Freelance offers have been popping up quite a bit this week, so I decided to write a bit about my experience doing freelance work for both known publishers and writers who need work done for clients. This type of writing work is different from writing on a paid to write site like BlogJob, or on your own blog. But when you get a good writing gig, it can be rewarding work – at least for your bank account!
Freelancing for a Known Publisher
This is the type of work that will generally pay the best, as there’s no middleman involved. Publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts will usually have a published editorial calendar and writer’s guidelines, so you know what kind of writing they want and what they will expect from your work. Deadlines should be clear and publishers generally tell you whether or not to expect contact if they don’t accept your piece.
Publishers will generally not haggle or accommodate you when it comes to the terms or mode of payment. And you may only be paid after a delay. But it’s usually guaranteed money if you can write well, and for the right niche – even if you only write for the publisher once. If you can pitch an article to an editor, as I did with my articles for The Senior Times, even better!
Writing Gigs from Fellow Writers
Freelance writers sometimes take on more work than they can manage in a given time frame, and will offer the work to writing friends. I’ve done this kind of work on and off for one friend, and have been offered work from a handful of others.
If your friend is a writer whose work you respect, and that friend is very open about her expectations upfront, you’ll likely get paid for your work. If you aren’t clear about anything at the outset, ask. Professional writers know their business and will be happy for you to help them keep a contract with their client. They will be happy to clarify expectations or to answer questions about the terms of the writing gig. And they will know what they are talking about. If you ask fairly basic questions and your friend can’t answer you, or if he seems evasive, warning bells should be going off!
When it comes to getting paid, always set the price, mode of payment and deadline before you submit the work. But be prepared to be flexible! If your friend has to wait for the client to pay, and the client delays payment for any reason, she won’t be able to pay you on time. When it comes to this kind of freelance work, think of it as the gravy and not the meat. Don’t ever rely on it to pay the bills, because there are a ton of reasons why clients are sometimes late to pay.
Freelance Writing for Private Clients
Private writing clients may be referred to you, or they may contact you directly after seeing a sample of your work. When you get a freelance offer, one thing that may stump you is how much to charge for the writing gig. There are lots of articles online about how much to charge. You can also search for ads that offer similar work in your area, then use their rates as a guideline for how much you should be paid for your writing.
When dealing with private clients, be clear about everything before you start the work. Be sure you know the client’s expectations for the writing, and let him know that you will include one or two minor rewrites only. Don’t let a client string you along with dozens of corrections. This demands much more of your time, and should only be done if the client agrees to pay extra when the rewrites are requested.
Set your deadline and mode of payment, and be sure to prepare an invoice when the work is delivered. Be professional. But don’t just take a new client’s word that she’ll pay: ask for half the money upfront, before you begin the work. This is your protection, and any client who can’t or won’t pay the advance for a first freelance writing assignment, just isn’t worth working for.
Do you have any advice for writers who are wanting to protect themselves when they are offered a freelance writing job? Feel free to leave your advice in the comments below!