“Can I Get Hired to Write Poetry?” What to Expect with Freelancing Writing

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Photo of poetry books with a cup of tea and flowers.

Freelance writing can easily sound like anyone’s dream job at first glance. With flexible hours, creative flexibility, and the ability to work from anywhere, who wouldn’t want to be a freelance writer? Of course, like any career, freelance writing has its own challenges. Many writers who pick it up as a career or side hustle are shocked to find that it’s not the best fit for achieving their personal writing goals. In other words, it’s not practical to be a freelance writer specializing in poetry and other exclusively creative outlets. Freelance writers must be versatile and flexible in what and how they write. They should also be prepared for the realities of the freelance job market.

Where Freelance Writing Jobs Are Sourced

There is often a level of surprise when a budding freelance writer starts to explore the job market. Sure, there are often lots of fun and unique opportunities available like travel writing, short story submissions, screenplay writing, and food blogging. However, much of the demand for freelance writers today comes from businesses and organizations looking for written content to enhance their web presence. This might mean blogging for a law firm, writing landing pages for Google ads, or creating web content for a vet’s office.

Freelance writers may also find work through magazine submissions, but it’s hard to count on these for consistent paying work. On the submissions side, you do have the benefit of bringing your own content ideas to the table. However, you will still have to meet the parameters of a given publication’s style guide and accept that your ideas may be rejected or adjusted to fit the needs of the publication. Plus, it is common for publications to take weeks or even months to respond to submissions.

You may need to supplement these more creative endeavors with more consistent freelance gigs to sustain a career in freelancing. Finally, you will want to recognize that it can take time to publish a piece in a big-name publication. Sending your first submission to The New Yorker is not likely to do much for you. You may need to start with more niche, localized features to find your voice and build an audience for your work.

How Freelance Writers Find Jobs

There are many tools and resources to help freelance writers find work. However, at the end of the day, it still takes effort to land a job. Freelance writers still need functioning resumes, and they may have to apply to jobs frequently to keep a stable career going. They also need a collection of writing samples to offer when employers want to see their skills on paper. Many writers make the mistake of using examples that aren’t relevant to the jobs they are applying for. For example, a writer may be applying to write an eBook for a crowdfunding website and include a collection of poems as a writing sample in the application. This doesn’t exactly inform the employer of relevant skills for the task at hand… even if the poetry is exceptionally written.

What to Expect from Freelance Writing Jobs

Every client is unique, but in general, there are some expectations you should have for each gig as a freelancer. You should always anticipate that good work will take time. Don’t try to pile on more projects than you can handle. Don’t rush through freelance projects just to get back to your own personal writing.

You should also expect to be writing with a voice that is not entirely your own. Sure, you might bring some of your personality to your work—especially in more creative articles and blogs—but you will likely need to follow some style rules from your employer or the publication you’re writing for. You may also need to revise and rework your writing. This means learning to remove personal attachments to your work to deliver what your clients want. This can be a hard skill to learn, but it will generally make you a better, more diverse writer.

How Freelancing Can Support Other Writing Goals

If your primary goal as a writer is to publish a book and you only want to focus on book writing with your creative energy, freelance writing likely isn’t the best career path for you. However, freelance writing can be a good fit if you want to use your writing skills to support yourself while writing your book on the side. As a freelancer, you might also have your own blog or website that you maintain. Getting paid to write for companies or being featured as a guest blogger can help you focus more on writing-based work. You won’t have to worry about a 9 to 5 that only distracts you from your passion: writing. Plus, you might even find ways to tie your freelance work to your personal writing. This can help you boost the visibility of your self-published work.

Freelance writing does carry plenty of challenges, but it can also have great rewards! Writers Work is here to help you get in the freelancing game and build a sustainable career doing what you enjoy. To explore what we have to offer, start a risk-free membership with us today.

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