging, entertaining content that improves your brand's overall image.
Given the value modern consumers put on digital engagement, hiring a freelance writer is worth the investment to ensure clean, consistent content. Get in touch today to discuss your needs and get a quote.