Can You Write… Side Hustle 101…
Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Freelance writing can be exciting, tiring, frustrating, rewarding, and sometimes even boring. I’ve been freelance writing as a side gig for two years while working full-time and running my cosmetic online business. I usually create content for companies, proposals, edit books and sometimes even run social media accounts for various companies.
Like any other job, you take the sweet with the bitter. But if you’re thinking about getting into freelance writing as a side gig or full-time work, it’s helpful to go into it with a clearer picture of what it entails to improve your chances of success.
When a client loves my work, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. All of a sudden I feel like Lupita Ny’ongo accepting an Oscar — they like me, they really like me! Who doesn’t love getting their ego stroked every once in a while? You get a certain level of intellect because of working on different topics all the time. People will think that you’re more interesting than you actually are (okay, LOL maybe this one only applies to me). You’ll also get a lot of “That’s so cool and well articulated!” and you smile back like, “Why yes…yes I am.”
I’m not going to sugar coat it — competition is fierce. There will always be people who will do a job cheaper than you and most clients know it and use it as leverage. The thing is, you need to be able to offer other skills besides writing that will justify a higher rate like certifications, in-depth knowledge of a niche, or technical skills like search engine optimization and basic HTML.Looking for work can get really disheartening at times. Whether you’re applying for job after job or sending out cold emails, you’ll often not get a response. Rejection sucks, but it’s unavoidable in this field. Just remember that it’s a numbers game and that sooner or later, you’ll land a client and if you do good work for them, they’ll recommend you to others (referrals are truly the bee’s knees). If you’re not getting any responses back, don’t be afraid to ask an honest friend or family member to look over your resume, pitch, website, etc. to see what you can do better.
Freelance writing is different from a lot of other careers because you don’t need a degree or experience to get into it. Because the field is open to pretty much anyone, unfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage of aspiring and new writers. For example, I once joined a job website only to find out that I had to pay for a yearly subscription just to see and apply for jobs. There are so many free job websites out there that there really isn’t a reason why you should pay to join one.If you’ve ever been job hunting, you already know that applying for jobs can be pretty daunting. Well, some employers/clients looking for freelance writers like to add their own hellish twist to it. One time, I applied for a job by submitting a resume and samples to later receive an email asking me to create a profile on their website and submit a minimum of three stories – and there wasn’t even a guarantee that I would get an interview. I didn’t do it because I wouldn’t have been able to stop them from using my work that they got for free. When you land a client, always make sure that you both agree on the pay rate (if you have a contract, even better) and to stand your ground when questioned.
Overall, I’m happy with my decision to become a freelance writer and I think the good outweighs the bad and shady aspects of this business. It’s not easy but anything worthwhile often isn’t. If you’re starting out with truly no experience, look for some non-profits you can volunteer your writing services to in order to build up a portfolio. Whatever you do, be open to learning and practicing your craft — after all, if you want to be a writer, you have to actually write!