What the different kinds (specialties) of freelance writing are
As a freelance writing business, you can specialize yourself in one of the following areas:
As in “paid blogging,” of course. Being an in-house blogger for a specific company is among the most dependable types of freelance writing out there.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page, an in-house blogger is someone who has access to the blog’s WP Admin and is responsible for writing and publishing posts on the blog owner’s behalf.
I know that thousands of blogs get abandoned or closed down every month, but in the business world, blogging has a strong position and is a marketing and branding method known to produce good results. What this means is that companies search for skilled professionals who are ready to take over the day-to-day responsibilities of running their blogs.
Very much like in-house blogging, only this time you’re also handling the process of sending the articles out to other blogs and convincing the blog owners to get them published.
This can get tough at times, but you can build a very recognizable persona for yourself if you manage to score guest spots on the web’s biggest sites.
Press Releases (PRs)
Not nearly as popular as they used to be just a couple of years back, but it still is a relevant specialty.
PR writing requires a specific approach. Every PR needs to have a defined structure, needs to be of certain length, and needs to be written in a certain style.
Once you learn all these nuances and manage to get a big company as your client, you can have a constant stream of projects coming your way.
Ghost writing is about writing a piece (or even a whole book), sending it to your client and allowing them to publish it under their own name. In essence, you lose your by line.
By far the most difficult specialty for a freelance writer because it’s not only about the by line… It’s about replicating the style and the voice of the person you’re ghost writing for. Good ghost writing makes the piece sound exactly like it was written by the person pointed out as the author.
But with great challenges come great rewards. Ghost writing for someone of a celebrity status can bring you great profits.
Hey, why not?
Just a couple of months ago, I didn’t think I would ever write a book. Since then, I did.
Contrary to common belief, book writing is a very structured type of work. And it’s hardly about sitting by the fireplace, pen in hand, and calmly writing stuff. Every publishing house has their rules, their templates, and so on. Fitting them can take a while. Also, book promotion is mainly on you as well, but that’s whole another story.
I’m mentioning this specialty here because it’s a common situation for freelancers to be approached by a publishing house at some point in their careers. Just go to Amazon and see how much stuff there is…someone has to be writing all this, right?
If you have an interesting idea that you think might work for specific magazines in a certain niche then don’t hesitate to reach out to them. This can get very profitable if you manage to score a featured article in a physical (as in offline) magazine.
Again, the challenges are that every magazine is searching for a very specific content, and that the traditional form of a magazine article is very different from blog posts or other types of online writing. It will cost you some time learning and adapting to the required structure.
Reviews can be an interesting specialty for a freelancer, but there are two challenges. No. 1 is building your own review template that’s engaging and gets people drawn into the review. No. 2 is finding clients who need this type of work done.
Your best chance would be to work with big publishing companies that get a lot of review requests but don’t have the time or experience with the specific product in order to do the review themselves.
Website Content Writing
The difference between website content writing and blogging is that the former is more about providing specific content that will have a long lifespan on the company’s site. It’s things like company info, policies, terms, tutorials, about pages, contact pages, and so on. Usually a one-off job, so you’ll need a constant stream of new clients.
I quite like Copyblogger’s definition of copywriting:
[…] copywriting involves strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.
…In practice, copywriting is about convincing the reader to either subscribe to something, sign up to something, or buy something.
Writers write books/stories/articles/etc. Copywriters write copy. This copy then ends up on sales pages, landing pages, newsletter sign-up pages, and so on.
Email is in a category of its own when it comes to writing. It seems that everything is turned upside down with email. For instance, the standard advice to Use Title Case for Headlines doesn’t work at all with email subject lines. It’s the same thing with most other rules. This creates great opportunities for anyone who masters the medium and is able to generate opens and click-throughs.
Studies and Analytical Articles
We’re getting on a slightly scientific ground here. This type of writing is about using research with your writing and constructing your pieces around a chunk of raw data that’s basically boring in its pure form and needs to be flavored in some way before “edible.”
Frankly, you can. But the idea with a specialty is to eventually turn it into the thing you’re recognized for, by making it the majority of what you do.
I mean, you can still do work in other specialties, but it will be very very hard to build a brand in all kinds of freelance writing at the same time. Although it sounds counterintuitive, you’re actually better off focusing only on specific types of freelance writing jobs.