False pretense aside, yes I have a short book coming out next week, entitled ‘How to Start a Freelance Business in Australia’, so of course I’m somewhat selling the benefits of a freelancer lifestyle. But as an experienced freelance copywriter and editor, I can shed some light on the truth of it. If you’re new to looking for freelance writing jobs, you might have these questions:
What kind of money can I expect… What hours can I work… Do clients expect a miracle?
What kind of money will I earn…
To which I answer: Your income will reflect the confidence level and expertise of your promotional skills – which you must deliver on. So anything from $20 an hour to $180 an hour is possible. The more specialised your writing (read, pandering to the needs of the corporate world), the more you can potentially charge.
The Media Entertainment Arts Alliance, MEAA, has listed freelance rates at $219 per hour or $1,001 for a 1000-word story. Well, that’s nice, but where is the evidence that this can be achieved? The IPEd national survey of editors (2016) pegged the national average editing rate at $67 an hour. Although, as in the survey, some book editors do charge by the word as well as estimate their time, and some have varying rates for structural editing versus copy editing.
Most of the respondents (72%) earned an annual income from editing (2015-16) of under $50,000.
What hours can I work…
The most flexible of all work types, freelance copywriting or freelance writing is easily fitted into your family lifestyle. So you can work any hours you want to as long as deadlines of the client are met. However, there will be periods where you believe that everybody hates your writing because it is THAT quiet. Coming up to Christmas is a period where, unless you’re an online store copywriter, you’ll probably be able to have long naps and stroke your cat quite a lot.
This is where you can finally finish your own book off, or spend time engaging with small business people in your local area.
On the plus side, once a few agencies and clients know you’re the right writer at the right price, they will periodically come back to you for a new project.
Do clients expect a miracle in a freelance copywriter?
Speaking from experience, yes many of them do. A pre-engagement phone call to flesh out details and also ascertain their general expectations is a good idea. I once upon a time gave a copywriting guarantee and of course, one wally decided I hadn’t captured his brief. He did not like anything about my copy… and requested a refund. Granted, two versions later. As he had been dissing copywriters in his past, I should have got the warning signs.
Another thing to remember is to quote correctly and allow for revisions (unless the work does not require it). Also applicable to freelance website developers, as this Speckyboy article attests – never lower your price because a client cries poor. They are not poor — they are just being cheap!
Types of Freelance Writing Jobs!
The types of jobs you could position your skillset for include:
Blog writer — in Australia, from $20 to $80 per post (or up to $200 for higher-level articles with interviews and research). You will need ‘sector’ experience, so gather a few articles on the same topic area. See Problogger Jobs
Travel article writer — global. I once got AU$50 per shopping article (online), but established travel magazines will pay more than travel blogs. Try writersbloc.net – for a variety of international freelance writing jobs.
Content Writer…. See Flex Jobs – narrow to your category and select Telecommuting or Flexible jobs from drop-down. (You’ll need a subscription here to apply for jobs; definitely better for Americans).
Website copywriter, 1-to-1 — usually charge per project, as lots of research needed. From $400 to $1,500 or so. Try sending a link to your portfolio to various medium-sized digital media/website agencies.
There are probably hundreds more types of freelance writing jobs, but these are some of the main ones. Why not add your own tips in our comments section!
If you’ve enjoyed this post, then please have a look at my book for those new to freelancing: How to Start a Freelance Business – in Australia. Paperback $19.95 RRP, but join the email list to get discounts!
The eBook version will also be available in October 2017.