Writing Aside: Industries Using More Freelance Labor

Great news for freelance writers–the industry is seriously booming. There are still some companies that prefer to hire full-time permanent writers, but the opportunity for freelance work is ample. This makes sense. Not every company needs a full-time writer, benefits don’t have to be given to freelancers, and from an employer perspective it’s often easier and more affordable to choose a contractor.

Technically, the income possibilities for freelance writers is endless. However, not everyone–and not every writer–can be a successful freelancer. Some people scrape by with $20,000 per year while other freelance writers bring in solid six figure incomes. Before considering going freelance, keep a few things in mind.

Just the Facts

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average freelance writer makes $26.64 per hour. The job growth outlook from 2010-2020 is 6 percent, which is a little less than average, but still solid growth. However, Consumer Affairs reports that a full 1/3 of current workers are freelancers–although that includes freelancers in every field.

More Americans are self-employed post-recession, and this is a trend that’s been going on for many years. Freelancers survived the recession much better than a host of other professionals. It used to be considered unstable to be a freelancer, but now many people consider it just as stable–if not more so–than a permanent, full-time position.

The Upside

As a freelancer, writers and editors work for themselves. They can cherry pick their projects and clients and design their own work schedule. With a solid portfolio and a diverse background writing everything from children’s stories to technical documents, a freelancer can demand a very lucrative salary. However, it’s not easy to get to this point. Freelancers have to have a never-ending supply of ambition, solid work ethic and the ability to provide high-quality content quickly. Most freelancers are paid per word or per project, not per hour. However, it’s crucial to figure out what the per project fee translates to.

On the Other Hand…

Even when a freelancer has a completely packed schedule (12+ hour days are normal), they need to constantly be scouring for new projects on freelance work databases. While technically they can take lunch whenever they’d like or go to that 10am fitness class, it’s not an easy lifestyle. Time management skills are crucial, and successful freelancers often work more hours than nine to fivers.

How can someone know if freelancing is for them? Start by keeping the day job and freelancing on the side. This will mimic what a full-time freelancer’s schedule is like. Take as many diverse projects as possible and see if going the 1099 route is a good fit.

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