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What is Freelance Writing?

When people ask me what I do, and I mention freelance writing, it’s almost always followed by whether it’s academic writing. Sometimes article writing, but it rarely goes beyond this. 

Here in Kenya, the two most popular types of freelance or online writing are academic and website articles or blog posts. They are how most veteran freelance writers broke into the industry. 

However, there are many other things and tasks you can work on as a freelance writer that don’t include these two. And hundreds of niches to choose from and focus your freelance writing career. 

We’ll look at all these types of freelance writing that you can do and the best part; how much you can get paid from this. Read on.

How Does Freelance Writing Work?

Freelance means to work independently without fully committing to a specific employer. 

Freelance writers take projects, short- or long-term gigs from companies, individual authors, news outlets, blog owners, online publications, marketing agencies, and so on. You also have the option of working either full-time or part-time, meaning that you might be employed elsewhere and doing this on the side. Most freelancers now find work from digital platforms, hence the name online writing, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that.  

Regardless of how you do it or who you work for, being a freelance writer can be rewarding, especially if you enjoy writing. To understand more about how it works, let’s look at different writing tasks you can do as a freelancer. 

What Does a Freelance Writer Do?

Knowing what a freelance writer does is important because you understand what you’re getting into and the choices you have. But knowing the areas you’re likely to succeed in and the niches you’ll most enjoy writing requires you to dive in first. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, then choose with that information. 

And you don’t even have to settle on one. You have the freedom to write anything as long as you’re good at it, although specialization works better when you want to make this a full-time career. We’ll talk more about niching down and how to do it in a different article.

Here’s a list of the different types of freelance writing you can do:

  • Academic Writing – Writing for the academia audience such as essays, research proposals, reports, theses, academic journals, course materials, and so on. It’s among the most popular types, and most freelance writers in Kenya, including me, started here.
  • Web Content Writing – Online writing that goes on a website like blog posts, articles, companies’ about us pages, product/services pages, product descriptions, search engine optimization (SEO) writing, and so on.
  • Marketing or Sales Copy Writing – Writing whose purpose is to market, advertise, or promote a product, service, or company in general. They include social media posts/captions, email newsletters, product descriptions (mostly for e-commerce stores), advertising scripts, sales pages, buyer guides, public relations material, and website copy. Most web content writing tasks we’ve mentioned above may also include an aspect of copy writing.
  • Business Writing – Writing business materials mainly meant for internal consumption in a company instead of a marketing audience. Examples include business plans, training manuals, internal memos, human resource documents, and white papers.
  • Technical Writing – Writing that simplifies complex and technical matters in a way that’s easy to understand. Examples include application user manuals, FAQ pages, instructions to assemble products, legal briefs, standard operating procedures (SOPs), machine operation manuals, and so on.
  • Journalistic Writing – Writing news articles online or for print, magazine feature stories, opinion pieces, social commentaries, among others.
  • Resume Writing – If you consider yourself a resume guru, if potential employers have cited your CV as well-written or persuading, then you might want to give a shot at resume writing. 
  • Fiction Writing – Writing fictional stories such as novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, and comic scripts, and children’s stories. In most cases where you work as a freelance fiction writer, you’ll be ghostwriting. This means that your name does not go under the work as the original author. 
  • Editing – Besides the actual writing, a freelance writer can also edit different types of written material depending on your specialization. This will often include correcting grammatical mistakes, factual errors, and sometimes, fine-tuning a document to fit the client’s voice.

For the purpose of this blog, we shall be talking about web content and copy writing – from how to get started, writing tips, and how to find clients for the same. Not because it’s most profitable compared to the rest, but because it’s what I have the most experience in, is popular among many aspiring freelance writers in Kenya, and is easier to get started with

Why Freelance Writing?

Companies, entrepreneurs, marketing agencies, and other employers will always need content, regardless of its purpose. This is especially true in our digital age, where companies rely on the internet to reach their customers more effectively. And what other better ways to use than written content? 

For some, this need might be ongoing but not on a daily basis – such as when a blog owner needs two weekly articles only. That’s why it makes more sense to hire a freelance writer who’s there when needed but not fully employed. It’s a win-win situation; more savings for the employer and more working freedom for the freelance writer.  

Getting Paid as a Freelance Writer

This is a common question among aspiring freelance writers, and rightly so. You want to know what you’re getting into and how much you can earn from it. 

But just like many other professions, the amount you stand to earn as a freelance writer depends on several things like:

  • Freelance writing experience
  • Part-time or full-time working basis
  • Type of freelance writing
  • Your chosen niche(s)
  • Type of employer
  • Size of the company or employer
  • Experience in your particular niche
  • Project requirements
  • Among others

In next week’s article on freelance writing, we’ll look at this as an individual topic, and I’ll explain how each of these factors can affect how much you get paid as a writer. 

If you want to learn more about getting started with freelance writing and valuable tips for your journey, follow my socials to know when a new article is up.

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