Making the jump to freelancing is not something that works for everyone. In fact, for most people it’s actually a terrible idea. You need experience, know-how, savvy and, most of all, the desire to go out there and earn yourself a niche in the world. Quite often, this will mean carving out a place in industries that are notorious for not wanting to let you in. We’re talking the kind of industries where actually getting to write for a day is basically impossible. It’s that bad, trust us. If you’re the kind of person that likes to work 9-5 then this might not be the job for you. The lie ins and the flexibility are a big part of freelancing, and if you don’t enjoy them then all the stresses that come with going under your own banner might be negligible in the end, we’re sad to say. Instead, you’ll need to find yourself time and appreciation for being your own boss. Doing that is the first step. Accepting that one day you might have very little to do, and the next you might have loads to get on with is one of the biggest steps to mastering the art of freelance.
The second is working out what sort of freelancer you want to be. High quality or grind. If it’s the latter, then you will likely need to put a lot of time and mind numbing typing into the process. When people are only paying you a few pennies per word, you can bet that you won’t be doing it for long before you wonder why. After all, you’re slaving away making thousands of words of copy every day whilst other people are producing a fifth of the content and getting paid more. It seems nonsensical, but that’s the business. You are effectively paid to churn out large amounts of original content, with little to no actual regard for the end quality, so long as it meets a certain standard. If you’re not producing a definitive guide or something rubbish, if you’re hovering between readable and great, then that’s all that matters. And with that comes a certain freedom. If you’re a trained writer with experience, producing that sort of copy is really not hard. In many ways, it’s actually pretty simple. You disengage your brain, sit down at your keyboard and let it flow out. You will go back and read through everything afterwards, but that’s about it in terms of quality control and mental taxation. Not a bad life eh?
However, it can easily leave you feeling creatively bankrupt very quickly. After all, you have little to no investment in these pieces and neither does your employed. They want content for their blogs and pages, and so long as they’re good enough for google then you’ve done your job. They’ll never read them, they’ll never want to be compelled by what you’ve written or criticise your flow in the third paragraph. As far as they’re concerned, it doesn’t matter how good your piece is and this can lead more sensitive writers to want to pack it all in. Sure you’re getting paid, but you’re not being appreciated. That takes a certain degree of steel to deal with, and many of us can find ourselves thinking that it just isn’t worth it. After all, engaging in critical subjects and furthering a discourse is one of the nobler aspects of being a writer. If you’re churning out 500 words about plug sockets that no one will ever read, then what’s the point? Are you going to get out of bed in the morning for that alone?
The other option is to focus on a few quality articles. These types of clients will often be a lot harder to find and demand a lot more. They want you to have research and expertise. They expect your pieces to be as technically excellent as they are well informed and this will often mean working with an editor or client directly in the form of drafts. You might nail it eventually to the extent that you don’t need their input, but that kind of relationship is rare. They will always want tweaks, because to them the quality of the piece is of the utmost important. If they’re representing a multi-million pound country in a blog that posts twice a month, you can bet that they want it to be perfect. And they’re willing to pay for it too, because an extra hundred pounds an article is nothing compared to the relative value that fresh, definitive content brings to their business. It’s just another number in the marketing budget and hardly something that anyone is going to quibble over. So you’re left with a client that expects a lot and in turn pays a lot. Seems like a dream right?
In all honesty, it has its ups and downs. The pressure is immense and you need to nail it every single time. That is a lot of stress to take on yourself. Churn out 10 articles for a mill and you’re not going to cry too much if one of them is a 6/10. Turn in a 6/10 article to a high quality client though and that could be a black mark against your name. That’s average work for 1/5th of your weekly load, rather than the 1/100th of your mill articles. Trust us when we say it makes a big difference.
So which type of content is best for you? It really does depend on how much you know London. If you feel you can write compelling, well informed articles on subjects across the city, then going for the latter route is likely going to be more financially and creatively worthwhile. But if you’re a jack of all trades with little travel experience and an amateur understanding of the city, releasing generic pieces is a good way to make a good sum of money without ever needing to become a subject matter expert. Play to your strengths and write the London travel pieces that matter to you.