Quality freelance writing is an exciting, cutting-edge business despite the rising threat from banal content farming, cheap SEO churners, and big data suedo-news. The situation has changed drastically over the years since I took up the trade and the increasingly multifaceted nature of the craft that makes it such a worthwhile pursuit is exactly what can confuse the unaware. Today alone I have written history blogs, Facebook posts, commissioned tweets and business profiles, all while keeping an eye out for consultancy call-ups … and that is just an average day at the office. This is no daily grind. It is an adventure where the writer must be prepared for anything
The traditional freelance writer’s career path of finding a specialism, proving your mettle, building some connections and relying on them for work and referrals over many years is now a nostalgic dream for most of us. Those who are coming into the trade must prepare to become competitive, multiskilled entrepreneurs ready to grab opportunities as they arise.
Above all, don’t view the challenge ahead in terms of building a solid, immobile platform on which to stand and tout your wares (words?). This is the old, boring way. Instead, view it as winding your way up a mountain, choosing from many paths, taking opportune shortcuts and occasionally stumbling back down to learn from your errors. This is the new and exciting career that a freelancer takes. We have access to the internet and all its opportunities and everyone out there in cyberspace has access to us. It’s hardly a surprise then that we see new paths, new opportunities and new threats emerging all around us.
Dream or nightmare?
So is this a brave new world or a big new threat? Well, that depends on your outlook. For example, you’ve probably read some version of these two ridiculous claims in the past:
“The internet is the end of quality journalism/copywriting/the world”
“How I earn $20000 dollars a week just like that.”
They’re two extreme views of the same thing. The way the internet is changing opportunities in freelance writing. The world of quality writing definitely isn’t ending and, unless you’re a Pulitzer winner who is willing to work like a dog, you won’t be pulling in the huge amounts of money that some sites promise ‘just like that’. However, the positive view is the right one. With a little work, you will be earning a good living and having a whale of a time doing it. You’ll be your own guide on an odyssey which has an unclear destination, and which is all the more interesting for it. People like me can point, guide and talk in your ear, but if you want a truly rewarding career you’ll make your own decisions.
This is intended to be the first post of many guides to the adventure that is freelance writing, so if you do want a few more words in your ear then sign up and pop back later.