I see an increasing number of people claiming that they are a freelance writer because they draft a few articles and place them on article sites like Xobba or Squidoo. I have nothing against article sites and find that they are good places to write, from a personal and a professional point of view, but article writing is does not always prepare you for the intricacies of freelance writing, a far more temperamental beast.
The Hired Guns of the Writing World
The problem is that freelance writing, by definition, means that you write for somebody else. The term ‘Free lance’ hails from the time when mercenary soldiers, free lances, used to hawk their services to the highest bidder. We freelancers are the hired guns of the writing world, travelling from place to place and helping people win their own particular online battle, whether generating sales or ghostwriting that elusive ebook.
Why is this term so misused? Undoubtedly, some of it is for kudos, as the term ‘freelance writer’ seems to carry a little more weight, especially when friends and family don’t see online article writing as ‘real’ work: I can understand why people chose that particular path. In other cases, it is because people don’t understand the term or realize that there is a world of difference between freelance writing and article writing, just as there is between technical writing and fiction writing.
Why is this important? The reason is that many people who have learned to write well on the article sites try to make the jump into writing for clients and do not realize the potential hazards lying ahead. Working as a freelancer is a steep learning curve: you cannot choose what to write about; you have deadlines to contend with; clients may want you to make endless amendments; and you will inevitably have to chase people for pay.
Added to that, you have to learn to market and promote yourself, because your personality is your unique selling point. As a pro-writer, your quality has to be much, much higher: if you are sucked into writing for the article mills, then you might get away with a few mistakes or a little blandness, but a high-paying client will want perfection in grammar, language, style and voice.
The Benefit of Experience and Specialization
For any business owners reading this post, understanding the term is equally important. For example, you would not trust a mechanic to fix your car unless they had a good track record. It is exactly the same for freelance writers: you might get away with spending a couple of bucks for general article marketing, but for web content that works, finding someone with experience is crucial.
As you can see, there is much more to being a freelance writer than being able to bolt words together into sentences. Everything freelance writers produce, from sales letters to technical reports, has to be imbued with style, flow, and skill, using language for maximum impact.
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