Let’s face it—finding the “perfect” job is tough. Often, the things we love don’t pay what we need to get by, and the positions that do pay well sometimes seem unattainable. Even so-called “entry-level” positions may require years of experience, and competition for the best jobs can be fierce. In light of the challenges of the modern job market, many people are turning to freelancing, either as a part-time income supplement, or even as a way to earn money full-time. It’s easy to see why: freelancing offers a lot more flexibility than a 9-5 office job. Since it can be done from home, employees rarely have to worry about commutes or office drama. Most freelancers work on their own schedules, and interaction with supervisors is often conducted via email, phone calls, or even text messaging. In many ways, freelancing is an archetypically modern way to earn a living.
As appealing as freelance work sounds, many people worry that they are not qualified to become a freelance writer. It is often assumed that freelancing, like many other careers, requires a specialized degree and documented experience in the profession. Fortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Although many English majors end up doing freelance writing, there are also tons of people who earn a living by writing who had never even considered getting a degree in English. That’s because all you need to become a successful freelancer is the ability to write well.
Take me for example. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in political science, and I never imagined that I would launch a career in a field that required me to write for a living. Although I had always considered myself a decent writer, I would not have believed that I possessed the skills necessary to turn my talents into a career. Of course, it was Oscar Wilde who once wrote “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect,” and a year out of college, I found myself working as a professional writer. I was hired as a legal writing specialist by a law firm, where I quickly learned that many of my colleagues also did not have degrees in English or writing. After a relatively short stint in the firm’s office, I left to become a freelancer for the company. I have worked as a freelance writer ever since, and I’ve used the income and flexibility to go back to school and pursue a Master’s degree.
My story is not unique. In the age of the internet, many companies are looking to hire freelance writers for technical writing, journalism, advertising, and much more. These companies understand that successful freelancers are not all necessarily cut from the same cloth. Although a degree in writing can be helpful, employers may also look for people with relevant knowledge or experiences in areas related to their particular needs. For example, someone with a degree in sociology or political science (like me) might make a great freelance journalist, while an individual with an interest in travel or gaming may be the perfect fit for a specialty blog or magazine. As long as you have the ability to write well, potential employers will truly be much more interested in the unique skills and perspectives that you bring to the table.
In this sense, the key to becoming a successful freelance writer is identifying and marketing your skills. If you are looking to become a freelance writer, the first question you should consider is “what am I good at?” Once you answer that critical question, the task of marketing yourself will become significantly easier. Whether it’s history, cooking, hiking, or woodworking, chances are good that there is an opportunity for you to write about your passion and earn money doing it. Search the internet for companies or organizations that are looking for writers with your interests, and start from there. Once you’ve identified some suitable opportunities, submit away. Don’t be intimidated by your qualifications; if your writing is good, the companies won’t look twice at your degrees or employment history!
Once you get your foot in the door, you will find that landing new writing gigs gets easier and easier. You should also consider companies like Ureed, which is specifically designed to help freelancers by matching them up with companies looking for specific types of freelance writing work. This way, you can keep all of your potential gigs in one place, and you are able to see the expectations and deadlines for each job. Using a service like this will also help you find jobs that suit your interests and abilities. However, another piece of advice that I would give is to not to be afraid to branch out! Freelancing can be a great opportunity to explore new topics and improve your writing by taking on tasks that require research or stepping outside of your comfort zone. I could not begin to list the many valuable things that I have learned from my time as a freelance writer, and anyone entering this career should also consider it an opportunity to grow their own skills and abilities.
The benefits of freelancing are almost impossible to overstate. Most freelance writers can work from home, control their income, and set their own schedules. Few jobs in our modern economy provide that luxury. Additionally, the potential for personal and professional growth from freelancing is nearly endless. Perhaps most importantly, becoming a successful freelance writer does not require a specialized degree, and anybody with an aptitude for communication and writing can produce content that companies will gladly pay for. The most important requirement for becoming a successful freelance writer is a willingness to market your skills and demonstrate what it is about you that makes your writing abilities unique. I strongly advise anybody who is interested in freelancing to give it a shot—it might be one of the best decisions you ever make!